On this Wiki, the term die-cast refers to any toy or collectible model produced by using the die casting method. The toys are made of metal and plastic. The metal commonly used is ZAMAC (or Mazak), which is an alloy of zinc and aluminium. Zamac is also referred to as white metal or pot metal.
Die-cast (or die cast/diecast) toys were first produced early in the 20th century by manufacturers such as Meccano (Dinky Toys) in the United Kingdom and Dowst Brothers (Tootsietoys) in the United States. The first models on the market were basic, consisting of a small car or van body with no interior. In the early days it was common for impurities in the Zamac alloy to result in metal fatigue; the casting would crack or decompose for no apparent reason. As a result, diecast toys made before World War II are difficult to find in good condition.
In 1968, Hot Wheels were introduced in the United States by Mattel. Because they looked fast and were fast (they were equipped with a low-friction wheel/axle assembly), Hot Wheels quickly filled in an important niche in the diecast toy market, becoming one of the world's top sellers.