Category Archives: Editorial

News from HobbyDB: Minichamps All in One Place

Based on the News Release from hobbyDB,  7 Dec 2016

Diecast manufacturer Minichamps and collector database hobbyDB are partnering to create an archive of every Minichamps model ever made. Now only on hobbyDB, you’ll find detailed information on thousands of their cars dating back to the company’s origins in the early 1990s, not to mention an array of other types of models as well as drivers’ helmets, crew figures, buses, tractors, tank, motorbikes and more.

Minichamps’ Paul Lang stated that he is “excited that with hobbyDB’s help, diecast fans from all around the world will now have an interrelated archive of everything Minichamps, a resource that we’ve never been able to provide until now.”

Originally known as Paul’s Model Art after Paul Günter Lang, the founder of the company,  Minichamps has pioneered producing high quality models in several scales. The first Paul’s Model Art diecast car by Minichamps was made in 1990, and by 1995 Minichamps was manufacturing more than 100 different castings with hundreds of racing liveries. Details like badges in the center of steering wheels and hubcaps, and separately molded parts for windshield visors, door handles, air vents, headlight lamp lenses and more help set their models apart. 1/43 and 1/18 are their most popular sizes. In fact, they often produce the same car in both scales.

One of their best-known specialties is Formula 1 cars, particularly those from recent years. A model might only represent an exact iteration of a car that ran in a single race. That means changing wings (front and rear), livery, even sponsor decals and tire types if necessary.

Minichamps also offers an extensive line of other racing types and concept cars including several American models from the 1950s.

With the data coming directly from Minichamps, everyone will be able to know exactly which version of a model was made, and if  you want it, you’ll get an email as soon as your desired model goes up for sale.

You can check out the Official Minichamps Archive on hobbyDB here.  The full news release is here, with more photos.

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

Book Review: British Sporting Cars in Miniature

by Karl Schnelle


David Wright tells us that he has had much complimentary feedback from readers of his latest book, British Sporting Cars in Miniature (2015), and that it is selling well. It covers classic British sporting cars from the early pioneers of the pre-war era, through the golden years of the 1950’s and 1960’s, and includes summaries of the production of the real cars, and a comprehensive selection of the miniatures, both toys and collectors models.

I find it interesting that the title says ‘sporting’ and not the more typical ‘sports’.  In fact, the author gives a definition at the beginning of the book.  Sporting cars include sports cars as well as those that  “may not have great performance but have a presence and attitude”.  That’s a great way to put it.

It features over 1000 color pictures, some never seen before, from both his own collection  and those of a number of serious collectors around the world. This 300 page book, featuring 85 marques of cars, was launched this time last year and, with Christmas here again, could represent a very nice gift for those interested in this field.

Marques include all those that you would expect, but also ones I have never heard of, from Ashley to Unipower!   A mix of obsolete 1/43 diecast and Matchboxes, early white metal kits, and newer Lansdowne, Minichamps, Spark, etc, etc are included.

More details can be found on his website, or email the author at david at   Happy Holidays!

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

Editorial December 2016

This month sees the first anniversary of our website We hope that you are enjoying our posts. We suggest that you get involved with our Facebook page as this is where readers can comment on articles, make suggestions, or even put forward their own ideas. Our thanks to all those who have responded to our posts and to everyone who emails us, writes for MAR Online and who read our posts.

We look forward to 2017 with great interest, even if these unsettled times may bring challenges to model producers and collectors alike. A trend that will continue is the increasing use of ex-partwork castings as a basis for models for other ranges. We have recently seen Greenlight getting involved in this activity, as it allows them to produce models that fit into their usual themes, with the bonus of low development costs. Another trend that is likely to continue is that retail prices will increase, as raw material costs are rising, and currency instability continues. On the positive side, many manufacturers have started to announce interesting model subjects for next year.

The Wessex Toy & Model Collectors Club, which has ordered special Club models from Brooklin since 1987, have announced that there will be no Brooklin club models for 2016. This is due to the number of orders received being below a new minimum batch size of 100 models set by Brooklin. Another sign of the times perhaps? With the Canadian Toy Collectors’ Society ceasing to order club models from Brooklin last year there are now very few club models made by Brooklin. The WMTC prototypes of the Pontiac and Ford Squire woodies hand-made by John Roberts in colours not used by Brooklin in their standard ranges will now remain unique and will be auctioned for charity.

Finally, here is a reminder that we always welcome contributions to MAR Online; short or long. I am sure many readers have news, information or insights to share. Remember we are happy to edit any contributions, so if you haven’t written for us yet, why not give it a try?

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

Readers Question – Atlas Models

Peter Walker writes:


Do you know where I can get the Atlas silver cars in 1:43 scale and the Atlas Editions classic sports cars?

Thank you


We often get questions about how to buy particular models which readers have seen on our pages or elsewhere.  Often these are for models which have been issued in a subscription series or as a part work with a model and a magazine.  The answer will invariably that be that you need to look for the models on the secondary market on eBay or at Toyfairs.

Why is this, some readers will ask? This is because of the sales model adopted by those running subscription series like Atlas and those selling part works like DeAgostini.  They will only allow you to subscribe to the series as a whole and that series will only be available for a limited period of time. And each series will be sold only to the country it is launched in, though castings may appear in series issued in France, Holland, and the UK. In a few cases models can be bought on back order from the suppliers web site but they will seldom accept overseas orders and some models never appear as back orders anyway. Atlas never make models available singly in this way in the UK.

So unless the series is active and you are prepared to subscribe to a whole series, at least up to the last issue that you wish to collect , and you have a bank account and delivery address in the country the series is issued in, you will generally not be able to get the models direct.

Both the series that Peter enquires about are no longer being sold on the Atlas Website so the only source for these models will be from people who subscribed to the series to sell them on at a profit or who decide to sell the whole or part collection off when they finish. In some cases auction houses will be asked to sell whole or part series and people also do this on eBay from time to time.

The silver cars from Atlas and a similar series made for Altaya in Spain turn up on eBay with only a small premium over their original sale price. The Atlas sports car series  also turns up on eBay but this is often at very significantly higher prices than Atlas charged. One example of this is the Daimler SP250 sports car which I believe was made for Atlas  by Norev and attracted prices similar to the Norev original. In a some cases models from Atlas and others also turn up on eBay being sold by a Hong Kong or Chinese seller. However, caution is needed as a lot of these models appear to be factory quality control rejects though I have bought some that are absolutely perfect.

So my advice to Peter has to be to keep an eye on a few specialist Auction houses especially if he wants to buy a full or part set of the models and to keep an eye on eBay and at Toyfairs if he just wants one or two.

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

Free copies of Model Auto Review and Modellers World (No longer available)

By Maz Woolley

A reader has now collected these magazines so they are no longer on offer. We wish them many happy hours reading about the early days of model collecting.  

A reader has contacted us to offer an almost unbroken run of Model Auto Review magazines from Issue 1 through to 1993 as well as 1981-83 copies of Modellers World magazine to any reader interested in collecting them.


These would need to be collected from Reading  in the UK. If any reader is interested please email the editor in the first instance at maronlineeditor at

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

Editorial November 2016

In the year 2000 the USA produced 5.5 million cars and fewer than a million were made in China. In 2015 the USA produced just over 4 million cars and China made over 12 million, yet the huge rise in Chinese car production has had little impact on model cars available to collectors outside China. Maybe model cars don’t appeal to a Chinese population which gained access to computers and smartphones at the same time as owning their first car? If Chinese car makers encouraged production of more models of their cars for publicity purposes there could be models of the Buicks, Volkswagens, Suzukis and others that we never see in the West. Maybe we would then be able to buy them on eBay.

The fall in the value of the pound has triggered price rises for model collectors in the UK. There has been press comment on Hornby imposing substantial price rises across the board, even though many models had already been imported and paid for at the previous lower prices. Other producers are raising prices as well, if only for new models. Firms like Brooklin are having to introduce variable pricing across their ranges to reflect the greater costs involved in making certain models. Even producers unaffected by the state of the pound seem to be increasing prices as rising prices of oil and raw materials has an impact on their costs. Sales may start to suffer if higher prices clash with the static or decreasing incomes of collectors. It is not only UK firms who are suffering due to increased costs of raw materials and costs of production in China. The new ‘lower-price’ Maxichamps range is a case in point. When conceived it should have been comparable in price with Oxford, but even though Oxford prices have increased slightly, Maxichamps will cost at least 50% more than comparable Oxford models on the UK market. Outside the UK the price differential will remain the same, because of the lower value of the pound against international currencies.

On a lighter note thank you to the clubs who send me your newsletters. I may not acknowledge them all, but they are all read with considerable enjoyment. For those who live near enough to visit an established club I suggest you go along to a meeting or to see them at the many events they run or at which they exhibit. Contact details for many clubs can be found from the clubs page reached from the link on the bar at the top of each page of MAR Online. This is a good way to advance your hobby in congenial company.

We have seen some interesting articles in MAR Online on a wide range of subjects over the last few months. Many thanks to those of you make it possible. Remember if your interest is not represented we would love to hear from you; writing for MAR is easy. We are happy to format and edit your work, and even sometimes to translate it.

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

New Book Review: Matchbox Toys, by Nick Jones

By Marcel Colijn


I now have this great new little book about my beloved Matchbox toys in hand, and I really like it!

The book features Gary Galvin’s early, large scale Lesney toy collection which is one of the two finest collections in existence. With so many early Lesney Toys shown, this certainly gives one of the most complete overviews ever published. Where ever could we see 7 variations of the early Road Roller pictured?  The box pictured with the great Massey Harris Tractor is different then the one in Collecting Matchbox Diecast Toys – The First Forty Years (1989), so even if you have this book (published almost 30 years ago!), there is much new for you to see in this new book by Nick.

Both Nick, Gary, and myself were among the fortunate collectors who visited the opening of the Matchbox exhibition in the London Hackney museum on the evening of March 18th, 2004, and as we now know, this was the last occasion that collectors could meet both founders of Lesney Products (Matchbox); Leslie Smith and Jack Odell.  Nick Jones had his great, all-original UK 1966 Matchbox dealer display on show there,. A photo of that display in full swing with all the correct models is one of the many fine pictures in this book.

The new book also features Matchbox Regular wheels 1-75, Superfast, Matchbox Accessory packs, Major packs, and Kingsize. Don’t expect endless variation lists. The mixture of photos is fine, showing both the more easier to find models but also some of the more elusive variations. There is also a small section about Matchbox Models of Yesteryear models, and some of the fine Matchbox giftsets are pictured. With almost 80 color photos, there is something for everyone.

The book also contains original black and white photos of Leslie Smith and Jack Odell and the factory; that section makes the book especially fine for me.  Although I have many books and paperwork on Matchbox,  and when I was helping with Alex Picha’s book about Matchbox some years ago,  I have never seen the black and white photos in Nick Jones’ book published before. These black and white photos make the book an indispensable reference to have for the genuine Matchbox collector.

It has been quite some years ago that a book about Matchbox Toys was published, and I always welcome this. I personally want to thank Nick for all his efforts in promoting our beloved hobby. Online forums including Nick Jones’ own Vintage British Diecast Forum are nice, but a book is for ever!

Nick will travel south to the Sandown Park swapmeet on Saturday, November 12th, and will have the books with him. So why not come along and say hello and buy the book there? It will save you postage, and you will get a personal chat and a superb swapmeet as a bonus:  see  Or use  If you are not in England, then and others still have it on pre-order (as of this writing), or use paypal directly to the author:  see link.

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

Stop Press – Gilbow Holdings in Liquidation.


Gilbow Holdings is the parent company for the EFE brand. This maker of Diecast Buses and Commercial vehicles, mainly to 1:76 scale, has been a regular feature of the UK modelling scene for many years pioneering the 1:76 scale Bus market. Gilbow Holdings is owned by Frank and Brenda Joyce who “rescued” EFE from the holding company of Beatties when that UK Toyshop chain collapsed in 2001 and have run the company ever since.


Although EFE started with 1:76 scale Commercial vehicles, many carrying nostalgic liveries suitable for use on model railway layouts, the company really took off when they released their Routemaster. This was the first detailed 1:76 model of this bus and was very popular with railway modellers and bus collectors alike. From then on buses and coaches formed the majority of their releases. The Routemaster has been a mainstay of the range with new versions and improved tooling appearing over the years.


We have been informed that Gilbow holdings has been placed in Liquidation and that the EFE Brand is being sold to another company. It is widely assumed that the brand will be sold to Bachmann who distributed EFE models and had exclusive models made for them by EFE. However this is speculation at this time. What will happen to the existing EFE moulds in China or the announced forward schedule of models is unclear.


This is another sign that the market place is consolidating and has less room for the independent specialist ranges which can now only survive as part of a larger group.

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

Editorial October 2016

As we enter the final Quarter of the year model makers will be rushing to get the final releases of 2016 available with an eye to extra sales in the Christmas season. Plans for 2017 will be well advanced for presentation at the trade toy fairs early in 2017. Many interesting new releases have already been announced for the last few months of the year in various scales. It is also the season for the launching of TV-advertised partworks and subscription series, so it will be interesting to see if any new series are launched in the near future.

As I look at the high quality of models available at all price levels, I am tempted to ask if this is a golden age and if standards have now reached a peak at each price point? Why do I think that this might be the case? Firstly, production in China and shipping costs have been rising steadily while the wage levels of most collectors have risen more slowly, or not at all. Secondly, the number of mainstream collectors is continuing to shrink and those reaching retirement now in the USA and UK tend to have reduced disposable pension income, compared with previous generations. And finally I think we are close the limits of the quality of products we can produce using the technology we have. 3D printing might reduce some labour costs but I doubt if it will increase model quality greatly. What do you think? Why not let us know your opinion here at MAR Online?

Another event in the final quarter of the year is the bill to renew the hosting of our website. We have already had a generous contribution from one regular reader and contributions of even small amounts from others will help make sure that MAR Online can continue to offer a free to access website.

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

Buyers Beware

By Maz Woolley

Dan Blake at John Ayrey Die-Casts Ltd here in the UK has informed us that there has been  break in at their new premises and the models listed below have been stolen. If anyone is offered any of these models at a knocked down price or in unusual circumstances please email to let him know.

B-T Models BTO B208B Bristol MW6G – Crosville (Groeslon) EMG421 1:76
Corgi COR 46613OM New Routemaster 9 Hammersmith Corgi60 1:76
Cult CUL CML007-1 Jaguar XJR XJ40 1990 – Red Metallic 1:18
Triple 9 Models TRN 1800130 Ford Escort RS2000 Mk1 1974 – White/Blue 1:18
Triple 9 Models TRN 1800131 Ford Escort RS 1600 MKI #19 MC72 Makinen 1:18

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