Category Archives: Mebetoys

Alfa Romeo Guilia Part Four

By Robin Godwin

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

Finally we’ll look at one of Italy’s older toymakers, Mercury, and a relative newcomer, Mebetoys. With lots of time to examine real prototypes, and for Mercury at least, with many years of diecast experience behind them, one would expect nothing short of perfection. Alas, these two examples are among the worst.

Mercury #4 was introduced in 1965, according to Mercury Tutta la Produzione, by Bocco, Clemente, Coen, Pereo and Pontoni, published in 2005. It is identified as a Giulia Super on the box, but as a Giulia TI on the base (Alfa Romeo made a Giulia TI, a Giulia TI Super, and a Giulia Super, all different). Perhaps pedantic, but according to Wikipedia, the Giulia TI Super was a special lightened road going (but produced for racing) version introduced in 1963. Only 501 were built, all white save for one red and one grey version. They were easily identified by having mesh grills in place of the inner two headlights, and no overriders on the bumpers. The Giulia Super was introduced at the March 1965 Geneva Auto Show and was a regular road-going sedan that incorporated some of the performance features of the earlier Giulia TI Super. My guess is the tooling was underway for a regular Giulia TI when the Giulia Super was introduced at Geneva. It was easy to change the box printing to give the impression that they were first with the latest model, but they never updated the base of the model. That said, they also managed to put a three-spoke plastic steering wheel into the interior, which was a standard Giulia Super feature. But that is the only discernable feature in 1:43. Enough history. The model is otherwise pretty abysmal with half opening doors and a totally incorrect rear window profile. They completely missed the notchback styling with wrap around rear window. The top rear passenger side window profile is incorrect as well, being too rounded.

A Super box but with a TI inside. Colour illustration shows a properly drawn rear notchback whereas line drawing shows the incorrect lines actually modelled

The model comes with opening doors and a separate detailed engine part underneath the opening bonnet. Jewelled headlights adorn the front but rear lights are painted. There is a separate oil pan/ transmission housing casting screwed into the base plate. Bumpers are separate chrome plastic pieces. There is a reasonable attempt at the Alfa Romeo steel wheels. That they are chromed is a good thing, as that provides a barrier between plastic wheels and rubber tires. There is evidence of wheel melt on the inner surfaces of my wheels, but that does not affect displayability.


Totally wrong rear window treatment. Correct-for-a-Super three spoked steering wheel just visible here. I have seen a white steering wheel version on eBay but could not tell if it was two spoke or three spoke

Mercury issued a rallye Giulia version, also as model #4 in 1971. Bumpers were removed with the holes thru the body filled in, and additional spotlights were cast in the grill. Jewelled headlights were deleted, but the remainder of the casting looks unchanged. I have seen one of these on eBay for hundreds of euros, possibly the most expensive early Giulia you can buy. I have seen replacement racing decals online, so caution must be exercised if one is in the market for an original version. Although the Mercury scale is listed as 1:43, it is noticeably larger than the Edil and French Dinky 1:43 versions. The wheelbase is exaggerated, being longer than the (claimed) 1:42 Mebetoys and also longer than the two 1:41 plastic models from Politoys and INGAP, so something was amiss at the design stage.


Mercury Giulia rallye version (photo: from internet search)

Mebetoys was the most prolific of the early Giulia modelers, producing a regular TI in many versions starting in 1966, a Giulia Super from 1968, and later, a Nuova Giulia with horrible whizzwheels from 1978. I have not seen in the flesh a Giulia Super from Mebetoys and suspect it may be a nomenclature version (or just the addition of a three spoke steering wheel). The Nuova is a casting change. If anybody has a Super, can they please send a photo to the editor. I have seen a Nuova with earlier more accurate wheels on eBay, but suspect it may be a fake. The base on the Mebetoys attaches with screws, so all bets are off when it comes to purported wheel and interior colour variations.

Mebetoys A7 Giulia TI Carabinieri with early domed wheels from 1967. Body shape is just too squared and casting is a bit rough

The model came with opening front doors, less quarter windows, chromed plastic bumpers, front and rear, a chromed one-piece plastic insert for the headlights and grill, and working suspension. There were no jewelled headlights, like most of the other models in this review. The scale is cast as 1/42 on the base, and when placed alongside the French Dinky and Edil, seems about correct – the Mebetoys has a slightly longer wheelbase and body. Curiously, the box is marked 1/43.

Mebetoys base with SCALA 1/42 cast in
Mebetoys box indicating 1/43

I don’t have a later variation of the model, so cannot say if the scale on the base was eventually changed to match the box, or vice versa. The improved wheels appeared sometime after 1967, which was the issue date of the model pictured. They look to be quite accurate renditions of the Alfa Romeo steel wheels.

Mebetoys, left, and Mercury. This picture does not really show the size difference between the two

I talked about the Edil moulds moving to Turkey, but of course it is well known that Politoys  (plastic, fibreglass, and metal) and Mebetoys moulds also travelled to different countries. However, I have never seen a Giulia TI from these early issues reproduced in their new homes. If any reader has proof otherwise, please send a photo to the editor.

So there is a summary of the contemporary models issued shortly after the first Giulia TI rolled off the assembly lines. We have highlighted six companies that produced miniatures, some very well, and others less so. I was fortunate to start collecting these in the eighties, since they have more recently become extremely sought after and, accordingly, very expensive.


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Alfa Romeo Giulia Part One

By Robin Godwin

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

I’m not what’s commonly known as an “Alfista,” I’m merely a collector who likes a particular style of automobile and the corresponding classic contemporary models. I was first introduced to the Alfa Romeo Giulia four-door sedan in the early eighties while stationed in Germany. A friend had one, a little rough perhaps, but still a very handsome sedan. I mostly observed it in his driveway, with the hood (bonnet) up, apparently with an unending requirement for maintenance. 

The first release was the Giulia TI (for Turismo Internazionale, an Italian racing series), in 1962 with a 1570cc twin cam four cylinder motor. Production continued until 1977, using various designations that usually referred to engine size. Visually, the basic car changed little except for headlight configuration. The TI had twin headlights, two regular size and two slightly smaller. The Giulia 1300 four cylinder (1290cc) was introduced in 1965, with single headlamps, and the Nuova Giulia was introduced in 1975 with twin headlights all the same size. The Nuova also had flat hood and trunk lids, and, in my opinion, lost some of the original style in the transition. Of course there were lots of other differences between the vehicles over the years, but these generally are not evident in 1:43 scale models of the time.

I bought my first model Giulia in 1989, Mebetoys #A7, TI in Carabinieri guise. It comes in other police guises as well as a regular civilian sedan with colour variations. It’s not my intent to detail all the variations, (and I probably couldn’t come close anyway), but this model launched me on a quest to acquire at least one version of all the contemporary, as in 1960s original issues, 1:43(ish) models, all but one of Italian origin. I was recently very lucky in acquiring the last model on my list – an INGAP Giulia TI in plastic. I’ll cover these early models in a general sense, but won’t progress to the many Progetto K Alfas of the 1980s and 1990s, or any of the current diecasts or resins (covered recently by Alex Marsden in the September 2018 issue of Diecast Collector magazine).

I acknowledge that early Giulia models have been covered before in the collecting press: Karl Schnelle and Koen Beekmann covered the TOGI Giulia in part 4 of their excellent ongoing series on TOGI history in MAR Online. This was a contemporary model with an introduction date of 1963, but I don’t collect “big stuff” so it will not be further covered in this article. Frequent MAR contributor, Bruno Boracco, while editor of Miniauto & Collectors magazine (an Italian model magazine, which no longer seems to be in print, did a profile on Giulia TIs, including the early issues, in issue 5, 2002. At least I assume it was Bruno as the article was unattributed). [Ed: Bruno has been closely involved with the Italian Piccole Grandi Ruote web site which covers real and model vehicles in recent years]. A nagging feeling in the back of my mind tells me that someone, perhaps Bruno, also did a photo summary of the Giulia for an early print issue of MAR, and doubtless I’ll find it just as soon as this article is posted. Release dates are sourced from Paolo Rampini’s superb Golden Book of Model Cars 1900 – 1975 and I’ll cover models from the following companies, which are all Giulia TIs except as noted later in the text:

  • INGAP (Industia Nationale Giocattoli Automatici Padova)
  • Politoys/Penny (plastic and metal models, and the Penny is 1:66 scale)
  • Edil Toys
  • French Dinky Toys
  • Mebetoys
  • Mercury

Left to right: Polistil/Penny Sedan, Politoys Carabinieri, Politoys Sedan, Politoys Sedan in plastic, INGAP Sedan, French Dinky Sedan, Mercury Sedan, Edil Polizia, Mebetoys Carabinieri

The last addition to my small collection was the first to be issued in 1963, a Giulia TI by INGAP of Italy. INGAP was founded as a toy company in 1919, but produced mostly plastic and tin toys. Many collectors will be familiar with their set of smaller scale cars, probably around 1:65 scale, which were sold in sets. The larger Giulia was sold as one of a “serie 77” consisting of six cars in 1:41 scale. I’m not sure if they were ever sold individually. It was true to form in plastic, with rubber tires, and mine exhibits the slightest evidence of wheel melt (an incompatibility between the plastic rim and rubber tire), but after 55 years it likely won’t degrade any further. This is quite a good model from a company not previously known for “collector scale” toys. These are exceptionally hard to find outside of Italy and now command high prices, as do all the Giulias I will be discussing here.

Colours I have seen are a creamy beige  (shown on hobbyDB), my red car, and a light blue one illustrated in an article by Andrew Ralston in Model Collector October 2011 (along with the box and the other five cars in serie 77). I’m not convinced that the racing decals on my red version are factory issue, as they seem overscale. I suspect they were added by a collector. But I’ll continue to search the internet for a while to see if another one pops up with decals before removing them. Despite most continental European model cars of 1963 having interiors, this model is lacking (as are the other five in serie 77). Except for axles, wheels and tires, it is a four-piece model – body, base (including rear bumper), windows, and a one-piece, silver painted bumper/front grill/headlight unit, which, in all likelihood, locks the base to the body. Body shut lines are indented, and the overall shape is very good, until you look at the tail of the model. The rear bumper is crudely overscale, and there has been no effort whatsoever to model the taillights. One would think that the brittle plastic used in construction would lead to warping or cracking over time (and it still might in strong sunlight), but my example is as true as the day it came out of the mould. INGAP also produced a 1:15 scale tin clockwork Giulia in its Eurotoys range, but this is beyond the scope of this article.

The difficult lines of the sedan are well captured, but windows may be too small
Lack of rear end detail detracts, as does crude bumper, likely needed as structural support to hold base in position
What a difference a year makes in details. Politoys plastic 1:41 Giulia from 1964, right, includes jewelled headlights, separate chromed grill and bumper and full interior

To be continued….

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