Category Archives: Book Review

New Book: Corgi Toys

Corgi Toys, by Mick Overton, Amberley Publishing, English text, Paperback, ISBN 9781445688084, 64 pages, 80 color illustrations. Available direct from Amberley, and from Amazon UK in paperback or Kindle formats.

Disclaimer: this reviewer and the author are friends. We have meet in-person only a few times, but we communicate frequently and virtually about toy cars.

MAR Online has reviewed one other Amberley book in the past. This new publication is similar in format but is released in their Britain’s Heritage Series. However, this book is not a history lesson on Britain’s industrial past nor a scholarly business review of the way things were, like Factory of Dreams: A History of Meccano, Ltd. from 2012. This book is one collector’s account of Mettoy and Corgi Toys from beginning to end with a slightly different slant.

Mr. Overton does cover the historical background of Mettoy (the parent company of Corgi) and many of the unusual Corgi variations, using color photos from Vectis Auctions Ltd. and from a few personal collections. Vectis was fortunate to handle the Ullman family’s and Marcel van Cleemput’s collections, and the author was fortunate to have access to the auction house’s photo archives.

The other important aspect of this book is that it covers the original 1:43 Corgi Toys (some with friction drive mechanism), the small 3-inch cars, and the larger 1:36 scale cars. These different scales are given equal weight in the book, which is not common in books or websites about Corgi Toys.

Because the author is also a collector, some guidance on fakes and where to learn about and obtain these old Corgi Toys is given. Therefore, this book can be a great supplement to the The Great Book of Corgi 1956-1983, by van Cleemput, published 30 years ago. This new work does not list every model like previous books, but it does give background and insight into many rare variations not published before. If you are a Corgi Toys fan, this will be well worth searching out and obtaining!


Modelling Book Reviews December 2018

The Revell Story – Assembling instruction to success by Ulli Taubert and Andreas A. Berse, German and English text. 176 pages, With 467 colour and black and white pictures. Hardbound with dust jacket. Size 220mm x 245mm.  German version: ISBN 978-3-667-11399.3. English version: ISBN 978-3-667-11393-1. This book is available from the publisher Delius Klasing Verlag, GmbH and other suppliers.

Revell – What about them? Virtually every boy, and also many a girl,  in the years since 1960 have glued together at least one plane, ship,  automobile, or truck model made by this company. High time for a book about this craft legend.

The richly illustrated volume tells the story of the German Revell subsidiary, founded in 1956 and now headquarters of the global kit giant, from an unusual perspective. Ulli Taubert, co-author of the book, has been associated with the company for 50 years and, as head of the development department, has shaped the model program for decades.

The second author of this work on the kit giant from Bünde in Westphalia is Andreas A. Berse, editor-in-chief of Modell Fahrzeug. In co-operation, the story of Revell is told with its ups and downs. With many exclusive photos, the development and production of new kits and ready-made models is shown.

Reading this book is a must for all model builders, who grew up assembling their favourite kits.

Hans-Georg Schmitt

Lieblingsautos (My favourite cars) – the most beautiful models in the box of toy cars. Written by Ulrich Biene, Text in German. 160 pages with 322 colour and black and white pictures. Size 218mm x 288mm. Hardcover. ISBN 978-3-667-11400-6. This book is available from the bookseller  Delius Klasing Verlag, GmbH and other suppliers.

Who doesn’t remember their favourite model cars in their own toy box?  Models which you longed for pressing your nose flat on shop windows to get a better look at. Models you eagerly took in your hand when you were given  them for Christmas or on your birthday? They were still called toy cars, the term “model car” was not yet invented, and were also used to play not just admire.

Author Ulrich Biene looks back to the period between the 1960s and 1980s, when children were not yet obsessed with computers and smartphones.

In Germany, the models of Wiking, Siku, GAMA, Märklin and Schuco originally dominated the toy shops. Later the stock was slowly expanded with models from French companies such as Solido and Norev, and by English Dinky and Corgi-Toys.

The Author randomly reaches into the toy box and looks at each  model in detail. The writing is knowledgeable and includes background information about the manufacturer.

The book looks at the full range of models available at the time, from models made in HO scale primarily to go  with model railways, to the off-road vehicles for Ken and Barbie dolls.

Wistful memories are stirred by reading this book and browsing the photographs of the models, There are many models described that would be valuable in mint condition today but which usually fell victim to the enthusiastic play of youth.

This is worth reading for lovers of old toy cars.

Hans-Georg Schmitt

Book Review – Blue Light Models

Blue Light Models A History and Collector’s Guide by Adrian Levano. English Text. 96 pages. Many colour pictures, Softbound, 235x165mm. Published by Amberley Books and available from good specialist booksellers, Amazon, and direct from

The Author makes it clear that this is not a definitive reference book. And at less than 100 pages it could not hope to catalogue everything that is available to collectors.  Instead it provides an interesting look at Emergency Services models from around the world with a lot of background on model makers, how the models came about, and why you might collect them.

The book is nicely laid out with easily readable text accompanied by many well chosen photographs which have been reproduced to a high standard. The Author has made sure that the photographs are well integrated with the text which is not always the case.

The book starts by talking about models and then moves on to showing a sample of models from many countries around the world. Pictures of old and new models illustrate this. The Author then looks at some more specialist emergency areas like military vehicles and after that looks at models in a range of  scales. Finally, Film and TV “tie-in” emergency vehicles are looked at and the book drawn to a close with a look at how to go about collecting.

Those new to collecting, but wanting more substance than most articles in the monthly model press, will find this an interesting book even if their primary focus is not “blue light” models.  For those starting to collect emergency vehicles I am sure it will provide inspiration and practical guidance. Even those with a wider experience of the hobby will find it a good read and will, like me, greatly enjoy seeing the excellent photographs of some of the rarities shown.


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Book Reviews June/July 2017

By Hans-Georg Schmitt


Veloce Publishing has just re-released two books of interest to the die cast and tin toy collector.


Diecast toy cars of the 1950s and 1960s by Andrew Ralston. English Text. 128 pages. 250 pictures, Softbound, 225x225mm. Published by Veloce Publishing and available from good specialist booksellers and direct from or

ISBN 978-1-787111-17-2  19.95 GB Pounds or 30 US Dollars

This book provides a comprehensive overview of diecast toy cars made during these two very productive decades. Many companies shown may be generally forgotten today but their products are still sought after. The pages feature models from firms like Dinky Toys, Corgi Toys, Matchbox, Märklin, GAMA, Solido, Tekno and Tootsietoy. This book brings back memories of the toys of these eras.



Tinplate Toy Cars of the 1950s and 1960s from Japan by Andrew Ralston. English Text. 160 pages. 173 colour pictures, Softbound, 225x225mm. Published by Veloce Publishing and available from good specialist booksellers and direct from or

ISBN 978-1-787111-20-2 19.95 GB Pounds or 30 US Dollars

The book showcases postwar Japanese-built tinplate cars absed on protypes from all around the world. The book features some of the rarest models from a private collection. The book gives history and background for all these toys. This is a  book for specialist collectors and all of those with an interest in vintage toys.

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Book Review – Wiking Autodreams

By Hans-Georg Schmitt

0006 45 Wiking-Autoträume (Wiking-Autodreams)



The press officer for Sieper-Wiking has published a new book to coincide with the 85th anniversary of the Wiking company. It provides the reader with a lot of new information about the life of Friedrich Peltzer, the founder of Wiking.

The company started making model ships, then aircraft and transport models to a scale of 1:200. These were mainly used in the training of soldiers and operators of anti-aircraft installations. Amidst the ruins after the Second World war the factory turned to the production of buttons and combs. In 1948 the first model cars to a scale of  1:100 appeared.

Special chapters cover the work of a Danish model builder and collector. In particular his miniature village and collection of wire-axle models. This is followed by description of more events in Friedrich Peltzer´s life, and a focus on the work of the master model maker Alfred Kedzierski. Using words and photographs, the production of Wiking models in the old Villa “Unter den Eichen 101” in West-Berlin described and shown.

The connections to Dutch, Danish and Swedish manufacturers are also explored in the book. An interesting fact is that the instruction book issued at the time of the change from driving on the right hand side of the road to the left in Sweden in 1967 was illustrated with Wiking models. Connections to the Volkswagen organisation are not left out as Peltzer manufactured a lot of advertising models for them in 1:87 and 1:40 scales.

This book is a must for all collectors of Wiking Models.

“Wiking Autoträume”, Ulrich Biene, written in German. 168 pages, with more then 600 colour- and black/white photographs and valuable reprints. Size 2855 x 265 mm. Hardcover with dust jacket.

This book should be available from model shops and book shops in Germany, and some other European countries.

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Britain’s Toy Car Wars: A Book Review

By Karl Schnelle

Giles Chapman has written a book on his childhood toy cars combined with a fascinating history of ‘the big three’ in the Golden Era of British Toy Cars. The three British toy car companies are the obvious ones listed on the cover (below), and the Golden Age was the 1960’s, as the author calls it. Mr. Chapman is a well-published author, so he brings a good perspective.

This new book is the same format as his previous books like 100 cars that Britain can be proud of and  My Dad had one of those.  His books are known for a sound coverage of the subjects and some well chosen and presented pictures. Chapman has written over 40 books and is a well known motoring journalist and author in the UK; he has now turned his attention from real cars to model cars.

Britain’s Toy Car Wars might be the first book that tries to tie the big three together in a historical and toy collector context. Many books have been written about the copious output of each company, so do not expect a review of their entire toy car production. I was expecting some side-by-side comparisons and timelines of who did what when, or who came out first with a certain feature and how did the others react. There is some of that, but mostly it is the author’s reminiscing about his childhood toys and then explaining the background of the company that produced them. In fact, many of the nice photos are of play-worn cars, which reinforces the readers’ nostalgia for their childhood.

If you are a specialist collector of Dinky, or Matchbox, or Corgi, then you will get a better understanding of the other two companies.  As a kid, I collected all three and have read a lot about their history since then.  So I did not learn a lot of new information about them, but several interesting facts did pop out from Chapman’s research.

I had realized that Meccano was much older and more conservative in their approach to selling Dinky Toys, but I did not know that Dinkys were sold in only 6000 approved stores while Matchbox and Corgi were everywhere, in more than 20,000 shops.  Chapman portrays Smith and Odell as the ‘young guns’: they disrupted Meccano’s domination with Dinkys by selling pocket toys at a much cheaper price, available all over Britain at the time.

There has been a lot written about Hornby, Smith, and Odell, but this book also includes some history of the people at Mettoy.    Van Cleemput is already well-known and is covered here.  However, I learned a lot about the Ullmann and the Katz families and their involvement with the success of Corgi Toys.  In fact, Giles Chapman wrote Arthur Katz’ obituary for the Independent (1999).

If you would like the read about all three companies and their high-level rivalries, please read this book.  The author writes in a very engaging style and brings both the history and nostalgia into the story.

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Book Review: British Sporting Cars in Miniature

by Karl Schnelle


David Wright tells us that he has had much complimentary feedback from readers of his latest book, British Sporting Cars in Miniature (2015), and that it is selling well. It covers classic British sporting cars from the early pioneers of the pre-war era, through the golden years of the 1950’s and 1960’s, and includes summaries of the production of the real cars, and a comprehensive selection of the miniatures, both toys and collectors models.

I find it interesting that the title says ‘sporting’ and not the more typical ‘sports’.  In fact, the author gives a definition at the beginning of the book.  Sporting cars include sports cars as well as those that  “may not have great performance but have a presence and attitude”.  That’s a great way to put it.

It features over 1000 color pictures, some never seen before, from both his own collection  and those of a number of serious collectors around the world. This 300 page book, featuring 85 marques of cars, was launched this time last year and, with Christmas here again, could represent a very nice gift for those interested in this field.

Marques include all those that you would expect, but also ones I have never heard of, from Ashley to Unipower!   A mix of obsolete 1/43 diecast and Matchboxes, early white metal kits, and newer Lansdowne, Minichamps, Spark, etc, etc are included.

More details can be found on his website, or email the author at david at   Happy Holidays!

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New Book Review: Matchbox Toys, by Nick Jones

By Marcel Colijn


I now have this great new little book about my beloved Matchbox toys in hand, and I really like it!

The book features Gary Galvin’s early, large scale Lesney toy collection which is one of the two finest collections in existence. With so many early Lesney Toys shown, this certainly gives one of the most complete overviews ever published. Where ever could we see 7 variations of the early Road Roller pictured?  The box pictured with the great Massey Harris Tractor is different then the one in Collecting Matchbox Diecast Toys – The First Forty Years (1989), so even if you have this book (published almost 30 years ago!), there is much new for you to see in this new book by Nick.

Both Nick, Gary, and myself were among the fortunate collectors who visited the opening of the Matchbox exhibition in the London Hackney museum on the evening of March 18th, 2004, and as we now know, this was the last occasion that collectors could meet both founders of Lesney Products (Matchbox); Leslie Smith and Jack Odell.  Nick Jones had his great, all-original UK 1966 Matchbox dealer display on show there,. A photo of that display in full swing with all the correct models is one of the many fine pictures in this book.

The new book also features Matchbox Regular wheels 1-75, Superfast, Matchbox Accessory packs, Major packs, and Kingsize. Don’t expect endless variation lists. The mixture of photos is fine, showing both the more easier to find models but also some of the more elusive variations. There is also a small section about Matchbox Models of Yesteryear models, and some of the fine Matchbox giftsets are pictured. With almost 80 color photos, there is something for everyone.

The book also contains original black and white photos of Leslie Smith and Jack Odell and the factory; that section makes the book especially fine for me.  Although I have many books and paperwork on Matchbox,  and when I was helping with Alex Picha’s book about Matchbox some years ago,  I have never seen the black and white photos in Nick Jones’ book published before. These black and white photos make the book an indispensable reference to have for the genuine Matchbox collector.

It has been quite some years ago that a book about Matchbox Toys was published, and I always welcome this. I personally want to thank Nick for all his efforts in promoting our beloved hobby. Online forums including Nick Jones’ own Vintage British Diecast Forum are nice, but a book is for ever!

Nick will travel south to the Sandown Park swapmeet on Saturday, November 12th, and will have the books with him. So why not come along and say hello and buy the book there? It will save you postage, and you will get a personal chat and a superb swapmeet as a bonus:  see  Or use  If you are not in England, then and others still have it on pre-order (as of this writing), or use paypal directly to the author:  see link.

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