Category Archives: Editorial

Editorial July 2019

So far the impact of the US-China trade tensions do not seem to have affected trade in respect to car models, though there are many concerns that new tariffs might hit companies like Greenlight, M4 Castline, and Autoworld hard, because most of their models are made in China. This might favour Premium Collectibles who make partwork models, models for other brands, and have a number of brands of their own, including Ixo. Their decision to begin production of models in Bangladesh means that they could continue to supply US firms without them being marked as made in China and suffering any proposed heavy tariffs. Some recent Greenlight 1:43 models have also been marked as ‘made in Bangladesh’ which suggests that this strategy is already in place. Vietnam is another country to which some western companies are moving production. Reports in the UK financial press suggest that Chinese manufacturers are setting up subsidiaries in other countries, then shipping products through those territories, the products no longer marked as  ‘made in China’. For now I think that reductions in output, or worries about large price increases caused by tariffs, are unlikely to affect collectors.

I have heard from collectors who are finding that DeAgostini are taking debits from their bank account before models are received, and that Atlas failed to deliver the ‘garage’ due at the end of the Dinky Deluxe Collection to at least one of their premium collectors. I have sent emails to the fulfilment firms used by Atlas and DeAgostini to seek clarification. Atlas failed to respond to emails, and DeAgostini’s representatives will not discuss Atlas problems. Other collectors have also reported that Atlas does not respond to their email queries.  

This is poor practice, and I hope that DeAgostini (who also own Atlas) put their house in order, and either compensate the Atlas Deluxe Dinky Collection premium collectors or send out the garage, especially as they have made the same premium offer to collectors of the DeAgostini Dinky Collection. We would be interested to hear if any Atlas Premium Dinky Deluxe Collectors have received the garage, or have been compensated for its non-appearance.  

We have had comments from several readers about warnings that our website is insecure, or that their browsers or security software tries to stop them accessing it. I can assure you that our site is no threat to any of our readers or visitors.

The situation is that software makers have decided that the HTTP protocol on which the web was built is insecure, because it is not encrypted. Users of our website are never asked for detailed information, unless they sign up to the posts by email, and that is done by a secure third party site, or if they enter contact details to send a message. This is much the same situation as sending any email from most mail clients.

So why does the traffic need extra security? HTTPS (secure website protocol,) which provides encryption and certificates, adds to the cost of hosting our site. Until recently, this would have more than doubled the annual cost, and we have tried to keep down any unnecessary additional expenditure, but now our host company is offering HTTPS at what we consider to be a reasonable additional cost.

So, to cut a long and boring story short, Karl and I have discussed the situation and decided that we will have the website security upgraded. This means, however, that we will need to raise more cash from donations each year to help defray the increased cost of the HTTPS hosting.

We have had a lot of interesting articles sent to us recently, including some by new writers. I would like to thank writers old and new and encourage them to continue contributing to MAR Online. It is reader’s articles which bring the venture alive.

Editorial June 2019

Thank you to all of you who quickly correct, or add to, our articles by posting or sending a message to our Facebook page, or emailing us. Where appropriate I will add corrections to articles for the benefit of future readers. It is good to read the corrections, as I am all too aware that none of us is an expert on everything. Although the internet and reference books are wonderful information sources,  they do not always give an entirely full or accurate picture, or offer sufficient detail on a subject, to allow us to fully check what we write.

When writing the last few critical reviews I have wondered whether one should apply different standards to a cheap model than to an expensive one? My conclusion was that we should review all models’ accuracy, quality of finish, and compromises in exactly the same way whether they are a cheap Matchbox item or an expensive 1:18 resin model. But at the same time we should make it clear whether the model was a budget production or an expensive handbuilt one. That way the reader may make their own decision as to whether a model is ‘good enough’ for their collection, or if it represents value for money.

We also tend not to mention the price of models in our articles, although we do try to establish what market segment they fall into. For example, are they budget models or expensive ones? There are two reasons for this. Firstly, models may cost very different prices in different countries. And secondly, people often read articles long after they were written, and prices are then out of context as price levels will have changed, and the model reviewed may cost much more to obtain on the secondary market – if the model is available at all.

I would like to thank all our contributors this month. We have had a wide range of topics and as Editor it is fascinating for me to read all your contributions. If you have never written for us before, why not give it a go! All we need are some photographs and some words. We are happy to edit it all into an article. There are lots of topics we do not cover regularly so if you collect trucks or buses, for example, we would love to hear from you.


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

Return of Road Transport Images

By Maz Woolley

Text copyright of Author and Graeme McQuaker. Graeme McQuaker took the photographs and his copyright is acknowledged.

Regular readers will remember that following the sudden passing of Frank Waller his family were seeking a new owner for his Road Transport Images (RTI) business which specialised in 1:76 scale cabs and body and chassis fittings to allow conversions of existing 1:76 scale commercial models or the building of vehicles not otherwise available.

We now have the good news that the RTI business has been transferred to Graeme and Lorraine McQuaker from Irvine in North Ayrshire. Graeme was a customer of Frank’s for many years, using his cabs to make many of his models of Scottish fairground transport.

The photographs above show models build by Graeme to a very high standard using many RTI components. His experience of building the products and his appreciation of the challenges that builders face should be a great help when he develops the range further.

Graeme had a lengthy journey to Seasalter in Kent to collect the stock, moulds, masters, and exhibition display from Frank’s daughter Diane. All is now safely transferred to Scotland to allow Graeme to relaunch RTI. The current challenge is to get the website up and running to make the range available to buyers again.

Graeme’s and Lorraine’s intention is to focus on getting the current range of cabs, vans, bodies, trailers, complete kits, wheels accessories and transfers available to modellers again. Further development of the range will follow on once the existing range is back fully available. Graeme says “Lorraine and I are indebted to Diane, Frank’s daughter, for all the help and support that she has given during transfer of the business and we are determined to maintain and expand Frank’s legacy, which is such an important asset to 1:76 modellers“.  

The new business address for RTI is 2 Macallan Place, Irvine, North Ayrshire, KA11 2DN. The website, once up and running, will continue at www.roadtransportimages.com.

To relaunch the range Graeme and his team will be attending a number of shows and exhibitions in 2019. The first two will be:

  • Classic and Vintage Commercial Vehicle Show, Gaydon 8th and 9th June
  • Perth Model Railway Show, Dewars Centre, Perth 29th and 30th June

The team at MAR Online hope that Graeme and Lorraine have the best of luck in reviving and developing this range which has been missed by many model builders during its absence.


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

Editorial May 2019

This year seems to be flying by: it seems hardly any time since the start of 2019. Now that the Chinese New Year period is behind us, a flow of new models is tempting collectors. It seems to me that the price rises of the last two years are beginning to steady down a little.

It was good to see Brooklin announcing some Lansdowne model releases recently, although most of them are recolours; it will be interesting to see how they sell at the current retail price. After much criticism from long-standing collectors, it seems that there will be an option to avoid the fancy jewellery box packaging that they introduced last year. Instead you will be able to have a simpler, smaller and more effective box. That is evidence that they do listen to their collectors.

DeAgostini seem to be faring no better than their subsidiary company Atlas when it comes to customer service. A reader reports that their website informs account-holders that they cannot view their accounts, because of urgent IT maintenance. This is a situation that has been going on for days. Phone lines ring and ring until customers give up, and DeAgostini are cashing cheques before subscription instalments arrive. This follows on from the company having to slow down the deliveries of their Dinky Collection recently in the UK. After all the very public complaints about Atlas, it seems that DeAgostini might also end up being featured on the ‘Watchdog’ consumer television programme!

Elsewhere I see that the trend towards releasing all the same old favourites in ever-larger scales continues. A collection of Porsche 911s could now span every recognised scale from Wiking’s 1:160 to Matrix’s 1:6!

After years of hearing about collectors’ clubs closing I have had news of one I didn’t know about. So we welcome the Ulster Model Diecast Toy Club on our clubs page. It is great to hear of another place collectors can get together and share their enthusiasms. Thanks go to Will Roe at CDMC for letting me know about the Ulster club. Rod Ward reminds me, however,  that the Ulster Club used to not only be mentioned in the print edition of MAR, but acted as the magazine’s stockist in Northern Ireland.

Don’t forget you too can write for MAR Online. There is no payment for anyone; just the satisfaction that you are giving pleasure to other collectors by sharing your knowledge and interests. Just drop us some words and photographs; we will be happy to edit it, and post it on the website as an article.

Road Transport Images (RTI) – New Owner

We have just had news that Road Transport Images (RTI), the company created by the late Frank Waller, has been taken on by a former customer Graeme McQuaker.

RTI made a series of resin and white metal parts here in the UK to convert others 1:76 scale vans and trucks to new versions or to make vehicles from scratch. They produced kits of vehicles that were not available elsewhere like BMC EA Vans for instance launched not long before Frank passed away.

We wish Graeme every success with his new venture.


The Winner of the Goldvarg Model is….

By Maz Woolley

All text by, and copyright of the Author. All photographs provided by the Manufacturer.

The correct answers were:

  • Who was the maker of Sergio’s first toy vehicle? Matchbox or Lesney. It was a Matchbox #9 Merryweather Marquis Fire Engine.
  • What country was the final white metal Goldvarg model made in? Great Britain, United Kingdom, or England were all acceptable. He had the last white metal model made under contract in the UK as production in Argentina was no longer practicable.
  • What is Sergio’s Profession? Like Rod Ward, the founder of MAR, Sergio is an Architect by profession and many more things besides! Any mention of Architect was enough for this answer.
  • Which comic strip characters were used in adverting for the Ford Falcon? Charles Schulz’ Peanuts Characters were used, one of the earliest uses of cartoon characters to support car advertising. So any answer along those lines did.
  • What is the first name of Sergio’s Wife? Mariana is Sergio’s Wife.

An honourable mention goes to all the people listed below who got four or more answers correct.

Peter David Ager, UK
Virgil Christianson, Germany
Christian Conduché, France
Bent Danielsen, Denmark
Daniel Luis da Costa,  Brazil
Harvey Goranson, USA
Franz Hochstetter, Germany
Dave Jacobs, UK
Richard Knaack, USA
Brendan Leach, UK
Hans Nordström, Finland
Geoff Stone, UK
David Wright, UK

Well done all. I must make the questions harder next time! Nice to see a good spread of entries from many countries. After gathering up the correct entries we now have a lucky winner picked at random by my wife:

Daniel Luis da Costa,  Brazil

Congratulations to Daniel and our commiserations to those of you who entered but who did not win the competition. I will be in touch with the winner by email to confirm the delivery address so that Sergio may send you your prize.

Finally, we have to say a big thank you to Sergio who has so kindly donated one of his Goldvarg pre-production models for the competition and who will be posting it out to the lucky winner. If you lost out and still want a Goldvarg Ford Falcon Sprint they can be seen on Goldvarg Models website here, or at your local distributor soon. They are due to be on sale in April.


Editorial April 2019

March has been a busy month. Many new models for 2019 have appeared in listings from manufacturers and wholesalers. and they are now becoming available to collectors. In addition, it seems to me that the rapidly increasing prices of the last eighteen months seem to be stabilising a little. We have seen the end of the Atlas Dinky Deluxe series here in the UK, which means that the Atlas brand may soon disappear from the UK scene. On the European continent new series of partwork reproductions are filling the gap already,  with Mercury and Solido models being replicated.

We would like to thank Sergio Golvarg for his kind offering of a model as a prize for our competition. If you haven’t already entered, you can find the questions here, and you need to get your answers to us at MAR Online by the end of 2 April UK time. Good Luck to everyone who enters.

Here in MAR Online we have had wide range of articles submitted to us this month, on topics from Kellogg’s plastic ‘give aways’ of the early 1960s to recently released 1:18 scale resin models. We have also received a flurry of letters and posts by our readers which Karl and I are always pleased to read. Your information, corrections and additions are always read carefully, and in may cases we update the original article to take them into account or even create a new one.

As always, we are happy to receive more ideas and material from MAR Online readers. All we need from you are a few photographs and words; we are happy to edit them into an article.

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.


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.