Model Auto Review Magazine 1982

By Maz Woolley

 

This is the first in what we intend to be series of articles looking at each year’s output of the original Model Auto Review magazine. We will cover one year in each posting and look at the collectors world through articles and adverts which are an interesting reflection of the growth in our hobby.  To help illustrate this, we will include images of the covers and content lists of the magazines.

1982 saw the launch of a new magazine for the rapidly growing collectors market in model vehicles. In his introduction Rod Ward said “We will attempt to cover all scales, materials, and eras of model or toy cars, trucks, buses, etc.” An ambitious mission statement, but one that was true throughout the life of the magazine whose last printed edition went to press late in 2013. The magazine was all put together by Rod and Val Ward, and the team at the Model Auto shop. Copy was typed, photographs taken and developed, everything was pasted up and finally scanned to produce output ready to be taken to the printers. The only colour in the first year appeared on the cover. Magazine production before powerful personal computers, the Internet and digital cameras was a much more time consuming and manual process.

In the world at large Ronald Reagan was American President, Margaret Thatcher the UK’s Prime Minister, and Brezhnev and then Andropov leaders of the USSR.  We had experienced a major period of economic recession in the UK with many traditional industries losing plants and jobs, or even vanishing, leaving many communities with high unemployment and few prospects. Others taking opportunities from the the wave of deregulation or working in the rapidly growing Information Technology industry made careers in this new world. The rise of offshoring manufacturing to China was yet to come.

A personal computer in the UK meant a Sinclair ZX80 or the exciting new Sinclair Spectrum. In the States the Commodore VIC-20 was about to be replaced by the 64.  Many Christmas stockings now had a games machine or cartridge in them where once there would have been toy cars. Whilst the better off families would also be busy watching films played on their new Video Recorder/Player.

In the toy world major changes were taking place. Dinky Toys had already gone bankrupt in the UK in 1979. Lesney, makers of Matchbox toys, went bankrupt during 1982, and whilst Corgi Toys soldiered on it was only for another year before they too went bankrupt. On the Continent Solido, Gama, and others still were still making diecast toys as were Pilen and Metosul in southern Europe but the days when toy cars, trucks, trains. and planes were keenly collected by most schoolboys were passing and the only booming makers of “Toy Cars” were Mattel whose Hot Wheels still sold strongly.

At the same time that the toy industry was experiencing turmoil a new phenomena was growing quickly; the adult model collector.  This was not entirely new as ranges such as Lesney’s Models of Yesteryear, Dugu, Rio, Solido Age D’Or and others had always had an adult following but now the children of the 1950s and 1960s who had played with model planes, trains and cars were becoming collectors again and in substantial numbers.  The adult collector often collected obsolete models from Dinky, Corgi and Matchbox  and collectors clubs and swapmeets started to develop across the UK allowing them to buy, sell and swap models. At the same time new firms had grown up, many of them “one man” operations to provide collectors with models of cars never modelled before or of current vehicles that were not being made as diecasts such as racing cars. These collectors models rapidly grew in quality and detail so that even models previously made as diecasts were produced again with greater detail for collectors. Many ranges were sold only as kits, or as kits and ready made models.

Model Auto Review was squarely aimed at the adult collector who was interested in models of all kinds from all over the globe, new and old. Up to this point they had been catered for by columns in Classic Cars and modelling magazines like Modellers World but not in a magazine dedicated to them.


Summer 1982

Front Cover

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Content

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A wide range of topics in this first magazine. From the start MAR featured excellent articles on obsolete toys written by people who really knew their subject. Often the subjects were lesser known ranges for UK readers like Danish Tekno models and even the Crescent racing car series.  Another type of article which was to become a regular feature were those featuring models of a particular car or from a specific car maker: the Austin 7, Isettas, and Citroen for example.  The roundups of new models of different types was supplemented by a detailed look at Somerville who were making a name for themselves for their high quality kits and built models.

The adverts are interesting. I believe that all the dealers advertising, with the exception of Charles Barnett, seem to have closed. Many of the dealers had shops as well as selling by mail order which is certainly not the case nowadays. The models on sale were a mixture of contemporary diecasts, kits and hand built models from the producers making 1:43 models for collectors like Brooklin and Somerville.  The smaller scale 1:87 models that were sold primarily to railway modellers but were also collected in their own right like Wiking also found a place in the magazine.

One of the key differences between MAR and the normal UK modelling press of the time was it’s international outlook. The adverts and articles cover models from all over the world. This international coverage was to grow as the years went by.


Autumn 1982

Front Cover

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Content

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The Autumn issue continued with more on the Austin 7 as well as features on Citroen H Vans, Peugeot Models and a VW review. Makers were covered with a look at the Politoys M Series and a feature on Brooklin Models which was already a well established firm having moved from Canada to the UK  in 1979. Brooklin’s final assembly area is pictured on the front cover with the 1956 Ford Thunderbird model shown being built.  The model itself is very plain and lacking in chrome compared to the latest generation of Brooklins.

For the first time a page of reader’s letters appears with contributions from readers around the world as well as best wishes from others in the publishing trade. Another feature which was to appear from time to time is an article on a reader’s model collection.

Adverts include special offers from Model Auto on Kado Models and Corgi’s too and include adverts from overseas dealers like Model Cars of Rotterdam too. An advert for John Ayrey who still advertises in the model collecting press today provides a link to the present though the advertised Schabak model aircraft at £1.70 each shows how long ago it was.  The first models from Eligor based on earlier Norev moulds were advertised as were the Heller 1:43 scale plastic car kits.   Model Auto even had some tin plate, and card cutout models of buses from Holland on sale in 1:25 scale.


Winter 1982

Front Cover

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Content

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Winter brought  Christmas wishes on the cover with an obsolete diecast Santa set  providing a seasonal mood. A Solido AEC RT featured a repainted model with a Bradford livery as used when Bradford brought some RTs from London Transport. There was also an article on how to convert a Yesteryear Crossley Lorry and a  Solido Citroen C4 bus into a Crossley Country Bus and a Citroen Coal and Coke lorry. Modifications of existing models to make models not commercially available were to appear in MAR on a regular basis.

The editorial looked at the fact that Matchbox’s new owners were moving production of some models to the far east and considering the predictions that high-volume model production would be moved to Taiwan and Hong Kong before moving to even lower cost countries like India, South America, and Africa. In fact as we know Chinese industrial policies made China and Malaysia the hub of all high volume production over the eighties, and it is only now that production is moving out to lower pay economies like Bangladesh.

Readers Letters now covered two pages and was full of comment on previous articles as well as reader’s request lists. One model requested is a Royal Daimler which was not made until Oxford Diecast did so over 30 years later.

As ever keen on covering unusual subjects Rod Ward wrote an article on Midland Replica Models horse drawn and other models made with old Taylor and Barrett and F G Taylor moulds. The Austin 7 and Peugeot articles continued, and these articles opened the eyes of everyday collectors in the UK to the models made abroad, such as the Arcade slush moulded Austins from the US. The Yesteryear series also continued reminding us how important a part of collecting these models were.

Advertised items that catch the eye are the final Märklin models made by Mercury in Italy being remaindered alongside recently obsolete Schuco models. In 1:87 scale the Walldorf white metal mini models are listed precursors of the Praline plastic 1:87 models. Spare parts for restoring obsolete models are advertised but so too are expensive models from ENCO, Pocher, Record, and Western. You could even have bought a range of Nicky Toys which often sell for silly prices at auction today for about the same as a Wiking 1:87 scale bus.


We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page,  or email us at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.

Editorial January 2017

We wish all our readers a very happy new year. We all hope that 2017 is a good year for model producers as well as collectors. The economic uncertainty that dominated the final quarter of 2016 is certain to carry on in the short term. We may therefore see model producers being a little more cautious in the first half of 2017, and models getting a little more expensive, especially for collectors in the UK. The trade toy fairs which will be held early in the year will give us all an insight in what is to come from the major companies, but the smaller firms no longer find that attendance from buyers makes exhibiting worthwhile, so we can expect them to continue to only release information once models are nearly ready to sell, rather than publishing long lists in advance.

Here at MAR Online we have decided to look backwards in 2017 as well as to look forwards. in 2017 it will be 35 years since the original Model Auto Review (MAR) publication was launched, in 1982. We will look back over the history of model collecting through the covers and contents of the printed magazine. We will review a year at a time and reflect upon the articles and adverts and the way that model collecting has changed over time.

Forecasting trends is always difficult. Clearly resin production will continue to grow at the expense of higher-quality diecast models and white metal models, but the rising number of complaints about resin models losing their shape and popping their photo-etched parts in storage might lead to a decline in sales volumes. Another factor in resin model production is that economic changes in China, such as interest rates and borrowing restrictions would affect the small businesses which produce these resin models. In 1:18 scale there are complaints that, though very beautiful, the models are so fragile that they cannot be handled and enjoyed, a sentiment shared by some collectors of 1:43 models who find themselves unable to remove resin cars from the plinth where they have been over-tightened or simply because they have so many fragile parts that there is no area where you can safely hold them. A couple of years ago 3D printing looked like it could offer a new way to produce models, but so far its biggest impact has been to allow prototyping work to be done quickly and some small parts to be made for final models. Until the technology is capable of delivering a smooth finish, however, it is unlikely that printed models will make a big impact on the market place. Traditional diecast sales volumes must now be dominated by partwork and series suppliers and the secondary use of the moulds made for these series by ranges like White Box, Greenlight and others. Here in the UK Atlas Editions have been featured on BBC television for very poor customer service, so if they do not get their IT systems properly under control they may experience even more unfavourable publicity, which may seriously affect sales of all these types of subscription series. The story for traditional brands has been mixed. Some, like Oxford and Greenlight, seem to be doing very well with regular releases and strong sales, while others are trying to regain the middle ground diecast sales by dipping into their back catalogue of moulds. Minichamps seems to be doing this more successfully than Corgi, for example. Minichamps and Spark seem to be dominating the sales of F1 and racing cars, which are no longer being produced as mass-market diecasts. A final trend that I expect to continue is the production in resin of older and obscure cars by Matrix, Auto Cult and others as they seem to be selling steadily.

I am sure that we all have a wish-list of model vehicles you would like to see at a price you can afford. In your Editor’s case it would be a set of mass-market diecast models of the Rootes Group Arrow cars: Hillman Hunter, Humber Sceptre etc. Why not write to us at MAR Online and share with us some examples of subjects that you would like to see made in future?

1:87 Scale Märklin/Schuco Military Vehicles

By Robin Godwin

 

Dickie-Schuco are now the owners of Märklin (thanks to our Continental Editor Hans-Georg Schmitt for confirming this with Dickie-Schuco). Back in 2007, Märklin introduced a superb line of 1:87 military vehicles under the 4MFOR brand name. Although they were designed primarily as accessories for HO trains, and in particular, the Märklin Bundeswehr train sets. These were also released as 4MFOR items, but I won’t talk about the trains. The 4MFOR vehicles were exceptional and collectable in their own right. The series initially consisted of soft-skin vehicles (unarmoured), armoured wheeled vehicles, tanks, and AAA mounted on a tank chassis, all unique to the German Army. Later some of the models and rolling stock were issued in Danish, Swiss, Netherlands and Austrian Army markings – mostly based upon Leopard Tanks and Gepard AAA (Leopard chassis). The vehicles were largely die cast with some plastic detail components.

I was disappointed in one aspect of the models – the tank tracks and rolling gear. The first 4MFOR catalogue from 2007 showed what looked like separate tracks mounted on accurate rolling gear – in the catalogue photos one could see daylight through the gaps between the road wheels. These must have been pre-production prototypes, as the models were issued with wheels and tracks as one-piece (per side, that is) coloured plastic castings and with no daylight visible. They look like plastic, and in fact, appear to be less detailed than the metal hull casting. I suppose, as display pieces, this doesn’t really matter, but rubber or plastic tracks running on metal wheels would have looked much better, and been more consistent with the general construction of the vehicle.

The 2008 4MFOR catalog illustrated a Mercedes-Benz LG 315 canvas roof military truck which, to my knowledge, was never actually issued as a Märklin. There was a 2009 catalog (which I don’t have), presumably with more future releases illustrated, but things went very quiet on the 4MFOR front soon after that. I can only assume that the line did not sell particularly well, or that Märklin was in financial trouble, and production ceased. Perhaps portending the Schuco acquisition, a few of the soft skin vehicles issued by Märklin as 4MFOR vehicles were actually sourced from Schuco which, of course, were sourced from a Chinese manufacturer – see photos.

Schuco is now issuing a Military 87 line, and the first issue was the Märklin Mercedes Benz truck illustrated in the 2008 catalog. It is a beauty, with metal bonnet, lower cab and tractor bed. Everything else is plastic. There are two more recently issued vehicles which I believe had Märklin origins but which were never issued. These are a steel roof MB LG 315 military truck, and a Marder Infantry Combat Vehicle. This would indicate that design and pattern work had likely been underway at Märklin, but production was never started. The latest Schuco releases are the Serval (light Special Forces vehicle) and two versions of the Wolf G (by Mercedes Benz), a light Utility Support vehicle that is a military version of the G-Wagen. Both the Serval and Wolf were issued as Märklins, with 4MFOR cast into the bases, but likely this has now been changed to Schuco. These vehicles are not inexpensive at 20 to 30 Euros each, but you do get what you pay for. I’m looking forward to some Schuco original vehicles.

Leopard Tank illustrated in the 2007 catalog showing what must be a pre-production sample. Note gaps between road wheels and what look like separate tracks


A production Gepard Anti-Aircraft gun, mounted on a Leopard chassis. Note the one piece wheels and tracks, looking very “plasticy”


2008 catalogue illustration of canvas roof Mercedes-Benz LG 315 Army Truck. To my knowledge, never sold as a Märklin


The Schuco issued Mercedes-Benz LG 315. Look carefully and you can see a tiny perfectly-formed plastic MB emblem above the radiator. For those who care, the license plate is different on the production model


Base of Mercedes-Benz LG 315 with Schuco cast in


Simple but very effective packaging – no screws or wires


Märklin 4MFOR #18706 VW 181 Open Police Vehicle


Base of Märklin 4MFOR VW 181 – oh my, it’s actually a Schuco, long before Schuco owned Märklin. Keyhole in base is for key-like fastening to a plinth that was not used by Märklin 4MFOR. This fastening system is typical of High Speed, likely the original source of the Märklin/Schuco model.


We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page,  or email us at maronlineeditor at gmail.com

Norev 1:18 Scale Mercedes Promotional Models

By Fabrizio Panico

 

All pictures were taken by the Author.

Mercedes-Benz continue to issue 1:18 scale promotional models made for them by Norev. They are made in China and include opening components, engines and alternative hoods for convertible cars.

As the picture above shows these cars are painted and built to a consistently high standard. Unlike some other promotional models they have many opening components. The models covered in this article are detailed in the table below.

B6 696 0351 Mercedes Benz CLA Shooting Brake 2014 X117   (CLA-klasse) mountain grey
B6 696 0359 Mercedes Benz GLE coupé 2015 C292   (GLE coupé) citrine brown
B6 696 0354 Mercedes Benz S-klasse cabriolet 2015 A217     (S-klasse) magnetite black metallic
B6 696 0362 Mercedes Benz GLC-klasse 2015 X253     (GLC) designo diamond white bright

B6 696 0351 Mercedes Benz CLA Shooting Brake 2014 X117 (CLA-klasse) mountain grey

 


B6 696 0359 Mercedes Benz GLE coupé 2015 C292 (GLE coupé) citrine brown

 


 

B6 696 0354 Mercedes Benz S-klasse cabriolet 2015 A217 (S-klasse) magnetite black metallic

 


 

B6 696 0362 Mercedes Benz GLC-klasse 2015 X253 (GLC) designo diamond white bright

 


We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page,  or email us at maronlineeditor at gmail.com