Thursday 1 February 2018

Corgi Toys @ 60: The Americans Arrive!

February 1958 saw the arrival of the magnificently named Studebaker Golden Hawk on the Corgi shelves at our local toy shop. Compared to Morris Cowley or Hillman Husky that we may have been pushing around the layout, to be able to announce the name Studebaker Golden Hawk to your friends was a little special.

The chances of seeing one of these cars in the Hertfordshire lanes where I lived were next to zero. Even in the fairly wealthy city of St Albans where I went to school a Vauxhall Cresta was about as long a motor car as we might see.

This was Corgi's first American model. The 211 was available in a solid mid-blue shade with gold-painted fins and the 211M version was white, also with gold-painted fins. All the 211M models will have fixed smooth wheels and I think almost all the 211 models will have these too. In May 1960 the 211S was issued, with suspension, an interior and gold paintwork or silver plating and so it is very unlikely that any 211 models will have been around when the switch to shaped wheels was made.

I would imagine that, if any exist, they'll be expensive.

The 211M model only lasted until the following year as these 'mechanical' models were not selling well and were all withdrawn during 1959. Examples in good condition with nice running motors are now not at all easy to find, nor are they likely to be cheap.

The other issue this month was Corgi's second Gift Set. Appropriately named Gift Set 2, it contained a green version of the 406 Land Rover, now, for the first time, with a tan canopy made of tin. The Land Rover pulled a 102 Pony Trailer that had been issued the preceding month. This may have been red on a black chassis or cream on a red chassis. A pony with a blanket would be in the trailer. Although shown here with a brown blanket, I am fairly sure that the first ones had blue blankets, red and brown appearing somewhat later.

All the first editions would have had fixed smooth wheels and the trailers would have had the wire drawbar.

The illustration above shows a dark pony that is quite incorrect for the set!

Notice how this tray has holes for the pony's feet between the Land Rover and trailer. These are genuinely original but it seems that the tray was later revised without provision for the pony outside the trailer. Unfortunately this old box has seen better days but it is an intriguing item that I had not encountered before.

As readers may well have gathered, the topic of Corgi Pony (or Horse) Trailers is one which I have been surprised to find remarkably fascinating! And here is another chapter.