BBurago is an Italianmodel car manufacturer, that was based in Burago di Molgora, Italy, which made mostly diecast cars from 1976 to 2005, and then from 2007 as a brand under the May Cheong (Maisto) Group.
Called Martoys from 1974 to 1976, the company was founded by Mario, Ugo, and Martino Besana, who had previously started Mebetoys, which they sold to Mattel (Force 1992, 124). While Mebetoys had been 1:43 scale, Martoys, however, focused on larger toys in 1:24 and 1:18 scales. Martoys was renamed BBurago in 1976. BBurago (with two "B's") is the correct spelling, ostensibly standing for both the town name as well as the name of the Besana family. It is an easy detail to miss - even a book presented by the revered auction house Christie's misspells the name (Richardson 1999, p. 173).
BBurago cars, especially the early 1/24 scale models, are now 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 theLancia Beta sedan introduced under the Martoys name, and the Innocenti Mini 120. 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 collectible 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 is not confirmed).
As of early 2007, the name has been relaunched. It is now owned by the May Cheong Group which markets Maisto, so the situation is analogous to Mattel owning both Hot Wheels and Matchbox. In order for both lines to be successful they must be differentiated in some manner. May Cheong's answer is to make BBurago's offerings more European. A count from the two brands' websites in 2011 confirms the two approaches. Out of 64 1/18 scale cars, BBurago only has 6 models that are not European - or 9 percent. Maisto, with 113 total 1/18 scale models, on the other hand, has 53 non-European models or 47 percent non-European. May Cheong bets it can avoid internal competition among brands by having Maisto carry a more global selection of vehicles. Many of the earlier BBurago models made at the time of the May Cheong takeover are now being produced again in Thailand and China, along with new castings. By 2011, some models, like the smaller scale "Race and Play" series of "garage" scene Ferraris, were again appearing in retail stores like Toys-R-Us. It appears that no models are made in Italy any longer.