Friday 21 July 2023

A bus, a box and a bug


Some odd things have come in this week which I thought might be of interest to a few readers.

First is what initially looks like any old 468 London Transport bus. It's a later edition, with cast wheels. Indeed, it is a very late edition as, when you see the front, there are no jewels. It's like the Whizzwheels version and must be some sort of transition model with the non-jewelled body being produced but fitted still with cast wheels.

Yes, my example of an old 468 is correct without the additional advertising stickers on the front as that is an old 'Corgi Toys' banner model. The different stickers came with the 'Outspan' banner and subsequent models. What I don't know is whether there were further changes (other than the many banners) to these stickers. The interior changed at some point too, from yellow plastic to clear plastic stairs. I have also noticed that the conductor's hair is brown in early models but blonde in later models.

The second item is a marvellous original old box that came with a two-tone Ford Consul. This has to be one of the best old boxes I have had, with all the flaps in place and the colours are very fresh and clean. The box design switched to blue and yellow at about the same time as this edition was issued in early 1959. For instance, the Jaguar Fire Chief's car, issued January 1959 always seems to be in a yellow and blue box. I suppose there must have been a lot of spare 200 boxes and they may have been used for the first batch of the two-tone Ford Consuls. Most I see for sale now have the yellow and blue box so this is a little unusual. However, one cannot rule out the possibility that someone has switched boxes over the years!

And lastly, for a bit of fun, the 806 Lunar Bug! This is from November 1970 but it didn't stay in the catalogue for long, ceasing production in 1972 after just a bit more than a year, when a more interesting James Bond Moon Buggy came along.

When I started creating the Corgi Catalogue web site I began at #50 and gradually worked my way through in pretty much numerical order, buying models, documenting them and then selling them until I reached the 500s. By the time I reached #513 I moved on to the Majors, leaving the kits and what looked like odd stuff I thought I may well just ignore at the time for another day, or, more likely, year. However, in amongst some collections and job lots, some of the #800s came in and I never bothered actively to chase after the two which, until a few days ago, remained unseen. One was #805, the Hardy Boys Rolls Royce. I have to say that that looked awful in the pictures I saw of it. The #9041 was bad enough but to create a multicoloured version to celebrate a band I had never heard of seemed mad as well as bad. Every one I saw was expensive too, or had something missing. The other was #806, this Lunar Bug. This week I came across this one for a very low price of a pound or two and it looked quite cute and in decent condition. Not that I knew what might be missing, though, being quite unfamiliar with this!

Anyway, the Lunar Bug turned out to be a cheerful sort of oddity and this example is in great condition. After a little research it does appear to be complete, with its fold-out plastic wings and what might be engines on the roof and a drop down panel at the back which I can imagine coming off quite easily. Inside there's room for a small car and I did try out an Alfa P33 and a couple of others without success before realising how crazy it would be to have something like that on the Moon. So I guess that whatever Corgi people might have thought about issuing in due course that we could have put inside never made it to the production line. There is some plentiful yellow-tinted glass along the sides and a roundish clear section at the front. The wheels are on funny axles which never seem to be quite certain where they should rest so you'll see pictures of this model in all sorts of funny poses! The wheels look unique but wouldn't be out of place on Noddy's Car.

The one thing that does strike me about this model is how big it is! I had expected something about the size of a bus but this is a substantial piece of Corgi. Being something that has come totally from the imagination of some Corgi designer, there is, of course, no scale but if you consider people might be standing inside and peering out of the windows then it is probably more suited to a 1:36 environment than the 1:43 I am supposed to be sticking to.

On the sides are flying cigarettes which remind me of when I used to smoke and not feel I was doing any harm to the planet or anyone other than myself. They're not cigarettes, of course, but some sort of rather sad illustration of  the jet engines. I really would have expected better from a late Sixties designer but never mind.

This will sit on the top of my cabinet for a while as I cannot see anyone rushing to buy it. There do seem to be plenty for sale. It is a model that does make me smile, though, and now I would have liked to have had the box as I see the polystyrene base was shaped as an imaginary Moon surface with craters. I might even not be able to resist one if it comes along cheaply enough. As for the Hardy Boys . . . well, they can wait another year or two.

Friday 7 July 2023

The Corgi Model Club get airborne and a little bronzed in the sun.


Here is the latest issue from The Corgi Model Club. It's the Ford Thames Airborne Caravan, originally #420 in the catalogue, issued in February 1962 and costing 6/6d. 

I think you will agree that there is one very obvious problem with this one and that's the colour. It was issued in shades of olive green, much like the Bentley Continental and had the production people just used some of the Bentley paint I think all would have been well. Instead something odd has happened and we have this weird gold colour for the bottom half. Now this may be just a batch that has been affected and others are looking as they should but this is slightly disappointing.

The top half, though, is spot-on. There were many shades during the four years that this model was available from the shops but none were like this.

Otherwise, this is an excellent model and very well replicates all the small details of the 1962 issue, including all the little features inside. The doors are actually very well engineered and a great improvement on many originals, opening and closing very smoothly and staying shut too.

Once more, the Model Club have opted to produce a particularly scarce version of a model, although I suspect they didn't realise that this time. This has free-spinning wheels whereas you'll have quite a hard job find one of the originals like that. Of the 40 or 50 I spotted for sale just before writing this, just two had the later style of wheel. All the others had fixed wheels.

The rear doors on my old example go right back to form a 180° angle, rather more (and a lot looser) than the re-issue.

No doubt we shall see in the Hornby Hobbies catalogue the same model in blue and cream and plum and pale pink, the other two colours that this was issued in and which, incidentally, are more numerous in having free-spinning wheels, being mostly a later issue to the green one.

The box is a faithful copy of all that can be copied from the original and it has a fine weight and texture. It is a little shiny, as they all are and the font used for the numerals is still wrong. These are minor niggles, that's all. It was never a model I rushed out to buy at the time so not one of my favourites that I was looking forward to seeing refreshed. For those who do like it, however, it's a nice copy. Just that colour in some lights . . . maybe keep it in the shade!

Fooled again

The Who fairly famously proclaimed that they'd not get fooled again sometime in 1971 but I challenge them not to have rushed to buy this, looking, as it does, like a nice 351S going for a song.

What convinced me that I should quickly send the chap the £10 he was asking for a 'Land Rover' was the comparison with the army flavour of green just peeping into the photo.

What arrived, however, was sadly the middle model of the three below.

Even now, sitting here on my desk, just a foot or so away, I could almost be persuaded to buy it again as the colour so much makes me believe it's something like an RAF blue. Put it next to another model, however, and it's clear just another blue-green 438 and, yes, I've been fooled again.

I'll give it a clean now and it is all there, hook too, with no broken windows and the suspension wires haven't slipped either so I may be able to find someone who will like it for a few pounds. I don't expect to get all my money back but that's OK. All down to experience. Again.

Monday 3 July 2023

More from the Corgi Model Club


Here is the latest list of models that the Corgi Model Club either have issued or plan to issue. Those who have kept up-to-date with issues will be receiving the Ford Thames Airborne Camper Van around now.

It is interesting to see how some existing castings are being re-used, with the Oldsmobile getting a conversion from Police Patrol to US Army Staff Car and the Chevrolet Taxi turning into the Fire Chief Car. All very sensible and much as Corgi themselves did originally. What this does, of course, is provide some intrigue as to what else might be coming. I see VW Breakdown Truck and think "Racing Trailer and Maserati" or possibly "Lotus Racing Team Set" and "Grand Prix Racing Set", especially with the 155, 330 already available and 318 on its way. Whether the Lotus Elan will also lead to an Avengers Set is intriguing, with possibly a source of correct replacement Steed characters being available at last, albeit that you'd need to buy everything else as well. But that would be a great improvement on the Jeeves-painted-grey that we see so often these days and perhaps not that much more costly than paying for the original.

The list above, however, takes us well into 2024 and Gift Sets are usually the sort of thing you expect to see coming out in time for Christmas so, perhaps, October 2024 may be when we see the first. 

The Golden Jacks Rover is a surprise and it will be interesting to see whether they go for the scarcer white finish (as well as how long the cover lasts on the spare wheel container!)

The Chrysler Imperial will need the two Americans and the golf trolley which, of course, means we'll see a Ford Consul Cortina Estate in due course with yet more figures. In the email to members the Club tease us with a query as to what colour the Chrysler will be. Now they're hardly likely to be talking about whether the interior will be chalky blue or chalky green which means they're going for the Kingfisher blue model that was supposed to be the replacement Bermuda Taxi but found its way into a few 246 boxes, despite having holes for a canopy strut! That would be a nice way to help collectors have something close to one of the rarer Corgi issues - as they did for the Ford Mustang Competition Model, although they messed up there by fitting the wrong wheels to a red sill version.

With the factory able to handle the Golden Jack system I now wonder whether Corgi in the shape of Hornby Hobbies, rather than the Model Club, might create the 'missing' models that were intended to have 'take-off' wheels but got the dreaded lurgy of Whizzwheels instead. I'm thinking Pontiac Firebird and Ferrari Dino but I guess that'll have to await the Model Club doing the work for one of these first and, as that would require them to create a re-issue of a Whizzwheels model, it may be a non-starter. Perhaps a red spot wheel edition could be pushed through the committee of whoever decides these things. We could forgive them red spots. But not pepperpots or four crown types and definitely not that awful six spoke wheel that followed before someone saw sense and produced a vaguely acceptable wheel that looked like a wheel.

Anyway, there you go. Plenty to look forward to! This list is, of course, subject to change, addition of something, deletion of something and a switch around if something is proving difficult to get out on time. I wish the Corgi Model Club people well and many thanks for staying in business and doing a fine job. Switch to a British manufacturer and you'll have an even greater degree of appreciation. Do give it some thought. I am confident that collectors would pay more. It would be good for Britain and cancel in one move all the whinges I read on forum posts about Made in China on the base.

Saturday 1 July 2023

Volvo repair

Another Volvo arrived this morning! If this was my replacement from the Corgi Model Club then that is surely remarkable customer service and many thanks to the team there. The latest is fine with good suspension.

So that leaves me with the less healthy one. I couldn't resist having a look inside and reckoned I could easily fix whatever was wrong. Here you can see the components, all very similar to an original 228 or 258. The interior unit is much more solid than the very flimsy piece of vacuum-formed plastic of the originals and, whilst I could detach Mr Templar and the steering wheel they're much more firmly held than the old ones were. I also quite like the idea of the interior fitting over the two posts in a solid manner - the underside of the interior (not shown) has two holes for the metal posts on the base to fit into. The suspension is provided by two wires which should be firmly clamped in the middle. You'll see that one of them isn't.

It is only partially held in that slot and this has left one end sitting high and permitting lots of axle movement.

Here you can see that the other end of the wire lays quite nicely flat across the axle, so providing the suspension.

It is clear that the manufacturing proces has not closed one clamp sufficiently and the wire is not fully embedded in it either.

The unwanted movement is obvious from this angle.

So what needs to be done is to open the clamp slightly to allow the wire to drop in completely and then tighten it up like the other one. All would then be well with the world, and the Saint's Volvo.

Unfortunately . . .

. . . one side of the clamp broke away when I tried to open the gap. I have had to resort to the less satisfactory solution of reattaching that small piece of metal and the wire with some glue and, no, you're not getting a photo of that. I am also not sure whether it will work. Soldering it back together would be a better idea but I have neither the kit nor the experience.

Once it is back together and looks like it will stay in place then this will be a gift for my brother, Rupert, who is 80 in a couple of weeks and was a big fan of the original TV series and has driven Volvos since the 1960s in one shape or another, most often a 240 shape rather than this one!


Corgi Toys @ 60: A little Ghia and another Commer

 July brings the little Fiat 600 Ghia Jolly and a Commer Pick-up truck to the toy shop shelves in 1963.

The Fiat was an odd-looking model, presumably something that might have been found at Italian resorts. Certainly not a common sight on British roads from my memories of the year. It came in three flavours, plain mid-blue and two metallic finishes, one in dark blue and the other mid-blue and these last two are the hardest to find now.

Total sales of #240 were not great at about the same as the Plymouth Suburban with suspension but the spread of production across three models means that the metallic ones will have fewer than 60000 sales and, as the less common, more like 30-40,000 at most, which puts them in the quite scarce category, a similar quantity produced as for, say, the later Milk Tanker or US Army Machinery Carrier with the Bedford TK cabs.

You will recognise the roof as being the same as that fitted to the Ford Thunderbird Bermuda Taxi in 1962, although now only made with a red 'frill'.

In the front seats are two barely-clad holiday makers and there is an abundance of chrome along the sides which can get damaged easily.

The Commer Pick-up truck as #465 can be found with a red chassis and yellow rear section or a yellow chassis and a red rear section. They all have Trans-o-lite headlamps, a bench seat in the rear and blue-tinted windows. Both red and yellow editions appear to have lemon interiors and these all have free-spinning shaped wheels.

You can easily distinguish a #465 model from one made from the Commer Construction Set as this one will have a fixed base, not one that can be removed. 

I have seen black rear bench seats but these may be replacements as both brown and black are available from Model Supplies and can be easily switched.

If you do remove the base you'll find that the rear sections are identical to those supplied with the Gift Sets. So you may find Gift Sets with red rear sections. I expect there may be some all yellow or all red models around too, where the factory has made a mistake, although I have yet to see any.