Category Archives: Editorial

Editorial December 2017

We are pleased to say that 2017 has seen a continued growth in the number of MAR Online readers. We launched the current version of MAR Online in December 2015, and at that time we had around two thousand page hits per month. This has steadily grown and in October 2017 page hits had risen to over nine and a half thousand for the month. The number of subscribers to posts by email has also steadily increased and has grown to 122 subscribers, about 20% up on last year. The number of Facebook followers has also increased to around one hundred and thirty as I write this. Our site also seems to rank quite high in Google searches, which is a great way for new readers to discover us. I would like to thank my co-editors and all our writers who produce the content that people want to read.

We have re-introduced some features from the old printed MAR magazines this year. In particular brief news items when interesting events occur, and Club News. We run Club News every quarter and we urge clubs to let us know about what they are getting up to as entries on our club page and publicity for their events in MAR Online is completely free. If you have any ideas about things you think MAR Online should be covering, please get in touch, or even better why not write about new topics for us?

Here in the UK we were interested to see that Lyndon Davies, founder of Oxford Diecast, is now CEO of Hornby Hobbies. The controlling shareholders of Hornby were obviously impressed by Lyndon’s performance at Oxford, and needed his skills to turn round the struggling Hornby brands, including Corgi, Scalextric and Airfix, as well as the various model railway ranges. They were so impressed by Oxford that the majority shareholders in Hornby also acquired a minority shareholding in LCD Enterprises, the parent company of Oxford Diecast. The majority of LCD shares are still owned by the Davies family, and Lyndon’s daughter Eloise has taken over as CEO of Oxford Diecast. It will be fascinating to watch as the results of the current detailed reviews at Hornby start to emerge over the next few years. We at MAR Online wish Hornby Hobbies good fortune as the new team works towards building a new level of stability and profitability.

Changes are also happening at another UK model producer, Brooklin Models, where new ownership is dictating a new direction for the company with an “aspirational” website, products with added detail, and with expensive packaging under discussion. All this means that their models sell for very much higher prices, and there are rumours that the prices may increase again next year. In the meantime stocks of deleted models have been sold at heavily discounted prices, rather  like an end of season sale in the jewellery trade, and they even sold CSV models online at a heavy discount on Black Friday. We know that some Brooklin collectors have expressed unhappiness with the changes, but we hope that the management can address some of their concerns.

We at MAR Online would like to thank all our readers for their support as 2017 draws to a close and as is traditional here in the UK we wish you a “Merry Christmas”.


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

Atlas Dinky Collection is at an end

By Maz Woolley

 

Coverage of the Atlas Dinky Collection here at MAR Online has spanned almost all of the time that MAR has been online. I recently checked the status of the collection as I was expecting another model, based upon my understanding of a reply from Atlas Customer Services, but it is not to be the case. The Atlas computer system has now marked the collection as completed and the last item shipped was the French Dinky Peugeot Taxi 24 L recently reviewed in MAR Online.

If readers hear of any models being released after the Peugeot taxi in the original Dinky Collection please let me know what they are.


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

2017 Diecast Hall of Fame Winners

Back in April, MAR Online announced that our readers could vote for inductees into the Hall of Fame.   The ceremonies in Las Vegas are now over and the winners announced!  See the newest inductees here.  Also, some images of the event itself are at this link.

Congratulations everyone!

A lot of familiar names are on the list, plus some that have never appeared in MAR Online.  if you’d like more coverage of some of the winners, let us know!


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

News Roundup Three – November 2017

Hornby Hobbies

 

I make no apologies for returning to this subject again. Andrew Davies posted on our Facebook page drawing my attention to the fact that deep in the detail of Hornby’s announcements is the fact that Hornby Hobbies will review their investment in Oxford Diecast in three years time with the option to merge the companies at that point. This puts considerable pressure on Lyndon and his team to have a strategy that works across both brands in place and delivering returns by that time.

There is other important information hidden away outside the short summary for the City. Firstly, there is a recognition that all their European brands have been starved of investment and that investment must be made there. I hope that that recognition also extends to the Hornby Hobbies brands that have not had any significant investment in recent years like Corgi.  Secondly, the group recognises the ageing of enthusiasts for their existing brands and the need to develop products for a younger target audience.

So the investments that Hornby are planning to  make will not all be in their traditional brands and products. Perhaps Greenlight’s success in the US with film and television tie in models selling to a younger market sector points to one area that Hornby may develop.

De Agostini

 

Roger Bailey has told us that he has been contacted by DeAgostini as a subscriber to their curtailed Dinky Toys series and told that it is launching again and asking him if he wished to pick up collection from the point that he finished it previously.

If you pay a premium on every model at the end you will be sent “free” a service station as shown below.

What is interesting is the three cars shown outside the service station.  The cars shown look more like Spot Ons than Dinky’s.

The DeAgostini series is much cheaper per part than the Atlas one but one wonders how many people will subscribe given that the Atlas Dinky Collection has been available for several years. The timing is interesting as  the Atlas Dinky Collection is now nearly at an end.


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

News Round Up Two November 2017

By Maz Woolley

Latest News

Hornby Hobbies surprised the Stock Market with the recent appointment of Lyndon Davies (Owner of Oxford Diecast) as their Chief Executive Officer.  Last week they released the results of trading for the last six months which show a fall in revenue from 21.9 million UK pounds last year to 17 million UK pounds this year and an increase in the loss from 3.3 million UK pounds to 4.6 million UK pounds. These results show that Hornby Hobbies  had to take radical steps as all the promises made to shareholders about turning the company round after the last re-financing were clearly not working.

The announcement also included some key statements about the intentions of the new management:

Firstly they intend to raise a further 12 Million pounds from a stock sale and this is to to be spent on 1 million UK pounds investment in new product development and on buying a 49% share in Oxford Diecast’s holding company for 1.6 million UK pounds.

They intend to re-vitalise the European sales, which have been falling over time, by spending more time identifying what the customer wants. Hornby purchased Lima brand some time ago along with Electrotren, Rivarossi, Arnold, Jouef, and Pocher. They have neither fully integrated them into Hornby’s offerings or managed to grow them as distinctive companies. Hornby are now showing the trains them on their web site which is probably a sign of things to come. Pocher they have tried to develop through the introduction of a very large Ducati motorbike model but the opportunity to make money on Pocher must be limited due to their size and cost.

The practice of selling stock at very substantial discounts in order to generate revenue at key points of the year is to cease. This is a sensible move as such short term “fire sales” upset collectors, and the trade alike. They devalue stock, encourage collectors not to buy things until they are discounted, and generally undermine confidence in the company.

The announcement also makes it quite clear that the organisation will be changed by the new management team with old practices and behaviours being replaced by ones which are working better elsewhere.

Lyndon Davies, Hornby Chief Executive, commented:

“The review of the business, operations and its strategy has revealed opportunities to improve performance. The strategy we are announcing today to invest in Hornby’s key brands, to instigate a clear pricing policy and to seek additional funds to further strengthen its balance sheet, I believe, will provide the platform for long term sustainable profitability and cash generation. By simplifying and improving basic business process, together with better selection and delivery of the highest quality products, we will re-establish the value of our brands in the eyes of consumers and collectors alike.”

From a collectors point of view the announcement that there will be a substantial investment in new product is excellent news. It would be nice to think that Corgi will be able to introduce some new castings after the starvation of new items in the last few years. Some other collectors have expressed concern that this may all have a negative effect on Oxford Diecast introduction of new items. As Oxford plan so far ahead to keep their factory working as close to capacity as possible this is unlikely to be the case in the near future and hopefully by then the shape of both of the new organisations will be established.

MAR Online wishes Hornby Hobbies the best of luck in the big task that they have ahead to turn the business round. The new financial links between Oxford and Hornby show us that in all probability further consolidation between the organisations will take place in the future.  Oxford always plan production roughly three years in advance so I suspect that the plans for their future that Hornby Hobbies are working on will be looking at 3 to 5 years ahead and that it will be some time before the full ramifications of these changes will be felt.


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

News Round up – November 2017

The toy business is certainly going through eventful times. With lots happening behind the scenes at the moment.

USA

At the end of last week it was reported in the Wall Street Journal that Hasbro has approached Mattel with a  view to taking Mattel over. Hasbro is well known for My Little Pony, Monopoly and Nerf and GI Joe whilst Mattel is famous for Barbie, and Hot Wheels. Both are also involved in the sale of TV and Film tie-in products.

Hasbro’s market value is twice that of Mattel since Mattel’s shares slumped by 47 percent over the last year. Both firms have been affected by the trends away from traditional toys and games but Hasbro has coped with factors like the Toys R Us going into bankruptcy better than Mattel.

On the face of it a takeover by Hasbro is unlikely to have a direct effect on the sales of model vehicles as Hasbro do not have any competitor division.  However, in the combined company Hot Wheels will just be one division amongst many competing for investment capital. Hot Wheels form such a large part of the American Model collecting scene any slow down in the flow of new models would quickly be noticed.

Great Britain

The modelling press broke the news last week that Base Toys had ceased trading. Base Toys competed strongly with Oxford Diecast in the 1:76 scale and 1:144 scale market place. Focusing mainly on coaches, trucks and lorries in recent years. They were aimed primarily at railway modellers and offered a budget priced product using a lot of plastic in their construction.

John Ayrey Ltd, a wholesaler of their products, confirmed that Base Toys had ceased trading but that as the brand and factory bookings still existed it was possible that the models will go back into production as there is a market for them.


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

Editorial November 2017

Looking back over October we have had one of the biggest surprises in the model world for some time.

Lyndon Davies, who founded Oxford Diecast, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer at Hornby Hobbies, makers of Hornby Railways, Airfix kits, Scalextric and Corgi. It is early days yet,  and much too early to understand what it will mean for the future of collecting, but here at MAR Online we wish Lyndon and his new team good luck in the task of turning Hornby Hobbies back into a thriving concern, after many years of losses and product weakness. We can only hope that this will mean that Corgi will gain some new investment, and begin to give collectors something new to look forward to.

Lyndon and his family are still the major shareholders in Oxford Diecast, which  will continue its well-established policy of expansion, with Eloise Davies, daughter of Lyndon, as managing director.

Recently a comment by our German Consultant Editor Hans-Georg set me thinking. A vast amount of effort is being put into the development of electric vehicles with autonomous control systems, and many non-traditional players like Dyson are now getting involved. If we end up with hordes of self-drive rent-by-the- hour vehicles, all owned by banks and leasing companies, what will be the incentive to make the vehicles attractive? Logically, they will all end up as very utilitarian devices, with large advertising areas to earn a secondary income for the owners. If that happens, will any child want a toy or any adult want a detailed collectors’ model of such a vehicle?  Possibly the only group of people who will want models will be diorama builders – and they will only want them in smaller scales. At that point collectors’ models in larger scales will surely just be ‘models of yesteryear’ looking back with nostalgia to the more interesting and attractive designs of the internal combustion era. Things may develop differently, however, and people do still buy cars from Tesla and those other car manufacturers who are making electric cars that are attractive personal transport. In that case some models of new cars will still be collected, though there is the risk that in future they will be regarded more as domestic appliances, like fridge-freezers, rather than as aspirational objects.

It is clear that not every Atlas collector acquires the same number of vehicles in any given collection, so if Atlas run out of certain models they do not always remake them. The models also can be released in a different order to different buyers. So, if you signed up for the original Dinky Collection at this stage (part-way through), I suspect that you would not get the all of the 35 or so models that those should get who signed up from the start.  One collector has contacted me to say that he thinks he will end up with more Jaguars than I had obtained at the point Atlas closed my collection. This is a matter of some frustration to collectors who prefer DeAgostini’s approach of numbering parts of a series, then issuing them in strict sequence. Even if they didn’t do this, then the conditions of supply of both DeAgostini and Atlas would allow them to avoid any penalty if they do not supply you with a particular model or cannot replace a faulty one. Given that the new Deluxe Dinky Collection includes all French Dinky Toy replicas, after the initial Aston Martin DB5 convertible, one wonders how many non-collectors will find the prospect appealing. Lots of true collectors will be happy to get replicas of French Dinky Toys from the 1960s and 1970s, as they were good models, and mainly to 1:43  scale, but Atlas also need a lot of general buyers to sell the volumes they need. Atlas deliberately sells ‘nostalgia’, but will non-model collectors (i.e. general buyers) be as nostalgic about toys which they never saw as children, or models of full-size vehicles they may never have seen?

We thank all our writers who contribute regularly, or occasionally, and I think you will agree that they have covered a lot of very interesting topics over the last few months. But now it is your turn to shine. We know that there are lots of you out their with a story to tell about what you collect, that others would like to read. It only needs a few photographs and some notes and we can turn it into an article. Do not worry if English is not your main language we are happy to use translators and edit your article for you. We also thank those who have contributed towards our website costs and would be very happy to receive more contributions to keep MAR Online live, and free for all.


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

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.”


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

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.


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

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.