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Bburago is an Italianmarker model car manufacturer, based in Malgora, Italy, which manufactured model cars from 1974 to 2005, and again from 2007. Initially called Martoys, the company was founded by Mario Bessana, who had previously owned the Mebetoys company, which also made toy cars, and which he sold to Mattel. Martoys was renamed Bburago in the mid 1970s. Bburago (with two "B's") is the correct spelling, but the name is often misspelled as "Burago".

Models were produced initially in 1/24 scale and mostly represented contemporary European sports and saloon cars. Most were well-detailed and included many opening features. Later, a range of 1/18 antique vehicles were produced, alongside a further range of 1/43 scale models. As they were held together by screws, models in 1/24 and 1/18 were also able to be issued in kit form (later, some 1/43 kits were issued as well). While vehicles in the kit ranges used the same castings as their contemporaries in the ready-built ranges, the kits often depicted different versions of the vehicle in question, usually a racing or rally livery. Bburago kits were notorious for featuring copious waterslide transfers which never adhered properly to the models, making well-built examples of the kits very rare indeed. To fix the problem, one (with scale modeling experience) would have to spray a clearcoat over the unassembled model, to "seal in" the decals. Conversely, the transfers on built-up cars were of the 'stick-on' variety, rather than the 'tampo' printing used by the likes of Maisto. Current issue Bburago vehicles however use 'tampo' printing.

Another issue of Bburago was their plastic. While the metal parts are mostly strong (aside from door and bonnet openings), the plastic parts of an older Bburago car were often weak, and could easily fatigue.

The 1/18 range was aimed squarely at collectors, and Bburago were the first manufacturer to offer mass-produced collector models in this scale. The range was known as the "Diamond" range and at first consisted mostly of 1930s cars, although as time went on, more 1950s and 1960s cars were modeled, and the series later expanded to include modern high performance cars. One or two vehicles in the 1/24 and Diamond ranges were modeled to different scales; for example one of the first Diamonds, the Rolls Royce Camargue (also the first modern car in the Diamonds range), was modeled in 1/22 scale.



As the collector side of their business increased, the company began to focus more on the 1/18 models, and introduced further 1/24 ranges, usually depicting the same vehicles that appeared in the 1/18 range, with slightly fewer opening features, but also aimed at collectors. At the same time, the models produced as toys became less detailed and had fewer opening features. By the late 1990s, the company no longer had the 1/18 collector market to themselves as competitors such as Maisto and Road Champs were producing models of similar quality. Where these companies had the edge was that their products could be produced far more cheaply, as they were manufactured in the Far East, while Bburago production continued in Italy. By 2005, the receivers were called in. The company was eventually purchased by Maisto.

Prior to its closure, the company was also hit by the exclusive contract granted to Mattel for the production of model Ferrarismarker. This prevented any other toy company from producing model Ferraris and meant that Bburago (which had numerous Ferrari cars in its ranges) had to cease production on these immediately. As much money had been invested in the tooling to produce these models, this affected the company badly.



Bburago cars, especially the early 1/24 scale models, are highly collectible, and it is thought that the final models issued under the old management will also become similarly prized. Of the early cars, the rarest models are generally considered to be the Lancia Beta sedan and the Innocenti Mini 120, while the Lamborghini Cheetah 4x4, Renault 4L, Fiat 124 Spyder Abarth, Alfetta GTV and BMW 3.0 CSL "Batmobile" are all also now rare and valuable. Other highly collectable Bburagos include some rare promo models, like examples of the Camargue finished in metallic gold-green, and at least one model that was issued only in mainland Europe; the Lancia Ypsilon in 1/24. The final 1/18 car issued before bankruptcy was the Peugeot 907 concept car. At the time the company ceased production of all its Ferrari models, a model of the Ferrari 360 Spider in 1/18 scale was about to be introduced. It is thought that a few may have left the factory (although this has never been confirmed). If they did, then these will most likely be the rarest of all Bburagos in years to come.

As of early 2007, the company has been relaunched. Many of the models being made at the time of closure are now being produced again in Thailandmarker, along with numerous new castings.



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