Thursday, 5 January 2017

Bring Back Corgi Toys!

Model Collector magazine had an interesting article with this title in its Xmas 2016 edition. A chap called Wilf Bainbridge wrote suggesting that Corgi pay serious attention to producing replicas of some old models. He says that with modern production techniques permitting far cheaper manufacture it ought to be possible for the present Corgi to make new copies of the old models at rather less than we have to pay for originals in good condition.

He's right. Recent editions like the latest 'anniversary' Bond Aston Martin have cost less than £20 and they've had all sorts of operating features too. If anything, the precision of the Chinese manufacturing process seems to be too neat and tidy! Corgi Toys always had some flaw in the cast or paintwork somewhere! There can be no doubt that there is a market for nice, clean examples of their old models - and in boxes. This needn't be seen as incompatible with a thriving market for originals either. Collectors will always want those - with or without a box and in almost any condition!

There have been some rather half-hearted attempts - Corgi Classics, for example - but they fail in my view as the models are quite different and the boxes don't seem right either. Some items come affixed to a plastic base and, whilst that does keep them safe in transit and keeps the dust off on display, I much prefer the idea of opening a box and simply getting the car out and, if not playing with it nowadays, at least letting it roll across the desk.

Many recent models seem deficient in not having suspension or having fixed wheels when the originals might have had suspension or free wheels. The new ones are not as pleasant to push along so good replicas should reflect closely what the early ones were like and certainly have rubber tyres.

The card boxes in blue and yellow just didn't work for me. Like the models they contained, there was a similarity to the original in some respects but then there were obvious differences which were annoying. The wheels on most models, for instance, may have been more like the real ones but they were not Corgi Toy wheels.



The 'Archive Corgi' range seems to be just Commercial vehicles and it's not a bad effort. However, there is just too much detail and I do feel that you either match the old boxes or have something substantially different. The 'half-way house' approach doesn't work for me.


The first effort to rekindle our interests came with Corgi Classics which were very similar to Vanguards. The packaging, of course, is completely different. The models included some that were similar to those issued originally but, again, too much detail and small but important differences meant they didn't work for me either. I also did not like models that were fixed to a base.


The 'Golden Oldies' range I had not noticed a great deal. They try to reflect the old blue box and seem to be reproducing the models of the day too, just like Archive Corgis above. 

It may, therefore, be asking a lot to get Corgi to take yet another look at this market but it's worth a try.

What I would love to see, and would definitely want to buy, would be exact replicas of the old models, with the same features and wheels. Corgi could use this opportunity to put better suspension on the Hillman Imp, Mustang and others that suffered too! We know that there are already excellent reproduction boxes around. They are the easy part, although, I suppose that would not be great news for the firms presently making the best ones which are, indeed, very good indeed and often almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

Perhaps they will still have a market for collectors wishing to rehouse their original models. There will be some identification of the Corgi 'replicas' so that they only get used for the 'replica' models.

Mr Bainbridge suggests six models for the first launch:

150 Vanwall Formula 1 Grand Prix (with special Vandervell promotion)
204 Rover 90 (in two tone grey)
225 Austin Seven (in primrose)
258 Volvo P1800 (The Saint's car)
422 Bedford CA Van (in Corgi Toys livery, including the rarer versions from 1961)
424 Ford Zephyr Estate (in a range of two-tone finishes)

That's a reasonable group, although none of them have any 'features' other than interiors or suspension. I think there should be at least one with opening doors, bonnet or boot in the first set. Mr Bainbridge chose the Rover 90 because he is a big fan of Rovers. It is, however, generally regarded, (including by Corgi personnel at the time), as a rather poor representation of that particular model so I would suggest one of the other initial releases. Much as we might like to see a 'corrected' Rover 90, that is not the point of this!

I wonder whether Corgi shouldn't, in fact, plan to re-issue every model, including some deliberately scarce colour variations. They could truncate the 1956-73 period somewhat but it could still be a major project covering several years and I am sure it would have a dramatic impact on the market. It would also have a dramatic impact on my own finances if they really did get it right!  I know I would simply have to collect them all.

Oh dear, what have we started?

I am quite surprised (and, indeed, disappointed) that Corgi did not see fit to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 1956 launch with something more interesting than a very strange electric truck. I am quite sure there is a lot of profit to be made from re-issues. So I hereby add my voice to Mr Bainbridge's appeal and hope someone somewhere that can make decisions is listening.


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