Monday, 17 January 2022

An unusual Buick Riviera - with gold grille and bumpers


Here is an interesting addition to my collection for 2022. The 245 Buick Riviera in a splendid shade of dark metallic blue with gold 'chrome' at the front and back

It appears to be an early edition with the 'grab' type of hook. It arrived with the later type of tyre - the post-1967 type with Corgi branding and in line tread - but they clearly cannot have been right so I replaced them with original 'normal' tyres of the right era.

The paint is quite thin but not greatly different to the metallic blue and gold that were the norm (the pale solid blue shade being rather thicker). It is not a coat that someone has added on top of another colour as the photo below shows, so this is either original or the base has been very cleverly refitted with no sign of damage to the rivets or where they might have been removed. The paint does, however, blur the definition of the Riviera motifs on the wings.

So this is a bit of a mystery and the first  I have ever seen with gold front and back. It is conceivable that someone has gold plated the original chrome pieces - or maybe gold pieces were available to buy as new parts - and somehow taken it all to bits and rebuilt it but this has been played with and people who make such smart rebuilds tend to look after them, as does whoever subsequently buys them. I am more inclined to the view that this is a production sample when colour schemes and, indeed, gold-plating may have been options on the table for the 245. Gold plating was not to be and the paint on this sample not suitable so it gets rejected.

It then gets taken home by someone at some point and a Corgi chap's child gets to play with it, eventually coming up for sale with a bundle of other Corgis. The seller had no knowledge of its past, just a random collection bought. 

I am happy to have this and expect it to stay in my display cabinet for many years before I learn any more about it!

Corgi Model Club: Ford Thunderbird

The most recent release in their excellent series of Corgi reproductions is the 215S Ford Thunderbird, the Open Top edition with suspension and a driver.

In the same size box as the original a piece of polystyrene protects the screen and driver's head. This is particularly useful as I have always found the driver to be a bit ridiculous, being way too tall, as well as looking very much like the character who would be chopped down to Roger Moore in The Saint's car three years later. I may be wrong there. Maybe he re-appears in the Mercedes 300SL. But that's all another story. So here, nearly 60 years later, is a fine and remarkably accurate reproduction of the car.

The original 215S I had always thought sat a little too high. The 215 was as it should be. I presume the requirements for suspension movement meant the height had to be increased. Here's a fairly similar vintage sitting in the village just around the corner from me.

The model itself has a lovely coat or two of the right colour red and the silver paint has been very well copied, being a strong feature on the original. Perhaps the detailing is a little too precise on the headlamps and at the back end but that's hardly a criticism.

The interior is just as ghastly as the original, and you still have to wonder where passengers put their legs. The colour is perhaps a little darker, more brown than the 1962 issue. The screen is very accurate.

The only thing that struck me as a little odd when I first took it out of the box was the wheel design. As these were supposed to be just the normal shaped wheels they'd produced very nicely on several preceding issues, I was surprised that these seemed slightly different. From some angles they're pretty near perfect but from others they look wrong.

The base is nicely very similar to the original with just the reference to China instead of Gt. Britain. The box has been well done. I think the font for the model title is slightly wrong and the box has that bright finish which is unnatural but really this is a very good effort.

All in all, this may not be my favourite Corgi but I am still delighted to have this in my collection and I have to congratulate the good people at Blue DTC Brands, whoever they are, for their efforts once more. This series is proving a huge success and all just as collectible and exciting to look forward to as the originals.


Saturday, 1 January 2022

A Booking Van for the Circus and a Bubble Car for 2022


Corgi dug out the old Karrier cast and tweaked it to produce some more income from fans of Chipperfields Circus models. This came with smooth fixed wheels on the early models but soon afterwards the shaped fixed variety were put on and these are by far the more common.

The other item to appear early in 1962 was the Heinkel Trojan 'Economy Car', better known to most of us as a Bubble Car!

This came in all sorts of colours from, as far as I can tell, the very start, including orange, deep red, bright red, pale pink, deeper lilac-pink, metallic blue and a scarcer metallic peacock blue. Early issues had very small fixed smooth wheels and these remained the norm until much later in the day when small cast wheels were used. Apart, possibly, from some trailers this is the only model featuring these very small wheels in either form.

Neither of the January 1962 models had any special features other than suspension. The Karrier still lacked an interior! The Heinkel had either a lemon or red plastic interior and I am not aware of any variations. The pink had the red interior and the others had lemon.

There appear to be two shades of red for the Karrier - a brick red and a deeper red. The deeper shade is more like the usual Chipperfields colour and the brick red is a little less common but not particularly scarce.

It is quite extraordinary to see what is essentially the very ancient Mobile Shop model with the painted metal display inside still going in 1962 with only suspension added. This would be on the shelves as this month's 'new' model with items like the Bentley Continental and other far better featured models now older issues. I suspect that, if there hadn't been people wanting to collect all the Circus models, this would not have sold at all well. I don't believe it made it through to get free-spinning shaped wheels, being withdrawn in 1964.

You really would not want to change the tyre on the single wheel of the Heinkel so do watch out when buying this model!

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Catch-up with The Corgi Model Club?

I joined the Corgi model Club in its very first incarnation. I got the Ice Cream Van and seem to recall that I never actually paid for it! That 'Club' then ceased and restarted in 2021 with the same Ice Cream Van but in a slightly different box and a smaller certificate. So I have been lucky and get each new issue as they appear. That's helpful as I have many readers now who like to get as early a review as possible of each new issue.

Those who join later will usually start with whichever issue is then the first one, depending on stock. I think that means new starters now kick off with the Mini-Cooper but it may not be long before that becomes the Saint's Volvo.

I recently read on a couple of posts on Facebook Groups for Corgi Collectors pages how several collectors had wanted to 'catch up' with issues and, for the appropriate additional payment, the Club sent them whatever was required. So, for example, someone whose monthly service would have delivered a Land Rover Breakdown truck this week, they could get the Mustang, Ghia and Bentley sent in one go and then their next monthly delivery would be the very latest one, whatever that may be.

This seems an entirely sensible idea and my son (who lives at a separate address), who had joined somewhat later than me, liked the idea of catching up so that we would get the same models at about the same time. He duly called the Model Club but was told in no uncertain terms that this was not possible! I sent him copies of correspondence on the Group pages and suggested he try again, using email this time.

I am hoping that, this time, he succeeds. Another son also wants to start (and is not at the same address either) and I have suggested he asks the same question and hope that he is successful too. It would be so much nicer to compare notes at roughly the same time. I also recall reading something to this effect on the Corgi Model Club's own website although I have not been able to find it again. I may have imagined it but I shall have another look soon.

I cannot see any objection, other than some administrative inconvenience for the Corgi Model Club in supporting this 'catch-up' and it does mean they will have better cash flow with faster movement of more recent models too. I appreciate that there is not much anyone can do about models missed that were issued prior to joining which may now be out of stock. Those will have to be sought - most are available online with sellers who do not want to keep them or dealers who managed to get duplicates somehow and not all are at huge prices. Maybe the young lady who turned down my son's request thought that he wanted to go back in time rather than forward and that would make her refusal make more sense. 




Another Retro issue from Hornby / Corgi: the 417S Land Rover Breakdown Truck

Hornby Hobbies Ltd. are getting in on the retro issues act now and with this release they are getting rather more accurate. The rather strange '261' release of the James Bond Aston Martin with rotating number plates tended to confuse as much as delight. Here, though, we have a good copy in many respects. It is 59 years since this first appeared (with suspension and an interior) in December 1962.

The original shown here has the early type 1 jib whereas the new issue has the later type 2. It does, however, demonstrate how accurate the new issue appears to be.

The base, of course, gives the game away and anyone thinking that they might be able to get away with flogging this at a high price, pretending it to be an old original will have to think again. It is distinctly silver too, compared to the usual grey of models issued in the 1960s.

The tin canopy is very good and bears a nice, quite aged-looking transfer for the Breakdown Service text and logo. The search light, however, seems to be fixed and made of plastic whereas the original rotated and was metal. It may be that mine was very stiff and I didn't try too hard to move it but I got the impression that it was fixed.

Apart from the end of the winch gear axle looking different to the original - exactly the same end as appears on the Corgi Model Club's 417 model - it is not easy to see much that does not match nicely the original issue. The hook is a little different, with a different shape but that's about all I can detect on first look.

The packaging is very good, better than the Corgi Model Club's efforts so far in that it has a less shiny finish. There is an important piece of thick card that stiffens the whole thing and protects the outer box from the protrusion of the bumper and top of the jib at the rear. A piece of black polystyrene covers the search light. I am sure that this is the same block as the Corgi Model Club provide for the 417!

I had to smile at 'Join the Corgi Model Club' promotion on the flap!!

The 'bottom' panel has the usual text and 'Made in China' in pleasantly small text.

There have been several people worrying about how fraudulent traders may try to sell these off as originals but both the base and the box really should be enough to make it abundantly clear that this is not an original. I see no problem whatsoever and very much like the idea that collectors can buy a lovely model like this for a modest price. The Hornby / Corgi issue is also available for anyone to order and in a large a quantity as they please.


Friday, 19 November 2021

Corgi Model Club: Bentley Continental 2021 Re-issue

This is another really good model which is bound to delight collectors old and new. The Bentley Continental has been reproduced in the pale and dark pea green flavour and looks superb. It come wrapped in a thin protective sheet in the reproduction box with a numbered square certificate.

The 1961 release came in a quite wide range of shades for the upper half, even cream and a rare white! This tends towards the deeper of the pale pea green shades but is certainly very close to one of many original colours.

I have to say that it is a pleasure to look at this and I ge very much the same enjoyment from holding this as I still do from originals.

This model has always been one of my favourites. As well as simply looking so good, all the chrome, the jewels not just at the front but for the rear lights too and accurate steering as the icing on this model cake set it far apart from what else was available at the time!

This 2021 edition has all the same features. The steering works just the same and appears to have been very accurately reproduced with the tiny springs and connector bar.

The boot opens and reveals the same chrome interior with a spare wheel too. In this image I have just noticed the indentations for dials on the dashboard - just like the original, although I have to admit I had not noticed them in the previous 60 years!

The base is very similar with just China replacing Gt. Britain in the text.

It was only by very close examination side by side with one of my own (somewhat worn) 1961 original that I noticed the wider and slightly different shape radiator grille. The registration plate section appears wider and a little deeper but that's just because mine has worn chrome. They seemed pretty much identical when I measured them.

The headlamps are significantly smaller. I think this is not just the jewels being smaller but maybe the hole in the casting is also smaller.

The wheels will appear different as they have bright axle ends and dark tyres whereas the 1961 models were issued with pale grey tyres. It is my belief that all were supposed to have been issued to dealers with grey tyres in 1961. Clearly there may have been mistakes or occasions when the grey tyres ran out and that may account for some reports of people having purchased models with black tyres. I think I prefer the darker tyre, though, and don't mind this one variation!

The box is familiar with the annoying cuts on the fold for the small flaps and its somewhat too shiny surface but it is otherwise a good job and I like the way the 'new stuff' is restricted to one side that can be kept out of sight in most displays! The only other change that has had to be made is the now familiar substitution of Designed for Made in Gt. Britain text in one panel. The quality and weight of card is excellent.

This is going to be a very popular item, I am sure. I do hope the Model Club chaps bring out the black over silver edition too one day!