Friday 29 January 2016

Corrections! It's Rambler Marlin and Consul is OK

For about 50 years I have always admired the name Marlin Rambler and, despite being aware that Rambler was a car brand in the States, I had simply never thought that #263 was ever anything but a car branded Marlin with Rambler as a sort of second name. I have even joked about the name in posts here and elsewhere. Now a reader has put me right so I have to make amends. In my defence I illustrate here the base which omits the crucial 'by' word and it does give the impression of Marlin being the name and Rambler-Fastback the model. However the box is pretty clear and I should have realised that Ramblers are Ramblers. Swinging and man-size.

My next mistake was to repeat something another Corgi fan of similar vintage had written. I always knew these cars as Ford Cortinas and the bonnet badge did indeed say Cortina in its later years but, originally, yes, it did say Consul and so Corgi were within their rights to use that after all. It may be that, by the time their model emerged it was badged as Cortina in full size but the Corgi model remained Consul. Anyway, this has given me an excuse to share some fascinating images from 1966 or thereabouts!

Monday 25 January 2016

New photos and now everything* is featured on my site

You may have noticed that my albums haven't been displaying as well as they might. Firstly, they take ages to appear in the first place on my Windows devices - and that includes some pretty fast Windows 10 machines - and secondly, they don't appear at all on most other devices like mobile phones or Chromebooks. Now, when you remember that the albums are created using a Google product (Picasa Web Albums) and many of the devices I am talking about are Google Android ones, you can imagine my frustration! I have waited long enough, though, for this to be resolved as I had hoped it might and set about changing every page.

After what has been a long, long job, I think everyone should now be able to see the images and albums without huge delays and also on virtually any device. I have put a single image on the site page for each items and that links to a Google Photos album.

I just hope people do click the images as there is nothing to tell them! I may have to add something across the whole site one day for that. Another job for another day.

The albums can also show on mobile devices although Google disappointingly give me no control over how the images appear, other than the order. The album title is the catalogue number only. I suppose one day I could add the names too but that's a long job. It does open in a fresh window, though, which means I don't lose people off the site.

My main concern has been to make it fairly easy to keep things up-to-date and the site to stay fairly quick-loading. The photos I take are automatically copied to Google Photos whenever I take them off the camera's memory card and so too are copies I make at rather smaller sizes more appropriate for web use so that's nice. I can then fairly easily add one of the smaller images to the page and add a link to the Google album in one go. That's about as easy as I guess it's going to get. I would have preferred to have albums displaying on the page, using something like an RSS feed to avoid having to add weight to the site pages themselves but I was unable to find any solution that would provide this and not need huge amounts of code being added and edited each time. That is still the better solution but someone somewhere needs to make it simpler to do. I can imagine a little programme that picks up the model number / stock number from the page, finds the relevant album in Google Photos and rattles off the code for those images to be pulled in and displayed on the site page. All I would need to do is to add it to one page and paste it to any others.

Anyway, that's probably only of interest to geeky people so I will move on to the other changes. I have replaced the All Models section (which was a link to an early edition of the site with small images from places like Vectis) and now include images of absolutely everything* in the various sections. There are two additional sections: Corgi Majors and Gift Sets which include items that I am rather unlikely to get as they're outside what I would normally collect but are still of interest to many visitors and, indeed, need to be included somewhere. The Gift Sets also include one or two items that you simply couldn't get on their own - like the old green #406 Land Rover or white #490 VW Breakdown Truck. So they had to be there and when I realised how many there had been I had to have a separate list to fit them all in!

The Corgi Majors are also quite a lot more extensive than I realised, with some items lasting for a long time and others coming and going quite quickly. I now understand much better some of the differences between these - like the Low Loaders and Transporters, for instance.

In due course, I expect I shall separate Farm Machinery, Military items and Circus stuff in the single section they're in at the moment, just to make life easier, and the same needs to be done for the 'Commercial & Others' section although I am none too sure how to compartmentalise these at the moment.

So there remains work to be done but I do hope the changes are appreciated by visitors and make things a bit easier to find. If anything is broken or not quite right, do let me know as checking the whole damn thing isn't easy!

I have still managed to avoid dealing with Batman, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Popeye and the Green Hornet. I know that one day I will have to for the sake of completeness. Still others to come first, though, as I find things like Impalas with different interiors more interesting. And a lot cheaper!

Friday 15 January 2016

A list of Corgi Gift Sets

This was a lot longer than I had thought it would be! It just goes to show that I am still learning, even after all these years! Well, one or two are late Whizzwheel-type sets which I would not have paid any attention to at the time. These are all 1:43 scale. (If I have missed anything then do let me know.)

Some readers may find this useful. I have spent most of the day trying to figure out which Gift Set is which and what the differences were between what looked pretty identical. It all started when I was looking at Gift Set 41 and wondering why it seemed exactly the same as Gift Set 48. If I hadn't been staring at pictures of the actual boxes I would have just put it down to someone making a mistake but, yes, there really were two Transporter sets with different numbers. I think one was for export or mail order but later arrived in the catalogues.

The contents of these I have yet to complete but that's for another day. These are all very expensive as, whilst I am not too concerned for individual models, you do need the box for the Gift Set, and all the bits too! So I have very few of these. I can track any down, though, for anyone looking for something. Even with the reputable sellers, you do still often find sets that have been 'made up' and someone hasn't quite got it right.

There should be a list displayed above that you can scroll through. If not then try this link to my original sheet.

Gift Set 17 arrives in Radlett

It looks common enough but the yellow trailer is the unusual item here. First, you'll only find them in this Gift Set, and not that many of the sets were made. Secondly, there are two types. This is a slightly longer version that has a dip at the front where the Ferrari wheels lodge. The shorter trailer just has two flat panels.

I have no idea which came first or, indeed, whether the sets actually only ever had one type and this or the shorter one has appeared from another source I am not aware of. Both sets have now been sold but I will be keeping an eye out for these trailers now. I also need the other types, carrying a Cooper Maserati (GS6 and GS25) and in the Lotus racing set (GS37) which appear all to be red, but may be in each type too.

Thursday 14 January 2016

Pony trailers over the years

If you wanted a green Land Rover with a tin cover in the early days you would have to get Gift Set No.2. The normal boxed ones were either yellow with a black roof or blue with a white roof. For 7/9d you got the 4/- Pony Trailer and pony, the 3/6d Land Rover and I guess the extra 3d was for the cover!

Now, most Pony Trailers you'll come across will be bright red with a black chassis but some very early ones were a pale shade of pink-cream with a red chassis so the set about is actually quite difficult to find for several reasons.

The later type of Land Rover appears in 1961 and sets get the green one with its cream plastic cover, pulling a red horsebox. The horsebox is unchanged for a while, other than the pale cream version not being around.

Change does come quite soon, though, and a new fawn colour Pony Trailer is issued. This has the same box affair but sits on a different chassis, incorporating a solid tow bar. It matches perfectly the new colour of Land Rover too, which also gets red seats now in place of the yellow ones in the green Land Rover.

A few examples do exist of the green Land Rover with red seats. I have one with an original box but it is one of my most expensive models. they are extremely difficult to find but you may strike lucky as not every seller realises the difference.

The fawn colour looks good in the set but individual Land Rovers in that colour always seem to look a bit tired. Maybe it is just those that I have acquired! They just don't look as smart as the green ones on their own. These did stay around for many years, though, before Gift Set No.2 becomes Gift Set No.15 and everything turns blue.

The Pony Trailer is now a much bigger thing with room for two ponies - supplied with a big one and a little one. There are two ramps, with nice cork covering and a divider inside. The Land Rover turns a matching shade of blue and has a white cover now, with Corgi Pony Club decals (missing here).

This is also the time of changes to the wheels and this set can be found with cast wheels, as illustrated here, plain wheels on some of the early editions of the set and, on late editions, Whizzwheels.

Whilst the Land Rover continued to have all sorts of different shades of paint thrown at it over the years (about which I have written separately) the Pony Trailer only had the three variations for #102 and just the blue and white for #112.

Santa Monica, where nothing is quite as it first appears!

Three vehicles brighten up the streets of Santa Monica in California. The Lotus Elan looks quite at home, ready for the sunshine, although I am not too sure what residents will think the sticker on the boot refers to! I've Got A Tiger In My Tank may well get the new owner into some difficulty with the local animal protection people. You know what they're like across the Pond!

The Mini is not just any old Mini. This is a Fernel Mini - a very rare item from a late edition of the company's East African Safari game.

Thirdly, there's a VW Pick-up in a very bright shade of yellow. Both the VW and Lotus have the unusual feature of one wheel being the wrong way round - with a flat, old style hub showing instead of the shaped side.

Looks like this particular collector likes the slightly different models!

Chevrolet Impala to Strood, Kent.

The residents of Strood down in Kent will need to watch out for a different type of police car, and possibly widen some of the roads, when this Chevrolet Impala Police Patrol car arrives. This is the second version with a chrome strip running straight through the middle, providing front and rear features as well as the side strips.

Friday 8 January 2016

1964 Citroen Safari to Avellino

This is the Winter Olympics 1964 edition, minus skis, poles etc but in very good condition otherwise. This wasn't around that long being replaced the following year with a Corgi Ski Club version. Either can have red or yellow roof racks and the delightfully weird two-tone interiors.

Monday 4 January 2016

Citroen DS19: from M to Magic Roundabout

Apart from one being a sort of mustard colour and the other yellow, these two Citroen DS19s look pretty much the same. Until you look at the base, that is.

One has a bulge similar to (but not the same as) the cover that might be necessary for an M type friction motor. When this model first appeared it shared catalogue space with several others which did have M variants, like the Studebaker 211M, Thunderbird 214M and even the little Austin A40 had a 216M model. 

It was not to be, though, for the Citroen. Some say that there wasn't room in the uniquely narrowing shape of the dynamic body style. It may alternatively have been associated with the fact that the Citroen was front wheel drive so a sort of differential unit located on the rear axle would be wrong anyway. Or, I wonder, had management noted the poor sales of their M model range and decided not to bother but still had a few base plates lying around that got fitted anyway.

Whatever the case, these bases with a bulge are scarce but often sellers do not realise that their car is different so prices can be very reasonable if you are lucky. This casting had a long (and strange later) life as you'll see from the photos that follow. 

After the metallic green and black version suspension and an interior were added to make 210S. Only available in red.

A very nice and quite sought after Monte Carlo rally edition 323 came along in 1965 with an aerial and four jewelled fog lamps.

This model has the honour of being part of one of the scarcest Gift Sets. Gift Set 38 contained a 321 Mini Cooper, 322 Rover 2000 and this 323 Citroen DS19. Good sets sell for £2000 or more. The Citroen alone can fetch over £300 in an original box.

Not long after comes a Coupé in a rare blue and white or more common and quite gorgeous metallic maroon. Well, the maroon would be good if the paint actually stayed on the body. The addition of nice wire wheels looked great. 

Then, sadly, things began to go more than just a little wrong with the Whizzwheels, a further slicing of the Coupé with some ghastly rail affair added. Plastic headlamp covers would have been much cheaper than the jewels of before (and the fog lamps which tended to break off) but they were, at least, rather more current. This edition was all about cycling. Someone on the Corgi board must have had a think about bikes as he also did weird bike stuff with the Renault 16.

As if that wasn't enough, Corgi finally put the nail in their own coffin with a ridiculous yellow version with flowers and red plastic wheels and characters from The Magic Roundabout TV series replacing the bike man and spare wheels.

I do have much fondness for the TV series but these have not been models I have wanted to collect. I may have to get one of these just to complete the 'Citroen' collection though. Hopefully I can get one for a very small price as I don't think I could bear to pay much more than a pound or two for this!

Before you start writing to remind me, I know that there were also a whole run of estate models - you can read all about those in an earlier post.

Three smart Whizzwheel models down a narrow lane in Kidderminster

Three very good Whizzwheel editions have made their way through a very narrow lane to a new home near Kidderminster in Warwickshire.

The Chevrolet Corvette is in the scarce shade of metallic pink. The Ghia is quite uncommon too, missing an aerial but otherwise in excellent shape. The Barchetta Runabout is a crazy little Italian fun vehicle but which might not be so good in our weather!

Corvette in Ingolstadt

Ingolstadt doesn't seem to have Google StreetView so I can't put this nice Chevrolet Corvette Stingray in its new home but the square looks a pleasant spot to park for the time being.