Friday 30 January 2015

Thunderbirds are five

Here are the five very impressive models that you could have been playing with fifty years ago. The suspension models 214S and 215S don't seem quite right to me, the lower slung originals seeming more representative of what I remember the real thing looking like.

The photos below show just how remarkable this vehicle was. And also serve to illustrate just how well Corgi had reproduced them at one-forty-third of the size.

There is a sixth - a Bermuda Taxi - but I am not too bothered about getting that! These are very impressive cars and the two recent additions - the 214S and 215S are almost as new, in beautiful condition. I hadn't expected to like them as much as I do!

Rover 2000

Something of a celebration to see this arrive. It is the Whizzwheels car with the least sales declared, although I suspect that there may be some others with similarly low numbers but which are just not available. They would include the blue Chevrolet Camaro and white, not to mention the very very rare blue, Marcos GT850 and maybe some colour variations of others too. 48,000, though, is less than the Fiat Ghai Jolly #242 so these are all in the definitely scarce category!

Although based on #275 and retaining several features including the strange amber sunroof this had been beautifully revised to match the changes made to the real car at the time, with the black honeycomb grill and bonnet bulges. Even the standard wheels don't look too bad on this Rover!

The paint is an extraordinary metallic purple and it just flakes off the car if you as much as blow on it. So photos can make it look awful but viewed in less harsh light it looks great. 

Released in Summer 1971 it was deleted in 1972 and so really did have a short life in the shops. Occasionally a perfect example in its box has appeared for sale at a huge price but finding an example at a more reasonable price has not been at all easy. I just struck lucky with this one which wasn't very well described so many will have missed it.

It is strange how Rovers must occupy quite a few places near the top of the Scarce List. I will have a go at making up that list soon. At the top will probably be the Sun Rally #322 Rover 2000 - the white one which is actually a different casting to the maroon #322 Monte Carlo Rally Rover 2000. That one isn't so scarce but still highly priced, decent models worth getting on for £100 without a box. The Sun Rally apparently sold about 66,000 which is still not very many but, interestingly, quite a lot more than the #281 Whizzwheels Rover.

So I'd put this Rover in 2nd place and then another white Rover 2000 - the less common colour for the Golden Jacks #275. They are pretty hard to find and, in fact, I am waiting to see if I can win one at the time of writing, this being another one on the 'still needed' list. Update: now found! See below.

Then the Monte Carlo Rover #322 and the maroon normal Rover 2000 #252. That isn't common either, mostly appearing, it seems, in a set with a car transporter (which, incidentally is where you'd find a blue #305 Marcos if you were really lucky).

At the bottom of the list would be the steel blue Rover 2000 #252 and the green Golden Jacks #275, each of which are still pretty numerous and not that expensive. If anything the older blue one is the higher priced without a box but as the box for the Golden Jacks one seldom survive long that would be the more expensive with a box.

Monday 26 January 2015

Jolly Good Show, Chaps.

These took a while to find but, at last, I can put a line through #300, #301, #302 and #305 in the list. The four good, old fashioned sports cars which Corgi included in the early years. The Austin Healey was the 100/4 model and, with the Triumph TR2, appeared in July 1956 at the very start.

In the following year the delightful MGA was released and then in 1960 someone must have realised that the Triumph TR2 had long since finished production and a new model, more or less a TR3 was issued, getting a new number too.

These were simple models but much more attractive at the time than anything Dinky was doing and they sold really well. Amazingly, you can still find the MGA in the 1965 catalogue, with the Ghia L6.4, Chevrolet Sting Ray and Jaguar E-types to compete with. There were cars with steering, suspension, trans-o-lite headlamps and all sorts of bits that might open. And even in 1964 the Austin Healey, TR3 and MGA were all there to buy still. They definitely have a certain charm about them and the MGA and Austin Healey are attractive models. I have never been fond of the TR2 and I'm not too sure about the TR3 they produced either.

Many of these cars would have been children's favourites and used far more than the others, getting raced around the 'road' at the edge of a carpet and more often that we would have liked slamming into the skirting board where both the board and the cars would suffer paint loss. The windscreens would, inevitably get broken too. These open cars would have had to have been put away very carefully indeed if those screens were not to suffer and I think that one of the reasons that you don't see many of these now is because so many screen s did suffer and, coupled with scuffs and marks, made the cars look a bit sad and they weren't the ones kept long term and even now could get chucked out or ignored by anyone who isn't familiar with them.

I think the MGA has an original screen but the other three needed replacements. They're easy enough to get hold of and, unlike too many later models, are simple to fix. It really does 'restore' the model, even if the screens aren't brilliant.

You can see more photos of these four new additions on my site under British Cars.

Jaguar Mk X colours

dark metallic blue

Another collector asked me about Jaguar Mk X colours so I thought I would do a little more research and try and find some examples to illustrate them all as I don't have every one myself yet. There really is an amazing number. So here are what could comprise a reasonably full list. There may be further slight variations and what I describe as Kingfisher blue below is similar to a sort of dark turquoise which I have seen.

I think that the first releases were the pale green and pale or sky blue solid colours with the metallic variations coming a fair bit later. I had the pale green myself and that would have been one of the first in 1962. From what I can tell, the scarcest colours are silver, the sea green / turquoise / Kingfisher shade and dark blue.

pale blue

steel blue metallic

sky blue

Kingfisher blue metallic

Bright blue metallic

dark cerise metallic

cerise metallic

pale cerise metallic

pale green

emerald metallic

dark silver metallic

light silver metallic

So let's confuse everything now. I have just seen this, apparently pink Jaguar Mk X in a forthcoming auction!! It looks in dreadful condition and I can't be absolutely sure that it hasn't been another colour repainted but I will do my best to get it and take a closer look. I probably shouldn't have published this until after I've won it or someone will go and start bidding against me. More news in a while.

Update: The Jaguar was a dreadfully bad repaint! The auction chap I had asked to checked it for me prior to bidding assured me it was original so I shall not be using them again in a hurry. Some outfit in Bristol

Friday 23 January 2015

Mercedes 300SL

Here are models I had never really looked at very closely before. For some reason I didn't have them in my collection nor recall seeing them in anyone else's apart from one that had been battered so much that it was silver but more base metal silver than any paint silver!

The first versions came out in Summer 1958 in open top form with the hard top following in Spring 1959. In 1961 #303 and #304 became #303S and #304S with addition of  suspension. This wasn't always obvious as it wasn't the type of suspension you'll have been accustomed now to seeing. The base was still a black tin plate and a casual observer would think it was the first version. It does work well, though, and a lot better than some later types! 

Because many people selling these without much of an idea, however, you may need to check carefully before buying.

The #304S is also one of the very few models which had flat hubs that were free-spinning and not fixed. It will also be found with the hubs the other way round, probably the more commonly encountered in later models.

The hardtop never did get an interior. Supposedly, it got wire wheels in 1964 but I have yet to find one. The same with the open top which appears in catalogues with wire wheels too and they look great. My version has cast spoke effect wheels which must be quite a late edition. I didn't realise that they made this wheel design at the time these were being produced but clearly they were or this is a very end of run version.

I am pretty sure that all the silver ones will be the S models. Drivers were added to the open top in around 1962 so you'll find them with or without a man. #304 can be found in all yellow (scarce) or yellow with a red top. #304S came in white as well as silver, both with a red top.

#303 could be white, cream or blue and interiors change between blue, yellow or brown. #303S could be those colours or silver and, I believe, all the silver ones had a brown interior. 

Both models are listed in the 'Competition Cars' section of catalogues. I suppose that suits the ones with stripes (most have them affixed) but it really doesn't look like the right category with that chap in a sports jacket behind the wheel!

Nice models of a truly classic car. Many real ones are still around too.

Three types

At first glance you might have thought there was just the one Corgi Jaguar E Type 2+2. #335 in red or a nice shade of dark metallic blue had everything working - opening bonnet, tailgate, opening doors and folding seats and if my memory serves me right the rear seat could be pushed forward to make more room in the luggage compartment.

The dash board is also beautifully detailed. An amazingly good model, although it did seem a little too big when parked next to the earlier convertible model. That's a minor moan, though. the solution was simply to keep them apart.

This appeared in 1968, with nice wire wheels (and I think with cast louvred type later on although I haven't seen any with that variety). The following year was when Whizzwheels came along and in mid-1970 this model changed to #374 with the dreaded plastic things.

It also lost its opening doors at this point but not the lovely dash which you could still make out if you peered through the open tailgate. The seats are now fixed but the other features remain. A red version continued and then a yellow one appears too. The transfer with the tailgate badge, though, was in white so an amusingly pointless addition to the yellow one! I actually thought the transfer was missing and was about to order a replacement.

In red or yellow this version is scarce. That is because it appeared in June but in September Corgi started producing the 5.3 litre version and the boxes have the amendment as an added sticker. So, whilst it was popular and quite a few will have been sold, that is a very short period of availability, bearing in mind that there were probably quite a few of the original #335s still in many shops so they might not have bothered re-ordering in that brief period.

In September 1970 the 5.3 litre V12 appears and, to their credit, despite economising yet further by ditching the wing mirrors and exhaust, Corgi created a new version to reflect the change of grill, bumpers, exhaust style and even the tailgate gets replaced, now with the V12 symbol in the cast itself. They did keep the yellow colour, though, just to confuse us collectors years later (although it is a slightly greener yellow). I believe that the 5.3litre versions are only yellow (with a darker, metallic yellow coming later), and have brown plastic interiors whereas the 4.2 litres are all black. The interior still retains the detail but the dash is just moulded in the brown plastic now and not quite as impressive.

So you need three versions, at least, of this model. To be really complete, you may need seven:

335 red and metallic blue with spoked wheels
335 metallic blue with cast wheels (I think this exists but probably not in red)
374 (4.2) red and yellow
374 (5.3) yellow and metallic yellow

Tuesday 20 January 2015

The Avengers Gift Set 40

I need to move some Avengers stock fairly soon as it has been around for a while. Sets have been selling well but I do have far too many parts! Here's what I have at the moment for GS40 sets. The boxes, brollies and most characters are reproductions but the cars are untouched except for a possible replacement screen on one or two Bentleys and what looks like a replacement wheel on another.

I sell the sets at £50 plus the cost of the two cars. That includes the figures and brollies and box as well as UK postage and packing. 

With original boxed sets going for over £350 this is a pretty reasonable alternative and few other than us specialists will notice the difference anyway! What I would like to do is sell off or re-use all my 'average condition' stock and concentrate on really good condition items for these sets. Items can be hard to find at reasonable prices but I'll try. 

You can see more details about condition on my site. They are numbered B1,3-7 for the red Bentleys, G1-7 for the green bentleys and L2-5 for the Lotus Elans, the last being in normal stock as 318 with cast wheels.

It is difficult making a suitable GS40 with a green Bentley as ideally you need a 9004 from the Jeeves & Wooster set which doesn't have any racing numbers. The front one comes off easily but not the rear one. I have placed a small rectangle of plastic tape over that on a couple of models and that actually works really well! There is still the Union Flag on the left door, though. The 9004 has black running boards / mudguards like the red one but a much redder shade of seats and interior.

So many that I see advertised as 'genuine, original' sets are simply made up with a 9001, some still with the racing numbers on! The red is simpler as it can be a 9002 with a hood change and that is virtually undetectable. The red wheels will invariably have originated as 9002.

The one with green wheels above is actually a C361 later edition 'special Edition' from 1985 where the original mould was used to excellent effect. These will also have silver metal exhausts and not the brass colour of the 1960s models.

The Lotuses are, apart from a couple, not in the best of condition. The suspension is very poor, relying on a plastic X piece that has in many cases become permanently bowed now. I actually prefer my restored Lotus Elans which I use for the 'alternative' Avengers sets. In either white or silver-blue and with the correct registration plates added they look good.

I supply these with a green Bentley in a box that I designed and print myself. I've run out of silver-blue so may well consider breaking some of the poorer Lotus cars for the alternative set if no-one buys them at the modest prices I'm seeking.

The Bentleys are from £25 to £60 and Lotus Elans from £20 to £40 except for the cast wheel version which is quite rare and worth a lot more.