Category Archives: Editorial

New Book Review: Matchbox Toys, by Nick Jones

By Marcel Colijn

booklg_review_matchbox

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 www.bpfairs.com  Or use amazon.co.uk.  If you are not in England, then amazon.com and others still have it on pre-order (as of this writing), or use paypal directly to the author:  see link.


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Stop Press – Gilbow Holdings in Liquidation.

efe-30303-routemaster-prototype

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.

efe-38901-pcl-routemaster

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.

efe-31902-rml-routemaster

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.

e28825-london-transport-titan

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.


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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 gmail.com.

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 danblake@ayrey.co.uk 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 gmail.com.

Editorial September 2016

The gremlins got into our web host’s database systems recently, so that we were unable to post new articles for several days. Our apologies if you tried to browse the site and found that it was unusably slow. On the bright side, they now seem to have sorted things out, and the web site seems to be more responsive now. Hopefully this was a one-off issue.

We are now in the last quarter of 2016, and models announced earlier this year are now steadily shipping. One example is the latest 1:43 scale Rolls-Royce Phantom V from Oxford Diecast which was well worth waiting for, and which will feature in a posting on this site shortly. Corgi’s best sellers seem to be the re-released Thunderbird models. The 60th anniversary cars being sold at a lower price seem to be selling well now too. 1:24 scale has always had a following in the USA, but quite a few models in this scale seem to be making their way onto the market in the UK and Europe at the moment. The models are of cars already available in many scales like the ubiquitous VW Beetle, and most are finished with limited detailing, and feature opening parts. Perhaps their size gives them a greater appeal to the general market? I doubt that many collectors will start collecting in this scale, except for people who collect specific themes. Perhaps this scale will take the place of those “cheap” 1:18 scale models which seem to be less in evidence recently. 1:18 scale seems to be alive and well, but firms such as Minichamps, GT Spirit, OTTO, Paragon and others are making high-standard models which are being offered at premium prices. The small 1:43 resin and white metal specialists continue to produce many new models each month but in small runs, and with few opportunities to re-use masters for re-colours in many cases, so a lot of development work has to be spread over few models, hence the steadily rising prices.

I have speculated in the past about whether the sales of partworks and subscription series would decrease as all the obvious topics have been covered. But right now, as one collection closes another vehicle related collection seems to start. There are indications, however, that the UK Atlas Dinky series may not have sufficient subscribers remaining to fund the production of replicas of UK-produced Dinky toys. The latest models released have all been from Dinky France and based on castings already seen in the Continental Dinky Series, so one wonders whether we will see any more “Binns Road” castings. Over on the continent Atlas have launched a Mercedes-Benz series similar to the Jaguar series released in the UK, and they continue with their series of replicas of later Dinky Toys with opening features. The run up to Christmas is traditionally the time that collections aimed at the general public are launched, so we look forward to seeing what is launched this year.

I would like to thank our contributors for their articles and encourage you all to contribute to MAROnline and share your collecting interests with all our readers. Do not worry if you cannot produce a fully finished article, or if you find writing in English difficult; we will always edit your article before posting it. We would be particularly interested in hearing from those of you who collect models in one of the areas we do not regularly cover, such as agricultural equipment, fire appliances, construction equipment, or buses and coaches .


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HobbyDB’s Database Hits New Milestone – 200,000 Collectibles!

by Karl Schnelle

The Editorial Offices of MAR Online received word from hobbyDB that they have surpassed 200,000 entries in their database.  They have been up and running for 18 months only and have tens of 1000s of toy and model car entries.   Their 200,000th was a Minichamps’ James Bond Ford Mustang Mach 1.

If you’re not familiar with hobbyDB, it’s a website that is assembling a database of anything collectible… toy cars, model cars, model kits, automotive brochures and manuals… You name it…  Go there and search for your favorite toy car company or model car range!  If they don’t have it,  you can enter it yourself.

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1/18 1967 Shelby GT500 diecast by Auto World 

What makes the site even more unique is how all the listings are inter-related in every possible way. For example, you can view all items which were made by a particular manufacturer, have a particular branding or are related to a particular person easily and quickly on one page. If you looked up “AMC Gremlin” or “Lindberg Models”, either search would lead you to the Mini-Lindy Gremlin kit from the early 1970’s.

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1/43 1929 Golden Arrow Land Speed Record Car by Western Models

MAR Online has mentioned them a few times already – check out this post or this post!



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Editorial August 2016

By Maz Woolley

The impact of “Brexit” upon model collectors here in the UK is starting to be felt. UK wholesalers who pay for their stock in US Dollars or Euros are finding that the fall in the value of Sterling means that they are having to introduce significant price rises which will in turn grow larger when passed on to buyers after a trade mark up has been applied. Even UK-based firms like Corgi and Oxford Diecast will have to pass on increased costs in the UK as their products are made overseas. Brooklin and other UK producers will be affected by rising raw material costs. I wonder what impact price rises, which early indications show may be around 10% on imported lines, will have on sales of models here in the UK? We have been told in the past that raw material costs represent only between 5% and 10% of retail prices, so even if the fall in the value of the pound increased raw material costs by 20%, that would only mean an increase in retail prices by 1% or 2%, which could surely be absorbed?

Some model distributors and wholesalers have already announced across the board increases in the trade price of models priced in Euros (ie mostly those in German, French or Italian ranges, even if they are made in China). That means that even those models already on the shelf and paid for at previous exchange rates will increase in price. I wonder if they will make an across the board reduction if the Pound reverts to its previous value against international currencies? Much has been made of the effects of a drop in the value of the Pound in the press recently (dearer imports, cheaper exports) as if this is something new. The 1970s to 1990s period saw frequent and wide fluctuations in currency values, so that UK trade and business became used to ironing out most of the fluctuations; absorbing losses, and clawing them back later.

After the flurry of releases of duplicate models from resin car makers the output seems to have settled down. One trend is for producing models of specific vehicles down to the registration number and quoting chassis numbers. One wonders if this is part of the way that they hope to sidestep the licensing departments of the car makers? The argument being they are producing a model of a specific vehicle and not a general Rolls-Royce model for example. The result is a series of very detailed models of interesting coachbuilt cars and a significant growth in the number of interesting cars from the 1930’s onwards being modelled.

It has to be said, however, that Rolls-Royce, for example, don’t licence a specific car shape, only the registered copyright aspects – the Greek Temple grille shape, Spirit of Ecstasy mascot and the Rolls-Royce name, for example. Of late, however, some small-production model ranges seem to have been evading the need to licence their products, but from past experience, licensing companies have a habit of letting things run, then coming in with a demand for retrospective payments for past production.

Here in the UK there are signs that the small artisan firms making 1:76 scale white metal models are being encouraged by the changing focus of the Oxford Diecast 1:76 range to start working on new moulds in that scale and some interesting models are in the pipeline. I hope to show some new Rod Parker models as soon as I have finished making them up!

I would like to thank our contributors for their input and remind you all that we welcome contributions and information from all our readers.


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

Editorial – July 2016

With all the news of terror incidents, economic problems, and political unrest it is good to be able to focus on the positive by taking part in our shared hobby. I am fortunate that several collectors clubs send me their magazines, and jolly good reads they are too. They not only chronicle club activities, but also include articles written by members about their models or their collecting theme. Some even manage to include  a little light-hearted silliness along the way to lighten up the day. These clubs are a really positive and supportive environment, many having regular charitable activities.  Here at MAR Online we see ourselves performing a similar role, in drawing together contributors and readers from round the world and sharing the information and enthusiasm we have with others, so please feel free to contribute information and features you can share. It doesn’t matter if you are not confident about your use of English; that can always be edited. Your enthusiasm for our hobby will always be of interest to others. if you have anything you wish to contribute, please email me at maronlineeditor@gmail.com.

News has reached the editor that Adidas and Nike are building new factories in Germany and America to make trainers on entirely automated production lines. The flexibility and efficiency of new production systems, as well as the removal of time delays and transport costs seem to be the reason behind such investments. It does make one wonder if mass-produced toys could also return to the  USA and Europe, to be made on automated lines at some point? They would have to be automated, as ‘hands-on’ assembly skills have now been lost in Western countries.

If you haven’t visited our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ModelAutoReviewOnline/ why not try it? You will find that readers have added interesting comments on our articles and it is an easy way for you to provide the editors with feedback about MAR Online.


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

Hornby News

By Maz Woolley

Hornby Hobbies owners of many famous brands including Corgi, Airfix, Scalextric and Hornby trains has announced an annual loss of 13.5 million pounds in the last year on a revenue of around 55 million pounds. Not surprisingly the share price has fallen by around 60% over the last year.  The only strategy the Board has is to shrink the business and reduce costs to try to earn a profit on a lower turnover and to go cap in hand to the market for 8 million pounds more capital.

Why is this important to collectors? Well it looks like the end of the Modelzone areas in W H Smith stores making it even more difficult to see models before you buy them and giving Hornby even less visibility to the general public. With no money and an ambition to shrink the ranges by 40%  a further cutback in investment in new castings and mouldings across the ranges seems inevitable and  initiatives like KitStarter will presumably be stopped. Since investment in new models in some ranges like Vanguards has been non-existent for some time does that mean that they will actually cease to be produced, after all the re-colours are struggling to sell in the current market place?

It seems sad to me that Corgi’s 60th year is being celebrated by a series of lacklustre repaints which say little about its history or contribution to the hobby over the years. Indeed I think that this year may see the Corgi brand decline into insignificance  for model car collectors which is a real shame.


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Hunting for Diecast at the Indy 500

By Karl Schnelle

Sunday, May 29th, was the 100th running of the Indy 500, the famous 500-mile race in Indianapolis, IN USA.  I have lived in Indy for more than 20 years and have been to practice and qualifying on the days leading up to the big race, but only once to the race itself.  A friend offered to buy a block of tickets, so I decided that I had to attend this one, being the 100th running.   The first race was held in 1911 and won by Ray Harroun in the  yellow #32 Marmon Wasp (in the photo below during the 2016 parade lap).  The races were not held during WWI and WWII, thus the 100th running is this year.

Wasp

I went to the vintage race car laps on the day before and thought that was even more interesting than the race itself. (You can tell I am not a huge Indy Car fan!) The 1968 fluorescent STP Lotus turbine on the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), the 1965 Lotus, and the 1915 Duesenberg on the track are shown below.

1968 Lotus turbine on the track

1965 Lotus ready to run

1915 Duesie on the track

But the reason for this post is to talk about what diecast cars I found during the big weekend.  I thought there might be a few stands inside the gate and dealers outside the fence with Indy cars and maybe even other race cars. I did find a few places that had model cars for sale, but nothing like what was there for the Formula 1 race (from 2000-2007 at IMS).  No 1/43 at all were found which is the scale I collect.  Not too surprising since Indy Car is US based and American collectors go for 1/64 and 1/18th scale!

Inside the track, one of the biggest teams, Team Penske, had a large tractor trailer (18-wheeler) with fan merchandise.  They had  a few 1/18 from Greenlight (see below).

Team Penske

The official IMS gift shops had a few diecasts as well, but they were swamped with fans, with a few looking at the 1/64 or 1/18 Indy Cars.  Again all by Greenlight:

IMS gift shop

IMS gift shop2

Then, I was off to the perimeter around the track; for Formula 1, there were a dozen or more stands on the side of the road.  However in 2016, I found only a couple with Indy Car diecast, no other types of racing cars.  One stand did have a mix of 1/64 Greenlight and Auto World.   GL has had the license for a few years now, but AW had it in 2014 only, I think.  So these were old stock that someone could have picked up:

auto world

Also, outside the track, there was a table of 1/18 with the unusual Stinger (yellow in yellow box) that I did not see any place else.   The Stinger is a fund raising model car based on the modern Indy Car but with color from the first winner in 1911: the Wasp had a Stinger-shaped tail!!!

stinger

The most exciting part of the weekend might have been the Hot Wheels display, though, for the kid in all of us.  In the infield (inside the oval)  was a huge multi-loop loop-d-loop.  Kids could pick up a Hot Wheel from a bin and climb to the top to race it down the track!

loop d loop

Even better, Hot Wheels made a Hot Wheels Trophy with a car for each winning driver!  Check out the video of it being made.  Before and after the race, it resided at the Children’s Museum here in Indy.

Hot Wheels Trophy

So lots of big and small Greenlight Indy Cars, a few 1/64 Auto Worlds, and a bunch of kids playing with Hot Wheels.  That sums up my diecast hunt at the 100th running of the Indy 500.


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