Category Archives: Editorial

Atlas Deluxe Dinky Toys is complete

By Maz Woolley

Many collectors received an email late on 20/3/2019 like the one shown below stating that the Atlas Dinky Deluxe series running in the UK is complete.

When I looked at my account on the Atlas website the collection shows as cancelled and not as complete and two models that I have not yet received are shown as having been sent. It will also be interesting to see if those who subscribed to the series at the higher rate to pay for a ‘Dinky’ garage will actually get one, and if not what DeAgostini as the owner of Atlas will do about taking their money under false pretences.

If we look at the collection advert above from their website it reflects the original publicity material for this series. I note that two models in the picture have never shipped to collectors: the Ford Galaxie; and Mercedes 230SL. Yet DeAgostini is currently selling them on their ModelSpace site. It seems a very poor reward for those who have subscribed to the series that they have to scrabble about elsewhere, and pay more, to get models that they should have had in the collection in the first place.

For the sake of completeness I include a table below which lists all the models that Atlas/DeAgostini say formed my collection though please note the final two are ‘in the post’. My apologies for the inconsistent presentation that is as Atlas created the entries.

If any reader has any details of additional models that they have received from Atlas in this collection please let me know (maronlineeditor@gmail.com) so that if there are any others we can create a full list.

It is clear that the collection was very different to that many UK collectors hoped for. The original test marketing promised many Binns Road Dinkys that have never appeared. There are even items on the revised collection advertising, issued when the collection finally launched, that have not been delivered to subscribers.

All in all I believe that the business practices of DeAgostini and its Atlas subsidiary have fallen well short of what loyal customers might expect. They accepted subscribers to series like the Jaguar Collection and Dinky Trucks long after they had finished the collection for early subscribers and then closed the collections for later subscribers well short of delivering them all the models the earlier subscribers got. They have also failed to send out advertised models in various collections despite the fact that in some cases the items were being sold to the wholesale trade in significant numbers and even available on DeAgostini’s own Model Space website.


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

Editorial March 2019

2019 has got off to a flying start, if the quantity of promised models is to be believed. Once again, we see long lists of 1:18 or larger-scale models being offered, There are lots of exciting models in other scales as well, as firms like Goldvarg continue to introduce new models in 1:43 scale, gathering considerable praise and selling out. Even 1:64 scale seems finally to be making a stronger bid for sales with firms like TSM selling models appealing to the young ’tuner’ fans. Unfortunately many ranges have introduced very large price increases over the last two years. Even firms who clearly try to keep rises to a minimum, like Oxford Diecast, Corgi, Greenlight, and Solido are having to make noticeable increases. There have even been increases to the entrance fees for many toy fairs this year!

I am not sure that such continuing price rises are sustainable, as with an increase a range may move into a different price sector, losing buyers when their price ceiling is breached.  This leads to smaller sales volumes which in turn demand higher prices to produce the models and to maintain an appropriate income level for the makers. So this means a further loss of sales, and so on, in an ever-increasing spiral. Our hobby is becoming more expensive every year, at a time when we all face increased costs in other areas of our lives, but without equivalent increases in wages or pensions.

A recent article about intergranular corrosion had many responses and tales of relatively modern models crumbling. Another issue appears to be failures in paint, where cracks and crazing occur without any signs of the casting failing. I saw a Vanguards Cresta Taxi Cab where the blue over painted bonnet panel was badly crazed recently. More distressing is the fact that my Vitesse Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet models seem to have tiny ‘dots’ appearing in the paint on the bonnet. I say distressing, because these models are not easy to replace. With this concern, and the ever-present fear of photo-etched parts falling off my resin models, I am almost afraid to get my old models out of the cabinet.

The Atlas Dinky replica series are spawning new collections. We have seen the new Mercury replica series selling in Italy, described for us by Fabrizio Panico, and news in from Hans-Georg Schmitt that a Solido replica series is on the cards for Germany. How long can Hornby put off either creating a range of Corgi replicas or licensing someone else to do so? After all the sales of their James Bond, and other film models, which are essentially replicas sell well. Or will we see Gama, Märklin, or Tekno emerge as the next set of replicas? Perhaps it might encourage Norev to run their Spot-On replicas in a more affordable subscription series?

I would like to give special thanks to those who have already donated to our 2019 funds collection. Their names have been added to our charter subscribers page; their contributions are very welcome, and will help us to maintain MAR Online as a free resource for our readers.       

And finally my thanks to all of you who write for MAR Online, who comment on Facebook, or who draw our attention to matters of interest to MAR readers.

Intergranular Corrosion Again

By Maz Woolley

Photographs by Jane Jones, a member of the Oxford Diecast Collectors Facebook group. Text copyright of the Author and Jane Jones.

I make no apologies for returning to the subject of intergranular corrosion as it still seems to be affecting models from major diecast firms. Collectors looking at stored models have come across models falling to bits from time to time, The Corgi Vanguards Transit Castrol van has a tendency to self-destruct as shown in MAROnline previously by Dave Turner. Whilst Photoetched parts popping on resin models can usually be remedied with glue and care intergranular corrosion has no cure. Some people have stabilised the models by flooding them with super glue and other binders but that just holds together a failed casting it is no cure.

Intergranular corrosion of diecast models is commonly known by many descriptive names: Zinc Pest, Metal Fatigue, and Diecast Rot are some. It is a destructive intercrystalline corrosion resulting from the Mazak (Zamak) used to make diecast models being contaminated with other substances. It leads to castings swelling and becoming misshapen. In later stages the castings may craze or develop cracks, ultimately even disintegrating. This was quite common in pre-war toys like early Dinky Toys where lead used elsewhere in the factory got into the mixture but according to Wikipedia this should not happen to items from the 1960s onwards as manufacturing controls should guarantee the purity of the metal.

Impurities in metals used in current manufacturings could be caused by suppliers shipping metal which already contains impurities or contaminants, or it can happen in the plant where the metal for diecasting is melted and mixed and where impurities may be inadvertently introduced. It is impossible for us to determine whether it is poor raw materials or poor manufacturing processes that are the root cause as either end up with the model suffering in the same way. But as I read comments on the Internet that many model makers have suffered from this problem, including PCT Industries, Norev, Corgi and others, it clearly needs to be taken more seriously by people producing the castings.

I had previously heard that Oxford Diecast too had this problem but had never seen direct evidence that this was the case. However, a recent post on the Oxford Diecast Collectors Group on Facebook by Jane Jones shows a destructive case of intergranular corrosion as you can see from her pictures below.

Jane posted: ‘I made a worrying discovery today. I noticed that the rear of this GPO telephones Morris 1000 was bowed, and comparing it to other Morris 1000 vans, it as almost a mm longer. Closer examination showed that the offside was bowing out and beginning to crack . No other model that I have examined seems to have the same issue. Hopefully its an isolated case??‘.

Janes’ photograph is shown below with my added arrows highlighting the extensive areas of distortion.

Jane added: ‘Lookout for the rear distorting. That indicates that the body has elongated because the zinc rot causes microscopic cracks‘.

Sadly Janes’ second photograph shows the inevitable result when the corrosion is as bad as that shown above. Again my arrows have been added to highlight where the ‘bowing’ sections have broken away from the van.

So if you have this Oxford Diecast van it may well be worth checking it. I suspect that this is not an extensive problem for Oxford Diecast collectors or the internet would be full of many more comments. It is a great shame though for those who find their models like this as it inevitably takes several years to come to light and by then the manufacturer is in no position to replace clearly faulty goods.


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

Editorial February 2019

I am writing this editorial as the Nuremberg Toy Fair opens. Though this is undoubtedly a huge event, it is no longer the centre of the model vehicle world. There will undoubtedly be a great number of the industrial manufacturers like Schuco, Norev, Sieper, Hornby, and Oxford Diecast present, as well as Greenlight from the USA, and a multitude of far eastern players such as PCT Industries, Universal Hobbies and others. Few smaller producers will attend, however, as their world is internet-driven and it is not dependent upon meeting wholesalers or retailers at a trade fair. The partwork producers will also be absent, as they have a totally different distribution model, and though Atlas has been closed by DeAgostini they are still a major player in the market place. They will continue to make very limited announcements about what any future series will include. Even the industrial producers no longer reveal all of their their next year’s models at the show, because they also publicise releases on the Internet well in advance, though they may provide a glimpse of what is to come in the form of pre-production models. As I write, Corgi has revealed samples of its new military ranges, for example.  

UK wholesalers continue to list many models which DeAgostini are clearing out of the Atlas warehouses. No doubt these items will find their way onto eBay and with online traders over the next few months. They also continue to sell off the Atlas Dinky models through the DeAgostini website, as well as offering back orders of their own DeAgostini Dinky models. In addition, in Italy DeAgostini has started a whole new partwork with replicas of Mercury models.

We have had many interesting articles recently on a wide range of topics. If you have never written for MAR Online previously, all you need to do is to send a few lines and some photographs to the editor by email; we are happy to turn your material into an article. Remember: your thoughts as a collector will always be interesting to other collectors.


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

London Toyfair Part One

By Maz Woolley

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

Your Editor visited the 2019 London Toyfair yesterday. Model vehicles are only a small part of the displays which offer a huge range of toys and attract buyers from small shops to supermarket chains. It was good to see though that many general toy wholesalers carry lines of model cars designed to appeal to children with some stands having boxes of Kinsmart and other toy cars and vans sold out of trade packs.

Although overshadowed by the Nuremberg show it is a chance for me to see what Hornby, Oxford Diecast and some of the major model vehicle importers have on show. It is also a chance for me to catch up with the editors of Model Collector and Diecast Collector and to discuss trends. Sadly I can’t join them at Nuremberg as MAR Online’s limited income cannot fund such an expensive trip!

I will cover the London Show over the next few days with photographs taken on the stands. And to start us off I will look at Diecast Masters range of models which specialises in Caterpillar models to 1:87 and 1:50 scales. One of whose models featured in a recent article by John F. Quilter.

This is the first time that I have seen their models close up and am very impressed by the quality of manufacture and the amount of working parts. I was particularly impressed with the fully articulated metal tracks. The models I saw are all supplied with a driver figure which somehow makes them come alive, even if they could do with varying the painting of the figure from time to time.

The packaging was also interesting. The Highline series of models are supplied in a tin with a foam inner so they are secure during travel and can be stored quite easily. The tins all have a picture of the working vehicle and full Caterpillar branding. The Core Classics range which focuses on best selling Caterpillar models of the past is supplied in cardboard boxes.

The photographs below are just a selection of the models that are being imported into the UK in this range. In some cases the models are supplied with exchangeable parts where it suits the vehicles.

The level of detail can be seen on the 18M3 Motor Grader shown above where all the hydraulic lines and steel framework is clearly modelled as well as very realistic wheels and tyres. Working rams are fitted and the sections of the model articulate like the real vehicle. Although there is a high levelof working detail this is modelled without being overscale or obvious.

The importer explained that the Chinese factory producing these models also produces some very detailed and high quality slot cars and is a very modern and sophisticated manufacturing environment with a high degree of automation. The painting for example is all automated and is all done in an electrostatic environment which makes sure that the paint adheres to the metal correctly. Readers will know that yellow is a very difficult pain to get right on models and is often sprayed too thickly to stop paint thinning over shut lines and raised features. Here the authentic Caterpillar colour covers well without being too thick.

The models vary in price but here in the UK many of the 1:87 scale models sell for around the same price as a Corgi Vanguards model and the larger and very detailed models are cheaper than an Otto 1:18 scale car model. Given the level of detail and the working features this range seems to offer good value to collectors of construction vehicles.

Over the next few days I will be posting articles covering models from other stands at the Fair. From Hornby Hobbies we have photographs of some pre-production samples of some of the new Vanguards. From Oxford Diecast we also get to see some pre-production items. And from UK importers we get to look at Norev, MInichamps and others whose models were on display.


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 2019

Happy New Year to all our readers, writers, and to the manufacturers who produce the models we collect. Soon we will be supplied with many more product listings for next year and I am sure that there will be plenty of choice of models to buy. I do hope that prices rise less quickly in 2019 than they did in 2018, but that may be a vain hope with the political turmoil we are currently experiencing.

The London Toy Fair will take place later this month and that will give us a chance to meet with Oxford Diecast and Hornby representatives, as well as with representatives of some of the major importers of models to the UK. It will be interesting to see pre-production castings and to hear of the models we can expect to see this year. I wonder if the fruits of Hornby’s turnround exercise will begin to be seen, and the future of some of the Corgi ranges become clearer?

Next month the annual mega-tradefair at Nuremberg takes place and a wide range of manufacturers products will be shown. I wonder if the trend towards large scale models will continue and whether we will see yet more new Chinese brands selling direct to the west rather than supplying Western firms?

If you are thinking of making a New Years resolution why not consider writing for MAR Online as we need more writers to help keep the site vibrant and worth returning to on a frequent basis?

Happy New Year

Editorial December 2018

2018 is rushing to a close, and manufacturers are getting their final shipments of the year from the Far East. Not all of them will manage to release all of the models planned for 2018 before the end of the year, so I expect to see another flurry of releases early in 2019, just before the long shutdown in China for their New Year holiday.

We are already seeing some announcements of models for next year and the rush to produce larger models continues. 1:8 scale Citroën DS and Porsche 911 models have been announced which will cost nearly a thousand GB Pounds each.

This year’s round of fund raising to pay for our web hosting has covered our costs, so a big ‘thank you’ to our 2018 charter subscribers for helping to make another year of MAR Online possible. Thanks also go to our regular writers and contributors, without whom there would be no MAR Online.

So if you haven’t written for us, why not make a New Year’s resolution to sent us an article in 2019?

All the team at MAR Online hope that you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

2018 Model Car Hall of Fame Winners

By Karl Schnelle

The 2018 award winners have just been announced in many categories for both model and actual cars.  Three broad areas for the awards are Models, People, and Brands.

Check out their four pages of blog entries for details on each winner.  Next year, you may again nominate and vote for your favorites!


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

Editorial November 2018

Congratulate us! MAR Online has reached its fifth birthday. In November 2013, MAR 278 was the last issue of the print version of Model Auto Review. Our initial online issues overlapped with the print magazines, sharing the same content. After that, for the first couple of years we published a fresh issue every couple of months, just like the printed magazine had done. When we redeveloped the site late in 2015, however, after experiencing some hosting problems, we changed to the continuous rolling publishing format we have today.

Our website details tell us that we have an average of over ten thousand page-loads per month, plus many Facebook followers and email subscribers. It is very pleasing for us that our readers come from all over the world, not just from English-speaking countries. We hope that you all continue to enjoy MAR Online and enjoy the fruits of the hard work of our contributors.

Our writers are the reason that MAR Online continues to delight and surprise; They cover a wide range of subjects, many of them neglected by those printed magazines which still survive. Our contributors deserve our gratitude. They share their knowledge and passions with you, without any payment for the time and effort they put in.  Model and toy manufacturers, big and small, also help us by making sure that there is plenty for us to write about. In addition, a number of new manufacturers have appeared during the lifetime of MAR Online.

Our thanks are due to those individuals who have contributed payments to our running costs, and whose names can be found on the Charter Subscribers wall. They have helped to ensure that MAR Online remains free to use, and independent when expressing opinions.

Having achieved five years of MAR Online, I am sure you will join me in looking forward to the future, and all the news and comment we will have on the interesting models still to come…

Editorial Announcement

I managed to walk into a low branch yesterday and it caught my eye. After some hours in hospital last night and this morning I am sitting here with a patch over my right eye as I have a scratched cornea. This means that using a computer screen is difficult. In the circumstances I hope that you will all understand that I will not be posting new articles for a few days.

Maz

MAR Online Editor