Saturday, 31 August 2019

Corgi Toys @ 60: The Rocket Age and a Cement Tipper

An odd selection hit the shelves of your local toy shop in September 1959. The Rocket Age Gift Set 6, an ERF Cement Tipper and one of very few Corgi models without wheels, the Decca Airfield Radar Scanner was issued on its own in a box.

I have written at some length about the impressive Rocket Age set so go back and read this article for more information about that. I shall repeat my effort at recreating the wonderful image on the box, though.

The individually boxed radar scanner really did not amass much by way of sales and is now quite sought after in its original packaging simply because there never were many around.

The third item this month was the last outing for an ERF truck, now with a tipping cement section at the back.

Early editions had metal caps on the cement section, replaced by red plastic for the majority of production. It lasted a while, through to 1964, and gets fixed shaped wheels for later editions. I'm not aware of any examples with free spinning wheels although they would have been fitted to other models in the later stages of its production.

Apart from the revised editions of the Bedford C vans, this will be the last new model issued without an interior.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Corgi Toys @ 60 : Combine Harvester and RAC to the rescue!

It's August so, reasonably enough, it's time to start harvesting and Corgi came out with this superb bit of equipment. Corgi Majors 1111 was a Massey Ferguson 780 Combine Harvester.

The first edition of this model has yellow wheels and the tines are metal. In the box, although not shown here, would have been a typewritten note explaining how to raise and lower the feed. When lowered, the lower wheel would turn as it was pushed along and a band would rotate the tines on the shaft above most effectively.

Later editions had plastic tines and a yellow plastic hopper feed and a driver too. The later ones also had red wheels so are easy to distinguish.

The other introduction in August 1959 was another outing for the lovely Series I Land Rover. This was an RAC Radio Rescue edition which had a roof sign bearing a 'RADIO RESCUE' transfer. There would be a matching blue tin canopy at the rear with a single RAC logo on each side.

The 1959 models would have had smooth wheels as shown in the first photo above but the canopy transfer would have been more like that in the second photo. The aerial, too, is a poor replacement there. Later models will have shaped wheels and at some point in production the headboard is removed. This necessitates the transfers being changed on the canopy to incorporate both text and logo. The 'no headboard' type can also be found with smooth or shaped wheels. I don't know when it was introduced but I shall include it sometime in 1960.

Looking at the models in my own collection, the early types with a headboard have the 'handles' at the base of the tailgate whereas those without a headboard are smooth in that area.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Corgi Toys @ 60 : Plymouth Suburban and a Farm Gift Set

July 1959 saw the big American Plymouth Sports Suburban issued. With a huge expanse of silver paint across the front and a good dollop of striping down the side, this reflected well the real thing.

This is an important model, being the first to have an interior (other than open models). The use of either red or lemon-coloured moulded thin plastic to represent seats, some dashboard and rear shelf would continue until the 1970s with some models, with some other colours appearing along the way. The Plymouth would have had the biggest expanse of an interior too, being a substantial model.

It was also the last car to be issued without suspension. It will be nearly four years before it does get suspension - in a new colour scheme and new catalogue number 445.

Although you will only see this in cream with a brown roof, there are a couple of variations to look out for. Firstly, it may have either smooth or shaped fixed wheels (and each seem pretty equally distributed from what I can see). Secondly, this may have either a grey base or a cream base.

With production running well through to 1963 it would seem reasonable to think that there ought to be some models with free spinning wheels but I have not encountered any in quite a lot of searching. However, I keep thinking that, at the time of transfer to the 445 model in April 1963 there may have been a load of cream and brown bodies to which a later base with suspension and the free spinning wheels could have been fitted. Such 'transition' variations we've seen with other models so a few may be out there.

The other issue this month was Gift Set 7, the 50 Massey ferguson Tractor and 51 Trailer.

A very natural combination and a popular set indeed. This gets updated with a driver in 1963 and the set will reflect the changes in seat, steering wheel and wheels over the years.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Corgi Toys @ 60: A ruddy great missile and the little Austin A40

In June 1959 the last of the Mechanical models was issued. It's the delightful little Farina designed Austin A40. The 216M models had a very short production life as it was later this year that the decision to drop the M models from the range would have been made. So there are not many of these red and black 216M models around and they fetch high prices whenever good examples do appear.

The 216 non-mechanical edition was usually blue and dark blue but a few escaped from the factory in red and black. they're definitely not easy to find these days!

You should also look out for the 216 with shaped wheels. These would have been fitted later in the model's production and are somewhat less common.

You need either to peer in through the window or look at the base to distinguish the 216 from the 216M in red and black!

The other new arrival on the shelves of your local toy shop would be the remarkable Corporal Missile on a launch platform as catalogue no. 1112.

This must have been a dramatic new toy to see and even now it stands out in any collection, simply by being so big - nearly a foot long - and just plain impressive. It first appears here with another clever piece of Corgi engineering. I can only imagine that there was this one chap working there who was brilliant at this sort of thing and was responsible for the whole range of military equipment loading and transport gear.

The two wheels can be detached so that the unit can be placed on the ground to receive the missile standing vertically. Four adjustment devices can be set to make it level on almost any surface and four shaped pins hold the bottom part of the missile in place whilst the base itself fits on the shaped platform centre.

Later in the year, an erector vehicle will come along which, with a few knobs being turned, moves the missile from horizontal into a vertical position to fit on the platform. However marvellous all this stuff was, though, sales were modest - the high price and, perhaps, a shrinking interest in all things military, meant that only 26,000 are recorded as sold, the lowest figure so far at that time.

There are no variations at the outset for this item but a replacement nose cone does come along later. That includes a metal section into which caps could be places so that we could make exploding bangs if the missile were thrown so that it landed on its top end. As a consequence, you may not find too many in great condition!

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Unusual arrivals this month Part 2!

May has certainly been a fascinating month for the items coming into the village. Today three more arrived and each is a little special! 

I'll start with the Riley Pathfinder. These are always wonderful models and this is the very rare 205M mechanical edition in red. 

I have had one for a while but it has lost a lot of its paint. This one is in very good condition but there is just one insurmountable problem! It didn't come with a rear axle! For the photos I dropped one in. Actually, I am somewhat heartened to find that the motor inside and the mechanism and base generally are pristine and barely used at all. I suspect the rear axle will have come off early in its life. If I can find another gear housing and axle (with crown gear affixed) then I think I should be able to make a decent repair of this. Normally the housing is attached by two long posts, sealed inside, but I am sure I can do something that will not look markedly different.

This will then, even as a repaired item, be worth a substantial sum.

The second item is this lovely little maroon 226 Morris Mini-Minor. Well, just as its maroon colleague, the Rover 2000, featured cast wheels yesterday this model reverses all that and, instead of what I thought all of them had, cast wheels, we have the earlier type.

I am really surprised to find this. I am not 100% convinced of its authenticity and that isn't just because it has come from Russia! Three wheels are marked - the rims dented or scratched in a way that you don't normally see on even much played-with models. One wheel also seems fixed to the axle too but I have not yet been able to ascertain whether it is some sort of glue or just corrosion.

The front axle seems fine, though and, unless it has been joined by a sleeve in the middle, I can't see how anyone could have simply replaced the wheels or, for that matter, why. I mean, I may find it intriguing but the seller did not receive any more for this than he would have done for a 'normal' maroon 226 with cast wheels.

So, I shall investigate this one a bit more closely. If it is original then it's the first one I have seen and won't be at all easy to find.

Lastly, my bank balance will be pleasantly enhanced should I ever find a buyer for this beautiful Simca 1000 in blue.

It is in A+ condition with no faults other than a small mark on the front bumper. Otherwise the paintwork is immaculate and the racing decals perfect. The windows are crystal clear and undamaged and this lacks only a box really. Serious collectors often have a space where this one should be and I sold a quite worn example with a cracked rear screen some time ago for about £150.

Although a blue 205M (not sure which blue) and a red and black 216M are on their way I think these will be in too good a condition for me to extract the bits I need. So I shall be looking around for a wrecked M model going cheap and, ideally, one with the right length back axle as well as a 315 box.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Unusual arrivals this month

From time to time I list some of the models that have arrived here in the village. Nowadays, having acquired most of the 'normal' models that I needed for the catalogue project, I tend only to buy items that are a little scarce and often more interesting.

The first is this lovely 252 Rover 2000 in maroon. Although I expect some reached shops in boxes, this colour was mostly only found in the Gift Set 41/48 with the 1138 edition Ford car Transporter. These were popular sets so the Rover in this colour is not particularly scarce but this is the first I have encountered with cast, spoke effect wheels.

This style of wheel was used across the range, including Land Rovers and commercial models, from around 1967 and the International Rally edition of the Rover issued in February 1967 only had the cast type of wheel. Most other models started with normal wheels and then had the cast type fitted at some later date which I've tended to regard as being around 1968 in most cases.

The make-up of the Transporter Set changed in early 1969 when a new Scammell cab was also issued. So there may have been a year when the cast wheels might have been fitted to this Rover but I suspect it will have been rather shorter a period, (simply based on my  never having seen any, which may, of course, be inaccurate!)

Next is the very scarce Citroen DS19 with fog lamps included in the casting (not jewels as in the Monte Carlo edition). This example had been sadly repainted and the base had been removed so there wasn't much I could do with it. I had intended to restore it but decided to stop at the shiny mazak stage which I feel is a nice way to display this unusual casting. 

I do have an issued and unadulterated red model with these lights too.

The Mercedes may look unexceptional at first glance but its free-spinning wheels caught my attention and it did, indeed, turn out to be one of the very first 303S models issued with suspension. The interior is the same as the 303 model - white with a black steering wheel. It was not long before this was replaced by a white model or silver plated with interiors in a different style.

This model fetches high prices when it does appear but mine is not in great condition, some corrosion having affected the top surfaces.

Here is something I had been looking for for years - a blue 300 Austin Healey. I had doubts about its existence for quite a while but eventually found evidence that it really had been made, with red seat inserts. This example had had a lot of extra paint applied by one of its past owners, presumably in an attempt to cover up chips and scratches. The colour used was not far off the original but it did look, on first glance, like someone might have started with a cream or red one and painted it blue. Looking underneath it is clear that it was originally blue and the base has never been removed so all is well. There is still work to do to remove some recent paint but that's a slow task.

The Bedford CA Van in Ambulance guise as 412 was a common little item with the split screen but this Mk II version was not referred to in the Great Book of Corgi or accompanying lists and so tends to be missed by people making lists based on that source. It is certainly not a common item and would not have had a long life. Indeed, it is likely that the 414 Military Ambulance would have been the intended 'replacement' and I don't think we'll find that many of these single screen 412s will be around.

It's not very scarce but I find it hard to resist nice examples of the 216 Austin A40 with shaped wheels. Such a pretty model.

This is scarce - the 324 Marcos 1800 with blue stripes is, I'm told the edition for export to Canada. We got green stripes. This is only the third I have encountered in many years. The first was, strangely, at a talk I gave to a Welsh Society meeting when someone in the audience who had worked with Messrs Marsh and Costin on the real cars took one out of his pocket, totally unaware of its value!

Lastly for now, it has taken a while to find this uncommon edition of a 214 Ford Thunderbird with shaped wheels. In reasonable condition, too, and this can only have been one of a very few late models made when this style of wheel was fitted just before the 214S replaced it.
 I am still looking for a decent 215 with shaped wheels. I have concluded that there will be none of the M models with them, but there is a slim chance of the two-tone issues of the Ford, Austin, Morris, Vauxhall, Rover and Hillman having them. I have the Standard and both Rileys with shaped wheels (the Standard, interestingly, also having a different red paint area!) and by the time the Jaguar was in production they were fairly common.

So it has been quite a month for the unusual!

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Silverstone and Garage Layout Gift Set Characters

I had intended to write about the many characters who appear in the five packs which were available either separately or several were included with the big Silverstone Race Track and Garage Gift Sets. I was waiting until I had acquired them all but some are hard to find (at a modest price!) so I'll do what I can with what I have rather than delay any longer.

There are five sets of six characters. You might think that would be thirty in all but, strangely, one chap features in two sets!

1501 is  the set of pit mechanics and drivers.

The three missing characters are shown below.

1502 is the set of spectators

I have all of these.

1503 is the set of race track officials.

These are the most difficult to find intact. Most carry a post which gets broken or the paper flags get lost. There is also a broadcaster chap whose aerial usually gets broken. below are the ones I still need. There are two similar-looking chaps holding flags in black leather coats and blue trousers but one has a yellow tie and the other a red tie.

1504 is the set of press officials

There are three missing

You may see that this last odd-looking fellow is the one who appears in the garage attendants set below. Or maybe he has a twin.

Here is 1505, the set of garage attendant figures

With the 'twin' who seems only to have been added to make up the numbers, my set is complete.

I am not entirely sure which sets came with which Gift Sets. I had originally thought that the Silverstone Set came with all five but those I have seen for sale only have 1501, 1502 and 1503. I can't imagine that 1504 wouldn't have been included, though, as there is a Press Box kit in the big set. So I think it is only 1505 that was not included and, I think, you'll find that in the big Garage Gift Set.

The two chaps in blue overalls in 1505 also came in the box with the 1142 Holmes Wrecker model and the one who looks like he's changing a wheel also appears with some farm conveyor models.

If anyone reading this happens to have duplicates of any of the characters that I'm missing then do let me know. Otherwise I hope these illustrations help collectors figure out which they may need and who fits in where, and let's not worry too much about the ugly twins.