Thursday 31 March 2022
Thursday 17 March 2022
Tuesday 8 March 2022
It was nearly 8 years ago when I last looked at this catalogue. As a very nice example has just arrived I thought I would review it again.
Friday 4 March 2022
Just over 8 years ago I had this idea of building a catalogue of all the Corgi Toys from the 1956-70s era. You can still read my first 'News' article from the index to this site and, indeed, I see that there are links to the very first website that I created all those years ago. There is something quite charming about it all, the huge illustrations and the often amusing text in some of the descriptions. The photos are of the very first models I acquired and practically all have now moved on to other homes, replaced by others in slightly better condition in many cases. Many links are now broken in that site and I do apologise if you have found yourself lost there but I haven't the heart to remove it entirely.
Those images, though, were big and the whole site was a nightmare to edit. I would wait for several minutes as Serif WebPlus loaded and then for up to twenty minutes further to be able to access the pages as it insisted on loading them all before permitting me to edit just one. Publishing the changes took even longer and, of course, the increased use of mobile phones and tablets to view sites meant that my ancient code was not 'responsive' and was getting the thumbs-down from Google and likely never to be found by anyone seeking help with Corgis. It had to be replaced and so now I have just the one page that I edit with Adobe Dreamweaver as and when necessary, leading to the much simpler Google Site for the Catalogue section. Now I have also acquired the domain corgi.toys and will gradually build that site to become the main home for collectors and other interested people.
The Catalogue section is really what I had intended to build at the very outset but development has slowed somewhat as it is quite a vast operation, not only to build pages with photos of every model but also to write about them. So far I have managed to illustrate most, although I am not up-to-date with variations (as I keep discovering more!) and my 'descriptions' are often a rather bland title and some dates. I have decided that it is time to do something about that so I shall be getting to work on getting that section into order soon. I am encouraged to do so as I want to publish this as a 'proper' catalogue one day, including a printed version which I hope a few people might buy. I have seen a few other efforts in this respect and, whilst, good in parts, I believe I can do better.
Keeping me occupied mostly over the years has been the business which more or less developed out of nowhere. I need to see models and document, photograph them and so I bought lots and then sold them and used most of the income to buy more. Along the way I found that some models were very much in demand and would tend to be sold almost as soon as I listed them and that encouraged me to buy more of these as and when they appeared at reasonable prices. In addition, I found a supplier of superb reproduction boxes for some gift sets and they have also been popular and seldom stay in my cupboards for long. As the models I needed for the catalogue diminished to not more than a handful which I either didn't particularly want to spend money acquiring or which were very seldom seen for sale at all, I have increasingly become a sort of variation specialist store. Nearly all my purchases over the last year or so have been the less common variations of models and some have turned out to be surprisingly rare and little documented elsewhere.
Quite a few of these I have bought at very modest prices, simply because few sellers know about them or just want to get rid of a box of old toys. So the business has been profitable and now occupies a big part of my day. It's strange to think that the initial stock was purchased with some of the proceeds from my late parents' house for let's say £x. For 8 years I have had some income and great enjoyment and the total stock value is now around £3x. That can't be bad and I can't think of many other businesses which could have been as beneficial and certainly not as enjoyable.
The models that I have still never bought are the Batboat or any other than the first edition of the Batmobile, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the very odd Drag Racing models 161-170 and the 428 Ice Cream Van. I would have avoided all the Chipperfields models, other than the Land Rover, but, luckily a colleague wanted to dispose of his collection of the circus models! For some reason I have a particular dislike of the 459 Raygo Roller and the following catalogue number, 460, the Neville Cement Tipper and variations in those models await research. I may well cheat and copy what I can find elsewhere for them. Strangely the next number, 461, the Police Range Rover, is an unattractive model for me and, with 482 in ambulance form I can see many variations in decals but I shall have to steel myself to spend the money buying them! I also have no interest in paying any money for any 800 series models other than Noddy's Car and the Lunar Bug. There are also several 1970s Major issues which leave me somewhat cold but I did grit my teeth and get them documented pretty well a while ago and only a few remain to be dealt with. They'll probably turn up in collections one day and, for now, are the least of my worries.
When I started I had intended not to include Whizzwheels, drawing a line sometime in 1970. As many were, though, such clear continuations of the earlier models and, indeed, there were some particularly scarce ones too, like the 304 Chevrolet Camaro and 281 Rover 2000TC, that I had to give in. Many still leave me cold but there are several models that, even with those dreadful wheels, retained that charm and which I still buy today as and when I see them.
Along the way I have met some lovely people and had many long conversations about Corgis. I have also been a little bored on occasion by some who look with disdain upon any model that is not immaculate in its shop-fresh box which must also have a correct membership leaflet inside. The money these people must spend to acquire such items is way beyond what I suspect I will ever be able to afford and their existing collection is likely to be worth more than a detached house in a nice part of Northamptonshire. Yes, I suppose I am envious too! Of the money, sure, but not the pristine models and boxes so much. I am quite happy with something that has had the odd knock but do tend to avoid items with cracked windows.
I have also encountered some outright villains who peddle wares which they have either created to make a normal model look more valuable or which they simply misrepresent knowingly. I have no particular problem with the folk who price their items at unbelievably high figures - I do so myself when I really do not want to sell something! It is the annoying people who sell restored or repainted items as original or who change the ubiquitous black plastic Whizzwheels for the red spot variety on models which never should have had them and then claim them to be super rare. They took ten minutes to make in their bedroom and it's just not right.
I had a long run-in with some people concerning Jensen's Minis quite recently. Some auction houses had been selling these for seriously high amounts and almost created the demand for them, albeit unintentionally. People see an organisation that appears to be reasonably knowledgeable about Corgis selling an item and, quite understandably, take their assumption that the item is real as evidence that it is. None of the auction people even had a clue as to where the company being promoted was based or what they did. I can appreciate why, as it did take me a considerable amount of time and effort to find out for myself the actual original 'Jensen's, but I do feel that someone should have also made some effort rather than just believing whatever the seller told them. There are many little red and blue Minis now out there with blue stickers on the doors which people have displayed proudly in cabinets and which they will tell you are worth at least £1000. They're more likely to be around £20 or a little more if the sticker can be removed without damaging the finish.
Such annoyances are, however, few and far between and, for the most part, Corgi collectors form a pleasant, if slightly bonkers community. I expect they find me pleasant and a little bonkers too.
This long-winded recollection has been written largely to take my mind off the events in Ukraine. My wife's home town is getting bombed and slowly destroyed and, whilst she is now living with me here in the safety of my little village, she has 50 years of memories and an apartment full of her belongings in Zhytomyr and we have no idea when, or if, she will see them or her son or relatives resident there again.
Corgi's colours are nicely appropriate and bring a little patriotic cheer.
Tuesday 1 March 2022