I really did not expect to find the late Massey Ferguson 50B Tractor interesting! However, as #54 it comes with a shovel attachment and I recently acquired a decent one in yellow and red with good ol' Farmer George still on the seat.
This is the fairly short-lived edition that came out in 1974 and lasted until around 1977. I have since seen another yellow and red one but it seems to have no Farmer George and the Great Book Of Corgi seems to indicate a re-issue in 1980 which that might be. I haven't got the book but maybe someone could have a look at the pictures - plates 614 and 799 - for me. There's no way he can get out so it must be a different production if it does exist.
Whatever the case, I now have a further two different versions! Neither, incidentally, have Farmer George so he definitely does seem to have retired in the late 1970s.
First is this orange tractor with a shiny silver shovel attachment and white wheels. It has a black roof, fully covered.
In every production detail this is identical to #54 from Corgi and yet it does not have the Corgi logo on the base. It has exactly the same other information, though, the 'Made in Great Britain' text and model name in the same places and style as #54. So that is a bit of a mystery as I can find no documentation for this one anywhere.
For another, however, I have found the answer. The other that has just come in is the same orange colour but with a dull metal shovel attachment. It has cream wheels, a white base that stretches up inside the cabin and the roof is entirely orange, bearing a transfer with the Block company logo.
I had thought that this might have been a special edition made for the Block company to distribute but I did have some success researching this one and discovered another Gift Set! This is actually called a Building Contractor Set 2. The tractor comes with a #440 Mazda Pick-up which also has the Block logo on its door and a concrete mixer.
This may well also be the source for the example which is slightly different. It is pretty likely but I await some confirmation if anyone knows.
I have also seen pictures of an all white version, described as a 'Marks & Spencer' edition but I have no further information. With the larger scale David Brown already issued at the time, I am surprised they bothered with these variations in 1:43 scale.
These late models may not in themselves be that interesting but the sets some of them appear in were not made in huge numbers and still seem quite reasonably priced - if you can find them, that is! It seems that the last years of Corgi as we knew it may have a few 1:43 surprises yet! The Mazda, however, is the larger 1:36 scale. At first glance they seem to go together well but then you compare the wheel sizes and, of course, the tractor's should be considerably bigger than the Mazda's!
I suppose I shall have to add the Contractor Set to my lists. I shall guess at a 1980 release date, along with the driver-less 50B but, again, I have nothing to support this. I still find the missing Corgi logo quite odd.