Monday 30 June 2014

Corgi Toys 1966 Catalogue

The 1966 catalogue. Another cover to make us smile. The wonderful James Bond Aston Martin had been released and naturally deserved front page treatment but quite what was in the artist's mind when he put this illustration together I am not at all sure!

With the wheels angled that way disaster is imminent and I suspect the guy doing a backward somersault may be safer than anyone providing he misses the Mercedes following.

Not so many changes this year after quite a big number of changes in 1965's issue. This year sees the introduction of the VW1200 with steering in East African guise and a second ice cream van. I must have missed the first one. Neither of these ever managed to attract my attention and, to this day, I have never seen one and don't really feel like paying a great deal for one either so it'll have to turn up at a boot sale or be part of a job lot if either ever get into stock and on to the site.

The Chrysler Imperial appears with the mystery surrounding what it might have in the boot. You do have to wonder just how many really interesting things could be lurking in a Chrysler boot and I was a bit disappointed to discover it was a set of golf clubs. It's one slab of a car and never struck me as one of their best engineered models. Luckily it only ever appeared in a boring red colour so I only need the one item in stock.

There's also a pencil sketch of the Ford Cortina Estate, also offering us a surprise feature. I'll leave you dangling in anticipation as to what that could possibly be.

A good-looking truck gets pride of place on page 3 this year. At 25 shillings, though, that would have been something for a birthday or Christmas. My favourite new release would be the Ford Mustang, a great-looking model, albeit with clunky doors. There's a corgi on the back shelf too like the Ghia. These were the days before safety belts and baby seats so a small dog hurtling through the car when it suddenly brakes was not really a big thing.

The Monte Carlo trio set is there for the first time, although the Mini appeared last year. Little did we know how valuable that set would turn out to be!

The illustrations are mostly very similar to the previous year, with drawings of models throughout except for the kit photographs as last year. The new additions, though, are quite markedly different and very photo-realistic. Look at the wheels on the truck or ice cream van, for example. They could have done with that chap's work on the front cover!

US Army models

Arriving this week is the US Army HQ Staff car Oldsmobile 88, #358, which is quite sought after and not cheap. I suppose there may not be that many in our British children's collections and most went across The Pond. Indeed, this one has come from the United States! 

The US Army range was never matched in that era by anything for Britain. We had some RAF Landrovers and an RAF Standard Vanguard Staff car but that's about it. I have in immaculate condition and with boxes the US Army Landrovers #357 and the mysterious #500. I have yet to figure out where they differ and am so worried I will return each to the other's box one day! The #500 is extremely rare and one of my most expensive models.



Thursday 26 June 2014

Two Marlins

I found a blue and white version at last but it is a bit tatty. The yellow roof rack does need to have the kayak in it too. The rack is fitted through four holes drilled in the roof so it needs to stay there and there's not a great deal we can do other than fit some vinyl to cover the holes perhaps! So it is pretty clear now that all in this colour variation will have derived from the Gift Set with the trailer, kayak and rider.

Click either image for more photos.

Rolls Royce and Bentley



It took Corgi a while to produce a Rolls Royce. The #224 Bentley Continental had been so good and a staple part of the range for so long that they probably didn't think they could beat it. Finally they made one and the #273 Silver Shadow appeared in 1970. It started as a Golden Jacks version but by the time the 1970 catalogue was issued there was already a Whizzwheels version. So this pretty impressive first model had a very short life and most appear in cream over blue. The Whizzwheels version was originally silver over metallic blue but there are a few around in that colour scheme with Golden Jacks. I am fortunate to have one in stock but it isn't cheap.

Apart from  missing a spare wheel in the boot and the wheels themselves of course, the Whizzwheels version is identical. Change the radiator grill and paint it a shade of ghastly 1970s pink and you have #274, the new Bentley. This only came with Whizzwheels and appears in the 1970 catalogue as 'Available Later' so is more like a 1971 release. The catalogue shows a photo of a yellow Bentley, another ridiculous colour but not one I believe was issued thank Heavens.

The Bentley appears
Not sure what Project X was all about. The Rolls can also be found in all silver, all darkish metallic blue and a solid mid-blue with what appear to be better-looking wheels in a second release around 1973. It is easily confused in pictures with the later 1:36 scale model which was often either red or black and silver and was actually a Corniche but people selling them do get mixed up.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Marcos revisited

324  Marcos 1800GT from 1966

377 Marcos 3 Litre from 1970
There's nothing like recycling old bodies to try and make a bit more profit and in 1970 Corgi were needing all the help they could get. So the old 324 cast was dug out and relaunched in 1970 as a further addition to the Whizzwheels range. The #377 Marcos 3 Litre car is basically the same but without opening doors, a bulge added to the bonnet, a patch stuck on the roof, a different colour plastic interior and, supposedly, a different engine. As the first model included with Volvo engine quite prominently and now has another 1.2 litres as well it really ought to look different! There is still Volvo written under the bonnet and several features are the same as before but it does, indeed, look as though some effort to include a 3 litre Volvo engine in place of the 1.8 litre has been made.

I wonder whether the nice Marcos motif is still on the bonnet beneath that ugly decal?

The door section does look much better but the same plastic wheels as all the other models are tiresome. And that's not meant to be a pun.

These wheels don't look too bad in photos and sort of suit one or two models, including this one. I do think that a collection of Corgi Toys from this era does need to have the variations of older models like this and as many were only around for a year or two and didn't sell brilliantly either, values should remain healthy, with some comfortably exceeding their 'classic' predecessors. Now that's quite a turn-up for the books and makes the plastic Whizzwheels a little more bearable.

Shiny Studebakers

I suppose that with a name like Studebaker Golden Hawk you would need to have a dramatic colour to do justice to it! Corgi produced their revised 211S model in a very bright silver and a slightly more modest gold. The silver is distinctly unrealistic, the gold I could imagine being on the road.

Monday 23 June 2014


A glimpse of the front cover of the 1971-2 Corgi Catalogue shows just how Whizzwheels had become the standard by then and, despite some odd repeat of the same models in the photograph to make the range look bigger than it was, how there was now a polarisation of types. At one extreme the conservative Rolls or Bentley and at the other weird experimental sports cars most of us had never heard of. The latter were to dominate things in these early years.

Here are some pages from the 1970 catalogue. You can see just how many of the previous range had continued into Whizzwheels mode by a simple change of base and colour scheme.

Although some of these are just plain awful - like the revised Customised Sting Ray - and some are not particularly easily distinguished one from another at first glance, there is generally a decent standard of production amongst the early models and some I have had to conclude are actually worth adding to a collection. 

Here in the 1969 Catalogue you'll see how Corgi planned the Ferrari and Lamborghini with Golden Jacks. Indeed, the spare wheels in the released models are still the 'take off' style wheel! That's quite amusing and faintly sad at the same time.

These were not easy years for Corgi as their factory was destroyed and the business almost finished in 1969. So models from the 1969-71 era will be comparatively scarce anyway and some which had just commenced production and not resumed are notably difficult to obtain.

It took a while to put a list together of exactly what was released in this second period which I have taken as 1969 to 1971. The very first had some actually quite smart wheels using red nylon centres. Had they stayed like that then I have a feeling that they would have been much better accepted. The tyres were still rubber and they did look right on the models I have seen them on. That is really why I feel I have to extend my listings and stock a little as the 'red spot' models are excellent and many of what followed were pretty much normal Corgi Toys apart from the dreaded plastic wheels. A good example would be the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray (not the Customised one) which is almost exactly the same as 300 and quite rare. There is a Camaro too in blue that is difficult to find and a really quite attractive Toyota 2000GT in metallic dark turquoise. Beware of red spot models, though. Only six were known to be produced, of which five are really rare, the Rolls, for example, being virtually unobtainable. It is possible to switch the plastic to red nylon types, though, and that is tempting for dealers who think they might be able to get a much higher price. The model will also look a lot nicer but you really shouldn't pay more unless you are sure it is original.

With a very short life for some models and not many sales for them either compared to their predecessors these are going to be even more difficult to find and, whilst some seem to be commanding higher prices now, most on this list are still around at really quite modest prices. I don't think this will be the case for long once people like me get over their dislike of Whizzwheels and actually realise how rare some will be! (And that they're not all that bad.)

The red spot models are definitely good to collect and some early ones that have Whizzwheels do not declare this on the base. I am guessing that these will be the ones originally intended to have Golden Jacks but I do need to check that. The name of the die-cast alloy, Mazak, appears on the base of some models too. Again, I need to discover which and when that started. It may help to identify a cut-off point rather than just a random date.

So I am adding a further section to the web site and here are a few models I have found so far.

Iso Grifo 7 Litre
Lamboughini P400GT Miura and the original black bull

Ferrari 204 Dino Sport

Customised Chevrolet Sting Ray

1965 Corgi Toy Catalogue

You have to smile at the cover of this year's Corgi Toys Catalogue. Having safely got across the six lane carriageway in the centre of some suburb two years earlier the little boy is now trying to drag his dad away from s couple of cars parked on a pavement. Dad is gazing at a dark blue Ghia with its bonnet open showing the 6.4 litre Chrysler engine. Yes, it is now the dads that will be buying the models too.

Next to the Ghia is a Bentley of the 1927 3 litre type although no-one was ever completely sure about the year or engine size. Sitting beneath a Corgi Classics sign, this was the year that a few old models appeared. The Bentley would be the one most people will remember as it was used in several forms, including spells as both The Avengers' John Steed's car and later as Bertie Wooster's transport. There are not so many Model T Ford's around, which also were one of the four first models.

Inside there is the curious feature of spoked wheels highlighted on several models, including the Aston Martin #309 competition model. I don't think I've seen one with spoked wheels. There is also a silver Buick Riviera pulling the Dolphin speedboat - a colour I have yet to find for real. The big Mercedes 500 Pullman appears and its 'working' windscreen wipers are declared to be by repeated requests! I could go along with the previous splash of By special request but I do find windscreen wipers by repeated request a little hard to believe!

For the first time we see photographs on some pages instead of the drawings. These are of layouts and buildings in the Corgi Kits section. A Bentley Continental appears to be doing an impossible manoeuvre coming out of a petrol station and about to bump into a Ford Zephyr Police car.

There are still two pages of US Army models but the weapons seem to have disappeared now. I do wonder whether the US Army would have used a Commer van or a little VW bus but never mind, they're valuable items to find now!

Almost all models now have suspension (and no S suffix shown for those that didn't have it before) although the MGA #302 remains, looking a bit lonely now.

Saturday 14 June 2014


The Oldsmobile Super 88 appeared as a Sheriff's car in the 1963 catalogue and was the first use of this car. The normal saloon was marked as 'Available Later' and the US Army Staff Car version (that I haven't yet tracked down) didn't appear until the 1965 catalogue but I am sure it will have been on sale much earlier, in 1963 or 54 probably as there wasn't a 1964 catalogue.

The models are all quite simple affairs (apart from The Thrushbuster version). With strong suspension, free spinning wheels and straightforward silver paint for the chrome and no opening anything, there is little to go wrong and original models can still look tremendous today.

In 1967 it gets revived for the Man From Uncle TV series car. It is always quite a rarer version of the real car - with a tapered and slightly odd-looking rear end. Earlier and later models had much more attractive designs with fins or, at least, lacking the droop.

image from

Thursday 12 June 2014

Here they come

Here are a couple of models that are in the 'odd' group when it comes to the Corgi catalogues. There had been a lovely Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray around for years but Corgi must have decided it was time for a revision and took away the twin jewelled headlamps that folded away and came up with this monstrosity, calling it a 'customised' version. It sure was, with stickers everywhere and almost as much engine on the outside as under the bonnet.

It is difficult to find now a model with the chrome bumpers in good condition. They suffered badly and, like the original Sting Ray, showed the yellow or cream plastic beneath.

And we also had The Monkees! 

The Customised Stingray may have been introduced to use up the wheels left over when interest in the Monkees faded. This crazy red car has the four band members inside and looks ridiculous, also displaying lots of chrome engine bits through the bonnet. I was a huge Monkees fan but this is not something I ever longed to add to my collection!

I thought I'd better get these items in stock, though, for someone who does want a decent example. The Stingray is in supperb condition. One of the Monkeemobiles has lovely, unmarked paintwork but the transfers have suffered (and Mickey Dolenz has fallen out), The one with good transfers and all four people has a few small chips.

Citroen Safari seats

There are two versions of #475: one with the Olympics 1964 sticker and a yellow roof rack and a Corgi Ski Club version with a red roof rack. I don’t think the roof rack colours were interchangeable but I may be wrong there.

This came first as it is billed in the 1965 catalogue and the Ski Club one comes in the 1966 catalogue. I guess the 1964 sticker would have dated it rather and hence the change!

All white now but with very odd seating. The yellow one had pea green seats but this Olympics model has a pea green dashboard and rear folding seats but brown front seats and panelling. That’s weird. I thought it had been poorly restored but that is not the case. It was made this way. And, crazily, the Ski Club version appears to have the colours reversed!!

I haven’t been able to confirm whether this is random or designed yet. Both are in very good condition, hardly any marks anywhere but needs skis, poles and the skier.


With nine models based on the original Chevrolet Impala this has to be one of the most familiar shapes. There are two taxis, two police cars, two fire service cars and two saloons, one each of the original type and of the chromed second type. The introduction of the second type was quite late and far fewer appear to be in circulation, making the type 2s a bit more difficult to track down now. The cab above, in fact, is very late, having the fluted cast wheels.

Type 2 Fire service car is to follow.

Strange colours were chosen for the saloons!

The ninth model is an 'extended estate;' so not really in the series and was the Kennel Service Wagon that had a model doggy too and various features specific to the trade.

Inside Ghia L6.4s

I bought an old gold Ghia L6.4 a while ago and thought that the red door inserts were replacements. So I looked around for a cheap model, condition not really important providing it had the right colour interior. I found a blue one with a cream interior but when it arrived that, too, had red door inserts! A gold one I bought cheaply with broken suspension also had red door inserts! I should have asked first.

Interestingly, both my old gold cars and the latest blue edition have not only red door inserts but also a red plastic unit supplying suspension and boot and bonnet mechanisms. The door inserts also do appear to be original and not the less well-defined pieces that part suppliers provide. This all arose because I can only get red inserts from the usual part stockist. They could do well for themselves stocking cream as well I reckon!

So it would appear that Corgi produced models with the red central unit and cream interior and, remarkably, red inserts. I know cream inserts exist because they're in a green metallic model I have had since new. However, I am beginning to think that I don't need to worry about replacing those in the gold car after all as they must be originals. 

They do look odd, though, so I shall carry on looking for models that are inexpensive with the right colours and I can always make use some Black List models from the other parts. I wonder whether I'll find any with red interiors but cream suspension unit or doors? Surely not. But watch this space!