Category Archives: Universal Hobbies

More from 1964 – Dodge and Plymouth Conversions.

By John F. Quilter

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

In my never ending quest to make something that no model maker makes, at least currently, I have done some work with the diecast Universal Hobbies 1964 Plymouth Belvedere hardtop and the 1964 Dodge sedan which is in the Mexican partworks series and I believe comes from Ixo. Both of these cars, the Belvedere and the Coronet, were the mid-sized cars for Plymouth and Dodge in 1964. Since these two cars were from Chrysler Corporation and were closely related by some styling features as well as overall size I thought I could do some mixing, matching, and modifying.

The Plymouth comes as a Belvedere hardtop and extras of these in my collection became a convertible in red, a four door sedan in light beige, plus a two door sedan in metallic turquoise.

 

Using the displaced top from the conversion to the four door sedan I transplanted this to the Ixo Dodge making a Coronet hardtop Then with still another four door Dodge I fabricated a rear roof and tailgate and created a station wagon.

This one was the most involved transformation and I used some sheet aluminium to add the roof extension and tailgate. The quarter panels had to be somewhat reshaped from the sedan and multiple layers of aluminium created the raised panel on the tailgate.  An option on these wagons was a luggage rack so this was made using silver paperclip wire and some aluminium feet to mount it to the roof. Transverse rubbing strips suitably bare metal foiled were applied to the roof.

The plastic interior section with the seats needed to be modified cutting off the parcel shelf and adding a load floor. Using Google images is vital in getting the shapes and proportions right on these type of conversions and I was lucky to find the all-important 90 degree side photo plus others showing various details such as the fuel filler cap, tail lamps and rear bumper which is different from the sedan. A 13 inch diameter piece of electrical solder served for this purpose with suitable bending and filing for the correct final shape. Solder is ideal for this purpose as it is already very shiny silver in colour and can easily be filed and polished to a high gloss with only a final coating of clear lacquer to preserve the chrome like appearance.

A careful study of the sales brochure for this Dodge on this site http://www.lov2xlr8.no/broch1.html provides specifications for length, a selection of colours for interior and exterior. Colour chips found on Google are also useful. I learned that in the case of this Dodge wagon it was about 5 inches longer than the sedan, all in the rear quarter panel so this was factored into the conversion process. The Ixo sedan comes with blackwall tires which would have been uncommon on a new car in 1964 so I created thin whitewalls using my loop of thin gauge wire technique. A bit too three dimensional but when working in 1:43 and doing custom work one has to be creative and resourceful and until a supplier, such as Tin Wizard, produces some very thin whitewall decals these will have to suffice.

The Plymouth convertible was an easy job, simply cut off the roof of the hardtop using a jeweller’s saw, and fabricate a top boot with sheet lead and paint in a suitable vinyl top colour. It was easy enough to do that I was able to preserve all the paint and tampo printed badging of the Universal Hobbies item. When doing one of my conversions I always preserve one of the factory production models to illustrate what I started with. In the case of the Plymouths the metallic blue hardtop in the photograph is unaltered. In the case of the Dodges the metallic turquoise sedan is the starting point.

The Plymouth light beige sedan was a bit more involved as it required taking the cut off roof from the Dodge and grafting it on to the Plymouth. Of course when mixing and matching these parts one has to sometimes alter the plastic interior and dashboard unit to fit. And an alternative interior colour may be chosen based on internet research. When going from a two door body to a four door body the rear doors have to be engraved in, the front door shortened, and new door handles fabricated and mounted.

So with these Dodge and Plymouth variations I have replicated many of the body styles that were part of the lineup in 1964.


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Bond in Motion

By Maz Woolley

All text by the Author. Illustrations from Eaglemoss.

Regular readers will remember the GE Fabbri James Bond partwork which ran in several countries several years ago. Indeed attend most  UK toyfairs and you will find a table selling stock left over from the collection with, or without the magazine.  The Author collected the better models from the collection and they featured from time to time in the print edition of MAR. Well ‘Bond is back‘.  Eaglemoss, best known recently for their continental Opel Collection, bought GE Fabbri  some time ago and has now relaunched the Bond series under the title ‘Bond in Motion‘. This title is a ‘tie-in’ to the current ‘Bond in Motion’ exhibition at the London Film Museum which features one hundred original vehicles and artefacts from all 24 films.

The illustrated magazine has had a stylistic makeover but has very similar contents to the one provided by GE Fabbri. These magazines were better than many as they have access to EON productions film pictures and posters which they use in profusion.

As far as the models are concerned the collection starts predictably with an Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger at a discounted price. After that the price is increased to a standard price.

 

Those that subscribe to the collection will get two free gifts as shown above but these will come after they have subscribed to a minimum number of parts in each case.

 

The original GE Fabbri James Bond series used Universal Hobbies as the supplier of models until around part 100 and then used Ixo and UH from that point onward. All the models shown in the web site  illustrations so far are from the earlier part of the series and are made by UH. The original series ran to 134 parts it remains to be seen how many parts the new one will consist of.

The models all come in boxes with illustrated back drops and some have additional modelling to the base though that had disappeared by the end of the series.

Some of the models are made in action poses with boots open or weapons deployed which makes them less attractive to general model collectors but suited many Bond fans. Though again the models became more and more standard as the collection progressed.

Some cars feature damaged glass or even damaged metalwork. The BMW shown above has shot out windscreen and weapons deployed for example. The Sherpa had dents modelled in.

The Aston Martin V8 Vantage above has skis fitted, rockets deployed to the rear and has a modelled ramp in the base. It also has figured fitted driving it which is quite often the case until the final part of the collection.

Other cars are more basic like this nice DBS which again has a good moulded base. DBS models are not common so this budget model has been popular to general collectors and not just Bond Collectors. If you want to see the collection then it is advertised on Eaglemoss’ web site at https://bondinmotion.herocollector.com

It remains to be seen how well the collection is received as many collectors will have subscribed to the original series or bought the cars they want on the secondary market. But after Atlas departure from the collectors scene one DeAgostini competitor is  clearly ‘testing the water’ of the UK subscription series market.


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Small French cars from Universal Hobbies – Part Four

By Maz Woolley

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

This article is the fourth in a short series looking back at models UH made to 1:87 scale which were included in a French partwork The Golden Age of French Cars which was produced in about 2009The first part featured the Citroën Traction and can be found hereThe second covered Peugeot 204s and can be found here. The third was on Peugeot 403 Cabriolets. This partwork had a case holding two 1:87 scale models which represented two different versions of the same car.  These models were all diecast in metal in China for France and are fitted with a nice turning key type fixing that allows them to be easily removed from the case for display. The models from this series that I will look at in this article are of of the Panhard Dyna Z12 from 1957.

The Panhard Dyna  140 thousand of them were produced from 1954 to 1959. It’s flat twin 851cc engine was capable of producing up to 52hp which was sufficient to propel the relatively lightweight car to 90mph despite it being a full six seater inside. The car was replaced by the updated PL17.

The UH model captures the characteristic shape of the Panhard well though again the wheels could be set a little higher than they are. The alloy mouldings fitted to the car are printed in a slightly dulled silver which is realistic and although a little to wide in places looks OK from a normal viewing distance.  The wheels are a little plastic looking but actually are reasonably accurate replicas of the real ones which had big hubcaps and rims in silver.

Again realistic number plates are not fitted simply year plates which is always a disappointment. The rear light are red “blobs” which would be nicer as clear red over silver but again from a distance they look OK. Badging is quite finely printed.

G7 taxi group dominated Paris taxis in the post war years and has gone on to build a large taxi and hire business across France. Its distinctive livery has been used on a myriad of models with Dinky Toys making a nice Peugeot 404 Taxi in the 1960s for example. Partworks models of more recent years abound too with lots of different car models featured in the red and black livery. However, in 1:87 scale this model may be the only one available.

The Taxi model is basically made and finished to the same standard as the saloon car. With the obvious addition of the external taxi meter and roof sign. The tiny yellow lettering on the rear doors says G7 Taxis.

Although not perfect these make cheerful budget models which capture the real car well in this small scale and which make a nice contrasted pair when displayed.

After the last article one of my fellow members at Coventry Diecast and Model Collectors club (CDMC), Matt, pointed out that Norev had expanded their 1:87 range in recent years and that there were quite a few on eBay. Originally Norev re-issued 1:87 models based on their 1960’s models with a few upgraded details but has since expanded the range. The expansion was speeded up by incorporating some of the UH models, so some are now available as single models in Norev packaging in different colours and finishes.


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Small French Cars from Universal Hobbies – Part Three

By Maz Woolley

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

This article is the third in a short series looking back at models UH made to 1:87 scale which were included in a French partwork The Golden Age of French Cars which was produced in about 2009The first part featured the Citroën Traction and can be found here. The second covered Peugeot 204s and can be found here. This partwork had a case holding two 1:87 scale models which represented two different versions of the same car.  These models were all diecast in metal in China for France and are fitted with a nice turning key type fixing that allows them to be easily removed from the case for display. The models from this series that I will look at in this article are of the Peugeot 403 Cabriolet.

The Peugeot 403 was made between 1955 and 1966. A total of over 1.2 million were made of all types, including commercial models, which meant it was the first Peugeot model to break the one million mark. The cabriolet was introduced in 1956 and withdrawn in 1961 when the first 404s were launched. The styling was by Pininfarina and was in the three box style that was to dominate the saloon car market until the coming of the hatchback. The two-door cabriolet featured a luxurious interior with high quality leather upholstery. In 1958 the 403 cabriolet cost 80% more than the entry level “berline grand luxe” 403 saloon, and presumably for this reason the convertible 403 was produced in very modest numbers.

The models from UH represent two versions of the car, one hood up and one hood down. They also differ in colour and the hood down car gets whitewall tyres whilst the hood up car does not. Apart from that they are both similar 1957 Cabriolets. Pictures of the real car on the Internet shows that the colours chosen are authentic and that the shape has been very well modelled.

The front end of the car has been nicely modelled with clear headlight lenses and a neat grille with a nice black wash fill to highlight the chrome bars and surrounds. To the side of the car the chrome body line is printed neatly, side indicators are included in orange, and the door handles are picked out in silver. The 403 badge printed on the bonnet is a little high and large and the gaps at the edge of the bonnet are not modelled. A basic interior is fitted with lots of detail moulded in to the dashboard and door cards. A white steering wheel is fitted to round it all off.

To the rear the lights are tiny separate inserts and the badging and number plate surround are nicely printed, though it would be nice to have authentic number plates rather than one with 1957 on. The bumper, like that at the front, is neatly modelled and the boot does have its surrounding panel gap captured. The wheels and tyres are nice representations of the real thing.


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Small French Cars from Universal Hobbies Part Two

By Maz Woolley

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

This article is the second in a short series looking back at models UH made to 1:87 scale which were included in a French partwork: The Golden Age of French Cars which was produced in about 2009. The first part featured the Citroën Traction and can be found hereThis partwork had a case holding two 1:87 models of different versions of the same car.  These models were all diecast in metal in China for France and are fitted with a nice turning key type fixing that allows them to be easily removed from the case for display. The models from this series that I will look at in this article are Peugeot 204s.

Peugeot 204 1965

The first is a plain car from 1965 when the car was launched. Over one and a half million were produced by the time production stopped in 1976. From 1969 to 1971 it was the best selling car on the French market. The design by Pininfarina was a scaled down version of the larger 304. The end result is slightly “dumpy” which is not helped in the case of the model by fact the casting is lacking in crispness and the ride height is too high.

The chrome window surrounds accentuate the fact that the casting is quite deep and windows are not flush. A complaint often made on some of Oxford Diecast‘s models even today. The side trim is printed on in a slightly heavy manner and the white paint “splits” on the panel lines.

The front grille and the printed 204 are neat and the separate lenses for the lights is nice, but the lights are not always mounted straight as can be seen above.

The rather plain rear is well caught and the rear lights are nice little separate units.

The wheels are pretty good with rubber tyres and overall it is a good model that captures the original well but far from the best in the series.

Peugeot 204 1967 Esso

Here we have the same casting as an Esso Press Car in “tiger” livery.  Unlike the Citroëns featured in the last article both cars use identical castings this time.

The side view shows the printed markings and Press Marking.

The same front but straight headlights this time.

At the rear the printed badging is different reflecting minor changes between 1965 and 1967.

Somehow the disruptive visual effect caused by the striping makes this look a larger car than the plain one but it is an optical illusion.


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Small French cars from Universal Hobbies

By Maz Woolley

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

Universal Hobbies seem to be primarily known today for the production of scale models of Agricultural and Construction machinery. But in the past they were active in making models to be used in partwork series, many in the James Bond series were from UH as were many 1:43 scale French partwork models. Today their 1:43 scale tractors have been used in a recent tractors partwork as well as sold in UH Packaging They also make larger tractors in 1:32 scale to compete with Britains and others.

This article is the start of a short series looking back at models UH made to 1:87 scale which were included in a French partwork: The Golden Age of French Cars which was produced in about 2009. Partworks are traditionally based upon 1:43 scale models which  are large enough for the public to see them as worthy of the cover price and not to bulky for the newstrade and delivery firms to cope with. So this partwork with a cover case holding two 1:87 models of different versions of the same car was a novelty. Having two cars did address the issue of perceived value but perhaps it was not a success as it has not been repeated and the models are still available new in France without the magazine that once came with them.

These models were all diecast in metal in China for France and are fitted with a nice turning key type fixing that allows them to be easily removed from the case for display. The first models from this series that I will look at are the classic  Citroën Tractions.

Citroën Traction 7A 1934

 

The original Traction Avant was a small saloon car powered by a 1,300cc engine. It was designated 7A  and about 7,000 were made of this model with only one wiper and where all luggage had to be loaded  from the inside as there was no opening boot. The front doors were front hinged.

The model captures a car shown on the Internet in a car museum very well though that like that car the model has two wipers. Maybe that was an option or was fitted to some of the last 7As to be produced. The two tone grey and black colours are authentic and the grille and horns has been very well reproduced as have all the bonnet side fitments. The wheels are quite simple but so were the originals with a very small silver coloured hub cap contrasting to black wheel and tyre.

The rear is neatly finished with the two filler caps fitted until 1935 moulded in and highlighted in silver. The spare tyre cover is neatly painted in black with the small silver centre cap printed on. The rear lights are printed well capturing the slightly oval shape they had well.

Citroën Traction 11 légère FFI 1944

 

The 11 was built in two versions and the one that UH have modelled here is the 11BL (“légère”, or “light”), which was the same size as the 7 CV. Whilst it was similar to the 7A there were actually quite a few differences which means that UH had to produce two different castings. In 1935 the front grille was part painted and not entirely plated and the headlight covers were restyled. The changes at the back were more practical and involved an opening boot lid, re-positioned rear number plate and a single fuel filler cap. In 1936 the suspension was revised and rack and pinion steering fitted.

The UH model incorporates a new front bumper, and a  modified grille and wheels. The painting is the markings of the Free French who took over France as the allied invasion of Europe pushed the Nazis out of France. The 11 in this form has been modelled by others including Solido in 1:18 scale and Edicola, as well as UH, in 1:43 scale.

The modifications to the rear are all fully incorporated including the boot opening lines and handles and the relocated number plate.

Whilst the models in this series are not as finely moulded or detailed as Brekina or Herpa they are quite acceptable perhaps on a  par with an average Oxford Diecast 1:76 scale model.


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Leyland Sherpa Conversions

By John Quilter

 

Leyland Sherpa Van - James Bond

John’s photographs of his conversions may be seen at the end of the article.

There was a partworks issue of vehicles in James Bond 007 movies and one of them was a circa 1980 Sherpa van in telephone service truck livery from the movie “The Spy that Loved Me” as seen above.   Since these are interesting diecast models in accurate 1:43 scale I have collected a number of them over the past years although they have to be purchased from Europe via EBay since the partworks series is not offered in the USA.  The Sherpa range was a product of British Leyland and was made in many versions for many years and in fact there is an Auto Review book on them by Rod Ward.  AUTO REVIEW AR61 The Sherpa Story.

There were minibus versions, a pickup plus others.   Since the partworks models are reasonably priced I acquired a few extras and converted one into a minibus and one into a pickup.   They were distributed by GE Fabbri Limited and these particular ones were made by Universal Hobbies although others are IXO products.    One of the things one has to consider with the this series is some come with “movie damage” and the Sherpa was one of these with a dented bonnet and right hand door as the picture of the unmodified van shown in the picture.   When I did the conversions I “repaired” this damage bringing the model to as new condition.   The minibus conversion required drilling out the side and plenty of filing the holes  into the correct shape windows.  The glazing was with clear plastic shaped to fit.  I was lucky to have a few Sherpa sales brochures to assist me in accuracy.   The interior needs to be modified to include some additional seats which I made out of styrene plastic.   Most of these 007 vehicles come with figures and if you are not using them in a particular project they make great additions to other models.

The Pickup required cutting off the upper rear body and fabricating a tailgate, bed floor and cab back.  So now I have three versions of the Leyland Sherpa small commercial vehicle to add to my British vehicle model collection.

1980 Sherpas #1e

1980 Sherpas #2e

1980 Sherpas #3e


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