Saturday 30 April 2016

Always look twice

I got quite excited this morning. I am looking for a blue #300 Austin Healey. There aren't many around at all but I live in hope that someone may have one and not appreciate that it's quite a scarce item. So when this one appeared at quite a modest 'Buy It Now' price on Ebay I thought I'd better get it before someone else does.

It should have red seats but I couldn't see their colour from this angle and there was nothing else to show them either. It also seemed a slightly dark shade of blue but then I have nothing to compare it with having not seen a real one. The silver work looked good and it was generally grubby and not something someone had recently restored. Suffice it to say I was a little suspicious but didn't want to risk losing a possible valuable item. I was viewing this on a small laptop screen and for some reason I decided to change my immediate plans and look at this on a bigger monitor rather than hit the button, buy it and carry on with what I should have been doing.

I am not sure exactly what made me wonder but it was probably a combination of the red painted indicator at the front which would not have been on the original, the late shaped wheels which, of course, I'd seen on red and cream editions but sort of expected, for no logical reason, a blue one to have had the smooth ones.

The other thing that made me wonder was all the other roughish models in this chap's lists of other items for sale. I often find it is a good idea to look at what else they have as that can be a good guide as to whether they're a dealer, someone who is genuinely getting rid of a lot of old items which include old Corgis or some other information as to their background. In this case there were quite a few repainted items and that, more than anything, made me uncertain about this one.

There was a photo of the base and at first glance all seemed to be fine. Open the image in a new window, however, and you get the full-size image which, in this case was a nice 1600 wide. 

Then it was clear. A tiny strip of red was visible just where the body meets the base plate at one side and under the wheel arches, what had previously been just a dark colour of some sort was clearly red too. This was a repainted red original. I went out and did what I should have been doing, a few pounds better off and quite relieved.

I do wish people would say when things have been repainted - preferably in the title.

Friday 29 April 2016

Working Title: How To Train Your Dragon To Drive.

I am often impressed with where my Corgi Toys are headed when they move on from my village in Northamptonshire. This VW Beetle seems to have found one of the best places yet.

This is North Hobart Boulevard in Los Angeles and everywhere looks stunning. The lady who lives here tells me that she had one of these many years ago and just wanted to revive some memories. I am pretty sure she could have afforded a real one but this will be a bit easier to park indoors.

It is one of several Whizzwheel VW1200s from Corgi. They had started in 1965 with a lovely East African Safari model that had opening things, jewelled lights, mud flaps and steering too. By the 1970s nothing opened, the lights were silver paint and, apart from one odd Driving School edition that appeared when everything else Corgi then made was 1:36 scale, you could forget corners. There are orange ones with yellow seats, orange ones with red seats, several police cars, a rally edition, an ultra rare Swiss ADAC edition and this, the 'Flower Power' one.

It's in great condition so I am sure the lady will be very pleased. I am also hoping she might feature it in the next film she produces. Or, even better, make a film that needs bundles of my advice and input on these model cars! A cameo role would always be welcome, too.

Working Title: How To Train Your Dragon To Drive.

A Morris Cowley and cars heading South, East and West last week.

In the Ebay photograph all I could make out was a white shape for this model which was billed as a Morris Cowley and not a lot more. I took a chance and got it and have been relieved to find that it is actually a very decent 202M in the less common very pale green colour.

The motor works well and it is all nicely original with just a chip here and there but I don't mind that.

What I was looking for, though, was a 202 without the M. It's been a while now and I still haven't found one that I like at a reasonable price. Strangely, I've seen plenty of 202M examples (and now have two myself to sell!) but precious few of what I had expected to be the easier to find version. I have had a two-tone later edition but not the single colour one. That is the last 'normal' Corgi car that I need (other than the Pop Art Mini). The rest are colour or other variations. With the cars more or less complete, I am now moving on to the farm and commercial sections (and maybe Chipperfields as you'll see below).

Someone in deepest Gloucestershire bought my black repainted Austin Cambridge 201M this week. It was one of my better efforts so I was quite sad to see it go but I need the income to pay for the others that I am still looking for.

Also heading West to the same county is a very delapidated James Bond Aston Martin. It looks a lot happier there than in the box of jumble my postman brought me in the week. The box was his own, not a delivery! It contained half a dozen Corgis, a few Dinky Toys and lots of Matchbox as well as a couple of Budgie lorries. I said I would see what I could do to sell them for him and was quite surprised at how quickly some have gone, bearing in mind how poor a condition they were in. The Aston had no suspension and a cracked rear screen. The paintwork was rough, not just chipped but almost corroded in places. The gadgets did all work with a little persuasion, though, and I suppose it might not look too bad in a cabinet somewhere in the shade. Really, though, it needs to be taken apart and restored which, perhaps, is what the buyer will do. I think he's a blacksmith so he may have some of the tools!

Another one was the Chevrolet Impala Dog Grooming affair which I am delighted to have ticked off my list without having to spend a lot buying one. I knew I had to get one but I wasn't too keen and they are not cheap if they're in reasonable condition. This one had no dogs but it did have the nice sign on the front and most of the paintwork had survived well. The suspension was noticeably active! It was snatched up by a regular customer in Italy, though, within a day. He also bought a pristine Lotus XI Le Mans in silver. That's another model that does absolutely nothing for me and I am quite glad both have gone now.

Also in the box were a couple of Land Rovers that I knew a friendly collector in Germany would love to have so I packed them up and sent them East.

The Circus Parade vehicle clown is missing his glove and, of course, the monkey or chimp has escaped but apart from a bit of paint rubbed off here and there the model's sound. The Dinky Mersey Tunnel Police is an old but not uncommon item but, again, this was in decent condition and I know they have both gone to a good home. The postman will be more than pleased with whatever they have fetched as he wasn't expecting much anyway.

Something I would like to do is to roam around the country's sales, chat with house clearance people and even try to get people who want to sell things to come to me first. It's expensive to travel around but I do believe I would find some interesting items and be able to get them at a reasonable figure before they get onto Ebay where everyone is fighting over the better items and the prices inflate. I have done well through Ebay but I do believe I could do better if I could get items from other sources. I also feel people selling collections would get a better price if I could show all their items in a better light and promote them in a range of places. Some photos of models on Ebay are pretty poor or, if they're good, the model is looking rather tired and would really benefit from a simple clean or a tyre here and there.

I am thinking about seeking a little funding to enable me to give some travel a try. I really am sure there are plenty of toys sitting in boxes in people's lofts and as those people die off their relatives bundle them off to some sale or maybe just let a clearance person take them. I'd like to be the first to rummage through those old boxes!

At another extreme, one colleague is about to put all his stunning Chipperfields items on the market. Now these are examples of items I could not really improve upon - they are almost as new, boxed and many hardly ever removed from the boxes, with all the little extra pieces of packing and related pieces which usually get lost. I shall be helping him decide what to sell them for individually and I am pretty confident that they will all go quickly. I am hoping I will be able to feature them on my site and, of course, they'll get a post or two here. In return for helping him all I want is the chance to add some good photographs of actual items to my catalogue. It will save me a huge amount of money as some of the set contents are really expensive and I have never been a fan of the Circus stuff anyway. I have been putting off buying any and they're low on my wanted list. So that could be a stroke of luck. Unless a neighbour buys them all before I get a chance to advise him!

At least he won't be using the expensive auction services where he would lose best part of a quarter of what he sells them for. And if it were not the best of auction days, even the best houses can't magic a higher price than what the bidders are prepared that day to spend. More news about this collection soon, I hope.

Saturday 16 April 2016

RAC Land Rover. Blue Cover Wanted.

I met another two collectors this week. Both mad but nice enough not to mind me saying so! And probably not as mad as I am anyway. What they had in common was the ability to talk for hours on the subject of these models without really needing to pause for breath and being genuinely interested in whatever I had to say on the subject too. That is always satisfying and I am sure you can think of many occasions when someone really hasn't been listening that closely to whatever you're talking about!

I bought the RAC Land Rover from one of these new acquaintances. The one on the left in the photo which is a #416 but a very early edition and produced without a board on the roof. Its only RAC identifying feature would be a tin canopy with Radio Rescue in white along each side.

I only knew this existed when I happened across one on the QDT site. Now I have to find a canopy. The blue is noticeably different to #351, the RAF one, I may have to make do with one from the other version (as shown above) and change the transfers. I couldn't do that if it were a decent transfer, though, as these originals are hard to come by. So, ideally, in the absence of a real one, I need a #416 with a worn canopy! The condition of the truck is pretty immaterial really so I suppose there may be some hope.

If I can't find anything then that is where my second acquaintance may come in handy. He is a restorer par excellence to judge by the photos he showed me and he didn't think it would be too much trouble to match the colour and spray a replacement tin canopy for me. That would be nice. I can get the transfers, luckily, and somewhat surprisingly, as I can't imagine there being much demand for them.

That would involve giving Mr Flowers more money, though, something I would like to avoid until I resolve the matter of who pays postage when he sends us the wrong things. I can so readily understand that mistakes are easily made when staff have to prepare people's orders and find tiny little bits and pieces, often almost identical to another piece and easily confused. What I can't understand, however, is why I have to pay the cost of returning  items that are incorrect. That seems to be what Mr Flowers insists, though, and after three mistakes in four orders I am trying to suggest that he rings in some changes in that policy.

The trouble is that if you need parts you need Mr Flowers nine times out of ten and we all appreciate the fact that he does run this business and, for the majority of the time, are delighted with what he provides. So I don't want to be put on a black list and may just have to swallow a few quids' worth of hassle from time to time. I guess he isn't a Corgi Toy collector.

Anyway, if you happen to have an old blue tin roof, do let me know.

French Collection.

Chavenvierres sur Marnes looks nice. That's where this Morris Mini Cooper is heading. At least, I hope so. This is the second time it has been bought by someone in France. The first dropped out and last week I also had a Bond Aston Martin cancelled at the last minute by someone elsewhere in France so I am keeping my fingers crossed this time!

I had the Aston Martin all wrapped up and very nearly sent it off with some others rather than make a separate trip to the Post Office another day. Being as new and in its original box that would have been an expensive mistake!

This little mini is good, with just chips on its roof to spoil the overall appearance. This new home looks eminently suitable so espérons que tout se passe bien cette fois!

"Mrs Peel, We're Needed!" (The Avengers Cars Too.)

There was a mad rush on items for The Avengers this week. I had a pile of odd bits and pieces and decided to see what I could do with them. I had a not particularly brilliant reproduction box so offered a pair in that at a modest price. Then someone went and bought the original Elan so I had to change the offer to include a restored item. Someone nearby came and collected that and was as pleased as punch. The whole thing did look nice on display but I would have liked to have given him one of the better boxes that I usually use.

Without any silver-blue Elans, I was unable to offer my alternative set so I made up some cards instead, featuring the Bentley on one side, the Elan on the other side and a nice selection of photos on another card. They had all the details I could find about the cars used in the TV series and printed nicely. I think I'll I'll use them for future individual item sales as they are easy to make and, importantly, easy to pack!

My restored Elan was actually much nicer to display than the only original I had left. It didn't need much work. I remembered just as I was photographing it that it had a slightly loose steering wheel but that seems to be staying in place so I left it alone.

The last original did, at least, have some suspension. It had some chips here and there and they always show up on the white paintwork but there's not a great deal you can do. I cleaned the interior and that came up very nicely. The outside still looks like it's been in a smoking room for all its life but that really is as clean as I can get it!

This Bentley was pretty nice but had some chips on the black rails which a marker pen quickly covered. Otherwise it was very good but, being a 9002 originally, need a replacement hood. The problem with the Flowers replacements is that they don't sit nicely over the studs so I drilled some tiny holes which solved the problem. Why his don't have that done already I do not know.

This Bentley was also a 9002 but needed a new windscreen, horn and handbrake. Luckily the base was a bit loose so I was able to squeeze a new handbrake into place without any rivet removal. I tightened the base so it didn't move around and it looked as good as the other one. Those replacement windows aren't as nice and clean as the originals, though.

Both pretty good red Bentleys went within 24 hours of being put up for sale.

This one went as soon as it was advertised. It was a nice 9001 and so the replacement hood needed the drilling treatment and I think the windscreen was replaced.

This is the only 9000 series Bentley I have left! It is a 9001 with the Racing numbers removed and a replacement hood. I tried to remove the Union Flag on the passenger door but damaged the paint when doing so. Otherwise it is lovely.

I have had to offer this C361 model from 1985 as an alternative until some more come in. I hadn't appreciated before that these were limited editions. The box says this number 19. It doesn't say how many were issued. Actually, this is a lovely model and virtually identical to its predecessor, uses the same cast and just has deeper red and a lighter interior with quite a lot more detailing.

Apart from some chassis pieces and odd bits and pieces that is it, though, now until I get some more stock items.

I cannot see any decent Elans for sale at the moment so I am hoping to get hold of a few wrecks that I can restore and offer them either individually with the cards or in some nice reproduction GS40 boxes with a Bentley. I also need to find some more Bentleys, especially some that did actually originate from a GS40. They are different and it would be nice to be able to offer them. In the meantime the alternatives look smart and are rather more affordable than the crazy prices being asked for the original boxed sets!

Here is a complete episode from an early series of The Avengers if you would like to restore a few memories!

The.Avengers.1965.S04E09.The.Hour.That.Never.Was. by superannuatedlps

Monday 4 April 2016

Slightly different Minis

Firstly, thank you to those of you who offered to help with the 'orange mini' problem. In the continued absence of any in either reasonable condition (I found one very poor example at £5) or at a reasonable price (immaculate in box, £275) I made one myself. I had one that I had resprayed black some time ago so had another go with that. Finding the right colour wasn't easy and I finished up having to order some from Amazon and hoping that it was actually fairly pale. All the examples I found in stores nearby were too dark. Luckily, the Amazon guess was a good one and the customer can now proceed with the birthday celebrations.

On the topic of Minis, though, there has been an interesting development this morning. I have four blue Morris Minis. Here they are:

The first is a very nice early edition in classic pale blue with flat, fixed wheels and a red interior. Note the holes showing the axles and the two floor panels. The text reads Morris Mini-Minor.

Now here is a fairly scarce light blue edition with free spinning wheels and a lemon interior. The base is also different with no floor panels and the text has moved towards the centre on what looks like a correction panel. You'll see this sort of device on many models where a base is re-used for a later edition. Why it was changed for the same model, though, I don't know.

Later editions had cast wheels with a spoke effect design and a red interior. I have not seen a cast wheel version with a lemon interior although I expect that will exist. The base is unchanged from the previous example.

Now look at this one. At first glance it looks like the early edition but with free spinning shaped wheels. Ah, but there are no axle holes and, wait a moment... what is that text? It reads Morris Mini Cooper! Cooper??

The rivets are genuine original fittings and the car has not been taken apart of changed in any way. I saw this advertised last week and it was titled Mini Cooper. I queried this with the seller, assuming that he had simply misread the base but he replied to confirm that that was what it said on the base. I was still not totally convinced, as people do tend to read what they think they see sometimes and the chap's online 'name' was brail with a number. The thought that he may be blind did occur to me! I decided to buy this anyway. It was only a few pounds as no-one else seemed very interested. I thought I could always paint it orange if it was nothing of interest.

It arrived this morning (in a package not much bigger than the size of the car itself so that was a bit of luck that it actually made it!) and I was delighted to find that the base does, indeed, read Morris Mini-Cooper. It is in pretty good condition, just a few marks on the paintwork but the screens are clean and the suspension sound. The tyres are not normal Corgi types - I am guessing that they have been replaced but I won't change them  back to the old original style just in case this was an experiment and the tyres were, indeed, meant to be like that.

So this is an odd one. I am guessing that it has been a factory mistake, using a #227 base, which does seem to have the same rivet places and the two floor panels. An interesting and, I suspect, rather scarce item.