Category Archives: Readers Letters and Comments

Reader’s Letter – Talking of Tractors

Just a thought that came into my head whilst reading your report on the GFCC Cadillac Eldorado.

The angle of the steering wheel, that you in a sophisticated way point out, looks like a tractor steering wheel. I tried driving a tractor as a kid when looking for a cheap car for my own interest in 1965, I tried a Ford Anglia. The ’driving a tractor’-feeling was one of the reasons why i decided not to buy it.

To get the same feeling while driving a Cadillac must be traumatic!

Gunnar Bernstrup by email

More Models by Barry Lester

By Barry Lloyd

Editor’s Note:  After publishing Patrick’s article about the Alfa P2 by Barry Lester, we received this email from another Barry, who knew Barry Lester personally.

In MAR number 90 (April 1995), Max Tomlinson wrote a comprehensive  article on Barry.  No mention of him working in resin, although (see  later) his early models were all in wood (balsa and thin plywood) and  acetate. I’ve re-read the article and had forgotten how involved Barry was with Adrian Swain, who according to Max, mastered the first Auto  Replicas kit, the ERA.  The resin ‘exception’ appears to be AR42, a kit of a Tatra 77A, a reworking of AR09, an earlier version in white metal.   Max’s listing shows AR42 as ‘resin’.

Barry was also involved with Pete Atkinson and Acorn Models…  They  parted company when Pete A decided to abandon the business and run a bar in Ibiza!  Barry L was eventually paid for all his pattern making work in SMEC kits. (Some of which no doubt ended up with me!) And I’ve missed a trick – apparently Barry did the masters for the  Franklin Mint Vanwall and Auto Union in a 1:43 range.  I’ve often seen the Vanwall, but have resisted it so far.  May be tempted now…

Here are my three Barry Lester models!

The 1:43 Brescia Bugatti was built ca. 1967 according to Max (from his  correspondence with BKL).  Barry built several in wood, and of course it became one of the Auto Replicas range of white metal kits.

The 1:32 SMEC Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix kit that I bought from Barry in early 1991 is shown below.  I don’t  know when he built it, but it didn’t look ‘old’ then.

The Bugatti T57SC Atlantic is to Barry’s odd 1:17 scale and is all metal (hand beaten brass body), apart from the interior trim, and is stamped  underneath BKL 98.

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Readers Letter – On the one that got away

Gunnar Bernstrup wrote about ‘The One’s that Got Away’, regarding the disappointment of missing out on certain models which we wished we had bought when the opportunity arose, but we didn’t. We have all had that experience. Has Gunnar heard the expression “he who hesitates is lost”? It’s a saying I have come to live by. Two of a number of examples are as follows. Many years ago,Trofeu released Frank Gardner’s famous Alan Mann Escort, XOO 349F, with which he won the 1968 British Saloon Car Championship. I had seen Frank Gardner race this car, so when I started collecting model cars, one of these was a must have. Soon after its release, I went to a toy fair/swapmeet, where a trader had one. I was just £2 short of his asking price and he wouldn’t take my offer. I knew him well and should have asked him to put it to one side while I got some more money, but I didn’t because I was convinced I would get one quite easily. I didn’t. It was a long time before I finally got one.

At the other end of the spectrum, I’d had models of Craig Lowndes V8 Supercars ‘Green Eyed Monster’ Falcon from the 2001 season in 1:43rd scale and 1:18th scale for a number of years, and I wanted one in 1:64th scale to complete the set. Despite many years of searching, I had never seen one and was convinced that one didn’t exist. Then in May 2017, I found one on eBay offered by an Australian trader I had dealt with before. Although the asking price was a bit excessive for a 1:64th scale, I couldn’t let it go. I haven’t seen another one since.

The moral of the story is if you see something you want, unless the asking price is absolutely ridiculous, buy it, because if you don’t, “he who hesitates”!

Mick Haven
By eMail

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Atlas Dinky – Yet more Reader’s thoughts

Editor: We continue to have readers commenting. This topic has created considerable interest. The key theme seems to be to accept the Atlas Dinky models as what they are just copies. For those who had no access to Dinky France models in the past, and those who cannot afford them now, they are a way to connect to the originals.

Good as long as not passed off as Original

The ongoing debate about Atlas Dinky’s and their validity and collectability seems to be a bone of contention. Personally, I don’t see what the problem is. They provide buyers with a viable source of classic Dinky’s in the kind of condition that to find an original in the same condition would need a large lottery win. In another model collecting magazine last year, a collector of original Dinky’s wrote in to say he was annoyed that he had paid top money for an original model, when a virtually identical model was available by Atlas for peanuts. In his opinion, these cheap copies were wrong.

First of all, what’s it got to do with him, or anybody else, what collectors choose to spend their money on? If you can only afford a cheap imitation, and it looks good in your cabinet, surely, that’s where it ends. Many Atlas Dinky’s really are good, no matter how little they cost compared to an original. It can be likened to those who buy a replica Cobra or GT40. If it looks good to the buyer, and it’s all he can afford, then good luck to him. Just like Atlas, many replicas are very good, although I do draw the line at Cobras with anything other than a Ford V8 installed. If you like Atlas Dinky’s, and why not, then buy them.

Hej till Ragnar och Gunnar fran Mick I England

Mick Haven
Via eMail

Definitely in favour

Super to see all these French Atlas Dinky models
Hans Nuis
Via Facebook

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Atlas Dinky – More Readers Thoughts

Hi Gunnar, Karl and all others,

When I grew up in Sweden in the fifties the French Dinky Toys range was not imported into Sweden. When finally the import started only selected models were available –  hence big gaps in my French Dinky collection. The gaps are now slowly being filled with Atlas Dinky and I don’t mind they being copies.

I filled a Billy cabinet from Ikea with all these French toys and I love them all. But of course – the original ones are closer to my heart.


Ragnar Falck
Via eMail

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Readers Letters – Atlas Dinky Copies – Other views

Editor: The recently published email from Gunnar Bernstrop has certainly sparked some response. I include the comments which show that we all have slightly different views of reproduction models.

A sense of mischief?

I sense a little bit of mischief in Gunnar’s note.  But anything that
provokes discussion is fine by me. So here are MY thoughts and input to that discussion.

First, I recognise Gunnar’s points that these are simply copies of
someone else’s work. – But, as Maz remarks about all traditional types of art, – just because something is not an original does not mean we cannot desire and appreciate a copy.

Probably like most of us collectors, I had the original Dinky and Corgi toys as a child, but these were “toys” and treated accordingly (which is why I don’t still have those originals now, of course). At the time, absolute accuracy and detail were not a major concern to me – I was more interested in the “play value” of opening features etc.
Getting my hands on perfect condition copies brings back happy memories of childhood, but I could not justify to myself paying hundreds of pounds for an original Dinky Toy just to sit in a cabinet. – But equally I am now far better qualified to judge those “toys” in terms of their accuracy as scale replicas, whether from memory of the full size vehicles or from photos of original and preserved vehicles. On this front, I very much enjoy the Editor’s detailed analysis of the Atlas models, both against the real vehicle and against the original 1960’s “toy”.

So today’s reviews are not simply about “Is this a good copy of someone else’s work?”, but rather a review of “How good a model of the original vehicle was this model or toy when it was made 50 years ago?”, – which guides some of us into the decision about whether today’s model deserves shelf space in its own right. Arguably, he is just doing a 2018 review of a 1965 model, which just happens to be in perfect “ex-factory” condition, and that is fine by me.The surprising thing to me is just how accurate most of these “toys” are
as scale models, given the limits of the manufacturing technology, the materials, and the selling prices of the time. That accuracy of the scale model, and the fact the original full size vehicle is easily recognisable from the model is another dimension of my collecting interest. When the conversation turns to “Cars my Dad used to
have” and the like, to be able to show a good scale model of that car
can often stimulate further conversations and memories. Our hobby is not just about display cases, and having a “full set” of particular ranges or types. Its about the dialogue it provokes, including this one.

All the best to all MAR Readers and Contributors.

Brendan Leach
by email

Models at a price I can afford

I think the whole point of Atlas (and other) replica models is to give collectors the chance to buy ‘Dinky Toys’ at a reasonable price. Not everyone can afford auction prices for models/toys they loved as kids. I have a handful of Atlas / De Agostini Dinkies and enjoy owning them. If / when I tire of them they will go to Oxfam (or another charity shop) where another owner will be able to enjoy them at modest cost.

Jeffrey Stevenson
via MAR Online Facebook Page

A Chance to have what I missed

I think these models have given those not able to get them first time round (me included) the chance to own them, they will never replace the original thing. These are beautiful copies of originals and are, in most cases, superbly done.

Mick Mixxy Russell
via MAR Online Facebook Page

Mixed Feelings

I have mixed feelings about these copies. With their advertising budget and marketing through other channels, they should bring in more people to the collecting hobby; that is a good thing. Like Maz, I assume many experienced collectors buy them because the mint boxed originals are too expensive now. Being in the US, they are not so cheap for me (secondary market + high postage rates). On other side, they are just copies as Gunnar points out and not original.
Karl Schnelle
MAR Online US Editor
Via MAR Online Facebook page


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Readers Letter – On Atlas Copies

I certainly enjoy your esprit and ambitions for MAR Online.
But – reading the article about the Atlas copy of a Dinky Opel I react as I do to almost every one of the articles about the Atlas copies.

Is there anything easier than copying someone else’s work?

I can draw Tintin but Hergé invented him. With modern techniques you can – almost – fool anyone. It is of course more difficult to copy masterpieces of art since you need the right material; paper, colours, pencils and all the paraphernalia from days gone. But even skilled experts have been fooled. Though no one can be fooled with a ’true’ Mona Lisa by Da Vinci.

There are people who try to copy money, but their results are seldom mentioned as excellent. Or lovely. as reports about Atlas efforts often say.

An Atlas copy of a toy? It’s just a copy. If bad, you can point that out, but if well done it’s still just a copy made to look as the real thing. Why not write about the original toy and add: – Atlas have made a copy, but don’t get fooled. It’s just a copy.

And the box art? Oh how simple to reproduce. No specialists are needed doing that job. I think we can do it at home.

Just thinking …

Gunnar Bernstrop
by Email

Editors reply: Gunnar is a long time reader and contributor to MAR and it is good to know he reads and supports MAR Online.  His opinions on Atlas Dinky replicas are shared by many .

But how far do we take this line of thought? Diecast models are not individual works of art. If they are thought of as original creations then only the masters of the models are actually original all the production models are just replicas of the master in the same way copied paintings done by students in great masters studios were. Again, the Jean Massé art work was the original every printed box made by Dinky or Atlas is effectively a copy.

When I review Atlas models or Norev reproductions, or Dan Toys I cannot credit the reproducer with more than replicating the original well, and where they have not I say so. For me they are copies which allow me to hold and enjoy something I can’t afford just like the prints on the wall of my work room.

What do other readers think?

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More Sad News – Bob Haines

From Jerry J. Broz

Following the post today telling us of the passing of Frank Waller. I write to let you know of the passing of  Bob Haines of REH Distributing on September 18th. Bob was one of the first slot car distributors in North America and was involved in the slot racing his
entire life. I knew him from my time in the Auto World and from my involvement in slot racing. He distributed most of the slot car products ever made.

He was a great guy, friend and supporter of the slot car hobby.
I just though you would like to know.

Mick Haven’s memories of Robin Allen

Mick Haven is a member of SHMAC and contributor to MAR Online. Here are his thoughts after hearing that Robin Allen of the SHMAC club passed away on Saturday  23rd June.

It isn’t often I’m lost for a word or two, but in such circumstances it really is difficult and I know that other members of SHMAC will echo my feelings. Having only been a club member since 2005, it was a while before I knew of Robin’s standing and history with the club. Consequently, members of longer standing are better placed to write about him from that perspective.

Life can throw up some funny strange quirks, and it did so in my early acquaintance with him. At the time I joined, he wasn’t a regular attendee at our Monthly club night, so I didn’t get to know him that well at first. In 2009 I had started to work for the local car dealership which still gives me work. Unbeknown to me Robin worked as a vehicle inspector at what was then Portsmouth D.V.L.A. where he stayed until its closure in 2013.   One of the tasks that I undertook was to go to the D.V.L.A. for vehicle licencing matters. It was during one of these visits that I noticed a person at the back of the office who looked familiar. It was Robin. Unfortunately due to where he stood, behind a security window, I couldn’t attract his attention.

Subsequent visits would prove more fruitful and I would see him more often. If I’m honest, I never shared his passion for his 1 to 1 scale collection and I never saw his model collection which I believe was extensive to put it mildly. That doesn’t detract from the fact that both were absolutely amazing. At club nights, there was no telling what he would arrive in, it could be a Mercedes-Benz, or a D.K.W,, or a Beetle, including the one modelled by Corgi. All were immaculate.

As for his submissions at club nights where we take along monthly themed models for members to vote on, there was no telling what he would bring. Many were rarities, and he was a mine of information about all of them. His knowledge of his collection was top drawer.

His passing is a sad loss not only for his fellow club members but for the collecting fraternity as a whole, in which he had many friends.

R.I.P. Rob, it was good to know you.


Readers Letter – Greenlight Window fixings

Greenlight Window Fixings

What is your verdict on the way Greenlight has attempted to engineer flush side windows on the 1939 Chevrolet vans?

I don’t care for the engineering solution. Flush glazing yes, but not at the cost of overall appearance. Thinner wall castings getting windows closer to where they should be like Matchbox did some 55 years ago is still better in my mind!

Robin Godwin
via eMail

Editor: I didn’t mention this in the article on these models, to be found here, as I only looked closely at it when Robin drew it to my attention. But he is right the fixing is extremely clumsy and when the model is in a light colour it is also very obvious as shown in photographs below where arrows point to new fixings intruding visually. The flush fittings being increasingly used by PCT/Sonic and Oxford with the side glazing being fitted into side from inside with all frames printed on is vastly superior. Or as Robin says if the casting is fine enough then the gap is scarcely noticeable anyway. I hope GL find a better solution for future castings. What do you think?

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