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.

Friday 5 September 2014

Land Rovers. 33 variations, and counting.

438 in Flying Club guise

The more I look into what I need to have in stock the more Land Rovers I seem to be acquiring. I wasn't looking for Land Rovers at all the other day but spotted a bright green metallic one on an American store site. This matched one I had wondered about on Andrew Wood's Little Wheels site but was just too messed up to make the expensive postage charges that seem to apply in the States worthwhile.

On that topic, I have bought several items there and the £:$ exchange rate is excellent at the moment so items can seem very reasonable - until you add postage. Many dealers use some outfit that takes care of the whole things for them but that costs a lot - over £15 sometimes for just a £6 purchase! This Land Rover was with one of them and there was nothing else I wanted, either, to make the exorbitant fee worthwhile or spread across several. So it stays in the States and I continue to look for one nearer home.

Now that's one which I haven't found with normal wheels. A lot come with both and they're the ones I am also looking for now. Here's my first attempt at some sort of list for 438s and 477s. Obviously the early ones only had colour variations.

Normal only
Dark green 
Pale brown 
All the service, army, RAC, RAF etc. vehicles are normal.

Normal, cast louvre and Whizzwheels
Grey green metallic
Pale blue (Pony Club) 68-77
Daktari 68-76
Longleat 68-74
Breakdown Truck 

Whizzwheels only
Deep blue (Flying Club) 73-77
Bright light green metallic
Deep turquoise-green metallic

I think that we can include the cast louvre 'spoke effect' wheels in the middle section too as I have seen examples of each of them with all three types. I am not sure whether I have seen any of the third section with that cast type but certainly none of the first group. Of course, having said that, I now will!

The REALLY curious entry here, though, is the Breakdown truck which, just as the Land Rover stayed #438, has remained #477. I think these are the only two that didn't get renumbered but I do have to check that. If you look at the Great Book Of Corgi or other authoritative places they seem to agree that the Breakdown truck stopped being made in 1967 or 1968.

So how on Earth did it get Whizzwheels which didn't appear until 1969 and, probably, in the form fitted to the models I have seen, 1970 or later? I can only guess that existing stock was adjusted as it left. That cannot have happened to many which is why I am keen to get hold of one or two decent examples at a reasonable price. They should be very worthwhile in future unless we discover that they did actually carry on making them in tens of thousands until the late 1970s after all!

As soon as I have one I will display it here.

Land Rovers themselves must have been the most successful, certainly the most used cast, for Corgi for all time. Indeed, it is still being used today! Again, I am getting some examples and will add them soon as it has only recently dawned on me that this is the case. 

I've counted at least 33 variations so far in just the 1956-73 range. I don't think I will even attempt to go further but will feature the most recent and my favourite later edition in a post soon.