Wednesday, 9 June 2021

New old Corgis: a Porsche Carrera 6 coming next

Here is the latest list of proposed issues from the Corgi Model 

Following The Saint's Volvo P1800 we have the Porsche Carrera 6 to look forward to later this month.
This would appear to be another really accurate reproduction and I am pleased to see that they have used the less common colour scheme with an amber engine cover. I see there is a driver too - there seem to be several originals where the driver has been omitted and I have yet to figure out just how scarce those editions are.

With this model collectors should receive a set of Garage Attendants, originally issued as 1505. These characters and the box look very accurate too. They were originally issued on white plastic sprues. i wonder whether that will be the case this time?

looking at the list, I am not too excited about the Lotus F1 Racing Car but the early edition 417 Land Rover will be interesting, as will be the Mustang, Ghia and Bentley! I understand that the Bentley will be in two-tone green as the original. I would have quite liked to have seen both this and the black over silver edition produced for this iconic and very major part of Corgi's history but one will be good to see.

The Mustang is the Competition model so will be in white with, presumably, the double red top stripes (and not the sill stripes!). Chalk blue or green interior? They also have a choice of three wheel types! I just hope the suspension lasts a bit longer than the original 325 model.

For the Ghia there is a choice of logos for the bonnet - DeTomaso or Ghia? An aerial that survives for more than a few weeks would be good too!

[Acknowledgements to the Corgi model Club for the images.]


Monday, 31 May 2021

Corgi Toys @ 60: Chevrolet Corvair

June 1961 saw the Chevrolet Corvair appear on the toy shop shelves. This was quite a strange-looking model and the smaller scale used seemed to make it look very modest in amongst both the other American cars that had preceded it and even some of the British models. As you'll see at the end, though, despite the smaller scale of 1:47, this was, indeed, a less grandly-sized car in reality.


The model is #229 and lasted several years, starting with fixed small-size smooth wheels and then getting fixed shaped wheels until late models can be found with free-spinning wheels. This is the first model, after the Minis to get the smaller size of wheel and I think this adds to its rather diminutive stature. Illustrated above is a version with red interior, comparatively scarce, most have the lemon variety.


There is a range of shades of blue for this model, from a pale blue through to quite a deep, bright blue so several to look out for, especially with the different interior and wheel types.



Although not listed in the features on the box, there is a Venetian blind in the rear window. This was the first time this feature appears and it will get used again in a month or two for the Fiat 2100.









Later in 1961 a Golden Guinea Gift Set 20 is issued in small numbers through Marks & Spencer. Three cars are included with a gold-plated finish and the Corvair is one of them. The sets sold poorly, only 30000 or so according to the Great book of Corgi which makes this quite a scarce edition. However, they don't seem yet to have acquired much by way of scarcity value, all editions of this model seeming to be quite modestly priced, apart from the free wheel edition which is particularly hard to find.




Below is an illustration of a real one, courtesy of classiccars.com. It looks quite small here too!




Saturday, 15 May 2021

The Corgi Model Club: The Saint's Volvo P1800

 


Here is the third in the Corgi Model Club's programme of releasing models from the 1956-70s era. It is a really very impressive reproduction, especially as I believe the had to start from scratch with no old casting moulds to help them.

Everything seems to be exactly as it should be. My only criticisms are that the jewelled lights don't look quite right. they may be glass but the lack of matching facet cutting makes them appear more plastic and, although it hardly a fault, the silver and red paintwork is just too perfect!

It is a simple model and comes with just a box, including a valuable piece of stiffening card - and that would have been a good idea across the board for the originals - and a certificate. With mine numbered 012190 I suspect there will be plenty of these being produced! The question now is how much will we see people selling them for on Ebay!?

I have to say that I think this is £20 very well spent.





Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Corgi Toys @ 60: Fordson Tractor and Plough

 May 1961 saw the arrival of the first Fordson tractor, the Power Major model. This was much more interesting than the Massey Ferguson. You could steer it with the steering wheel - a super feature that added a lot of play value - and a very realistic lift mechanism was included at the back.




This mechanism was quite complicated and attaching the other issue in this month, a plough, was not that simple. Once you had figured out how to do it, though, it worked a treat.


This first Fordson Tractor had headlamps mounted on the outside of the radiator grille and the steering was not particularly realistic, being a simple axle that rotated around a central point. Three years later the model would get much better parallel steering on a model with the headlamps mounted inside the grille and a slightly revised rear mechanism.

Early issues had red metal wheels but these were quite quickly replaced by an orange plastic wheel.

The plough was finished in red, more suitable to a Massey Ferguson brand, but the attachment would not work on the earlier tractor so it had to be used with the Fordson. It had four yellow plastic shears. Like the tractor, this would be replaced too, in this case by a blue, much simpler type, with silver shears in 1964.

No Farmer George was included with this edition.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

More new old Corgis

You may remember the issue of a reproduction 474 Ford Thames Ice Cream Van (the one with musical chimes) way back in January 2020. My article is here if you have forgotten.

The COVID-19 virus interrupted production in China and we had been hoping that what appeared to be a well-intentioned project would get going again. Earlier this year promotions started to appear once more in magazines and the original web site offered the Ice Cream Van once more. There would appear to have been very many more of these issued than first time round - tens of thousands rather than a mere 1000 or so, according to some estimates I have read. The firm managing the project do seem to have got things moving again. They have a strict 'one model per household' rule and so I was unable to get hold of another Ice Cream Van but other people are reporting that the model itself appears identical but with a different box and different paperwork coming with it. In particular, the Certificate now specifies a number and has a different design to the first issue.

Bearing in mind that no payment was required for the first model (if one ordered the next issue) and, even if someone did pay for it the price was a mere £1.99, I think we were all surprised to see these selling for £100 or more back in early 2020 but put it down to life in an Ebay world. I have to say now that £100 may have been a bargain if the buyer also received the bits and pieces as well, as there will not be many of those around.

Finally, rather later than some of my colleagues, I have received the second model in the series, the 339 BMC Mini-Cooper S 1967 Monte Carlo Winner. There were two versions, the early one had shaped wheels but this is the later issue with cast wheels.



That's the original. Below is the Chinese reproduction.

It's very good, with a very well-matched paint. I understand that the people doing this consulted Corgi for things like the colour reference to ensure that was right. (I am intrigued that there were records to consult and do wonder what else might be in the archives that Hornby acquired, but that's another story!)

The first thing that strikes me and one or two colleagues is the 'soft', almost plastic look to the jewelled lights. Whilst getting the headlamps white and fog lamps yellow as in the issued model, the inserts used seem a little cheap.

The RN177 decal is pleasantly 'yellowed' and not bright white as all the reproduction transfers seem to be but, unlike most of them, it does have the right font. The spacing and size of the digits isn't quite right but that is a minor criticism.


The most annoying fault for me is the rear number plate which has an odd spacing for the characters and looks significantly less deep than the original. The Rally stickers are also small, as you can see from comparison with the original below.







The roof rack is a splendid copy, as are the spare wheels and pins attaching them.


It's nice to see the base reproduced nicely, with the original style of text and layout retained but, of course, featuring Made in China now.


The box is very similar on four of its six sides. The original had different illustrations on opposite sides but this has the same scene printed twice. Otherwise only minor text differences are made and the obvious difference is the side that displays all the production and legal stuff. Luckily, that can sit at the bottom when the box is displayed in a cabinet.




The card itself is the right weight but the printing process used and/or card coating create a very shiny finish which is not particularly pleasant. I also found the changed design of the flaps on the ends very annoying, making them extremely difficult to open without causing a tear. Perhaps this prevents accidental opening and damage en route but I do think they should have taken a chance and left the flaps as they were. This is a most frustrating design and I now leave one flap permanently open to avoid more trouble.

Overall, this is an excellent reproduction and I admire the effort that seems to have been put in to this project and the prinicpals involved do seem to care about getting things right. I believe they have experience from Atlas and their excellent Dinky reproductions and the whole thing has a very similar feel to it, with the planned future issues, lots of goodies issued at the start and options to stop any time. I shall be continuing with this and wish them well.

Next, I believe, is The Saint's Volvo P1800. I hope they use better jewels this time but cannot imagine there is much else to go wrong there.



The Land Rovers and Rice Pony Trailers in Gift Set 2

I was asked this week to list the various changes in content for Gift Set 2, the long-running Land Rover and Pony Trailer combination that was first issued in February 1958 and continued until December 1968 when Gift set 15 replaced it with the blue and white 'Pony Club' combination.

As this may be of interest to a wider audience I thought it would be a good idea to set out the variations here (where experts can also correct me if necessary!)

DateLand RoverPony Trailer
colourwheelscolourdrawbarhandlewheels
Feb 1958406 type green with tan coversmooth fixedcream with redwirenosmooth fixed
1958smooth fixedred with blackwirenosmooth fixed
1959smooth fixedcream with redwireyessmooth fixed
1959smooth fixedred with blackwireyessmooth fixed
1960smooth fixedred with blackwireyesshaped fixed
1961shaped fixedred with blackwireyessmooth fixed
1961shaped fixedred with blackwireyesshaped fixed
1962438 type deep green with cream plastic covershaped freered with blackwireyessmooth fixed
1962shaped freered with blackwireyesshaped fixed
1962shaped freered with blacksolidyesshaped fixed
Dec 62438 type fawn with cream plastic covershaped freefawn and cream roof, silver mudguardssolidyesshaped fixed
1963shaped freefawn and cream roof, silver mudguardssolidyesshaped free

I am not sure about the intermediate dates. Whilst the fixed shaped wheels only started to appear in 1960-61 it seems that Land Rovers with smooth were in the box with Pony Trailers with fixed and vice versa! I have seen genuine example of both, in Gift sets I know were not changed after purchase. There is a lack of logic there but that's 'Corgi life', I guess!
The fixed drawbar is quite unusual to find on the red Trailer and, as I have only ever found this on a model with shaped wheels, I have to assume that it would have been introduced in 1962 shortly before the fawn model came to the shops at the end of that year.

Just to confuse us, however, there are examples of the red Trailer with fixed shaped wheels and a wire drawbar!

The red Trailers appear to have stopped being produced pretty much when the fawn colour came in and I have never seen one with free wheels which I am assuming came in 1963 or maybe the following year.

The very first ponies appear to have had a brown blanket but blue must have been available pretty soon after launch if not, indeed, from the outset so I would be inclined to regard either as acceptable content throughout. Any other colour, though, will be found to be one of the very good replacements readily available.






The Land Rovers with seat variations are particularly scarce and, whilst they may have turned up in a Gift Set, it is difficult to be sure as the items can so easily be swapped around now. I am inclined, therefore, to exclude them from the list of GS2 variations.

Much of this article has had to be inspired guesswork in the absence of much by way of documentation! So I welcome corrections from anyone with a better background knowledge but hope that, in the meantime, it is of some assistance to collectors.









Thursday, 1 April 2021

Corgi Toys @ 60: The Beautiful Bentley Continental Sports Saloon

 


The 1961 Corgi Catalogue features the Bentley Continental and amongst the extras this model is described as having special hubs. This would be the first release with free-spinning wheels fitted from launch. Every other model at the time had fixed wheels and, whilst some may get the free-spinning ones later, the next one with them at the start would not be until November, on the Triumph Herald in small size, or nearly a year later when the E Type Jaguar is issued.

This Bentley is a simply superb model in every respect. So many new features - the chrome, the rear jewels and the super steering! We will all remember the rather annoying way Dinky models steered with one wheel moving forward and another back in a most unrealistic way. Corgi got this absolutely right with a lovely mechanism which even included coil springs.

I could play with this model all day long, turning corners on my layout and gazing at the light reflecting from those huge yellow headlamps and chrome fittings. I was never particularly fond of the light grey tyres and, whilst the two tone green version had some class, the black over silver edition was the one you thought you might see one day in town.






There are shades of the top colour and this can vary between pale apple green to a distinct white colour. The latter is quite rare.




I am not aware of any other variations and the black over silver models all look the same to me (so far!)





Later in 1961 a gold-plated edition is issued in Gift Set 20, the Golden Guinea Set. I will write about this when it's time comes.










Monday, 1 March 2021

Corgi Toys @ 60 : More S Models and a little Coach

 

303S Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster Open Top

The second edition of the open top car, now with suspension and a driver from March 1961.

This is available in five colour combinations:

  • blue with the 303 white interior

  • blue with new yellow interior

  • white with new yellow or brown interior

  • silver-plated with brown interior

  • silver-gold finish with brown interior

These had free-spinning smooth or shaped wheels. Later editions had cast wheels. A very scarce edition was produced with wire wheels.

A driver was added but early models did not have one.


Above is a very scarce early edition with free spinning smooth wheels

Then it gets shaped wheels but still no driver with the old 303 interior cars.

Now a driver, yellow interior and a stripe are added to light blue and, white editions.

There is also a silver issue with shaped wheels and a brown interior, not illustrated here. Later cast wheels appear on the silver editions and very rare editions with wire wheels and a golden-silver shade of plating are also issued. More about those in a few years' time!





304S Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster Hard Top

Available in March 1961 with suspension.

This was available with a silver-plated body and red top or a more scarce white body with red top. Each would have stripes added to the bonnet and boot and can be found with free-spinning smooth and shaped or cast wheels. There was also a very scarce edition with wire wheels.

A distinctly gold-coloured plating is also known.




Jaguar 2.4 Fire Chief's car

This is the previous model with suspension and an interior added. No variations known other than that this can have smooth or shaped wheels, but always fixed. The last outing for this Jaguar, and the last survivor of the 1956 issue castings.


1120 Midlands Express Motorway Coach

A lovely looking model and quite different to anything else Corgi had issued or, indeed, would issue for many years to come. In an unspecified scale, it seems a little too small when parked next to the saloon cars but a most impressive model on its own.

You'll find this with fixed smooth or shaped wheels.