Thursday, 12 April 2018

Black is black: the trouble with taxis

When 418, the good old London Taxi, first appeared in 1960 it was quite clearly black. And it stayed that way through the 1960s, despite being dropped from the catalogue and stocks lists sometime in 1964, continuing, with either Kato or Templar (or was it the Thunderbird chap?) driving, in the London Traffic Gift Set 35 for a while after.

In the early 1970s, however, the same casting gets Whizzwheels and most of these get a red interior in place of the lemon. Now, I had always thought these were mostly black. I had seen adverts for various shades of deep maroon but considered that they were the scarce colour, black remaining the dominant issue.

A little while ago I encountered one with blue tinted windows. That looked very black too, if it is, indeed, possible to add a comparative term to black. Shortly after I saw a distinctly washed-out maroon which was most odd and obviously an oddity, especially with the lemon interior. I got hold of the black one with blue tinted windows and knew the seller of the miserable maroon shade but the model was in a pretty poor state so I didn't bother buying it. Taxis were, and still are, generally cheap and plentiful and I reckoned something like that in decent condition would come along soon enough from someone who just looked up '418 taxis' and found them selling for only a few pounds.

I also started looking for this mysterious deep maroon colour. I found several quite quickly and bought one in almost perfect condition, in a box too for about £10. It might have had a purplish tinge in the photo, I can't remember now, but it just looked black on my desk. So I bought another advertised as dark maroon. That looked just the same and just as black to me. Third time lucky, I thought and I spent another tenner on a third 'deep maroon' edition. It still looked black so I gave up.

I had managed to get one with a red interior and one with a lemon interior along the way so that was something, and they'd not been expensive.

I didn't think a great deal more about these until a collector friend in Germany said he'd bought a 'very dark shade of maroon' taxi and, because the seller didn't post abroad, it was on its way to my village. It arrived today and I was intrigued to see just what this 'very dark maroon' might look like. It looked pretty darn black to me. So I got out the other models, lined them up and, for the first time, added the one with tinted windows that'd I stored somewhere else.

Now it became clear.

For all this time, the only one that had actually been black was the one, third from the left, with tinted windows. The others are all deep ruddy maroon! 

The shade becomes more obvious when you add a bit more light to the image using some software. My friend's acquisition is on the far right and, whilst slightly darker than the others, qualifies as dark maroon like the rest.

So, after all this time, it has been an example of a 418 with Whizzwheels in black that I have not got and now I need to find one with each of the red and lemon interiors. (I understand that there are also variations of grey or black steering wheels but I may skip that variety for now).

This has made me wonder whether I am going to find that most Whizzwheels 418s were, in fact, deep / dark maroon and not black at all.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Corgi Toys @ 60: A Loader and a Ramp

Here's a model you could really play with. Fold down the massive rear ramp and attach the winch to stones or whatever was lying around the floor and attempt to wind it in. Slap up the ramp closed and set off. Unfortunately, there was nothing else available in the range with which to unload at your destination but if you'd chosen a car then it could be rolled or pushed off.

This would last through to 1963 when the Bedford TK style cab would replace it. The 1100 Bedford Carrimore Low Loader model did not have suspension and the only variations I am aware of are the yellow and red cab colours, mid or dark blue (both metallic) shades for the carrier section and late editions will have shaped wheels in place of the flat ones. QDT have an example with a red handle on the winch but I am not so sure that wasn't just a one-off oddity.

I wonder what colour cab it had. Either would seem appropriate. This is a new combination for me and I hope to have this particular one in a while. It looks like a late model

The other item released in April 1958 was the Corgi Service Ramp.

This is almost identical, apart from colour, to the Mettoys 'Castoys' service ramp produced in 1950 and is one of two models that were continued into the Corgi era. (The other was the Karrier Bantam truck). Now quite hard to find - indeed, I am looking for one myself at the time of writing - in fully functioning condition, this is a splendid piece of engineering that might have been a great addition to any garage display.

It even has holes so that you can fix it to a surface to prevent movement as you pull the lever to raise whatever you have driven on to the ramp.

To the best of my knowledge these Corgi ramps were always silver on a blue base.

Here is the best picture I can find of the original Mettoy product.