Monday 25 October 2021

The Re-issue Mustang: getting the numbers right!


The recently re-issued Ford Mustang from the Corgi Model Club people is a lovely model (even if it shouldn't really have that red sill line which didn't appear with the fat 8-spoke wheels!) There is, however, one other matter that I would like to see fixed in any future models released with racing number decals.

The numbers on this model are transfers rather than stickers. That, in itself, is not a big thing, although I would urge the Model Club to consider excluding them from the transfer design and, instead, putting a separate set in the box, as would have been the case in the 1960s. The real thing that annoys me a little is the typeface used for the digit in this case. It's just not right.

I must give a bit of publicity to Four Little Wheels, which is actually a nice chap called Noel Wilson in Milton Keynes. I have often used his services to get accurate transfers for models like the Monte Carlo issues and the Sun Rally Mini-Cooper and Rover, amongst others, as the usual suspects make no effort in this respect and the error stands out a mile.

Following my article on the re-issue of the Mustang, what should appear in the post but these lovely paper stickers with the much better numeral - six on a delightful brown waxed backing paper with 'instructions'! Lovely.

I am tempted to order a few sets and use one to cover the the transfers!

Thursday 21 October 2021

Corgi Model Club's Ghia 5000 Mangusta


This is a fine re-issue. A very attractive and, I think, faithful edition. Not having to hand an original, i am working from memory but I am sure this is an excellent copy in many respects.

One area that did not seem so good was the comparatively loose fit of the chassis. I recall having a much firmer fix for this with no movement at all once in place. This new one fits in very easily but has movement still. The suspension also seems lighter. Indeed, I don't recall the original having any (although it clearly must have had as it's written loud and clear on the box!)

It is the later edition with the 'T' logo in place of the 'Ghia' logo.

The aerial is in place!! So many of the originals have lost theirs that the price of a complete original is considerable now as it is so scarce. I do worry slightly that these new bodies might make it onto old chassis.

The wheels are very attractive and beautifully produced. (The red axle ends are a reflection.)

The chassis seems darker than I remember. It is the gold block rather than steel-coloured for the engine.

Extracting the chassis takes a while. The Chinese have a way with wire. I needed tweezers and do be careful as the looped section goes over the rear and through some delicate parts which could be damaged by too enthusiastic or desperate pulling.

The yellow plastic tray is very nicely copied and seems somewhat sturdier or more likely to survive use than the original!

A delight for many will be the copy of the ultra-scarce header card. I do hope this has some unique feature to distinguish it from the real ones. Never having seen, let alone have, this header card, I need to rely on the contribution of others in this respect.

Apart from the Chinese side (bottom) the box is superbly made and, to me, looks and feels exactly right.

On arrival, the cellophane panel is protected by a thin sheet of some plastic film.
It also comes with the square information card.

Definitely worth the modest outlay of about £24 in my opinion.

Tuesday 5 October 2021

The Corgi 261 'reproduction': Bond neither shaken nor stirred.

 Here is my first look at the '261' reproduction - the 'Hornby' Corgi release, available from the Corgi website, not the Corgi model Club edition. That is also expected soon but, as you will see, this is not really a '261' reproduction at all and so the anticipated confusion may be somewhat diminished!

The box is pleasantly similar and weighty in one's hand and it is a much more 'normal' box than the other Bond issues from Corgi that we have had of late with their curious hinging and sliding. It is pretty much the same size as the original and has a similar tray inside on which an attractive gold Aston Martin sits. To get inside, though, you need to take great care and you may well have to find some suitable implements to assist in what should be a perfectly simple task but which is not.

All the recent issues from the Corgi Model Club have had the same problem and it is repeated here - small slits at each end of the hinge which, whilst holding the end flap in very securely, are not at all easy to open without damage. You really do not want to be in a hurry to see what's inside and no way should you give this to your son or daughter to open without adult supervision. That rather spoils the idea that many dads may have had for kids' birthdays or Christmas but never mind.

Once you have opened an end you'll find a piece of cardboard as a spacer and then, finally, you can slide out the familiar-looking tray.

The car is certainly attractive and shines far more than any 261 I have ever encountered. The wheels will immediately strike you as different, being solid chromed affairs with a wire wheel pattern, very much like Corgi have used on other models.

The other obvious difference is the inclusion of rotating number plates back and front. Whilst I do like these, they were a feature of the later 270 issue and not the 261 so this really cannot be described as a 261 'reproduction' or 'reissue' at all. That leaves the ground nicely clear for the Corgi Model Club. I get the impression that Corgi have just taken an existing issue and, with a few adjustments, repackaged it.

The bullet shield at the rear refuses to stay closed on my model, but then that problem I have experienced with many of its predecessors! It is a thin piece of silver metal, again as on the more recent issues from Corgi.

The roof comes sealed with a thin piece of clear film which is almost impossible to show in a photograph. I have not removed mine yet so I cannot report on whether the roof will stay closed in line with the body or not! There is no baddie in the car on arrival. That's a good idea as often the chap falls in a rather embarrassing way onto JB's lap in transit and that can also cause trouble if the ejector button is pressed before putting him in a less compromising position. I always wrap the baddie separately when supplying models like this.

An arrow at the back directs us to the 'Secret Compartment' where the 'Secret Instructions' can be found. Once more, this needs to be approached with considerable care and dexterity and I can see that boxes and trays remaining in A+ condition will have a distinct premium in years to come!

If you do manage to open it then the familiar envelope can be pulled out. Inside this is a badge, the instruction sheet and the baddie. It would seem that you don't get a spare baddie with this one so clearly Corgi are not expecting us to play with this model a great deal.

Apart from the 'Chinese' side the box is decently made and doesn't have that annoying shine which many other recent boxes have displayed. The card is a good weight and colour and the colours and design generally pretty acceptable. There are many differences between this and the original packaging but this still looks the part. It does, as I have said above, leave the ground clear for the Model Club to do this properly.

So far, so good and it feels like a model I'm happy to own. There is a problem, though. Quite a big problem for me as I do like to take models out of their boxes and, if not play with them, at least photograph them in various places and scenes. I had expected the car simply to lift off the tray but, no, it doesn't lift off the tray. It is apparently tied in position.

I have done my best to illustrate this and you may be able to make out the ends of some Chinese plastic-coated wire inside the 'Secret Compartment' wrapped around a piece, or possibly two pieces, of corrugated cardboard and the axle front (and, I think, back too). Not only does this strike me as overkill in preventing movement, catering as it seems, for heavy seas and possible confrontation as the container ships pass Taiwan in a few months time, but it is simply not something I wish to attempt to undo. My fingers are not enormous but I would have difficulty getting one in there and certainly not two to do the twisting. I am wondering if, perhaps, I have missed something obvious and there is a way to access the twist. The card construction of the tray is partially coming apart and I can see that, if it were possible to unfold it completely then the underside of the tray would become easy to get at. I'm pretty sure, though, that this was not the intention. It seems that the car is first secured in position and then the tray card glued, making it difficult for us to extract the car later.

I guess I could do it with a bit of poking but it would be very difficult to re-attach the wires. As I would prefer to keep this as original as possible, I have no option but to buy another which I can be less concerned about keeping as pristine, package-wise. When that arrives I will post some better photos of the car in action. Until then, as I suspect will be the case for many of these, the car stays in the box, the baddie in the tray and the roof firmly closed.

Friday 1 October 2021

Corgi Toys @ 60: Ecurie Ecosse Racing Transporter and a revised Bluebird


October 1961 sees the arrival of an iconic Corgi model, the Ecurie Ecosse Racing Transporter. This was a lovely looking model and it had steering! Proper steering, not the silly Dinky sort. This is a model that I always wanted as a child but it was expensive at 17/6d and, to this day, I have never owned one. and they're still expensive today - I think I'll have to spend £200 to get a good one and, as you'll see there are several variations too!

It was first seen in late 1961 with a dark metallic blue finish and light blue lettering on the sides. The interior is known in tan, lemon and what appears to be a scarce red.

In 1962 sometime it gets yellow-orange lettering on the sides. There are also some editions that have the dark blue paintwork but the silver painting on the front does not include the top grille line. I have only seen lemon and tan interiors on this second edition. Maybe red exist, I don't know.

In late 1965 it gets a fresh coat of a paler metallic blue with red lettering on the side. The ramps or tracks on the top are also now picked out in silver and all these third types appear to have the reduced silver area at the front. These have been seen with all three interiors: lemon, tan and red.

The Great Book of Corgi indicates that this was withdrawn in 1965 but I think that will prove to be a mistake as this was still featured in the 1966 catalogue and I am inclined to think that date may refer to the first types and that this, in pale blue, continued for at least a couple of years afterwards.

At the same time, Gift Set 16 was issued. This included three racing cars, the recently modified Vanwall, BRM and Lotus Mk 11, 150S, 152S and 151A all, rather amusingly, with their drivers in place still!

In December 1964, the contents of the set were changed to include a 154 Ferrari F1 Racing Car in place of the Lotus. 

You may see all sorts of other combinations of racing cars offered by people with the Transporter in this set but these are really the only two known to be issued. So please try and tell those with the wrong combinations to get them right or buy them and correct them yourselves.

The Transporter is a fabulous model and there is even a little vice on the workbench inside the working area accessed via the sliding side door. The steering, however, is a little awkward, possibly because it is located so close to the front and it is not easy to press in the right way to get gentle turning as you can on the Bentley and Mercedes models. Nevertheless, I still want one.

Here's the real one. Note the much larger area that is occupied by the grille.

Also this month Corgi issued a revised edition of the Bluebird. They replaced the black plastic wheels of the 153 model with alloy wheels with a thin rubber tyre. This was now 153A.

Whilst the model looks better, the rubber tyres are impossible to change. So be very careful when buying this model!