Category Archives: Editorial

Lyndon Davies to be Hornby Hobbies CEO

I share an important press release made by Hornby below. Although UK financial web sites are chattering it is clear that they have no more information than that provided by Hornby.

It will be fascinating to see how Lyndon Davies appointment as Hornby Chief Executive Officer progresses and how the Hornby and Oxford brands interact going forwards. The announcement brings Lyndon Davies’ huge expertise to Hornby and I hope it revitalises the business. It is also important to note that it also brings back Simon Kohler as a consultant who was a key employee at Hornby for many years particularly in the railway product sector.

Whilst we may all speculate about the prospects for the various brands concerned we at MAR Online hope that this dramatic initiative will be the start of a successful rebuilding of Hornby’s various brands and that it will not interfere with the way Oxford Diecast has driven the market through regular new products.

We all wish Lyndon success as the new CEO at Hornby.

 

Horby Press release follows

Hornby Plc  3rd October 2017
 Appointment of CEO

Hornby Plc, the international models and collectibles group, today announces Lyndon Charles Davies, aged 56, has agreed to join the Group as CEO. Mr Davies is Chairman of Oxford Diecast (“Oxford”), a business founded in 1993. He remains the majority shareholder of LCD Enterprises Limited (“LCD”), the ultimate owner of the Oxford Diecast brands.

A highly-experienced model and hobby professional with 40 years’ experience in the industry, Lyndon has built Oxford Diecast into a successful international business over the past two decades focused on diecast vehicles, aircraft and, more recently, rail based products.

Hornby is exploring the opportunity to invest in LCD. Further information will be released in due course.

As a result of this appointment, Steve Cooke, the current CEO, will step down from the board with immediate effect.

Lyndon will be appointed to the Board following satisfactory completion of the customary due diligence for listed company board appointments. A confirmation announcement will be made on this shortly.

Other appointments

Lyndon Davies will appoint Tim Mulhall and Simon Kohler as operational consultants who will report directly to him and the Board.

Tim Mulhall specialises in building routes to market and strategic sales development. Tim has also spent 20 years as a business entrepreneur in the model and hobby industry, five of which working directly with Hornby through OnTracks, a business which managed the distribution of Hornby international products.

Simon Kohler is a highly-respected industry veteran in the model and hobby industry, having spent 35 years with Hornby. During a long career at the Group, Simon worked in many roles, covering most of the brands; notably he worked with Hornby Rail and Scalextric during their most successful years.

These appointments are part of a strategy to complement the Group’s existing management with additional highly experienced model and hobby expertise.

Commenting on the appointment, David Adams, interim Chairman, said

“I am delighted to welcome Lyndon to the board. His obvious expertise in and enthusiasm for the toy and hobby industry will provide the Group with experienced leadership for the next stage of our development. Hornby will continue with its Turnaround Plan and Lyndon is ideally qualified to steer the Group through this period.

 “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Steve for his service to Hornby and for his leadership of the first stage of the Turnaround Plan. On behalf of the board, I wish him every success in the future.”


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Editorial October 2017

I would like to thank those who have made donations towards the cost of web hosting. You are helping to ensure that MAR Online continues as a “free to view” collectors’ resource. If you wish to make a donation, please email the Editor using the contact details on the website. I would also like to thank all those who have been keeping MAR Online alive with interesting articles and I must remind readers that we welcome your contributions, which we are happy to edit for you. Some photographs and a few words can be turned into a very interesting article.

Dave Turner’s article about intergranular corrosion of a Ford Transit in his collection generated many responses. Collectors have reported the issue in quite a few ranges, so perhaps we all need to check our models? If you do, and you find any examples, please let us know here at MAR Online as we will be running a follow up article in future. This problem underlines the risks involved if anyone regards model collections as an ‘investment’.  Not only may the models fall out of popularity, they may also fall apart.

I am sorry to see a lot of adverse comments on bulletin boards about the variable standards of models recently released by Oxford Diecast. Examples reported by others include poor paint masking on some 1:76 coaches, and incorrect rear light painting on the new 1:76 scale original Range Rover. My example of the new 1:43 Jaguar XK150 roadster has the rear lights printed lopsidedly. Collectors recognise that Oxford should be congratulated for their role in providing lots of new and interesting models, and their public engagement. A degree of frustration is building up amongst collectors, however, and improved quality control at Oxford’s Chinese manufacturing base is needed to address this.

We can look forward to announcements of next year’s models from many of the larger manufacturers over the next few months. In many cases the models shown will have been under development for three or so years. It will be interesting to see which types of vehicles they have chosen to model, and in what scales.


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Intergranular Corrosion

By Maz Woolley

Photographs by the Author of a model in Dave Turner’s collection of Fords in MIniature.

Integranular corrosion is better known to collectors as “metal fatigue” or “zinc pest”. The alloys used for diecast models (Mazak/Zamak) should be stable and models should remain fine for years unless impurities exist in the alloys. Many of us became aware of this phenomenon when collectors of early Dinky models watched their models disintegrating before their eyes. Since when the same has been seen in other ranges with pictures of broken and fatigued Saratov produced USSR models featuring on some bulletin boards for example.

Many collectors, including me, had believed that modern mainstream die casters quality control was a guarantee that such problems would not arise. But it isn’t true. The pictures below are of a Corgi model which is gradually failing but Corgi are not the only people whose models have issues, and the failure of the model below should not be taken as an indication that your stored Corgi models are any more at risk than other makes.

The Millionth Transit was a popular release from Corgi but as can be seen from the photographs below this one it is suffering so badly from the corrosion that the sides are bowing out and the bonnet and roof are wrinkled.

Things are a little complicated by the fact that it appears that poor preparation or paint issues by some makers may cause the paint to lift and craze whilst the casting below is still actually in good condition. However, as the pictures above show when the metal starts to fail the surfaces become “wavy” which means that it is not just a problem with paint.

Many collectors, myself included, have models stored in boxes. It may be worth your while looking over models that you have not looked at in a while to check that they are all OK. If you should find models with Intergranular corrosion please let us know by email or facebook or via the contact form on the website. It would be interesting to see pictures and perhaps do a round up of the wider experience of collectors at a later date.


We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page.

Editorial September 2017

The end of September starts the final quarter of the year. It is a time when many manufacturers strain to get the remainder of this year’s planned issues into production in China, and shipped in time to sell before the end of the year. This is also the time of year when MAR Online’s web hosting has to be paid. Many thanks to those who have donated this year already, but more donations would be welcome, to help close the gap between what has been donated and the cost of hosting this website.

The growth in 1:18 scale model production so far this year has been amazing. And not all of these models are expensive promotional items; many actually cost less than most 1:43 scale resin models. In 1:43 scale, we have seen a steady release of new models, though with fewer ‘new entrants’ than in recent years, and a decline in the amount of Chinese ranges selling Rolls–Royces and similar models direct to Western buyers via eBay. The return of Goldvarg with new 1:43 resin models was a welcome event. Partwork castings are being re-issued in several ranges, but they are being offered at double the price of the original partwork model. 1:64 scale has also had an active year, but the US scene seems to be settling down, with AutoWorld now consolidating Johnny Lightning under their banner. M2 and Greenlight are also releasing quite a few models. Here in the UK Oxford Diecast is producing excellent Rolls-Royce models, as well as some excellent 1:76 scale coaches, showing just how good their mainstream diecast models can be.

The increase in prices we experienced from the first quarter of this year onwards appears to have slowed a little, except in the case of Brooklin Models, where there has been an increased level of detail and a re-structuring of product ranges and pricing. This seems to be an attempt to take the product into the aspirational luxury goods market, which has led to very substantial price rises and a lot of adverse comments from collectors. Similar price rises are making the MaxiChamps re-releases of 1970s and 1980s models much more expensive than expected. This may well restrict their sales, when secondhand examples of the original models can be bought more cheaply on eBay and at swapmeets.  The DeAgostini Group of companies have kept prices down over the last year, but looking at the volatility of the pound and dollar I am afraid that price increases in that sector will be inevitable. In the partwork field, it looks as if Atlas may be withdrawing from our sector in the future.

Our contributors have given us insights into a wide range of models this year but we always welcome more new material. Writing for MAR Online is easy: just send us some pictures and your thoughts on a subject; we can turn it into a posting.

Finally, don’t forget our Facebook Page. It is a great place to add information, or to provide corrections to anything we have posted.

1/43 Vanguards History

by Karl Schnelle

Bob Neumann of the Illinois Matchbox Collectors Club (USA) just passed this information on to me.  I have some old Corgi Toys and a few Lledo’s in my collection, but I do not follow the modern stuff.  So I had not seen the new Corgi blog!   Their blog or Diecast Diary has come out every month and since it is written by “The Corgi Team” includes new releases and information that Corgi wants their customers to know about.

The last five articles have had a series on the history of Vanguards and how they passed from Lledo to Corgi ownership.  Two of the driving forces (men) behind them are also discussed.  I always enjoy reading about the history of our hobby and the people behind it.  So I thought our MAR Online readers would too!  For a company blog used for sales and marketing, there is a lot of information in this series.

Click on the menu on the right and read all five articles.  The fifth one is this link.  Scroll down the page until you see the Vanguards banner: some fascinating background from the designer as well as photos of some pre-production models are there.

Here is one of the early Vanguards (a small, fit-the-box, 1953 Pontiac) that are mentioned in the blog; my Mother bought it for me many years ago!

The second blog article mentioned that the Lledo factory was “established on Woodhall Road in Enfield”.    Wasting time on the internet, i did find a Woodall Road in Enfield.   The funny thing is that when you zoom in to it on google maps, the label Gilbow Holding shows up on one of the buildings!   I recognized that as the holding company for EFE (recently acquired by Bachmann).  The EFE History page says they moved to Enfield in 2002, and Lledo was bought by Corgi in 1999, when they downsized everyone, and moved all the tools to China (according to these Corgi articles)!   A very ‘small diecast world’!  

Maybe that is common knowledge for UK collectors, but that was interesting news for me!


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

 

 

 

 

Bubblecar Museum, Lincolnshire UK

By Maz Woolley

All photographs by the Author, and copyright of Author. 

This unusual museum is housed in modern Industrial buildings in rural Lincolnshire. It is situated in what was known as “bomber country” due to the large number of USAAF and RAF airbases which took advantage of the flat landscape during the Second World War. It is only a few miles away from RAF Coningsby where the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is based and which is also an excellent place to visit when in this part of the UK.

Although called a Bubble Car Museum it has a range of Microcars as well as Motorbikes and Scooters.

The museum is mainly located on the ground floor with a smaller second floor with yet more vehicles. On entry to the collection you go past the classic bubble cars with Messerschmidt, Heinkel, and Isetta all on display.  The collection also includes several Bonds and Berkeleys.

The cars are all a little crowded together but a great deal of effort has been made to show the cars with accessories and other period items.

Displays of models, toys, and household items help bring the era alive and perhaps help add enjoyment to the visit for those who are not quite as interested in the cars.

I was very pleased to see an example of the Frisky which was modelled by Spot On in the 1960s.

Two Bond Bugs as modelled by Corgi are on display as well.

There are lots of more modern French Microcars as they survive there due to licensing allowing them to be driven by the young without tests.

And even an unusual UK made Cursor Microcar which never caught on.

There are several examples of the Bamby made in the UK in the mid 80s.

There is an excellent display of Scooters including rare ones from Iso, Heinkel, Zundapp, and even Bond.

There are also some utilitarian three wheelers from New Map Solyto and Piaggio’s ubiquitous Ape 50 as well as the unique disabled vehicle build by AC and provided under the National Health Service here in the UK to disabled people until it was done away with as dangerous in 2003. Ironically, the motability electric Scooters that have replaced them don’t seem any safer when they venture onto the road.

My post only gives a brief appreciation of what is there as the museum has well over 50 vehicles with most on display.

I hope that my pictures will encourage you to visit the museum if you are in the area. Note that at present it is only open three days a week and shuts over the winter months so do check the web site before you visit.  It is staffed by knowledgeable and friendly staff and has an excellent small cafe with value for money food and even has a camp site for those who are touring.

Those who want to find out more about this museum should visit their web site here. 


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

Talking to Sergio Goldvarg

By Maz Woolley “talking to” Sergio Goldvarg

 

Whilst compiling the posting on the revival of the Goldvarg Collection Sergio was kind enough to answer some questions from the editor. The answers were interesting so the conversation has been set out in question and answer format below.

It is some time since the last model in the previous white metal Goldvarg Range, what has encouraged you to return to selling models after all you have many other businesses to run?

It’s very simple, you never forget your first love.

The new models are made in resin in China is there any reason why you did not have them made in white metal?

The industry is going in that direction and doing white metal now would be more expensive for the same amount of detail.

Some Americans appear to be disappointed that the models will be made in China – Why did you choose to have them made in China?

Well, I did not get any comment of that kind from my fellow American collectors, and I know a lot of them . What matters is the exact proportions and attention to detail, not the country of origin.
During the 1980’s and 1990’s I had my own premises in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is not a country with a tradition of model making in 1:43 scale, but every single Goldvarg that I manufactured, was sold out nearly two years in advance of the production date.

What decides your choice of models for the US range?

It is the same motivation that moved me to start my factory in Buenos Aires: Just for me to make the models that I always wanted to have but were never manufactured, or were not in the quality and accuracy I wanted. That was the beginning  of Goldvarg Collection at that time and is what moves me to go back to producing models again.

Can you give any hints on the future model program beyond the future release items on the web site? Do you have any target for the number of models you may produce a year?

At this time I am in the process of getting the approvals and licenses from the three greats: Ford, GM and Chrysler for the future program. As soon as I am able, I will let you know.

The advance pictures of your models suggest that you use less photoetching than other firms like Neo and Matrix. Is that the case? And is there any reason for this?

You may get that impression from the production pictures but I will also use photo-etching. I want to make the model as close as possible to the actual car so if there is a very small part that we want to add to the body of the car, if it has volume, no matter the small the piece is, it can’t be with photo etching as is not going to look like the real thing. Remember that I am an architect and volume is one of the most important issues in making a scale model car look right.

Your non-US models are very different. What is the rationale for your choices of prototypes that sold in very small numbers?

Yes, that’s true, there are many choices that are very different. But I think that I did the same with the Goldvarg Collection models in the past. The real Kaiser Henry J was not a big seller yet I had all the production sold one year ahead of the production time. I also made the 1950 Packard Woodie with real mahogany wood on the sides and rear which sold well despite the small number of original cars. It seems that I was not so wrong after all Brooklin did them both some years later.

You have a huge collection?

Yes, I’ve been collecting all my life and still do. Model cars have been a passion since I was four years old and my mother bought me the Matchbox #9, the Merryweather Marquis Fire Engine, which I still have with its original box and in mint condition.

Our thanks at MAR Online to Sergio for sparing his time to answer our questions. For those of you who would like to learn more about Sergio and his interesting life with models  there is a lot more information on his website.

It is good to have the Goldvarg Collection back and I am sure that Sergio’s excitement for what he is doing will show through in the first models as they arrive in the US shortly.


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

 

 

Editorial August 2017

Early in July I visited the South Hants Model Auto Club to meet the members and to give a short talk about MAR Online and model collecting in general. I had a great time, with members inviting me into their homes to see their superb collections, and even to take me for rides in their full-size old cars; a wonderful and unexpected experience. The club night was very interesting indeed. emphasising how diverse collectors’ interests can be. My thanks to SHMAC for the invitation.

If there is a collectors’ club in your area, or a special-interest club for collectors, like the Brooklin Collectors Club for example, they are well worth joining. Bulletin boards such as Forum 43/64/18 and Planet Diecast are valuable ways to connect with other collectors, and there are interesting Facebook pages like the many that exist for Oxford Diecast collectors. There are even ‘comment’ areas on some manufacturers’ websites. All of these are  to interact with fellow collectors and to learn more about our hobby.

Many of the models announced for this year have finally begun to make their way to the market over the last few months, and most of them have turned out to be very good. Prices seem to be rising rapidly for some ranges, though some others, in UK and Europe, seem to be holding their prices down. Sadly more evidence of issues with models has arisen; some Oxford Diecast Ford van models have been seen with bubbling paint that looks very like inter-granular corrosion or a major paint reaction. Other reports suggest that some models from Trax and others are also found to be deteriorating when collectors open the boxes, after storing them for some time.

There have been surprises this summer as well. Long-time readers of the print version of MAR will remember Sergio Goldvarg whose Argentine-made white metal 1:43 models of US prototypes were popular from the 1980s onwards. He has lived in the US for some years, and has now re-started the Goldvarg Collection. It consists of 1:43 scale resin models made in China for him. Another unexpected event was the opening of a shop called ‘Diecast and More’ in the centre of Northampton, near where I live, to sell obsolete diecast and other models. A shop opening is a rarity in this day and age and I hope that it is a sign that tax changes and surplus shopping capacity will allow small specialist shops to return to our shopping centres.

I would like to thank all those who are contributing articles to MAR Online and to remind you all that more contributions are always welcome, even if it is only a few photographs and some descriptions. All collectors have something interesting to say.

The Gremlins

Our ability to send out emails to those who subscribed seems to have been stopped by gremlins. We have spent some time going over the system to notice that “Jet Pack” options had turned off without us asking them to. Why this happened we will never know.

So subscribers who read the emails but don’t visit the site may have missed the last two articles articles on Oxford Diecast Rolls-Royce and   MAR magazine in 1987. Unfortunately we can’t make it send them out again but they are available on the web site.

This not only an apology but also a test that subscription is working again.

 

Happy Collecting

Maz Woolley

Editor

Editorial July 2017

Karl Schnelle, US Editor

As July starts, we would like to take a moment to summarise the first half of 2017.   MAR Online has over 100 regular readers on each of our platforms:  108 subscribers to the blog and 117 followers on Facebook.  All articles appear on both sites simultaneously.  We thought it would be  a nice idea to determine who subscribes to both, but people could use different names and emails online, and one platform uses emails while the other holds users first/last name.  So that is an impossible task.  However, please email the editors at (maronlineeditor @ gmail.com), or post a comment on Facebook.  Which do you prefer and why? We’d love to get some feedback on how we are doing.

One of the reasons we are steadily growing is the content we provide.   We had a record-breaking month with 34 articles published in June!  MAR Online is now averaging about 30 articles a month.  The Editors would like to thank all the people who write articles and supply information as well as readers and subscribers and Facebook commentators.  They really make the job of Editor worthwhile.   New submissions are always welcome, from new or existing authors.  How do you, as readers and collectors, like the content?  What do you collect that you do not see covered?   Are the posts about the right length? Too long? Too short?

The same Editorial team has been involved from the start of this online blog in December 2015:
  • Rod Ward – Consultant Editor and Founder
  • Maz Woolley – Online Editor and Website Manager
  • Karl Schnelle – US Editor and Website Contributor
  • Hans-Georg Schmitt – Consultant Editor Germany

All posts from our online beginning are listed on one master list.  Search it if you want to find an old article, or just use the green search button on the top menu.

Finally, as the US Editor, here are a few comments on American collecting trends.  Hot Wheels and other 1:64 scale models are still big here.  I have heard that local retailers are carrying less and less stock of diecast toy cars and trucks.  Therefore,  I went to my local Walmart recently to check out availability in a bricks and mortar setting.  With a new Spider-man movie out soon, the end-cap on the toy aisle was all Hot Wheels Spider-man vehicles.  Next were these 16 columns of Hot Wheels, whereas  Matchbox took up a lowly four columns.
Two stacks of M2 classic cars were there as well. They are more detailed (and expensive) than Matchbox, and so more collector-focused.  On the left are some of the Jada products that have been around for years.  These are closer to my preferred 1:43 scale but are all ‘tuner’ cars and trucks.
I did notice these 1:43 scale pull-back toys in Walmart-branded boxed.  These have been sold under different brand names for many years  in the US.
ERTL is still around but now owned by Tomy (who also now own the Britains farm toys range).   Walmart had one of their farm trucks for sale this week.
I will investigate Target and Toys”R”Us in the next few weeks and report back if I find anything different.  In the US, those are the major sources, unless you go online and shop at eBay or with other smaller online toy/model car suppliers.

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