Friday, 31 July 2020

Corgi Toys @ 60: Ford Zephyr Motorway Patrol



We hadn't had a motorway for very long and many children may never have had a chance to experience one when this model appeared in August 1960. This was the first Ford Zephyr Estate model, the private car version not appearing until February 1961.

It seems a simple model with just one version at first glance. However, there are a few to collect. The first issue has flat, fixed wheels and small light on the roof.




This may also be found with POLITIE for the Dutch market. Beware, though. Transfers are easy to change and the model retained the right-hand-drive interior!! Don't pay a fortune without some form of evidence of its authenticity.

Later it gets fixed shaped wheels but keeps the small blue light.

You may also find a RIJKSPOLITIE version!


At some point, I cannot find when, the model gets a larger roof light with a clear surround. It seems that these will usually, maybe always, have free spinning wheels too. That needs to be checked, however.

The colour may range from a quite thin, pure white through to a greasy cream and they seem to be in that order too but I have yet to establish any clear evidence for a specific, planned change of colour.

Monday, 13 July 2020

Spanish Corgis by Auto-Pilen


I have been looking at some models made by Auto-Pilen, a Spanish company who produced die-cast models from 1969 until the 1990s. My attention was first drawn by a fabulous-looking Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray that looked almost identical to a Corgi 310 model but was finished in metallic green. Then I found this beautiful Oldsmobile Toronado and a Mini-Cooper.

The Oldsmobile is almost identical to the Corgi 264 or 276 model but with opening doors, a detailed interior and slightly improved headlamp operation system. It also has tremendously attractive (and accurate) wheel covers.



I have also acquired a Mini-Cooper and this is to most intents and purposes the Corgi 334 Magnifique model but missing the sliding roof, jewelled headlamps and corner bumper embellishments. This model, like all Auto-Pilens I gather, has super wheels that reflect so accurately a typical real model.




Looking around I have found ten models that appear to have come from Corgi original castings:

Adams Probe 1.6 (384)
BMC Mini-Cooper (334)
Chevrolet Astro 1.6 (347)
Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray (310)
Citroen SM (284)
Ghia 5000 Mangusta de Tomaso (203)
Mercedes-Benz C111 (388)
Oldsmobile Toronado (264 / 276)
Porsche 917 (385)
Porsche Carrera 6 (330 / 371)

I may be wrong about one or two of these as Dinky may have produced similar models and Auto-Pilen used or copied their casts instead. As and when I see the actual models or find out more I will update this list.

Whilst it is another brand and not 'Corgi' as such, I do think collectors will be interested to learn more about these, especially those that appear to be very close indeed to the Corgi originals.

There are several editions of the Oldsmobile and also what appears to be a wide range of colours so the list of 10 may develop into a catalogue of rather more in due course! I have a suspicion that I will not be able to resist the temptation to acquire all of them and prices seem very reasonable too at present. They seem to be very well manufactured and, particularly nice when compared to the Whizzwheel versions!



Thursday, 2 July 2020

Corgi Toys @ 60 : Land Rover Breakdown Truck, Bricks and Milk Churns



July 1960 saw two more loads added to what you could put on a trailer or the back of some lorries. These were a neat load of red bricks and 36 milk churns all stuck together.

The real event this month, though, was the issue of the first Land Rover Breakdown Truck. This splendid model could be used to lift up and tow the front or back of all your other models and drag them around the carpet.


This first issue has a jib that comprises two quite thin poles with a small gap at the top for the cord to pass through. The large hook, which I always though was a bit over-sized, could be lowered and raised by turning a fifth wheel fitted to the side. the wheel would always match the other four and changes to the shaped but still fixed type later in production.


The rear section has a cut-away metal section with transfers on each side and a metal lamp that can be turned on top.


There are no variations, other than the wheels, for the 417 model that I am aware of, although it is possible that there are minor changes in the casting - usually most noticeable in how the window opening levers at the front are depicted. (I must look at these and report back!)



You will know that a Land Rover Breakdown Truck is one of Corgi's longest running models. The 417 will become a 417S in a couple of years and get the Series II body with an interior plus suspension. Then the 417S will get a new, stronger, type of jib but keeps the metal rear section. A 477 model appears in December 1965 and appears to be identical to the 417S except for the rear section which gets a bigger plastic canopy.

The 477 carries on through cast wheels and ends up looking slightly ridiculous with Whizzwheels sometime in the early 1970s. You'll have to wait until my articles in 2031 or 2032 for that one!




Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Interior choices


I had never really paid much attention to the Chevrolet Corvair. I've always regarded it as a slightly odd model that looks too small to be a Chevrolet. Maybe the unassuming blue finish doesn't help, or the Hillman Imp-like front end with the slightly lopsided driver's side headlamps. I have to say that I was missing something, though, and only yesterday did I realise that it had two different interior colours! Yes, I knew about the red interior fitted to the gold-plated edition for Gift Set 20 but I had always thought the normal boxed 229 model has a lemon interior.

The model with a red interior has just arrived and, whilst not difficult to find, it did seem a lot less common than the lemon. The 229 is also interesting in that it is one of the few models that can be found with all three wheel types; fixed smooth, fixed shaped and free-spinning shaped. (I have a feeling I may have encountered a free-spinning smooth wheel too which would make it unique with four but that maybe just my imagination.) It also comes in several very different shades of blue, early ones being mostly the pale-to-mid blue and later ones a darker, brighter shade.

My lack of appreciation of the different interiors made me do a little research to see whether there might be others I was not aware of. The table below may be useful to collectors and is a simple list of all the models that I can think of which, for the same external finish, have two different interiors or, in one case, three.


DateCat. No.ModelBody colourInterior colours
Oct 59222Renault Floridemetallic bluelemonred
Jan 60220Chevrolet Impalabluelemonred
Feb 60226Morris Mini-Minorbluelemonred
Feb 61424Ford Zephyr Estateblue/ dark bluelemonred
Jun 61229Chevrolet Corvairblue (shades)lemonred
May 62227Morris Mini-Cooperblue / whitelemonred
Jul 62228Volvo P1800beigelemonred
Sep 62238Jaguar Mk Xdark metallic bluelemonred
Sep 62238Jaguar Mk Xturquoiselemonred
Dec 62438Land Roverdeep greenlemonred
Feb 63239Volkswagen Karman Ghiagoldlemonred
Nov 63241Ghia L6.4metallic bluecreamred
Nov 63241Ghia L6.4goldcreamred
Mar 64431Volkswagen Pick-upyellowlemonred
Sep 64472Land Rover Public Address Vehiclegreenlemonred
Jan 65357Land Rover Army Weapons Carrierkhakilemonred
Jan 651135Bedford Army Machinery Carrierkhakilemonred
Mar 65470Jeep FC-150bluelemonred
Aug 65246Chrysler Imperialredpale bluepale green
Sep 65487Land Rover Parade Vehicleredlemonred
Dec 65GS2Land Roverbrownlemonred
Dec 65478Jeep Tower Wagonmetallic greenlemonred
Dec 65325Ford Mustang Competitionwhitepale bluepale green
Apr 68275Rover 2000TCmetallic greenbrownredwhite
Nov 68GS15Land Rover (normal and Whizzwheels)bluelemonred
Jul 70301Iso Grifo (Whizzwheels)metallic bluewhitepale blue
Sep 70383Volkswagen 1200 (Whizzwheels)orangewhitered
Jun 71418Austin Taxi (Whizzwheels)blacklemonred

I am prepared to admit that I may have missed some so do, please, let me know if you have other entries that need to be made. I did not give a great deal of thought to the Majors or many commercial or utility vehicles which I tend not to have more than one at a time and that can be from time to time too. I know the Bedford Carrimore cab, for example, may have lemon or red interiors but whether they are both issued for the same model I am not sure, other than the Military Machinery Carrier listed here.

I have given the dates when a model was first issued but in all cases the alternative interior will have been fitted later. The Jaguar Mk X, for instance, was only issued in pale blue or pale green at first and the two colours referred to here came significantly later. The list is not an indication of which came first and I do not know yet very much about how rare one or other might be. The alternative Land Rover interiors are definitely very scarce, as is the beige Volvo with red but that's all I am aware of at this time. A study of what is for sale will give a pretty good indication as to which others are going to be hard to find.

I shall update my Catalogue accordingly and welcome any further additions if you have them.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Silverstone and Garage Characters: All Present! Hopefully Correct.

The final character arrived today, a year or so after I wrote about these in this article. So I hope I can describe them as all present and correct. There are a couple of similar-looking chaps but a colleague drew my attention to the position of his arms being different in one set to the other. Interestingly, I see boxed sets for sale with quite the wrong people in - and that didn't help my search! I had to trust only those illustrations where every character remained attached to his or her sprue.

I hope that someone will now find these illustrations useful. I shall, in due course, provide individual pictures too.

1501 Racing Drivers & Pit Mechanics


1502 Silverstone Spectators

1503 Race Track Officials


1504 Press Officials



1505 Garage Attendants







Sunday, 31 May 2020

Corgi Toys @ 60: 4 revised models and a Hovercraft



A New York Taxi Cab was the second Chevrolet Impala to appear, arriving in the local store in May 1960. Always bright yellow, of course, with the sign on the roof, charges on the door and an aerial. I am afraid that the aerial illustrated here is a poor replacement. Initial models will have had smooth wheels as in this example. Later ones get fixed. shaped wheels and then the last ones from 1963 get free spinning shaped wheels.



These two Bedford CA Vans may be the first to get the new casting with a single screen, ribbed roof and different grille (as well as many more minor changes). 412 is the update of the Daily Express van, now featuring the Evening Standard. This will usually be split 50-50 silver and black as in this example but there are also models with a black body and silver just on the roof. Although shaped wheel editions will be around, they are scarce, the vast majority having fixed smooth wheels.

The 423 Fire Service edition is in the same red as the 405M model and many people get these confused when they're selling them. The one illustrated is the scarce edition with fixed, shaped wheels but the first models released in 1960 will have had smooth wheels. The ladder was black and one unit, both sections solidly adjoined as in the Type I models, and the crude metal tabs on the roof to hold it remain unchanged.

Coming out alongside models with suspension and interiors, these looked very dated even then and sales were not great. Good examples are now sought after across the Bedford CA range.



Often missed by collectors, and another that may have appeared with these two, is the 412 Ambulance with the revised casting (but no model number change).


May 1960 saw another revision, this time the 210 Citroën DS19 getting suspension and an interior and becoming 210S. Always bright red, this was a popular model and stayed in production through to 1965 with a Monte Carlo edition in blue and white with jewelled foglamps and, finally, it seems that the Monte Carlo casting gets re-issued in red with Mazak filling the holes for the jewelled lights in a quite scarce late edition.

The casting does get cut down later for a Coupé edition and even more for a Whizzwheels Cycle Race Manager's vehicle and ends up as a car (a loose use of the word) for Dougal and some Magic Roundabout characters

Corgi didn't often make big mistakes but the position of the rear axle on the Citroën DS was one of their particularly annoying ones. Dinky and others got it right but Corgi's was nowhere near far enough back.


This might have been a good time to have fixed it but sadly that was not to be the case.




The only really 'new' item was the extraordinary addition of a Hovercraft to the Corgi catalogue. It's a smart-looking and nicely detailed model of something that was the talk of future transport across the Channel for many commentators. My mother bought me one but she was one of only a small number, sales being poor. It just didn't really fit in to most children's layouts or play scenes at the time. It had four ball bearings on springs underneath and these enabled it to be moved along with some attempt at realism but it would sink like a stone, of course, in water.

Despite the low numbers sold, they are not too difficult to find in good condition as they did tend to live their lives on shelves or in the box as opposed to being whizzed around the carpet.


The real thing only had seats for a couple of people.







Saturday, 23 May 2020

Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman




So here is the finished product - and black certainly suits this model well. The steering wheel is in place and the wipers still work. I did have doubts about the switch as I could not see how it worked to disable to cogs from meshing. There is a metal cam on the switch spindle but it doesn't appear to do a great deal until the base is re-affixed. Then it works so I shall not bother about that too much!

Rather than attempt to paint the headlamps and small horizontal lines at the front, I simply scraped off the paint but I haven't yet completed that task and need to removed a bit more yet and then polish the mazak to make it brighter. The small horizontal bits of 'chrome' will be fine, however. I am also trying to think of what I might have that could be used as the missing emblem.

All in all I am pleased with this. The original model would probably not have found a buyer in years and even then only at £20 or so if I was lucky. This is definitely worth that to keep.

The Mercedes-Benz might have sat well next to the recently rebuilt Bentley but there is a scale problem. They'll need to stay apart, but maybe not the regulation 2 metres!




Friday, 22 May 2020

The Avengers: Toy Trap

As well as being the title of a 1961 episode of the classic TV series, there are certainly traps that some people may lure you into in connection with these toys. The Gift Set 40 is a wonderful presentation of John Steed in a 3 Litre 1927 Bentley and Mrs Emma Peel standing next to a Lotus Elan S2.






Three black folded brollies complete the scene with which I am sure all collectors are very familiar.



Above are illustrated two sets which I can vouch for as being totally original and unchanged since they were first bought in 1966 when they were first sold. They came out a couple of years after the 9001/2 Bentleys and I have often wondered whether their conception had been at a committee meeting to decide what to do with what might have been a large stock of unsold classic Bentleys.

Having said that, the green Bentley issued was a distinctly different shade to that of the 9001 issue. Both the red and green also had a change of wheel, the red 9002 getting steel or slightly gold-tinted wheels and the green sporting extraordinary red wheels. Now, you might be tempted to assume that Corgi simply put the steel wheels from the 9001 on the red set Bentley and the red ones from the 9002 on the green one. The steel wheels were pretty ubiquitous, accepted, but the red ones are a different, brighter colour and that still doesn't account for the noticeably gold-tinted wheels. Furthermore, the 9002 model invariably seems to have a quite gold-coloured radiator surround and lights which does not seem to have made its way through to sets which I believe are all showing the silver colour, whether red or green Bentley body.

There is a third and very scarce Bentley.


This time it is green but with black mudguards and running board. I have only just acquired this one (and the box illustrated here is a reproduction that I have put the original models in) but I have been aware of its existence for many years.


original rivets intact

Side by side with a 9001 - interior identical

This is not, as many people will think, the 9004 World of Wooster edition. That has a dark grey, not black section that provides the running boards and mudguards. It is also a quite different shade of green and the most obvious difference if those are missed will be the fact that the 9004 has a red interior, not brown as all the Gift Set 40 models do. Amusingly, someone had moaned at the seller of this model and said that it was a 9004 and this had led the seller to include the other person's remarks! This seems to have put off other bidders and I was able to win this at quite a modest price, thanks to the person who likes to criticise listings.

It may have been the same person who wrote to me about a set I had for sale last week. It was clearly described as featuring an adapted green Bentley and not an original component but I guess he had just seen the pictures and fired off the missive telling me that the green Bentley could only have red wheels. I replied to the effect that, whilst the vast majority of Gift Set 40 green Bentleys will have had red wheels, I was selling a set that I knew Avengers fans liked and was not trying to pretend it was original. I also made the point that on a Friday afternoon shift we could never be sure, and Corgi production managers could never be sure, quite what may have been popped into the box! I am sure there will have been occasions when the supply of the 'correct' green / red or red/ gold Bentleys dried up some green/steel or even red/red that happened to be lying around may have been used to make up the numbers. Speaking to a lady who did work there in the 1960s and remembers some of the antics that they got up to and the lack of quality control some evenings, I am surprised these sets and others had such consistent contents as they did!

Incidentally, that set had been sold by the time I replied and the new owner has taken the trouble to say how delighted he is with it.

This latest set, however, will probably not find a buyer just yet as the Bentley has a chunk missing from the end of the offside front mudguard. I have a piece that can be used but need to figure out how to attach it as neatly as possible. I did want to bring this to the attention of collectors, though, so in the meantime, some black tape is holding it together! It will appear in my store but at a pretty silly price as I'd like to hang on to this one until another with an intact mudguard appears.

The rest of the car is excellent and unmarked. The rivet has not been tampered with and the rest is entirely as it should be. The Lotus is very good but has a few chips at one corner. I added HNK 999C registration plates to it. Steed and Mrs Peel are, of course, both original as I felt they should be to accompany such an unusual set.

As I write this it occurs to me that I mentioned an episode title from 1961. But a C registration Elan would have been from 1965. Mrs Peel did not appear until late 1965, when Diana Rigg entered our screens. That explains that. I have no idea what her predecessors drove. That's something else I shall research one day - and whether there are relevant Corgi models.