Category Archives: Editorial

Another passing – John Martin

I have been informed that John Martin, the JM in JM Toys has recently passed away. John was trained as an engineer and after working for large companies like GEC Marconi and Plessey he left to form small companies of his own and one, J Martin Toolmakers was his introduction to model making as it made tools for Airfix, Palitoys and others. From there he developed a bigger involvement with modelling by buying a company making railway controllers and then acquiring Fleetline Model Company that made N Gauge white metal models for railway scenes.

John opened Cowplan models in 1979 and expanded buy buying another business. The emphasis at this time was railway modelling. But after he started trading at toy fairs in the mid-1980s his interest was taken by Brooklins as well as Pathfinder Models, Kenna Models, and Somerville models.  At this time he amassed one of the largest collections of Brooklins in the world. As his model trading expanded his engineering firms were wound down with the final one closing in 1992. By this time JM Toys had become one of the biggest distributors of white metal models.

John suffered from Diabetes and created a number of special models to raise funds for the British Diabetic Association  (now Diabetes UK). In recent years the business has been passed over to his son Russell to run and has become heavily Internet based. Whilst John found more time to ‘go fishing’ which was a hobby that allowed him to leave behind the stresses of the model business.


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

Editorial – July 2018

With the US initiating an international trade war, will it have any impact upon model collecting? Will Mattel, Greenlight, Castline and even Goldvarg face raised import tariffs on their models, all made by contractors in China? And if so, will that mean that American collectors will always have to pay more for their models, because Mattel and other companies no longer have the skills or the enthusiasm to bring manufacturing back to the USA? Will Brooklin models face additional tariffs when they are imported into America, and how would that affect their overall sales, which are so dependent on the US market?

The recent announcements from Corgi include no new castings, once again. I hope that the new management has something up their sleeves for next year to revive the brand, as the catalogue gets thinner with each release. Even Oxford Diecast’s second release tranche for 2018 featured only a small number of 1:43 scale models, mostly recolours. With the plethora of large scale models being released, it seems that 1:43 is becoming the preserve of small companies making small numbers of resin models, which are beyond the price range of most collectors.  With the rapid contraction of partwork productions, which tended to be in 1:43 scale, the modestly-priced collectors market will offer much less to buy in the near future. But perhaps the budget-price collector has already decided to collect smaller-scale models. American 1:64 scale and British 1:76 models, as well as 1:87 scale models elsewhere, all seem to have a constant flow of new releases.

In the meantime our regular correspondents keep up the flow of interesting articles on all sorts of topics, so my thanks to them for their time and effort. And my usual reminder that you too can contribute to MAR Online. Just send some photos and notes on a subject that you think will be of interest and we will turn it into an article.


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

A tribute to Robin Allen

By Mike Neale

Mike is a member of SHMAC who knew Robin well and his tribute will also appear in the SHMAC club newsletter.

 Robin Allen, 1949-2018.

I first met Robin over 30 years ago, back in the mid-1980s, thanks in fact to the SHMAC, when he was displaying some of his models alongside other club members.  I would regularly see him at shows such as Modelex and The Classic Car Show at the NEC. I’ve found one old photo from a bit after then, when a group of SHMAC members and I had a stall at a swapmeet at the old Coventry Transport Museum (long before they built their shiny new one).

We instantly bonded due to our shared interest in the ‘grey porridge’ British and European saloon cars of the fifties and sixties, both as real cars and in model form. He was very interested in my conversions of old Dinky & Corgi toys into more accurate representations of the real vehicles, as this was something that he too liked to do. At that time he was editor of the model page for Classic Cars magazine, and in the December 1990 issue he actually wrote an article about me and my model conversions.

I loved going down to his house and seeing what real cars he had each time, as quite often there would be some new classic car acquisition replacing one that he had decided to sell. I could also spend hours looking at the model collection.

One real car that was always there from fairly early on was of course his beloved 1952 Standard German-market VW Split Window Beetle. He had bought this rare car in 1970, saving it from being cut up into a Baja Bug, and had run it as a daily driver, but in 1976 he reluctantly sold it to fund a house purchase. He asked the new owner to give him first refusal if he ever wished to sell the car. It went up to Scotland and the owner began to dismantle it to start a restoration, but that was as far as he got, and the car stayed in his garage. In 1990, true to his word, he phoned Robin and offered to sell the car back to him, with almost the same mileage on the clock as 14 years earlier. Robin had the car restored and vowed never to sell it again. I’ve included a photo of him next to the car just after that 90s restoration had been finished, before he had got the proper German-style number plates made up.

He would go out of his way to help people too. I remember once when my partner and I had met up with him at Amberley Classic Car Picnic and we needed to get back to London to see a show at the theatre that evening. We had gone down by train that day but when we tried to come back our return train had been cancelled (I should have known not to rely on Southern Rail) and the next one was an hour away, too late to get to the theatre. Robin insisted on driving us all the way up to Gatwick airport to catch a train so that we could make it in time. Actually, at first he had suggested driving us all the way back to London, but I couldn’t let him do that. That was just the sort of person he was.

Another 90s photo shows Robin watering his NSU Prinz, presumably trying to grow it into a Chevrolet Corvair.

Over the years I must have attended dozens of classic car shows and model swapmeets with Robin. One of the most memorable trips was to Techno Classica in Essen, Germany, a show that completely blew me away. Robin was in his element amongst all of the German cars in particular, as he had spent a few years in Germany during his childhood, as his father was posted there with British Forces Germany. On the way back we diverted to take a look at the old army barracks where his dad had been based.

A car show that we both liked and visited many times over the years was the Amberley Classic Car Summer picnic. That is where we are both seen standing next to (someone else’s) Jaguar XK150.

 

On Drive-It Day this April, I drove down to Romsey in my Morris Minor to meet up with Robin, who was out in his Mercedes-Benz 220S Ponton saloon, which he is pictured next to.  I have tried to recreate the scene in model form, alas without a miniature Robin.

Robin had been suffering from cancer for several years and had been through a lot of unpleasant treatment, which had at least for a while seemed to be effective. However more recently it had spread almost everywhere. His descent from that April Drive-It day was sadly quite rapid.

Having had a fall at home, no doubt caused by the strong painkillers that he was on, he was admitted to hospital. For a while it seemed like he was making a bit of a recovery and might make it back home. Sadly this was not to be and he finally passed away on Saturday 23rd June in Portsmouth Queen Alexandra hospital, aged just 69. I was at his side along with his closest family and friends.

The funeral date has yet to be arranged. I do know that he left instructions for the funeral car to be a vintage Rolls Royce – that’s very Robin!

It is the end of an era. I will certainly miss him a lot.

 

Obituary – Robin Allen

One of the nicest people I have met through this hobby of ours passed away yesterday. Robin Allen, lover of old German cars, model collector, and founder member of the South Hants Model Auto Club  lost his battle against cancer.

Robin supported Model Auto Review from its earliest days with his articles and comments. These were frequently on the subject of Volkswagens, which he was an authority on, both modelled and real. Readers may remember that Corgi modelled one of his Volkswagen’s last year and Robin shared the design cell and the story of the model creation with us.

I met Robin just once when I gave a talk at SHMAC last year and he treated me to a tour of his model collection and capped it all by taking me for a ride in his beautiful 1957 Mercedes-Benz. His enthusiasm and willingness to share his knowledge and love of collecting was infectious.

I hope that at some point in the future one of his friends from SHMAC will contribute a fuller tribute. My commiserations to his friends and family for their great loss.

 

A Model a Day

I have a number of Facebook pages that I follow regularly mainly those of model makers. But one page that makes me smile a lot is Ruurdt Flesseman’sA  Model a Day‘  (@ModelADay) which aims to tell  automotive history between 1945 and 1980 through a random selection of 1:43 scale models shown one each day.

Ruurdt writes the captions in both Dutch and English.

It is the randomness of the selection that appeals. For example the last three days have featured a Bristol 405, a Berliet Bus, and a Daimler Hearse. Life through Ruurdt’s choices helps keep collecting fun!


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

Model Car Hall of Fame seeks nominations for 2018 awards

By Maz Woolley

 

Model Car Hall of Fame

Readers may be aware of the US based Model Car Hall of Fame awards that are run each year associated with the US organisation HobbyDB.  Founded in 2009, initially as the Diecast Hall of Fame, the Model Car Hall of Fame is an annual award event held in Las Vegas with a number of different awards. The Hall is supported by 77 clubs, forums and blogs from 18 countries. The 2017 Award Ceremony was held on November 2nd with the 2017 class being announced: Tim Allen as Automotive Legend, Paul G. Lang, Minichamps as Diecast Entrepreneur, Tony Karamitsos, Round2 (the company that makes Auto World, Johnny Lightning and Racing Champions) as Diecast Designer, Joe Alvarado as Diecast Customizer, Robert Fellows as Diecast Historian and Woody Itson as Collector of the Year.

The award started out  very US Centric with lots of Hot Wheels awards but of recent years they have been keen to take a more international view and to have models nominated by collectors from round the world and to widen the types of models they give awards to. This year the award categories have grown again with extra awards:

  • More model car scales, including: 1/8th – 1/12 scale, 1/18, 1/24 – 1/25, 1/43 – 1/55, 1/64 and 1/87 and smaller
  • Slot cars with four scales: 1/24, 1/32, 1/43 and HO scale
  • Slot Car Racer of the Year
  • Model Trucks
  • Model Kits
  • Model Farm Equipment
  • Model Builder of the Year
  • Model Brand of the Year
  • Automotive Artist

Our US Editor Karl Schnelle was one of the judges last year and many other well known industry figures are taking part like Raffi Minasian Chief Designer at Automodello.

So if you fancy making recommendations of your favourites then you may do so here. And if you fancy following the news and progress of the awards from time to time you can bookmark their home page which you will find here.

I am sure that Karl will be bringing news of the judging process and awards again this year.


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

Editorial June 2018

The inevitable has happened, Atlas Editions have stopped taking orders this month and they have liquidated their UK trading entity. Atlas say that existing collections will be fulfilled, but that probably means that they will they keep subscriptions running only as long as they have appropriate stock in the warehouse. In many cases collections have been brought to a premature end, presumably to avoid having to order any more models from PCT Industries and others. At the moment the Dinky repro models are not reaching wholesalers, though they are being sold on DeAgostini’s web site. Almost every other range has models reaching wholesalers which will end up at toy fairs and on eBay for the next few months.

I wonder how many collectors whose interest was captured by Atlas will go on to collect models from other suppliers? Eddie Stobart collectors will move on to buy Oxford Diecast models I am sure, and the collectors of Atlas aircraft can find lots to interest them in ranges from Oxford and others. But what about the “retro” Dinky collectors? Could Hornby exploit the gap by launching a range of Corgi Toys replicas? Autocraft and Promod both have some of the Morestone Modern Products/Budgie moulds and are casting new models using the original moulds. Autocraft’s Budgie boxed Volkswagen Beetle, as seen in a recent article by Robin Godwin, and Volkswagen Microbus are nostalgic reminders of childhood.

What is less certain is how these changes will affect the Chinese Diecasting companies. PCT Industries, owners of Ixo, has obviously been the supplier of many Atlas ranges. What will they turn to to keep their factories occupied? Will they seek partners in the US and Europe to sell their own budget ranges directly to the public, or will some of the other partwork companies like Hachette take the opportunity to fill the gap? Or will they shift production away from model cars entirely to industrial fitments and other castings?  It will certainly be interesting to see.

I would like to thank our contributors for their interesting articles which have enlivened the site this month. Don’t forget that you too could be a MAR Online contributor. Just send us some words about your collecting interests and a few photographs, and we will turn it all into an article for all our readers.


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

Obituary – George Maxwell 1938 to 2018

This obituary was issued by Mini Grid this week. We reproduce it for our readers as George played a significant role in growing the model collecting fraternity from its early days in the late 1970s.

It is with great sadness that we share the news that Mini Grid founder George Maxwell has passed away in his 80th year.   George left us peacefully with family at his side in the early hours of Thursday, May 24th after a long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s.

A note from the Maxwell Family:

George’s journey thru life was fulfilling and immensely rewarding, much in part to his vision and creation of Mini Grid, which allowed him to share his enthusiasm for motorsports and the model car hobby with others of similar interests.   His profession was a school teacher, but his passion was cars and car racing.     From being a track marshall at Mosport and Harewood Acres in the 1960’s and moving on to become the Chief Course Marshall and Clerk of the Course positions at international races at Mosport;  then racing himself in a Datsun 510 from 1970 until 1974.

George in action at Mosport 1971 in his Datsun 510

In 1975 George’s teaching career took him overseas to work at the Canadian Armed Forces base in Lahr, West Germany.   This is where the Mini Grid story really begins.   In Europe the model car kit industry was in full swing and George quickly embraced the hobby, with model car shops existing in almost every town and village throughout the Continent.  Taking advantage of his time in Europe he established relationships with most of the cottage industry sized kit manufacturers (John Day; FDS: Speilwaren Danhausen: AMR: Tron: Grand Prix Models; Western Models etc., etc.,) and upon returning to Canada in late 1977, he launched his new mail order business; Mini Grid Scale Models;  in the basement of his Scarborough home.   With wife Julia running the administration side; and with the help of friends like Bob Brockington, John Hall and George Webster promoting the hobby and the business; Mini Grid thrived and for the next 8 years the basement on Pebble Hill Square was a hive of activity as the business grew, with not only the mail order business (pre internet of course); but an increasing stream of ‘visitors’ knocking on the back door coming over for a visit to see the latest arrivals from Europe.    Mini Grid had now outgrown “the basement on Pebble Hill”.

George and Julia in “The basement on Pebble Hill”.   The original Mini Grid.

Therefore, in 1986, Mini Grid opened their first retail store on Hwy. #7 in Unionville, and for the next 17 years George and Julia ran the shop; along with help from equally enthusiastic staff; which now had expanded its selection and expertise to include all the latest in motoring books, videos, art, slot cars and; at the time; the then flourishing die-cast model industry.  Supported by an amazing and appreciative customer base (of which George would know virtually everyone by name) they all shared the same interests and passions, and George was in his element.   Good times and great memories.

George with one of his more well known customers – Sir Stirling Moss

By the early millennium health issues meant George had to take a step back and in 2003 he decided to retire from the business and sell his ‘retirement fund’; the building on Hwy. #7.   It was at that time Mini Grid moved to its current location on Mt. Pleasant Road.   His interest in the business never wavered however, and he would often offer advice, lend a hand, or just hang out in the store or at the Mini Grid booth up at Mosport greeting old friends and customers (same thing to him) and sharing stories.  And that was what George was all about – friends.  He loved people, always saw the good in them.   He had a heart the size of a lion, and just wanted to make everyone happy.
Outside of Mini Grid not much changed for George post retirement.   He continued to be active and involved with family, always with wife Julia at his side; always a very proud father of three; and a dotting grandfather of five. His favourite place in the world was at a racing track, and it didn’t matter where, even though Mosport would always be top of the list.   Fitting then that; with his health deteriorating; his final trip out was last fall to Goodwood Kartways to watch his 8 year old grandson Ryan compete in his Championship deciding race.   Ryan won, and the embrace after between Grandpa George and his Grandson was, well, unforgettable.  Life had gone full circle as they say.

George’s (here with daughter Robyn) last visit to his beloved Mosport was in the summer of 2016

The last couple of years have not been kind to George as Alzheimer’s invaded his body; and for those who remember the always smiling, laughing and jovial man you will understand that he is in a now much, much better place.

Nothing would have made him happier than saying goodbye to all his long-time friends and associates he met over the years thru Mini Grid, but speaking on behalf of the Maxwell Family we know he would want us to say thank-you to all of you who touched and enriched George’s life and made it a better place for him.

Gone but never forgotten.

RIP George.

For those who may be interested:

Ogden Funeral Home
4164 Sheppard Ave East
Monday visitation 6-9pm
Tuesday service at 1pm

In lieu of flowers and memorial donations can be made to Alzheimer’s Society of Canada


 

Atlas Editions has stopped taking any Subscriptions

By Maz Woolley

Text by, and copyright of the Author.

Alerted by a collector posting on the unofficial Atlas Facebook page I checked the Atlas site today and  the website has suddenly changed to show a single page allowing you access to your online account and announcing:

Dear Collectors,
 
Please be advised that with immediate effect, it is no longer possible to place orders for new collections. 
 
Here at Atlas Editions we are totally committed to providing excellent customer service, and we want to reassure our customers with existing orders or collections that nothing has changed; all deliveries will continue on the same terms as previously.
 
You can also continue to manage your online account and make payments exactly as before. If you need to create an account, please complete the orange box below.
 
Our group company, De Agostini, is continuously developing new collections and scale models on the ModelSpace website, www.model-space.com, one of the World’s leading and most trusted worldwide websites for scale modellers and collectors. We are very happy to recommend their products to you. Go and have a look for yourself by visiting their website directly by clicking on the banner below.
 
We would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for your loyalty and for your continued support.
 
The Atlas Editions Team”. 

So the much trailed event has happened and DeAgostini is clearly closing down the Atlas operation. On checking the French, German, and Dutch sites the result was the same so it seems to be a complete shutdown rather than just a shutdown in the UK.

Over the last few months Atlas models have been reaching UK wholesalers in large numbers so now is the tie to pick them up at toyfairs and online as they will presumably become scarce and the more popular items will increase in value.

I shall miss Atlas’ as they have produced some interesting series of models over the last few years. At the moment the Deluxe Dinky series is not showing as closed on my account once I receive the Renault R16 I wonder if I will get any more models? Who knows if DeAgostini will actually produce any more part works for vehicle collectors in the future? The Dinky series they are running is clearly based on casting used by Atlas already and I suspect has not attracted a large number of subscribers.

 

What do readers think? What impact do you thing a huge surplus of Atlas models to sell off is likely to have? And do you think that without Atlas we will see many fewre budget models available to collectors?

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