Friday 19 June 2015

The elusive models (and wheels or shades)

Having just completed the basic 'Oldies' list - the early models without interiors or suspension that seem to form a natural group of their own - I thought it would be a good time to look at what else is missing from the catalogue at this stage of the proceedings.

For those who don't follow my ramblings regularly, I set out a year or two ago to obtain reasonably decent versions of every Corgi Toy from 1956 through to around 1977 which appears to be when the last 1:43 was made in Great Britain. I am only concerned with the 1:43 scale (or thereabouts) and there are a number of groups I haven't looked for at this time. These include: military equipment, lorries and larger commercial items, Corgi Majors, Gift Sets, Batman, Green Hornet, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the like (although I do include James Bond's Aston Martin, The Saint's Volvo and the Monkeemobile for reasons I am not entirely sure I can justify!)

I do want to get all the colour variations, although I may not worry about minor shades too much. Some are exceedingly rare, as I referred to in an earlier post about the blue Chrysler, Mini Marcos and Simca. I doubt if I'll ever be lucky enough to encounter someone willing to sell things like that to me for any amount I can afford. I have been fortunate, though, in finding several nice people who have supplied photos of the rarities I am unlikely to find.

Whilst there is some documentation about the variations, I am none too sure I believe all that I read. I do believe what I see, though, and tend to have based my lists on what I have actually seen, even if I haven't been able to acquire them. There are several pretty reliable sites with good illustrations and write-ups but even these often differ! Toymart, for instance, seem to miss out a lot of quite common variations but include others I have only seen there. Another Andrew at Little Wheels has done a good job and, whilst he does suggest a few colours that I am not sure exist, he does also have an element of disregard for some of what is in the Great Book of Corgi which could have us all searching for shades that maybe never got past someone's imagination or a shop floor one-off. QDT have been pretty sound but, again, they are missing really rather a lot. I suppose they only show what they've picked up themselves so that is not meant to be critical and I have been particularly glad to find many examples only on their site of some scarce items.

I am not including the very scarce items that might have been produced to promote a business in Holland or some Mustard but I do include unique numbered items like the Hammonds Commer van. Basically I want my list to be of items that are essentially achievable. I mean, if I can get them on a very limited budget then anyone can. OK, that limited budget won'y get me the Pop Art Mini or several other items still missing but I know I can't have everything!

So here is the list of the basic items still to be acquired:

202 Morris Cowley Saloon (I only have the M version)
242 Fiat Ghia Jolly
256 VW1200 East Africa Safari with non-jewelled headlamps (?)
322 Rover 2000 International Rally in white and black
349 Mini Cooper 'Mostest' Pop Art
412 Bedford CA Ambulance Type 2 (with single front screen)
513 Citroen Safari Alpine Rescue

That's all that seems to be left in terms of unique models (the Rover may have the same number but has a differently styled front end).

There are some wheel variations I'd like:

245 Buick Riviera with spun wheels (?)
263 Marlin Rambler with spun wheels (?)
320 Ford Mustang with spun wheels
325 Ford Mustang with spun wheels
438 Land Rover in red with cast wheels
438 Land Rover Daktari edition with cast wheels
438 Land Rover Longleat edition with cast wheels
491 Ford Consul Cortina Estate in red with cast wheels

There are some that I really don't know whether they exist or not, like the Aston Martin Competition edition and Mercedes 300SL with spoked wheels, or the Buick and Marlin with spun wheels. I have to research this a bit more so there may be several others I need. Like I think the Chrysler Imperial was issued with spun wheels too. If not, I'll delete those items later.

Then come the main colour variations.That's why it's a big list still! This sheet should be filtered so that just those I haven't got are showing but if the filer hasn't worked then it will be the blue shaded ones that I am seeking.

Anyway, if you happen to have any and are not planning leaving them to your children or the State then do let me know. At best I can just get some photos, perhaps.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Ghia Interior

You could start a collection solely comprising different combinations of the #241 Ghia exterior and interior colour schemes. As far as I can tell they all started simply enough with just a darkish metallic blue and a red interior. Then a metallic olive-green came along with a cream interior and an old gold version with either red or cream. You'll find cream interiors but red boot and bonnet elements - the plastic unit serving as suspension as well as helping the opening parts operate correctly sometimes not matching the interior and, often, the door inserts matching the suspension frame but not the seats!

There is a light silver-blue colour I haven't got yet with mostly red interiors but no doubt cream exists too and, finally, a lemon gold version came out near the end of this popular model's life. Thankfully, I am pretty sure these all had a bright yellow interior so no variations there, at least!

blue with all cream

all red interior as for most blue models

all cream in the metallic green version

blue with cream but red door inserts and boot / bonnet elements

gold with red door inserts and boot / bonnet elements

lemon gold with all yellow interior

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Mercedes 300SL Hard Top

There were not many of the original #304 sold and I don't have any statistics as to the ratio of the most often seen one with the red roof to the all yellow variety. However, if it is something like 5:1 then that would imply that the all yellow one ought to easily make the 'Top 10 Scarcest' list.

So I was delighted to get the one shown above which is also in excellent condition.

These are the only varieties you'll find of the original model. The 304S is nearly always silver plated with a competition stripe but there is a white version too. That's pretty scarce too.

Mercedes 300SL Open Top

Ignoring for the time being things like colour variations and wheel types, this is one of the very last Corgi Toys I needed to find. 

Just in case you haven't been keeping up, I set out a year or two ago to get a reasonably decent example of every model produced from 1956 to whenever the British 1:43 scale ended which seems to be around 1977. I photograph and document each one and then put them up for sale again in most cases. One or two I will have trouble parting company with but there is still a massive stock that is available for other collectors now.

There have been quite a few Mercedes 300s around but so far they all either had damaged screens, had been restored or were one of those immaculate, never-been-played-with models in a box for hundreds of pounds. Finally, after a long time looking, I've managed to get this at a reasonable price from an old collector in the States. To ease the postage costs per item I also bought a very nice Aston Martin DB4 from him which is shown in a recent post.

That screen must be vulnerable and when models were packed away I guess many suffered as, whilst quite sturdy, it was probably seldom protected. Whilst replacement screens can be bought I don't think they can be fitted without taking the car apart so decent originals will forever be diminishing in availability. The wide expanse of bonnet and raised strips at the sides are also usually scratched or chipped and this one also has a couple of chips on the sides. They are very small, though, and it's more than good enough for my purposes.

This was replaced in 1961 by the 303S, mostly found in silver plate but also in white or blue, with racing stripes as a Competition model. That had a suspension system unique to the #303S and #304S.

The same body was used for the #304 hard top and the #304S still didn't get any interior so can often be confused with #304, the suspension not being particularly obvious and the car still just looked like it could be the 1958 version. Although it never appealed to me much at the time, these are quite impressive models. It looks a bit unexciting in white but the silver parts are excellent and well defined.

My 'Wants List' is now very short in terms of basic models.I'll post a detailed one soon but all that's left are:

  • #322 Rover 2000 International Rally Edition (the white one with a different front - they are pretty scarce and all fetch very high prices)
  • #513 Citroen Safari Alpine Rescue (the one with the red roof and St Bernard etc. - all seem to be in boxes and very expensive. I've yet to see one vaguely played with example on its own.)
  • #430 Bermuda Taxi (I am not really bothered about this. There are plenty around but I just haven't been able to bring myself to pay more than a few pounds for one!)
  • #242 Fiat Ghia Jolly (The yellow one) Again, I can't get excited about these and they are all crazy prices too. I am just hoping to find one in a job lot or something!
  • #202 Morris Cowley (I have an M version so just need the normal one and, to be honest, I haven't tried very hard! This should be next on the 'got' list)
  • #349 The 'Pop Art' Mini 'Mostest', of course. Several available if I had £300 spare.
  • #351S RAF Land Rover (I think I have one that's been repainted which may well have to do as this is going to be difficult to get!)
I am nowhere near 'complete' yet, though. There are another seventy or so models with different wheel types or colours I shall be looking for and writing about!

Saturday 6 June 2015

Aston Martin DB4

If you want just to gaze at a model of Corgi Toys at their finest in the early 1960s then you could get this lovely Aston Martin DB4. This one came from an old collector in the States and it is the best I've encountered. It has the open air vent on the bonnet and just looks as new. The wheels have those 'spoke effect' stickers and even they have been applied accurately and look great.

Corgi did make some strange choices for the colours of their #218 DB4s though. You could choose between bright red and bright yellow. The interiors got suitably reversed. I have several red models and they seem to go from a sort of brick red to quite a deep shade. The yellows, too, go from a dark primrose to this bright shade.

In 1962 it got jewelled headlamps and a new colour scheme - pale teal and creamy white, together with racing numbers on the doors and flags on the bonnet. The wheels were now free-spinning. Another glorious looking model.

Everyone knows that the same cast was used for the famous Goldfinger James Bond Aston Martin and that was painted gold. OK, so the real car was a DB5 and silver but we didn't worry about little things like that at the time!

Some Corgi catalogues of the time also show the #309 Competition model getting spoked wheels. They would really suit this car and the Bond car had them but so far I have not even seen a #309 with them, let alone been able to buy one. The Mercedes 300SL models were also supposed to get these at the same time but, again, they are either damn scarce or never actually made it apart from a few promotional versions perhaps.

Friday 5 June 2015

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray rear lights

At first glance these Chevrolet Corvette Stingrays look the same. This is #387, the Whizzwheels version of the #300 Golden Jacks car and neither edition was around for long. Look closely, though, and you'll see that the top photograph shows four nice jewelled rear lights whereas the lower one just has red blobs.

The badge is also missing on the second car but whether that was even more cost cutting by Corgi in trouble in the 1970s or is just missing I cannot tell.

I had, strangely, spotted a jewelled light version on the Little Wheels site. I use the word light in the singular as I believe there was just the one remaining on the model he had photographed there, the holes in the back being what drew the picture to my attention in the first place. I even wrote to him to say that it looked like he had a special version there, a sort of 'inbetween' model when I guess someone at the factory decided that all future items had to have the Whizzwheels and his model would have been sitting there waiting for a Golden Jacks base and instead got the newer one.

There can't have been many with Whizzwheels and jewelled rear lights so I am delighted to have found this one in a colleague#'s collection in the States last week.

I also wrote to the Little Wheels chap as he hadn't appreciated that there is, indeed, a metallic pink version of this. I would have bought the blue one he had but he says he's now sold everything. Shame. He also had the only Bedford 412 Ambulance with a later single screen that I've would like to have bought but that's another story

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Jaguar Mk X in silver

Another item from a collector in the States who has been selling some lovely models at very reasonable prices. For a long time I actually wondered whether there actually existed a Jaguar Mk X in silver but eventually a few started to appear, all with very high price tags, however.

It looks good in this colour, far better than the early pale green and pale blue. I had a pale green version and even in the 1960s thought it wasn't quite right! I do wish I'd kept it, though, as it is one of the cars I am still looking for. They are not as expensive or scarce as the silver but still fetching good money, as are the slightly more easily found blue ones I also need.

Then there will be the deep turquoise one and the seemingly very rare dark red metallic edition too but I don't hold out much hope of being able to afford either of those unless I am very fortunate again.

Tuesday 2 June 2015

James Bond Aston Martins DB5 1965-2015 1:43 Models

 Where it all began. 

The 1965 original #261

1968 - the silver version appears. #270, the first type with gold radiator and bumpers

Later in 1968, t#270 has silver chromework

A late issue in 1976 with Whizzwheels and flared wheel arches

1995 96655 Limited Edition

1995 96656 Limited Edition

1997 4201 Limted Edition

1999 4202 35th Anniversary Limited Edition

2014 50th Anniversary 4203/4S

2014/5 50th Anniversary 4203/4G

This just features the 1:43 models. There are also a pile of 1:36 scale models but I don't collect them and most look pretty dreadful.

Return of the James Bond Aston Martin DB5

So here they are at last, the brand new James Bond Aston Martin DB5s from new Corgi in gold and silver. A sort of syrup colour might better describe the gold shade. They are identical apart from colour and have super detailing and features that all work as they have done through the ages, just the tyre slashers missing on these editions.

They come in an interesting box that may be a sort of brain tease to open, requiring that you pull both ends except that there is nothing get hold of at first on the left side. It is quite odd and counterintuitive so I can see several boxes getting broken as a result!

The image that will be familiar from #261 is back on the box with an approximation to the flash and text of the original issue and even a 'Top Secret' set of instructions in similar colours and vein to the old one.

Both models are catalogued as 04204. The silver model has an ID code ending 375. The gold one has a label stuck over the silver code with and ID code ending 382. Other than that the boxes are identical. 'Made in China' is suitable smll and so not as likely to cause wailing of things like Why don't we make things like this in Britain any more amongst men of a certain age. 'Made of metal' will amuse many of us, at least!

The packaging is mercifully simple and is simple to put back together again should you wish to, with no awkward ties to reattach or flimsy bits of card to reposition.

As far as I can tell, this issue is identical to 04203 which came out and disappeared as rapidly as it appeared last year. I remember trying to get one and they were all sold out on the day the news was released and orders possible. I sem to recall that the first issue was a limited edition 50th Anniversary but I don't think that has actually been the case. They just sold out so, yes, were 'limited' at the start but gradually stocks are being replenished of the silver ones at least. The gold ones were not available to order when I looked this morning so maybe they will be restricted. This needs to be made clear soon or people will be taking advantage on auction sites or at sales generally and asking silly prices for a model that might actually turn out to be rather less rare than the sale price infers.

The gold one looks so much like the 4201 model that came with an Oddjob character in, (I think), 2009.

These cost £20 each. I will publish photos of all the 1:43 James Bond Aston Martins from Corgi in the next post.

A Citroen DS19 completes the Oldies list

The early releases - those with no suspension or interiors - are complete now with the arrival of this nice and clean Citroen. I found a good 210S quickly enough but the first edition hasn't been so easy, with some fetching crazy prices. I will need a metallic green and black version but at least the numeric list is complete up to 349 now.

This cast was a good solid affair with nothing that opened, just getting some jewels in the front and an aerial for the Monte Carlo Rally version along with 201S seats and suspension. There would also be the attractive Le Dandy Coupe with added fog lights, opening doors and boot. At the very end of Corgi days as we like to remember them, that coupe gets the enclosed headlamps but otherwise wrecked in some Paramount Cycling guise with most of the rear end chopped about oddly.

At the time, the real thing was a marvellously odd-looking affair and even now it turns heads when you see them around. A real 60s icon and suitably French, attractive but quirky. The older Corgi models have some tatty casting at the front where it looks as though no-one was quite sure what to do. The real ones seem to have a variety of front ends too, with a mixture of decisions made as to where to place the registration plates! Maybe that was what caused the casting issue.