Category Archives: Hachette Mercury

Mercury La Collezionne Part Five

By Fabrizio Panico

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

Here we have three more models: #10 to #12, in the Mercury partwork collection being sold in Italy by Hachette.

Hachette no. 10 is the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Bern taxi, a 1:48 scale model, based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta already seen (Hachette n. 5, Mercury n. 17). This is in reality a 1956 or 1957 prototype of a model for the Swiss market, like the Fiat Nuova 1100 Bern taxi we have already seen (Hachette n. 3). The livery is red and yellow like the 1100, but it is slightly different. It is unknown how many prototypes were made, or why the model never reached production. Maybe the fact that the Giulietta was never used as a taxi in Switzerland might have played a part.

Hachette no. 11 is the Alfa Romeo 1900 Super, a 1:48 scale model (Mercury n.16) from 1955. Another simple model, just a painted shell on wheels, but very faithful to the real one. Available in many different colours, it was produced in three different “series”. Here Hachette has replicated the first one including features like the front lights made from small aluminium nails inserted into the body. It has no windows or interior, and is painted light blue. The Alfa Romeo 1900 was introduced at the 1950 Paris Motor Show, it was the first Alfa with a unitary body, the steering wheel on the left, and built on a “real” assembly line. It had a famous marketing slogan “The family car that wins races”. In 1951 the saloon was joined by a short wheelbase version. In 1954 the 1900 Super received a slightly larger engine and some small detail changes. It was produced until 1959, when it was replaced by the boxier 2000.

Hachette no. 12 is the Lancia Flavia first series, a 1:48 scale model (Mercury no. 31) from 1961. Like the Alfa 1900, the Flavia model was produced in three different “series”. Here it is replica of the first series with windows but no interior. It is painted a deep blue (almost green) colour and has very detailed rear lights. Later the model received seats and steering wheel, but some details were simplified. A very nice decal is used on the boot reproducing the model name badge with the same style of letters as the real one, the script on the baseplate is similar. The real Lancia Flavia was, like all the previous Lancias, a very innovative model: front-wheel drive, a four cylinder boxer engine, and all round disk brakes. It was introduced at the 1960 Turin Motor Show with a rather underpowered 1,500 cc engine, and a steep price. The Flavia was soon made available with a more powerful 1,800 cc engine, rather better suited to its size and weight. In 1962 the four-door saloon was joined by a coupé version by Pininfarina (reproduced by Mercury as no. 32), a convertible by Vignale and a Sport by Zagato. A new body design was presented in 1969, then in 1971 the “Flavia” badge was discontinued. Production lasted until 1974 when it was replaced by the Beta. Like the previous Aprilia, Ardea, Aurelia, Appia and Flaminia, the Flavia was named after a Roman road, the Via Flavia, leading from Trieste to Dalmatia.

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Mercury La Collezionne – Part Four

By Fabrizio Panico

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

More Mercury by Hachette Parts 7 – 9

Here we have three more models, #7 to #9, in the Mercury partwork collection being sold in Italy by Hachette.

Hachette no. 7 is the Lancia Appia 1st series, a 1:48 scale model (Mercury no. 14) from 1955. As usual a simple model, but very faithful to the real one. The headlights are like small aluminium nails, inserted into the body, no windows or interiors are present, green livery. The real one was launched in 1953, smaller than the Aurelia
the Lancia flagship, but similar in outline. In 1956 the 2nd series was presented at the Geneva Motor Show, same front but a new rear body end with a more modern look. A coupé, by Pininfarina, and a cabriolet, by Vignale, were now available. In 1959 there was the 3rd series, with a new front, inspired by the Flaminia, the Aurelia’s successor (both were reproduced by Mercury, the 3rd series as no. 5, the Flaminia as no. 8).

Hachette no. 8 is the Mercedes W196 formula 1 carenata, a 1:43 scale model (Mercury no. 56) from 1956. Quite a heavy model, larger than the previous ones, and really faithful. It has a very nice front grille, painted in matt black with the “star” emblem. The driver’s seat is painted in blue, and the steering wheel is present. Racing numbers are added on the satin silver livery. The “carenata” was reproduced by many other brands, but Mercury was the only one to reproduce both versions, the “carenata” and the “cigar shaped” one (Mercury no. 55). Mercury also reproduced the “carenata” in 1:60 scale (Mercury no. 22).

Hachette no. 9 is the Autobianchi Bianchina, a 1:48 scale model (Mercury no. 6) from 1958. Another simple but very faithful model, very small (only 63 mm), and fitted with windows. In the beginning it was produced only in single colours, later it was presented in nice two-colours liveries (here light green and grey). All the details were carefully reproduced, down to even the smallest ones. The small box was enhanced by a colour reproduction of the car, whilst the model name “bianchina” was reproduced in the script used by the manufacturer on the car on both the box and the model baseplate.

The real Bianchina was the result of a joint agreement amongst Fiat, Bianchi and Pirelli: It was a success, and the car was followed by a cabriolet and estate “Panoramica” versions (the Panoramica was reproduced by Mercury as no. 11).

Hachette Mercury Volkswagen Reproduction – a comparison

By Robin Godwin

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

I have just received the reproduction Mercury Volkswagen Beetle in Swiss Post (PTT) livery from an Italian dealer. The package includes model, box and a pamphlet (in Italian only) specific to the model, which retails in Italy for 14.99 Euros.

The Volkswagen is number 6 in a series of reproductions of early Mercury vehicles from the 50s, generally done to a scale of 1:48. [Editor – more about this range of reproductions may be found in articles written by Fabrizio Panico elsewhere on this website]. The Beetle itself was initially issued in 1955 (the PTT version came along in 1956), hence the casting is pretty much the same level of fidelity as contemporary Dinky Toys and the recent reproductions of that range. Interestingly, the Dinky reproductions were cast by Norev, and marketed by DeAgostini or Editions Atlas, with the Dinky trademark owned by Mattel. The included pamphlet indicates that Mercury is a registered trademark used under license, but doesn’t indicate who owns it, and nowhere does it say who casts it. The pamphlet also identifies Marco Batazzi as the reference for the historical background. Marco is an acknowledged Volkswagen expert/author, and has also written an excellent book on Volkswagen toys, which compliments both the Houchangnia and Schroeder VW Beetle books. The great Italian collector/author Paolo Rampini is credited with some of the photos of original Swiss PTT models. So it is clear that there has been some real collector input into this effort.

In this article, I’ll provide a photo comparison of an original Mercury Volkswagen, a Scottoy reproduction in white metal, and this Hachette model. Jonathan Scott did a series of reproductions of early Mercurys around the turn of the millennium. These were covered in print versions of MAR at the time. The Scottoy shown here was purchased in 2002. The original Mercury was purchased 30 years ago at a French toy show (and wasn’t inexpensive then).

Left, Hachette; centre, original Mercury; right, Scottoy, which came with windows and an interior. You can just discern that the windscreen opening is larger on the Hachette

Easy to see that the Hachette (left) is from a new master/mould in the engine vents, license plate fairing and the plate mounting itself. Close inspection of the Scottoy (right)strongly suggests that an original Mercury (centre)was the master for the white metal version

It’s impossible to mistake either reproduction for an original

Original box in the middle features stronger colours and a smaller font size for the “15”

Hachette box on bottom features cleaner printing and more of a maroon band than red

Hachette box, left, has the maroon/red band running continuously around one whole edge of the box. The original is offset. The original also has a hole in the middle of one side to view the colour of the enclosed model without having to remove it – missing on the repro box. There are no markings on the repro to indicate it is a Hachette reproduction, so future buyers of mint/boxed original Mercurys should be aware of the box differences. At least the Atlas/DeAgostini Dinky boxes have lots of additional legal information on one side of the box, which is a dead giveaway that they are a repro. I believe the PTT version was sold in the standard box, but the Mercury book by Bocco, Clemente, Coen, Perego and Pontoni illustrates a PTT version sitting atop an early #15 non-illustrated manilla toned box, featuring blue descriptive printing.

The pamphlet cover is a reproduction of the 1950 Mercury catalogue cover. Beautiful evocative artwork, but it predates the models that are being reproduced by Hachette

A trio of fairly recent PTT VolkswagensHachette, left, Editions Atlas Dinky Toy, middle, and a proper 1:43 Minialuxe, right. The original Mercury came with three different PTT logos with the differences conveniently illustrated by these three models. Original Mercury logo was a decal, but the Hachette is tampo. Yellow/black colour separation is better on the Hachette than the original (based on photos in the pamphlet and other sources).

All-in-all, it’s a good reproduction and well worth the 15 Euros.

Mercury – la collezionne Part Two

By Fabrizio Panico

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

Here a few pictures of the second and third model to be released in the Mercury partwork being sold in Italy by Hachette.

 Fiat 600 Multipla

The second part is again issued on a large card to attract the attention of the customer to the series and the model being sold at a discounted price. This card is huge and must cause news stands and shops in Italy a lot of issues finding space to display them. The model looks tiny in its cover mount.

On the rear of the card we again get a display showing us what is to come and a taster for the third model which will be at the standard price for the collection.

The red and black Fiat 600 model shown below is the replica from Hachette sitting on the replica box..

The green and grey model shown in comparison below is an original Mercury model from my collection.

There are no big differences between the two though the baseplate is engraved upside down on the new replica as shown below (NB the cars are positioned on the wrong boxes with the new Mercury on the right on the old Mercury box, and vice versa.) .

The Hachette box is also slightly altered from the original as it lacks the hole that Mercury had punched in to allow buyers to see the colour of the model inside. Even the weight is similar with the Hachette being a few grams lighter.

Fiat 1100 Taxi

Here the third model from the Hachette partwork. The Fiat nuova 1100 taxi in the livery of Berne (Berna in Italian) in Switzerland.

Hachette has chosen to model a very rare Mercury as they were only sold in Berne and consequently are very sought after by collectors. Unfortunately I do not have one to compare it with so I have shown it below with the standard 1100 that it is based on.

Again the Hachette box lacks the ‘spyhole’ which shows the colour of the model.

More on Mercury Partwork

By Fabrizio Panico

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

Questions have been asked about the baseplates on the reproduction Mercury Models being sold as partworks in Italy by Hachette.

The first model in the series is the Alfa Romeo Giulietta shown above and its baseplate is as shown below. NB the axle retainers replicated from the original. The base cannot be confused with one on the original model as the copyright has been altered, Hachette’s name added, and ‘Made in China’ stated clearly.

The attached magazine shows a clear picture of the original baseplate on a ‘real’ Mercury model. which lacks the A.P. next to the logo, Hachette’s name, and has ‘Made in Italy’ included.

Collectors often wonder about these replicas being passed off as originals. Here any collector with any interest in Mercury models would quickly see that this is a replica and not the original model.

New Italian Partworks for 2019

By Fabrizio Panico

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

2019 brings with it two new partworks running in Italy. One is based upon vans already seen in the Vadis Eaglemoss Liveried Vans series with new liveries, whilst the other will produce replicas of the models produced by the famous Italian brand Mercury.

Veicola Commerciale D’Epoca [Vintage Commercial Vehicles]

The first part comes attached to a very large card to make a splash at the news stands and to highlight the cheap first part. and to encourage people to collect the series.

Front of card with attached model and magazine.
Rear of the card with details of some of the models to come.

All the models shown appeared in the earlier Veicoli Pubblicitari D’Epoca [Vintage Advertising Vehicle]   published by Vadis Eaglemoss. The new publication is produced by Eaglemoss as the website shows. As in the previous series virtually all of the models shown to come are from Italian makers apart from the VW Transporter.

The cover of the first magazine shows that the models have all been made by Ixo which is unusual, but it shows how the Ixo brand has established itself in the European market place as a producer of good value models.

The Galbani liveried Fiat 100 van which is sold as the discounted first model is shown above.

Mercury – la collezionne [the collection]

A series featuring new replica castings of Mercury Models. Mercury were a famous Italian diecast model maker. Like so many others they grew before World War Two making industrial diecastings and turned to toys after the war becoming the first Italian maker of diecast cars. Models were produced in various scales but the company ran out of steam in the late 1970s closing in 1978.

Card advertising the series
Leaflet showing models to come.

The first model included in this series is an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint in a lovely replica box as shown below.

This model, a 1950s classic, is nicely replicated in the manner of the Atlas Dinky range. It is produced to the 1:48 scale used by Mercury initially.

The magazine accompanying the model includes some nice printed reproductions of original Mercury advertising.

The rear cover is another enticing view of what is to come.