Wednesday 30 December 2015

Mini Cooper to Åkersberga in Sweden

Some of the places where I send Corgi Toys look very attractive. This house in a place called Åkersberga in Sweden is quite delightful and I am more than happy to see the (Austin) Mini Cooper there. It is the second model to go to Sweden this week.

This particular Mini is the 339 model that was around from 1967 through to 1971 and then went on to appear in yellow with Whizzwheels and, strangely, the same decals!! That roof affair is very unattractive. This example had the normal wheels but later ones will be found with cast, spoke effect, wheels and, I think, a slightly darker shade of paint.

These are costly little cars, despite their quite long run in production, decent ones like this selling for around £80 and if you have a box too then you can look forward to being able to retire happily and in some luxury. 

Bond visits Stewartby in the Mach 1 Mustang

Now this doesn't look right at all! James Bond's Ford Mustang Mach 1 parked outside its new home  in Stewartby, Bedfordshire. This was not one of Corgi's best models and I found it way too big as well. in fact there were several that I am sure were really nothing like 1:43. I must do an article about these one day.

Anyway, getting back to the Whizzwheels model, this Mustang also appeared in a more pleasant metallic green colour. The red was extremely vulnerable to chipping off and appearances really weren't helped at all by the annoying bright white undercoat! The interior was well done, however, with a decent amount of detail and someone made an effort with the wheels, as by then the ghastly ubiquitous ones were being replaced across the new issues.

To be honest, I am not terribly sad to see this one leave.

Commer Military Ambulance in Gosport

My #354 Commer Military Ambulance was in very nice condition. The only flaw was the rear section was slightly loose which struck me as a bit odd as it wasn't the 'take-off' variety like the Construction Set (and some other) Commer vehicles.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Boxes, a roof rack and other things...

Same car, new box

I missed the latest edition of the James Bond Aston Martin in the article I posted earlier this month. Not that anyone would really notice much difference, to be honest. In fact, this looks like Hornby really wringing the dosh out of all their Corgi customers.

The cars are, unless I have missed something, exactly the same as the two issued as 04203 (and again as 04204) over the last year or so. All that has changed is the box, now in blue and grey and with a '50th Anniversary' sticker commemorating Thunderball. Does that mean that this car is going to be reissued every time a Bond film anniversary comes along? Good grief, that will cost collectors who like to be really 'complete' a fortune.

Prices are all over the place at the moment. The crazy thing is that you can still buy the silver one at Corgi for £19.99 (or even less if you are a club member). The gold ones have sold out - it was a limited edition of 5000 - but they were only £19.99 as well. I have a feeling they will soon be appearing on the market for rather less than some of the silly prices we're seeing now. Heavens, it really is only a box that has changed.

Hopefully, the New Year will bring us something different to James Bond cars being recycled.

Roof rack blues

Other things to end the year with would include the story of my Austin Mini Countryman. I bought one without a roof rack that was otherwise in jolly decent condition. My idea was to get a new rack and sell it as the first one I had went very quickly indeed. Surfboards are easy to obtain and reproduction ones look fine. I really wouldn't get the strange-looking guy, though, unless I had the box to hide him in.

Anyway, getting back to the car, I have had excellent bits and pieces from a lady who makes parts out of metal rather than plastic and she had advertised the Countryman roof rack for a modest £3.75. It arrived and I thought it would be a simple case of plugging it in the four holes and maybe adding a little adhesive and away it would go. No luck. The posts on the casting were quite a lot out of line with the holes in the roof. I dropped the lady a line about this and she replied first to say the rack didn't need to fit into any holes but later realised that it did and suggested I filed the posts down! That wasn't quite what I was expecting but I had a go.

Eventually I managed to get the posts filed in such a way that they sort of fitted but by then the soft metal had got a bit bent in places. It does bend so easily. I was a bit worried about straightening bits too in case metal fatigue would lead to an arm just flying off. So I wrote again and basically said I'd had to give up. The lady, let's call her Cynthia, was very obliging and said she'd have a look at her casting design and also organise a full refund. I felt a bit of a nuisance over such a small thing but I am pretty sure this roof rack was actually designed for the Mini Cooper. The Countryman should have two gaps at the rear to take the surf board fins whereas this one is fully enclosed. The boards might slide through but I am not sure how far they would go.

The lady's other castings have been fine and I will use her again but now need to source a more accurately produced rack. I expect it'll have to be Mr Flowers but, with his high postage charge, I'll need to wait until I can build up a decent order to make that worthwhile.

The other problem with the metal casting was that it comes in a watery grey colour. If you scrub the metal with a rough brush it does get nice and shiny but I am not sure it looks right.

So the Countryman stays rackless for a while longer. I actually quite like it that way!

Same car, different box 2

A nice chap in Holland has been in touch with a query about a box he has for The Saint's Volvo P1800. Here it is:

He has spotted some green marks, mostly around the side of the Volvo but also near the bonnet and boot. At first I thought they were just smears that someone carelessly added later in the box's life but the chap insists that under magnification and very close inspection the green colour seems to have been printed at the same time as the rest. It also appears in the same places on the other side which rather throws my 'smear' idea into the dustbin.

I have enlarged the image using a good viewer but cannot really determine how 'original' it is but the assertion that it is the same on both sides does make me believe that it must have happened during the production of the box. I suggested a smear on the master for that image or similar accidental addition was more likely than this being some rare version of the box itself. My colleague is of the opinion that it could be a deliberate attempt at something like stripes to indicate speed that were later dropped. All copies of a #258 box I have seen - and #228 boxes too - have a clear yellow background around the car with no green marks to be seen.

So, over to anyone out there who might be able to suggest any better possible answer! If this image is not large enough then I can send you the original.

Where do all the models go?

A recent customer had an interesting address in Italy. I thought I would see where he lived and Google Maps do a marvellous job in this respect. It was nice to see where (in that instance, a good #300 Austin Healey) was going to. Since then I have been creating images of my cars parked outside the addresses they're being sent to and now have half a dozen which I shared on Facebook. People seem to really rather like them so I shall end 2015 by adding them as separate posts to this blog and I'll continue to add them as and when items get sold. Now, I know that not every one will be going to an attractive location but it will be a nice record and, hopefully, an interesting set of pictures will develop which will also see featured many models that might otherwise never have made these columns!

Here's a preview of a #204 Mini in Shropshire, England:

Saturday 19 December 2015

End of the Bedford CA chapter as a Type II 412 comes along at last.

Another very hard to find model has finally been acquired! It is hard to believe that such an ordinary looking old Bedford CA van should have taken nigh on two years to find. And I mean find in any condition as I was determined to buy whatever came along just to fill the gap. Well, I may have baulked at the QDT model in a box at £285 which I've just seen on their site. That was actually sold anyway and the only other one I had spotted was in some huge collection and partially obscured under a pile of other models in a box. It was an auction lot abroad and, having been caught out heavily on fees, postage costs and taxes in the past when buying things from overseas, I was not very keen on taking the risk as the rest of the contents were really not terribly interesting either and I really couldn't be sure it even had windows that were intact or tyres. And you try replacing tyres on the rear wheels!

As reported earlier, I finished up getting a restored model in the meantime!

This is in excellent condition with just three or four small marks on the roof but the windows are nice and clear, the wheel shiny and tyres good and the base isn't rusty. It has definitely been well looked after. I am now looking for a box because boxes did not change and all show the Type 1 model but the value seems to go through the roof with one.

That really does mean now that there are just the 'PopArt' Mini and yellow Fiat Ghia Jolly left now. Interestingly, they seem considerably more common but just as considerably more expensive which kinda defies logic but there you go. I really will not pay much for either so imagine that there will be blank spaces for each for some time yet.

It is more enjoyable to seek out now the different colours for exteriors and interiors and wheel variations of other models. Often they are not recognised as scarce by sellers and I can get quite a few of them fairly cheaply as and when I have some surplus funds. So I reckon that next year will see plenty of further additions to this story which has plenty of time still to run.

The Bedford CA chapter, though, is closed now.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Which James Bond Aston Martin will you get for Christmas?

It's nearly Christmas and fifty years ago my dad had put a James Bond Aston Martin in my pillow case. That was 1965 and I still have it, and the box.

Three years later there was a change of colour and slight adjustments to make it look a little more like a DB5. This was #270 and was silver. The first ones had gold bumpers but most you'll see had silver ones. These had red tyre slashers added to the features at the start but in 1970 the advent of Whizzwheels brought a change. These wheels were also too wide for the body as it was so that had to be adjusted with the extended wheel arches.

Sometime later this model was reissued from China as 96655. It seems identical in all respects except for the red tyre slashers returning and it arrives with little screws holding it to the inner tray.

It was a while before another 1:43 edition came along. Many really quite cheaply made 1:36 versions appeared but eventually, in 1995, we get the 30th Anniversary edition in nice shiny gold. This was 96656, coming in a perspecx box and screwed to the stand. Not a toy to whizz around the carpet now.

Five years later, the 35th Anniversary saw this effectively re-issued with black tyre slashers, 4204. Again, it had a perspex box and is screwed to a stand.

Between the two 4201 comes along with Blofield in the pack with this syrupy gold version.

You'll recognise that. It is virtually identical to the latest 50th Anniversary editions! They also have the 4204 numbers, suffixed with G or S and come in smart sliding packs and the models can be taken out without a screwdriver.

You may need to look carefully at whichever one you get given this year! Values vary rather a lot!

Bermuda Taxi

The 'Bermuda Taxi' had been on my wanted list for a long time. They are common enough; I just hadn't really wanted to spend money getting one. I think it was the silly roof that put me off. Interestingly, I have similar lack of interest in the Fiat Ghia Jolly cars too which have the same plastic affair dangling on top.

As it happens, this one didn't have its roof so I'll need to get one sometime but i shall not be rushing. There are several original colours by the sems of it too - yellow, red, green and blue at least. This one is also missing a sticker on the trunk but replacements are good and easy to apply, being only glossy paper.

This does have its driver, though, who often gets lost after 40 off years rolling around in the bottom of a toy box, when many examples will get damaged screens too. This one is excellent and that's important as they are not simple replacements but require the car being taken apart and that would be another one less original.

Based, of course, on the great Ford Thunderbird, nothing has changed at all other than a hole in the back. It is the suspension version which usually looks a bit odd and sits too high but this one actually looks fine to me. It could be the colour - white does look a lot better than red and the driver in the red 215S just looks too tall whereas this fellow seems more comfortable.

Now that I have got this I am beginning to quite like it after all. That's maybe just as well as it probably won't get sold in a hurry!

Saturday 12 December 2015

Happy Christmas!

Best wishes to all my readers, customers and passers-by.

This Austin Healey just seemed to have the right colour for my postman on a Christmas mission.

Wanted: Two Years Later

It was fascinating to look back to my post last year in which I listed the items I still needed to track down. Now there remain just three:

349 Morris Mini Minor 'Pop Art'
412 Bedford Utilecon Ambulance Type II
242 Ghia Fiat 600 Jolly

I ought to add a fourth:

319 Lotus Elan Hard Top in green / yellow

as that is quite different to the cast wheel versions.

The 'pop Art' Mini I am not too concerned about as they are all way too expensive and the Fiat Jolly does not appeal to me very much so would only be here for as long as it took to photograph! I do have a restored Bedford C 412 with the single screen but I can't count that. If I had been asked which I thought would be in the last few I would never have predicted that one! There was one in a big job lot I saw being auctioned but the auction premium on what would have been a big bid for everything plus what is always very expensive postage when auction houses are involved really put me off. I also couldn't really see how good its condition was so decided not to take the chance. Since then, though, I have not seen one anywhere. Although I now appreciate that it is a scarce item, I am hoping whoever has one will just think it is any old Bedford van and not expect much!

There are, of course, and probably ever will be a number of colour variations and, whilst I think I have those more or less under control now (a soon to be definitive list should appear below - now revised as an incorrect list was showing before!) I am conscious that there are some other variations still appearing, like different bases for minis, the jewelled Hillman Imps, fixed, free, cast or spoked wheels and different colour interiors to keep me occupied for a while yet.

This continues to be an enthralling project and I seem to have maintained a steady flow of sales throughout the year to which has helped me acquire some missing items, better copies of some that were not so good and a few more variations.

I can see this lasting considerably longer yet and so there should be plenty more to share with my readers in future weeks.