Friday 26 May 2017

Plymouth Sports Suburban Mystery

Here's another interesting item. The Plymouth Sports Suburban is a splendid model and at first glance you'd think the three above were all 219s, the first type from July 1959.

Take a look from the side, though and there you'll see that it has free-spinning wheels and, although not something you'll be able to tell from the picture, it also has suspension.

I was immediately intrigued and I am trying to decide whether this is, indeed a scarce cream and brown 445 that was introduced in 1963 using the same body or something someone has created. You may have already spotted that there is some very fine detailing on the rear lights and that's where my suspicions were first aroused, especially, with the highlighting of the inner lights which Corgi simply didn't bother with at all. But then I looked at the silver work and that is so very much like the original.

The shade had me wondering too. It is different to the two 'cream' 219 models that I have although I have to say that the roof colour is almost exactly the same and that doesn't look the sort of colour that would be readily available or easy to copy.

Of course, we all look underneath for clues and, more often than not, that will be the end of the matter. In this case, though, I am still not sure. The whole car is very clean and fresh-looking so a clean base and slightly cleaner rivets are not to be unexpected. The paint on the inside of the body is the same as on the outside so it is definitely not a simple matter of someone carefully over-painting a blue and red 445.

I cannot decide about the rivets. It is, I suppose, possible that someone has removed the base and rebuilt the car. They would have needed a blue and red original 445, presumably, and the red interior of an old 219, then removed all the paint from the 445 and started afresh with the new colours. That's one option but the refitting of the rivets has been done extremely well if that was the case.

The base colours are quite different but then I have two quite distinct original 219s - one has a grey base and the other a pale cream base. So to have a grey base and pale blue for the different 445s isn't as crazy as it might have sounded at first.

The only other sign of someone making this is some flaws in the finish on the rear panel. Having said that, original Corgis often have flaws and casting bits that disturb the surface too. So even that isn't going to convince me in one direction or the other.

Perhaps the one thing that heads me in the direction of something that has been made is the silver paint work on the bumpers being underneath as well. On the other models I have seen the underside of the bumpers is still in the body colour.

I had wondered whether someone might have taken a 219 body and applied it to a 445 base. That is possible too, although the shade of the cream is different to the two I have. They're not exactly the same, though, so, again, I am not sure! That would explain the excellent finish and matching roof colour.

It is, indeed, quite a difficult one to decide. If the rivets prove to be genuine originals and the base has not been removed then this is a scarce variation of the 445. I can well imagine these existing as there may have been cream and brown bodies lying around when the change from 219 to 445 bases was made. I am pretty sure that we'll find that the bases are easily interchangeable.

If it has been 'created' then someone has done an excellent job, although, as talented as their detailing work may be, I wish they hadn't bothered. If those lights hadn't been added on the back I may never have had given this a second thought and simply celebrated getting another rare model. As a consequence, I shall probably never be able to sell this as I neither can guarantee that it is original nor do I wish to risk selling it cheaply as a rebuild either! However, I am always happy to have the Plymouth around so all's well with the world if not my brain.

The Jaguar Box and a Black Cab Wheel

A colleague of mine has recently started collecting Corgi Toys and finds what are usually very familiar models to add to his shelves each month. On my visit to St. Albans yesterday, however, he had a couple of quite interesting items. First is this box which came with a nice and unmarked Jaguar E Type. I have seen one or two plain boxes, with no model image, but the number is either printed in the blank area at the end or, in one case I've seen, written in. The use of a label like this is new to me and I would be glad to hear from anyone who might have more information.

Perhaps this label was, indeed, an alternative to the printed number - this being simpler to produce, of course. It may also have been produced by the shop, which would explain why I might not have seen any anywhere before.

The normal 307 box was, I thought, a little bigger, allowing space for the chunky circular cardboard that protected the delicate plastic hood.

The box itself looks original and has the sort of ageing I'd expect although it seems a little more brown than the grey I am more used to seeing. It may be simply the case that the grey card was used for the illustrated boxes and the browner shade for the temporary ones.

The second surprise was this 418 Austin Taxi. It is the pretty common Whizzwheels version and he has found himself an example in excellent condition too. The steering wheel, however, is black whereas all the models I have had have been grey. I doubt that the black steering wheel is any less common than the grey one and guess that it may just be a later replacement in the life of this very long-running model. I should have known about such things but, clearly, I am still learning!

Tuesday 23 May 2017

Deep Purple In Stock

After a long time searching, I've finally found a purple Toyota 2000GT #375 at a reasonable price. These are quite scarce and even the more easily found blue version isn't that common. Apart from the annoying wheels, these are very good-looking models and the paintwork glorious in these totally unrealistic but still delightful bright, mirror finishes.

This was only produced for a couple of years, the cast being initially made for the James Bond #336 model. In fact, it carried on being used for this for many years afterwards with lots of re-issues during the China days.

The purple and blue editions, though, are worth getting - nice, simple models with the pretty jewelled lights, unusually retained at the back too! Normally the addition of Whizzwheels meant that things like jewels were replaced with paint or blobs of plastic or just ignored completely.

Even something similar to the James Bond flag is retained, albeit now as a bizarre red aerial! They made a nice cream interior for the #375 model and, of course, you don't need to worry about the boot not closing.

When putting my catalogue together, I hadn't needed a 'Japanese' section because there was only the one model issued during the pre-Whizzwheels era and that was the James Bond version so I could list that under the Film & TV heading. There simply were not many Japanese cars on the road in the 1960s.

You might have seen an early Corolla in the later part of the decade but it was really the 1970s before you'd see more than one or two, when the Datsuns started to sell here. So for the Whizzwheels part I did need a Japanese section, not just for the Toyota but also for the lovely Datsun 240Z models.

As far as I can tell, there was never a Toyota 2000GT produced in convertible mode. They were manufactured as a sloping back model, similar in side view to the later Jaguar E Types. This one was produced for the film, though, and I expect one or two others were created by specialist collectors too.

Wednesday 17 May 2017

There were no rhinos in Australia

Mrs Peel is delivering this Lotus Elan S2 to the white cottage you can just about see in the distance. However, Google StreetView stops here so maybe she's waiting for Steed to help her find her way across this huge and lovely looking estate near Alloway in Ayrshire.

This orange VW 1200 certainly brightens up the neighbourhood in this street in Dublin where it landed this week.

A collector in the totally unpronounceable Llwyngwril in Wales tells me he is really pleased with the International Rally edition of the Rover 2000 I made, seen here with the correct red interior. Looks like some colourful birds have come out to check it over too. 

James Bond appears to firing at some poor kid in Sun Street, Stoke where Akiko Wakabayashi has parked his old Toyota 2000GT, which they sold to someone there. That'll annoy the neighbours and let's hope no-one steals the gold bumper.

Meanwhile, Cityview, Victoria may now have the only rhino in Australia as the Chipperfields Circus Crane and Rhino Cage set complete their journey across the planet, protected en route by a nice, almost as new, box too.

Tuesday 16 May 2017

Shades of blue Riley Pathfinder

This delightful Riley pathfinder arrived today. These 205M models are definitely one of my favourites. The motor works well on this one too. Not bad after 60 years. The windows need cleaning and when I can find something that will go through the gap in the wheel arches to do the job then they'll look a whole lot better.

The colour is quite a bit brighter and the paint shinier than the others I have. It's the one on the right in the next picture.

The difference isn't obvious in these pictures but is quite noticeable in normal light. I have read of a different shade but I remember that being said to be dull and not shiny like this one. This is certainly not dull so I don't think it can be that one, whatever it was. Now I try to search for whatever article it may have appeared in and can't find anything! If anyone knows more about the 'other' blue then do please get in touch.

My collector friend in Eilum, Germany may want this as he has been looking for a good one for a while but if he chooses another then I'll advertise this one in a few weeks' time. Once I've cleaned the windows!

Friday 12 May 2017

Nice logos, shame about the typeface.

The 339 Austin with cast wheels, now with a full set of transfers. All credit to Noel Wilson and Four Little Wheels for producing these and doing so in the correct font for the RN177. The others that come up when you first look, such as those Mr Flowers sells, are quite wrong and, whilst I have no objection to anyone trying to make old cars look good again with them, it is so much more satisfying when they make an effort to use the right elements.

So, yes, it is very white and new looking but a very nice copy of the original as you can see below on a 339 Morris.

Mr Wilson is also responsible for the excellent transfers I used on the Rover 2000 Sun International Rally edition you'll see in a recent post. In fact, I am not sure I know anyone else who does these. Plenty of 333 Mini ones around but no others for the Rover. He doesn't necessarily appear in search results but I do thoroughly recommend you get in touch if you need anything like this. Check out the Facebook page.

Now, where am I going to find a 339 Morris with normal wheels?

Steed and Jeeves stop for some repairs and three Emmas go shopping.

I seem to have accumulated a number of Steeds and Emma Peels, as well as a few other Corgi characters. These two Bentleys have recently arrived, both with wonderful paintwork but each requiring attention. The steering wheel has come off the 9004 and, oddly, the Steed's Bentley off-side front wheel was the type without a brake drum that would usually go on the side. That one also had a broken screen.

I've fixed Jeeves back with his steering wheel. The Bentley is virtually unmarked but Bertie Wooster has hoofed it off somewhere so I'll have to sell this with just Jeeves. I'm waiting for a screen for Steed's Bentley which is otherwise immaculate with not even the usual chips on the rails. There are some very nice Lotus Elans in stock, original Mrs Peels and even a set of umbrellas so I've ordered a box and will have a very nice Avengers Gift Set 40 to offer in a week or so.

Thursday 11 May 2017

Corgi Toys @ 60: MGA

May 1957 saw the addition of a third sports car to the range. Another British classic too, and something that you would see on Hertfordshire roads if you were lucky; the lovely MGA.

Just two colours: red and a metallic green, each suiting the car very well. 

Both colours seem to be equally available amongst models for sale now. It was a popular model and lots were produced and sold so it need not be too expensive. Versions with shaped wheels are quite scarce and worth finding.

The screens seldom survive but replacements are easy to obtain and fit simply into a slot in front of the dashboard. I must make a version with spoked wire wheels one day. That would look nice.

Monday 8 May 2017

Making a Rover 2000 International Rally Edition

One of my favourite Corgi models is the 322 Rover 2000 Monte Carlo rally edition. That's the maroon and white edition but in early 1967 the same catalogue number was represented by a quite different model. This was the International Sun Rally edition and was white with a black bonnet. These are extremely hard to find now and when they do appear they're usually at prices only rich people in Dortmund can afford.

Another collector friend said he was going to try and make one and so I thought I'd have a go too.

The base model was a 252 Rover 2000. I needed one at a really cheap price but it had to have an intact rear screen. That wasn't as easy to find as I'd expected and the best that came along was a maroon model with some pretty bad paintwork. Consequently, my creation has a cream interior and, of course, it should be red! I'm looking for a blue 252 wreck that I can steal the interior from and will then update this. I thought at the time that the trans-o-lite system was an integral part of the rear screen but now see that it just slots in to it. So I could, after all, use a replacement screen unit. That will make life easier next time as I can then use a cheap 252 or even a 322 with a broken rear screen that no-on else will want.

The 252 has three features that need changing (as well as the interior!); the wheels, fog lamps and front bumper. I can't do much about the front bumper - the 322 has what looks like an air intake below the bumper and no over-riders. the only base model with that would be an actual 322 International Rally model! The wheels and lights, however, looked feasible.

Changing the wheels wasn't too difficult. I had some spare cast wheels on a Rambler Marlin that is waiting for some repairs. To fit them on the Rover, however, I filed off one end of the axle, slipped off one wheel and then slid the axle through beneath the suspension wires. The wheel then could be put back on and, if I were an expert, I would have burred the edge of the axle properly. My friend had tried to lift the suspension wires to insert the axle without removing the wheels but the wires had become bent too much and he lost the suspension on his. Reversing the wheels also gave me some rather cleaner wheel designs than I'd had before. they're not shiny and silver like new ones but better than they were.

The fog lamps are a couple of jewels inserted either side of the Rover badge. I drilled a couple of holes and almost got them in the right position. The holes were slightly too narrow to take the jewel holders and, looking at how close the edges were to the existing headlamp holes, I decided not even try making them any bigger! Instead I dropped the jewels directly into the holes and they look pretty and pretty reasonable. In fact, I'm not sure how else I could have done the fog lamps without using a smaller jewel which wouldn't be right either. Using a 322 as a base would be a big advantage there!

My masking for the black bonnet area wasn't quite perfect but then I've looked at pictures of the real model and most of those have either the same surplus black or missed areas as mine! So that's OK, then.

The transfers came from a supplier in Milton Keynes, I think. They are excellent and just the right size, colour and material.

So, I've spent about £7 on paint, £2 on transfers, 60p on jewels and £10 on contributing models and I have to say I'm pleased with the result so far. It's not exactly right, I know, but a pleasure to have around until an affordable original can be found. Which may be some time!

And here's the real 322 model.