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Half a century of models from Nuremberg 50 years NZG

Trucks & Construction - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 6/2019 vom 15.11.2019

NZG became 50 years old on October the 1st, 2018. The year 2019 was a celebration of this anniversary. We met the two founders of NZG, Gerhard Schmid and Betty Hauer …

Artikelbild für den Artikel "Half a century of models from Nuremberg 50 years NZG" aus der Ausgabe 6/2019 von Trucks & Construction. Dieses epaper sofort kaufen oder online lesen mit der Zeitschriften-Flatrate United Kiosk NEWS.

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The advertising department of Zeppelin talked Gerhard Schmid into founding NZG in order to produce the 1:24 scale Caterpillar 941 for them

Thomas Wilk

On the 1st October 2018, NZG had their 50th birthday and throughout 2019, they have been celebrating their 50th anniversary. I was lucky enough to sit down with Gerhard Schmid, one of the two founders of NZG along with Betty Hauer, who told me how the NZG story began.

Gerhard was a mould maker ...

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... for a toy company, where he became production manager and was also responsible for model development. It was O&K who first suggested that production of 1:50th scale models would be a good idea, with a marketing company asking about the production of O&K models, so Gerhard had a lot to think about.

Would 1:50th scale be popular? Is there an opportunity for future 1:50th scale models.

At this point, Gerhard was not looking to start his own company, but to look into what was possible at the company he worked for and Zeppelin was the first potential customer for models. One request was to produce a model in five different parts, where you were presented with one part at a time, which would eventually become a complete model once all 5 parts were obtained and assembled. This was an interesting form of promotion.

Mr Becker had an advertising company, and was responsible for Zeppelin advertising. Mr Becker had a number of telephone conversations with Gerhard, trying to convince him that setting up his own company was a good idea, and that he wanting to wait until Gerhard was self employed before they moved forward with a model project as Mr Becker had already decided that he wanted Gerhard to produce the model for Zeppelin, a CAT 941 track loader.

There was a lot to think about for Gerhard. At 40 years old, it was a big decision to take on the forming of a new company so he had discussions with family members, knowing that the new venture could become a financial burden on the entire family. He sought financing from the bank and from family in order to start the company which was formed by Gerhard Schmid and Betty Hauer on the 1st October 1968.

Zeppelin went ahead with the model order with the tooling for the model outsourced to a Franconian casting company. Gerhard remembers that once the model was produced, he received a number of requests to produce models from equipment manufacturers including companies like Fuchs and O&K who also wanted models producing. Gerhard found that it was not hard to convince industry that they should have a model, as companies were looking to have models produced and had the budgets available, so Gerhard sent out letters to various manufacturers of equipment, asking them if they wanted models producing. He remembers one company well as he recollects

With the number 101, the Weserhütte HW70 counts as the first NZG model. A part of the tooling is on display in the former canteen in the basement of the company’s headquarters.

“Grove said they had the budget for the development of a model and arranged to visit NZG to discuss the project but on the day of the meeting, they could not find the NZG building as it was on the third floor of a furniture store with only a small sign displayed on the building. Despite the meeting not taking part on time, but a few hours later, Grove went ahead with an order for the TM800 mobile crane which was their first model, with 3000 pieces manufactured in 1970.”

While the new venture was proving successful, there was another problem. Additional manufacturing space was needed so Gerhard began looking for other premises, forming his own tool making department in 1972 before, a year later, moving to a new building on Sigmundstrasse where NZG have been based ever since.

It wasn’t just diecast models that were produced, as Gerhard recounts when they were asked to produce plastic packaging by the Sanders company to hold and display different gem stones. The order was for 250,000 plastic boxes with clear covers and Inge fondly remembers the stones all throughout the home as the family were drafted in to help pack the stones into the boxes.

The largest order ever produced was of this tractor and semitrailer set in 1:87 for Aldi. A phenomenal 300,000 pieces were ordered and the production schedule could only be kept with by the help of some hired-on students.

A total of 250,000 of these plastic presentation boxes for the display of gem stones was produced.

One of the largest single orders to be realised by NZG were for 300,000 1:87th scale truck models for Aldi which were needed for a specific date, and Gerhard remembers that the models were produced over the summer of 1977 with young students helping in the manufacturing of the models during their study break to ensure the models were completed on time. This also required a lot of extra hours of work for the staff however the project was a success and such numbers are unheard of in today’s marketplace.

With the ever-increasing need for additional space, the Sigmundstrasse factory was increased to 3000 square meters which, along with the main office, contained the model making, painting shop, manufacturing, warehouse and dispatch departments. In peak times, over 400,000 models were manufactured and shipped to customers worldwide.

In 1985, the daughter of the company’s founder, Hannelore Hauer joined the company with Inge Schmid joining the company in the following year where they both slowly took more and more responsibility for the further development of the company. Gerhard retired from the day to day operation of the company in 1993 but kept shares in the company until the year 2000 which was also the year when Hannelore Hauer decided to sell her shares in the company to Inge and Michael Ludwig.

These NZG models from the 50s are displayed in the former canteen.

JCB 3C II in 1:35 scale was produced in a breath-takingly huge series of 15,000 pieces.

How widely varied the items that NZG produced since its inception is shown by the Swiss Orion plane in 1:100 scale which was given away to children by Swissair, National’s Maxipress model as well as the Grammer model chairs which could be linked and stacked.

I asked Gerhard if there were any other moments over the years which particularly stood out for him and he told me about a visit to Bauma. He recalls a meeting with JCB where no negotiations were needed. JCB were desperate to have a model produced and NZG got the order for 15000 pieces of the JCB 3C MkII backhoe loader which was developed in 1:35th scale.

Things have certainly changed over the years and today, model manufacturers are lucky if they can get orders of more than a few thousand pieces, showing that the requirement for models by OEMs has dwindled over the years. There is still a wide range of models produced each year, as this year’s Bauma show will attest, with over 50 new models alone produced this year and collectors are still adding to their collections, be it the latest OEM model, or a specific special painted release, of which many have been produced by NZG over the years.

The 75,000th Liebherr excavator of the A 918 Compact type which is one of the most colorful models from NZG.

NZG are certainly a global player when it comes to the production of die-cast scale models of construction equipment. The company has changed over the years to meet the demands of the marketplace, including the move to China which started around 1995 when NZG began production of its range of historic models which were developed and produced at a model producing factory in China. In 2003, NZG took the decision to outsource all production to China and closed their tooling, manufacturing and paint shop facilities at the Sigmundstrasse site. Their current product range and development still focuses on construction machinery and trucks in 1:50th scale however, they are also developing other product lines including lifting platforms, crane & road construction models, historical models and larger scale releases including the new range of 1:18th scale vehicle models which include the Mercedes Benz Actros, Volkswagen T6 Transporter, a 3-axle container trailer and a car transporter trailer with further 1:18th scale models in development.

One moment of note is that NZG has produced over 1000 different projects over their 50-year history and will hopefully continue to produce more of the models we all love well into the future.

et another look at a display case with historically very interesting contents.

NZG entered a completely new dimension in 2016 with the launch of the Mercedes- Benz Actros 1851 in 1:18 scale.


1968 NZG founded on the 1st October by Betty Hauer and Gerhard Schmid, moving into the third floor of a furniture store in Tafelfeldstrasse
1969 First models produced were the Weserhütte HW70 and Cat 941
1969 JCB gave the order for 15000 3C MkII models
1970 Grove made their first order, the TM800 in 3000 pieces
1972 Formed a 1500 square meter tooling section
1973 Moved to new premises on Sigmundstrasse
1977 300,000 piece order for 1:87th scale Aldi truck
1985 Expansion of the Sigmundstrasse site to 3000 square meters
1985 Hannelore Hauer joined the company
1986 Inge Schmid joined the company
1988 Michael Ludwig started working at the company
1991 Rosenbauer 8x8 „KIT“ awarded model of the year
1993 NZG celebrate their 25th anniversary
1993 Gerhard Schmidt retires at the age of 65
1999 Started production of the historic range of models in China
2000 Gerhard and Hannelore sell their shares in the company, Inge and Michael become sole managing partners
2000 NZG logo changes
2003 NZG close production in Germany, moving production to China
2005 Scania LT110 awarded model of the year by NAMAC
2008 Part of the NZG factory in Sigmundstrasse was converted and used for a dancing and theatre school
2013 The Clubhouse replaced the theatre school, a bar / restaurant with indoor golf facilities
2015 Unimog snow blower awarded MBMC model of the tear
2017 The VW T6 awarded “Modell Fahrzeug des Jahres”
2018 The clubhouse expanded, taking more of the former production space
2019 NZG reach a milestone of 1000 different models produced.