Wednesday 31 December 2014

The mystery of the blue rear cover

You'll know that I  have already written quite a bit about Land Rovers but the latest addition to my collection deserves a mention. It is odd in a couple of ways. The obvious one is the blue tin rear section. This looks quite 'normal' at first glance and is in a true 'Corgi' shade, very much the same as might have appeared on a Chipperfields Circus model. The thing is - all the other rear sections I have encountered have been yellow! It took me a minute or two to realise that this was more than a bit unusual. I checked hundreds of others for sale and they were all yellow. I looked on all the sites run by people who seem pretty knowledgeable and no-one mentions a blue section anywhere. Even a Google Image search didn't come up with anything.

So this is a bit of a mystery. I am hoping that someone will know something and help - ideally, telling me that it is a colour used for a short period or something like that. I did have to bid quite a bit to get this so there were one or two others who were also intrigued. It wasn't well promoted, though, so could easily have been missed.

The search light is missing. I'll order a replacement for that which looks easy to fix and I shall also need to find a reasonable 417 or 417S model to transfer the cover to as I can't really advertise it like it is. I have to make some effort to get it right, even if I don't know a great deal about it! 

Although advertised as #417S the Land Rover has cast wheels and they didn't appear until well after #477 had taken over so it would seem that the blue section comes from something older and just happened to have found its way onto this one at some stage in the last 50 years.

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Wanted. One Year Later.

It's about a year since I had that idea of 'doing something with Corgi Toys' which became 'obtaining an example of each model' for a catalogue that I would create and share with the world.

Over that period I think the most remarkable thing that occurred was my inclusion of the Whizzwheels era. I really had intended to stop at around 1970, ending with the Rolls or whatever actually came last with 'normal' wheels or 'Golden Jacks'. Extending the list and collection to all the 1:43 (or thereabouts) scale models brought in a whole lot more. Many simply had to be included because they were the same damn car but with different wheels fitted and a different coat of paint. Others were actually quite attractive where a better design of wheel was used. Instead of being cheap because no-one particularly liked them, most are quite scarce and difficult to find in decent condition, resulting in some quite valuable items in amongst those ubiquitous black plastic wheels!

The other surprise was just how inaccurate many of the 'bible-like' sites that I had been consulting were. That is not to say that a lot of great work had not been done by the various people concerned but quite a few colour variations had not been well documented and I wonder whether maybe too much reliance was placed on that Great Book of Corgi. Putting them all together, though, we do begin to get somewhere near a complete picture and that is what I am trying hard to achieve. I am some way off yet and I know that some shades will be well nigh impossible to find. For example, I have been looking all year for a bronze Chevrolet Sting Ray!

It is interesting to look at just what is still to be tracked down. I have deliberately not yet sought out farm machinery or early racing cars. I am interested in the farm stuff but just haven't got round to that. The early racing cars do look pretty sad to me so I can't see me paying much for these so that is bound to delay getting them! I don't know what it is but they just look awful to me. Then there are several oddities that really do not interest me - commercial items mainly. Ice cream vans, Lucozade trucks, dog groomers and circus equipment can wait.

So here is the 'Wanted' list. In order of probable scarcity, based on production figures where known. [Updated 31 January 2015 and again 31 May 2015 but I've left my comments as they were]

349 Morris Mini Minor 'Pop Art'
224 Bentley Continental S2 gold edition
351S Land Rover RAF Weapons Carrier
281 Rover 2200TC
242 Fiat 500 Ghia Jolly
322 Rover 2000TC Sun Rally white version
422 Bedford CA Van 'Corgi Toys'
333 Mini Cooper Sun Rally
421 Bedford CA Van 'Evening Standard'
423 Bedford CA Van Fire Tender Mk 2
404M Bedford CA Dormobile
405M Bedford CA Fire Tender
412 Bedford CA Ambulance Mk2
513 Citroen Alpine Rescue
409 Jeep FC 150

304 Mercedes 300SL hard top
405 Bedford CA Fire Tender
213 Jaguar Fire Service
433 VW Delivery Van
159 Cooper Maserati F1
214S Ford Thunderbird hard top
305 Triumph TR3
404 Bedford CA Dormobile
210 Citroen DS19
202 Morris Cowley
408 Bedford CA AA Van Mk2
211 Studebaker Golden Hawk
301 Triumph TR2
437 Superior Ambulance
430 Bermuda Taxi
214 Ford Thunderbird hard top
303 Mercedes 300SL open top
434 VW Camper Van Kombi
206 Hillman Husky
255 Austin A60 LHD
300 Austin Healey 100/4
302 MGA
509 Porsche 911 Police car

I'm not sure where all the #255s are. They very seldom appear - I guess they all went abroad but I would have expected lots to have come on the market by now. The 509 Porsche is easy to find, I just haven't found one at the right (low) price with its beacon on the side intact and stickers in reasonable order. The Healey, MGA and TR2 and 3 are quite difficult to get in good condition at a modest price. There are plenty if you pay lots but I am not sure why with so many sold. It may be that the screens were very vulnerable and, once broken, have been discarded so the numbers surviving are significantly lower.

Those above the line have had less than 150000 made so are seriously scarce although the Jeep and Bedford CA vans are not fetching much at the moment so I am hoping sellers haven't looked too closely at their models. The M or Mk2 can make a big difference.

Whilst I can find almost all of these today, the prices for many are pretty high, extremely so in some cases, and I prefer to try and find a played-with model at a reasonable price that I can clean up a bit than purchase some shiny example that has been kept in a box all its life and is being sold by a dealer. He must have found it somewhere - and that's where I should be looking! They may well be wonderful examples and well worth the money but I don't need that immaculate one.

So, it will be interesting to see what this list looks like at the end of 2015. I would imagine that the #349 Mini will still be there, as well as the white Rover. There are also some colour variations that I haven't included here - like another white Rover (the #275) and other colours of the Jaguar Mk X #238. I don't know how the total production figures break down for those and there could be quite a lot more added if they were to be taken into account. Things like a Kingfisher blue Chrysler Imperial, for instance, I think are going to be really difficult to find. And that bronze Sting Ray.

Monday 29 December 2014

US Army Collection

This appeared in an auction and I had to look twice as I don't remember having seen one other in the 1965 catalogue. According to the lists, only 28000 of these were produced which puts it amongst the top few scarce items. The US Army items generally have low production numbers. I suppose by the later 1960s we were influenced more positively by protests against war and news from Vietnam never looked good so spending money on US Army models wasn't something that many parents would have done.

Bedford's articulated lorry is called a Heavy Machinery Carrier for #1135, with dark khaki paint covering virtually everything that had been Corgi blue, Corgi yellow or silver before when it was in civilian clothing. My example is in excellent condition - the rear axle comes off as it should and there are Army numbers on the mudguards, the white star is intact on the roof.

The production people would have put a red interior in the Army version and a lemon one in the normal version. It seems that there are both colours for the Army one, presumably when someone either ran out of red or made a mistake.

Apart from some other Major models, which I am not too bothered about getting, I think that completes now my US Army collection. They are all quite difficult to find these days. I have them advertised on the main site and some available on Ebay but none are particularly cheap so may be around for a while yet.

The last one in was the Miltary Police Commer van, using the same detachable rear section as others and with the same operating unit as the dark blue Police van #464.

There are several Land Rovers - some have red seats and some lemon. There are dark khaki and a much paler shade and different colour canopies amongst them all. I still don't know which is #500 and which is #357! I really do think that there may end up being no difference at all. It will be simply that #500 was allocated originally to the small number exported to the States in that 'no picture' box and then, when Corgi reckoned there may be a bit more demand here, they made it #357 and called it a Weapons Carrier and made a proper box too.

The Bedford probably shouldn't be in this list.

Another Commer base put to good use for the Military Ambulance.

VW get a chance to be featured for the US Army personnel Carrier, based on their Dormobile.

The nice Oldsmobile Super 88 in this, its third appearance, the other two being as the saloon and Police vehicle. (There's also the Man From Uncle car, I suppose!)

The original 'no picture' box for #500 is worth a great deal and not for sale just yet!

Its later and seemingly identical model #357 with an excellent original box are also pretty highly priced. The window looks open in this photograph.

The window is there, after all, as this photo of the same model confirms. Nice to have such clear glass still after 50 years.

Saturday 29 November 2014


These are the photos of my #406S Land Rover that has just come in. Even though it is missing some paint it is something definitely a little special and won't be up for sale for a while.

Friday 28 November 2014

Oldsmobile Toronado variations

A car you probably wouldn't see on British streets at the time was the Oldsmobile Toronado. Corgi had this in two versions, Both looked fabulous and worked well as a model, being essentially exactly the same apart from a switch to Golden Jacks on the second.

All the other introductions of Golden Jacks would be on new models. Even the Rover 2000 was quite different to its predecessor. The colours used were really attractive. All the #264s were metallic blue, with quite a few variations within shades, from something approaching turquoise to quite a dark colour. The 276s, however, came in metallic red or bronze. By far the majority were in red; bronze models are sought after and quite expensive.

second version in the scarce bronze

second version in red
As far as I can tell, all the #276s should have a tow bar. If yours hasn't got one then it has broken off. It was a just a grey plastic thing and not very well fixed and could be removed without leaving any trace of having been there. It is a different story, though, for #264 which was produced with and without a towbar. Those with a towbar would have been produced for the Glastron speedboat Gift Set.

with or without towbar
The wheels would nearly always be spoke effect cast hubs on #264s but there are a few early models around with the normal wheels. You'll find Mustangs and Sting Rays with normal wheels on early versions too and these are generally quite a lot scarcer. Of course, there are also many models where normal wheels are the most common with only later versions having the cast wheels. That's a topic for another post one day.

the most common cast spoke hubs

rare normal wheels on a dark blue model

noticeably different shades
Take a look at the real thing. It is quite remarkable how accurate Corgi's casting and design was in those days.

acknowledgements to for the real thing

Tuesday 25 November 2014

£3.30 for a model so scarce I didn't know it existed

I didn't even know there was a #406S! Quite how I missed that I don't know but I am not the only one as it isn't featured in the main sources and books I have been using, including The Great Book of Corgi that many have taken as some sort of bible. Having said that, I have noticed errors in colour varieties so I know it isn't reliable.

I did find a reference to this Land Rover where an immaculate one with a 406S printed box had sold for £1800 and, weirdly, Toymart list it at a ridiculously low £105 but there's no illustration and my guess is that no-one has been there to update it.

Rather like the Pop Art Mini that is fetching crazy prices, I concluded that I wouldn't stand much chance of getting one of these. Then one popped up on Ebay and no-one seemed to be bidding. I can't believe my luck but I have got it for less than the postage will cost me!

I don't normally share purchase prices but I shall not be selling this for ages by which time I should imagine this post will either be well buried or it won't matter a great deal as someone will be keen to buy and not worry about my profit margin.

I can only guess that, despite the 'scarce yellow' headline, people have confused this with the common pale brown #438 or, perhaps, thought that the S was a mistake and it was a yellow 406 and not appreciating that that would have had a black roof,

There is another yellow type 2 Land Rover - 416S produced for the Belgian market with TS logos. That is not the same shade, though, being much more brown-orange shade of yellow.

This is really a most intriguing model as it appears to be the second type of Land Rover which would be #438 for all other issues. It had suspension and the red interior that are the same as would be used in others. It is a jolly colour and you might have thought it would have sold well had it remained in production but that was not to be and for reasons known only to a few people at Corgi 406S quietly ceased and 438 was on the market from December 1962. It was late 1962 when Corgi came out with the suspension versions of other Land Rovers - the 416S RAC and 351S RAF Weapons Carrier as well as 417S, itself an odd thing that is pretty much indistinguishable from 477 other than a different detachable cover. 406S would have made sense if it had been 406 with seats and suspension but, as with the others, the cast was upgraded too so this was a totally redundant model almost as soon as it appeared and hence its scarcity.

The one I've bought certainly doesn't look worth much more than a few quid with its battered paintwork but it isn't that bad and, until I strike lucky again one day, it'll take one of the star places in my collection.

I will add photos of the actual model when it arrives.

Watch Corgi Toys being made in a 1960 video

Here is a splendid video of Corgi Toys being manufactured in Wales in or around 1960. I spotted the Fiat 1800 and some Land Rovers but that's about all from the first viewing! A fascinating few minutes and so pleased someone went to the trouble of saving this!

Thursday 30 October 2014

Pretty in pink

I meant to add these photos of a couple of Chevrolet Stingrays that I got a while ago. These are the two Whizzwheel colours that were around for a very short period and both are scarce now. The rear lights are just painted on the blue one but it isn't obvious whether they've been painted at all on the pink one.

Having just sold what was possibly the most attractive of all models - the previous #300 model in metallic red - I am looking for another of those but still have three metallic green in the collection. Neither of these #387 latest versions will be going for a bargain price either!

I am still trying to find a bronze #310 as well but they're just as scarce, if not more so. Corgi really did get things right with the Stingrays. We shall ignore the stock car versions, of course.

Monday 27 October 2014

The last one

I finally managed to find a VW 1200 Rally version, the very last of an era. This was the final 1:43 scale model by Corgi before everything ended, coming out in October 1977 and only around for less than a year. That might account for its scarcity as it has very seldom appeared in the auctions or sales I've been watching and, indeed, almost every one that I have found has been across the Pond.

That does make me wonder. Prices over in the States are low - in fact shipping costs more. That's really odd for something so difficult to find here and I guess it won't stay that way for long. I am certainly not parting company with mine, which is as new and so is its box, for any bargain price. I have a feeling I will regret selling it whatever I get unless I can source a replacement or two first.

What's strange too is that this should appear in later 1977 anyway. The previous 1;43 scale model was also the VW, this one in Driving School guise which came and went in 1975. Everything else, bar some oddities, was then 1:36 so quite why these VWs were still appearing is a bit of a mystery. You could sort of understand the Driving School one which could be played with on its own, and it was quite a smart-looking version too with pretty shiny wheels and blue metallic paint. This one, though, had nothing going for it at all. In fact it looked almost exactly the same as a 1971 saloon with the orange repainted blue and three stickers applied.

As featured in a previous article, the cast is still being used and in 1998 this yellow one was in the Corgi Motoring Memories collection No. 67901.

And, of course, from 1965, where it all began.

Friday 19 September 2014

Ends of a line

I've finally tracked down examples of the last Land Rovers in the era that I specialise in. I had spotted a photo of a tatty bright metallic green Land Rover in a cheerful shade I'd never seen before. I found one in the States but completely failed to get the seller to do anything about a ridiculously big postage charge. Despite offering to buy a couple of his other models too in an attempt to make one package's charge seem a bit more reasonable spread over three models he couldn't give me a figure so I gave up on that one. A few weeks later a super example, more or less as new, comes along and it wasn't expensive either (and from someone in the UK!)

The canopy is also a different colour plastic to what we've seen before. Some illustrations I've seen also have a terrible-looking orange canopy which I guess I shall have to pick up sometime but I'm not in a rush for that. Basically, apart from some wheel variations, I have the full set now. I have lost count of how many there are but it's over 30.

The other one is a Whizzwheels Land Rover Breakdown Truck which sort of sneaked into the lists without telling anyone. Just as Land Rovers stayed #438, it is still #477 so there's no obvious changeover date. There really aren't many of these around and it has been one of the more difficult to find on my Whizzwheels list. The box this one comes in looks like a mid 1970s version so this was clearly around until 1976 or so. It started off as a Mk1 style in 1960 but from 1962 has been moreorless unchanged body-wise. The strange #417S had this new format but a metal canopy remained. I am not too sure how you tell the difference between a #417S and an early #477 without the canopy! The #477 is listed in some places as only being around from 1966 to 1968 but I find that hard to believe.

The #477 version can be found with cast wheels or normal free spinning wheels - the Whizzwheels being much later - and earlier versions would have either a matching wheel or a silver knob to turn on the side. The Whizzwheels version will only have the knob. I have also just noticed that the Whizzwheels version has a different interior using solid plastic and the steering wheel is moulded, not a separate dark grey addition.

I cannot quickly think of another model, though, that lasted as long with such minimal changes and, indeed, staying the same colour. Maybe the #418 Austin Taxi which also sneaked in with Whizzwheels and didn't change its number? Something I'll have to think about.

Friday 12 September 2014

It could be a #500 Land Rover with red seats.

I still haven't found a definitive guide to detecting the difference between #357 and #500 US Army Land Rovers. There are slight colour shade differences but that is about all I can see and, for all I know, those variations apply to each. 

The best summary I can make of all this is to conclude that there is no difference. They are the same. Corgi just decided, for reasons best known to themselves, to make the export model No. 500 and hurriedly made a temporary box for it and never got round to making a 'normal' box for #500. That may well have been because there were no plans to have a US Army Land Rover in the main collection in 1963/4.

No.500 seems to have been first produced in November 1963 but is said to have been withdrawn in 1963 too, making for a damn short production run. These were exports for the US market and, if the dates are accurate, that was the only example at the time so there wasn't a model for British kids.

Model No. 357 is called a Land Rover Weapons Carrier and appeared quite a bit later in January 1965 together with a whole pile of US military models. Until then there had only been a couple of RAF items. No-one here would probably have known #500 existed.

This is a genuine #500 box that an American boy will have found his Land Rover in had he been lucky at Christmas 1963. That was the last chance he had to get one and the books tell us that the sales were around 17500. That is one of the smallest figures across the whole range.

This is what British boys will have got in 1965, and maybe had to wait until Christmas that year despite its official launch month being January, most families recovering from over-spending the month before anyway. It looks pretty much the same to me.

The new box, and this is another genuine article, has a nice picture and no 'US Army' text but the smart Land Rover logo and 'Weapons Carrier'. The star does rather give things away a bit but it sold a few more until itself being withdrawn in 1966. I don't know when but that means rather less than two years, over which a creditable 130000 are said to have been made.

Of those, some may well have been fitted with red interiors, by production workers who had either run out of yellow and nicked some from the brown Land Rover bits boxes or, maybe, just got bored with yellow. They are certainly rare. #357s with red interiors are very rare so a #500 with red interior would be extraordinarily extraordinary. 

So perhaps I will say that the one illustrated at the beginning is a #500! Unless, of course, you know different...

Monday 8 September 2014

The M Set

200M Fotrd Consul

201M Austin Cambridge

202M Morris Cowley

203M Vauxhall Velox

204M Rover 90

205M Riley Pathfinder

205M Riley Pathfinder

206M Hillman Husky

206M Hillman Husky

207M Standard Vanfuard III

208M Jaguar 2.4

211M Studebaker Golden Hawk

214M Ford Thunderbird

216M Austin A40
It's taken a while but a delivery of several items this week has completed the set of Corgi Mechanical cars. There are three Bedford vans too, of which I have one, but I am not really bothered about collecting them whereas I had set myself on getting an example of each of the saloons.

They are all scarce but some noticeably so, the Standard Vanguard and red Riley Pathfinder being particularly rare. Neither of these are in brilliant condition but the motors work. There are also the two American members of the M Set which are rare although the Thunderbird motor is stuck.

The rest are fine examples, though. Each may have something here or there but with so few around they are quite good enough for me. I am not a big fan of the perfect, never-been-played-with car in the box and whilst I am always delighted to have any examples in immaculate condition I am equally content to have something a little battered.

I even have an Austin for the Black List, the wonderfully clean grey one enabling the previously acquired disaster to be repaired. The windows had, quite frankly, had it. I've no idea what someone was trying to do with them and all the cream paint had gone so it will soon be black with nice clear windows again. The motor's fine. Funnily, black was a colour seldom used by Corgi and yet that would have been the most frequently encountered on the roads. 

It will be sad to see of these go and I may well replace any I sell as I have a certain fondness for these old fellows, despite their dating from a time even before I starting collecting. They have a certain charm.