Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Not a Corgi. A mystery Citroën.


It's not a Corgi. I bought it at a charity shop in Towcester, Northamptonshire, England, and it is a lovely old model of the Citroen Traction. Very heavy, it seems to be made of metal throughout, tyres included, and has a quite detailed, albeit very grubby interior. There is no sign of a manufacturer. I think it is 1:10 scale, measuring 40cm long, 15cm wide and 13cm high. I would love to know more about it. Can anyone help?

It looks very, very much like this Maisto model - except it is much bigger and appears to be 1:10 scale. This was as close as I could get, though. I do hope someone may have some idea.

Corgi Model Club shine a light on the Cadillac Superior


The latest model which has been arriving in subscribers' letterboxes recently is the 437 'Superior Ambulance on Cadillac Chassis'. It's the second edition, rather than the first which is what the box shows. This is all quite accurate, if confusing, as Corgi didn't change the box when they revised the original.

In the package you'll get the model in a box with a certificate. The box is well-made and a good illustrative reproduction insofar as that is possible, bearing in mind the necessary changes and the panel which incorporates all that is necessary to be incorporated in a panel nowadays to satisfy committees across the planet.

I do find the fonts used are still not as accurate as they could be. So much else is well done but whoever is in charge of the text side of things needs some advice. the big catalogue number is also quite different to the original. I also found the panel which shows the special features had a strange pink tinge instead of the original simple red.

However, it is really the model itself that should be under the closest scrutiny and this one passes with quite a few flying colours.

It is well-packed with a piece of foam plastic protecting the roof lamp and I had another piece the same size in the box which I think was protecting the rear end with the sharp fins.

The difficult bit comes when you want to insert a battery. The Club was obliged to include a screw to prevent babies extracting the holder and eating the battery. To be honest, even with the screw removed, I challenge any baby to remove the battery holder! Or a good number of adults, for that matter. The instruction sheet tells us to squeeze the thing and pull but if you have no finger nails then you'll have no chance of squeezing anything as there is simply nothing easy to grip and pull. I finished up prising the battery holder up with a screwdriver until I could grasp it.

One way or another, you'll get it out, insert an AA battery and pop it back together again. Then turn the tiny switch and, yay! The lights come on! Nice. The top is quite pleasantly bright but the others front and rear seem a bit more dim than my original had been. Maybe in a dark room they'll look better.

The light does stay lit rather than flashing. The original, first edition 437 had a device on the rear axle which interacted with a plate as it rotated to connect, disconnect and connect again as it was pushed along. This proved a bit unreliable over time and a second edition was produced with a flashing bulb. The filament had some clever function which made it flash on its own once it had warmed up. You can still buy bulbs like that and I do think the Club should have sourced these for this model as they cannot have been that much more expensive in comparison to the model as a whole.

This model had cast wheels and they have been very nicely reproduced. This is the first time we've seen these wheels on the Club models. The text is accurately reproduced too. They were, I understand, tempted to make it rather more realistic but that was how the original appeared and so too should the reproduction. Well done, Corgi model Club again in this respect.

Otherwise, as you can see, this is a virtually faultless copy. OK, so the suspension is very hard and we might have liked a coloured lamp and that silver surround but a little blue paint will partially fix that, I suppose.

I wonder whether we'll see the red and cream one in years to come? Obviously with the later style battery compartment and mechanism but I can see this being popular and the casting is already available.

Friday, 1 July 2022

Corgi toys @ 60: Volvo P1800 and Thunderbirds Go Tropical


July 1962 saw the first Corgi Volvo arrive in the local toy shop. Model 228 was the Volvo P1800, a nice, simple model with just jewelled headlamps as a special feature. This was issued in two unusual colours, beige and salmon, as well as several shades of red, varying from an orange-red shade through to a quite rich, deeper red. The salmon also varied from dark to pink.

Most of the beige models had a red interior but they can be found with a lemon interior. Similarly, the salmon model had a lemon interior but is known with red. I expect there will be red models which have a red interior although I have only seen lemon to date. All the 'alternatives' are scarce but not every seller knows that so you can find these scarcities at reasonable prices.

The 228 Volvo P1800 will always have free-spinning shaped wheels and good suspension with wires. They should have a silver line running along the raised 'chrome strip' and the top of the rear fins. Ofte this gets worn or not well-applied at the factory.

The car will be familiar to fans of The Saint TV series in which Roger Moore as Simon Templar raced around Hertfordshire lanes near where I lived in the early 1960s. In due course Corgi would release their version but you'll have to wait until 2025 for that!

The other new issue in July 1962 was the rather strange-looking 'Bermuda Taxi'. Clearly, someone on the Corgi Production Team must have been on holiday in the winter of 1961 and seen the old American cars in use as taxis on Bermuda. It was another way to get a little more life out of the ancient casting but not a model I had ever particularly desired.

They painted the body a creamy white and added some stickers. Unlike transfers, these would easily come off and so now many models will be either lacking them or display reproductions. They planted a suitably brown driver behind the wheel and gave him a stupid-looking plastic canopy, supported by a single pole at the back. A truly dreadful affair. The canopy came in green, blue and yellow, each having a red edging.

As with the 215S, this always has free-spinning shaped wheels. It may be the colour producing this effect but it appears lower and more natural than the red 215S edition. I doubt that it is any different, just appears a little more realistic.

Marcel Van Cleemput quotes a scale of 1:46 for this, as opposed to 1:48 for the 215S model issued in June. I think that has to be an error. They're the same but i don't know which is correct.

Saturday, 25 June 2022

The Corgi Model Club: 231 Triumph Herald Coupé


Arriving this week was the Corgi Model Club re-issue of the 231 Triumph Herald Coupé. Another marvellous model and a delight to have. The colours are spot-on, as is almost everything about this model. I say 'almost' as the large chunks of red paint on the rear lights spoil it. The originals had quite small splashes and whilst I accept that the Chinese robot will always produce a very much neater job, this time the program has been written to create far too large an area painted. That is a minor moan, however, and this another super piece of work by the Club.

The box is good and I have now learned how to open it without tearing the small end tab. Inside is just the car and a square piece of polystyrene which looks remarkably like the piece I had with the last Oldsmobile issue but this time I am not sure what it is intended to protect. Possibly the box from the sharp rear fins or maybe to keep closed the opening bonnet.

The opening bonnet shows the engine and they have included a black plastic oil air filter too. This would rotate or could be removed on my original models but I found this one very firmly attached and decided not to risk breaking it. It did feel like plastic so it probably will move.

Closing the bonnet does not produce any satisfying click as the original seemed to, although the holding mechanism seems similar. I found that I had to press quite firmly to keep the bonnet closed in line with the body.

Here you can see the very heavily-painted rear light section. It may not be that inaccurate in real life but looks wrong on the model.

This issue is in light blue and white. The original also appeared in gold and white and I understand that there may be a second issue of this model in those colours at some point in the future. I have often thought that it would make sense to re-use the expensive work in casting, interior production, boxes etc. with variations of finish and I am sure that we will see this happen with many models. When I first heard of the project I suggested that they look at making the scarcer varieties which many collectors cannot now find very easily and may well have to pay a fortune for an original. Much as we all like to get fresh copies of the common versions of what we once had in our collections there would be an ever greater demand for the less common.

The Corgi Model Club: 237 Oldsmobile Sherriff's Car


Here is the re-issue by the Corgi Model Club of the 237 Oldsmobile "Sheriff" Car. I cannot find any fault in this at all - it is a really super piece of work. As usual, the silver paintwork is just a little too perfect, some robot in China producing an immaculately positioned coat rather better than a Welsh lady's hand managed in 1962. Once again the Club manage to have this arrive at my door on the 60th anniversary of the original. I am just a bit late in sharing this article. (My excuse is that I thought I had done so but clearly hadn't!) 

The box is excellent and someone seems to have found a better font for the text and, particularly, the numbers which match much better the original. Again, as usual, the finish is too smooth and shiny but they'll need a different printing process to change this.

It comes with the familiar Certificate of Authenticity. Note that this is not a limited edition certificate. As noted in a recent article on the James Bond re-issue, the company producing these order them in batches of 5000. So if there is little further demand then, yes, the issue may well prove to be limited to 5000 (or a multiple of 5000) but we won't know until sometime in the future when perhaps they might share the figures with us.

Inside the box is just the car with a square of polystyrene to protect the box from damage from the beacon.

The base declares its Chinese origin but in a pleasantly muted way, the text and layout being otherwise as the 1962 model appeared. I am sure that we would all prefer that this was not a product which involved us supporting some factory in China which, in turn, supports a government of questionable acceptability but so much of our annual expenditure on material goods is now going to China that it would be unreasonable to expect these models to be any different. However, I would urge that consideration might be given to finding a facility somewhere else. Talented as they may be in this field, I am sure some people in a country with attitudes to freedom closer to ours would be capable of similar quality and at a competitive price.