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.

Friday 3 November 2023

Corgi Toys @ 60: Gift Sets!!

I finish the posts for the vast array of November 1963 issues with these four Gift sets. Two have become real classics and are the most sought after, and valuable, of the whole Corgi range.

First, the Gift set 15 Silverstone Layout

Here's what the set included:

Kits: 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 officials, 1502 Spectators.

There would also be a large, quite flimsy plastic mat and a set of enamel paints and glue for the kit constriction. These items are extremely hard to find now and usually only then in complete boxed sets.

The next is the Gift Set 25 Garage Layout

This is a wonderfully detailed set of kits and a few cars with a layout mat, glue and paints as for the previous set.

I have never had either of these sets but have acquired all the components, except the glue and paint. The 'mat' here is a board that someone created that is not quite the right size. I have since found someone who makes the mats - not the flimsy plastic but a nice hard-wearing and strong textured plastic which lays completely flat and should be excellent as a display as and when I get all the bits and pieces out again. For now, here are some photos of the lovely display as it was. I have tried to reproduce the Corgi Catalogue image.

These smaller items, like the pressure gauge or small signs are very hard to find and often get lost in non-Corgi boxes never to re-appear in places one might hope to find them.

These were wonderful sets and I do hope that one day someone will present me with one or the other to say thank you for all this work I have put in for Corgi collectors over the years. Well, a man can dream. . . . The price that must be paid to acquire a complete set now is simply way beyond my means. Here is the list of contents:

Kits: 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

There were two more Gift Sets at slightly lower prices that year:

GS29 Tractor & Trailer 50 Massey Ferguson 65 Tractor, 51 Massey Ferguson 30cwt Trailer, Driver figure. This is basically the same as Gift Set 7 from 1959 but with Farmer George now at the wheel. Corgi certainly got value from these two models over the years!

GS28 Car Transporter Set 1105 Bedford TK Car Transporter, 222 Renault Floride, 234 Ford Consul Classic, 232 FIAT 2100, 230 Mercedes Benz. This is also an update of the old Gift Set 1 with the newer Bedford cab and a new set of models on board. It's an odd set of models listed in the Corgi documents and, as you will see from the illustrations, the contents not only changed but were freely changeable provided the total value remained the same.

So whilst illustrating the models stated above, the content was completely different!

And that completes November  60 years ago!