Saturday, 18 November 2017

New Corgi Catalogue and Stock sections and 15% off for a while.

The new home page

The Web police have been nagging me for some time to make my sites 'responsive'. They say pages are expected to detect what sort of device they're being viewed on and adapt the page layout to suit a range of different screen dimensions, catering for huge wide monitors and TVs, often initially thin vertical smartphone screens that might switch to horizontal from time to time and, the squarer screens of tablets.

When you have thousands of pages, change isn't the simplest job in the world and I resisted for a long time, as I was actually quite happy with the design of the old one. A few months ago, however, I did change the front page and a few more associated with new items arriving and hoped that would be all that was necessary. Recently, however, the software that I used for the old site has been struggling to manage all the pages. Just adding a new model or correcting errors could take several hours and that's on a very fast computer too. Serif seem to have given up on web design software and have issued no new versions of the product I used, nor any support in future, so I set out to see what else I could use.

I had written elsewhere about how Google really ought to help us create these new styles of sites if they were going to penalise us for staying with the old types. When I looked at what used to be a rather plain and tedious Google Sites product I realised that it had been thoroughly revised and, indeed, appeared to represent a way in which I could proceed.

So, with no local software whatsoever, I have built the 'Catalogue' section with their pretty smart product. This should feature an image of each model and its main variations, with links to photo albums where I have had an example.

The Catalogue

There is a Google Search facility built in too and that works wonderfully well. I don't quote prices in this Catalogue section but there is a sheet on the Stock page where you can see what prices I am selling various items for with an indication of condition. I know some colleagues have been using the old site as a quick check on what something might sell for but, because so much depends on condition, and whether there's an original box, for instance, and I do quote rather high prices for several items I am quite keen to keep in a collection, they are not terribly useful when viewing something in an entirely different condition. Toymart do a pretty good job in that respect, although they are not always as up-to-date as they might be.

I couldn't see a way to incorporate a store on the new Google site creator, though, so have put all the Stock into a Tictail site which is pleasantly clean, simple to maintain and free. My old site store facility was also part of the Serif system and never was able to handle different postage rates so I usually finished up dealing direct with people there instead, with envelopes of dollars, euros or Swiss francs floating around! The new one is much more professional-looking.

Stock and on-line store

Not quite everything has been transferred there yet but that job will be complete in a week or so. That was another problem with the old site. Because pages were useful both as a reference page and for sales, if something got sold I wouldn't delete the page, just the 'Add to Basket' button. But it wasn't as obvious as it might have been that I didn't have that model any more and the number of links to alternative items was getting most confusing. I think there were 27 different Morris Mini Minors at the last count and links to each needed to be on every 226 page. Now if something sells it will automatically get removed from the Stock site and I can now simply make changes to the other places needed if they sell elsewhere, like on Ebay.

The very first page remains a complex piece of code that I need some local software to edit but I am hoping that it will seldom need much done and that can be done with Dreamweaver or any basic html editor as and when required. Everything else can be edited from anywhere and on almost any device.

I shall miss the old pages with the full screen backgrounds of interesting models but not the chaotic periods of updating. The old site will still be there. I don't see any reason to delete it but parts will gradually get dated and it will all go eventually. I will probably make a nice slide show of models to replace it. That'll be nice, and another challenge to create efficiently!

I understand that if you buy something from the Tictail store the code TTCORGITOYS will get you a 15% discount. That's quite an attractive offer so feel free to use it. I believe it can be applied to any store they run too. I guess it won't last forever. It doesn't affect what I receive either, which is why I am delighted to be able to tell you about it.

And another Pony Trailer.

Just as I thought I had finally got a complete collection of Rice Pony Trailers, along comes this fascinating edition.

The fixed, shaped wheels first caught my eye and then the fixed drawbar which I had thought was only available on the brown and cream trailer with a silver chassis. Clearly, sometime in 1962 before the new brown and cream colour scheme was introduced, the red trailer did get a fixed drawbar but I would guess that it would not have been around for many months. The upgraded dropside and flatbed trailers were not released until December 1962 and it looks a very similar design.

The rest of the trailer looks identical to the previous edition, with the 'handle' on the ramp. The wheels are still fixed, however, whereas I believe all the brown and cream trailers have free-spinning wheels.

I think you may have a hard job finding another of these. Another for the 'Scarce Corgis' list, I think.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

The Wilford Collection Pt 6: a gold Batmobile

For many, this will be the 'star' of the Wilford Collection. This is a 267 Batmobile, entirely as issued in 1972 or 1973, judging by the 8-spoke hubs which were fitted at that time, but produced in what I believe is solid brass or some gold-coloured alloy that is also non-magnetic.

The base features the text used prior to 1976 when it appears that they were informed that copyright information had to be included.

The various features are all believed to function, although I have not been able to test the missiles. Batman is also missing but an original character can be found and would certainly be an essential purchase for this.

There are no dents or scratches and this appears to have been stored, wrapped in a cloth in a drawer for many years. I have been unable, so far, to trace anything similar being referred to in other publications but from what limited information I can gather it would appear that this would have been one of very few, possibly 3 or 4 that were made for VIP guests associated with whatever deal Corgi had made by way of getting permission to sell the 267 model and later variations on the theme.

In my view, this is a seriously rare, and hence very valuable item. I hesitate to put a price on this at this stage and it will be interesting to see what offers are made. At the time of writing it can be seen at London Auctions premises in Chiswick. I have agreed that it will be included in their auction of a range of Corgi and other toys later this month, where several other items from the Wilford Collection will be available.

More details of their catalogue for the day can be seen at this link. Unsold items will be returned to me after that date but for a couple of weeks that is where you will find this wonderful model.

Corgi Toys @ 60: Bedford Ambulance

This month in 1957 saw the little Bedford CA van in St John's Ambulance guise. A common sight at the Hertfordshire Show that I used to go to with my dad (and, no doubt at all sorts of other public events across the country).

In cream with the St John's Ambulance motif, this stayed around until some time in 1960 when it was updated to the single screen casting but retained the same catalogue number. The single screen versions are hard to find, not least because many seller advertise the model just from one side!

412 has an opaque section for windows at the sides and rear. I believe it can be found with both types of grille - the rounded top shown in the image above, as well as a distinctly straighter top edge (although that edition I have yet to obtain).

I am not sure that there will be twin screen editions with fixed shaped wheels and they are likely to be pretty scarce on the single screen edition too.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

There are fewer greens in Brussells

I saw this and bought it from someone in Belgium. It wasn't expensive and looked like a nice example of the silver-blue shade that is quiet hard to come by. I did have one a while ago but it was snapped up by someone in Italy almost as soon as it arrived here.

This is the photo that caught my attention.

The model shown below is what arrived! At first I thought the chap must have had a few Ghias and had merely thrown the wrong one in the envelope. 

Whilst wondering whether I would have to communicate in Flemish or some Wallonian dialect to request the right model, I found the original advertisement and, fortunately, the Belgian had supplied some pretty good photos. It was soon clear that he had, indeed, supplied the correct car. It may not be obvious from the photos shown here but I can assure you that they are of the same model.

The car is actually what seems to be quite a common shade of dark turquoise, which I see often and have several examples of already. My photo makes it appear slightly more 'dark blue' than it should be and the Belgian's considerably more silver with a complete absence of any green in both our photos but, sitting in front of me now is a distinctly deep turquoise model which definitely has some green in the mix.

I have used some software to change the shade a little to illustrate better what I see in front of me.

Different again, I fear! But that is the car I have, the others are imposters, colour-shifters from some alien planet, via Belgium.

Of course, this is simply what my eyes show me. For all I know you are seeing something completely different and maybe some readers are getting excited at the possibility of a crimson Ghia!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Wilford Collection Pt 5: The Daimler that was not 'Available Later' and odd Bentleys

The 1966 and 1967 Corgi catalogues included illustrations of 9022, a 1910 Daimler 38 with a hood, marked as AVAILABLE LATER. To all intents and purposes this looked like 9021, a red Daimler 38 with folded back hood and driver plus a full load of passengers, but painted blue with a red-brown closed hood.

Corgi were good at making one casting do several things. This one, however, never got into production. What I have here is a sample, looking almost complete but lacking a steering wheel.

A full selection of images of this unique item can be seen here.

It is in excellent condition with no chips or scratches, the screen has survived and so too has the vulnerable radiator emblem.

I also have the 9021 Daimler which may also have been a sample but it appears indistinguishable from examples of issued models that I have. I would, nevertheless, prefer to see these kept together in case, at some point, someone does spot some differences. Shown above is a production model and, below, the model in the Wilford Collection.

What is quite different, however, is one of the 1927 Bentley 3 Litres in the collection. This clearly was intended to be an example of a model with the hood down by the look of the windscreen(s) which would not have supported the full length hood. The horn on the side is painted bright silver, as opposed to the black on issued models, and there is a very detailed dashboard with a tremendously realistic-looking (albeit rather small) steering wheel. This needs a rear folded hood, in my view, but they are simple enough to obtain and I may well supply one with this when sold.

You can see where the idea for this style of screen came from.

Whether this was an early sample for what would become 9001 I do not know. It may also have been the older Mr Wilford's team working with an existing 9001/2 body to create a different edition, perhaps even an idea for Steed's Bentley in the Avengers Gift Set. It would have been in keeping with the Bentley they might have seen in the instalment this screenshot came from:

However, here's John Steed again in a Bentley with the same registration - but it's  on a 3 litre car now not the 4½ litre! 

I have visions of some confusion in the office as the series progressed! Do they re-brand the model 4½ litre? Do they move the spare wheel, not just from left to right but maybe to the rear? That might explain the odd editions that they did include, none of which bear more than passing resemblance to any of the Steed vehicles. 

Another Bentley was in the Wilford office drawer. It looks like a standard 9001 at first glance.

The wheels, radiator and headlamp unit and handbrake are all in a gold-coloured metal rather than the usual grey or silver colour. We know that this gold colour appears on the 9004 Jeeves & Wooster Bentley and, reportedly, in some Avengers Sets but this one has a RN3 on the back and the Union flag on the passenger door à la 9001.

The screen has a chunk missing and this also needs a hood of some type but is otherwise complete and in very good condition. It is certainly another unusual edition and will be made available soon, possibly paired with the small twin screen edition and a complete 9002 from the same source that does seem totally standard.

More images of the small screen Bentley, the gold wheel 9001 and this red 9002 are available.

From The Great Book of Corgi. "Some very near Misses".

From the 1966 Catalogue

Still shown in the 1967 Catalogue

I do believe that the 9022 Daimler is unique in being the only proposed model that remained AVAILABLE LATER across two catalogue printings.

These items are available to purchase. Contact me if you would like more information.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

The Wilford Collection Pt 4: Minis

As I have spent most of the last two weeks studying Minis and creating ever-lengthening lists of what collectors may wish to search for, it seems appropriate to take a break from the gold and probably very expensive items and look at some of the more 'normal' models that I have available from the office drawers of the two Mr Wilfords.

Included in this post are five Rally Mini Coopers from the 1964-66 period and a reproduction of the Wilford family Mini from 1972.

The Mini Coopers all have a little extra detailing in silver and all but the Sun Rally 333 models have what seem to be unique Monte Carlo decals, being noticeably smaller than those on the issued models. Apart from the extra detailing, the Sun Rally models do look like those that were issued.

It is a little sad, perhaps that a Whizzwheels edition of the Morris Mini Minor was used! The old shaped wheels were a far better likeness to the real thing. Below is a 1966 advert for the Morris. The model is otherwise really very good!

This is a charming little item, with all the little details presumably added by Mr Wilford who then mounted the car using a simple bolt through a varnished wood base. 

The unique Rally Minis should fetch a good premium over and above the price one would expect to pay for the normal models and the company connection should add some value to the two 333s too which are themselves identifiable with the extra detailing.

The Wilford family Mini is just a delightful item to have and if you must have a Whizzwheels Corgi Mini then I guess this will be as good as any! So Mini collectors, get in touch and reserve any that you might like. These are being made available only here and on my main site at the moment to give our regular visitors and colleagues the first chances of acquiring them.