History | Quercetti



The Origins: Alessandro Quercetti and Inco Giochi

The history of the Quercetti company is deeply tied to the life of his founder, Alessandro Quercetti, born in Recanati in 1920, but already resident in Turin the following year. During his activity as a repair worker at Westinghouse (1934-1939) he discovers a true passion for flight and aeroplane models. This passion will later lead him, in 1937, to distinguish himself in a number of national contests for rubber-powered flying models.

An interesting fact to be noted is that another participant in the same contests and categories is Roberto Giolitto from Turin, who along with his brother Guido, will also found a company building plastic flying toys, known as “Aerogiocattoli Giolitto”, to become quite well known and including products with flattering sales rates, distributed all over Italy.

In 1938 Alessandro acquires his sailing license and will shortly after be called to arms as a junior officer fighter plane and bomber pilot during the Second World War.

Inco Toys

In 1945, after leaving the armed forces, he returned to Turin and after a brief period at the Mezzenile sawmill selling wood, and a short work experience selling utensil machinery, he started working in a small toy factory, Inco Giochi, starting in September 1947. The company had the feature of the toys being completely built within the factory without any external production. Also, unexpectedly, it did not possess an effective sales network with agents. The “Industria Costruzione Giocattoli” was born in Turin in via Pietro Giuria 39, in 1946: it focused on the production of toys, train sets, boat and tram models made out of bent lithographed metal plate. They were sometimes made in zamak, a zinc alloy which can unfortunately deteriorate with time.

When Alessandro arrived, the portfolio included just one item, a wind-up spring Frog of German origin; all the following articles were later conceived by Alessandro who immediately proved his skill as a designer and drafter, but not only. Completely single-handedly, he managed to design the toys , creating hand-made prototypes, designing the necessary molds and lastly applying them manually.

Therefore, to all intents and purposes, the Inco Giochi catalogue dated 1947-1949 was the work of Alessandro Quercetti alone and included: a Mechanical Frog (redesigned and improved with the wind-up spring), a Horse with the native American White Feather, a single room Turin tram with a ring circuit of rail-tracks, a double-room Turin tram with bellows and double-circle rail-track circuit, yellow single-chamber Turin-Milan Motrice Littorina , the single-chamber Milan-Venice Motrice Littorina in two versions, yellow and blue, the double-chamber Turin–Milan Motrice Littorina with bellows, also blue, with and without lithographed characters, the Aldebaran motorboat, a Tractor, the Inco Sailing boat, also fulfilled in a special version for Pasta Agnesi, the “Automotrice Express”, the “Automotrice Continental”, the Tram Circuit, the Otto Tranviario , the 685/A Train also produced for Rivarossi.

However, within two years, the factory suffered a crisis for financial reasons, and not having received any wage for many months, Alessandro had no choice but to resign, officially leaving the company in September 1949. Yet he continued to visit it for some time after, thanks to an agreement with the two owners who allowed him to use the machinery for the creation of some cogs (gears), which he needed for a future toy he was designing on his own.

Cavallo Galoppa (Gallop the Horse)

A new toy which saw the light of day after many months of experiments and hard work, was known as “Cavallo Galoppa (Gallop the Horse), initially called “Cavallo Accidenti”, as it was originally supposed to throw the cowboy off its back thanks to a movement of all 4 legs, instead of just two, as in the case of White Feather.
In actual fact, the project took a different turn, and developed in the direction of a spring-powered wind-up steed, which could run along the surface it was placed on via small wheels. In this version, the rider could only fall off accidentally. At first, and only for a short while, the rider was completely provided by the Lenci company in Turin; later on, in order to cut costs, only the head and coat were produced by Lenci, whereas the legs were sown personally by Alessandro s sister with other less expensive materials.
The shaping of the rider s body was assigned to the sculptor Giovanni Taverna (Alluvioni Cambiò 1911, Turin 2008), a pupil and later collaborator of Leonardo Bistolfi and the author, at the time, of many renowned works of art (Ceramiche Essevi). The body was divided into eight parts, two for the back and two for the front, as well as the four legs, in such a way that the latter could host small wheels. The molds for the press and the injection of the plastic were created under the supervision of the Cossato & Carozzo company of Turin, which appointed only the young Alessandro for the task, who created the molds with his own hands.
In order to hide the imperfections given by the process of glueing the eight parts together, Alessandro used a layer of black fur (flocking) in place of traditional paint. Later, however, it was replaced by paint, which did not require one to clean the hairs out of the cogs, thus avoiding the waste of materials.
There had even been an idea to fulfill the tail and ears in real fur, but this was later abandoned. And so it was that Cavallo Galoppa was born and launched on the market in December 1950, just in time for Christmas. In the end it was only possible to box a small number of these articles in cardboard, with open box and lid, with a dark lush red hue and only the Hopla logo in full view and no illustrations.

Here is what Quercetti wrote in his memoirs: “I put together about 900 horses. It was drawing near to Christmas and I hurried to sell them by going round the shops in Turin. […] However the financial result was a complete fiasco. Most of the horses would break, and the spring-driven engine would come off the body! In January I decided to withdraw all the horses, and I asked the shop owners to pass the message on to the customers who had bought it; I would replace the products. The following year, on the contrary, was an incredible, unexpected, wonderful success.

The following Christmas was in fact definitely better; it was 1951 and in a very short time, a good 1700 toys were sold for as much as 1200 Liras each. The abundant profit acquired would prove to be most useful and allowed for the acquisition of Inco Giochi which had failed in the meantime: that same year, it was transferred to the new headquarters in Corso Casale.