Tuesday 31 October 2023

Corgi Toys @ 60: Ghia L6.4

November 1963 was an extraordinarily bumper month for Corgi releases! There were so many that need more than just a descriptive note that I have split the posts into as many as will be needed to cover each one one at a time.

We'll start with what has to be the star of the whole series for many, the fabulous Ghia L6.4. Catalogue #241 and with the added title 'with Chrysler Engine'. This was a beautiful model with almost every feature you could imagine included. There were opening doors, opening bonnet, opening boot, chrome fittings, jewelled headlamps, folding seats, a detailed dashboard and mirror and a Corgi dog on the rear shelf!

It first appeared in a metallic blue-turquoise with red interior. I don't know which of the other colour combinations were also issued at the start but, in time, you could buy the same shade of turquoise blue with a cream interior, a metallic sage-green with cream interior and a metallic gold with either cream or red interior and a very scarce copper finish with cream interior.

Much later there would be a slightly revised model with better suspension provision in a more silver-blue shade and red interior and a lemon-gold edition with bright yellow interior and cast wheels.

Sometimes you would find that there is a combination of red and white parts for the interior with red door inserts often found with a cream interior. The spring for the boot and lifting element for the bonnet were also provided by a plastic section in either red or cream and this may not always have matched the interior, with a different colour visible inside the boot or bonnet to the seats. I expect there will b someone out there who collects these variations too! I stopped at the colours for paint and interior combinations as that provided plenty enough for a nice display.

Here are the two different bases.

There are at least two different box designs too, one of which displays the features incorrectly but is quite commonly encountered. I shall have to dig out the box and add a photo. For now, here is teh correct one.

And that's just the start of November 1963!

Next you'll read about #251 the Hillman Imp, #316 the NSU Sport Prinz, a revision of the 303S Mercedes-Benz 300SL, #1107 Euclid TC-12 Tractor, #1131 Bedford Machinery Carrier, #1132 Bedford Low Loader, #500 US Army Land Rover and Gift Sets 15, 25, 28 and 29!


241Ghia L 6.4GhiaGhia L 6.4Ghia L 6.4 with Chrysler V8 Engine
251Hillman ImpHillmanHillman ImpHillman Imp, Opening rear window and folding rear seat
316NSU Sport PrinzNSUSport PrinzNSU Sport Prinz
303S2Mercedes-Benz 300SLMercedes-Benz300SL300 SL Open driver added
1107Euclid TC-12 TractorEuclidTC-12 TractorTwin Crawler Tractor with Dozer + Driver figure
1131Bedford Machinery CarrierBedfordTK Type CabMachinery Carrier, detachable rear axle.
1132Bedford Low LoaderBedfordTK Type CabCarrimore Low Loader with Bedford TK cab.
500U.S. Army Land RoverLand RoverSeries 2U.S. Army Land Rover - was re-issued in 1965 as 357 Weapons carrier
GS25Garage LayoutKits: 602 AA & RAC Boxes, 608 Shell/BP Service Station, 609 Forecourt accessories, 606 Lamp Standard x2, 601 Batley Garage x3, Cars: 224 Bentley Continental - Black, 225 Austin Se7en - Red, 229 Chevrolet Corvair - Bright Blue, 234 Ford Consul Classic - Beige/Red, 419 Ford Zephyr Police - White
GS15Silverstone LayoutKits: 602 AA & RAC Boxes, 603 Pits, 604 Press Box, 605 Club house & timekeepers box, Cars: 150s Vanwall, 151s Lotus XI, 152s BRM, 215s Ford Thunderbird Open Sports, 304s Mercedes Benz 300SL Hard Top, 309 Aston Martin Competition, 417s Land Rover Breakdown, Figures: 1501 Racing Drivers, 1503 Race track officials1502 Spectators,
GS29Tractor & Trailer50 Massey Ferguson 65 Tractor, 51 Massey Ferguson 30cwt Trailer, Driver figure
GS28Car Transporter Set1105 Bedford TK Car Transporter, 222 Renault Floride, 234 Ford Consul Classic, 232 FIAT 2100, 230 Mercedes Benz

Friday 13 October 2023

Corgi Model Club: Lotus Elan

 (Updated 21 October 2023)

Here is the latest issue from the Corgi Model Club, the Lotus Elan #318. A quick review (updated now - see below) because it is a little late because I have been away and only today had a chance to open the package.

Inside is the car in a pleasantly exact and very fresh-looking shade of metallic blue, well-packed in the box, protected by a piece of tissue paper this time, not the flimsy near-soluble in air stuff of other recent issues and two squares of foam, one at the front and one at the rear to prevent damage to the windscreen. Also in the main parcel is a small plastic envelope containing four stickers on pale brown backing, very much like the original.

My numbers are 3. Just about every original model I've seen has had the number4. Quite where the fourth, whichever number you may have, is supposed to go I am not sure. One you have plastered the bonnet and doors there is nowhere obvious left due to the "I've got a tiger in my tank" transfer on the boot lid. This transfer looks a little pale to me and very white. Perhaps that is how it did look in 1965 but all the originals I see now have the slightly creamy-yellow off-white shade. Is that just age?

The first thing you may notice is that the driver falls out. He really is not a good fit. I guess the original was a bit odd too with arms that didn't reach the steering wheel but he did seem to be made of sturdier stuff and certainly I have no recollection of him falling out so easily. I have an excellent original which I shall dig out and experiment with, reporting later with more comparison pictures too which I know readers appreciate.

It should be immediately clear, however, that this is yet another first class production by the Model Club people and all credit to them. In the certificate text they refer to this model not being produced for very long, something I hadn't appreciated before. It appeared in July 1965, ceasing sometime in 1967, although not before cast wheels had begun to be fitted, so quite late in 1967. Despite that it sold over ½ million, more or less matching the Ford Mustang of similar vintage but which was actually produced for a much shorter period (as 320).

The bonnet opens in an almost springy way when pressed at the front and is a much firmer hinge than all the originals I have encountered which seem invariably quite loose. I really must get that original out soon as I seem to recall a slightly different view under the bonnet with some black showing somewhere.

The interior is an excellent match with tilting seats and side windows smoothly moving up and down.

Its stance is lovely - a car that I feel looks better as a model than the car itself did. I saw one a while ago and it just seems smaller and more bulbous than the model. It may have been an earlier Elan, I suppose.

I am surprised that the Model Club did elect to 'correct' the steering wheel. This is the only difference that I can quickly spot and I recall some discussion about this in the social media posts when they first talked about this model being considered. They even had a poll of some sort as I remember and the vast majority of respondents on that particular branch of social media were requesting that they retain the original version, that is with the vertical bar at the top, not at the bottom.

So, once again, full marks to the Corgi Model Club. Another nice model to add to this rapidly growing collection. At this rate they'll have a good proportion of the range available!

Something I am sure many will be wondering is whether there will be a white one! Maybe from Horny-Corgi with a transfer on the boot but my money is on the Club creating The Avengers Gift Set 40, Steed, Mrs Peel, brollies and all in the not too distant future. Even now I can see this being utilised for the set with a respray as it is cheaper to acquire than an original. 

I am intrigued to know how the suspension has been provided. It feels quite firm and not like the flimsy and very vulnerable original piece of brown plastic. For all sorts of reasons I see this selling very well.

Now I have had a chance to see the Elan side by side with an original.

Firstly the colour is spot-on, really good, and with just the right 'metallic' sheen too. My second model had RN5 stickers, by the way.

Absolutely nothing to distinguish at the front other than that wonderfully detailed grille.

More at the back, however, to tell them apart. The edge of the boot seems slightly higher on the new issue and, of course, that very white transfer.

Yes, the Club decided to break with their policy of attempting an exact match by turning the steering wheel round. This is, of course, a more natural position (with the wheels facing straight ahead as they are) but still not right as a reproduction.

One surprising difference is the lack of definition on the re-issue when compared to the original. That's definitely not the way round one would have expected!

The engine is, indeed, all silver, as my original (although I am sure later editions of the original had some black elements, not that I can recall more than one example which would have been a white GS40 issue). The writing on the top covers is much clear too.

The box is really the only item which I was disappointed with as the model itself is a superb effort. I accept that modern printing processes may have to create the shinier surface but the illustration is much more gold than it should be, my box not being faded, and showing the true illustration colour. More importantly, though, is the continued failure of whoever does the text part of the design to recognise how wrong the font is, especially for the list of features. That section is quite wrong and really easy to have corrected. The title bit bottom right is always not quite right on the re-issues too, in this case a fraction too big which, again, is easy to spot and correct. The numerals they now get pretty much right so, come on guys, more attention to the text next time, please.

Sunday 1 October 2023

Corgi Toys @ 60: Rover 2000

 It's October 1963 and you need to rush down to your local toy shop to buy the wonderful Rover 2000.

This was the first saloon car to get Trans-o-lite headlamps, and we got twin headlamps too! This system had been used in the VW Toblerone van and Commer Pick-up where an opening on the roof did not look odd and the tubes could be easily hidden. With the Rover, Corgi incorporated the input as a section of the rear screen.

The lights were great and, for many who did not get the van or pick-up truck, this was the first model where they experimented in the dark with a torch and flashed the lights quite realistically.

The rear screen was somewhat weakened by the need for a rectangular element to be fitted and now you'll find many models with small cracks around the area where the light enters.

The Rovers in a 252 box were mostly a metallic steel blue colour with a red interior but there was also a maroon edition with a white interior. This was issued quite a lot later and first seen in the December 1966 Car Transporter Gift Set 48/41.

A very scarce maroon edition also exists with cast wheels, produced for late issues of the Gift Sets.

A gold-plated 252 model was made in very limited numbers, some, but not all, being attached to the lid of a cigarette box and distributed to selected Rover customers and senior executives.