Thursday 2 December 2021

Catch-up with The Corgi Model Club?

I joined the Corgi model Club in its very first incarnation. I got the Ice Cream Van and seem to recall that I never actually paid for it! That 'Club' then ceased and restarted in 2021 with the same Ice Cream Van but in a slightly different box and a smaller certificate. So I have been lucky and get each new issue as they appear. That's helpful as I have many readers now who like to get as early a review as possible of each new issue.

Those who join later will usually start with whichever issue is then the first one, depending on stock. I think that means new starters now kick off with the Mini-Cooper but it may not be long before that becomes the Saint's Volvo.

I recently read on a couple of posts on Facebook Groups for Corgi Collectors pages how several collectors had wanted to 'catch up' with issues and, for the appropriate additional payment, the Club sent them whatever was required. So, for example, someone whose monthly service would have delivered a Land Rover Breakdown truck this week, they could get the Mustang, Ghia and Bentley sent in one go and then their next monthly delivery would be the very latest one, whatever that may be.

This seems an entirely sensible idea and my son (who lives at a separate address), who had joined somewhat later than me, liked the idea of catching up so that we would get the same models at about the same time. He duly called the Model Club but was told in no uncertain terms that this was not possible! I sent him copies of correspondence on the Group pages and suggested he try again, using email this time.

I am hoping that, this time, he succeeds. Another son also wants to start (and is not at the same address either) and I have suggested he asks the same question and hope that he is successful too. It would be so much nicer to compare notes at roughly the same time. I also recall reading something to this effect on the Corgi Model Club's own website although I have not been able to find it again. I may have imagined it but I shall have another look soon.

I cannot see any objection, other than some administrative inconvenience for the Corgi Model Club in supporting this 'catch-up' and it does mean they will have better cash flow with faster movement of more recent models too. I appreciate that there is not much anyone can do about models missed that were issued prior to joining which may now be out of stock. Those will have to be sought - most are available online with sellers who do not want to keep them or dealers who managed to get duplicates somehow and not all are at huge prices. Maybe the young lady who turned down my son's request thought that he wanted to go back in time rather than forward and that would make her refusal make more sense. 




Another Retro issue from Hornby / Corgi: the 417S Land Rover Breakdown Truck

Hornby Hobbies Ltd. are getting in on the retro issues act now and with this release they are getting rather more accurate. The rather strange '261' release of the James Bond Aston Martin with rotating number plates tended to confuse as much as delight. Here, though, we have a good copy in many respects. It is 59 years since this first appeared (with suspension and an interior) in December 1962.

The original shown here has the early type 1 jib whereas the new issue has the later type 2. It does, however, demonstrate how accurate the new issue appears to be.

The base, of course, gives the game away and anyone thinking that they might be able to get away with flogging this at a high price, pretending it to be an old original will have to think again. It is distinctly silver too, compared to the usual grey of models issued in the 1960s.

The tin canopy is very good and bears a nice, quite aged-looking transfer for the Breakdown Service text and logo. The search light, however, seems to be fixed and made of plastic whereas the original rotated and was metal. It may be that mine was very stiff and I didn't try too hard to move it but I got the impression that it was fixed.

Apart from the end of the winch gear axle looking different to the original - exactly the same end as appears on the Corgi Model Club's 417 model - it is not easy to see much that does not match nicely the original issue. The hook is a little different, with a different shape but that's about all I can detect on first look.

The packaging is very good, better than the Corgi Model Club's efforts so far in that it has a less shiny finish. There is an important piece of thick card that stiffens the whole thing and protects the outer box from the protrusion of the bumper and top of the jib at the rear. A piece of black polystyrene covers the search light. I am sure that this is the same block as the Corgi Model Club provide for the 417!

I had to smile at 'Join the Corgi Model Club' promotion on the flap!!

The 'bottom' panel has the usual text and 'Made in China' in pleasantly small text.

There have been several people worrying about how fraudulent traders may try to sell these off as originals but both the base and the box really should be enough to make it abundantly clear that this is not an original. I see no problem whatsoever and very much like the idea that collectors can buy a lovely model like this for a modest price. The Hornby / Corgi issue is also available for anyone to order and in a large a quantity as they please.


Friday 19 November 2021

Corgi Model Club: Bentley Continental 2021 Re-issue

This is another really good model which is bound to delight collectors old and new. The Bentley Continental has been reproduced in the pale and dark pea green flavour and looks superb. It come wrapped in a thin protective sheet in the reproduction box with a numbered square certificate.

The 1961 release came in a quite wide range of shades for the upper half, even cream and a rare white! This tends towards the deeper of the pale pea green shades but is certainly very close to one of many original colours.

I have to say that it is a pleasure to look at this and I ge very much the same enjoyment from holding this as I still do from originals.

This model has always been one of my favourites. As well as simply looking so good, all the chrome, the jewels not just at the front but for the rear lights too and accurate steering as the icing on this model cake set it far apart from what else was available at the time!

This 2021 edition has all the same features. The steering works just the same and appears to have been very accurately reproduced with the tiny springs and connector bar.

The boot opens and reveals the same chrome interior with a spare wheel too. In this image I have just noticed the indentations for dials on the dashboard - just like the original, although I have to admit I had not noticed them in the previous 60 years!

The base is very similar with just China replacing Gt. Britain in the text.

It was only by very close examination side by side with one of my own (somewhat worn) 1961 original that I noticed the wider and slightly different shape radiator grille. The registration plate section appears wider and a little deeper but that's just because mine has worn chrome. They seemed pretty much identical when I measured them.

The headlamps are significantly smaller. I think this is not just the jewels being smaller but maybe the hole in the casting is also smaller.

The wheels will appear different as they have bright axle ends and dark tyres whereas the 1961 models were issued with pale grey tyres. It is my belief that all were supposed to have been issued to dealers with grey tyres in 1961. Clearly there may have been mistakes or occasions when the grey tyres ran out and that may account for some reports of people having purchased models with black tyres. I think I prefer the darker tyre, though, and don't mind this one variation!

The box is familiar with the annoying cuts on the fold for the small flaps and its somewhat too shiny surface but it is otherwise a good job and I like the way the 'new stuff' is restricted to one side that can be kept out of sight in most displays! The only other change that has had to be made is the now familiar substitution of Designed for Made in Gt. Britain text in one panel. The quality and weight of card is excellent.

This is going to be a very popular item, I am sure. I do hope the Model Club chaps bring out the black over silver edition too one day!

Friday 12 November 2021

International Love & Peace

 With news of British troops being sent to the Polish border with Belarus today, the completion of the models shown here seems appropriate - especially as the artist comes from Ukraine, where Russia finds it necessary to insist that the accumulation of 45000 extra troops on that border does not mean it intends to invade.

This is a 434 Camper Van that had seen better days and now suits those of us who remember the 60s. (The red plastic interior has been misbehaving so some further work is necessary I now see!)

One of two similar models - and I need to make it quite clear that Corgi (as in Hornby) copied me, not the other way round! Their recent issues which look very similar are, however, much too 'precise' and 'well-painted' for the skills that even the most artistic girls and boys I knew could have managed with paint brushes and spray cans at the time!

Now here is the truck which is on its way to Eilum, near Kneitlingen in Germany where Herr Richter  may decide to send it further East and a little North where there is clearly an urgent need for both some love and peace. Or maybe Trump could make himself useful and knock up one of the walls there for Poland that he had planned for Mexico.

This is also one of two International Trucks of the 6x6 variety that are now in similar livery.

This earlier edition has a decorated canopy too and no sign of khaki on the wheels.

If anyone is interested in supporting a good cause (my rent, food, drink and funds to buy more old Corgis) then one of the Trucks (to be decided) and the two Camper vans will be available to buy shortly. Contact me to reserve one.

Tuesday 2 November 2021

Corgi Toys @ 60: Triumph Herald, gold plating and an ERF they'd forgotten about.


November 1961 saw lots of gold- (or silver-) plating going on to Corgi models. Well, I suppose it had been going on for some time but this was when we got to see the models if we were lucky. I say that because the Golden Guinea Gift Set 20, which I always thought should have been more aptly Gift Set 21, was produced in very small numbers. Corgi quote 23000 which is fewer than the almost impossible to find 351S RAF Land Rover!

Either they've made a mistake in the numbers or people are not very fond of them as I have found quite a good number for sale and usually at very reasonable prices. The coating can look unattractive if it has started to come off and there is often some corrosion or reaction going on on the mazak surface too but if you can find an edition of the Bentley, in particular, then this is a fine model indeed, worthy of a place in any collection - and possibly a profitable investment if the numbers do prove to be accurate!

The three models chosen for the Golden Guinea treatment are an odd selection. The Bentley seems a natural enough addition and really suits this treatment but the Ford and Chevrolet are strange partners. The Ford is more or less as the 234 model issued and gets a gold-plated base too into the bargain, a pleasure denied to the Bentley and Chevrolet. The Chevrolet, however, is the scarcer edition with a red interior.

I can only assume that each having an opening boot or engine compartment is the common feature that brought them together in some marketing person's mind. They are sold in a dark teal coloured flat window box which is very hard to find now and I have not yet found anyone who makes a passable reproduction.

They were not on sale for long and I believe most went to Marks & Spencer rather than the local toy store.

Launched in November 1961, and, again, not available in the local toy store, were five models comprising the Trophy Models range, produced for Marks & Spencer. The five were 150 Vanwall F1, 152 BRM F1, 300 Austin Healey, 301 Triumph TR2 and 302 MGA.

All five are really quite hard to find now and command high prices. They are the Corgi models simply gold or silver-plated with a new Trophy Model baseplate and each has the cast spoke-effect wheels that had been designed for the Aston Martin DB4 and appeared on later Vanwalls and BRMs but never the three sports cars.

For most of us collectors in November 1961, however, the excitement at the local store would be the arrival of a quite delightful Triumph Herald 1500 Coupé. The new feature on this model was the fully opening bonnet, something for which the real model was well-known and the little black piece of plastic to represent an oil filter (although in scale nearer the size of an air filter!)

This very attractive model has firm suspension that will have survived to this day, I'm sure, on your models, and the bonnet opened and closes very neatly.

The very earliest editions had quite strange-looking smooth little wheels but they were free spinning. This would be only the second model to have free-spinning wheels on first release and the first to have this size in that form. Most models that you'll encounter will have the shaped variety.

There are also two types of base and hinge for the bonnet.

Finally, November saw the arrival of 456 the ERF 44G Dropside Lorry. Some three years or so after the 457 Platform model, this seems something of an afterthought by Corgi and you almost wonder whether someone had forgotten to issue it in 1958. The same truck did actually appear in March 1960 with a trailer in a Gift Set and will pop up again in blue and white in another Gift Set next year. This is, however, its sole appearance in a 456 box. One of the last models to be issued with fixed smooth wheels on first issue in the box, this is quite scarce, most having the shaped variety. However, as it is impossible now to be sure whether the model your buying did actually come in the box as opposed to someone swapping it with an earlier Gift Set component, I am at a loss to know how anyone can really justify the high prices some attach to this smooth wheel version.

With the Bentley Continental and other cars with suspension and nice features now on the shelves, this must have looked rather sad with its empty interior and solid stance not to mention the very dated cab design.

The Great Book of Corgi (and some dealers who rely upon it) talks about a 56 model Plough being issued this month in 1961 too. It is described as the same as the earlier edition but with plated shears. That would be nice but I have never seen one and suspect that it may have been something Marcel may have thought about but, as far as I can tell, the shears stayed yellow and plastic on the 56 model and did not get any replacement with plated ones until December 1964 when the rather simpler type of Plough is issued as 61 in blue. If anyone knows otherwise, do get in touch.