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.

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