Sunday 29 November 2020

Mercedes 220SE Coupé

 The 230 model is one of my favourites. I just loved the steering. OK, so you had to press down on the 'wrong' side to turn, compared to how cars actually would lurch, but this ability to go around bends in your layout or on the carpet, coupled with free spinning wheels, made driving it a pleasure.

What I hadn't realised until a few minutes ago was that the 230 model comes with different window units. Some have lines for pillars at the side, others don't. It also seems that every black model has the lines but you'll find cream and cerise editions with either.

My first thought was that the unit with the lines would have been the first. I say that because I remember getting a black model and thought that must have been pretty early in its production because a couple of years later it had collected quite a few chips and I went back to the shop in St. Albans and bought another one, this time in red. The 253 was still not issued and, indeed, it was only when I started creating this catalogue 50 years later that I appreciated why there wasn't a blue 230!

When it does appear, all the 253s seem to have the uits with lines (although the piece of plastic is a different design, incorporating an extension at the back to control the boot opening). One would be tempted to infer, therefore that the first 230s would have had a clear unit and later ones the one with lines. That still leaves the problem of all the black ones appearing to have lines, though.

I am inclined to conclude, therefore, that, because the units were actually different, the usual thing about transition models does not apply and, in fact, the first 230s had a lined unit and the later ones a clear unit. This ties in with the black model having the lines as it was available at the outset for not for long afterwards, the cream and red being the predominant colours sold. All the 253 models have the different lined unit which just happens, when fitted to look the same as the early 230 one.

Clearly, further research is required into this. A preliminary look through the models offered by QDT over the years shows that almost all of them are clear and a correspondent, who brought this to my attention initially, states that all his 230 models were clear. These findings contradict my initial conclusion so I hope someone can assist in this matter!

In the meantime I shall revise the text on my catalogue page which made no mention of this at all.

I have often wondered why the 253 model was issued. Maybe Mercedes-Benz were unhappy about the straight edge of the boot panel and insisted upon the casting being revised and, to save a few pounds, Corgi dropped the steering in the rebuild.

Thursday 19 November 2020

Austin red, Morris blue.


My fellow collector, Andi from Kneitlingen in Germany, will shortly have an interesting pair of Corgi Minis. I was successful in acquiring for him a blue Austin Seven to sit next to his red Morris Mini-Minor.

These are quite delightful production errors, where it would appear that an Austin body gets included with the Morrises and gets sprayed blue and then attached to a Morris base and escapes the attention of the Quality Control chap. He also misses the occasional Morris body that gets a red coat of paint and then attached to an Austin base, an example of which my colleague discovered a while ago.

Bids for this particular model were sitting happily at £2.20 for most of its period on sale and I did wonder whether I might finish up getting the Bargain of The Year but in a frenzy of digits on screen at the very last few seconds it rose to £120. One other individual had spotted the Austin badge on the blue bonnet in the seller's photos but his efforts were in vain as my colleague's top price was just slightly above the other player's.

The Morris has a type 1c base - clearly narrower front section below the bumper - which is normally used with those models fitted with free spinning wheels but this one has fixed, shaped wheels. The Austin is an earlier edition with a type 1b base with the wider lower front bumper section, more normal with fixed wheels too.

I am sure these variations will be found amongst earlier and later models too, although I doubt we'll see a maroon Austin Seven.

I would love to find these for myself some day. In my own collection I have a primrose Austin on a Morris Mini-Minor base and two Morris Mini-Minors on Mini-Cooper bases but these don't look particularly different on display as the bodies are essentially the correct colour for the badge. That's what sets these two models apart and a quite valuable pair.

Thursday 12 November 2020

Monte Carlo Sunbeam Imp and NSU Sport Prinz, small variations.


Here I look at a couple of small cars that have variations you may not be aware of. Firstly this Sunbeam Imp arrived last week and it is remarkable in having suspension all round! Normally it is broken and I have to find some way to restore some stance to the car without spoiling it by taking off the base. That's not the interesting thing about this one, though. It's the wheel, they're the shaped type. These second issue Monte Carlo Rally Imps usually have cast wheels.

The other small car that arrived recently is the NSU Sport Prinz. This was not a car I knew anything about in 1963 when it was issued. In fact, it still isn't as they were not exactly something you would see on British roads. I had one, nevertheless, in my collection in those times but it seldom got played with and was one of the best looked-after models of all when I came to open up the old boxes a few years ago. 

It was a quite strange bright cerise colour, not dissimilar to the lovely Chevrolet Stingray which had come out a little earlier. Now I have one again in fairly reasonable condition. What i hadn't appreciated at teh time was that there was another colour available.

The other one was a dark metallic brick red, quite distinct and unlike any other model I know. It is definitely a less common colour and may have been missed by many collectors as it doesn't appear in many listings as a separate item to look out for.

Sunday 8 November 2020



A collector in France wrote to me today to enquire whether I had considered including better-looking characters with my Avengers Gift Sets!

I had to reply to say that I could not do a great deal about the originals. And the copies are almost always a lot worse. For Steed, of course, I am not aware of any copies at all. As I have written on several occasions, the suppliers seem to use the Jeeves character from the World of Wooster set and paint that grey instead of white. The face and clothes are nothing like Steed's. Some are really quite laughable. There is one seller who uses the most dreadful copies and Mrs Peel looks really quite scary and deformed!

The original above is one of the better ones of Mrs Peel but her face is still quite masculine and rather less than attractive.

Here is a copy, next to an original that I now wish I had made some effort to clean! The blank face and heavy brushwork on the hair don't do her any favours but, as you can see in the image below, she almost looks acceptable when turned to one side. I think this was more by luck than judgement, however, and I struck lucky with the lighting!

Looking at some more Steeds, I have found one that is not too bad at all. However, these are few and far between and you can see that a third example sitting next to hm has some very enthusiastic painting of what are neither sideburns nor hair that I recognise!

The correspondence does tie in with my having spotted some quite interesting characters for sale recently.

These come from Russia and the detailing is considerably better but some are still unattractive and, of course, nothing like Mrs Peel. I wonder, however, whether someone might be able to make a better job?

If anyone knows anyone who might be good at this, get in touch.

Ford Thunderbird Mechanical and a question of boxes


This is not something you'll see every day. A really well-preserved Ford Thunderbird in Mechanical form - and the friction motor works smoothly too. It came from an auction in the outskirts of Leicester, another surprise win from a casual bid and I suspect that it may have come from the same collector who provided the Riley Pathfinder and Studebaker that were featured in a recent article here.

It isn't perfect so was probably disregarded by those who seek only mint models in mint boxes but I am delighted to have this and think that the odd small chip isn't such a bad thing and does mean the model has seen the light of day in its 60 years of existence.

The box is a bit of a mess, with flaps at both ends missing but it is the correct box and that's not at all easy to find these days in any condition.

It was the box that first caught my eye, albeit for the wrong reason. I had initially thought that the 'normal' box would have been the old blue style and that this new type would be something of a rarity, especially as the model was really not around for long, barely a year before being discontinued. This model first appeared in March 1959 and I believe that this 214M and its sister the 214 model were two of the first to have only the new style yellow and blue boxes.

From what I can gather the new style of box must have been introduced in December 1958 or January 1959 because the Jaguar 2.4 Fire Chief's car, model 213, only seems to have a new style box and that was issued at the start of the year, making it the first model to have only the later box.

The previous model issued was the 152 BRM F1 Racing Car and that may have a blue box (or a yellow and blue one for later sales).

So I was not right about the box being particularly special but it is still good to have even part of one. Perhaps I should look out for the BRM in the old box, though, as that, and a few other later 1958 issues, may be a little scarce.

Saturday 7 November 2020

Big Daktari (and a small elephant)


It has taken a while but I finally have all the components for the second Daktari Gift Set. This is Gift Set 14, issued in May 1969 and including some unique items.

By 1969, the normal Land Rover and Dodge Kew Fargo trucks would have been fitted with cast wheels but it seems that these sets often had both with shaped wheels, as I have here. I don't know the distribution but I would expect these sets to have had predominantly cast wheel editions of these two. You could imagine that Corgi had several boxes full of the Land Rover left over from its outing in Gift Set 7 but that set too was available not only with cast wheels on the Land Rover but with Whizzwheels too! So, if you read the books, you'll be told that Gift Set 7 ceased production in 1969 which was when Gift Set 14 started to be issued. Logically, there really should not be any Daktari Land Rovers with Whizzwheels but, clearly, there are, and many of them too, judging by the low prices most sell at. I think, therefore, we can take it that Gift Set 7 remained in production well into the early 1970s and that, in turn, is much more likely to justify the sales of nearly 1 million, according to the same books.

In this set, however, it appears that Whizzwheels were not fitted to any of the models, despite the books telling us that it ran through to 1973. Sales of a mere 100,000 or so, however, may have been just the first few production runs of the models and there was never a need to replace them. It simply did not sell as well and is now extremely hard to find, especially if you seek a box. I have seen two boxes so far in my several years of looking and there are no reproductions being made either, presumably because they cannot get hold of an original to copy.

The Kew Fargo Truck never got Whizzwheels anyway, this being its final appearance in new colours and the Daktari decals being added as paper stickers. Most models suffer from the usual suspension problem, resulting from a bent prop shaft. If you search this blog for Kew Fargo Truck you will find my instructions on how this can be repaired without taking the base off or spoiling anything.

The Land Rover, as I have said, is identical to that issued with Gift Set 7.

The third model is the Bedford Giraffe Transport vehicle, being the same thing as the June 1964 Chipperfields edition getting a fresh lease of life here. It now has nice pale brown paintwork and the carrier section has a two-tone brown giraffe pattern, bearing the Wameru Sub-District decal in red. As with later editions of the Chipperfields version, this truck has the attractive and quite realistic cast wheels as fitted to some later commercial vehicles.

All the Gift Set 7 characters moved to Gift Set 14 with the Land Rover; that's Paula on the lion and the lion has a pair of spectacles, together with the doctor wearing a stethoscope and with a chimpanzee on his lap. These are all present and original here - the glasses and stethoscope are tiny, easily lost and quite hard to find as originals now. Replacements are good, though, and that's what you'll find most people have and it isn't easy to tell without a magnifying glass, although the reproduction spectacles rarely stay in place on the lion.

In the back of the Giraffe Transporter you'll find the same mother and baby as were in the Chipperfields box. 

The Kew Fargo truck carries two elephants. The big one is the same as you find in Gift Set 19, the Chipperfields set with a ready-made elephant in a ready-made cage on the back of a trailer towed by a Land Rover. (In the 607 kit both the cage and elephant are in separate parts and, when made, may appear slightly different). The baby elephant is the part you may well find the most difficult to track down. It is noticeably smaller than the other one and has a quite chunky appearance, with trunk hanging down and turning back at the end slightly. It is a dark grey colour. It is often missing and, I suppose, gets mixed up with whatever other animals the owner may have had at the time and, when it comes time to sell his collection the baby elephant will, more often than not, finish up in a bag with several other animals of no Corgi origin. Once the connection is lost it will not be regained and, as a consequence, I spent many months searching for one.

Strangely, both that came to light were found by my German friend and collector, Andi. I have yet to see one for sale in the UK. (Of course, having said that, there may now be a whole herd of them tramping through Great Britain if not the Channel Is!) Many people, unable to find the correct one, have substituted another, and I have even seen imposters in place of the comparatively easy to find mother elephant. The trunk and how it is shaped is the best thing to look out for in both cases.

As they stand, the group is probably worth around £200, which at a mere £60 or so for each of the principal elements + their content, is not very much when one considers just how difficult is is to get everything. Add a box, however, and the price sails up to £600, (a lot more at one of the auctions I've seen!) So I shall not be selling any of these just yet. Indeed, I fear it may be some years before a box comes along but they'll still represent an excellent return on investment, I'm sure.

Friday 6 November 2020

Silver James Bond Aston Martins. A simple repair.


I was fortunate to find two of the first 270 issue, with silver grille and bumpers, which have survived the years pretty well. They each have all the features working although the ejector seat on one has a mind of its own and sometimes stays put. They both have a small number of chips to the paintwork but do look very nice still in the photographs.

Both were missing the front bumper corners, which seems to be a common problem with these models. I bought what appear to be excellent metal replacement front sections which comprise the grille and the bumper sections and have managed to cut off the parts required and fix them in place without disturbing the base at all. So whilst they will not have the £100+ price that totally original models would make they would make a good space filler or display item at a much lower price.

They both suffer from the raised roof thing. This is a common fault and may explain why nearly all sellers advertise this model with the roof completely open! As you'll see from the small images below, that raised front edge really spoils the look of the car! 

However, add a small piece of Blu-tac, and the problem is solved! Well, for the photos, at least.

This model was first issued in a bubble type of box, similar to that used for the 335 Jaguar E Type but very few of them seem to have survived. So a first issue 270 in its original box is a valuable item indeed. It is pity but you do need to be careful. Because the car was produced in very large numbers there are even quite a few of this first type to be found but sellers put this in a very much later style of window box, the one used for the much later editions still numbered 270.

Those late boxes are not that expensive to find and good reproductions exist too. I recently sold a very nice example of the first 270, even the roof lay flat too, to a lady in Surrey who beat me down to a discounted £95 or thereabouts. A week or so later I see the same car advertised by the same lady for some ridiculous figure of more than double the price she paid and sitting in a late 1970s box. It was still unsold, thankfully, a little while before writing this and I do hope that she gets no takers but I fear that someone will get fooled. She gave the impression that she was buying for her collector husband but now I see that she was just a dealer I shall not be giving her any more discounts in future!

There was a window box which replaced the bubble type and which might possibly have contained the first model but this would be the narrow yellow type that was used for several models in 1969.

Here is a reminder of the five types of 270:

1 1968-69 wire wheels, silver grille and bumpers, round section near exhaust on base
2 1969-75 wire wheels, gold grille and bumpers, round section
3 1975-76 wire wheels, gold grille and bumpers, oval section
4 1977-77 Whizzwheels, grey base
5 1977-78 Whizzwheels, silver base

Beware of models fitted with 'red spot' Whizzwheels. These were not issued for sale in shops. They may have been production samples but it is far more likely that someone made them either at the time in the factory or, indeed, the most likely answer is that someone has changed the wheels since. Without some form of certification of provenance give these models a wide berth. If you really want to have one, ask me and I will make one one you for a lot less than the price demanded by sellers pretending they have something genuine.

Something else to watch out for is the model below. It is almost identical to a 270 but made in China in 1995 and is actually model number 96655, an Anniversary edition with exactly the same look as the 1968 model and all the same features. The base will give the game away, of course, but some sellers use very clever phrases in their descriptions and I have even seen this model being sold in a 270 box!

Whilst this is a copy, it can be quite expensive with mint examples in the box making £100 as it is is a splendid item to display and the issue was limited to 29,000.

I have two of these available at the moment in mint condition if any is interested. Nice Christmas presents?

There are also excellent copies of the 338 Toyota 2000GT model from the same era.

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Ghia varieties


A very nice example of the Ghia L6.4 in gold arrived this week. As well as having only the slightest marks on the paintwork, this one has good suspension all round. I shall not tempt providence, though, by racing it around the carpet. Not many of the older models have survived 57 years so well, the brittle plastic which provides the suspension being very prone to breaking.

Having to press down on the front to open the bonnet tends to ruin the chances of the front end staying up so that's often the first to go.

Incidentally, the piece of plastic that pushed up through the air filter to lift the bonnet and the piece that is visible when the boot is open are both cream, as the interior, on this model. Many metallic blue editions, and some gold ones, that I have seen have had red in those two places although still cream interiors.

A later edition lemon gold model sold for £176 on Ebay this week, a quite remarkable price, even with a box, as I had never regarded that later shade as being particularly scarce. My 'order of scarceness' and hence value would be:

1 Copper
2 Sage green
3 Gold
4 Metallic silver-blue
5 Metallic blue with cream interior
6 Lemon-gold
7 Metallic blue with red interior

There are many variations of 'blue' in 7 but I have yet to distinguish any obvious groups. There seems to be a possible group in a deep blue-turquoise shade and another in just plain deep blue but one tends to merge into the other and I can't draw a strong enough line between them yet and, in any event, all the 'blues' (as opposed to 'silver-blues') are still the most likely models that you'll find, vastly outnumbering the others.

And do remember what I said in the earlier article about the rear wheel tyres!

Another Ghia also arrived today as I was writing this. It is the Ghia Mangusta De Tomaso which, despite only being around for about a year in this form, also has three notable varieties. Early editions have a Ghia logo on the bonnet which was replaced by a T (De Tomaso) logo at some point. There are also two types of chassis. One has an all steel engine unit, the other has a gold unit. 

I have one with the T logo and an original intact aerial in a good original box which will be added to the shop and listings in a few days.

The similarly short-lived 203 model with Whizzwheels is also due in soon and that will be the first of those that I have had with an original intact aerial too! It also will have a good original box. Although quite a lot more scarce, the Whizzwheels edition has yet to match the prices people are prepare to pay for the 271 model with an aerial. Without an aerial both remain cheap - at least until someone comes up with a good replacement that can be fitted reasonably simply.

The other Ghia models are the little Fiat 600 Jolly in Ghia form which has light and dark shades of metallic blue as well as a mid blue non-metallic finish for the 240 model and just the one yellow for the 242 model. All of these are expensive now. Then finally there is the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia 1500, the first Ghia from Corgi, which you'll find in cream, red and gold. There are yellow and red interiors for the gold model and the red may have cream or yellow. Finding models in good condition that still have the little brown case and the spare wheel is not that easy and the gold models seem the scarcest. To date I have only had fairly well-worn examples of the gold Volkswagen.

I have yet to find a lighter blue metallic Fiat Ghia Jolly and I have to say that I am not a great fan of the 240 model with its ridiculous roof! So the idea of paying more than a few pounds for the missing model goes against the grain. 

So you'll see that you could have quite a task on your hands if you decided to get a complete 'Ghia collection' together - and it is something that I have not achieved yet myself!