Tuesday 29 September 2015

Cars with boxes and cars with cases

The bronze Hillman Imp finally arrived this morning and I shall be selling it with the nice box that came with a blue one. The maths is simply so clear - a blue one with a box goes for about £100 and a bronze one £200 or more. But without a box a blue one is just £40 and a bronze one maybe £80. So I lose £60 but gain £120 by swapping them round. These aren't the figures actually involved as the bronze one will be a bit cheaper and the blue one a little more by virtue of their condition but you'll get the idea.

Strangely, another bronze Imp with jewels has appeared too. It also seems to be a bit of a wreck but that does make me believe that this was a real release after all. The paintwork is a shinier bronze than the one illustrated above and the 'Sunbeam' front screen is apparent on the second one too.

With the Hillman Imp came a massive suitcase! It opened too which was fun. It just looks a bit crazy as it would fill up the rear shelf completely! It is, of course, the same case as was supplied with a number of other models, notably the Jaguar Mk X which also had a small case. I am trying to remember which other models had cases. The MGB had a black one in the same style and, I think, the MGC too. The VW Karmann Ghia had two small cases. The Later Mercedes-Benz 220, model #253 had the large and small cases and the Chrysler Imperial in Bermuda taxi guise was supposed to have had a big one and a small one but I suspect the few blue ones that did appear late in the day were in #246 boxes and had golf clubs if anything, like the common red ones. Possibly the two large occupants too.. I think that's it - a lot fewer than I had thought.

Going back to the jewelled bronze Imp I am wondering whether this was a specially adapted model to go in a Transporter set? The set shows a bronze Hillman Imp on the Transporter in the 1967-8 catalogue which changes to a Sunbeam #340 Rally version in the 1969 catalogue. My guess is that they ran out of #340s and decided that the simple Hillman was not good enough value as a substitute so adjusted some, made them shiney gold and added some jewels for a while. That would sort of explain the Sunbeam-style screens as they would have stopped making the normal Hillman by then and only would have the Sunbeam screens for the Rally car and the Police car. 

And yes, I have just looked and there is a big hole in the top of the screen unit where a Police beacon would have gone. Perhaps that is a mystery almost solved! All by myself.

Unless, of course, you know different...

Chevrolet Impala

A collector in The Netherlands just asked me some questions about Impalas so I thought I may as well share my answers generally here.

He was concerned about there being an all blue 248 (as mentioned in The Great Book of Corgi) and not sure what variations might be out there for the Impalas.

Although that book is a great resource for us collectors, the authors and photographers were a bit too close to the production lines and maybe not so much aware of what really made it to the shops. So there are entries which may have existed in the factory and even a few may have escaped into the wild but really there is little hope of you and I actually finding one.
Or being able to afford it even if we did! 
So I tend to ignore some 'versions' and not worry about trying to find them. 
That is a general comment - now to answer your Impala queries.  
220 comes in pale blue and that interesting and very 1960s pink colour. The only variation is the blue one can have yellow or red interiors. Anything else is what I call an 'oddity'! 
To the best of my knowledge, there is only the one 248 that was available to buy. That is the one with two shades of brown-yellow. I have never seen a variation of this but I can understand that, at the time of the change, there will have been examples made using the old colours. 
248 is an example of the second type of Impala that was produced in 1965 in an attempt to extend the life of the old casting. They cleverly split the old one in two and inserted a piece of chrome all the way along, providing chrome grill and front end, stripes along the side and shiny rear lights and bumper!  
This worked very well and they applied it to all the Impalas - the taxi, Fire Chief's car, Police car getting extended life with Type II models. There may, therefore, be examples of different tops and bottoms that factory workers may have decided to mess about with on a Friday afternoon when the boss wasn't looking! I haven't seen any, though, so I doubt if many actually made it to the shops. Some good restorers can also 'create' variants quite simply as all the parts match. 
All Impalas have good suspension and interiors. The 220 types will have fixed wheels (fitted either way round) and there may be some with free spinning wheels (but I haven't seen any). All the 248 types have free spinning wheels which had become the norm by the time they appeared. 
The thin roof supports can be easily bent and the screen unit extends a lot at the front which makes it vulnerable to damage. If the unit becomes a little loose it can hang down as there isn't much to support it. 
My list of 'all models' may be worth referring to as I have compiled this over time with advice from many sources and been able to detect some of the innocent mistakes I find - even in respectable and well-informed sites. It is also constantly updated - for instance your question reminded me that I hadn't included the different interior colours so I have today updated that.

Saturday 26 September 2015

The curious case of the Land Rover Breakdown truck jib

Just as I thought I was beginning to understand the progress from one variant to another for the Land Rover Breakdown Trucks, this one comes along!

With its suspension and interior it is clearly a 417S but on the back is a Type 1 jib. I had mistakenly thought that the jib had been replaced by the more solid affair on the 417 models so, when suspension came along, it would have been just the Type 2 jibs on the 417S models. 

So my earlier article needs some amendment, I'm afraid. I suppose it is feasible now to find a 417 with a Type 2 jib. I find that hard to believe but it did actually seem to me the more likely, as I had thought that the Type 2 jib came in before the 417S update. This model would imply that the 417S update came before the change to Type 2 jibs.

It's all very confusing, especially as all the 417S examples I have encountered so far have had the Type 2 jib! As many examples are from very reliable sources like QDT and come from recognised experts' collections too, you just have to believe that they are, indeed, 417S and not 477 with a tin roof. In fact, I sem to recall that all the illustrations of 417S on QDT's site had closed jibs. 

So the only conclusion I can come to is that 417S models exist with both types of jib and I guess that was because the dates of both changes must have been quite close.

So there would have been a pile of red models and a box of assorted jibs for a while and there still remained a sort of random selection when the production process brought in suspension and seats. By my reckoning, there really won't have been very many of either the 417 with the closed type 2 jib or the 417S with the open type 1 jib and I shall now set about trying to find some good examples of each.

Of course, someone out there may know different.

Just to make you smile, or grimace, here is what you get for 417S from a Vectis archive! A plastic canopy? As I have said before, we all make mistakes. 

Or there is yet another variation of the 417S which would then make late versions totally indistinguishable from a 477?

Friday 25 September 2015

The curious case of the Imp and the jewels.

This is a very strange item. It would seem to be a bronze Imp with original paint and with the white stripe unmarked and no sign of base removal. The odd thing is that it has the two jewels that would normally have been in a dark blue metallic Rally edition #328.

They seem to be factory fitted rather than a later addition, although I suppose one can never be absolutely sure considering the skill of some people in adapting models.

The screens are very badly broken and the rear window is missing. The front suspension is broken too and there are scratches on the roof and knocks here and there. The screen appears to have the two horizontal lines that I’ve only seen on the second rally car, the Sunbeam variant #340! So, all in all it’s quite a mystery and not one I expect to see solved any day soon.

And following on from the 'list' discussion earlier, no, this will not be in the list of variants!

Thursday 24 September 2015

625 lines

I have said before how you tend to meet some of the nicest people in the world of Corgi Toys and some of them seem even more mad than I am. An example has to be someone from Herefordshire who, when he is not wandering around fir trees, monitors a range of auctions and sales and records prices for Corgi Toys produced up to the 1980s as well as later items.

I cannot imagine how much time he must put into this and I am not sure how useful the price records are, unless he religiously checks each one to maintain consistent condition of models to enable comparison, but what he has achieved so far is an excellent list of models and the variations he has seen sold.

This has been quite useful and, whilst there are what I believe to be a few errors and omissions that I have indicated he might adjust, he has brought together data from many good sources like QDT, Vectis and various publications and that has helped me confirm many varieties and assign others to the dubious or 'one-off' columns. I have, therefore updated my own list of 1:43 models produced from 1956 to 1975 which you can scroll through below or see on my web site.

The items I actually have in stock are shown on this site page. I don't expect I will ever have every single variation of every item but if you are looking for a particular model do let me know as I am quite good at finding most of them (just not the few I actually want myself!)

No doubt there are many other lists out there but I do know that when I started I found it all very confusing and there did seem to be a need for a simple list of everything 'normal'. Collectors get very confused by all the oddities that get included in many publications, promotional items, pigments that seem to have been figments of some authors' imagination and, as I have said before, we all make mistakes too. The eminent Vectis occasionally describe items incorrectly and, of course, there are all kinds of modified models, the red spot conversions being the most obvious.

I have quite bit of work still to do myself, mainly in the farm equipment area and the new colleague I mentioned seems to have done a good job on Batmobiles and others I have avoided so far. Another reason to express my gratitude for all the work he has done.

So here you have the latest 'definitive' list. I hope someone finds it helpful. If there is something that has been normally released and a model we could have bought at a shop one day and which you believe is missing do let me know. Items that were specially made for Bloggs & Company or which were trials or just staff making mistakes are interesting but not candidates for my list.

At the last count there are 625 different models already!

Saturday 19 September 2015

The difference between models I really really want and those I guess I ought to have

And so the 'Wanted List' gets smaller each week. Several recent additions have brought it down to just four, in terms of base model types.

202 Morris Cowley
242 Ghia Fiat 600 Jolly
349 Morris Mini Minor 'Pop Art'
430 Bermuda Taxi

I know I can get a Morris easily - I just don't want to pay a silly price for a reasonably decent one. I do have the M version but keep missing out on the normal ones.

I'm really not bothered about the little yellow Fiat Jolly, which nearly always seems to go for heavy prices as well. I will get one eventually, hopefully as a lucky find. The other car I'm not terribly fond of is the Ford Thunderbird Bermuda Taxi with its silly plastic roof affair and driver. I've just realised that both cars I have left till nearly last have roofs with tassles that wouldn't last five minutes with my driving in this country! Oh well. I am slightly more inclined towards the Bermuda Taxi as it is, after all a nice Ford Thunderbird and, in non-taxi form it is one of my favourites. They're not uncommon and not even expensive. I just want one with the roof and without damage. Many have broken screens and scratches which look bad on the white paint.

Then there's the (slightly annoying) Mini. I say 'slightly annoying' because it seems to have become the one model everyone identifies as 'rare' and whilst yes, it is, I just feel the prices people ask are crazy. There's been one from the States for sale at about £200 for ages, but it has scratches and a badly broken rear window. There are quite a few restorations around as well, as lots of individuals realise that they can paint an old mini, put cast wheels on it, add jewels and some stickers and get more than they'll get for most other restorations other than a Batmobile or Green Hornet with a very modest outlay. I have accepted the likelihood that it will be the last I do tick off the list so there we go. Hmph.

There is a fifth, I should add:

412 Bedford Utilecon ambulance Type II

Strictly speaking it's a variation and I have a 412 but that single window really does make it a different model for me, despite the number not changing. Yes, I have got that restored version but I can't really count that! In many ways this old Bedford is the one I am really trying to find as opposed to just casually hoping to find. Every day I search new listings for one. There is an old, very crappy example for sale but it comes with a pile of ancient and reasonable-looking Dinky Toys and there's a high reserve on the lot too from what I can tell. So unless that changes I won't be getting that one but it was satisfying, in a way, to see there really is one.

The other items that I am also genuinely making an effort to track down almost every day include:

210 Citroen DS19 in green and black
217 Fiat 1800 in blue and dark blue
241 Ghia L6.4 in silver-blue
246 Chrysler Imperial in Kingfisher blue
253 Mercedes-Benz 220SE Coupe in metallic cerise
300 Austin Healey in blue
300 Austin Healey in red
301 Triumph TR2 in cream
302 MGA in red
303 Mercedes-Benz 300SL open in blue with white interior
303S Mercedes-Benz 300SL open white with blue or brown interior
303S Mercedes-Benz 300SL open blue with yellow interior
304S Mercedes-Benz 300SL hard top white with red roof
310 Chevrolet Sting Ray in bronze
332 Lancia Flavia Zagato in metallic green
497 The Man From UNCLE Oldsmobile in white

Those in italics are particularly difficult to find and I just hope I have some spare funds when I do encounter any as, unlike the others, they may only appear very occasionally. (There is a 246 in blue at the time of writing but it's £600! There are limits to what I can manage!) The others, like the Citroen and Fiat, for instance, are quite common but I am just holding out for a nice example at the right price.

There are a few others as well, including things like Mustangs with normal wheels, Land Rovers with cast wheels and some Whizzwheel variations, the only three I really look for being the Jaguar E Type 4.2 in red (most are yellow), a metallic purple Toyota 2000GT and the Mini Marcos in blue. There are other shades and models with cast wheels but they're the ones I don't mind paying for!

If anyone happens across any of these on their travels, do let me know. If you would like a number, send me an email and I'll reply with a mobile you can text and I might get you to buy something for me.

On Safari with a St. Bernard dog.

I finally found a decent Alpine Rescue version of the good old Citroen Safari that had been around for years. This is, in fact, pretty much spotless in that I can't see any faults other than some fading to the bonnet sticker. It needs another ski, the rescue chap and a St. Bernard dog and will then be complete. Yes, a St. Bernard dog. At least he doesn't have to go on the skis. Whether the rescue man comes with hands ready to grip the poles and holes in his feet for the skis I have yet to discover but I'll let you know when Mr Flowers delivers the bits.

These are making as much as £300 when with an original box and £200 like this which is considerably more than other models with shorter life spans. I am not entirely sure why. It was, admittedly, only around from late 1970 for a year and would have looked dated beside all the Whizzwheel models in the shop at the time but I would have expected that to result in a fair supply from old shop stock being available and not significantly higher prices than other models now.

It may be people wanting all the pieces and thus being able to display them interestingly, especially if this forms the last of a set they're collecting. The red roof suits the car nicely. The blue interior looks like a carry-on from #499 and it inherits its toboggan too and, of course, the skis and poles are the same as for several models before.

The side stickers are shiny, quite reasonable 'stick-on' types but the bonnet looks like cheap paper. This is a clear money-saving element. The previous transfers were much nicer.

This edition gets the cast spoke-effect wheels which are lovely and almost shiny on this example.

I have seen examples with red roof racks as well as others with yellow but so far they all seem to have the opposite colour for skis and pole so it looks like these are pretty much interchangeable and no combination is scarcer than another. That's just as well, bearing in mind how much you'll have to pay for this anyway.

So that completes the Citroen Safari collection, 1963-70.

499 Grenoble 1968 Winter Olympics

475 Corgi Ski Club

475 1964 Winter Olympics

436 East African Safari 

In my next article I'll look at what remains to be found.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Bedford CA Vans Type II. More work required, perhaps.

As you may have gathered from previous posts, one model that is proving very difficult to track down is the Type II version of the Bedford CA Ambulance. The funny thing is that it will probably only cost a few pounds when I do find it as there are no listings that I've found showing it separately to the comparatively common Type I.

I show below, however, my recent purchase of the nearest I can get so far - a rather excellent restoration. It is strange, indeed, that the one model I need gets taken to bits by someone and repainted! They have done a super job, though, and even the rivet looks genuine, if a bit new.

I am not sure, though, and can't see a way to distinguish them, whether this did start life as the reclusive Type II or, in fact, was a 414 army version, of which there are plenty.

Had I not seen the real thing (well, I assume it was real!) on the Little Wheels site then I would have assumed that the 414 was the natural successor and never even thought of looking for a Type II 412. With that in mind, I am now wondering whether there might be some other Type IIs that I should be looking for.

Oh dear, that has only just occurred to me. More work required, clearly!

Friday 11 September 2015

Rover 2000 Sun Rally Edition

It's not perfect but I have, at last, found a Sun Rally Rover 2000, the scarce second edition of #322 that came out for a short period in 1967.

Although it has the same number as the previous dark crimson and white car, this has quite a different casting, most obviously seen from the air intake below the front bumper. This also has the later type cast spoked wheels. Something I find odd is that it has the same racing number 21 as the Sun Rally Mini #333 that came out at the same time! The Rover has the number on both sides, though.

This example is not brilliant, with many chips and knocks on the sides but the roof and bonnet aren't too bad and the number plates are intact. That can't be said for the 21 decals, though. I am not sure there are any available to replace them as the Mini ones that you can buy have a white background rectangle. These would seem to be transparent. I suppose that might help hide some of the scratches! It does mean buying two sets, though.

If no-one buys this fairly quickly then I may see what I can do about them. There has been some touching up on the sides where the worst chips showed the bare metal below. It's not bad viewed at 'normal' size and I'm glad to have it photographed after a long wait. I will still look out for a better version though but they are so expensive.

Friday 4 September 2015

Aston Martin DB4: wheels, vents and other differences

Another 309 Aston Martin Competition came in this week from France. As you'll see from the photos below it was covered in transfers that shouldn't have been there but at least they came off easily and hadn't been hiding scratches! It was missed by most people or possibly ignored as there was a risk I suppose of damage below the add-ons.

All the 309s have the free spinning wheels but there are two distinct variants and two shades. The first ones had an open vent on the bonnet. Well, it wasn't really open but it looked open and is quite obviously different to the closed bump of later models. This is the first of the later type I have had. the other two are the earlier types. 

The underside of the bonnet on later types is silver painted but on the early ones it is turquoise. The shade differences are between turquoise and white and a similar, possibly slightly greener turquoise with a distinctly less white cream. Photographs really seldom distinguish these well. This one is cream but looks white! 

As it arrived - in need of a clean and some transfer removal!

Another pair of Astons also came in as I found these two going very cheaply and just in need of some cleaning. The first is quite scarce as it has free spinning wheels. These were only made very late in the model's quite short life and are few and far between. they look really good and I shall be looking around for a red one with these too now.

I think you'll find there are four versions of each of the red and yellow #218s. This is the last, with the free wheels, closed vent, silver under the bonnet and no holes in the base, very similar to the 309 above, in fact.

The first type has flat fixed hubs (or the reversed wheels perhaps, although they're less commonly encountered because the car came with stick-on spoke effect discs that wouldn't stick so well on the shaped side). It has an open vent and holes in the base with the model number too.

The second type has cast wheels. They are still fixed and supposed to look like spoked wheels but really don't, being a bit clumpy and nothing like as intricate as they should be. If only Corgi had had their superb wire wheels available at the time. They have open vents and the same base as before.

The third type may not exist. It would be either the cast or flat bug variety with a closed vent. I haven't seen any of either anywhere so there may just be the three types. You'll find each in several shades of red, from brick red through to quite a dark red and yellow from creamy yellow to very bright, fresh shade of daffodil.

The casting does seem to vary considerably. the latest additions are considerably better than those I had written about before. From what I can tell, though, collectors are not too concerned with ugly cast flaws, provided the models are genuinely original.

The price difference between with box and without is not as extreme as for the Land Rover I wrote about recently but does seem to add £100 or more to the value of a good 309 and not that much less for a good 218! These are well worth collecting and I shall continue to add more. Even if they don't sell that quickly I am happy to ahve them lying around as I work!

I am still looking for one to add wire wheels to but have one possibility. More on that if I get it.

Red seats and valuable boxes

Delighted to have acquired this - yet another Land Rover but not one I was expecting to be able to afford. It seemed to escape other bidders' attention, being displayed just as a normal Land Rover and accompanied by a brown horsebox with a damaged tow bar and that may have made many observers scroll by. It's the red seats that make it special. The dark green 438s nearly all have lemon interiors and this is a very scarce variant.

The paintwork isn't perfect but not at all bad - an easy B rating I would say. So, in the table that Toymart publish and which tends to be a fair guide most of the time, you'll see that, without a box this ought to sell for around £140.

With a box, however, the figure rises to over £400! Now, I do have a decent box that came with an immaculate 438 with normal colour interior so I shall simply use that one as all the boxes are identical. I'll look around for another for the normal version but I wasn't in a hurry to sell that anyway. I have not yet advertised any of the massive collection of Land Rovers that I have accumulated (other than some Breakdown models) as I may retain them for a while. They're very interesting and I still have some to find and they are not (with some exceptions!) that expensive.

Sometimes I do find the prices at Toymart a bit awry, especially for some later models that they seem to quote very cheap prices for but which can't be found anywhere, but these Land Rover ones seem about right and they actually had one in excellent condition for sale themselves which I note has now gone for the sort of top prices indicated.

In theory, a 438 box is valued at around £250 in this case! I'm quite tempted to try and find some more red seat variants without boxes and it could even be worthwhile paying the full 'No Box' price and then adding any decent 438 box I can find. Hopefully not everyone with either a red interior dark green 438 or a decent box will read this article! Mum's the word, OK!

There is also a LEPRA special edition that you see from time to time. This differs from the bog standard 438 in one respect only: it has a transfer on the canopy. You can buy the transfers and I challenge anyone to tell the difference if applied properly. The one shown below is the later metallic green type with cast wheels in a mid-70s style of box and that might account for some of the massive valuation but they all go for at least £500 or £600 however packaged.

I have decided not to try and buy or, for that matter, sell a real one of these, however. It is just too risky and the chances of upsetting someone or getting involved in some dispute are high. As I can never be confident of getting the genuine article I am, however, inclined to create one, add a nice box and, making it clear that it is a reproduction transfer job, see what it fetches.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

So what was the second model to get jewelled lights?

I often wonder how Corgi decided which colours to use for new models. Did they have a committee where several different examples were presented and voted upon? Did someone actually research the options available for buyers of the vehicles. I remember the real car catalogues often had little rectangles to show the colours of paint, like Dulux probably still provide today.

So often they did, though, seem to choose colours I had never seen on the cars but here, with the plain old Fiat 1800 and 2100 they seem to have got them about right. There are just four variations, three for the 1800 and,a delightfully simple, for us collectors, one for the 2100.

You can find the 1800 in pale blue all over, the same pale blue with a dark blue roof and mustard. The mustard is the scarcest to track down now and the two-tone blue one elusive in good condition. I saw one on an Australian site with the dark blue also on the rear pillars but I am pretty sure that was a repaint.

I haven't yet found a two-tone blue one yet but have both single colour models for sale and each is in excellent condition. The very bright yellow interior is a bit odd but that seems to have been the order of the day with many Corgis. Perhaps bright yellow plastic was cheap for some reason. You can probably think of all, well not all but a good number, of the others with this interior.

The later issue 2100 came in pale pink and a sort of plum colour on the roof. It actually looks very good, better than it might sound. Corgi added jewels to this and a Venetian blind in the rear window, not something you'd often spot on our cars then! The car is otherwise identical, this being an early example of their extending the life of a decent cast for a while.

These Fiats were never particularly popular models or a sight on our roads, especially in that colour! However, I like them a lot and will be sad to see any of the four (when I eventually get the fourth) go. I'll probably get some more.

Incidentally if anyone ever asks you which was the second car to get jewelled headlamps you now know. The Bentley Continental was the first in April 1961. This Fiat 2100 a few months later. I have only just realised that.