Thursday, 1 April 2021

Corgi Toys @ 60: The Beautiful Bentley Continental Sports Saloon


The 1961 Corgi Catalogue features the Bentley Continental and amongst the extras this model is described as having special hubs. This would be the first release with free-spinning wheels fitted from launch. Every other model at the time had fixed wheels and, whilst some may get the free-spinning ones later, the next one with them at the start would not be until November, on the Triumph Herald in small size, or nearly a year later when the E Type Jaguar is issued.

This Bentley is a simply superb model in every respect. So many new features - the chrome, the rear jewels and the super steering! We will all remember the rather annoying way Dinky models steered with one wheel moving forward and another back in a most unrealistic way. Corgi got this absolutely right with a lovely mechanism which even included coil springs.

I could play with this model all day long, turning corners on my layout and gazing at the light reflecting from those huge yellow headlamps and chrome fittings. I was never particularly fond of the light grey tyres and, whilst the two tone green version had some class, the black over silver edition was the one you thought you might see one day in town.

There are shades of the top colour and this can vary between pale apple green to a distinct white colour. The latter is quite rare.

I am not aware of any other variations and the black over silver models all look the same to me (so far!)

Later in 1961 a gold-plated edition is issued in Gift Set 20, the Golden Guinea Set. I will write about this when it's time comes.

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:

0: no 'plate'
1: 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.

Update: I have added an RAC Land Rover with a plate. The two RAC models have a different shade of blue too - most surprising during such a short period of production.

GS22farm green111110
416SRAC blue111110
416SRAC blue111111
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!