Monday 30 April 2018

1974 Corgi Catalogue

Economies at Corgi must have spread to the budget for cover designers as the 1974 Corgi catalogue has the same image back and front! 

It's a JPS Lotus and racing cars certainly get well-featured again. However, returning for the first time since 1966, are military models with the very first two pages taking us right on to two shades of desert sand with the new Gift Set 10, the Mack cab pulling a familiar machinery carrier. Yes it is 1135 with a Phillips screw where the capstan, winch or spare tyres used to be. It's carrying a Centurion Tank which just fits. There are also tanks from America and Germany - all three made in Hong Kong. I may be wrong but I think these are the first Corgi models made abroad.

Next there is the new and enormous JPS Lotus in 1:18 scale. Clearly marked as 1:36 scale now are the other racing cars in an extended range, as are the pages of a few sports cars now available in that size.

On the 1:43 pages many of the previous years have now gone. In 1973 there were over 50 Whizzwheels motor car models. Now there are about 30. Some of the worst remain, such as the ridiculous Starfighter Dragster which was 'Available Later' and now is 169 Starfighter Jet Car with what looks like completely redesigned body and decals.

The one interesting new addition is the 400 VW Driving School Car. It is illustrated in 256 red-orange rather than the metallic blue is actually appeared in.

The Gift Set 19 Land Rover and trailer are now blue as issued.

Planes have doubled to cover eight pages now.

There are two absolutely awful new models on a page designated as 'Fast transport'. They are 700 Motorway service Ambulance and 701 Inter-City Mini-Bus. I think the fact these these dreadful things are quite easy to find at about £2 in good condition and £20 as new in a box sums up suitably what most people thought (and still think) of these models. I would have fired the bloke who came up with them in the first place! But it was the 1970s, I suppose, and Sweet and Slade led the fashion scene.

In complete contrast, 477 finally gets Whizzwheels in this catalogue but has a very ugly knob attached at the side in the model used for illustration which appears to ahve been borrowed from a crane.

An enormous Crane Fruehauf Discharge Dumper with a Berliet Cab unit is another new item. This does not look very nice at all and takes over the 1102 catalogue number. It looks as if it is in the scale I need to document, however, so I guess I shall have to get one. Corgi did a lot of models that might have been useful in the garden for youngsters in 1974. As well as that massive Dumper above which could take several sticks of rhubarb, there were now several Unimogs, a roller thing, a dumper truck and three cranes! (A Priestman Boom Crane, a Cub Shovel and a Priestman Crane Truck).

Down on the farm, Gift Set No. 4 is new. It is the one that has the two retarded village kids sitting on a pile of hay, on a trailer drawn by the new Massey Ferguson 50B tractor. The set is shown as including fences and animals. I am trying to get hold of one of these but they're expensive now and pretty darn scarce.

In the London Gift Set the taxi now has a distinctive purple tinge and the 204 Mini is metallic blue.

The Lions of Longleat are still going strong in 1974, although the Landrover shown is still an old one with shaped wheels. So too are the Batmobile and BatBoat and the 270 James Bond Aston Martin (still shown with tyre slashers).

After all the big launch of the Magic Roundabout sets over four pages in 1973, all we get in 1974 is Dougal's Car and Mr McHenry's Trike and Zebedee. In place of all the others there is a very cheap and nasty looking Dick Dastardly Racing Car and I am most definitely not going to try and get hold of one of those in a hurry!

Finally, Gift Set 7 gets revised with a Whizzwheels Land Rover at last and a new black 'rainbow' box.

Unless you were into racing cars, planes or gardening, there really was not much that Corgi had to offer to inspire collectors in 1974.

Saturday 28 April 2018

Corgi Catalogue 1973

I had stopped bothering about Corgi catalogues after the 1972 edition on the grounds that there wouldn't be anything in them that would interest me. I am not bothered about either the 1:36 scale stuff nor Corgi Juniors and the dragsters had little appeal.

Recently, however, I realised that there were several commercial vehicles issued which were essentially older models with some changes, usually a new cab pulling an existing trailer of some sort or the Ford H Series cab gets a new outing with many different things behind. Being 1:43 scale, or thereabouts, I decided that I ought to include these in my catalogue and get hold of some examples. In order to see just what was issued, or proposed to be issued, I have found catalogues now from 1973 through to 1980 and will, over the course of the next few weeks, add these to the web site.

So I can now continue that series of articles that I used to write, taking a stroll through each year's publications, starting with 1973 which is, in fact, still almost entirely 1:43. The illustrations are from a French edition but they are, apart from the text, identical to the UK edition.

You'll quickly see that 1973 was all about racing cars. The cover has an image from the racing track across the back and front pages. The cars are drawings and just recognisable as Corgi models. The next 8 pages are of racing or rally cars. The first pages have the new larger scale racing cars and then we have the Whizzwheel 1:43 models like the Datsun 240Z, Mustang Mach 1 and one of the revamped Mini Coopers.

Next come a couple of pages of the weird stuff. Earlier theUS Racing Buggy had started the catalogue and now we get an awful selection of drag racing vehicles, including the last gasp for both the original Mustang and the Ford Capri 3 litre. They're hardly recognisable now and it's a sad way to go.

Back to the Whizzwheels rally cars again and the other revamped Monte Carlo Mini, the Porsches and others, including the scarce 305 Mini Marcos in white.

Next we see some bugs and buggies on some sand that someone must have brought into the office. The Bertone Shake Buggy looks distinctly enormous in comparison to the GP buggies and is even quite a lot bigger than the other Bertone, the Runabout, featured.

Finally we get some good old fashioned British vehicles in the form of a Flying Club Land Rover and the Police Ford Cortina. The Land Rover and Trailer are shown in a dark metallic green rather than the blue in which they were issued. A few pages then of the Whizzwheels models - probably almost the whole range would now be listed and they're all in issued colours too.

After them we have a London Gift Set with an orange 204 Mini which was blue by the time the set gets issued. The bus is also shown with cast wheels and jewelled headlamps still. The Longleat Lions Land Rover is still going strong, (illustrated with shaped wheels!) and must be one of the more ancient models here.

Corgi also get into aircraft now and there is a four page insert with their 1300 range. Also as a late insert are four pages devoted to The Magic Roundabout. That's quite useful as I had always wondered just what was issued individually and what was in the sets.

Back to earth with a bump as the catalogue itself continues with a couple of new Mack Trucks. One is the Container Truck and the other is a crane affair which can grab the containers, assuming you still have the lifting strop the catalogue tells us is included with the Container Truck. That's something to look out for as it looks like something that'd soon get lost. These Macks were shown as 'available later' in the 1972 catalogue. There are more now, though, with others added. Looking quite odd now against a huge Mack truck is a 477 Land Rover Breakdown Truck, with cast wheels and a much more shiny roof lamp than the type issued.

The Mack cabs look very cheap and nasty, though. I have yet to obtain one for a closer look.

The Holmes Wrecker with the Ford H Series cab continues as do the huge fire devices and Unimogs of various types.

The Transporter pages are fascinating. Page 26 has a Gift Set 48 with five cars with cast wheels and the MGCGT. Page 27 has Gift Set 20 with six Whizzwheel versions! I can only assume they were getting rid of old stock with the first one. The funny thing is that there's the 258 Saint's car in one and the 201 version in the other! Both Transporter sets disappear in the 1974 catalogue, incidentally, but I'll save more details of that for another day. Gift Set 20 is, of course, famous for having, in late editions, a plain blue 305 Mini Marcos.

There are four pages of farming models next - all in 1:43 scale still and the Land Rover is shown in turquoise green and with shaped wheels but with a plastic tow bar. Now that's a rare version!

To close the 1973 catalogue we have Batman and the Batboat, the Saint's Volvo and a couple of James Bond cars; the 270 still showing tyre slashers and the rather dull in comparison Mustang, together with the strange Moon Buggy. Both Daktari Sets are still there, with shaped wheels still! They must have used very old illustrations for that page. Finally we see Noddy and Big Ears with the bear in the back and the dreadful Basil Brush wreck of a Renault which apparently came with some kind of sound box. I am so glad I do not have one. Oh, I almost forgot the Lunar Bug, stated in my English edition to be 'Limited Stocks Only'. That's really not something I would have expected them to have sold out of. I'd better get one quickly now.

The Tracks Sets shown in the 1972 catalogue have gone and there have now been no military items at all since 1966.

The whole catalogue will shortly be available on the web site at this link.

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Rover .0005

I had to look twice at this Rover 2000 when it arrived. It was ordered by my friend Andi in Germany and often he has to get models sent to me in cases where sellers in Britain don't like posting to foreigners. I don't mind as sometimes I get to see some interesting models and this is no exception. The interior is upside-down!

The base has not been removed; the original rivets being clearly present and undisturbed. So this was one of those bizarre things that just happened from time to time at the Corgi factory.

The person on the production line has taken a grey steering wheel and inserted it through the hole in the lemon interior from the wrong side. He or she has then pressed the unit in and the base has been attached and off the car has gone on its way to a Transporter Gift Set, this maroon edition usually being destined for the 1966 Gift Set 41 or 48. At first glance, you might think that this is a left hand drive edition but then the angle of the steering wheel and strange dashboard do look very wrong.

Clearly, quality control staff were not paying close attention that day! From the side, though, it isn't obvious.

I think this is the first example of an upside-down interior that I've seen. Andi has excellent observation skills but I have a feeling that this will come as quite a surprise!

Sunday 22 April 2018

Pasedena and the Magic Roundabout

For some reason I can't quite put into words, there is something right about the well-worn Wilford Magic Roundabout models finishing up in Pasedena sunshine. Their new owner seems delighted. What more can I say.

Few Ferrari differences; 314 revisited

While I was waiting for someone to reply from Ferrari regarding one of the other known copies of the gold-plated 314, and to answer a question a collector had asked, I took a closer look at the good old Ferrari Berlinetta 250 Le Mans.

This appeared in the local toy shop in early 1965 and you'll still see it in the 1972 catalogue where it shares the honour or being one of only two models with wire wheels, the other being the James Bond Aston Martin. It is also the only model from the 1965 release to survive that long other than some farm equipment. During all those years not a great deal changed. I had thought at first that nothing had changed but when I looked a little closer I noticed a couple of things.

First the decals appear to come in two flavours. One is the familiar aged, cream background type with a well-defined and fairly thin numeral. The other has a very white background of the sort that makes you think it is a reproduction but it isn't, and the numeral is slightly thicker. The yellow stripe is also a touch wider, I think. I haven't measured them so it may just be an illusion, one of my models not being that well blessed in that respect. 

The second difference is on the base where there are extensions at an angle at the rear of the two raised lines running front to back. One might think they were a sort of suggestion of exhaust pipes but the model had chrome pipes already sticking out the back and, of course, it is a rear engine anyway. The chrome pipes have mostly disappeared on my red models, by the way, and that's a common fault to look out for as they are quite vulnerable to snapping.

The gold-plated edition would appear to be the first type with no extensions to the lines on the base.

I cannot say for certain which edition came first but I would guess that the straight lines were on the first type and the extensions added at some point to make a second type. Whether the decal change occurred at the same time, I can't tell, but it is pretty unlikely.

What does surprise me is why this car didn't get cast, spoke effect wheels like just about everything else did, including buses and Land Rovers! These would have been regularly fitted to models from about 1967 and the Mustang, for example, gets them in place of the wire wheels. By 1972 I really would have expected a change. At least it didn't get Whizzwheels so I suppose we should be thankful for small mercies.

Illustrations from and

The model itself was not a brilliant miniature version of the real thing and rumour has it that Ferrari were not that impressed. Whether that is really the case or not I still can't be sure. Perhaps the gold edition I have is the one that Ferrari's boss got at the time but he sent it back (as suggested by another collector)!

The obvious difference would be the headlamps. Corgi's attempt to give the impression of the glass cover area simply didn't work and seems to lack a third dimension. (It would, incidentally, be three years before they got anywhere near getting that type of headlamp right with the Mini Marcos.)

Many real models also had a different exhaust arrangement at the back. The one I could find that was very similar to the model also had a quite different (and very smooth) treatment to the rear window area which would have been nice to see on the Corgi 314.

I am not sure where the blue windows and chrome interior come from but I suppose it did add a touch of the exotic to the toy for us children at the time. I just remember thinking how hot it must have been in there.

Anyway, check your 314s and you should find plenty of whichever edition you need easy to find. None are expensive, so many having been produced. Just watch out for those broken exhausts.

Thursday 12 April 2018

Black is black: the trouble with taxis

When 418, the good old London Taxi, first appeared in 1960 it was quite clearly black. And it stayed that way through the 1960s, despite being dropped from the catalogue and stocks lists sometime in 1964, continuing, with either Kato or Templar (or was it the Thunderbird chap?) driving, in the London Traffic Gift Set 35 for a while after.

In the early 1970s, however, the same casting gets Whizzwheels and most of these get a red interior in place of the lemon. Now, I had always thought these were mostly black. I had seen adverts for various shades of deep maroon but considered that they were the scarce colour, black remaining the dominant issue.

A little while ago I encountered one with blue tinted windows. That looked very black too, if it is, indeed, possible to add a comparative term to black. Shortly after I saw a distinctly washed-out maroon which was most odd and obviously an oddity, especially with the lemon interior. I got hold of the black one with blue tinted windows and knew the seller of the miserable maroon shade but the model was in a pretty poor state so I didn't bother buying it. Taxis were, and still are, generally cheap and plentiful and I reckoned something like that in decent condition would come along soon enough from someone who just looked up '418 taxis' and found them selling for only a few pounds.

I also started looking for this mysterious deep maroon colour. I found several quite quickly and bought one in almost perfect condition, in a box too for about £10. It might have had a purplish tinge in the photo, I can't remember now, but it just looked black on my desk. So I bought another advertised as dark maroon. That looked just the same and just as black to me. Third time lucky, I thought and I spent another tenner on a third 'deep maroon' edition. It still looked black so I gave up.

I had managed to get one with a red interior and one with a lemon interior along the way so that was something, and they'd not been expensive.

I didn't think a great deal more about these until a collector friend in Germany said he'd bought a 'very dark shade of maroon' taxi and, because the seller didn't post abroad, it was on its way to my village. It arrived today and I was intrigued to see just what this 'very dark maroon' might look like. It looked pretty darn black to me. So I got out the other models, lined them up and, for the first time, added the one with tinted windows that'd I stored somewhere else.

Now it became clear.

For all this time, the only one that had actually been black was the one, third from the left, with tinted windows. The others are all deep ruddy maroon! 

The shade becomes more obvious when you add a bit more light to the image using some software. My friend's acquisition is on the far right and, whilst slightly darker than the others, qualifies as dark maroon like the rest.

So, after all this time, it has been an example of a 418 with Whizzwheels in black that I have not got and now I need to find one with each of the red and lemon interiors. (I understand that there are also variations of grey or black steering wheels but I may skip that variety for now).

This has made me wonder whether I am going to find that most Whizzwheels 418s were, in fact, deep / dark maroon and not black at all.

Monday 2 April 2018

Corgi Toys @ 60: A Loader and a Ramp

Here's a model you could really play with. Fold down the massive rear ramp and attach the winch to stones or whatever was lying around the floor and attempt to wind it in. Slap up the ramp closed and set off. Unfortunately, there was nothing else available in the range with which to unload at your destination but if you'd chosen a car then it could be rolled or pushed off.

This would last through to 1963 when the Bedford TK style cab would replace it. The 1100 Bedford Carrimore Low Loader model did not have suspension and the only variations I am aware of are the yellow and red cab colours, mid or dark blue (both metallic) shades for the carrier section and late editions will have shaped wheels in place of the flat ones. QDT have an example with a red handle on the winch but I am not so sure that wasn't just a one-off oddity.

I wonder what colour cab it had. Either would seem appropriate. This is a new combination for me and I hope to have this particular one in a while. It looks like a late model

The other item released in April 1958 was the Corgi Service Ramp.

This is almost identical, apart from colour, to the Mettoys 'Castoys' service ramp produced in 1950 and is one of two models that were continued into the Corgi era. (The other was the Karrier Bantam truck). Now quite hard to find - indeed, I am looking for one myself at the time of writing - in fully functioning condition, this is a splendid piece of engineering that might have been a great addition to any garage display.

It even has holes so that you can fix it to a surface to prevent movement as you pull the lever to raise whatever you have driven on to the ramp.

To the best of my knowledge these Corgi ramps were always silver on a blue base.

Here is the best picture I can find of the original Mettoy product.