Saturday 23 December 2023

Merry Corgi Christmas


I wish all my Corgi friends

and customers, wherever you are,

a very merry Christmas and

a happy New Year.

I am glad to hear that so many of you enjoy my articles on things Corgi. I have had one or two enquiries as to why I had been quiet for a while recently. Firstly there were no new issues in December 1963 so I got a break from the Corgi toys @ 60 series. Having a much greater impact, though, has been the need to move house. My house in Astcote here in England is falling apart and it has been necessary to find a new home, not the simplest of tasks when you're as ancient as me and have boxes and more boxes and yet more boxes (as well as the usual bits and pieces one accumulates over 70 odd years!)

I am delighted to say that, after a great deal of searching and form-filling, we shall be moving to the village of Bozeat, a few miles further east, over the Christmas period and hopefully up and running again as from the beginning of 2024. I have not had a chance to make the 2024 Calendar pages yet but will get these done sometime in January if you can hold on for a while.

You shouldn't notice much of a change in any of the web sites, email or stores where you'll find the new mailing address if needed. The landline number will stop working so use +44 07712 817958 should you need to call.

Hoping for some peace in 2024 and, with particular thought for Ukraine, whose people are about to enter a third year of war's uncertainty and anguish, all profits from Corgi.Toys in January will go towards helping our friends and families there.

Friday 22 December 2023

Could this be the rare Gift Set 2 model?

I've been looking everywhere for a fawn Land Rover with yellow interior. It's usually red but there are a few around with yellow. I did have one but I sold it and almost immediately afterwards wished I hadn't and there is a space where it needs to go in my collection.

The fawn edition first appeared in late 1962 and is only found in Gift Set 2, towing a fawn and cream Pony Trailer. 

You will probably have already noticed that this is a repainted model. I know, you're asking me why on Earth I should buy a repainted fawn Land Rover. It's really not something I would normally do but this one was intriguing. From what I could tell from the pictures provided with the listing, this Land Rover had not been taken apart. The base had not been taken off as the rivets were looking sound and original and the best evidence for me was where the owner had not been as careful as he should have been with the brush, one stroke covering both a small piece of the base and the lower edge of one side.

With no other way that the interior could have been changed, I reckoned that this could well be what I was looking for and, whilst the repainting is a bit annoying, it will do for now until another comes along.

The model itself arrived yesterday and, whilst the painting isn't great, with brush strokes evident here and there and dust has been allowed to spoil the finish in places, the colour is a good match. There is what looks like an original fawn colour under the wheel arches and in places which would be very difficult to reach with the brush so I was quite pleased with this purchase. 

Underneath, everything looks pretty fawn in colour and the rivet intact - even with a hook that hasn't been bent or broken.

Then I looked at the other end . . . Oh dear. Now you'll see what I'd missed earlier and which was not visible in the seller's photos - that little bit of red in the gap between the base and the front bumper. 

And I looked again at teh rives and they have that little dot of red too. This was, once upon a time, a red Land Rover from a Chipperfields or Ferrari Gift Set and is not what I had hoped for after all.

I have to say that the painter did a very good job as that is the sole evidence of the model's original colour and even now I look twice to check that the red is really red and not just fawn looking dark in the shadows!

So there is another warning to us all - not everything may be as it seems at first, or even second - take a good third look too to avoid disappointment.

Yes, I am disappointed but, as I said to a friend at the time I bought it, I really would prefer that I hadn't seen it because I didn't really want a repainted model but  . . . it had that yellow interior and I couldn't resist the temptation to have a closer look. However, I am not particularly sad. it only cost £20 and I do have a decent Pony Trailer with the scarcer fixed wheels (and a pin that hasn't been broken!), a good pony and a reproduction box which might help sell one of my other many Gift Set 2s.

The Land Rover will be £5 if anyone's interested!


Thursday 21 December 2023

Corgi Model Club - a magnificent Mini Magnifique


The Corgi Club have really excelled themselves this time. Their reproduction is fabulous and, so far, I cannot fault it.

They have chosen the metallic blue edition which is my favourite of the two original colours issued. This is model #334 and was issued in a window box with a header card included in the design rather than as a separate insert. This has been very well copied, including the slightly awkward folds at each end of the tray! The model sits firmly in its place and there is no protective included this time anywhere.

This is an intricate model with everything opening and closing, and quite precise chrome elements. they looked good in the original model and, with new production techniques, are possibly even better now, with super grille and bumper corners as well as the strip running around the wheel arches and sills. I remember that this seldom stayed in place for long on the real Minis that I knew!

You'll see that the headlamps still have a rather too plastic-looking 'jewels', although I have to say that on this example one 'jewel' is remarkably better than the other, which makes me wonder whether they have found a new supplier or changed to something that looks more like the glass of the original, this one getting one of the new ones and one of the old ones.

One of the features which did cause trouble with the original is the boot. Often difficult to open or, in some cases, difficult to close. This new model does present a minor challenge and there is a knack to making opening successful by pressing in at the bottom to create a small gap which you may then, large fingers permitting, use to pull the top down. Mine worked well, if a little stiff, but I have read reports of people having trouble with this again.

The little cast wheels are super and look exactly right. I haven't counted the 'spokes' yet. I think this is the first Club model with this style of wheel. (No, the Ambulance had these, although they were larger).

The Corgi Model Club used the version with narrower stripes in the sliding roof which I believe to be the more commonly seen. There is a version of the original which has thicker stripes but I have only seen this in metallic green to date.

All in all, a great reproduction.

Friday 10 November 2023

Corgi Model Club: Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman


Here's the latest Corgi Model Club issue, the Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman, #247 in the catalogue, first issued in 1964. I guess everyone knows that this had a unique special feature - the windscreen wipers that could be switched on and off. I am none too sure that the exclamation of the box that this was By Repeated Requests was really true but we'll let that pass. What I do remember is being a little disappointed with this when I had mine at the age of 12. The fixed rear wheels meant that it was useless to race round corners so it tended to be something that just sat on the layout looking very nice but not really something I wanted to play with.

The Corgi Model Club issue is a little similar - it looks very fine, beautifully finished in the medium metallic crimson shade. The original was issued in this shade as well as a much deeper maroon shade. The wheels do look quite smart but they're not right as the front should be free-spinning. 

There is also something not quite right about the roof profile. I was immediately struck by the difference - the upper frame seems too thick. On the original there was a sort of step as the photo below shows.

The design of the front screen is also incorrect. The original had 'raindrops' along the lower part of the screen. I also find that even when the switch is set to OFF the wiper will often engage as the gear mechanism is not completely disengaged. This is a minor matter however but not the roof-line which does spoil its appearance in my opinion.

At the back you have the usual near-perfect finish and painting of the chrome lines and orange lights.

In the box is an instruction sheet, printed just like the original on one side. The other side, of course, would not now be relevant but I might have thought that the Club people could have written something similar to print, promoting their Club even if there would not be much to replace TV21 promotion.

The box is very bright and shiny but we have got used to that now. The same font errors pertain to this production as they have done throughout these re-issues which is a pity as it should be an easy fix.

The model itself comes nicely wrapped in a decent sized piece of tissue paper instead of the thin film we have had before. I welcome that change and wonder if it will be permanent. I know originals had no protection and just rattled around inside their boxes, often leading to marks on the roof so it's nice to have this with the re-issue.

There's something I can't quite put my finger on about this model that isn't quite right, other than the top of the front screen. Not having an original to hand I can't put them side by side so it may just be my imagination.

It does look very fine sitting on my desk here on its own and I do compliment the Corgi Model Club team on the effort made with this and they have made a great job with the mechanism and controls as well as the finish and general stance of this model. Not my favourite, though.

Thursday 9 November 2023

Colour confusion again

This Citroën DS19 arrived a week or two back. It didn't cost very much and I was interested as it was all green. 

I could understand that something like this could occur, simply a batch missing out on the final black spray during production.

There was something about it, though, which troubled me. The roof was noticeably more shiny than the rest of the car. I could also detect very fine lines in the paintwork but there really was no black anywhere. What you might think you can observe in this photo is merely shadow or just tricks of the light. Believe me, there is no black. 

My artist wife is remarkably good at identifying paint and colours and she was convinced that not only had the top been painted but she reckoned the whole car had been too. I really hadn't thought the main body had been painted and even if the top had been painted, it had been a pretty good job not to have made even the slightest error and missed a bit or touched the windows somewhere. The base had not been touched.

We agreed to differ as I really could not imagine that someone could possibly have painted the whole car so well. and if they'd merely done the roof, they had been very lucky to find the exact match of colour which, for a metallic shade in particular, as it was genuinely identical, apart from the lacquer.

There was nothing for it. I had to buy another one and that might help me decide what might have happened. Luckily there were a couple for sale or auction and I obtained them at very reasonable prices. One was the same vintage - with the 'differential' bulge - the other has yet to arrive but was also all green.

Now, of course, it is quite clear! My wife was right. The whole car had been painted. The shade is, indeed, consistent from body to roof but it is not the same as the colour of the one that I am sure is a genuine 210.

I do still find it remarkable that someone has made such a good job of the painting, although looking at the pictures now I do see more faults but nothing was particularly perfect in the 1950s either. People repainting invariably get the silver parts wrong, with too much more often than not, and they are so tempted to add something while they have a brush in their hand. I had noticed some red tail lights on this which I had thought might be incorrect but I see that the genuine one has them too so that was OK after all.

The difference between the two greens is quite clear when they're side by side but not at all when observing a single model.

I am now waiting to finish this article with the arrival of the second one that I won at an auction and which appears pleasantly all green in the photos. One colleague spotted some black on the roof but the marks were very similar to the 'black' on mine so I await the real thing before commenting any more. I do feel that there ought to be a few all green Citroëns out there, and all yellow ones too for that matter. I just haven't, after all, found any yet.

And now I can continue as the third green 210 has arrived, the other 'all green' one.

Well, if I hadn't seen the others my first thoughts would be that this looks pretty damn genuine, not something anyone has tampered with and still wearing its stick-on wheel trims from one of the Corgi Accessory packs. (Usually these have been attached off-centre or they've worn badly or one is missing and I prefer to remove them. That's not easy as the glue is really sticky, incidentally. But these look OK so they'll stay.)

Everything's looking good and then we look at the roof. 

It has a distinct 'black' look about it - as if there were black underneath or a coat of black had not been entirely removed.

So I have to wonder all over again just what is going on, or coming off, here. Help!

The base looks fine. I have to believe that they're the original rivets. That dab of silver on the front valence is a little odd but nothing we haven't seen on totally original factory models when the brush slipped, and I think it would have been a brush for this model.

I dug out the other two in the hope of some inspiration. The latest 'all green' does look very much like the earlier one. The paint texture is very similar and quite different from the black-roof 210.

The two shades are not identical but very close and distinct from teh genuine article shown here. I am inclined to think that this is is the work of the same person. Few can have the ability to be so precise around windows, or skilled with the masking tape. Surprisingly, though, the splash of green on the silver at the front on one shown here is not what one would expect from such a perfectionist. There is a slight difference in the rivets on the genuine article but I have seen many other genuine 210 models with the more regular finish as the two on the left below display. We know that professional restorers now often use a similar rivet but it is very fresh-looking and always stands out and to those of us used to looking at these things it is always obviously a case of the base having been removed. You can been buy soft metal rivet heads to stick on but, again they're invariably in an incorrect design.

I have to believe these are all genuine, original rivets and that the bases have been in place since leaving the factory. Which means there has to have been someone out there with a good, but not quite right, shade of metallic green and a very, very steady hand.

I had hoped one of the 'all greens' would be a nice variation and still wonder, even at this last stage of writing, that maybe there was another batch of paint used by Corgi and that these may be more interesting than repaints. However I have to conclude that they're nothing more than an interesting couple of models which someone has spent some time on.

I'll have to sell the first 'all green' as a repainted model now instead of as a scarce find but I think I'll still get my £10 back. The latest one I may hang on to for a while. Its holiday triangles in the rear window, registration plates, CD plate and tax disc all tell me that, if it had been messed around with, it was a long time ago - before they were added. Now that's a thought. Yes, I will hang on to this one.