Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Trophy Models

I have a second BRM available. For a change, the wheels are not as blackened as many of these become (and I haven't yet found a good way to revive them as they were a fairly miserable grey in the first place) but you'll see that one has been fitted the wrong way round!

Trophy model BRM F1

Trophy model BRM F1

On a model like this I don't think the error adds to its value (as it would for a normal Corgi edition). The gold plating is pretty good, some flakes on the rear and side only and it doesn't suffer from the rough corrosion I have seen on some.

These models are not easy to find these days and I have yet to find one on its plinth, never mind with a box! From what I can gather, these didn't sell particularly well at Marks & Spencer and not a great many were produced anyway. Here are all five, although I do need a better Austin Healey or, at the very least a less ridiculous-looking screen!

Update 17 September: I have re-loaded the images on this page as I am aware of some issues with those published previously. If you do experience any problems with any images in my articles on this blog please let me know.

Trophy MGA

Trophy MGA

Trophy TR2

Trophy TR2

Trophy Austin Healey

Trophy Austin Healey

Trophy Vanwall F1

Trophy Vanwall F1

Trophy BRM F1

Trophy BRM F1

A Bentley 1927 3 Litre in Pewter


This Pewter Edition Bentley 1927 3 Litre arrived in a bundle of Corgi Classic models a few days ago. I was surprised to find that it appears to be an exact copy of the 1965 Corgi model in virtually every respect. 

Even the seats and windscreen are produced in pewter metal. I might have preferred the windscreen left as a piece of perspex but at least this one is less likely to break! The wheels turn too and, again, might have been better left as the nice wire variety with rubber tyres of the original models. It is, though, obviously not something to be played with but an item to be displayed in a cabinet.

I cannot find a great deal about this online. Some information appears to identify it as a Corgi premier Collection model that was produced for mail order in 1989. Another source suggests that it had a limited production run of 800, using the casting tools for the 1985 C861 editions.

This could be the highlight of someone's Corgi Bentley 1927 3 Litre collection but I have no idea what price to ask. I simply have never seen anything like this before. Were there other Premier Collection models? How were they packed? Information gratefully received from anyone who recognises this. Looking at the lack of response that similar requests have had over the years on the few places Google found for me, however, I am not expecting a flood of replies!

Yellow, Astons and two very different Fords


When the Land Rover was updated in 1962 it was issued as 406S and came in this very bright yellow finish. For reasons I have not being able to establish it didn't last for more than a few months before being replaced by a deep green version with the 438 model number. Maybe it was because this was a completely new model as a Series II Land Rover whereas the S suffix tended to indicate merely the addition of suspension and an interior to an existing model.

Whatever the case, these are rare and almost all that I find have a lot of chips, broken windows or missing middle strut on the window. Seldom is the hook still there or the front bumper even approximately straight. So when this arrived I was delighted. Yes, there are some chips and they do show up in this colour, but it remains the best I've had so far.

Also in yellow, but no such a dramatic shade, is another rare item which you might not expect to be rare. The 218 Aston Martin with fixed shaped wheels was only produced for a very short time, most fixed wheel editions having either the original smooth wheels or the cast type with a sort of criss-cross design that was supposed to indicate wire wheels but never worked in my view.

Now I have both red and yellow editions but, like the Land Rover, I still need to find something in more reasonable condition. This one may appear quite decent but the roof is badly scraped.

Another fairly scarce model is this Aston Martin James Bond model. The 270 in silver was issued in 1968 and started with silver grille and bumpers. For some reason these were very quickly replaced by gold fittings. Later changes when Whizzwheels were introduced have resulted in a couple of the very last editions also being quite rear with different base features and you can read about these in my Catalogue. This first edition, though, is the one that is most sought after. Despite there being a large quantity being produced these are still hard to find in original condition and with everything still functioning (and you'll need to consult your bank manager if you want an original bubble-style box and all the contents!).

This one is pretty good with an almost flat roof when at rest but, like many I have seen, it came without a front bumper. As the only bits that appear missing are the left and right sections and there is a large open gap between the body and base where they could be slotted in, I had a go at repairing it. It seems to have worked pretty well. OK, so it's not now entirely original but clean examples of these still make over £100 even in modestly good condition.

I tend to give most Whizzwheels models quite a wide berth but by 1973 someone had done something about the terrible plastic wheels and models were sporting some quite attractive wheels and looking smart again. One fine example is the Ford Mustang Mach 1, usually seen in red as a James Bond edition. That was 391 and available for a short period in 1972. Clearly, there must have been a lot of models still to come to market and someone decided to paint them a pleasant shade of metallic green and call them a Rally Edition.

All would have been well but probably the same person decided to add some paper stickers not just to the doors but to the bonnet, roof and, for good measure, why not the upper rear wings too! I can only guess that they must have been a nightmare to attach as I have only ever seen two with them looking reasonably straight. Fortunately, a few models escaped without the stickers and they look so much better.

If you're thinking that it's just a model with the stickers removed then, having tried that in the past and failed miserably, I'd say that was less likely than it being issued this way. Exposed to the air the adhesive used seems to turn to some sort of rock-hard super glue compound. Try peeling a sticker off and the paper tears leaving the annoying substance affixed to the paint. Most attempts to remove that will remove a layer of paint finish too which rather defeats the whole purpose!

Lastly for this post, I have a spare Chrome edition of the 2006 50th Anniversary edition of the Ford Consul. With made in China on the base it is not something I would normally want to promote but I do like the few 50th Anniversary models and have quite a lot of respect for the production quality of this model (and the four other variations).

With a limited edition of just 650 they are quite scarce although they do regularly appear for sale. Unlike something like the AVRO BODE edition of the Bedford CA 421 van in 1961 which had a similar production quantity, most of the Ford Consuls have been kept safely on shelves in collectors' homes! As with mine, they'll also have their original boxes, packing and leaflets. That packing isn't, though, something to get excited about. This model was placed unceremoniously in a ghastly bit of thin phlegm-coloured plastic shaped for the car that early Vanguards model collectors will be familiar with. Horrible but at least the outer box was half-decent.

Monday, 31 August 2020

Corgi Toys @ 60: Bluebird, Skips and Churns

153 Proteus Bluebird was issued in September 1960 and then re-issued in October 1961 as 153A.

Available always in blue, 153 has black plastic wheels. 153A has alloy wheels with rubber tyres.

Models have crossed flags at the front, initially two Union Flags but later a combination of British and USA flags and I have heard of both types of transfer on each of 153 and 153A. The British and US flag combination transfer also includes a blue bird. Whether a blue bird also gets added to any with the two Union flags I don't know but I am assuming not for now.

There has been considerable confusion, it seems, amongst those whom you might have thought would have known better as to which came first and, for a long time, I thought that my own Bluebird model I had had since new was the second edition with plastic wheels and I had convinced myself that it must have had 153A on the box. That would, however, have been the 153 I vaguely did remember.

The copy Corgi leaflet published around the time of issue is a wonderful piece of finally conclusive evidence discovered by my colleague and expert in many things diecast, Lee Harris.

So very soon after issue the car is wrecked in a speed trial. The subsequent Bluebird vehicle that did break the record in 1964 is similar to this model but has a large vertical fin at the rear.

The other item fresh on your local toy shop shelves was another in the Cargoes group, a red metal skip carrying three pleasantly detailed milk churns in Pack No. 1490.

The skip was designed to slot over the rear axle of the Massey Ferguson 65 tractor. The milk churns were way bigger than those in the July Cargoes issue.

Friday, 31 July 2020

Corgi Toys @ 60: Ford Zephyr Motorway Patrol

We hadn't had a motorway for very long and many children may never have had a chance to experience one when this model appeared in August 1960. This was the first Ford Zephyr Estate model, the private car version not appearing until February 1961.

It seems a simple model with just one version at first glance. However, there are a few to collect. The first issue has flat, fixed wheels and small light on the roof.

This may also be found with POLITIE for the Dutch market. Beware, though. Transfers are easy to change and the model retained the right-hand-drive interior!! Don't pay a fortune without some form of evidence of its authenticity.

Later it gets fixed shaped wheels but keeps the small blue light.

You may also find a RIJKSPOLITIE version!

At some point, I cannot find when, the model gets a larger roof light with a clear surround. It seems that these will usually, maybe always, have free spinning wheels too. That needs to be checked, however.

The colour may range from a quite thin, pure white through to a greasy cream and they seem to be in that order too but I have yet to establish any clear evidence for a specific, planned change of colour.

Monday, 13 July 2020

Spanish Corgis by Auto-Pilen

I have been looking at some models made by Auto-Pilen, a Spanish company who produced die-cast models from 1969 until the 1990s. My attention was first drawn by a fabulous-looking Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray that looked almost identical to a Corgi 310 model but was finished in metallic green. Then I found this beautiful Oldsmobile Toronado and a Mini-Cooper.

The Oldsmobile is almost identical to the Corgi 264 or 276 model but with opening doors, a detailed interior and slightly improved headlamp operation system. It also has tremendously attractive (and accurate) wheel covers.

I have also acquired a Mini-Cooper and this is to most intents and purposes the Corgi 334 Magnifique model but missing the sliding roof, jewelled headlamps and corner bumper embellishments. This model, like all Auto-Pilens I gather, has super wheels that reflect so accurately a typical real model.

Looking around I have found ten models that appear to have come from Corgi original castings:

Adams Probe 1.6 (384)
BMC Mini-Cooper (334)
Chevrolet Astro 1.6 (347)
Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray (310)
Citroen SM (284)
Ghia 5000 Mangusta de Tomaso (203)
Mercedes-Benz C111 (388)
Oldsmobile Toronado (264 / 276)
Porsche 917 (385)
Porsche Carrera 6 (330 / 371)

I may be wrong about one or two of these as Dinky may have produced similar models and Auto-Pilen used or copied their casts instead. As and when I see the actual models or find out more I will update this list.

Whilst it is another brand and not 'Corgi' as such, I do think collectors will be interested to learn more about these, especially those that appear to be very close indeed to the Corgi originals.

There are several editions of the Oldsmobile and also what appears to be a wide range of colours so the list of 10 may develop into a catalogue of rather more in due course! I have a suspicion that I will not be able to resist the temptation to acquire all of them and prices seem very reasonable too at present. They seem to be very well manufactured and, particularly nice when compared to the Whizzwheel versions!

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Corgi Toys @ 60 : Land Rover Breakdown Truck, Bricks and Milk Churns

July 1960 saw two more loads added to what you could put on a trailer or the back of some lorries. These were a neat load of red bricks and 36 milk churns all stuck together.

The real event this month, though, was the issue of the first Land Rover Breakdown Truck. This splendid model could be used to lift up and tow the front or back of all your other models and drag them around the carpet.

This first issue has a jib that comprises two quite thin poles with a small gap at the top for the cord to pass through. The large hook, which I always though was a bit over-sized, could be lowered and raised by turning a fifth wheel fitted to the side. the wheel would always match the other four and changes to the shaped but still fixed type later in production.

The rear section has a cut-away metal section with transfers on each side and a metal lamp that can be turned on top.

There are no variations, other than the wheels, for the 417 model that I am aware of, although it is possible that there are minor changes in the casting - usually most noticeable in how the window opening levers at the front are depicted. (I must look at these and report back!)

You will know that a Land Rover Breakdown Truck is one of Corgi's longest running models. The 417 will become a 417S in a couple of years and get the Series II body with an interior plus suspension. Then the 417S will get a new, stronger, type of jib but keeps the metal rear section. A 477 model appears in December 1965 and appears to be identical to the 417S except for the rear section which gets a bigger plastic canopy.

The 477 carries on through cast wheels and ends up looking slightly ridiculous with Whizzwheels sometime in the early 1970s. You'll have to wait until my articles in 2031 or 2032 for that one!