Friday 25 November 2016

A Citroën SM and a scary tree with no leaves in Albertson NY

A short while ago, I sent a Chevrolet Corvette to someone who lived at an address that translated as something like Devil's Kitchen Road. Now this lovely mauve Citroën SM is on its way to somewhere just west of New York, to an owner who refers to himself as Hell's Kitchen Deuce!

Heavens alive, with Amityville just down the road I am wondering just what is happening to my customer base!

That tree looks pretty scary too! Shouldn't it have at least one or two leaves on it?

With what looks like a nice BMW 635i sitting outside, this should be a good home for the Citroën and it is certainly easier to park there than in Unpronounceable in Wales where the Lincoln went and a Mini Cooper is also heading soon. 

On the subject of the devil and travels, I'll have to do a suitable picture for the Vauxhall Velox and Rover 90 that will be making their way to Italy at the end of the month. I would normally say I'd be happy taking them there myself but the signs haven't been so good there either with earthquakes not far away from their destination.

Just to settle things down somewhat, someone in St. Albans wants the orange-red Volvo 1800. 

The colour has a devilish tinge but, come on, it's St. Albans. I mean, what could go wrong in St. Albans? I was born and went to school there. Ah, right. OK. Let's move on!

Thursday 24 November 2016

Red seats in the Corgi Pony Club Land Rover

Somewhere in the States a colleague found this Gift Set 15. A seemingly ordinary but nice and clean Whizzwheels Land Rover towing the usual Rice Beaufort Horse-Box with cast wheels containing two original issue ponies too.

Red seats? he rightly queried. Red seats!? I exclaimed and immediately placed a ridiculously high bid to make sure I bought it. These days I do tend to avoid buying from across The Pond if at all possible as many sellers demand the most extraordinary postal charges. (Pitney Bowes has a lot to answer for in that respect but I'll leave that for another day). This was actually advertised with a couple of Corgi Classics: a 9041 Rolls and a 9012 Model T Ford with a broken screen. I really did not want either of those and hoped the seller could just send me the Land Rover but it didn't seem to make any difference to a postal charge of about £25 so I swallowed hard and tried not to worry about it too much.

I did win at a modest price, but more than I had expected it to go for and then only with the last second assistance of some software, which made me think that someone else had noticed the unusual interior. It took an age for the expensive postal service actually to deliver the damn thing but it has been well worth the wait. At one point I did wonder whether the 'red' was merely the result of a poorly-lit photograph! Quite a relief when it did, finally, arrive. It was red.

It looks very much like the old interior put in the fawn coloured edition but with a black steering wheel. The Longleat Land Rover has a red interior and black steering wheel but the interior is quite different, needing a hole for the hunter. Someone would have had to select the red interior, add a black steering wheel and then insert it during the manufacturing process when you would have expected the box to be full of lemon ones with grey steering wheels. So it is a curious development and my guess is that this dates from a period when the change from the flimsy lemon plastic to new yellow interior was taking place. If some models came trundling down the production line and the lemon flavour had run out but no yellow solid affairs were available then the factory staff may well have made up some temporary alternatives. 

Despite looking quite carefully at hundreds of these Land Rovers over the years, and discovering all sorts of varieties in the Gift Set 15 components, this has to be the one with the biggest 'Wow!' factor. I have not seen a single other one anywhere. The dark green 438 with a red interior is known to be scarce and I was delighted to find one of those a while ago that I shall not part with cheaply. Unless I discover that there are more of these around which I simply have just not noticed. which I doubt will be the case, then this will take its place as one of the really quite special models in my collection.

I really do like models that look a bit normal and may be initially uninteresting but which are, in fact, wonderfully scarce and potentially valuable. Finding these small but fascinating differences does help the days go by!

As you will see in the previous article today, the Horse-Box was also a surprise, having a different type of wheel. So I'm glad that I didn't press to have just the Land Rover after all. The two Classics, though, will be effectively free to a good home.

Gift Set 15. The Gift Set that keeps on giving.

Oh, not another Rice Beaufort Double Horse-Box you may say. Yes, another one! We've had open vents and closed vents, then blue and white tops and all white tops. Before that there was the strange one with cast 8 spoke wheels (like those fitted to racing cars!) Now I've found a fourth type of wheel.

As you can see from the illustration, the cast wheels on the left have a distinctly deeper rim, a different spoke pattern and what appears to be a slightly larger centre hub (although that might be an optical illusion). At first I thought it was just a cleaner version, maybe a crisper casting but that is not the case.

This came with a black plastic hook, blue and white top and a closed vent. I bought it in a Gift set 15 with a Whizzwheels Land Rover (which you'll read about in the next post) from the States. So it would seem to be a later edition but that's all I can tell you about it.

Well, I could talk about how the rear ramp falls off if you don't open it carefully but, fortunately, it slips back into place again easily and stays in position.

I presume that there will be plenty of these around with this style of wheel but, once again, I shall have to study these little blue and white wonders a little more carefully. Somehow I shall have to make a list of what types you're likely to come across and do some counting to get some idea of which are more common than others.

In case you missed them, here are the other two wheel types:

I think it is safe to assume now that there were none issued with 'normal' wheels, although you'll find sets where the Land Rovers have normal wheels.

There are, at the other end, several sets where the Land Rover has Whizzwheels and the Horse-Box cast wheels but I don't think I've seen them the other way round. Even sets with both components having Whizzwheels are not that common, Corgi beginning to look at other things to do with the Land Rover by then.

Sunday 20 November 2016

Some Suffolk Surprises

Bury St. Edmunds is a quiet town in Suffolk that saw a little excitement yesterday. You may have seen several really nice, boxed models appearing on my site recently and they came from a customer who also gave a pile to some auction people. Auctions can work very well when there are at least two people desperately wanting to buy a particular item and my colleague did well with a few that I had advised he set a high reserve for. 

The one I had predicted would be a star was, indeed, the top price of the day although, to be fair you did get five cars and an extremely scarce box for the money. This is Gift Set 46, a very strange, even to kids at the time, group of sporty looking models described as 'All Winners'.

I have yet to discover just what it was that they 'all won' and I suspect this was just one of Corgi's marketing chaps coming up with a way to move some models they had had hanging around for a while. At £480, the total cost to its new owner would be about £600, including fees and postage, easily beating my £540 estimate.

Quite a big surprise was the price reached by the 270 James Bond car.

One of the earliest of this type, which appeared in several guises over the years and finishing up with plastic wheels and flared wheel arches. It made £460 and that must be due to the packing being the early bubble type. From the pictures (I never saw the actual model) it would appear that the side flaps are missing. For what will add up finally to nearly £600 I would hope they're just folded back! 

The nicest surprise for me was the remarkable £400 paid for A Gift Set 10. 

This does look lovely but had it come my way I would have been happy to sell it for £330, which was the price I had put on it. As it is, the new owner has actually parted company with over £500 by the time he's paid the £88 buyer's premium and some postage. Although you can buy nice reproduction boxes, this set is very difficult to make up. The blue and white Ramblers are not easy to restore and the trailers, with the same two colour finish aren't easy either. So the only sets are usually featuring a pretty scarred Rambler. For some reason the paint on them just fell off if there was a draft under the door, the doors seldom closed evenly and the door trims got lost. So this, in marvellous condition, is, indeed, pretty scarce and probably worth the money.

My favourite when I first saw a list of what might be offered was the Agricultural Gift Set 5. You see so few of these with bits and pieces included that you really would have difficulty finding anywhere else. Those key items are missing here, though. There should be a driver, a farmhand, a dog, four calves, three pigs and two piglets and some more straw card. So £360 is probably about right for that, again bearing in mind that the buyer would have to part company with about £460 in total.

The last major sale from my colleague's collection is the BMC Mini Cooper 333. Packed in the all-important 225 box with a sticker and all looking immaculate, this was the most expensive item in terms of price per pound! At £340, or about £420 including fees etc., someone must have been very keen to own one. The cars are scarce but didn't sell well, even appearing in Transporter sets as Corgi wondered how to get rid of stock with 1966 on it in later years. I have one for sale at just £60. It is the box that makes all the difference.

Three other lots were of particular interest. The iconic gold 261 James Bond Aston Martin made £290, which wasn't as much as I would have thought. There are plenty of these around but they do seem to make good prices and even the £360 total seems a touch low. Maybe the box was not perfect or the instruction sheet and lapel badge were missing. They're pretty important.

Also costing someone about £360 was this 303S Mercedes 300SL. That seemed a huge price and I can only assume it is the cast wheels that have made the difference. They only were fitted quite late in this model's life and the model was withdrawn shortly afterwards. At first glance, I thought they were actually spoked wheels - the see through wire type as on the Buick, James Bond Aston etc. The Corgi Catalogue shows this model with such wire spoked wheels as 'Available Later' (and also on the Competition Aston Martin) and for a long time I searched for these models or even pictures of them. Eventually I gave up on the Aston Martin and reckoned that the cast spoke effect wheels were what were actually issued for the Mercedes. I still look at the front wheel in this picture and my heart skips a beat but I reckon it is just a very clean cast variety.

That is definitely one to look out for, though. The Mercedes is not uncommon and you may well find an example with the scarce wheels at a modest price.

Lastly, I had placed a bid on these two myself as I have been trying to get a bronze Sting Ray for ages. But my maximum was very quickly passed as the bids sailed up to £290, meaning another £360 sale for the pair. The Oldsmobile looks lovely but they are really quite common and there are plenty still in great condition and with nice boxes for around £100. I have several varieties for sale at the moment. This, with cast wheels and no tow bar would seem to be the most common too so the big money, probably getting on for £300 is for the Sting Ray. Again, boxes are not expensive as there are loads with crimson Sting Rays in which can be used. So this bronze model on its own is costing about £250. 

That probably screws my chances of getting one anytime soon!

I understand that there are a few items that my colleague didn't sell at the auction and he has said that I may get these in a while. I am not yet sure what they'll be but I am fairly confident that a Riviera Gift Set 31 will be amongst them - a lovely original set with the earlier, light blue Buick.

I have also decided to make a couple of sets using good reproduction boxes and some replacement characters (but original cars, boats and trailers) so, as winter draws on, we can gaze on some girl surfing on a cardboard sea in December or January.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Lincoln for Llwyngrll

I do hope the collector who now owns this splendid Lincoln Continental does actually have room for it!

Saturday 12 November 2016

Corgi Catalogues 1958 to 1972

You may have noticed that I have changed the site's home page. That has been necessary because I would like to be easier for collectors to find when they search for Corgi Toys. Google now say that web sites should adjust automatically to match the type of device they are being viewed on. So there need to be different versions for big desktop monitors, large tablets, small tablets and phones held one way or the other. They punish those sites that don't comply with low rankings. It's annoying bvut that's life these days. You can imagine that the coding for all that can be something of a nightmare!

Luckily, there are some nice people out there who not only make templates we can use but they also include code that detects the type of device and makes all the adjustments automatically. It's all quite impressive. I can just about manage to figure out most of it but it isn't that straightforward to transfer data from one place to another. So I found it considerably simpler to make a few new pages with the new style and leave all the rest as it was.

I am really hoping that Google will now start giving me some credit for this, although there are still 1000+ pages that do not comply with their requirements. The chances of me ever changing all of them are extremely thin unless someone out there has a particularly bright idea and some spare free time!

The new home page does enable me to show some nice images in king-size view and each one relates to a different section of the site: British cars, American cars etc.

The new 'latest additions' page works in a similar way, with links on the big picture page to the main site description etc.

While I was at it I decided to make the catalogues more accessible to collectors. These are great sources of information and just lovely to scroll through for hours on end. I still feature them under Lists in the main site but they can now be seen directly from the Corgi Catalogues link on the new home page. I have published nice quality pages from complete catalogues from 1958 all the way through to 1972, which I acquired recently.

I used to offer to supply digital copies of catalogues at a small fee but now you can download images as you wish without charge. A customer did ask me if I could make printed versions of these and I can imagine that they would be very popular. However, with many having 40 or more pages I would have to pay for at least 10 double sided pages. In small quantities they would come out at about £8 and setting up the pages in the right order so that they make a booklet at the end of the day isn't as simple as it sounds at all! So they would have to cost at least £10 and, guess what, that's about the price you can buy originals for if you look around! So, until I can find a cheaper print solution I will leave it to people to print their own if they wish.

Some of the catalogues are American or European versions. Sorry if the prices are confusing but these are the best I have at the moment.

Thursday 10 November 2016

A Stingray on The Devil's Farmhouse Road!

A Whizzwheels Chevrolet Corvette Stingray in metallic blue-green has been acquired by a collector in Castelnau-le-Lez in France. The road is called Devil's Farmhouse Road! It looks a lovely spot but that road name is a bit disconcerting. Maybe there are lots of hot chillies in summer.

349 Morris Mini Minor 'Pop Art' Edition

Strange things happen sometimes. For a reason I genuinely cannot recall, I finished up at an online auction based in Holland a few days ago and saw this at about 100 euros. I casually set a high bid of 200 euros and was amazed to discover that I had won it for a figure somewhere between the two! I didn't even have an account there and hurriedly created one and paid the whole price, including quite reasonable fees and postage.

It is a genuine original, not repainted or with new stickers applied. I think some people may have passed it by because it was advertised with a reproduction box. It was one of those very sharply angled boxes that are made of the wrong type of card with a bright white interior and they do look out of place, albeit well-printed. It just cries out 'repro' and the car suffers as a result. So that will get sold for a few pounds and the car can stay as it is.

It has been played with, with a few chips here and there but nothing significant. The windows are clean and all very good. Often I see these with broken perspex which is such a shame. The suspension is as good as all minis and the wheels the correct cast variety.

I was not intending to bother chasing after one of these as I believe they are very much over-priced generally and not as 'rare' as most advertisers declare. It has, though, become the model to get. It is missing from many collections because it costs so much and I was content to have it missing from mine too. However, I cannot deny being quite delighted to have got this at such a good price and to be able to cross this off the Wanted List. 

It will be sold at some point - and no doubt for a hefty profit - but that will enable me to search out more interesting models - like a bronze Sting Ray, a gold Volkswagen Karman Ghia and a blue Austin Healey. For now, though, it does put a smile of my face and, as child of The Sixties, it kinda suits me!

This is quite an unusual scene! 

It did occur to me that my friend Frans, who, as I reported some time ago, found one of these at a charity shop in Holland for 5 euros, may have put this in the auction. I must compare the photos!

Another Corgi Pony Club edition. You'll soon need stables to store them all!

Who would have thought that the Corgi Pony Club would be so troublesome!? First we see that the Land Rover can have three different types of wheels, grey or black tow bars and then the two types of yellow interior. At least the good old 112 Rice Double Horsebox stayed the same...

Oh, that changed too? Yup. Three different types of wheel, red or black tow bars, open or closed vents and now I find another difference. Heavens alive! This one is actually pretty obvious too but I had missed it all this time. It's the roof.

Some have just part painted white, others have the whole roof section in white. There seem to be slightly fewer of the all-white roof version around but they are not at all uncommon. The one illustrated here I purchased for a collector in Germany and came with an early blue Land Rover with normal wheels. So, assuming that they were once a set, the all-white roof may have been issued from pretty early on. The painting process would have probably seen the whole thing get a coat of blue and then a mask would be applied so that only a section remaining visible gets the white paint.

The two different finishes would have necessitated a change of masks rather than two different ones being lying around. So someone must have decided to make the change at some point but which came first I really don't know. I am guessing that the all-white roof was the first variety because I have not seen any Whizzwheel versions with that feature. I may be wrong, though. 

This one is also a rather weak and watery white which seems to let the blue come through, making a pale creamy-green-blue colour. I think we have enough varieties, though, so I will resist listing that as yet another model!

There is also the problem of what look like distinctly darker blue models of the Land Rover and Horsebox that are issued in their later years. When I get some good examples I may have to add them to the list. I am also aware that the stickers were moved from the canopy to the body of the Land Rover at some point but I don't intend to list that as a variation. You may well find that you get both versions when you set about finding the other types.

The story does not end, even there, however. A very exciting instalment is coming! Watch this space in a few days' time.

Saturday 5 November 2016

A tale of two Emmas.

This is the first totally original The Avengers Gift Set 40 that I have had, I probably won't see another for a long time so I shall make the most of this while it's here. It is also a good opportunity to revisit the bits and pieces to watch out for.

The outer box is not particularly bright but it is complete and has no significant signs of wear. the flaps and edges are sound. As a reminder to anyone thinking about posting this set to anyone, the box does have two sharp dents on one side where the Bentley seems to have taken a run at the inside of the box somewhere between an auctioneers in Bury St Edmunds and Astcote. Such careless packing may also account for the small tear in the front offside wheel cut-out on the inner tray, which looks quite fresh.

Otherwise, the inner plinth is nice an clean and the colours are fresh and bright. The inner card to support the base from bowing towards the centre is missing. It nearly always is but it is a good idea to put something in there to prevent any further wear. Ideally, make some indents for the wheels too. You can do that by simply inserting the card and drawing round the inside of the holes and using a sharp knife for the cut-outs. They don't need to be too tidy as no-one will see them.

This set has the green Bentley with red wheels. That seems to be the one that gets the highest prices in the main and I think it is quite a lot less common than the red one. Whilst Steed did always have the green Bentley, his didn't have red wheels but it is as close to being accurate as you'll get in the originals.

Some commentators refer to this as the 'first edition' of the set but I am not sure about this. Yes, the box has a green Bentley illustrated but all the publicity material I have seen featured the red one in 1966. So I tend to think there were probably several variations used from the start - certainly in the first year or two. From what I can tell, the variations that were issued in sets would be the green with red wheels, red with red or silver wheels and an unusual red with gold wheels. Interestingly, the green Bentley only seems to appear with red wheels in original sets.

Mrs Peel's Lotus, of course, is always white which makes life a bit simpler. You will find late sets with cast wheels on the Lotus but I think that is the only variation.

I believe the umbrellas are original. It is not so easy to tell now, though, as some reproductions are excellent. In my view, if they're that good then it doesn't matter - we can never know without carbon dating or something! The things to look for are the lines where the brolly has been rolled up (furled) which should be clear all the way round, the handle should be evenly blobby without any furry bits and the point sharp and not with surplus plastic attached. Another simple check is to lay them next to each other and they need to look identical in size and design. Obviously that last check doesn't distinguish the reproductions but you'll get the idea.

This Lotus is very good. I have spotted small chips at the back and two very small nicks on the driver's side; one on the door and another on the rear wing. I wonder whether these, and the rear chips, had in fact been caused by the movement inside the box when in transit. Those auctioneer packers have a lot to answer for - especially as I had made it very clear to the owner and them how important it was to wrap the cars carefully (and ideally separately to the box as there was no packing card with this set).

The suspension is sound. Phew! The screen and windows are good too and the interior cleaned up well as it had been a bit dusty. The paintwork had also been quite grubby. It has cleaned up very nicely and it is possible that another go will bring it up a little more white as it has a definite creamy shade. I am assuming this is mere age and not tobacco! I am also suspicious of the very pure white examples as I am pretty sure the car should be slightly cream.

Keeping this set original, I haven't added the HNK 999C number plates but I have offered to do so if a new owner would like them.

There was a problem with the Lotus, however. The steering wheel had become detached. Again, that may have been as a result of crashing around in transit but I can't be sure. I have re-affixed it and it would be extremely hard for anyone to spot this but, nevertheless, I have to own up to this. There are too many false 'originals' being advertised and that annoys me a bit. I am looking for another Lotus Elan to provide in this set but they are not easy to find in as good condition. So until something better comes along that's how it has to be.

The Bentley is super. There are usually some chips on the side of the rails but this one has none. The hood is original, as is the screen and the vulnerable horn on the driver's side. Although it is possible to replace wheels, there are no signs that these are not as originally fitted.

Steed always needs to be looked at carefully. He is less likely to go missing than Mrs Peel and is not that easy to take out so the chances are that he will be genuine if everything else is good. His suit and hat should be grey and not a brown shade of grey and definitely not glossy as some reproduction figures can be. This has some wear on top of the hat, leaving a pink patch beneath, which I have seen before on several sets. Some people have been known to drop Jeeves in the seat and say it's John Steed but they're just stupid and you'll spot that easily!

Mrs Peel, however, can be a problem. This set arrived with the character on the right. I have my suspicions that she was a reproduction. The base is quite a bright green and the trousers have a single black decoration. All the replacements I have used have had similar features to that one. The one or two characters that I have had that I have had good reason to believe were originals, and by far the majority of sets auctioned by professionals like QDT, have a darker, more drab, green base and three fine black lines on Mrs Peel's trousers.

The one I prefer as original is also slightly taller. They each have very similar finish, though, with identical buttons, jacket folds, hands, hats etc. So I don't know. I would be surprised if they are both original but I suppose it is possible. I am going to settle for the one with one band being a very good reproduction, though, and have donated my original to this set in its place.

I also removed the CRI 479 number plate!

So this set has been quite a challenge to document and prepare in many aspects. I will continue to seek a good Lotus Elan but do feel that I can sell this as one of the very genuinely original sets out there. It isn't cheap though.

I should soon be able to put together some non-original sets which will be rather more affordable! One thing I have realised is just how good the reproduction boxes can be! If this one had been any cleaner it really would have been difficult to tell the difference.

An old yellow 1101 Bedford Car Transporter in Pretoria

The sharp-eyed out there will have spotted that the cab is from an 1100 Low Loader but this still makes a nice pairing. Perhaps its new owner in Faerie Glen, Gauteng, may have some other cabs and trailers to make correct models with. Whatever the case it looks a nice place to go and someone should mention to the driver that the drive on the left over there.

Friday 4 November 2016

Another yellow 406S Land Rover

It's missing some paint and the hook is a little out of shape but this is a rare Land Rover. It is 406S, indistinguishable from 438 apart from the colour, and was issued when Corgi updated their Land Rover models in 1962.

The 1963 Corgi Catalogue has no less than six Land Rovers. Printed in 1962, it shows the Chipperfields model from Gift Set 23 and 19 but the green 438, blue 416S, navy 351S and fawn Gift Set 2S model with Pony Trailer are all shown as available later. So it would appear that 406S appeared in early 1962 but must have been withdrawn before the catalogue was printed, to be renumbered 438 and issued in a more rural green.

The 438-based issues all had canopies too whereas I believe that, like the 406 before, the standard 406S model did not have a canopy. The first release of the Series 2 Land Rover was in April 1962 for Chipperfields. My guess is that the 406S would have been issued at around this time too. I have seen a 406S box but the chances of now finding one of them must be extremely slim!

With so few of these around it is extremely difficult to put a price on them. The numbers must be very small and I would think they must have been rather fewer than the 25,000 351S issued. The RAF version is hard enough to find as it is!

With two similar models now, I am happy to sell one so get in touch and make an offer if you would like one. The pictures each link to my catalogue site where you'll find more information and lots more photos.

Thursday 3 November 2016

Corgi Flying Club. A Land Rover, Nipper Aircraft and a very wide trailer.

I only bought this because I needed an example of the darker blue Land Rover with a lemon interior and grey steering wheel. This was in the States and the postage was more than the price of the set. It is complete and in a box although the later Corgi boxes were pretty poor affairs. This one has the card insert with nothing that I can see to stop the contents moving around other than an elastic band or two around the aircraft pieces.

It did arrive with only minimal crushing and a hole in the cellophane and still looks a pretty good item to display. With the dreaded Whizzwheels, though, this 1972 edition is an uninspiring version of the Land Rover and why on Earth a trailer needs Whizzwheels is beyond me. Fine for those cars kids might be expected to fly down some track or along the parquet flooring but no-one could seriously expect them to want to race Land Rovers with trailers!

Orange was clearly in fashion still with the bright canopy and matching aircraft body. The wings could be either white like these or a creamy yellow colour. The cab can be blue or clear. I shall not be running around madly looking for those variations as this is just not something that really makes me leap up and down with enthusiasm. There is some play craft, at least, here with the aircraft which can be stacked in the section of the trailer and then taken off and made up again.

The trailer itself is a ridiculously wide affair which would cause trouble along most of the lanes I know near airfields. I can imagine most of these will get pretty chipped over time so this is a delight to find as new. The same trailer, incidentally, gets used again in Gift Set 5 in 1973, in red and still with Whizzwheels.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Monte Carlo Gift Set 38. Very valuable cardboard.

These three arrived on Monday and will be on their way to Church Gresley before long as a collector friend has already reserved them! These are three really nice examples of the 321, 322 and 323 models from 1966 which also comprised the Monte Carlo Gift Set 38.

The Rover is near perfect with just one small chip in the front bumper but a lovely shine to the gorgeous deep cherry paintwork. It has always been one of my favourite models. When I packed all my old models away many years ago the Rover was one I kept out to put on a desk or window ledge but, strangely, it disappeared at about the same time as I started doing this catalogue thing. I found another but reluctantly sold that and then found two more. One, with a few chips, has been sold but the other very good one I am hanging on to. This one, however, is the best I've seen for a while. It really shouldn't have the PLY 922 registration but that can be taken off.

The Citroen has a wonderful fresh look to its paintwork and is virtually unmarked with its original aerial still in place. Many have lost theirs! It has a slight crack in the rear screen but that is not very obvious.

The Mini has a small chip in the roof and its Racing No. 52 transfers have cracked. It is, otherwise, in excellent condition.

These three in an original Gift Set 38 box seem to be one of the collectors' favourites, making prices in excess of £2000! I might dream of coming across a decent original box one day but would probably have to wait a very long time indeed! Instead, there are one or two suppliers who offer reproduction boxes and inner display plinths. I am unsure of their quality, though, and would be interested to know who has bought any and what they have been like. One I've seen advertised looks as though it has been scanned from a somewhat crushed original.

I shall not now need the box for these three but I do have another set which I might put in a replacement box once I have established which is the best to buy. It may not add a fortune to the overall value - indeed it will only add the cost, £20-£30, to the value - but it might add a bit more to their appeal.

Looking at the prices the original sets make, I reckon that original box could be worth not far short of £2000 on its own!! Does that make it the most valuable of all of them? They do seem to make higher prices than even the rare military items and The Avengers, Bond etc. which is a little surprising.

Avro Bode. Read All About It: The Blue Bedford CA Van.

I saw this blue Bedford CA Van in a pile of adverts and wondered what it was. At first I thought it might be the Corgi 422 one without any yellow. I know they came in all sorts of combinations of yellow and a similar blue so the idea of one being all blue wasn't that impossible! From what I could tell it wasn't a repainted item so I looked around a bit further. The seller had it with some other items and didn't provide any clues either and it wasn't something anyone would find other than by chance. Google Images came up with the answer: AVRO, a Dutch broadcasting company, had a magazine called Avrobode or maybe Avro Bode and they had come to an arrangement whereby Corgi made 650 of these as a promotional thing.

That sort of made sense as 421 on general release was an Evening Standard van.

They would have had black paper stickers on the sides which were missing on this one, the merest tears remaining. From some decent images I found of one on an auction site (priced at £2000!) I was able to recreate my own labels which I am really pleased with as they are pretty much undetectable as replacements unless you start examining the paper and glue.

It is the second type of van with the revised front and single screen and dates from 1960. With only 650 produced this is a seriously scarce item. Mine is in excellent condition. There are signs of wear but no chips or dents. I have no idea what it's worth. If you're interested then make an offer.

A Break for Commercials

458 ERF Earth Dumper

453 Commer 5 Ton Refrigerated Van

Adding to one of the groups that I had been ignoring, two more commercial vehicles from the old days arrived last week. One was the ERF Earth Dumper, a long-running model that lasted from 1958 to 1966. This example is one of the earliest with its fixed smooth wheels and it does look pretty dated. It is in good condition, many of these got a lot of use moving real earth or other stuff that left them chipped and generally messed up. The rear section lifts and stays up on the ancient supports, not bad after nearly 60 years.

The other is one of the first batch issues in 1956, a Commer Refrigerated van, although that's one big van. With lovely fresh transfers for Wall's Ice Cream on the sides and really clean cream paintwork and a darker blue cab, this is quite a good find. It is always satisfying to find some of these very early items in good condition and I am slowly filling the blanks.

The main item still outstanding is the ERF Moorhouses Jam lorry which looks similar to this one. There are a few around but it's a matter of finding a good one. There are also some Karrier Shops that have passed me by and I still can't get excited about. I sort of hope they'll just appear one day. The blue Karrier Bantam I shall have to get, and there's a Bedford Tipper truck that replaced the ERF shown here. They're very common but no doubt there'll be some variations to confuse me. I also see the Ford Thames Ice Cream trucks at very high prices so they'll be a while appearing here I fear.