Tuesday 24 May 2016

Brooklyn, Ciney and Cornwall. I get around.

Brooklyn, New York, is definitely where this car could belong, although the neighbourhood looks a bit too smart for this somewhat run-down version of the car.

Ciney in belgium is where this Citroen DS19 had to go. It sort of looks content there.

A late edition Rolls Royce makes it through the very narrow Cornish lanes to Luxulyan where the car seems bigger than this chap's house!

Friday 20 May 2016

Lotus Elan S2 with a difference

So what's wrong with this picture? It's the 319 Lotus Elan S2 Coupé from Gift Set 37 but I've swapped its chassis with the boxed version. So it looks like a very scarce version with cast wheels when, of course, there weren't actually any at all.

Quite why there weren't any I am not sure as I think the cast type of wheel was around when this model was being sold in the Gift Sets. Or perhaps they came a little later after all. I am just surprised that there haven't been more swaps like this. The lack of suspension means the bigger wheels still turn but I am not so sure that would be the case on the 318 with removable chassis. I must try that next.

All the boxed 319s, which only come in blue or red, each with white tops, have cast wheels and all the Gift Set green and yellow or yellow and green Elans have the small shaped wheels.

The last illustration is a 318 that was pretty wrecked and which I have repainted in silver-blue as the second of Mrs Peel's cars in The Avengers. It looks lovely in that colour.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Chrysler: Here Yesterday, Gone Today

If you blinked yesterday you may have missed my article saying how delighted I was to have found a KIngsfisher blue Chrysler Imperial. It has already been sold and is on its way to Roetgen which appears to be just in Germany, practically on the Dutch border.

This must have been bought within a minute or so of my publishing it! Needless to say, I am looking for another already!

Monday 16 May 2016

Chevrolet Camaro in blue

Another recent find was this lovely and very scarce Chevrolet Camaro in blue with Whizzwheels. I know it should have a white roof but it didn't have one at all so I borrowed the black one from a spare 338 that I have.

This really was not around for long. Nor for that matter was its gold predecessor with Golden Jacks but that doesn't seem to be attracting high prices. I have two that are almost as new in boxes and they've been available for ages with little interest. The blue one, however, is extremely hard to find and makes very good prices when collectors notice it. Often these are not appreciated as rare by their owners who think it's just another crappy old Whizzweel and sell it off in job lots!

Despite its very short run, there are some interesting variations to look for. First the lights are the same little chunks of plastic as Corgi used on the Capris. They tend to fall out but just slot back in again easily if you can find them! There are two types: a bright flourescent orange-red as shown on the model below (which I sold for £300 almost as soon as it was advertised!) and the darker type as you'll see above. In fact, I have just this minute noticed that the left light had fallen out in that photograph and is lying on the floor near the grey base! Ha ha! And I've put those photos on my site and Ebay too. Oh well.

Another variation is the colour of the deacl that says SS350 on the front wings. Originally, on the gold version is was black and, normally, it ought to be white to match the bonnet stripe as in the photo immediately above. However, on one of the latest acquisitions shown at the top of this post, you'll see that these side pieces are black but the bonnet stripe still white.

There are quite a few examples of these mixes from those days when the factory was working with parts from the Golden Jacks models as well as the new Whizzwheel type. Economies meant that many of the Whizzwheel models had fewer features but there are some 'transition' models and I wouldn't be surprised if the black decals were there in a box with the white ones and just got added by someone who didn't realise anything had changed. Who knows, there may even be some black bonnet decals and, indeed, 304 models with the 338 hood!

Four Ford Capri 3.0 V6 cars

Another nice arrival last week was this Ford Capri 3.0 in red with a matt black bonnet. This is one of four versions of the Whizzwheel model - the other shade of 311 being a strange flourescent red-orange! My model has the original 'red dot'wheels that would have been applied to the first ones of these early Whizzwheel models. The red and black one is in truly marvellous condition. These did tend to be run around rooms and on tracks and, like the real thing, were pretty vulnerable to being damaged.

The other two models were the 303 'Roger Clark' Rally edition and a very similar 331 Texaco Rally edition. Both these are in white with a range of decals applied.

I have a feeling there may be one or two other variations of this model. For instance I expect a white 311 to appear one day where the decals have been omitted and a 303 or 331 put in the 311 box.

There were several subsequent editions of the Capri in the 1980s and afterwards, including Corgi Classics model that often gets confused with the red and black one above.

Kingfisher Blue

The red Chrysler Imperial was not the best-looking of Corgis models, not helped by a couple of large occupants squeezed in the front seats, but there is another version that looks a lot nicer.

This is the Kingfisher Blue edition. I am sure that every model that Corgi used this colour on has become eminently desirable. It just looks a hundred times nicer. It is also probably not far short of a undred times more valuable now as these are very, very scarce and hard to find in as good a condition as this one.

It was advertised in a group of blue Corgi models, with no specific mention of any model names and so escaped many dealers' searches for things like this that I am sure they must do every day, or have Ebay do for them automatically. I fully expected someone to outbid my fairly modest maximum while away at my son's wedding in Scotland but was delighted that I found several large packages waiting for me on my return. I had won all this particular chap's bundles of models that I had bid for! This was in one of them.

In the 1969 Corgi Catalogue there is a new model announced as 'Available Later' and this is the 246 Chrysler Imperial with a fancy canopy roof fitted and 'Taxi' stickers on the doors and bonnet and painted in the new shade.

This wasn't actually released as such, though, but it seems several did finish up in 246 boxes. What I don't know for sure, though, is whether they had the two occupants or not. although there is a taxi driver illustrated in the catalogue, my model doesn't seem to have much room for anyone's thighs to fit below the steering wheel. It realli is the taxi version to as there are two gaps behind the rear upholstery where some roof poles would have been inserted. 

I have popped a gold trolley in the boot as a nod towards the box illustration content and that's as far as I'm going until I know better. This is worth getting a box for if I can find one. Or a reproduction in the meantime would do fine. It really is a lovely example and I am delighted to have one at last.

Tuesday 3 May 2016

BBC News article on Corgi as the 60th anniversary approaches

I reproduce here an interesting and nicely illustrated article from BBC Wales. I hope they don't mind.
It is a pity, though, that many writers always seem to focus on the TV specials and yet again there's the gold Aston Martin, Batmobile and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Still no news, incidentally, on what we might expect for the 60th Anniversary itself coming soon. I do hope there's more than just a milk float that was never an original model in the first place.

How Corgi cars sparked 'toy arms race'

They were the toy cars marketed as "The Ones With Windows", and were made right here in Wales.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang model carImage copyrightWest Wales Museum of Childhood

Whether it's the Batmobile, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, James Bond's Aston Martin DB5, tanks, racing cars, or even a humble Mini, if you grew up in Britain anytime in the last 60 years, the odds are you will have owned a Corgi car at some stage in your childhood.
As early as 1933, Philip Ullmann - a German Jew who had fled the Nazis - had been making tin-plate toys in Northampton, under the name of Mettoy or the "Metal Toy Company".
But in 1956 Mettoy began producing a new range of die-cast cars from a factory in Fforestfach, Swansea, and named them Corgi in honour of the tiny Welsh dogs.
Popular with children and collectors alike because of their attention to detail and innovative features, Corgi were soon taking on the more established brands of Dinky and Matchbox.

A factory where the model cars are builtImage copyrightWest Wales Museum of Childhood

As well as being the first toy cars to have plastic windows, other features to appear in Corgi cars were fibre-optic style working lights, friction push-along motors, removable wheels, horns, sirens, guns, and even ejector seats.
Paul Kennelly, of the West Wales Museum of Childhood in Llangeler, Carmarthenshire, believes Corgi helped drive forward the entire industry.
"The beauty of Corgi was that they were always looking for the next gimmick, to see how far they could push the envelope.
"You have to remember that when they first came out, you're still talking about only a decade or so after the war, so these incredibly realistic-looking cars with working lights and motors were something almost magical for boys like me.
"Of course, once Corgi had done it, everyone else had to keep up in some way, so it began a sort of toys arms race which really pushed the industry forwards.
"At the height of their powers Corgi had 5,000 people working in Fforestfach and were exporting all over the world, and they were just one of a number of toy manufacturers in south Wales."

Aston Martin DB5 model carImage copyrightWest Wales Museum of Childhood

James Bond's Aston Martin DB5 is the most popular toy car of all time, selling over seven million units.
Originally sold in gold, as Corgi designers believed the original James Bond silver made it look unpainted, the model boasted machine guns in the front wings which popped out at the touch of a button, a bulletproof shield which popped up to protect the rear screen when the exhaust pipes were pressed, and an ejector seat which fired through a roof panel.

Five Aston Martin DB5's on the workbenchImage copyrightWest Wales Museum of Childhood
Image captionFive Aston Martin DB5's on the workbench

It was launched in time for Christmas 1965, and as Corgi found themselves swamped by the demand for it, the papers reported near-riots in toy shops.
Though the DB5's sheer ubiquity means it's actually far from the most valuable Corgi car today.

Batmobile model carImage copyrightWest Wales Museum of Childhood
Magic roundabout setImage copyrightWest Wales Museum of Childhood

"Most of the big film models like the DB5, the Batmobile and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are still very common, and you can pick up a mint condition boxed example for as little as £50 or £60," Mr Kennelly said.
"The rarest of all are the promotional models made for advertising, or prototypes which were never actually sold, and whilst they don't look as spectacular, these are some of my favourites."
Mr Kennelly himself owns what is thought to be the rarest of all the Corgi models, and exhibits it at his museum.

Corgi logo on the side of the brick buildingImage copyrightWest Wales Museum of Childhood

Only 12 red Rover Stirlings are known to have been made before the Fforestfach factory closed, and it is believed they were prototypes for a new paint and were never intended for sale.
Examples as rare as these have previously sold for £200 or more.
But despite their popularity, by the 1980s Corgi were in terminal decline.
They were sold to American giant Mattel in 1989 and the factory in Swansea closed two years later.
Traditionally the demise of toy cars has been blamed on computers, but Mr Kennelly has several other explanations.
"In Mettoy's case their unsuccessful foray into computing with the Dragon 32 was what really sunk them, as Corgi was still very popular. As with the toy cars they just didn't have the financial clout to carry on investing and innovating.
"But more generally there's several reasons for the decline. Whereas workers had been cheap in Wales after the War, by the '80s it was difficult to bear the cost of such a labour-intensive product.
"Also birth rates dropped, and there just weren't as many children around to sell to as there had been in the baby-boomer generation."

Parts being assembled on a workbenchImage copyrightWest Wales Museum of Childhood

Corgi were relaunched following a management buy-out in 1995, and the brand is now owned by Hornby, joining a stable which also includes Scalextric and Airfix.
Today they produce high-end model cars and reissues of classic Corgi ranges, mostly aimed at the adult collector market.

Monday 2 May 2016

I did offer to drive it there...

Now if you're going to live somewhere with a view then this person has chosen quite nicely. They also have a good taste in cars with their acquisition of one of my purple Ford Mustangs this week.

The trouble with yellow

I shall have to start a tin canopy business. I now have two 416 models that require covers but I have little hope of finding the right one for either.

This is the Belgian equivalent to our RAC service Land Rover. I don't think there were many of these produced so it's a nice rare find, for which I have to thank my friend Andreas in Germany who seems to be able to spot an interesting Land Rover from several hundred miles away with distinct ease. I didn't expect to be able to afford it but, fortunately, it was not very prominently advertised and I expect most people in Belgium didn't really see what was particularly special about it.

Even if I can find the right colour cover, or get one made, the chances of finding the TS transfers are next to zero. Maybe someone over there in Belgium can have a look round for me? There'll be a toybox somewhere in a loft in Antwerp, Bruges or Châtelet with just what I need.

With it came, as part of the deal, this odd-looking car transporter.

On arrival I could see that the cab was actually a different shade of yellow to the rear car section but I wasn't too bothered as it was essentially a free addition with the TS Land Rover. The rear section in yellow was part of 1101, the first type of transporter, and would have had a light blue cab which is what I now have to find somewhere. Then I need to find the right thing for the yellow cab to be attached to. That could only be a 1100, the very first Low Loader. The chances of my finding one of those with a blue cab, however are slim as most, if not all had red. So that means I shall have to find something that has a blue cab that could also have had a red cab!

I am not at all sure I can solve this conundrum without acquiring a string of trucks and lorries and trailers! 

Another yellow item arriving this week was this delightful VW1200 in German ADAC colours. The stickers are pretty worn but the paintwork is excellent. another unusual item that I thought would be hard to find and just popped up unexpectedly.