Saturday 31 May 2014

Some white models on the Black List

Four new items on the Black List at £29 each. Each was a very untidy and messed-up model that I have taken to bits, repainted and put back together again. This time I used white which I needed for the Lotus Elan so carried on spraying that colour with the others. The Land Rover looks quite cool. 

The Lotus will also be offered in one of my alternative sets for The Avengers which I sell for just £120. That includes an original Steed's Bentley in either green or maroon and either the Black List Corgi Lotus or an original Vitesse Lotus, as well as the usual three brollies and Steed and Mrs Peel figures.

Friday 30 May 2014

Corgi Toys Catalogue 1960

There is something slightly unnerving about the clean concrete and 'designed' countryside on the cover of the 1960 catalogue, with an Eastern European socialist look. These were the wonderful days, though, when the State didn't control us drivers as much as they do now! There may be a Ford Zephyr police car heading south here but they would have been looking out for dangerous driving or problems and not whether someone was doing 71mph or not.

Inside the images are much brighter and it all looks like a new artist's work. There are scenes on the pages too, reflecting the content. The Renault Floride now has Floride in brackets and is called a Caravelle. It was a Floride before and I'm sure that's what is on the base so that's an odd change.

Farm machinery gets much more space and there is a little less military although huge missile launchers and a rocket are still pretty impressive content!

A Hovercraft makes an appearance and the Car Transporter in Gift Set 1 now carries a smart group of cars: a Triumph TR2, Austin Healey, Riley Pathfinder and Jaguar 2.4!

I should imagine the stars of the car show that year would have been the minis, Aston Martin's appearance with an opening bonnet and the Jaguar 2.4 now with an interior and spring suspension.

The images I've published are from an American version with prices in dollars and cents so I can't comment on how they're progressing. The M models have been dropped, though.

The cover shows cars and trucks that are all available inside, although it does include a green Land Rover with a cover pulling the horsebox whereas only an uncovered yellow one is illustrated. The Gift Set is just a line drawing.

The Cast of Riviera Blues

It seems that it was not just the Toronado that came in several distinct shades of blue but the good old Buick Riviera too.  So far, all those I have encountered have been the same sort of of 'normal' blue metallic. Simply blue, I don't know how else to describe it. Now, though, along comes this quite clearly green-blue. It is much more noticeable in reality - the photos, despite my best efforts - don't show the difference as clearly. (I had the same problem trying to capture the difference in two Toronados, strangely enough.)

This one has come all the way from America. I was looking for a model with cast wheels which I'd spotted on one for sale. Unfortunately, all that I could find here were a very expensive blue one at around £200 and a tatty one with broken bits in gold. That was cheap enough but was beyond simple repair and I reckoned that it would be fairly easy just to change the wheels if I took it apart and then I couldn't prove that it was the rarer, late version.

So there are a few with cast wheels around and I guess they're not that difficult to find but they are worth looking out for. I'll buy a decent gold one when I find it. Finding the new shade was a bonus. The picture in the advert did look as if it was greenish but I'd put that down to light or just rubbish image processing.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Corgi Toys Catalogue 1959

Several changes afoot now. Here come the tractors - and a marvellous Combine Harvester! The colours are looking a bit brighter, with two-tone schemes on nearly all the cars. Suspension appears, although just 'Available later'. Something called internal panelling is referred to as well, by which I presume they mean part of the same flimsy bit of moulded plastic covering the area visible inside.

Interestingly, prices have generally gone down! 1d off the M models and, for example, the Land Rover and Horsebox now priced at 7/9d, 3d less than the year before. The Land Rover, incidentally, has now changed colour from blue with a white cab roof to yellow with a black cab roof.

There are still four pages with big illustrations of things like missiles and rocket launchers - what they now call Rocket Age models. Clearly, war is still very much on people's minds. A couple of Chevrolet Impalas appear now for the first time and boost the general US-friendly feel to Corgi. Only a Renault Floride and Citroen DS19, joining a couple of Mercedes 300SLs, represent Europe.

The catalogue itself has a portrait format and a very designed cover - a complete contrast to the previous year. It's an odd image that is reminiscent to me of the start of The Fifth Element and quite what the dotted yellow line is doing I have no idea!

Corgi Toys Catalogue 1958

I have recently published nine Corgi Toy Catalogues on my web site (and added a link in the list on the right of the blog) and will take a closer look at each one in separate posts.

The first I have is for 1958 and that may be the first produced. The front cover has a photograph of a boy, uniquely, as all subsequent boys were drawn. All the models, though, are drawn and on this cover spread out as if they're negotiating a part of the ring road round Paris. There's a lot of yellow, bearing in mind that the boxes at that time were blue.

Forefront are the military models and a bulldozer in this slightly bizarre scene where the artist appears to have tried to feature every model and then given up. Inside the quality of drawings isn't great at first but seems to improve as the pages progress, becoming quite accurate depictions once we reach the lorries.

For 4/2d you could buy #102 the Rice Pony Trailer (or horsebox as most of us called it) and 3/6d would buy the Land Rover but without a cover. It looks like you had to buy the Gift Set #2 to get a cover on a green Land Rover. The set cost 8/- which was an extra 4d, presumably for the cover.

You could buy #351 the RAF Land Rover for 3/10d and get a RAF blue cover so that 4d looks about right.

The 'Mechanical' versions of some models are shown - all but one at 1/3d extra compared to the normal counterparts. That was quite a lot - increasing the price from 2/9d to 4/- in most cases. I hadn't realised until reading this that the Bedford M models were different to their counterparts, with only 404 and 404M differing just by the mechanism.

Apart from one lorry in red ad white, all the models were actually available and in the colours illustrated. There is a distinctly utilitarian, public service, commercial and military feel to the selection overall, though, with just three or four pages of cars and the other eleven or twelve not items your dad would have had in the drive.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Not something to meet along Bedmond Lane

One of my least favourite models is #262, the Lincoln Continental. I felt obliged to have one in stock and it does actually grace the cover of the 1967-8 Corgi Toy catalogue. In fact it stretches from front to back cover. Yes, this is a big car.

The thing is: it is ridiculously BIG. To anyone driving from St Albans to Kings Langley in 1968, meeting a Buick would have been ruddy inconvenient and required reversing back round the lane by one or other party to find somewhere to pass. This thing appears so huge that it wouldn't even squeeze into the lane in the first place.

Surely, Corgi really did get the proportions wrong on this one. Well, maybe the proportions are right but the scale can't be. Look at how it compares to our own home-grown beast of a Jaguar X Type. Even if we accept it was a bit stretched and longer than other cars, the width and height can't be right. Just the doors look massive.

I have not read that a different scale was used but it has to be larger. Maybe someone knows. If it had been produced nearer the end of the era then I might have understood but this is still at a time when great models were being made that did look OK. I never had one at the time. This has a battery compartment in the base that powers a light to display a TV screen on which different slides can be shown. The boot and interior have a sort of flock paper fancy blue carpet. Plenty of doors open but there's no rear window. I thought mine was missing but it seems this is normal. It's well made, very solid and generally looks good from all angles.

I just think it's wrong. Way too big. Someone buy it. I shall probably not replace it or even bother about looking for the less common blue one. That's one variation I can live without. And have more room without too.

Saturday 24 May 2014

Ghia in gold

I have a particular fascination with the different colours that were used on Corgi models. Some seem quite rare and I have previously featured the Ghia L6.4 in a yellow-green shade of gold but now I find this which is quite different. This is an older version of the car too, with the normal wheels, and the shade is similar to that you'd find on the James Bond Aston Martin or a Buick Riviera.

The car is exceptionally clean and in excellent condition but the suspension has gone front and back. Such a pity. In a way that tends to make me sure that this is an original and not a repainted blue or green. My suspicions were raised as there is a plastic unit which runs from the boot to under the engine which provides the suspension and a small part pops up in the air filter to push open the bonnet - that's red plastic whereas the interior is the cream colour.

I haven't encountered a Ghia with a different colour unit to that used for the interior. It is not impossible and the only obvious sign is the air filter bit or a small bit showing in the boot, so I can imagine it has happened but it does seem a bit odd. I am sure that, if it had been repainted and such a good job made of putting it back together again, the person would have at least repaired the suspension!  The rivets do look OK. Here is a photo, and below another of one of my own models that appears to have the same type. (In fact, my own model's base looks repainted but I absolutely can be sure that it hasn't been!)

I have seen one or two other gold Ghias in this shade so I am content that it is a genuine colour and delighted to have this in stock. I need  couple of door inserts in cream as they're missing. Red ones are easy to get but I shall have to buy a tatty old model that has them - probably a green one although I have seen blue with cream interior too. This is intriguing me so I hope to get some answers before long.

I doubt if I will take this one apart as, despite the suspension being useless, it is a rare model as it stands and, provided it is original, I reckon it's worth a lot more as it stands, or sits, than it would be with any restoration.

Floride - the best looking Renault of all time

Just in is a nice olive green Renault Floride. One of those cars that had more chrome at the back than at the front. Actually it has only just occurred to me that it must have been rear-engined. That explains a lot. It's a great looking car that I was thinking I might like to have now. That thought, however, soon disappeared when I could only find one real one for sale at £10000 and it only has an 845cc engine!

Nice looking car and a tremendous reproduction of the original.

I bought a red one a long time ago, one of the first stock items I acquired. It had an original box and looked excellent. The box was all that was original though as I later recognised the different rivets that had been used when putting it back together. Those were early days and now I think I can spot a repair at 500 yards. Well, a few inches at any rate.

Monday 19 May 2014

Oldsmobiles not old mobiles, although I suppose these are getting on

From France today comes this Oldsmobile Super 88. This was a late 1963 addition and later was used for a police car, a US Army car and also For The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The name hasn't quite the sparkle of a Thunderbird or Golden Hawk and Oldsmobile neither trips off the tongue nor is easily typed (and they continued in the typo vein with the Toronado). It is a good, well-produced model and only found in shades of blue with the broad white stripe and red interior. Nothing opens but the suspension is sound and there's nothing to go wrong either. Being inset, too, the front grill and lights and the rear chromework and lights tended to be well protected and certainly look as new on my stock model.

I am still looking for a reasonably priced US Army version and a decent County Sheriff version with a red light and original transfers. There are plenty of the police one around but not in good condition and the Army vehicle is quite rare and those I have encountered are well into three figures.

Saturday 17 May 2014

A Ghia 5000 with an aerial

In from Belgium today came this Ghia 5000 Mangusta. If that's not a mouthful enough then you need to add with a De Tomaso Chassis for the full title. I have been looking for one of these for a while. They were produced only for a short time in 1969 and, whilst nicely made, it's an odd model. Confusingly, the model number is #271, later used for the big James Bond model.

For some reason, Corgi decided that they needed a car where the body could be detached from the chassis. they had already done something similar with #319, the Lotus Elan S2 hard top. That was OK and they could use the excuse that it was in a Lotus Racing Gift Set where there were different bodies that could be used on the chassis. It was still a bit pointless and that model lacked the suspension of its open top sister model #318 and generally didn't run that well. This Ghia does have suspension and runs smoothly and is a good-looking model but still, without anything to exchange, seems pretty pointless.

It also seems very big to me, the wheels in particular. Nicely detailed but very big. There was only the one colour scheme and nothing opened or did anything. This one is one of the very, very few that exist with an original aerial in place. So many have that missing - I think that the angle at which it sat made it very vulnerable when either being taken out of or, possibly, putting back in a box or even just being brushed against something or caught in a woollen jumper.

I am also fortunate to find one with its original box and packing, even a yellow elastic band and leaflet. It's a late box with a cellophane window and they seldom last long. The inner tray is also very flimsy plastic. Card would have been so much nicer. Was this the start of the downfall? Whizzwheels were just around the corner - I can easily imagine this with them but it made it out just in time.

The 1969 Corgi Catalogue illustrates it with gold wheels so I do hope there isn't some rare variant to discover! I doubt it as the model above never made it with take-off wheels - the Lambourghini was one of the first to succumb to the ugly wheels.

Friday 16 May 2014

Alpine Safari

I had been putting off collecting the Citroen Safaris as they looked complicated. I think I have just about figured out which is which now.

There was, of course, the yellow first one which really did look like it was on Safari with a strange sticker on the bonnet and in that never-to-be-repeated bright English mustard hue. After that there was the 1964 Olympics and that's where I got confused because as well as #475 bearing the Olympics sticker, there are also the same all white models with a Corgi Ski Club sticker. These came with one figure but 4 skis in yellow or red and 4 poles in the same colour. I haven't got that one yet.

Four years later the model is brought out again for the 1968 Olympics. This #499 has a nice blue roof and rear door, the same yellow contraption on the roof (some have red) which this time holds a nice metal toboggan and 2 skis and ski poles in yellow or red. In addition there are two figures - the skier and someone to ride the toboggan. I like the way the ski poles fit into the hands of the skier and the skis on her feet. This is the one that has just arrived. I didn't have all the red skis or poles so have added some lovely metal ones which look great, if not original. The car itself is unmarked and in first class condition, as are the original figures and toboggan - bits that usually get lost over the years.

Finally, at the end of most Corgi Toys listings, comes #513 in 1970. This has a red roof and rear door, the same toboggan and two skis and poles but in place of the figures there is a stand-up rescuing person and a St Bernard dog. Yes, this is the Alpine Rescue version. It is also the most expensive to buy now, despite being the most recent and it was around for a couple of years too. I haven't found one at a reasonable price yet and you need the right bits, especially a dog!

Pale blue Morris Mini Minor with cast wheels

The Morris Mini Minor #226 lasted from 1960 to 1968. For the vast majority of those years it was only seen in pale blue. Nearer the end of its life there were nice purple variants - illustrated in an earlier article here. The first minis had fixed smooth hubs. The only example in stock is the Black List model I have in silver.

The most common version has free spinning wheels like these two.

An unusual model popped up recently, though. All the later purple ones had cast wheels but pale blue ones with these wheels are very rare. This is the only example I have seen. I don't know how rare it is so I am not sure how to price it as it may just be that there are plenty out there and I just haven't noticed them. Or it could be, like the cream Austin Seven, something very difficult to track down and worth a lot more. My stock item is also in excellent condition.

I can see why there are many people who just specialise in minis! I had no idea before I started just how many interesting variants there are. Hopefully someone with more knowledge will advise in due course.

Now, to find that cream Austin...

Fiat 1800 and 2100

An early model with seats and suspension was #217, a Fiat 1800. Not the most interesting of cars and although it was only around from 1960 to 1963, Corgi managed to create several colour schemes for this one: all blue, like the illustration, blue with a dark blue roof, a strange mustard colour and, apparently a lilac with mauve roof version. This last is the scheme for the later Fiat 2100 (also illustrated) which also had a Venetian blind and jewelled headlamps fitted. Otherwise it looks like the same cast.

The Fiat 2100 has an even shorter life span, from 1961 to 1963. So it seems that both cars were being made for two years which is a bit odd, bearing in mind how similar they were. Whilst there were variants in competition form (or as used by the army, police, TV etc.) the only other car that was produced side by side like this was the mini.

Beetles and rhinos

I think I have enough VW1200s now, having located two East African Safari models and a European police version with a blue light, unworn steering chrome ring and this one also has intact windows. So why. you might ask, do I need two East African Safari models? Well, until I wrote this and looked again at the pictures I have in the web galleries, I had not realised that there were both LHD and RHD versions of this model! I presume it only applies to #256 as it would be a bit stupid to have the European police driving a right hand drive car. By pure chance, the two I have bought for stock were one of each. The one with the sticker is left hand drive and the other right. Amazing bit of luck or now I'd have to look for a third.

There is also a rhinoceros with one of the Safari VWs but I am not sure if it's an original or not. It looks quite cute and must be  baby rhino, assuming the 1:43 scale applies! I had this set when I was little and the size is right - the reproduction box also has holes for its feet ad they're in the right position. The box is not brilliant so I may invest in a DRRB one for one of the cars and the rhino. At least that's a simpler set than the Daktari one I am trying to gather. There is a reasonably priced original rhino for sale I shall try and get for the boxed set. 

This is an exceptionally well-made model and looks good enough to last another 50 years easily. The rhino still won't have grown, though.

Friday 9 May 2014

The last chance saloon

Another model that made two appearances was the Renault 16. First was a Tour de France TV unit camera crew edition in white which came as Gift Set 13 and had a camera, cameraman and cyclist as well as stuff on the side and roof. For just 1969, however, the model on its own was available with cast wheels. It was in a nice shade of metallic red only. By the end of the year it had been replaced by a blue version with Whizzwheels so these red ones are quite hard to find. The Gift Set white one, however, was around for another 3 or 4 years.

This one is in almost perfect condition and has its original box too, a remarkably good find and ideal to plug that #260 hole in anyone's collection. This came out way after I stopped collecting as a child and I can only remember noticing it in passing in a toy shop window. It has a similar device to the Hillman Imp for folding seats but this time the controls work independently for each of the two front seats. The rear parcel shelf lifts up and it is tremendously well detailed, if a bit clunky here and there and slightly too big lettering in the cast on the rear wings.

I think this may have been the last of the era, the last saloon before everything went wrong.

I have no idea why it has a towing hook. Maybe there had been a plan to have a set with another boat or something. It is not on the earlier model so was clearly intended for something at the time.

Shades of grey Cortina

With a common blue and slightly scarcer red for comparison, here is a very nice grey Cortina Estate from 1966. It is not that frequently encountered in this shade although I found more grey when looking or stock than I did of the red colour that this car was also produced in.

This is the car with the #491 which is one of the highest in the list for reasons I cannot fathom, nor why exactly the same car (albeit only in blue) in a box with a golf trolley, dad and boy is #440. It was one of the last that I bought to play with but I'm sorry to say that it seems to have been lost between then and now whilst much older ones (including some that I didn't actually like as much) have survived, even with boxes. Mine was blue but I don't remember getting the golfing family. The trolley, incidentally, has been recycled from the Chrysler Imperial. Replacing the blue one wasn't too costly but the grey shades cost a fortune - this is for sale at over £100.

The model is very well made and the photo above of a real one shows how this actually looked. (Original from Littlewheels). I used tot think that Corgi had made a mistake by putting Consul on the bonnet but now realise that early models did have Consul and it was not until sometime later that the word Cortina appeared. (Thanks to a reader for correcting me - and presumably he's writing to the Little Wheels Andrew too whose observations I had used!)

Thursday 8 May 2014

More minis

A very clean and almost mint example of the later #334 BMC Mini 'Manifique' is now in stock. To have everything opening (and even the roof slides) is quite a credit to Corgi's manufacturing skills. The chrome works really well and this blue is definitely the best colour. There was also a green version - see further down. I am surprised that they didn't have a red or the purple of the other model out at the time which suited the car. The boxes for these later editions were the flimsy card and cellophane variety and few survived so I don't have one for this although I expect reproductions are possible and may be worth getting for something i a s good a condition as this one.

Also in recently was this Austin Countryman.

As I said last time, that's enough minis, Ed.