Category Archives: Corgi Toys

London Trade Toy Fair 2018 – Hornby Hobbies

By Maz Woolley

All photographs taken by, and copyright of, the Author.

The changing nature of the toy trade means that the London trade toy show held in January is no longer as interesting to the modelling press. Hornby and Oxford Diecast both have stalls, and models from other firms may be seen at distributors stalls. I attended the event for the first time this year and although the stalls with model vehicles were limited there were some lovely toys for children and even an Irish firm showing new Architectural modelling sets which I thought would look nice as backdrops to models.

I create a series of photo essays of my day at the fair with a few early shots of models to come.

Hornby Hobbies

Hornby featured models from all their ranges at the show though the ones of interest to me were largely those sold as Corgis. Though it  should be noted that Airfix are launching snap together self coloured 1:32 vehicles which may be popular for some. The initial release plays it safe with a Volkswagen Beetle and a Volkswagen Transporter T1 Camper. The unusual feature of this new Quickbuild range is that it is manufactured in the UK!

Corgi had a small corner of the large display

The Paddington Bear branded merchandise was presented and will hopefully appeal to young collectors.

Vanguards

The new Vanguards releases are shown below “in the metal”. Although underwhelmed by the release when announced I have to admit that they look quite nice in the hand. I particularly like the 1800 in rally livery.

Talking with one of the Hornby staff they recognise that their inability to develop new moulds has really held back this range and they are hopeful that the big changes taking place mean that they will be able to develop things further.

Triumph Herald
Ford Zephyr III
Ford Escort Mark 2
Ford Granada Police Car
Ford Fiesta Mark One
1800 Rally Car
Rover SD1
Ford Escort 1
Triumph Stag
James Bond

Nothing really new here but these models sell well in the general market and make a big contribution to Corgi’s income.

Other Tie-ins

Thunderbirds and Captain scarlet still have a strong market appeal and Corgis models still sell well. They also make Thrust promotional models and and seasonal products as shown below

Although unable to fund new tractor units the Eddie Stobart related models are still widely sold.

And the tourists still buy the taxis, buses, and minis sold to the souvenir trade.

Corgi Aviation had a new casting at the end of last year: The English Electric Lightning as shown below. An impressively large model it would look much more spectacular in the polished metal finish it wore in some roles.

EE Lightning

A Dakota in the range makes an impressive display.

Dakota

The ME109 has been made in many guises by Corgi and this is the latest.

ME 109

Models from the First World War are still popular with the celebrations of the ending of the war later this year keeping the conflict in the spotlight.  This Fokker DR.1 Dreidecker is from the latest Catalogue.

Fokker DR.1 Dreidecker

Although Westland Helicopters are no longer trading models of their helicopters are still very popular and this is the recolour from the latest catalogue with its impressive folding rotor blades.

Westland Whirlwind HAR.1 XA868

For the 100 years of the RAF celebrations come some new versions of existing service aircraft like this  Panavia Tornado GR.4 ZA459/F

Panavia Tornado GR.4 ZA459/F

And this Eurofighter Typhoon T.3 ZK380

Eurofighter Typhoon T.3 ZK380

Another model from the latest catalogue shown was this Boeing Chinook HC.4 ZA683 of RAF No.27 Squadron.

Boeing Chinook HC.4 ZA683

More models re-liveried for the 100 years of the RAF are shown below starting with this Mosquito

D.H Mosquito B.IV, DK296 / GB-G

And this Hawker Hurricane

Hawker Hurricane Mk.I, V6799

None of the Original Omnibus models from the new catalogue were on show so their production is probably going to be later in the year than some of the other models.

The next photo report will look at Oxford Diecast.


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Hovercraft

By Robin Godwin

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

What could a hovercraft possibly have to do with an online site called Model Auto Review? While Saunders-Roe of the UK (which became a division of Westland Aircraft Limited around the same time) produced the first commercial grade test/evaluation vehicle, the SR-N1 (Saunders-Roe Nautical 1) in 1959, and later billed the hovercraft as a revolutionary transport vehicle, many others were wildly enthusiastic about the broad application of air cushion vehicle technology to everyday transportation. The enthusiasm was such that some envisioned a personal hovercraft sitting in our driveways, although by design, driveways would not have been required. If this had come to pass, this site might have been called Model Hovercraft Review. But the link to toys and models comes from Corgi Toys (perhaps noticing the enthusiasm surrounding this new machine) who introduced a model of the SR-N1 only a year after the prototype had flown. I bought my Corgi Major # 1119 as soon as it hit the shelves in Canada.

As an impressionable kid who loved cars and trucks, I was in awe of this potential revolution in transportation, even more so after attending a live demonstration of the large commercial SR-N2 sponsored by manufacturer Saunders-Roe (likely with a bit of UK government money). This was a world marketing tour with a stop in Montreal in April 1963, and yes, most of the ice is gone from the St. Lawrence River by then. It came ashore at the Dorval Yacht Club, a short bicycle ride from my house. This was an impressive demo, with a huge (70 feet long) noisy machine leaving the water and gliding up the shore without missing a beat. With collecting instincts already well established, I managed to pick up the demonstration pamphlets and hold on to them for the past 55 years.

History has proven that the hovercraft did not live up to its promise to transform transportation, but it did have considerable success in various specialised commercial and military applications. Perhaps the best known was the Hoverspeed English Channel Hovercraft (an SR-N4), which ran for over 32 years ferrying cars and passengers between Dover and Calais. That service terminated in October 2000, with the introduction of the Fast Ferry Cat and competition from Eurotunnel. I recall being strapped into my seat for an exceptionally harsh SR-N4 ride across the channel in the late 80’s, thinking when will that tunnel be done?

Sir Christopher Cockerell, of the UK, is credited with bringing the hovercraft concept to a commercial realisation in the late 50’s, however the principle is believed to have been invented by Charles Fletcher, United States Naval Reserve, during the Second World War. His designs were appropriated by the War Department before he could patent them and take them commercial. In essence, the vehicle rests on a cushion of air. The vehicle motor produces an airflow, either by a fan or an exhaust, that is directed underneath the craft. Rubber skirts contain most of the air, and pressure buildup floats the vehicle on the air cushion. Either an additional engine or high speed exhaust or fan air provides forward thrust and turning capability (as in the SR-N1). Early versions would have been difficult to control through three planes of motion, which may explain why they never became “daily drivers” for the masses.

Corgi #1119 H.D.L. SR-N1 was an exceptional reproduction of the development vehicle. (H.D.L. stands for Hovercraft Development Limited, a subsidiary of the UK National Research Development Council. SR-N1 was designed and built by Saunders-Roe in conjunction with H.D.L.).  The real machine was 29 feet long by 24 feet wide and able to operate at weights up to 7 tons. The model is to 1:76 scale, large enough to appreciate the casting detail. There are four main castings, the base, hull, superstructure and fan shroud. The detail of the superstructure shows the ducting that would direct fan air to both move the vehicle forward and allow turning through air vectoring. There are four plastic moveable rudders attached at the extremities of the ducting. But the interesting feature is three ball bearings with individual suspension to simulate a hovercraft in operation, or as Corgi advertising of the time said “ …giving the illusion of floating on air.” It can actually bump and slide realistically across the floor. Despite this being a superb model, it nevertheless sold poorly – only 76,000 examples over a two year production run. Perhaps it was a reflection of waning enthusiasm over the initial excitement of the new technology, or the simple fact that most kids would never have seen the real vehicle, despite the inevitable coverage that would have occurred in the UK press and hobby magazines of the time. After all, it was a prototype, and commercial services with larger models did not begin until sometime later. Airfix produced a 1:72 plastic kit of the SR-N1 and both Dinky and Matchbox produced models of later versions of Hovercraft, which may easily have outsold the Corgi, since they were models of actual in-service vehicles.

So while my visit to watch a live SR-N2 hovercraft demo did not relate to any specific model in my collection, the Corgi SR-N1 was certainly the inspiration and motivation to go and witness this revolution in transportation.

 

Leaflet from the SR-N2 Demo in Montreal,1963, with the Corgi #1119 SR-N1

The general SR-N2 brochure from the Westland factory

Superb casting detail evident. The blue casting represents air ducting from the main fan (in white) to provide forward propulsion and directional control. Rear yellow “rudders” would become more effective as speed increased

 

Minimal base detail but the three “suspension” ball bearings can be seen. They gave the model a bit of elevation to simulate sitting on an air cushion

 

Corgi apparently had the box artwork finished before the Westland acquisition of Saunders-Roe.

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A Life of Police and Police Cars

By Peter Wyatt

I got this Corgi Toys Commer 464 police van in 1967 for my tenth birthday. The light flashed (still does), and from that day, my heart was set on becoming a police officer.

Having completed an apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer, just in case I didn’t like being a police officer or, they didn’t like me, I became a police officer in England, which I did for thirty years until I retired seven years ago as a Detective Inspector. Thank you, Corgi, for helping me in my career path and for giving my family and me a great quality of life.

It also led me to become an avid collector of police vehicles which I still do to this day at the age of 60. I have also fine tuned my two grandsons, Harry and Noah, into the mindset of collecting die cast and to look after them as an investment. They do have cars to play with, but they love to see the collectible ones on display. I also collect other Corgi and Dinky Toys, but police cars have always been my main collecting theme.

All photos are my own apart from the Mark 2 Escort which is from the Trofeu site. I moved house recently, and all my cars are currently in the loft whilst I have a room converted to house them. I can’t find my own picture of that model.

I became a police officer in 1981. The very first police car I drove was a Ford Escort Mark 2. It went from 0-60 in about 2 hours, but I thought it was a fantastic car. In the early 2000’s, Trofeu brought out this 1/43 limited model of the actual car. I just had to have one!

It’s not my intention to chronicle my whole career, but I will share some of my scale model collection by different manufacturers.

The following is a Volvo V 70 traffic car based on a Schuco Volvo estate. A business called Paul Robson Models based in Cumbria UK personalised the Schuco model into actual Staffordshire police cars.

You will see that Paul placed a clipboard with my name on the dashboard. I never actually served as a traffic officer; twenty four of my thirty years were spent as a detective.

21 is the force code for my old force, Staffordshire Police, and the number is on the roof of cars to enable identification from the air.

In my next post, I will show a selection of images from my collection. Hope you will find some of them interesting.


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Corgi – New for 2018

By Maz Woolley

All pictures taken from the Corgi Website.

The latest catalogue from Corgi shows that it is too early for the new regime at Hornby to have had an effect. There are a mere thirty eight items, excluding the catalogue itself. Thirty four if you discount the buses where two different models are sold of same casting and livery, identical but for the destination board. No new castings are introduced in any range, and some ranges, most notably trucks, yet again see no new releases.

Regular reader Andrew Davies points out that at least one of the Vanguards issues is not wholly new. The Triumph Herald police car casting was previously used as a Monmouthshire Constabulary car  in a Panda Car twin pack (PC2002) in 1998 during the Lledo era. The computer generated illustration of the new car in Monmouthshire Constabulary livery looks very little different to the old one.

Andrew also notes that the Magenta Stag announced for 2018 appeared in the 2016 catalogue along with a Triumph TR250 but neither was never produced, it is thought due to licensing issues at the time.

It is perhaps a good thing that almost all the models being produced are limited editions as I cannot see there being a strong demand for yet another version of what are now very elderly moulds in some cases. I hope that the next catalogue gets to see the result of the money that we are told is being made available for new tooling or it may be pointless issuing one.

A listing of the new releases follows:

Aircraft

  • Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 ‘Red 8’, Kurt Gabler, Mosquito Hunter, III./JG 300
  • Hawker Fury Mk.I, K2065, RAF No.1 Squadron, ‘C’ Flight Leaders Aircraft – 100 Years of the RAF
  • Hawker Hurricane Mk.I, V6799 / SD-X Pilot Officer K.W Mackenzie, RAF No.501 Squadron – 100 Years of the RAF
  • Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4, Wilhelm Balthasar, 1./JG.1, France 1940
  • Avro Lancaster B. Mk.III (Special) ED929 / AJ-L ‘Operation Chastise’ Dams Raid – 100 Years of the RAF
  • D.H Mosquito B.IV, DK296 / GB-G Flt. Lt. D A G ‘George’ Parry, RAF No.105 Squadron – 100 Years of the RAF
  • Panavia Tornado GR.4 ZA459/F ‘MacRoberts Reply’, 90th Anniversary Scheme – 100 Years of the RAF
  • Boeing Chinook HC.4 ZA683 RAF No.27 Squadron, ‘Special Centenary Scheme’ – 100 Years of the RAF
  • Focke Wulf Fw190A-8/R2 ‘Black 8’ Unteroffizier Willi Maximowitz, II Staffel (Sturm) IV/JG.3
  • BAe Hawk T.1 XX246 / 95-Y RAF No.100 Squadron, 95th Anniversary Scheme – 100 Years of the RAF
  • Eurofighter Typhoon T.3 ZK380 No.2(AC) Squadron – 100 Years of the RAF
  • SE5a F-904, Major C E M Pickthorn (MC), RAF No.84 Squadron France, November 1918 – 100 Years of RAF
  • Douglas C-47A Skytrain™ 315208 ‘Fassberg Flyer’, US Air Force, Berlin Airlift
  • Fokker DR.1 Dreidecker, 155/17 Lt. Eberhard Mohnicke, Jasta 11, von Richthofen’s Flying Circus
  • Westland Whirlwind HAR.1 XA868 Royal Navy, HMS Protector, 1963
  • Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IIa P7823 / TM-F ‘Down Belfast Telegraph Spitfire Fund’ – 100 Years of the RAF

Film and TV range

  • James Bond Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante ‘The Living Daylights’
  • James Bond AMC Hornet ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’
  • Mr Bean’s Mini

Original Omnibus

  • Bristol Lodekka FS6B, Wilts and Dorset, Cream and Maroon, 38A Bournemouth Limited Stop
  • Bristol Lodekka FS6B Wilts & Dorset, Cream and Maroon, 38A Salisbury Limited Stop
  • Guy Arab II Burton Corporation, Burgundy and Cream, Anglesy Road
  • Guy Arab II Burton Corporation, Burgundy and Cream, Calais Road
  • AEC London & Country, Two-Tone Green, Epsom
  • AEC London & Country, Two-Tone Green, Leatherhead
  • Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company, Tunbridge Wells
  • Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company, Brighton Marina & Queens Park

Vanguards

  • Triumph Herald 1200, Monmouthshire Constabulary
  • VW Beetle Type 1-11E, British Army, Royal Military Police
  • Ford Zephyr 6 Mk3, Spruce Green
  • Vauxhall Cresta PA, Alpine Green & Glade Green
  • Morris 1800 Mk2 1970 World Cup Rally, 2nd in Ladies’ Prize, 18th overall
  • Rover SD1 3500 V8 Vanden Plas, Opaline Green
  • Ford Escort Mk1 Mexico Sebring Red
  • Triumph Stag Mk2, Magenta
  • Ford Granada MkII 2.8i, Sussex Police
  • Ford Fiesta Mk1 1100cc ‘Sandpiper II’, Roman Bronze & Solar Gold
  • Ford Escort Mk2 1.6 Harrier, Strato Silver

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

Corgi’s latest Volkswagen Beetle

By Maz Woolley

Photographs of the model by, and copyright of, the Author. Photograph of the real car by, and copyright of, the Car’s owner Robin Allen. Design Cell copyright of Corgi.

From time to time one hears that a particular car has been chosen to be the basis of a model. In this case it was the Volkswagen Beetle owned by South Hants Model Auto Club member Robin Allen.  Corgi’s latest Volkswagen Beetle VA01208 is based upon his car shown in the photograph below.

Robin tells of the history of this attractive car.

‘The car was built in May 1957 and shipped directly to London where it was first registered in June 1957. Unfortunately there is no more early history with it, but DVLA records show that by 1966 it had moved to the Portsmouth area. I bought the car in 1989, and having a bit of spare cash from my redundancy at the same time, in 1990 I put it in to a VW specialist in Bournemouth for a bare metal strip and respray. When purchased it had been subjected to a poor repaint in a mid-blue colour although under the wings and interior were still in the original Horizon Blue. Having stripped the car I received a phone call saying “Do you realize how good this car is? There’s practically no rust at all. Can we spend a bit more and lift it off the chassis and clean and detail the underside too?” I agreed. Shortly before all this the engine suddenly began knocking badly and I sourced a spare to keep it going. During the rebuild in Bournemouth they pulled my old engine apart to discover the crankshaft had snapped. I had another spare engine from which the crankshaft appeared ok and my old one was rebuilt. Unfortunately the old engine continued to rumble a bit and leak oil everywhere. Even so I made trips to VW shows in Holland, Germany and around the UK, but the engine really wasn’t happy or as smooth as my other two Beetles’. I intended to get another engine for the car but then I received the “Birth Certificate” from Wolfsburg and was pleased to be told that the car was still running the original engine with which it left the factory in 1957.

Last month I finally took the plunge and sent it off to  under go a high quality engine rebuild. Stripped down, I received a call from them to go and have a look.”‘We really don’t know how this engine was still running” was their comment. The centre rib in the crankcase that supports the crankshaft had a huge crack and appeared to be just about to fall apart. The crankshaft had been hammering around with so much play that everything was getting damaged and worn. The sensible answer was to find another engine. The expensive answer was to have the crankcase repaired and machined by a specialist which would cost as much, if not more than the engine rebuild. Having a “matching numbers” car is highly sought after in the VW World and adds a bit to the desirability and value of the car, so I’m having it done. Let’s just hope the most expensive Beetle engine rebuild ever will prove worth it.’

Robin tells us about Corgi deciding to reproduce his car.

“When I was first approached for permission to make this model I was honoured with the idea – I still am. They had seen and photographed the car when it was on the Historic Volkswagen Owners Club stand at the NEC in November 2015, but only approached me about producing a model via the club at the beginning of this year.”

Corgi then carried out their measurements and produced a design cell which Robin has kindly copied for MAR Online and which is shown below.

Original discussions with Corgi indicated that they wished to replicate the blinds over the rear window that are fitted to Robin’s car but in the end these were not replicated. Commenting on the model Robin says:

‘…..the shape of the model isn’t too bad, the Beetle seemingly very difficult to replicate accurately.

Apart from the blinds which did not make it to the Corgi model other features are also missing, or not quite correct, as Robin points out:

(You would need to add) the side-mount radio aerial, the blinds and the centre part of the wheel hubs between hubcaps and rims which should be white. My car also has chrome rim embellishes so you can’t actually see much blue on the wheels on the actual car, unlike the model. The headlights on these Corgi Beetles are a bit disappointing, if you compare their plain chromed blob with the separate lens and rim on other models. My car also has headlight “eyebrows” but I wouldn’t expect anyone to try to model them.

Photographs of the model can be seen below. Please note that the photographs show the model slightly grey in colour, and less blue than it is.

Robin’s comments about the wheels are clearly demonstrated if you compare the photograph of his real car to the picture above.  My model also has an issue with the fitting of a hubcap which is far from central.

At the rear the blind is not modelled and the rear lights are pretty poor by today’s standards. A bump with a lick of red paint , rather than a fitted red lens, is now associated with budget models and part works not a full priced model.

The side view shows that Corgi has printed the stone guards fitted to Robin’s model. The rear view mirrors are incorrectly shaped with Robin’s being a rounded wedge shape and the Corgi’s being circular.

Looking inside the car the dashboard is the correct body colour and the steering wheel a nice period white. The cell produced by Corgi records a dark blue for the seats and doors but the seat/interior unit is actually black and the doors have no cards fitted and just show the horizon blue of the painted body shell.

From the front Robin’s criticism of the headlights is justified. Most partwork ranges now have separate headlight lenses as do the generally cheaper Oxford Diecast 1:43 models. It is nice to see that Corgi has printed air vents on the front wings even if they look a little too high to me.

From the rear the correct oval window and venting is modelled and the correct period number plate. The handle to open the engine cover is moulded in and highlighted.

So all in all although the Corgi is not an exact match it does capture the essence of the real car with the main details largely right. With a bit of added detailing I am sure that it will capture Robin’s car very well indeed.


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.

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.


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A Pair of Old Corgi Race Cars

By Harvey Goranson

Photographs by, and copyright of, the Author. Click on them to enlarge.

Every once in a while I stumble across an old diecast or two that I missed out on back in the days before anyone conceived of 1:43 white metal and resin. For some time now I have wanted earlier versions of my Corgi Toys 150S Vanwall and 152S BRM Formula 1 racers (the ‘S’ denoting suspension), since the red and turquoise colors are basically horrid.

Recently I spotted more proper early green versions at a UK auction site and won them. I also tried for an early Lotus 11 in silver but missed out on the hat trick. These original castings have no suspension, nor are driver figures supplied. Boxes were stained, worn, and marked on, but complete.  My new acquisitions are pictured below on the right.

Corgi 150 represents the Type VW 5 from 1957. Some were even made as Sir Stirling Moss’s winning car from the European GP at Aintree that year, with white No. 20 on nose and sides.

Per Marcel Van Cleemput’s tome, The Great Book of Corgi, No. 150 was introduced in July 1957; 317,000 were made before withdrawal in 1961.

Corgi 152 is the BRM P25, 195,000 of which were made from 1958 to 1961.

The BRM’s Green may be more of a “David Piper” green than BRG, but still better than the later 152S.

Moss almost won the F1 drivers’ championship in 1958, but Vanwall grabbed the constructors’ championship. This might explain why more Corgi 150s were sold compared to 152. And why Dinky, Solido, and even Crescent wanted one for their ranges.

In September of 1961 the garish suspended versions appeared, with Corgi attempting to get more life out of the castings before kids caught on to the fact that front-engined F1 cars were becoming as extinct as dinosaurs. Corgi’s designers were probably already then working on No. 154, the rear-engine Ferrari 156.


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1/43 Vanguards History

by Karl Schnelle

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Corgi July to December 2017

By Maz Woolley

All pictures used to illustrate this article are from Corgi’s web site. Most are mock ups or 3D renderings rather than examples of the final models. 

Business Background

I make no apologies for starting this article with news about the Hornby Hobbies business as June is not only when they announce the second half models but it is also their financial year end.

Already this year we have seen the company drop its plans to build a visitor centre to replace the one lost when they sold their headquarters site. This was followed in April by a major shareholder,  New Pistoia Income Limited, calling for the removal of Roger Canham the Executive Chairman. Before the Annual Results New Pistoia decided to cut their losses and sold the 20% they held in Hornby hobbies for 32 pence a share to Phoenix Asset Management Partners the biggest shareholder who now have 55% and have now to offer to buy any other shareholders shares at 32 pence.

Whilst all this upheaval took place the annual results were announced and the CEO/Chairman Roger Canham’s resignation as well. A growing underlying pre-tax loss of over six million pounds was widely reported in the Financial columns. Whilst their cash situation has significantly improved this will still leave them little capital to invest in new products so only the fast selling products with the highest level of margin will get any investment. The shareholders have not had a dividend for several years now and the shares values have flat lined over the last year so they are all losing money on the shares which cannot go on for ever.

Why does this matter to collectors of model vehicles? Well Corgi is hardly mentioned in any discussions of Hornby at all and apart from the 1:48 Lightning model investments in new mouldings are non-existent apart from a single 1:50 truck not even listed in the second half release section of their web pages.  The company states that its turnround is well under way with a belief that all UK brands have been maintained despite all the cost cutting measures taken, lower sales, and restrictions in the sales channels they are servicing. I am not sure that that does not count as what are now known as “alternate facts”. Collectors are right to be uneasy when they see that the  Corgi brand is not mentioned once in the plans for the next stage of the turnround.

It is against this background that Corgi announced their July to December catalogue. Almost everything in it is a new version of a casting already used several times in the past. Some castings  like the Vanguards Morris Minors and Mini are now several generations old and simply not up to the standards of Oxford Diecast, or PCT made models for part works or ranges like Whitebox. Looking at the Corgi Forum the posts about the new releases are mostly negative which I know reflects several MAR Online readers views as well. Corgi have not even listed some models on their web site that Hattons has listed like the re-released Basil Fawlty Austin  or yet another Mr Bean Mini.

I believe that the situation is clear: Hornby has no intention of investing in any significant level of new tooling for the Corgi ranges. Their sole idea of keeping Corgi alive is to produce re-paints of old castings and hope that they sell enough to milk some contribution from the brand to their financial recovery. In my opinion Corgi is now a spent force and Hornby is deluding itself if they expect collectors to pay nearly thirty pounds for Vanguards models made from  ageing moulds when DeAgostini/Atlas and others offer more for less money.

Corgi 2017 Second Half Catalogue

The models listed below are those listed by Corgi on their web site for the second half of 2017. Their January 2017 announcement was already reported here.  When checking a supplier website there are models available to order that are not in the catalogue such as five re-released James Bond vehicles, Mr Bean’s Mini, and Basil Fawlty’s 1100. There is also a single 1:50 scale lorry, Scania R (Face Lift) Flatbed Trailer & Brick Load “Ian Craig Haulage Ltd, Falkirk, Scotland”,  claimed to be new tooling. If these are new it seems strange that Corgi did not include them on their website listing.

My observations on the models offered are:

  1. The Royal Wedding Anniversary models are crude and horrid and quite expensive for the type of souvenir shop likely to want to stock them. I can’t see collectors wanting them at all.
  2. I hope the metallic models are not made with reflective flakes the size showing in pictures
  3. How many times are they going to release that Mini casting – it was not good when first released and looks even worse now compared to modern models?
  4. Who lined up all that awful thick silver detailing on the Minor Police Car windows?
  5. Why are they using the same moulds used already for re-paints recently so soon like the Sunbeam Alpine?
  6. Why is an “export” Rover 3500 fitted with UK number plates?
  7. Why keep on flogging the “New London Bus” to death when the new Mayor has cancelled buying any more of them?
  8. Why keep on releasing Land Rovers when Oxford will be doing them and charging significantly less?
  9. Why bother with the Captain Scarlett car? It has now slipped out of fashion again.
  10.   Many earlier releases of the re-used castings are available on eBay and at Toy Fairs for much less money why buy a new one?
  11. How can anybody at Corgi say they are “proud to introduce the July to December 2017 Corgi range, featuring a host of new introductions

Aviation Archive

English Electric Lightning F6 XR728/JS , RAF Binbrook

 

Albatros D.Va D.7327/17, Lt. Lothar Weiland, Jasta 5, Seefrontstaffel 1

 

Fokker DR.1 Triplane 213/17 ‘K’, Lt. Friedrich ‘Fritz’ Kempf, Jasta 2

 

Sopwith Camel F.1 B6313, Major William George ‘Billy’ Barker RAF

 

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress 42-97880/DF-F ‘Little Miss Mischief’ USAAF

 

Panavia Tornado GR.4 ZA461, RAF No.15 Squadron, Special Scheme

 

Dornier Do17Z-2 U5-BH, 1./KG.2 ‘Holzhammer’ Operation Marita

 

Junkers Ju-88C-6 F8+BX, 13./KG40, Battle over the Biscay

 

Short Sunderland Mk.III W3999/ RB-Y No.10 Squadron RAAF, Early 1942

 

Blackburn Buccaneer S.2 XW538/S, RAF No.16 Squadron, RAF Gutersloh

 

Hawker Typhoon lB RB389/I8-P ‘Pulverizer IV’, No.440 Sqn RCAF

 

Messerschmitt Bf 110E-2 G9+LN, Oblt. Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer

 

Westland Puma HC.1 XW220/AC, RAF No.72 Squadron, Aldergrove, 1997

 

Hawker Hurricane Mk.1 N2359/YB-J, ‘Winged Popeye’, RAF No.17 Sqn

 

Gloster Sea Gladiator N5519/G6A, No,802 NAS, HMS Glorious, 1939

 

Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 ‘Yellow 1’ Oblt. Gerhard Schopfel, Battle of Britain

 

Curtiss Hawk 81-A-2 P8127 ‘White 47’, Robert ‘R.T’ Smith, 3rd Sqn AVG

 

North American P-51D Mustang 44-13586/C5-T ‘Hurry Home Honey’, USAAF

Vanguards

 

Volkswagen Beetle, Type 1 Export Saloon Horizon Blue

 

Land Rover Series 1 80” RAC Road Service Vehicle

 

Ford Escort Mk3 XR3 Prairie Yellow

 

Austin Se7en Deluxe, Vanden Plas ‘Mini’ Lord Austin’s Daughter Irene Austin, Princess Blue-Grey Metallic

Morris Minor 1000 The Lothians and Peebles Constabulary

 

Ford Cortina Mk3 2000E Automatic Sahara Beige

 

Ford Cortina Mk2 Twin Cam (Lotus) Red II

 

Rover P6 3500S Scarab Blue, Export Specification, RHD

 

Ford Escort Mk1 RS2000 Modena Green

 

Ford Sierra XR4i Strato Silver

 

Ford Capri 2300GT Mk1 1969 Tour de France Automobile

 

Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800 1979 Lombard RAC Rally of Great Britain

 

Sunbeam Alpine Series 2 Quartz Blue Metallic

 

Morris Minor 1000 Traveller Bermuda Blue

Original Omnibus

 

New Routemaster, Go-Ahead London, 88 Camden Town

 

New Routemaster, Go Ahead London, 88 Clapham Common

 

Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Shuttle Bus

Others

 

Paddington Bear New Routemaster

 

Captain Scarlet Classic Spectrum Saloon Car

 

70th Anniversary of The Royal Wedding – Classic Mini

 

70th Anniversary of The Royal Wedding – Classic Routemaster

Bloodhound SSC Super Hauler

 

Corgi Christmas Super Hauler

Closing thoughts

Long time MAR readers will know that I have been a collector of Corgi models in the past and have been getting more and more restive with each underwhelming release announcement. I know many of you feel the same. I think that the thing I find most insulting to collectors is the pretence that the Corgi range is active and vibrant. Some honesty and openness about the role Hornby think Corgi has going forward would be welcome. Some of us have been Corgi Collectors since our childhood.

What do you the reader think?

Last thought. If  Hornby can’t make anything of the range, it would surely be better to sell it to someone else who can?


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

Britain’s Toy Car Wars: A Book Review

By Karl Schnelle

Giles Chapman has written a book on his childhood toy cars combined with a fascinating history of ‘the big three’ in the Golden Era of British Toy Cars. The three British toy car companies are the obvious ones listed on the cover (below), and the Golden Age was the 1960’s, as the author calls it. Mr. Chapman is a well-published author, so he brings a good perspective.

This new book is the same format as his previous books like 100 cars that Britain can be proud of and  My Dad had one of those.  His books are known for a sound coverage of the subjects and some well chosen and presented pictures. Chapman has written over 40 books and is a well known motoring journalist and author in the UK; he has now turned his attention from real cars to model cars.

Britain’s Toy Car Wars might be the first book that tries to tie the big three together in a historical and toy collector context. Many books have been written about the copious output of each company, so do not expect a review of their entire toy car production. I was expecting some side-by-side comparisons and timelines of who did what when, or who came out first with a certain feature and how did the others react. There is some of that, but mostly it is the author’s reminiscing about his childhood toys and then explaining the background of the company that produced them. In fact, many of the nice photos are of play-worn cars, which reinforces the readers’ nostalgia for their childhood.

If you are a specialist collector of Dinky, or Matchbox, or Corgi, then you will get a better understanding of the other two companies.  As a kid, I collected all three and have read a lot about their history since then.  So I did not learn a lot of new information about them, but several interesting facts did pop out from Chapman’s research.

I had realized that Meccano was much older and more conservative in their approach to selling Dinky Toys, but I did not know that Dinkys were sold in only 6000 approved stores while Matchbox and Corgi were everywhere, in more than 20,000 shops.  Chapman portrays Smith and Odell as the ‘young guns’: they disrupted Meccano’s domination with Dinkys by selling pocket toys at a much cheaper price, available all over Britain at the time.

There has been a lot written about Hornby, Smith, and Odell, but this book also includes some history of the people at Mettoy.    Van Cleemput is already well-known and is covered here.  However, I learned a lot about the Ullmann and the Katz families and their involvement with the success of Corgi Toys.  In fact, Giles Chapman wrote Arthur Katz’ obituary for the Independent (1999).

If you would like the read about all three companies and their high-level rivalries, please read this book.  The author writes in a very engaging style and brings both the history and nostalgia into the story.


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