Category Archives: 1:76

Oxford Diecast Maxi 1750

By Maz Woolley

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

Here I look at the long awaited British Leyland Maxi 1750 from Oxford Diecast. The firs issue is painted Tara Green and is badged as an HLS version.

The Maxi fitted in the Austin and then British Leyland range between the 1300 and the 1800 saloon cars and was one of the first volume production hatchbacks made in the UK. It was the last car designed when Alex Issigonis was in charge of the design studio, and like other Issigonis cars little attempt was made to give it fashionable styling. Indeed the design had to be compromised to use the doors from the 1800 to save on tooling costs which dictated the side profile of the car. Early production of the 1500 gave the car a name for a poor gear change and some reliability issues so it never sold in the volumes it deserved as it was a comfortable and practical car. In twelve years of production, 1969 to 1981, only just under half a million were made. My wife’s first car was a 1750 HL and experience showed that it was a much better car then many said, though the wiring was of poor quality and we always carried a crimping kit to re-join failed connections, and needed it on at least two occasions. The five speed gearbox was a rarity at the time and made for very economical cruising on A Roads and Motorways.

There have been few models of the Maxi. When it was being produced Airfix made a nice 1:32 scale kit of the earlier version of the car which is now rare and expensive. A white metal model was made a number of years ago but that is virtually never seen now, and I did not buy one as it was costly and I did not think that it was a very good model. More recently Silas made excellent 1500 and 1750 models to 1:43 scale which was a model that did the car justice.

Photograph from Oxford Diecast’s website. Note the different treatment of the front grille here to the model as issued shown below.

So now to Oxford‘s new 1750 model to 1:76 scale which will undoubtedly be popular with railway modellers with layouts featuring the last decades of British Railways operation, as well as with general 1:76 scale model collectors.

I will get my criticisms out of the way first. The paint has metallic flakes which are much too large, though fortunately this is only very obvious when the model is lit for photography. The tyres/wheels are too big and hub caps do not quite match the 1750 HLS ones. The side windows are not deep enough, these are doors from the Austin 1800 after all! The number plates are too shallow for their width, and the light units under the front bumper should be spilt into amber and clear units not all amber. Whilst we are at the front the black printing on the grille just looks like two square blobs as they do not reach properly round the light fittings, in fact the model differs from the sample used to sell the model on the Oxford Diecast website shown above. Inside, the black tub unit includes a dashboard which resembles the earlier 1500‘s black plastic padded dash not the later 1750 wood trimmed full width flat dashboard, and it has a three spoke steering wheel which was again typical of the earlier 1500 whereas the later 1750 had a bar across the middle instead. Editor’s note: I have since discovered that a three spoke steering wheel is correct for a 1750 HLS which is how Oxford have badged this model, though not for lower trim levels in the 1750 range. So Oxford are correct and I am not on this point.

So in summary, about the level of inaccuracy and compromise that we have come to expect from Oxford Diecast 1:76 scale models in recent years, except for their Rolls-Royces and coaches.

Whilst I feel that Oxford could do better the model does capture the shape of the real car pretty well and looked at from a distance I guess that it is reasonably acceptable. For all my criticisms as it has never been made to this scale before, as far as I know, it is a welcome addition to the collection.


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Return of Road Transport Images

By Maz Woolley

Text copyright of Author and Graeme McQuaker. Graeme McQuaker took the photographs and his copyright is acknowledged.

Regular readers will remember that following the sudden passing of Frank Waller his family were seeking a new owner for his Road Transport Images (RTI) business which specialised in 1:76 scale cabs and body and chassis fittings to allow conversions of existing 1:76 scale commercial models or the building of vehicles not otherwise available.

We now have the good news that the RTI business has been transferred to Graeme and Lorraine McQuaker from Irvine in North Ayrshire. Graeme was a customer of Frank’s for many years, using his cabs to make many of his models of Scottish fairground transport.

The photographs above show models build by Graeme to a very high standard using many RTI components. His experience of building the products and his appreciation of the challenges that builders face should be a great help when he develops the range further.

Graeme had a lengthy journey to Seasalter in Kent to collect the stock, moulds, masters, and exhibition display from Frank’s daughter Diane. All is now safely transferred to Scotland to allow Graeme to relaunch RTI. The current challenge is to get the website up and running to make the range available to buyers again.

Graeme’s and Lorraine’s intention is to focus on getting the current range of cabs, vans, bodies, trailers, complete kits, wheels accessories and transfers available to modellers again. Further development of the range will follow on once the existing range is back fully available. Graeme says “Lorraine and I are indebted to Diane, Frank’s daughter, for all the help and support that she has given during transfer of the business and we are determined to maintain and expand Frank’s legacy, which is such an important asset to 1:76 modellers“.  

The new business address for RTI is 2 Macallan Place, Irvine, North Ayrshire, KA11 2DN. The website, once up and running, will continue at www.roadtransportimages.com.

To relaunch the range Graeme and his team will be attending a number of shows and exhibitions in 2019. The first two will be:

  • Classic and Vintage Commercial Vehicle Show, Gaydon 8th and 9th June
  • Perth Model Railway Show, Dewars Centre, Perth 29th and 30th June

The team at MAR Online hope that Graeme and Lorraine have the best of luck in reviving and developing this range which has been missed by many model builders during its absence.


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

Recent Announcements May 2019

By Maz Woolley

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

Matrix News

Matrix has announced a new model which has only been announced as it has become available to buy. This is in 1:43 scale resin made in China for the Netherlands.

MX41302-211 Mercedes Benz Sprinter Miesen Deutches Rotes Kreuz 2018

Maxichamps

Another revived mould diecast in China for Germany to 1:43 scale. Black is a good colour for this classic Mercedes-Benz and although derived from an old master this is still an excellent model of a popular car.

940034005 Mercedes-Benz 200 1968

Minichamps

Minichamps releases in 1:43 continue to arrive on sale. The models shown are all made in China for Germany. The releases continue to mix Grand Prix cars, racing cars, and cars. It is interesting to note that the revived 1:87 scale line appears to have stopped introducing models at the moment.

PORSCHE PANAMERA 4S DIESEL SPORT TURISMO – 2017 – ACHATGRAU-METALLIC
PORSCHE PANAMERA 4S DIESEL SPORT TURISMO – 2017 – BURGUNDER-ROT-METALLIC
PORSCHE 917/10 – VASEK POLAK RACING – JODY SCHECKTER – CAN-AM MOSPORT 1973
BRABUS 850 MERCEDES-AMG S 63 S-CLASS CABRIOLET – 2016 – GOLD

Not to be left out of the firms rushing to produce bigger and bigger models Minichamps are also issuing a significant number of models in large scales and a recent announcement was this diecast 1:12 scale Porsche, another must have for the Porsche collector?

PORSCHE 911 TURBO – 1977 – OLIVE

A TSM Land Rover

TSM produce many models for car companies to be badged as dealer promotional models. These may in time also turn up produced as TSM boxed products. Here we have a model of Winston Churchill‘s famous Land Rover moulded in resin in China for Europe. The model is to 1:43 scale. This model is due in August and is priced in the UK at around the same price as a Matrix model.


Northcord Model Company

The new Northcord operation seems to be recovering after the companies failure a couple of years ago. The new Enviro400 MMC model seems to be selling well and is now into a second release of the 10.5 metre single door casting of this modern double-decker. Here it is liveried in the Bournemouth Transport Yellow Buses livery as fleet number 200 (SN17 MTO) which joined their fleet in 2017.


Le Mans Miniatures

Although primarily known for their 1:32 scale slot car range of accurate historic racing cars they also make figures suitable to show with static models in several scales. Here we look at new models in 1:32 and 1:43 scales.

1:43 scale racing managers

Here we see models of Enzo Ferrari (Scudero Ferrari), Alfred Neubauer (Mercedes-Benz), John Wyer (Porsche) Norbert Singer
(Porsche).  

1:32 scale Gendarme

Here we have a model to the larger 1:32 scale which represents a patrolman on traffic duties in the uniform which was used between 1947 and 1965.

Oxford Diecast Ford Zodiac Mark II

By Maz Woolley

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

Oxford Diecast‘s Ford Zodiac Mark II has arrived on the market in a nice colour combination: Shark Blue and Pompadour Blue. Looking at the dashboard it appears to be a ‘highline’ model, the form that the car was launched in in 1956 replacing the original Zephyr-Zodiac, which was replaced in turn by the ‘lowline’ car in 1958. The clearest evidence of this is the rounded top of the speedometer as the ‘lowline’ had a modified dashboard with a flatter and wider speedometer cap as well as a lower roofline.

The Mark II Zodiac was a very comfortable car with a front mounted straight six engine of 2,533cc driving the rear wheels through a four speed gearbox. It was top of the Ford range of cars and came as standard with white sidewalls, gold Zodiac scripts, wheel embellishers, and two tone paint. It had unique chromework on the sides with the front wing having a line from the leading edge to the front wheel arch. A top speed of just under 90mph was recorded by testers but tuners like Raymond Mays threw away the standard exhaust system and replaced it with better designed piping, and with a few more tweaks, found it easy to push the car to over a hundred miles an hour.

The Zodiac was modelled by Matchbox as 33a with roof and 39a as a convertible. In 1:43 scale it was modelled as a Corgi Classic which went on the be used in the Vanguards range after the takeover of Lledo.

Here we look at Oxford Diecast 76FZ001 the first of many issues I am sure as there are quite a few paint schemes that could be used on this car, though as the Police bought the cheaper, but similarly engined, Zephyr it would not look very realistic as a patrol car. I had high hopes of this model as Oxford have shown how well they can make smaller cars recently with the Rolls-Royces and the range of US 1:87 scale models.

The casting is a nice one for the most part though the handling of the front indicators/grille could be better. The indicators stood within the grille with a clear grille line outside them all the way down their outer side which was well captured by Matchbox in the 1950’s and is not so well modelled by Oxford.

The grille itself could have done with a little more detail in the top section which on the real car has lots of small vertical bars, as shown on photograph below, on the model there is just a gap. The horizontal grille bars are well modelled, but on the car there are some vertical strips behind the grille that show through and make the grille look like it is divided so it does not capture the original 100% there either.

From a copy of the original Ford Brochure.

Staying at the front the front light prints are not central in the lighting cowl which gives a poor effect. Looking on the Internet and the brochure above the earlier Zodiacs do seem to sometimes have body colour headlight cowls so that is accurate.

To the rear the boot (trunk) opening button is missing off the lid altogether, something Matchbox included on their model in the 1950s.

Image taken from period Ford Brochure

The rear lights and rear chrome panel are also not as finely modelled as they could have been. The rear panel is all in ridged chrome which extends out to form the lower parts of the rear lights, see brochure illustration above. On the Oxford model this is just tampo printed flat silver with no texturing. The tampo printed rear lights are poorly applied not giving wide enough areas of amber or red which make the rear light chrome holders look much to large, in addition the reflector seems to be printed too low on the light fitting. The silver part of the rear light cluster looks to me printed too far back along the wing as well.

On the real car there is a small pressed curved line from the top part of the rear wing to the chrome line starting just above the name badge as shown in the brochure picture above. On the Oxford this has been entirely omitted

On the side the chrome trim is a correct shape but would have been more accurate and effective printed at about half the current width. The V shaped Ford badging on the front wing is a curious shape which seems to me like a round bump with a bit of a raised area above. The door handles are very simplified losing the button in the fitting beneath each handle and the circular door locks fitted below the handles on the front doors are mot printed.

At last Oxford has stopped printing chrome lines on the outside of the body shell a scale inches away from the windows they were meant to surround and the model looks a lot better for it. It could have done with the fillet of chrome on the C pillar though fitted to Zodiacs. The windscreen wipers are moulded into the front screen and then over printed. Sadly, the print bleeds out some way either side of the raised area which makes them look clumsy. The Zodiac badges are all printed in gold and over scale but for them to be visible some exaggeration is needed. The Zodiac letters printed round the grille are fine and all there but a magnifying glass is needed to really appreciate them.

There has been some frustration on Facebook pages about the wheels fitted to this car. The centres are just a simple dome and do not reflect the fact that the real cars had a wide flattened pressed circle in the centre which is completely missing. As already noted the cars came with whitewalls originally and the model does not have these. Some have drawn the attention to the fact that the faults on the wheels are identical to those on the old Corgi Classic! Finally the track of the car is much too narrow with the outside of the wheels being almost in line with the inner line of the headlights whereas in real life the outer edge of the tyres should line up with the middle of the side light/indicator unit and the middle of the headlamps. It is the same at the rear where the outside of the model’s tyres line up with the inside of the rear lights and not the centre line of the fitment.

In summary the car is well shaped and moulded for the most part and does look nice in the two tone finish. But is let down by a number of details which could have been better handled. As Oxford Diecasts are fairly inexpensive here in the UK it still offers value for money. Indeed, I am sure that most owners of the model will ignore, or not even notice, these issues. Personally, I think that Oxford could have done better as they have shown what they can do on other models that they make.


Intergranular Corrosion Again

By Maz Woolley

Photographs by Jane Jones, a member of the Oxford Diecast Collectors Facebook group. Text copyright of the Author and Jane Jones.

I make no apologies for returning to the subject of intergranular corrosion as it still seems to be affecting models from major diecast firms. Collectors looking at stored models have come across models falling to bits from time to time, The Corgi Vanguards Transit Castrol van has a tendency to self-destruct as shown in MAROnline previously by Dave Turner. Whilst Photoetched parts popping on resin models can usually be remedied with glue and care intergranular corrosion has no cure. Some people have stabilised the models by flooding them with super glue and other binders but that just holds together a failed casting it is no cure.

Intergranular corrosion of diecast models is commonly known by many descriptive names: Zinc Pest, Metal Fatigue, and Diecast Rot are some. It is a destructive intercrystalline corrosion resulting from the Mazak (Zamak) used to make diecast models being contaminated with other substances. It leads to castings swelling and becoming misshapen. In later stages the castings may craze or develop cracks, ultimately even disintegrating. This was quite common in pre-war toys like early Dinky Toys where lead used elsewhere in the factory got into the mixture but according to Wikipedia this should not happen to items from the 1960s onwards as manufacturing controls should guarantee the purity of the metal.

Impurities in metals used in current manufacturings could be caused by suppliers shipping metal which already contains impurities or contaminants, or it can happen in the plant where the metal for diecasting is melted and mixed and where impurities may be inadvertently introduced. It is impossible for us to determine whether it is poor raw materials or poor manufacturing processes that are the root cause as either end up with the model suffering in the same way. But as I read comments on the Internet that many model makers have suffered from this problem, including PCT Industries, Norev, Corgi and others, it clearly needs to be taken more seriously by people producing the castings.

I had previously heard that Oxford Diecast too had this problem but had never seen direct evidence that this was the case. However, a recent post on the Oxford Diecast Collectors Group on Facebook by Jane Jones shows a destructive case of intergranular corrosion as you can see from her pictures below.

Jane posted: ‘I made a worrying discovery today. I noticed that the rear of this GPO telephones Morris 1000 was bowed, and comparing it to other Morris 1000 vans, it as almost a mm longer. Closer examination showed that the offside was bowing out and beginning to crack . No other model that I have examined seems to have the same issue. Hopefully its an isolated case??‘.

Janes’ photograph is shown below with my added arrows highlighting the extensive areas of distortion.

Jane added: ‘Lookout for the rear distorting. That indicates that the body has elongated because the zinc rot causes microscopic cracks‘.

Sadly Janes’ second photograph shows the inevitable result when the corrosion is as bad as that shown above. Again my arrows have been added to highlight where the ‘bowing’ sections have broken away from the van.

So if you have this Oxford Diecast van it may well be worth checking it. I suspect that this is not an extensive problem for Oxford Diecast collectors or the internet would be full of many more comments. It is a great shame though for those who find their models like this as it inevitably takes several years to come to light and by then the manufacturer is in no position to replace clearly faulty goods.


London Toyfair 2019 Part Three

By Maz Woolley

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

This the third in a short series of articles based upon the Author’s recent visit to the London Toyfair, a large trade show featuring toys of all kinds, where vehicle models for the UK market are shown by wholesale importers as well as Hornby and Oxford Diecast. The previous article about the Hornby stand can be found here.

This article shows some of the models displayed on the Oxford Stand. With so many models in production the stand has an impressive display of hundreds of models in various scales.

Last year I tried to photograph models through glass in the crowded display cabinets and the pictures were not very good. This year the Oxford representatives on the stand were extremely helpful and got out a number of items for me to photograph. Although I photographed quite a few models I did not capture all the novelties on display. A few have been photographed in the cabinets as there wasn’t time to get out every model that I would have liked to photograph.

It should be remembered that many of the models pictured are made up of a special light alloy used for trial shots and 3D printed fittings. These can only suggest what the final product will look like. Even the fully painted models of unreleased items are hand finished production samples used to confirm that the model is ready to put into production and may not fully reflect the models when they go into production.

So starting with 1:43 scale. Here there was a display of all the expected re-coloured models. but also pre-production casting of the Bedford CF Ice Cream Van as shown below. Adrienne Fuller who is responsible for selecting cars and other vehicles for Oxford explained that although this is a quarter without many new 1:43 models they are still expecting to produce two to three entirely new castings in this scale this year in addition to recolours.

This mould by Oxford has really caught the look of the CF well. It should make an excellent model when it appears. It will be appearing in classic Mr. Whippy livery first, then Hockings but I am sure there will be more liveries over time especially as so many of this type of van were brought secondhand by small local firms across the UK.

The 1:43 scale Morris J2 minibus in Skyways livery from the final release of 2018 was shown and looks like an impressive model. Seen to the rear is another of the final release in 2018 the Fred Dibnah Lightweight Land Rover in 1:43 scale.

And now on to some very large 1:43 scale models. The new Weymann Fanfare South Wales – announced as an Oxford special to celebrate their 25 Years trading. The model shown below is a pre-production item and is fitted trial plastic components – the broken horn will not feature on the production model! The model features a plastic upper section with a diecast chassis. It is a striking model with the very high level of moulded and printed detail they can achieve when using plastic.

The South Wales version is not to be the only use of this moulding. Oxford were showing a Southdown version which has been announced as part of release one 2019. With a destination board for Bournemouth this model suits the Southdown livery well.

Moving on to 1:76 scale there were some interesting recolours shown. Below is another version of the J4 this time as an Austin J4 in BMC Parts livery due for later release. This is a nice livery and the Austin version of the grille seems to be very well printed.

The forthcoming Volkswagen Transporter T4 Camper looks very good and will be a popular model.

Oxford’s Transporter T1 Camper and Samba Bus in 1:76 scale both showed up looking ready to be put into production. Photographs are shown below.

Another re-use of a casting is the relatively new Leyland Sherpa now seen in Egyptian telephone livery, as seen in a well known Bond film. This model is sure to be popular even without film themed packaging. I hope that this casting soon gets used to produce models of vehicles used by the UK utilities firms.

We also saw test shots for the Volkswagen T5 Transporter which will be seen in various forms and also in a set which includes one of each generation of the Transporter from T1 to T5. Below we have test shots of the California camper

Shown below are test shots of the T5 van which will appear in several liveries starting with that of the RAC. I am sure that this will be seen in a wide range of liveries for current users.

Oxford often show models in a very early stage of development before they are announced. The Volkswagen T1 camper with surf boards shown below does not seem to exist in any current release but I am sure that we will see it in the future.

The Volkswagen T1 van casting get another release this year in Coca Cola livery. The test shot below shows the roof display with an advertising bottle on the roof.

One of the model sets which created a lot of interest when announced in the last release of 2018 was the RAF Bloodhound missile set. This was released by Corgi in the 1960s and by Airfix too. Here we have the new 1:76 scale from Oxford. The accompanying Land Rover has been well finished in RAF blue and markings.

This will make an impressive set re-creating the Jet Age long before Cruise missiles and Polaris carrying submarines.

The Oxford 1:87 scale range of US vehicles has been a strong seller. And the display showed some due for early release and others in early pre-production form.

The new Chrysler 300 Convertible can be seen in the photographs below. This casting looks good in red and the printed silver and badging looks like it could be very well done.

The forthcoming Dodge Charger Daytonas were also shown and are impressive in this scale.

The ‘standard’ Dodge Charger was shown too and looks good. It is interesting that it has been modelled with the headlights showing as many models of this car have the headlights in their concealed position.

Another model close to release is the De Soto Suburban with its roof rack. This is a rather earlier car than many in this range so it will be interesting to see if models from this period sell well. A taxi version is expected later.

Another model due soon is the Dodge D100 Sweptside which is due for release soon. The model looked very well finished and US pickups make for popular models so I expect it may sell out quickly. It is interesting that the rear seems to be a separate moulding so we may well see more variations on the D100.

Here we see very early test shots of the 1954 Pontiac Chieftain with a siren fitted to the roof. The model has been announced for release 1 2019 in two tone blue as a standard sedan so presumably police and possibly fire versions will follow later in the year.

Another very early casting shot is the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham 1957 again announced in release 1 2019. Reminiscent of the contemporary Matchbox model this is slightly smaller but promises to be impressive even in this smaller scale.

Another announced recently as part of Release One 2019 is the Chevrolet Panel van. The model may be released as an Ambulance first but clearly a van will also be forthcoming and I expect this to appear in several classic american liveries.

The early shots below show that Oxford have captured this classic 1950s van very well.

The final test casting on display in this scale is the Chevrolet Corvair Coupe announced recently. Even though this is an early shot it shows the potential for this to be a really nice model. The coupe also came in some very nice paint finishes so hopefully Oxford will be able to release it in several different authentic versions.

Oxford’s 1:148 scale range is another with upper components made in plastic. On show were some pre-production trials. These are interesting as they are made in clear plastic with 3D printed parts as shown in the photographs below.

First we have the Land Rover Discovery 4.

Then the Shelvoke & Drewry Freightlifter which is to appear in British Railways Western livery in 2019.

Presumably the photographs below show the pre-production test for the recently announced Hants and Dorset Bristol MW6G.

And finally in this scale the Green Goddess fire appliance expected in National Fire Service livery.


Unfortunately although samples of the new Citroën H catering van were there I did not photograph them.

I would like to thank Oxford Diecast for sharing so many pre-production and test models with us, and for so patiently getting models in and out of cabinets to allow me to photograph them.


London ToyFair 2019 Part Two

By Maz Woolley

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

This the second in a short series of articles based upon the Author’s recent visit to the London Toyfair, a large trade show featuring toys of all kinds, where vehicle models for the UK market are shown by wholesale importers as well as Hornby and Corgi. The first article can be found here.

The article today looks at the Hornby stand and in particular the Corgi Toys area. The largest displays on the stand are from Airfix,Hornby and Scalextric. There were both a railway layout with a Hogwarts theme and a racing track provided to show off the products. The Hogwarts rail layout featured the Wamping Willow from the Harry Potter films with an Oxford Diecast Ford Anglia in its branches showing the revived use of Oxford OO scale models in Hornby packaging.

Some Vanguards pre-production models were shown, though not the planned new casting of series two Jaguar XJ and Daimler Double-Six models or the VW Camper. Photographs of the models are shown below. These are all pre-production samples and will not fully reflect the final version as they are hand finished and some parts are 3D printed rather than moulded.

Red Arrows Van
RAF Station Commander
RAF Police Mini
Triumph Herald 13/60
Herald comes with hood up or hood down display options
Audi Quattro and Grampian Police Rover SD1
Don Hayter’s MGB V8 Roadster and a Morris MInor Convertible
Graham Hill Lotus Cortina with Ford Cortina Mark III in very period purple paint.
A pair of Ford Sierra Cosworths. Left the RS500 and on the right Sussex Police RS 4×4
3.0 Litre Cortina Mark IV on left and Ford Granada Mark II 2.8i Ghia
Escort Mark II Mexico

Other Corgi products were on display showing the range now available.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 2019 style

Corgi’s release of the classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will be notable for being the first for some time that features all the original features. Moulds have been located to allow them to make all the wings, figures and the full working mechanism. It is a shame that this could not have been released last year to tie-in with the 50th Anniversary but I am sure that it will sell well this year as will the James Bond model sets.

The photographs above show the models included in the RNLI Lifeboats release to supplement the models already available in this charity’s liveries. A donation to the charity will be made for the sale of each set.

The 50th Anniversary models for the Apollo 11 mission were on display in pre-production form. Although very simple models they will look very good in packaging when launched later this year.

The Paddington Bear TX4 taxi is a well made toy and is expected to remain one of the best sellers, particularly in London where the tourist market is substantial for such toys.

A substantial part of the stand was given over to the new Chunkies range, seen above in the dealer display packs Corgi hope to get into the shops. They are made to appeal to young buyers, and their parents. The models are very well made and finished and to my surprise cabs, chassis and some other parts are diecast and the plastic looks strongly moulded and well designed for play. Although the generic shapes may not appeal to collectors we hope that this range is a success, as if it is it will give the Corgi brand an injection of money for investment and get the Corgi brand made known to a new generation of potential model collectors.

Discussions on the Hornby stall last year suggested that that they were concerned that they needed more young collectors to build the collecting habit and brand loyalty. The Chunkies range is a sign that they are addressing this. Some more photographs of the individual models are below.

For older children Corgi have several tie-ins to the Harry Potter Films which will sell well at the Harry Potter Studio Tour store as well as in Hamleys and other large stores.

Over in the Hornby area the layout has Hogwarts Castle modelled in one corner but this appears not to be listed as an accessory on the Hornby site! But again it illustrates the intention to appeal to youngsters as do the basic layout sets featuring Thomas the Tank Engine and the budget priced Junior Express set.

Over on the Airfix stand they too are keen to bring in young modellers with a selection of the Quick Build models being expanded this year. A celebration of flower power! It will be interesting to see if any new vehicle types are produced in future years to expand the range.

Also seen on the Airfix stand was their nice 1:32 scale Jaguar E Type model, a perennial in the range but looking as well shaped as ever, as shown below. Much though many people would like many more of the 1:32 scale Airfix cars to be revived it would seem we will continue to be limited to just a few of them.

Airfix are not to be left out in celebrating the landing on the moon with a nice set which includes the lander, Astronauts in various positions, and moon buggy and other items landed on the moon.

On both Corgi and Airfix the 75th Anniversary of D Day was celebrated with both Corgi and Airfix showing D Day tie in aircraft. Some Corgi ones are shown below.


F-5E-2 Lightning 43-28619 ‘Rita/Ruth’, USAAF 27th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, 7th Photographic Group, Eighth Air Force, Mount Farm Airfield, August 1944

Supermarine Spitfire XIV RM740, RAF No.322 (Dutch) Squadron, Deanland, August 1944

Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB MN625/MR-B, RAF No.245 (Northern Rhodesian) Squadron, Homesley South Airfield, Hampshire, June 1944

So what was missing? It would have been nice to see pre-production samples of the new Jaguar/Daimler Series II but as they are not scheduled for sale until Q4 of 2019 that is perhaps not surprising. Perhaps some first shots will appear at Nuremberg. I was very surprised though that having announced a significant number of military vehicles for 2019 in both 1:50 scale and in fit the box formats Corgi displayed none at London. But again perhaps we will see photographs from Nuremberg.


A Car Transporter Conversion

By Maz Woolley

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


Car transporter at Standard Triumph’s Canley Factory in Coventry in the early 1960s
Copyright owner unknown.

My conversion was inspired by finding the black and white photograph of a Progressive Deliveries transporter collecting Standard Triumph cars from the factory in Canley in Coventry shown above.

Car transporters are a good way to show off a group of models, especially if you collect 1:76 scale models. Collectors will be familiar with the EFE transporter, shown below, which was produced over many years in several liveries with either an Atkinson or Bedford TK tractor unit. Although slightly simplified the trailer does capture the look of period transporter trailers from Carrymore and others. A model like the one below provided the chassis of the tractor unit and the trailer.

Photograph by Hattons copyright acknowledged

My first challenge was finding a suitable Leyland cab unit to fit on the tractor unit chassis. Here I had the choice of two different 1:76 scale Leyland Comet cabs from small suppliers here in the UK. One from Langley in white metal and one from Road Transport Images (RTI) in resin. After careful comparison of the cabs and the black and white photograph I decide to use the RTI cab unit. This was a nice clean unit which came with a simple interior and vacform. I was lucky that I bought this cab several months before Frank Waller passed away. Since his death RTI products have not been available as his family has not yet been able to find someone to take the company on as a going concern.

The RTI cab is a 1:76 scale Leyland Comet short door LAD (Leyland/Albion/Dodge) cab from 1958 when it was introduced as the third geneneration of the Comet. This cab was made by Coventry Motor Panels for the truck makers and was styled slightly differently for each manufacturer.

Starting from a black and white photograph did not make things easy. My initial guess was that the unit could have been painted in yellow and black but a fellow member of CDMC (Coventry Diecast and Model Club) was kind enough to ask fellow modellers in the Coventry area and not only was the colour of the original livery identified but suggestions for suitable spray paints to match were supplied too!

The steps in the conversion process are described below. Unfortunately I didn’t think to photograph the work in progress.

  • EFE tractor and trailer stripped and completely disassembled
  • Front bumper cut off tractor chassis
  • Paint stripped from trailer and chassis
  • All spray painted in Acrylic grey primer
  • Repainted Cab in Ford Olympic Blue (Light blue)
  • Masked upper part of cab
  • Sprayed lower part of tractor cab with Ford Royal Blue Acrylic spray paint and removed masking.
  • Spray upper part of trailer in Olympic blue
  • Spray lower part in Royal Blue
  • Spray tractor chassis in Royal Blue
  • Cut dash and sterring wheel from Atkinson tractor unit interior to re-use
  • Glue Atkinson wheel/dash to the RTI cab interior
  • Spray RTI seats and cab interior in primer and then in satin black
  • Decals designed and printed on injet decal paper – clear for items on cab and upper part of trailer and printed on white backed decal for lower trailer as clear deacls with light blue lettering did not work.
  • paint lights and fill with acrylic to make main headlight lenses
  • Apply decals on cab and trailer and overspray with clear acrylic paint
  • Glue windows in Cab
  • Glue interior in cab
  • Cut plasticard packing to attach cab to chassis at correct height and spray black
  • Glue plasticard insert into cab chassis
  • Glue Cab onto plasticard insert in chassis
  • Re-assemble rest of components

The conversion went well though I did manage to break one of the small lugs that holds the folding rear ramp in place trying to get it back into place. It was finished in time for a chop night at CDMC and I was lucky enough to win one of the awards on the night for my efforts.

The car shown on the transporter is also a conversion. It started life as a John Day Vehicle Scenics Standard Vanguard Phase III. This has been altered to represent a Standard Ensign which used the Vanguard body but had a smaller four cylinder engine and much simpler grille as well as a more basic interior. They sold quite well to companies and to the Armed Forces where the Fleet Manager was happy with lower costs than the Vanguard but the same durability.

The conversion consisted of:

  • remove the Vanguard’s protruding grille unit
  • open out the grille area to create a flat recess and file off wing side light area
  • remove all overriders from bumpers
  • file off Triumph badge from bonnet
  • make a decal printed on ink jet paper of the ensign grille and badging from an image found on the web.
  • Clean and paint model
  • Highlight lights and sidelights in silver/silver/red, and white
  • Fit vacform glazing
  • Assemble model
  • Finish wheels off
  • Apply decals

So here we have a couple of models which display well together with a conversion I did of the John Day Vehicle Scenics Standard 9cwt van into a Standard Triumph Livery shown many years ago in the printed MAR magazine. This was also created from a black and white photograph and it is possible that the van should actually be in dark green rather than black.

Both the base John Day models shown in this article are still available from Daryle Toney who owns the John Day Vehicle Scenics range, his website can be found at http://johndaymodels.webplus.net/ . The EFE transporter model is not shown on the Bachmann website so is now presumably obsolete, but it is frequently available on eBay. For the moment the Langley X27 Leyland cab would have to be used to do a similar conversion as the RTI one is not currently available.

More googling has uncovered the Rootes Group transporters run for them by British Road Services and pulled by Commer tractor units. This will be my next challenge!


Some Modern Northcord Buses

By Maz Woolley

All text copyright of the Author, Photographs supplied by the Manufacturer. 

1:76 scale model buses and coaches have always been at the heart of the public transport collectors scene. The scale is large enough to show considerable detail, but small enough to display a wide range of models in a limited space. Recent years have been a time of turmoil for model bus makers. Established names have released far fewer models. EFE, now under Bachmann‘s ownership, has only recently started to announce new upgraded models under the new management. At Hornby the Corgi Original Omnibus range continues to release models but many fewer than in previous years.  This is in part due to the rapid rise of Oxford Diecast output in this market sector which has put a pressure on  the prices and quality offered by the established players.

Some smaller players like  Forward Models continue to release their early post-war buses at a steady rate, and even add extra transfers to allow customisation of destination boards. The recent announcement of a Birmingham Guy Arab by Canadian firm Rapido Models will add stiff competition to that part of the marketplace.

We have seen the loss of some other players in the market as Brit Bus and B-T Models went into liquidation in 2017 and although B-T Models seem to be being rescued I have not heard that Brit Bus will be.

Northcord Model Company was formed by Danny Chan after the closure of CMNL in 2011. It has always aimed to produce detailed models  to a high standard. It makes careful use of moulds to produce buses from Australia, Ireland, North America, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the UK have all been featured in the range.

They are building on the success of their casting of the Alexander Dennis Enviro400 MMC model which is already available in the livery of Go-Ahead London, National Express West Midlands, Stagecoach London & Stagecoach in Oxfordshire, First Bristol and Reading Buses liveries,

They will be now be releasing eighth and ninth versions – ukbus 6507A and ukbus 6507B in the livery of Bluestar. Bluestar is a trade name for Solent Blue Star which was founded in 1987 and is part of the Go-Ahead Group.  The area that they service area is Hampshire which includes the cities of Southampton and Winchester as well as parts of the New Forest and coastal tourist areas.

The model is based upon fleet number 1641 (HF66 CFM) which has 10.9 metre, single door bodywork and was new to Bluestar in 2017. It is liveried for route 1.

The standard of tampo printing appears to be very high and the livery of the original bus has been reproduced in fine detail. As seems to be the current fashion the only difference between the two models is the direction of working. This allows the same bus to be sold in two slightly different versions.

The model is a one-piece casting with gasket-mounted windows as well as twin tree protectors at the front. The front dome and curved screens are captured too. Inside there are handrails on upper deck and lower deck, and other fine details.


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Oxford Diecast Austin Somerset

By Maz Woolley

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

The Austin A40 Somerset was made for only two years replacing the more traditional A40 Devon and was in turn replaced by the much more up to date unibody A40 Cambridge. In essence the Somerset was a re-bodied Devon with a more highly tuned engine and styling similar to that of the larger A70 Hereford supposed to appeal to the American buyer as the UK was trying to export as much as possible to help it pay off its war debt.  Powered by a 1.2 litre engine it could just reach 70mph.

The Devon was modelled in the Classix range to 1:76 scale in two and four door forms and was a very good model of that car, better in some respects than this more recent Oxford Diecast.

Most readers will be familiar with the contemporary Dinky Somerset #161 and the more recent Lansdowne in 1:43 scale. As far as I am aware no contemporary small scale model was made and although John Day Vehicle Scenics made the A70 I don’t think any other modern 1:76 scale model of the Somerset has been made.

76SOM001 Austin Somerset Black and  76OM002 Austin Somerset Buckingham Green

These models have been long awaited and have certainly caught the rounded shape and flowing lines of the original well. Viewed from the type of distance we usually look at them they are good models, certainly for their price.

The black model was issued first and is typical of most of these cars, In a sombre colour with normal tyres. The green model has fancy white walls which would not have been common at the time though are entirely accurate for the car carrying that registration plate although it lacks the headlight peak accessories fitted to that car.

The green car’s printed black screen surround merely emphasises the thickness of the casting and would have been better left off altogether.

One puzzle is the rear lights where the lower light appears to be a red reflector on real cars and not a silver disk as printed on the model.

The interior is simply moulded in red for the black car and brown for the green car. Door cards are included but seem to lack any moulded in fittings. The dashboard has limited moulded details but adequate for this scale.

Frustratingly the Austin of England script along the bonnet side is not printed straight on my models and keeps catching my eye. Another issue is the large vertical  mould mark on the rear wing which can be seen on the model above. This is only the case on the driver’s side and appears on both the green and black cars.

There is a silver printed side chrome strip and quarter lights. Again the printed quarter lights emphasis the depth of the casting and might have been better left off.

The front end captures the car very well but the Austin badge is missing off the grill centre which would have broken up the large expanse of silver and there is no attempt to model the flying ‘A’ mascot on the bonnet. The grille could also do with a black wash but at this price point that is perhaps too much to expect.

Another view of the rear showing the neat number plate, but also the substantially overscale boot hinges.

The front of the Black version has higher contrast and looks better though it is more noticeable that the sidelights on the wing tops are left unpainted whereas on the original car they were silver.

Again the boot hinges look much too large on the black version.

Searching the web using the number plates shows the real cars exist and that these models capture the originals well and show most of their features if not all.

As seems to be typical of Oxford Diecast models recently there are quite a few minor faults which reduce the accuracy of these models but I  am sure that most collectors will not be as critical as I am. The railway modelling fraternity with early British Rail dioramas will leap to buy these as will the growing number of 1:76 scale car collectors.


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