Thursday 16 July 2015

Land Rover type illustrations

These may be helpful!

vertical front edge near vents
large triangles

small triangles

clear rear window

frame in rear window

plate on cab roof

smooth cab roof

detailed canopy

first circle-like arches
second curved arches

later straight edge arches

vertical element near vent on 417S

Land Rover types

If you look at Corgi's Land Rovers for long you will soon see several differences in what might have seemed the same model. Because they kept the same number, 438, of course there will be plenty over its long life that are easily spotted but here I'll tell you about some that you may have missed.

Body types

By this I mean the main structure of the truck and, in particular, the area on the front edges of the window frame. In 406 there was a large triangle shape jutting out. In the first 438s this has a vertical edge. I thought this was the only variety but then I spotted some examples with something very much like the large triangle. I have seen red and green trucks with this type. Later models, the blue and metallic green ones, have a much smaller triangle there, making a third distinct type.

On the roof of the cab the first 438s all have what looks like a plate fitted and spanning three of the ridges. This is very raised on some and much less distinct on others but the quarter circle edges are nearly always visible in this type. Later, or at least I am assuming it was later, the cast was changed to removed this impression of a plate and the cab roof is smoothly rounded all across the front edge.

Then we have the matter of wheel arches. On the old 406 these were almost semi circles, being better displayed on 438s as less curved at the start but by the time of cast wheels and the blue and metallic green issues the rear wheel arches have a very clearly straight edge along the top and a more angular design. I haven't seen this on any of the earlier colours, dark green, brown or red with normal wheels, nor any of the US Army Weapons Carriers so it seems comparatively recent.

The rear window

Now you really would think that they'd all be pretty much the same, wouldn't you? No. There are two distinct types of window element and can be seen as either a clear window or as one with a sort of frame line running just inside the metal frame itself. This can be found from the very earliest days of 406 where I have seen a framed window on a green one but not on either the yellow/black or blue/white ones. Amongst the 438s the distribution is about equal with all colours showing one or the other type.

The tilt or canopy

Tilt had always meant an amount of leaning until quite recently when I found everyone describing the bit on the back of a Land Rover as a tilt. You'll know that the early ones were tin and there are only two places where you'd find them: a tan one on a green Land Rover in the Gift Set 2 with the horsebox (which is the only place the green 406 was available so, logically, all green 406s should have a tan tin tilt), the other being a 438, strangely enough, as the first Chipperfield Land Rovers had blue tin tilts for a year or two. Again, the Chipperfields Land Rover was only ever issued in one or other of a few Gift Sets so tin tilts would not have been the order of the day in normal boxed models at all.

438 came with a nice, detailed plastic canopy. Initially I think these were cream as I had one of the first but other experts seem to think it was grey first. Grey is a scarcer colour to find and, to date, despite accumulating an embarrassingly large number of these trucks I have yet to encounter a grey canopy! So the others may be right. There will be blue for the later Chipperfield Land Rovers and a darker blue for the RAC edition. There may be an RAF blue for 351S but I have yet to see one! It looks like that in the catalogue, though and I am sure I'll find one one day. The US Army editions used a sort of grey green and darker green-khaki and there was a white one of the blue Land Rovers pulling the Pony Trailer in Gift Set 15. There is also a strange orange colour on a late Whizzwheels one in bright pale green.

I think that's all the colours and you may well encounter all sorts of combinations which may not have ever been issued that way as over time people mix them up. I like to try to return them to their rightful bases and would urge you to do so as well before passing them on so maybe some order can be restored!

Something you may have missed, however, is that there are two varieties of the plastic canopy: one is very detailed, including, for instance, the tapes holding back the side pieces, whereas the other is much smoother, often shiny and much less distinct. The latter type also doesn't sit squarely either, with quite a bit protruding above the cab and at the sides whereas the detailed one fits beautifully. I have often wondered whether the smooth ones are, in fact, reproductions but I have a Chipperfields one that is smooth and the stickers look very original. So I am not sure yet. Maybe someone will know.

It would seem that the more detailed, and actually far nicer, canopies come on the earlier editions but, again, I don't have enough to be absolutely sure. I do have one of the very last ever 438s in a rainbow type box and that has a dark green shiny canopy so I think I'm right but we'll see. Again, you need to look out for the two types.

In similar vein, the breakdown trucks have similar variations but, thankfully, all the 417 models should have the twin pole affair at the back and one body type, window type etc., while the 417S models will have the closed, solid type of support and, whilst different body and window types to 417, they will be all the same. There are just two 477 types I've seen so far - the first type with large triangles on the front frame edges and the second type, possibly those with cast wheels, having the smaller triangles.

If you're lucky enough to find a 406S then I think you'll find there is only one type of that!

A sheet listing the variations mentioned in this article is available below:

The sheet shows models that I either have in stock or know to exist having encountered them somewhere. There may well be more - if you know of further variations do let me know and I shall endeavour to make the list comprehensive for future reference.

Monday 6 July 2015

What Corgi shouldn't have done to a Ford Mustang

It was an ignominious end for the Mustang casting when someone decided to use it one more time for the dreadful 'Organ Grinder' dragster edition in 1971. The original, despite the metallic mauve and pea green colours, despite the annoying doors that seldom shut properly and despite the vulnerable suspension, had been a favourite and represented a great Corgi model. It received some slightly embarrassingly big wheels in some later 'Competition' versions and also in 'Flower Power' guise but still looked the part and was a car we'd be proud to have on the tracks.

Although in excellent condition all round, this thing is pretty bad. I think I might have accepted it more readily if it hadn't had what looks like an oversized driver stretched out inside whose head appears to stick through the rear window frame too. The wheels aren't bad, I suppose, for Whizzwheels but that engine affair is just a joke. The red plastic fore and aft I could accept but that engine and interior is not so much a joke as just a toy - and that's the way Corgi were then heading, making things that were just toys for little kids, not appreciative young children with an actual interest in real cars.

There may have been a group of dragster loving lads for whom this and a range of others with one sixty type numbers were just what they wanted to collect and play with but this was a move way off in a direction far removed from where I wanted or, indeed, even now, want to go. 

I have deliberately avoided getting the crazy long dragster editions but I felt I had to get this purely because the cast was based on that lovely original. Like the sad misuse of the Citroen DS for the Cycling Race Manager's car, these are cars I had to get but will now happily get rid of having taken the photographs and added them to the catalogue. It was also ridiculously cheap.

So I am hoping someone will buy this soon. I'll put the money towards a nice 'Flower Power' or Competition edition as there are variations of them that I still need.

Saturday 4 July 2015

Citroen 'Le Dandy' Coupé

Another elusive edition to strike off the list. The Citroen DS in slightly weird Le Dandy Coupé form was certainly not something we'd see on the streets of Hertfordshire in the 1960s. It came in two colours: a fantastic metallic maroon and two-tone blue and white. I only knew about the maroon in those days as that was the one that the toy shop had and it was a gorgeous colour, quite unlike anything else I had in my collection then. 

Yes, it was an odd vehicle but I didn't mind and it became one of my favourites, really just because of its colour! The interior was a garish yellow that would have been absolutely dreadful if it had ever appeared in the real thing, necessitating sunglasses at the very least. The doors opened as did the boot, although that was a strange shallow affair reaching far inside the car. The wheels were the excellent spoked ones of the day and it had four jewelled lights, the two headlamps and two chrome fog lights.

The model was unlikely to stay pristine, though. Firstly that paint was a precursor to many examples where the merest tap would mean bits flaking off and, although nothing like as bad as the later models' paint, it did suffer rather and my Citroen Coupe didn't survive well when my son got hold of it at some time in the late 1980s. Secondly, it had terribly vulnerable suspension that would give up under not much more than a little pressure, being provided by a piece of chrome plastic running through the car but miserably weak and even if it didn't actually break, once it had been bent it tended to stay curved in a way that left the axle floating around in space. My maroon one has lost its rear suspension completely but, luckily still sits reasonably on display.

The third component to cause trouble would be one or other of the fog lamps which were vulnerable to break off. I lost one and used the other to repair the blue and white version. That arrived this week with just one fog lamp but in much better condition otherwise so I decided to make that as good as I could and it also gets the original box that my maroon one came in and had stayed in pretty good condition.

The blue and white version is really quite difficult to get hold of. I don't have any production figures but reckon they must be very low as it is rare to appear in places like Ebay even in poor condition. This colour variation has a beige and pea green interior, much more drab but also probably much more realistic. It reminds me of the Citroen Safari interiors. The model arrived in a very dirty condition and I am still trying to being the interior back to a brighter shade but it is all complete.

In the boot, interestingly, you can see the beige colour of the interior deeper inside whereas with the maroon one there seems to be a darker colour obscuring the yellow.

The suspension has survived rather better on the two-tone model too. One rear wheel is a bit floaty but it sits evenly on a surface so that's OK. It has a large chip in the roof but that is all so it's a great example for someone of this scarce version.