Monday, 1 March 2021

Corgi Toys @ 60 : More S Models and a little Coach


303S Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster Open Top

The second edition of the open top car, now with suspension and a driver from March 1961.

This is available in five colour combinations:

  • blue with the 303 white interior

  • blue with new yellow interior

  • white with new yellow or brown interior

  • silver-plated with brown interior

  • silver-gold finish with brown interior

These had free-spinning smooth or shaped wheels. Later editions had cast wheels. A very scarce edition was produced with wire wheels.

A driver was added but early models did not have one.

Above is a very scarce early edition with free spinning smooth wheels

Then it gets shaped wheels but still no driver with the old 303 interior cars.

Now a driver, yellow interior and a stripe are added to light blue and, white editions.

There is also a silver issue with shaped wheels and a brown interior, not illustrated here. Later cast wheels appear on the silver editions and very rare editions with wire wheels and a golden-silver shade of plating are also issued. More about those in a few years' time!

304S Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster Hard Top

Available in March 1961 with suspension.

This was available with a silver-plated body and red top or a more scarce white body with red top. Each would have stripes added to the bonnet and boot and can be found with free-spinning smooth and shaped or cast wheels. There was also a very scarce edition with wire wheels.

A distinctly gold-coloured plating is also known.

Jaguar 2.4 Fire Chief's car

This is the previous model with suspension and an interior added. No variations known other than that this can have smooth or shaped wheels, but always fixed. The last outing for this Jaguar, and the last survivor of the 1956 issue castings.

1120 Midlands Express Motorway Coach

A lovely looking model and quite different to anything else Corgi had issued or, indeed, would issue for many years to come. In an unspecified scale, it seems a little too small when parked next to the saloon cars but a most impressive model on its own.

You'll find this with fixed smooth or shaped wheels.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Land Rovers Series II 1962- 1970s Different castings

Following my recent articles on distinguishing some of the rare Land Rovers, I have had a number of further queries and so I decided to try and cover in one go the main differences that you will find in the Series II editions which ran from 1962 to the 1970s.

The rear window

There are two main types:

1: With frame, flush fitting with the rear of cab
2: Indented

The first type has a sort of frame in the perspex. The window unit has been shaped so that the area in the back of the cab is filled by the perspex and seems smooth with the flush fitting of the unit.

The second type has a much simpler window unit which does not have a section that extends into the space for the window. This makes the window to appear indented, with the metal inner frame evident.

The vent lever / hinge

There are three main types of the small protrusion on the window frame sides:

1: long upright, short horizontal
2: a large triangle pointing forward
3: a small triangle

The upright front edge is easy to spot. The door hinge is quite well defined.

An obvious triangle shape and there are just two dots for the door hinge.

A tiny triangle and much more detail in the hinge area.

Registration plate area

There are three distinct sizes of panel on the offside front wing:

1: small rectangle
2: large rectangle
3: square

The top of the radiator grille:

There are two main types:
1: No gap between the top of the grille and the bonnet
2: a clear gap between the top of the grille and the bonnet
3: a very small gap between the top of the grille and the bonnet

This may not always be obvious as the silver painting often does not cover the whole grille area which can give the impression of a gap but look for the position of the top edge of the grille area. The green 438 above has a clear space evident which the 406S above does not. Type 3 only appears on later models and always has the bumps as headlamps, as described in the next section so it is not necessary to spend too long staring at these.

Headlamp rims

There are two main types:

1: the headlamps have a defined rim around the lamp
2: the lamps are just bulges in the metal with no clear edge

Fairly easy to spot on the early Army and 406S models above.

Less obvious on the 438 in deep green above (but note the different grille top edge positions). All later models from the metallic turquoise editions on, have the Type 2 style with slightly different blobs and spacing but this is not easy to distinguish alone so I have left them as type 2.

The roof 'plate'

You will find models that have an obvious plate on the roof and others that display no evidence of a plate at all. In between there are many variations from feint to slightly more raised.

It should be possible, though, to distinguish between the two types:

1: no 'plate'
2: with 'plate'

Plates seem to be spread almost randomly amongst models from 1962 to 1965. Some models like the 406S never seemed to have one. They also don't seem to appear on models with the Type 2 vent and all models get a smoother roof from around 1966, maybe a little earlier, it's difficult to pinpoint a date.

The examples above all have a sort of 'plate' on the roof, obvious in the last image but, at first glance, you could easily miss it on the top one.

Only later models, where the roof bars also have a different shape, is it obvious that there is no 'plate'. On very early models, it is clear again that there is no 'plate' but these do have a casting line running across the top of the window frame. Sometimes it can be difficult to detect the 'plate' so be careful when checking this and look at the shape of the bars too.

I have often wondered why this 'plate' was needed. 

The table below shows how the various Types are distributed amongst models in my possession. As you will see, it appears that those models with Type 2 vents also have the large rectangle registration plate panel, no headlamp rims and a space above the grille (except for an odd GS7 model I have). Those with Type 3 vents all have a square panel, a higher top on the grille and no headlamp rims. So there is likely to be a way to simplify things. The brown GS2 model appears to be another odd one out too so I'll have to wait and see what others can contribute before going any further.

GS22farm green111110
416SRAC blue111110
351SRAF blue111111
438dp green111111
438dp green121111
438dp green222220
GS7green shaped222320
438met turquoise323320
438me apple323320
GS7green cast / W323320
GS8white cast / W323320
GS19dk blue323320
438Quake-upmet green323320

This table is pretty much in order of the date models were produced which may help to indicate when changes appeared first. I am expecting some additions and will revise this as they are discovered. It is a start, however, and may be of assistance to the many Land Rover collectors out there.

I am aware that there may be further differences and one colleague has told me about different types of hatching and other features but these can only be seen inside when the model is opened. Clearly, we are not going to see those in models in our collections so they have to remain beyond the scope of this exercise!

Type 3 models will have a range of hook types and interiors. I will write about these separately.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Blue or green?


At first glance, seeing this photo might make you a little excited at the prospect of a 351S model being available. The blue shade looks about right and, even though it's not in great condition, you may be tempted to investigate if this were shown in a sale catalogue or auction listing.

Then take a look at this one. I would find it difficult to resist buying this one as it looks very much like it could be the scarce shade of green found for a short time in the early Agricultural Gift Sets with an all-yellow platform trailer.

The extraordinary thing is that they are all the same model! It is a very ordinary deep green 438! I have not doctored the photos. Apart from being reduced in dimensions, they are straight from my camera, taken in daylight, although admittedly February daylight and I had a light on in the room on the ceiling above them.

This really does demonstrate how careful we must be or, at least, how we must be prepared for disappointment! The difference is quite remarkable and the model sitting on the desk in front of me as I write looks quite normal and obviously deep green.

Maybe it is just my eyes, the effect of other items nearby or just my brain wanting to see something that it is looking for! Perhaps you see no particular problem and don't really understand why I am writing this. But if you are in any way like me then I am afraid that we will each need to ask sellers for some alternative photos, ideally taken next to some other model but, as that's a lot to ask for something that is probably going for about £10, we shall simply continue to take chances and hope!

This was actually one of two models I bought a few days ago after staring at the screen for ages. I even downloaded the seller's photo of the models and ran it through some editing software to try and determine what the 'natural' colours might have been. That indicated that they were even more definitely blue! Indeed, I had to reassure myself that they weren't rather dirty examples of the Pony Club edition!

The pair did only cost £10. And that included postage. I didn't expect much. I didn't get much. Just two deep green 438 Land Rovers. One as above that is complete and, being all original, might get me my money back. The other I have made into something else - just for fun!

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Creamy stars and window frames. 500 or 357?

I have wondered how to distinguish between a 500 US Army Land Rover and a 357 Land Rover Weapons Carrier for a long time and had almost given up. My research into the 351S models, however, may have provided an answer at last. 

There are three models to collect, the November 1963 issue, all of which are believed to have gone to the States and numbered 500 in no-pictorial boxes and two 357 models from January 1965. The 357 may have either a lemon or red interior.

There are also distinct paints used on the 357 - a light khaki with a matt finish and a deeper shade with a satin, or much more shiny finish. It is always difficult to be sure about the canopies actually issued as they all get swapped around over the years but I believe they all had a similar mid-shade of khaki canopy and not the deep green type which appears to have been transferred rather more recently from a 438 issue with that colour.

The difference would appear to be in the perspex unit used for the windows. On the more recent 357 models it is a smooth unit and so there will be a sort of indent at the rear window.

On the 500, the window unit has a raised section which fits into the space for the rear window making a flush surface at the rear of the cab.

This can also produce a sort of 'frame' in the perspex when viewed from some angles.

The stars also seem to be a much creamier colour, all my 357 models having decidedly white stars.

Until yesterday, I had never taken off the canopies on the two original boxed models that I have had for many years and so had not noticed this difference.

Now, I cannot say that this is a definitive conclusion to the matter. It is possible, perhaps, that this particular type of window unit was being used for early 357 models too. However, models that I have of other Land Rovers, where I can be pretty sure of a purchase date prior to 1965, have the plain unit / indented rear window. The only Land Rover produced at around the same time as the 357 Weapons Carrier would be the 477 Breakdown Truck. Should all these prove to have the later style unit then that would further strengthen the case, as would, indeed, the 417S modes with a type 2 jib, although, with the longer span of production, I guess there may be examples of the 417S with the type 2 jib but early unit. That I shall investigate further but, for now, I am content to use this to distinguish the two.

This is important because if you thought the 351S was rare with its mere 25000 sales then the 500 will be considerably scarcer with just 17000 said to have been sold and most, if not all, of them exported. So if you have a matt, light khaki finish, lemon seats and a frame in the perspex rear window with cream rather than white stars on the bonnet and doors then you're most likely to have a 500.