Togi History – Part IV

by Karl Schnelle and Koen Beekmann

In Part III of this series, we looked at the #5 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS.  Now, we will examine the Alfa Romeo Giulia Berlina.  This is the 4-door sedan (or berlina) made by Alfa from 1962-1978.   This must have been when Togi stopped numbering the baseplates on their new releases.  From online photos, the baseplate only reads 7/63 with no #6 anywhere.

NOTE: Koen Beekmann took the photos or acquired them from other collectors, unless otherwise noted.

Some Togi History

The original founder and owner of Togi, Alberto Lorenzini,  sold the company in the early 1990s; he passed away about 1995.  An article on Togi in the Italian magazine, Quattroruotine N°206, Nov. 1997, stated Togi had a new owner, so it was definitely sold sometime before 1997.  The original company used some small local factories to make all the casting for them.   The new owner, Alberto Lanzani,  was one of them (he made the Alfa 164 castings) and took two years or so for him to find all the molds and tools for all the toy cars from all the other factories.  The tools of the Giulia Berlina were lost, because the small company who produced the castings was long gone by then.

Giulia Berlina

In 1963, Togi brought out the Giulia TI Berlina model as a toy car with four doors, bonnet, and boot lid that all opened. That was quite special at the time. Mr Lorenzini had to find out for himself how to make all the openings work and how the hinges attached.  Was this the first toy car with all opening parts?  Edil Toys  did not make their 1/43 Giulia with 6 opening parts until 1966.

The early hinges on the Giulia look very different than later models.  The doors were hinged at a single point that was clamped between the bottom of the door and the floor of the interior, perhaps a strange way to do it, but Mr. Lorenzini was covering new design territory!  After the Giulia, a different method of hinging was chosen. You can see the low hinges on the disassembled early version below.

These models had a steerable front axle and front and rear suspension. A wheel key was supplied so the customer could disassemble the wheels;  with a screwdriver you could easily disassemble the whole model and then hopefully reassemble it.

Rampini (Automodelli Alfa Romeo 1910-1993, 1993) reports that  Carabinieri, Polizia, and Vigili Fuoco (Fire) versions came out in 1965.    Here is a catalog page from that time:

Then in 1967, the mold was modified to improve the lines of the model. After that, two new grills were available with clear headlight lenses:  Giulia 1600 Super (4 headlights) and a year later the Giulia 1300 (two headlights). The rear lights were no longer cast as part of the aluminum body but attached using separate red plastic parts.  Rampini also says the Super version has the two police and one fire versions as well.

Here are the three versions: cast front lights, 2 headlights, and four headlights:

The second author found this proof sheet for the Giulia TI kit several years ago – a collector had acquired it in the 1970s:

Here is the box it was for, as well as the box for the assembled model:

Finally, the Giulia TI came in a rare gift set with 2 other Togis, shown here from a 1960’s catalog:

Next time in Part V, we will continue the Togi story with the Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint.


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GFCC Models

By Graeme Ogg

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

I read that Mr Editor Woolley is hoping to report sometime soon on a model of a Jaguar SS1 made by a new toymaker calling themselves GFCC Toys. [Editor: as the model is coming from China a review may be some weeks away]. Their official registered name seems to be Tongbo Toys Co Ltd, based in Albany, New York. and I’ve read that they are a toy and sports equipment marketing outfit rather than a model manufacturer, but apart from that I don’t know anything about them or what their intentions are in the 1:43 field. The models are produced in – surprise – China.

I’m not into vintage Jags, but GFCC have also issued a 1:43 model of a 1959 Pontiac Parisienne, which is more up my street. I don’t know why they’ve chosen to do this particular car in isolation, you’d have imagined they might have produced a small series of U.S. cars from this period, but there you are. You take what you can get.

I’ve seen this model offered in the United States for about $15, but I think that may have been wholesale. The current retail price from  a Hong Kong dealer is about £25 but that is with free postage, so it can be considered relatively “cheap and cheerful”.

Mine has just arrived, and from some angles at least, it really looks pretty good, quite crisp and clean with a very smooth paint job. The windscreen frame (on my example at least) has no chrome or silver paint applied, it’s just clear plastic, and would benefit greatly from some Bare Metal Foil. The silver highlighting on the edges of the fins is a little weak in places and could also be improved with foil. The model lacks front vent windows, which could be made up easily enough from fine wire. But the overall impression isn’t bad at all. If the Neo versions of this car didn’t exist – and I don’t know if there are any other ’59 Pontiacs available in 1:43 apart from the rather expensive (and very hard-to-find Madison) versions from 2013 – it would certainly fill a gap in any collection of GM ’59s quite adequately.

From the side, it sits a little high, and has very narrow tyres, so you are almost expecting to find a clockwork motor or friction drive underneath. The clip-on top supplied with the model is very, VERY plastic-looking, so the car probably looks better open, even though it lacks a tonneau cover behind the rear seats.

Obviously at this price you wouldn’t expect the model to match the Neo for overall quality or detailing (although at least it doesn’t have the awful black front screen surround of the Neo convertible), but it isn’t disgraced either. It matches the Neo for scale, length is identical and I could almost suspect they might have pirated the Neo body, although there are small differences here and there when you look closer.

There is also a version in black with body flames, and a 2-tone version in not very authentic colours (it looks more like a contemporary Ford colour scheme to my eyes).

The model comes in a “distressed” box, with fake dampstains and scratchy lettering, which is an odd sort of gimmick. We can probably expect to see some cretins on eBay offering these models as “rare vintage barn finds” at silly prices.

It will be interesting (for me at least) to see if they do any more Yank Tanks, hopefully some that haven’t been done to death already.


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Editorial December 2017

We are pleased to say that 2017 has seen a continued growth in the number of MAR Online readers. We launched the current version of MAR Online in December 2015, and at that time we had around two thousand page hits per month. This has steadily grown and in October 2017 page hits had risen to over nine and a half thousand for the month. The number of subscribers to posts by email has also steadily increased and has grown to 122 subscribers, about 20% up on last year. The number of Facebook followers has also increased to around one hundred and thirty as I write this. Our site also seems to rank quite high in Google searches, which is a great way for new readers to discover us. I would like to thank my co-editors and all our writers who produce the content that people want to read.

We have re-introduced some features from the old printed MAR magazines this year. In particular brief news items when interesting events occur, and Club News. We run Club News every quarter and we urge clubs to let us know about what they are getting up to as entries on our club page and publicity for their events in MAR Online is completely free. If you have any ideas about things you think MAR Online should be covering, please get in touch, or even better why not write about new topics for us?

Here in the UK we were interested to see that Lyndon Davies, founder of Oxford Diecast, is now CEO of Hornby Hobbies. The controlling shareholders of Hornby were obviously impressed by Lyndon’s performance at Oxford, and needed his skills to turn round the struggling Hornby brands, including Corgi, Scalextric and Airfix, as well as the various model railway ranges. They were so impressed by Oxford that the majority shareholders in Hornby also acquired a minority shareholding in LCD Enterprises, the parent company of Oxford Diecast. The majority of LCD shares are still owned by the Davies family, and Lyndon’s daughter Eloise has taken over as CEO of Oxford Diecast. It will be fascinating to watch as the results of the current detailed reviews at Hornby start to emerge over the next few years. We at MAR Online wish Hornby Hobbies good fortune as the new team works towards building a new level of stability and profitability.

Changes are also happening at another UK model producer, Brooklin Models, where new ownership is dictating a new direction for the company with an “aspirational” website, products with added detail, and with expensive packaging under discussion. All this means that their models sell for very much higher prices, and there are rumours that the prices may increase again next year. In the meantime stocks of deleted models have been sold at heavily discounted prices, rather  like an end of season sale in the jewellery trade, and they even sold CSV models online at a heavy discount on Black Friday. We know that some Brooklin collectors have expressed unhappiness with the changes, but we hope that the management can address some of their concerns.

We at MAR Online would like to thank all our readers for their support as 2017 draws to a close and as is traditional here in the UK we wish you a “Merry Christmas”.


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