All posts by Karl Schnelle

1/43 diecast collector

Two 1950’s Cadillacs in Photos

By  Mike DeTorrice

1955 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 60

This is the 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 60 sedan, as done by Greenlight, in the 1/43 “Elvis” series of vehicles.  All snaps are taken in the suburbs of Chicago.

It’s really well done and certainly is a bargain at generally less than US$20.

This is the blue version, and a pink one is available as well.

1957 Cadillac Eldorado

This is a beautiful 1/43 Solido ’57 Cadillac that I got a great deal on at the Countryside show.  The snaps of the ’57 start in the suburbs of Chicago again, but after a long road trip, we ended up in San Diego!

These were made in both Seville and Biarritz forms.

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Dinky Supertoys Guy Vans

By  Terry Hardgrave

All photographs copyright by the author.

In 1949, Meccano introduced the first Dinky Supertoys Guy van, in the famous “Slumberland” livery. This was a most attractive model, finished in bright red paint, and featuring exquisite decals, in gold with black border, showing the company name as well as the Royal Crest of King George VI. Many think this is the most attractive of the 6 Guy vans made over a period of several years. This was in production from 1949 through 1951.

The second issue in the series was the “Lyons Swiss Roll”, made for only one year, 1952, so now quite rare and hard to find. Finished in a beautiful violet/dark blue, with more wonderful multi-colored decals, it makes a handsome model.

In 1953, Meccano released the third version of the Dinky Supertoys Guy Van, in the iconic “Weetabix” livery. Very rare and expensive! Mint, boxed examples can run over US$3000. For many serious, diehard Dinky collectors, this is the Holy Grail. After searching for several years, I settled for this one in very good condition, not quite up to my usual collecting standards.

The fourth van was in the “Spratt’s” livery and was one of more common, best remembered of this famous series, made from 1954 through about 1956.

Around 1956, the Guy Van in “Ever Ready” livery made its first appearance and was the fifth model in this series. As Ever Ready batteries were sold everywhere, this model got wide recognition.

Of the six Dinky Supertoys Guy Vans that were produced, maybe the most striking was the Robertson “Golden Shred”, also the last in the series.  If you want to know the history of the ‘Golly’ doll on the side of the van, see wiki or here.

All the Guy Vans were very popular, beloved models, made for several years in the 1950’s.  Many think that they and the Foden’s represent the best commercial models made by Meccano in that Golden Era of 1946-1960.

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Countryside Weekend in Review!

By Randy Rusk

Editor’s Note:  Every March in the suburbs of Chicago, USA, a group of 1/43 collectors come together to meet face-to-face.  After all year reading MAR Online and interacting on various virtual groups like Forum 43, it’s very nice to meet in-person, socialize, buy and swap, and ‘talk toys’.  The guys (it’s all guys unfortunately) come from all over the US, Canada, and occasionally even the UK.   The weekend is very full with Friday dinner for early-birds,  BuzFest on Saturday, and Chicago deep-dish pizza that night.  Sunday morning is the Countryside Classic Toy Show where many of the 1/43 guys have tables.  Then we all head back home with our various purchases!

Here are my impressions from the Countryside weekend for those who weren’t able to make it.  After checking into the venerable Holiday Inn, I ventured off to BuzFest. Buz’ gracious “hostess with the mostest!” wife had a great spread of sandwiches, snacks and desserts out – but I was saving myself for the deep dish pizza that was to come. More on that in a minute.

There was already a solid group of guys in the room when I got there, full of tales about models they recently acquired – or were about to:

But what stopped me in my tracks – and had me immediately reaching for my wallet – was the surprise arrival of a new Conquest woody, the 1959 Mercury Colony Park Station Wagon in red, black or white (with or without roof rack):

These came in just a day earlier from overseas so the timing was perfect. I nabbed the red one.  Several others snapped them up as well.  Regardless of the model that weakened your knees, Buz was very happy to get us into that next new car:

With stories shared and money spent, it was off to Giordano’s for Chicago-style deep dish pizza. A big thanks to Frank for once again coordinating a good meeting space with hot pizza at a great price.

And while you might look at these pics and wonder why no one is smiling, it’s because they all took their pizza consumption very seriously! With lighter wallets and full bellies, it was time to retire to the hotel for a fresh start in the morning.

Sunday was bright and sunny and felt like it was at least 20 deg F warmer – a very good sign. Another good sign was the long line waiting to get into the toy show.

Now, normally I’m not a big fan of crowds, but for the future of our hobby, it was really nice to see a big turnout of avid collectors pouring over the tables.

Word on the street is that they were all lining up to see John’s latest pink and green masterpiece in model making excellence:

OK, well, maybe not so much, but it was great to see all the dealers who support our hobby out in force with lots of great stuff to buy.  You might spot Automodello in the collage below.

Finally, at the Forum table, our thanks to Esval for sending several boxes of models, as well as to Sergio for a sneak peek of prototype samples of some of his latest offerings from Goldvarg. That newest woody (top left) is a must-have for me:

Well, all in all, it was a great time to catch up with old friends and new models. I always think of this show as the first sign of spring… and with the mix of scale models viewed (and purchased) over the two days, I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2018 holds!

I hope everyone made it home safely and I look forward to seeing you all again next year. A shout out to Dick Browne, our fearless leader at Forum 43.  I hope all is well and that we’ll see you all back in Chicago in 2019.

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A Polistil Volvo 164E from JFK

by Frank Koh

Here’s a very special Polistil Volvo 164E 1/25 scale model from my teenage years. It was acquired at, of all places, a hobby shop in the John F. Kennedy International Airport. It proved to be a foreboding of great things to come: my undying love for Volvo automobiles.

The Acquisition

In the sixties and seventies,  many of the more prominent international airport departure terminals had hobby shops that carried some of the best models in the market. On a trip with my family from New York to Manila in 1976, I found this 1/25 scale Volvo in the hobby shop (yes!) at the Northwest Airlines departure area of JFK International Airport.  It was “Love At First Sight”, and thankfully my grandfather gladly bought it for me. I fondly remember how careful I was to avoid damaging it, considering I had to forcibly stuff it into my already overloaded (with countless other model cars!) carry-on baggage.

Then when I wasn’t busy stuffing my face with airline food, I would peek into my travel bag and admire the Volvo for the duration of the very long flight. For a mid seventies model car, it was packed with so many innovative features. The trunk and hood opened, and so did ALL FOUR DOORS! The detail and realism of the Polistil Volvo were exceptional. An accurate miniature rendition of the Volvo inline six, the “battering ram” impact-absorbing bumpers, the detailed undercarriage, windshield wipers that were separate pieces and those crisply-molded steel-belted radial tires mounted on life-like steel rims with authentic Volvo hubcaps!

The Model

Polistil  made this model in Italy in the 1970’s and did a great job overall.  However, durability and safety considerations plus manufacturing constraints of that time dictated that the door window frames on the Polistil Volvo 164E be a tad thicker than they should, but this was a small price to pay for achieving an accurate opening door which included the window frame, just like on the real car. Well, those nicely cast road wheels with Volvo hubcaps more than made up for that minor concession.

While this  Polistil Volvo of the mid seventies was not the first diecast model car that featured four opening doors, it was one of the few, if not the first of its kind in this large scale where the rear doors could be opened while the front doors remained closed. Other such models which had four opening doors required that the front doors be opened before the rear ones could likewise be opened. This brilliance of engineering made it easier for the “imaginary miniature rear seat passenger” to board the car and alight from it without the “assistance” of the driver or front passenger!

Everything opened on the 164E. What is not seen in the pictures is that the front seats actually recline, just like on the real car. When this model was released in the mid seventies, the flagship Volvo 164 series was about to be replaced as the top model in the line by the Volvo 264 sedan and 265 station wagon that was powered by a 2.7 liter V6 engine shared by Volvo, Peugeot and Renault. This Polistil model of the 164E therefore features what could probably be the last miniature replica of the 164 series 3.0 liter inline six engine, the exclusive product of Volvo engineering and design.

The all-diecast metal chassis has exceptional details.  And the intricate tread design of those radial tires comes to life in this photo. Another world-beating design feature was the use of ultra-thin, ultra-rigid thin axles that effectively resulted in low-friction “speed wheels”, similar to those used in Hot Wheels and Matchbox Superfast models of the era.

This model was an auspicious introduction to a life-long love affair with the Volvo marque. For that reason, this Italian-made Polistil classic remains one of my favorite Volvo model cars.

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Togi History – Part VII

by Karl Schnelle and Koen Beekmann

In Part VI of this series, we looked at the  Alfa Romeo 2-door Giulia GT.   Now, we will examine the two Togi convertibles: the Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider and Kamm-tail Spider.  Here is an early catalog page of the Duettos.

Rampini in Automodelli Alfa Romeo 1910-1993 (1993) actually lists four Spiders and their release dates:

  • Duetto 1600 – 1969
  • Duetto 1300 Junior – 1969
  • Spider 2000 – 1972
  • Spider 1300 Junior – 1975

The first two versions are the Duetto designed by Pininfarina  and are often called the “Osso di seppia” (cuttlebone in Italian) because of the shape of its long, round tail. Alfa made them from 1966 to 69 before modifying the design to the Kamm-tail or “coda tronca”.   Togi produced the Duetto for 2 years only, and thus it  is very rare. Alfa introduced the Kamm-tail in 1970 so Togi had to soon follow suit with the other two, simply called Spiders.  The Junior versions of each are just a name change, so the same main castings are used for both.

The original, very rare Duetto spider is shown below.

The old Togi catalog shows the Duetto in both kit and built formats. The mustard version has headlight covers and should be the 1750 version, while the red one probably is the lower spec 1300 Junior.  Togi made these two different versions by using big headlights without covers or smaller headlights (so the covers would fit over it) with transparent covers.  Here is the kit version from that same catalog.

The current Togi company has reissued the Duetto in limited production, so it is not so hard to find any more.   This re-issued Duetto is slightly different from the original, so as not to confuse the two or reduce the value of the original!   Current prices for original, mint boxed Duetto’s are now very high! Therefore Togi made new badges for the  boot (trunk) in photo echoed metal, whereas the original ones had it molded in.  These new badges don’t seem to fit  the rather simple style of  Togi‘s any more, but at least it’s easy to tell the difference.

Below left is the new Togi reissue in white; on the right is the silver Kamm-tail spider that Togi produced for quite some time.

Next is another top-up Spider Kamm-tail, in Alfa red this time, made from a kit.  One can see the parts do not fit very well and there are some large panel gaps!  But we think this is charming none the less.

And finally, here is a printed sheet of the older Duetto kit box found just a few years ago.

Next time in Part VIII, we will continue the Togi story with two Alfa show cars introduced by Togi in 1970 and 71!

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Old Dinky Toy Lorries

By Terry Hardgrave

In the pre-WWII days of diecasting, many Dinky Toys, especially trucks, were a blend of several makes that resulting in nice looking models. However, these were impossible to link to a particular manufacturer.

My first example of this is the 22c Motor Truck, first made around 1936, discontinued in 1941, then re-introduced in 1946 for a few more years.

Many ardent collectors have tried searching for a matching prototype, such as a Bedford, to no avail. Headlights, which were separate fixtures in those days, were especially difficult to model, so in some cases, Meccano simply left them off. This particular model is a very, very early 1946 issue, as it is still using the pre-war style white tires, the smooth, non-ridged black wheels, and the use of black fenders.

The next one is another very early post-war model from around 1945, of the 25s 6 Wheeled Covered Wagon. This model was first introduced around 1938, in a military version as the 151b Transport Wagon, and is a somewhat generic design, based on a couple of English trucks from that era. The reason I know it is from 1945:  the smooth, non-ridged black wheels, and the very lightly treaded tires… a pre-war item. They used up leftover stock for a very short time after production resumed in 1945.

About the earlier military version, one of the 1938 issues of the “Meccano Magazine”  stated that this model was “based on several vehicles made in the 6 wheel configuration for the government”.  Dinky collectors have found many different photos of similar military transport wagons of that era.  Two of the closest may be a Leyland Terrier (photo) or a Crossley (photo).

Even though these little models have no true identity, I still love the look and charm of a bygone era…..

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The Volvo 265 Estate in 1/43

The 1976-81 Volvo 265 Estate
The Rapid Transit System for Families with Class

by Frank Koh

It was the top-of-the-line Volvo station wagon of its era, and the first-ever Volvo estate powered by a six-cylinder engine. As the flagship of the 240 series estate fleet, most 265 models were heavily-optioned to justify their upscale yet no less utilitarian character. Unfortunately, the 2.7 liter “Douvrin” V6 that Volvo shared with the Peugeot 604 and Renault 30 TS highline models was plagued with lubrication issues that often led to premature valve train failure. Coincidentally that same engine was used in the ill-fated DeLorean sports car. While the Volvo 240 series remained in production thru 1993, the rare and desirable 265 was phased out when the all-new Volvo 760 GLE Estate debuted in 1982.

Leather interior and “Corona” alloy wheels were two popular options that most Volvo 265 variants were equipped with. Only the contemporary limited edition Volvo 262C Bertone coupe was more expensive than the 265.

Atlas Editions

Even Volvo 265 model miniatures are rare.  This black 1/43 scale diecast is from the Europe-only Volvo Atlas Editions line and could be obtained only by subscription a few years ago.  Even today, it seldom turns up on the secondary market.  Aside from this Atlas Editions 265, the only other genuine Volvo 265 model miniatures are the vintage Norev 1/43 scale wagon erroneously labeled as a “264” sedan (the Norev wagon and sedan use the same baseplate) and the even older Dinky Volvo 265 DL Estate in 1/36 scale, one of my all-time favorites.

The raised leading edge of the”Coffin Nose” hood and exclusive grille of the 264 sedan and the 265 wagon (used also in some early-to-mid eighties North American-spec 240 four cylinder models) exuded elegance and power. The less expensive four cylinder Volvos from this range had a flat hood and less chrome on their grilles.

The Atlas Edition Volvo models came with a really cool black plinth that featured a separate plastic chrome Volvo emblem. Unfortunately, the Atlas Volvos did not come with their own clear acrylic cases.

Dinky Toys

This is the COMPLETE line of Dinky Toys Volvo 265 DL Estate variants, produced from around 1977 thru 1979 when the original Dinky Toys entity owned by Meccano Ltd. went out of business. All the Dinky models in this pic were made in England, except two, namely the orange civilian car in the center and the white police car on the extreme right, which were made in Italy because the Dinky Binns Road factory in the U.K. had closed down by then.


In the late seventies/early eighties Norev of France came out with a 1/43 scale Volvo 264 sedan, and soon after a Volvo 265 wagon variant was released. The latter was erroneously labeled also as a “264” because both sedan and wagon used the same “Volvo 264” baseplate. While most of these vintage Norev pieces were made in France, this particular example has a baseplate that says “Made in Portugal”. Strange indeed. This is the only Norev model I know of that was made in Portugal.

My Own Car

This Atlas Editions, Dinky Toys, and Norev are joined in this topic by another Volvo wagon,  my personal 1:1 scale Volvo 240 wagon, a 1992 U.S.-spec 5-speed manual car named Queenie.  My wife likes the car because its lack of performance keeps me out of trouble!

If you notice the #409 Wine Red Metallic Dinky in the photo above,  it is customized with the same paint as my car in the background.  We used the same paint to re-shoot Queenie last year.

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Dinky Small Auto Set

by Terry Hardgrave

The 1953 US Dinky Toys catalog pictures a small red racing car that many collectors might not have seen before.

In fact there are other cars in a little set. These were originally introduced in 1936 and called the Small Auto Set, and numbered 35a, 35b, 35c, and 35d. They were tiny, only a little over 1″ long, and made to OO scale. All of these were discontinued in 1941, due to the war, then re-introduced in 1946.

35a is called the Saloon Car and has the appearance of an early Triumph. It was made until 1952. 35b is the Midget Car Racer and is modeled after an MG Type R race car, and was the longest made, being deleted in 1957. 35c is the MG Sports Car and based on the MG Midget or Type P. This was deleted in 1952.  35d is the Austin 7 car, modeled on the Austin 7 Opal 2-seat touring car. One source says it was deleted in 1948, but it appears in the 1951 US Dinky Toys catalog.

The pre-war 35d models only came with a wire windscreen … postwar without. My example,shown below on the right, is the only pre-war model of this set that I have, and it also shows the pre-war style white tires and thinner axles.

The price lists from the early 1950’s catalogs show these as being priced at $0.35 each, and they always came in trade boxes of 6.
Here is another photo of this little, very antiquated set of tiny Dinky cars!

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Johnny Lightning “Magma” 1968 Camaro

by Frank Koh

1/43 Scale Johnny Lightning from the Playing Mantis Days

In the late nineties Johnny Lightning came out with a somewhat limited edition line of 1/43 scale cars called “Magmas”. There was even a mail-in offer of a special red Magma 1968 Camaro. That exclusive model could be purchased only if the mail-in offer was availed of. Needless to state, not many red “Magmas” Camaros were made; hence, they can be considered the “chase cars” from the good old days. Such was the ingenuity and innovation of the Johnny Lightning team when the company was owned by Playing Mantis.

Believe it or not, this Johnny Lightning “Magmas” 1968 Camaro is close to two decades old. I have owned this exclusive available-thru-mail-in-offer-only red Camaro for many years, acquiring it by way of the secondary market. It represents one of the better marketing strategies of Johnny Lightning when it was owned by Playing Mantis: Authorize a limited run of a popular model in an “exclusive” color, then sell it thru the company’s mail order channels. [Regular 1968 “Magmas” Camaros were were teal blue and green variants sold thru regular retail outlets.] Consequently, for all intents and purposes, the red “Magmas” Camaro was one of the first “chase cars”.  Brilliant.

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The Corvette That Smells Good

by Frank Koh

I snagged this Avon Corvette fragrance decanter at my favorite source for vintage collectibles and LP records earlier this year. Truth be told, the Avon catalogs from the good old days really had some neat and desirable stuff!

Around 1968, Avon Products, Inc. introduced a line of car-themed aftershave decanters, one of which was this 1965 Corvette. The popular Avon scents such as Spicy, Wind Country, Deep Woods, etc. found their way into car-shaped bottles that most likely encouraged the gearheads of the day to collect as many glass vehicles as they could. Don’t you wish that today’s Avon Ladies would offer neat items such as these from the Avon catalog?

This Corvette’s a little smaller than 1/34 scale and not the most accurate rendering of the vehicle, but what it may lack in scale fidelity and realism, it more than makes up for in old school charm.

Take note of the box art. The image looks like a cross between a second generation 1965 Corvette and a third generation 1968 Corvette, and it actually looks pretty good. Considering that the line of car-themed Avon aftershave bottles was released around 1968, the illustrator probably confused the all-new body of the ’68 with the oh-so-different previous generation ’65 Corvette. It’s this kind of trivia that makes collecting old stuff so much fun.

The rear portion is green-tinted clear plastic, and serves as screw-on the bottle cap for this really neat and collectible Avon fragrance decanter.

Only knowledgeable Corvette mavens would notice the error on the front label of the box. The ’63-’67 second generation Corvette was a “Sting Ray” (two words) and the ’68-’82 third generation Corvette was a “Stingray” (one word), though for model year 1968 the car was only identified as a “Corvette”. But I’m just nit-picking because I’m sleepy.

Late sixties tech lingo. Whoever composed this interesting write-up forgot that for model year 1965, a 396 cubic-inch big block V8 became available as an option on the Corvette for the very first time. Apparently the new-for-’65 styling cues and the disc brakes would have been more significant to users of Avon products.

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