Sunday 31 May 2020

Corgi Toys @ 60: 4 revised models and a Hovercraft

A New York Taxi Cab was the second Chevrolet Impala to appear, arriving in the local store in May 1960. Always bright yellow, of course, with the sign on the roof, charges on the door and an aerial. I am afraid that the aerial illustrated here is a poor replacement. Initial models will have had smooth wheels as in this example. Later ones get fixed. shaped wheels and then the last ones from 1963 get free spinning shaped wheels.

These two Bedford CA Vans may be the first to get the new casting with a single screen, ribbed roof and different grille (as well as many more minor changes). 412 is the update of the Daily Express van, now featuring the Evening Standard. This will usually be split 50-50 silver and black as in this example but there are also models with a black body and silver just on the roof. Although shaped wheel editions will be around, they are scarce, the vast majority having fixed smooth wheels.

The 423 Fire Service edition is in the same red as the 405M model and many people get these confused when they're selling them. The one illustrated is the scarce edition with fixed, shaped wheels but the first models released in 1960 will have had smooth wheels. The ladder was black and one unit, both sections solidly adjoined as in the Type I models, and the crude metal tabs on the roof to hold it remain unchanged.

Coming out alongside models with suspension and interiors, these looked very dated even then and sales were not great. Good examples are now sought after across the Bedford CA range.

Often missed by collectors, and another that may have appeared with these two, is the 412 Ambulance with the revised casting (but no model number change).

May 1960 saw another revision, this time the 210 Citroën DS19 getting suspension and an interior and becoming 210S. Always bright red, this was a popular model and stayed in production through to 1965 with a Monte Carlo edition in blue and white with jewelled foglamps and, finally, it seems that the Monte Carlo casting gets re-issued in red with Mazak filling the holes for the jewelled lights in a quite scarce late edition.

The casting does get cut down later for a Coupé edition and even more for a Whizzwheels Cycle Race Manager's vehicle and ends up as a car (a loose use of the word) for Dougal and some Magic Roundabout characters

Corgi didn't often make big mistakes but the position of the rear axle on the Citroën DS was one of their particularly annoying ones. Dinky and others got it right but Corgi's was nowhere near far enough back.

This might have been a good time to have fixed it but sadly that was not to be the case.

The only really 'new' item was the extraordinary addition of a Hovercraft to the Corgi catalogue. It's a smart-looking and nicely detailed model of something that was the talk of future transport across the Channel for many commentators. My mother bought me one but she was one of only a small number, sales being poor. It just didn't really fit in to most children's layouts or play scenes at the time. It had four ball bearings on springs underneath and these enabled it to be moved along with some attempt at realism but it would sink like a stone, of course, in water.

Despite the low numbers sold, they are not too difficult to find in good condition as they did tend to live their lives on shelves or in the box as opposed to being whizzed around the carpet.

The real thing only had seats for a couple of people.

Saturday 23 May 2020

Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman

So here is the finished product - and black certainly suits this model well. The steering wheel is in place and the wipers still work. I did have doubts about the switch as I could not see how it worked to disable to cogs from meshing. There is a metal cam on the switch spindle but it doesn't appear to do a great deal until the base is re-affixed. Then it works so I shall not bother about that too much!

Rather than attempt to paint the headlamps and small horizontal lines at the front, I simply scraped off the paint but I haven't yet completed that task and need to removed a bit more yet and then polish the mazak to make it brighter. The small horizontal bits of 'chrome' will be fine, however. I am also trying to think of what I might have that could be used as the missing emblem.

All in all I am pleased with this. The original model would probably not have found a buyer in years and even then only at £20 or so if I was lucky. This is definitely worth that to keep.

The Mercedes-Benz might have sat well next to the recently rebuilt Bentley but there is a scale problem. They'll need to stay apart, but maybe not the regulation 2 metres!

Friday 22 May 2020

The Avengers: Toy Trap

As well as being the title of a 1961 episode of the classic TV series, there are certainly traps that some people may lure you into in connection with these toys. The Gift Set 40 is a wonderful presentation of John Steed in a 3 Litre 1927 Bentley and Mrs Emma Peel standing next to a Lotus Elan S2.

Three black folded brollies complete the scene with which I am sure all collectors are very familiar.

Above are illustrated two sets which I can vouch for as being totally original and unchanged since they were first bought in 1966 when they were first sold. They came out a couple of years after the 9001/2 Bentleys and I have often wondered whether their conception had been at a committee meeting to decide what to do with what might have been a large stock of unsold classic Bentleys.

Having said that, the green Bentley issued was a distinctly different shade to that of the 9001 issue. Both the red and green also had a change of wheel, the red 9002 getting steel or slightly gold-tinted wheels and the green sporting extraordinary red wheels. Now, you might be tempted to assume that Corgi simply put the steel wheels from the 9001 on the red set Bentley and the red ones from the 9002 on the green one. The steel wheels were pretty ubiquitous, accepted, but the red ones are a different, brighter colour and that still doesn't account for the noticeably gold-tinted wheels. Furthermore, the 9002 model invariably seems to have a quite gold-coloured radiator surround and lights which does not seem to have made its way through to sets which I believe are all showing the silver colour, whether red or green Bentley body.

There is a third and very scarce Bentley.

This time it is green but with black mudguards and running board. I have only just acquired this one (and the box illustrated here is a reproduction that I have put the original models in) but I have been aware of its existence for many years.

original rivets intact

Side by side with a 9001 - interior identical

This is not, as many people will think, the 9004 World of Wooster edition. That has a dark grey, not black section that provides the running boards and mudguards. It is also a quite different shade of green and the most obvious difference if those are missed will be the fact that the 9004 has a red interior, not brown as all the Gift Set 40 models do. Amusingly, someone had moaned at the seller of this model and said that it was a 9004 and this had led the seller to include the other person's remarks! This seems to have put off other bidders and I was able to win this at quite a modest price, thanks to the person who likes to criticise listings.

It may have been the same person who wrote to me about a set I had for sale last week. It was clearly described as featuring an adapted green Bentley and not an original component but I guess he had just seen the pictures and fired off the missive telling me that the green Bentley could only have red wheels. I replied to the effect that, whilst the vast majority of Gift Set 40 green Bentleys will have had red wheels, I was selling a set that I knew Avengers fans liked and was not trying to pretend it was original. I also made the point that on a Friday afternoon shift we could never be sure, and Corgi production managers could never be sure, quite what may have been popped into the box! I am sure there will have been occasions when the supply of the 'correct' green / red or red/ gold Bentleys dried up some green/steel or even red/red that happened to be lying around may have been used to make up the numbers. Speaking to a lady who did work there in the 1960s and remembers some of the antics that they got up to and the lack of quality control some evenings, I am surprised these sets and others had such consistent contents as they did!

Incidentally, that set had been sold by the time I replied and the new owner has taken the trouble to say how delighted he is with it.

This latest set, however, will probably not find a buyer just yet as the Bentley has a chunk missing from the end of the offside front mudguard. I have a piece that can be used but need to figure out how to attach it as neatly as possible. I did want to bring this to the attention of collectors, though, so in the meantime, some black tape is holding it together! It will appear in my store but at a pretty silly price as I'd like to hang on to this one until another with an intact mudguard appears.

The rest of the car is excellent and unmarked. The rivet has not been tampered with and the rest is entirely as it should be. The Lotus is very good but has a few chips at one corner. I added HNK 999C registration plates to it. Steed and Mrs Peel are, of course, both original as I felt they should be to accompany such an unusual set.

As I write this it occurs to me that I mentioned an episode title from 1961. But a C registration Elan would have been from 1965. Mrs Peel did not appear until late 1965, when Diana Rigg entered our screens. That explains that. I have no idea what her predecessors drove. That's something else I shall research one day - and whether there are relevant Corgi models.

Thursday 21 May 2020

New arrivals in 2020 Pt 2

210S Citroen DS19

Another example of the rare Citroen with fog lamps has come along. It is not in the best of condition and it is beginning to look as though the fog lamps go hand-in-hand with free spinning wheels on this model.

227 Morris Mini-Minor

At first glance this looks like any other Morris Mini-Cooper but it is a scarce type which has a white bonnet and free-spinning wheels. Usually it is only the models with just a white roof only that have the free spinning wheels.

224 Bentley from Gift Set 20

A super example of the gold Bentley, issued in the Golden Guinea Set. As this set sold only about 30,000, the models in it are really much scarcer than many people seem to realise. That is not a great deal more than a 322 Rover International Rally edition, for example, regarded as one of the more expensive Corgis.

214M Ford Thunderbird

Issued in 1959 and withdrawn in 1960, this was the last but one model to have a friction motor and these are now hard to find in good condition. I am lucky that this one also has a smooth, working motor.

438 Land Rover from Gift Set 22

Most early 438 Land Rovers you'll encounter will be in deep green but the very first that were include in the Farming Gift set 22s were a much lighter shade, more of a mid-green. They did not have a canopy, nor were they ever issued in individual boxes to buy at your local store. So these are quite rare and worth a good price, especially when coupled with the all yellow 101 trailer. that too, was only available in that Gift Set. It did survive to get coupled to the deep green Land Rover too, however, so, whilst not at all easy to find is slightly less expensive.

Gift Set 18 Fordson Power Major and Plough

The first Fordson Power Major Tractor, model 55, coupled with the first edition plough, model 56 to make Gift Set 18. The plough would only fit this tractor, with each using a very accurate but awkward attachment method. This Fordson has the later red plastic wheels but early editions had pale orange metal wheels. I don't know which are the scarcer.

1111 Massey Ferguson Combine Harvester

The Massey Ferguson Combine Harvester was on my Christmas and Birthday Lists for many years but never arrived. It was quite expensive at 19/11d. (That's one penny, or about ½p less than £1) when first issued in 1959 with metal times like this one. This edition is unusual, however, in having orange wheels.

57 Massey Ferguson 65 Tractor with Fork

From the same collection as the Combine Harvester, I received this lovely Massey Ferguson 65 Tractor with a Fork attachment, also featuring unusual orange wheels. Both came from the States and I wonder whether the export models had different wheels.

218 Aston Martin DB4

Continuing my purchase these days only of the slightly uncommon models, here is what looks like a very ordinary, and not very good condition, 218 Aston Martin DB4. It has fixed shaped wheels, however, and they are looking to be quite rare on this model. It started with smooth wheels but also was fitted with a criss-cross type of cast wheel to look like spoked wheels and later editions got free-spinning wheels. Those with shaped wheels, however, like this one, are few and far between.

328 and 340 Monte Carlo Imps

One way to use up the stock of spare Hillman Imp castings was to make them Monte Carlo Rally editions and Corgi did this a couple of times. In 1966 there was the 328 Hillman Imp and a year later along comes the 340 Sunbeam Imp. The 328 gets a couple of jewels added but the 340 gets six, with two replacing the headlights. The interior is a distinctly different white too.

307 Jaguar E Type

I finally got a black hard top - and another E Type Jaguar to put it on! Love this model.

281 Rover 2000 TC
With a big chunk of paint missing from the front of the bonnet, this 281 Whizzwheels Rover 2000TC is not exactly mint but it dos have a complete chrome section front and rear. It is such a shame that this model had such poor paint, which comes off if you as much as blow on it, and very brittle plastic used for the revised front end. One of the rare ones, though, with only 48000 made. That's less than the yellow Fiat Ghia Jolly.

387 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Another model only around for a very short time and selling in small numbers was the Whizzwheels version of the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, two models now available in a strange pink colour. Note the different headlamp covers too. I need a supply of right hand targa tops! It is always the right one that goes missing!

300 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The rather better and gorgeous-looking 300 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, also only available for a short period before getting the Whizzwheels treatment.

387 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

A rare 'transition' model - the 387 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray with Whizzwheels but retaining the rear jewelled lights which were mere blobs of casting metal in the vast majrity of models. This one now gets its right-hand targa top which had been mssing for a year or two.

438 Land Rover with red seats

A nice example of the rare 438 in deep green and red interior.

Gift Set 41 Car Transporter with 6 cars

A complete Gift set 41 with all the right cars on the Transporter.

319 Lotus Elan S2 Hard Top

Here is something most unusual. The 319 Lotus Elan from the Lotus Racing Gift Set 37 but with spoked wheels! In fact, the chassis came from a 318 from the same set but that was in very poor condition so I switched it to this one. I presume this is something that someone has created at some time. Looks great and a lot nicer than either the small shaped wheels or cast wheels normally used.

322 Rover 2000 International Rally
These Rover 2000 International Rally models are expensive so I could only manage to get this quite worn example. It is all original and the screens are undamaged, though, which means it still will not be cheap.

Gift Set 2 with Land Rover with yellow interior

Lastly for now, a very rare Land Rover! It is the fawn edition from Gift Set 2 but with a yellow interior. I didn't even know that this existed until a collector friend in Germany told me about one he had found. I had to pay quite a bit to someone in America for this one, not because of its scarcity but because it was in America and, for some reason best known to Americans, they all want to use some Global Shipping Programme that is really profitable for whoever runs it and ruddy expensive for us who have to pay. It was also virtually unmarked, as was the matching Pony Trailer.

New arrivals in 2020 Pt 1

The 305 Whizzwheels version of the Mini Marcos is lacking a passenger seat but has more paint than any others I have seen for a long time! I have no idea when I'll find another seat, though. So I expect it will be around for a long time.

This Land Rover has been in a drawer for several years but I finally found a girl handing out leaflets at a reasonable price.

Another collection is completed with the arrival of this 214 Ford Thunderbird. It looks pretty normal but is the scarce version with smooth wheels but no 1959 on the rear plate. There are three versions of each of the 214 and 215 models: smooth 1959, smooth blank and fixed shaped blank.

Having sold the lovely dark grey E Type I had to get another one. These are one of my favourites. Although they were only issued with the plum red top, I do like the black version of the canopy that Mr Flowers sells.

This pretty well-weathered Austin Cambridge is the 201M edition and was advertised as 'white'. I had assumed it was cream or grey, colours I know about. It turns up, though, in a sort of green-grey-brown shade which is entirely different. I have no idea where this comes from and it may be a sample which found its way into the playground. All quite original so I'll see what others have to say about it.

As well as the dark grey E Type, I also sold the later Whizzwheels 374 version of the bigger 335 2+2 model in red. This is a replacement of the 4.2 version which was not around for long and of which most versions are yellow. It was superseded by the V12 5.3 model, also apparently entirely in yellow. 

On the subject of red and yellow I bought my umpteenth Renault Floride in the belief that it had closed vents only to discover that it hadn't when it arrived. Someone will have to put me out of my misery soon and find me one with closed vents as I am failing miserably to identify them from people's photos. This one is a bit messy but it does have a lemon plastic interior instead of the cream colour of all my other models in red.

A small dark blue-grey elephant has finally, after a long search, completed my Daktari Gift Set 14. A box would be nice but they're simply not to be found. This is an impressive set which is almost all original - just the lion's glasses are replacements. I have made this by extending the Gift Set 7 that I had in an original box and now realise that I need to replace the Land Rover with one with cast wheels which is what would have been fitted when this Gift Set 14 was issued. The Giraffe Transporter, Kew Fargo Truck are also unique to this set, along with the elephant. The elephant is by far the hardest to find, though!

The Jeep FC-150 was around for a long time in the Corgi catalogues, starting without suspension or interior and finishing up with both and cast wheels as well as a plastic canopy. This version with shaped wheels can be found with either lemon or red interior. I am not sure whether both can be found in cast wheel editions.

Another rare Land Rover here - a Pony Club Gift Set 15 model with Whizzwheels and a red interior. Similar to the deep green 438 edition, most were fitted with lemon interiors so these red versions are quite sought after. 

Another little model which looks pretty common but is actually quite scarce, this Austin Seven has what I term a Type 1c base - with a narrow front section to the base and the earlier text layout. With the fixed shaped wheels, this edition will have been likely only to have been produced for a short period in 1962.

I didn't notice at first and it was only when I was preparing to advertise this 203 Vauxhall Velox that I noticed the lack of silver paint. Anywhere. I am familiar with some models which did not get the two streaks on the bonnet but this is the first I have encountered with none at all!

With the Vauxhall came a nice little Hillman Husky 206M with a decent motor.

From the same collection as the Vauxhall and Hillman came these two fine 208M Jaguar 2.4s. Very minimal wear to either model and they are quite special with good motors too. Although not obvious from this view, the two cars are slightly different shades, one being noticeably richer and brighter than the other. 

I love this Buick Riviera in the pale blue finish. The colour does tend to show every little flaw to the paintwork so it is a true delight to find one like this which is near immaculate. I am very unlikely to part with this in a hurry. I can see that it is going to have its photo taken rather a lot.