Category Archives: 1:41

Alfa Romeo Guilia Part Two

By Robin Godwin

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

As alluded to in Part 1, next up is the Politoys Giulia TI in 1:41 scale plastic. Most collectors know that Politoys started in plastic, and had a brief foray into “Fibre-glass” (actually resin and I’m pretty sure there were no “glass fibers” used) before settling on diecast metal. I’m not sure where the scale of 1:41 comes from; it could be as simple as a response to the use of the scale by INGAP. In any case, Politoys labelled many of their early plastic vehicles as 1:41, but issued many of the models in totally different scales. The early “Veicoli Militari” series is a prime example (covered in an early print MAR). That said, the Giulia seems to be correct in scale as it compares favourably to the INGAP, and is slightly larger than their 1:43 metal version issued a couple of years later. (I must emphasise that I am not a diehard scale checker).

Rampini lists 1964 as the year of issue for the plastic Giulia. I don’t think it captures the style of the original as well as the INGAP, nor do any of the subsequent metal issues from Politoys. To me, the roof is too tall, making the windows too big. It includes many of the features prevalent on contemporary models: glazing, a full interior, jewelled headlights, separate chrome pieces, and suspension. There are no opening features, likely due to strength considerations of the small plastic components that would have been involved. I have always been impressed with the stability of the plastic used by early Politoys. This one features no warping at all, but does suffer from some post-manufacture shrinkage evident in the slight deformation seen in the door panels.


Politoys, left, roof too high. INGAP, too low. A Goldilocks model (‘just right’) comes later

Roof appears too tall. Plastic shrinkage has led to deformation on door panels

It would seem that Politoys quickly discovered the wisdom of diecasting in metal, especially as the toy car market was now demanding a variety of operating features and manufacturers were competing with more and more opening parts. The plastic models had no opening panels; the ‘fibreglass’ models had some (and note, there was no ‘fibreglass’ Giulia), but the big change came with metal toys, and the Politoys M series of models in “proper” 1:43 scale, which first appeared in 1965. There was certainly some overlap between all three mediums (plastic, fibreglass, and metal), but metal was the future.

A completely remastered Giulia TI appeared in metal in 1966, as number 523, with opening front doors (half doors, with no window frames), hood and trunk. Typical of the diecasters art of the time, the opening features spoil the lines somewhat. In reality, the rear window is a beautiful wrap around affair, but Politoys managed to square it off at the corners, which really detracts from the rear view. The A pillars are sloped back a little too far; the real vehicle had a more upright windshield profile. Alfa Romeo and Giulia TI are cast into the back of the trunk lid, albeit, overscale. A Carabinieri version was issued in 1967 as number 531 in the M series, with antenna and roof light. The base casting was changed to reflect the new number.


Politoys 523, rear. A move to metal and 1:43 scale didn’t necessarily improve the overall representation of the Giulia. Exaggerated slope of front windscreen evident on the metal model

“Squaring” of rear window can be seen on the metal version at right

Politoys 523, left and Carabinieri version, 531 on the right. Same casting except for antenna and light holes, and model number on the base was changed

Polistoys introduced the Penny range in 1966, about the same time as the Impy Roadmasters Super Car range from Lone Star. These cars provided competition for Matchbox and were done to a constant scale of 1:66, unlike the other two whose scales varied. The Pennys had lots of opening features, but were not nearly as feature laden as the Impys. Shortly after their introduction, the range was rationalised, and simplified with the loss of opening features. An early catalogue illustrates (as in a diagram) model #0/41 Giulia with opening doors, along with #0/47, a Carabinieri version. However, it was caught up in the rationalisation process and was eventually released in 1968 (after Politoys had become Polistil) as #0/201-A. The Carabinieri version was never released. It is easy to tell that the model is a Guilia, but that is about as generous as one can get. The front windshield is even more sloped than the 1:43 versions, and the interior lacks a steering wheel. Oddly, bonnet and boot shut lines stand proud, while the door lines are indented, with bigger gaps for the front doors. It is possible that the dies had been cut for the original plan of opening front doors, but were reworked when the range was rationalised. Rear and front bumpers, along with grill and headlights are all one chromed casting, making the front end appear way too bright. Wheels are common across the range, a generic (and wrong for this model) set of simulated wire wheels.


Front windshield slope on the Penny Giulia is just plain bad modelling. Note more pronounced front door gaps. Front door side trim is misaligned with the rest of the trim on the 1:43 version

Politoys/Polistil produced other Giulias as well – a 1:20 scale plastic model, a slightly-smaller-than-1:43 estate (station wagon, or familiare), mostly in emergency/police versions (the estate was bodied by Carrozzeria Colli of Milan) in the AE series from the 70s (a nasty model all round, with bad whizzwheels), and a 1:55 Nuova Giulia 1300 from the RJ Series dating from the 80s, also with whizzwheels. It should be noted that many early Politoys dies travelled to Mexico, and were subsequently produced as McGregor Politoys. Plastic, resin and metal models were included, as well as Penny. I have no conclusive evidence to prove that any Giulia die travelled to Mexico, but a Dutch Alfa Romeo Forum shows photos of a McGregor Politoys 1:43 Giulia Carabinieri in its box, but not the base of the model. Another site, worthpoint.com (similar to eBay), shows a McGregor Politoys #523 sedan exactly the same as the one pictured above, but the description goes on to say that McGregor imported Made in Italy Politoys, and boxed and sold them as McGregors for awhile. This model was one of those.   

To be continued…


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Alfa Romeo Guilia 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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Ford in Miniature: Mercury Cougar and Montego 1972-76

By Dave Turner

“Better Ideas make Better Cars”

 Mercury Cougar and Montego 1972-1976 

By the mid 1970s Mercury’s range of models could be guaranteed to leave the most ardent student a trifle confused. The new Montego for 1972 went back to separate body on perimeter frame construction, coming in two lengths of wheelbase, 118” for four door cars and 114” for two door examples. For simplicity the 2 door cars are the subject of this piece. Early Montegos were mentioned in MAR 247 and 248.

Two door Montegos for 1972 came in two styles, having either a formal or fastback roofline, those with the formal roofline were the regular coupe and the more lavishly equipped MX and MX Brougham versions while the fastback was reserved for the Montego GT, this effectively was the former Cyclone GT. 1973 saw the arrival of the heavier energy-absorbing bumpers while the ’74 cars had subtle changes to their grille and headlight surrounds, and the rear lights now wrapped around the rear fenders.

Cougars up to 1973 were featured in MAR 234 and 235. For 1974 Mercury wasn’t quite sure where to place their established Cougar line, the Mustang had downsized to be based on the Pinto and this was too small for the Cougar so it was decided that it should become a ‘personal luxury’ model but just below the now quite large Thunderbird. This is how it came to be based on the two door Montego, using its same 114” chassis and the ‘formal’ roofline. No Montego ‘fastback’ appeared for 1974, and the Cougar was now very similar to the Montego MX Brougham in all but detail around the headlights and grille.

By 1975 auto-makers were not only spending most of their development budget on federally mandated controlled height impact resisting bumpers but the imposition of emission equipment was also responsible for pushing up showroom prices by enormous amounts. The only obvious external indication that the ’75 Montego/Cougar possessed were the twin cooling slots in the central bumper section. The Cougar XR7 was the top seller of the entire Lincoln/Mercury range for 1976, despite having nothing more significant in the way of an annual update than the replacement of the styled steel wheels by full wheel covers.

All-change again for 1977, the name Montego was dropped, replaced by Cougar for the entire mid size range of 2 and 4 door Mercurys as well as wagons, the re-skinned 2 door XR7 now closely resembling the downsized Thunderbird.

The only model from this mid ‘70s range of mid-size two door Mercurys to have been found to date, is that of one of the least numerous, the Montego GT that totalled only around 10,000 during its two-year run 1972 to 73.

Extremely simple in concept, this 1:41 inexpensive toy comes from a range known as Funmate and features a one-piece plastic body clipped to a plastic base, the latter including grille/bumper/light details at the front and lights and bumper at the rear. A brief piece on these distinctive toys can be found in MAR 201 while for US readers a couple of 2007 issues of Toy Cars & Models included more information. The vast majority of the range were part of Proctor & Gambles marketing in the US, all featuring models of 1971/2 Fords of various types and made in Japan. The 1972 Mercury Montego GT appears to be the odd one out being made in Hong Kong.

These toys have done well to survive as they came with a spring catapult type launcher that shot them forward and into any object that happened to be in the way.

Mercury Cougar and Montego   1972-76 

Model Maker Origin Produced Model # Prototype Length Scale Material
Funmate Hong Kong 1970s 797 1972 Montego GT 129mm 1:41 Plastic

Illustrations:

 

  1. Funmate 1:41 plastic from Hong Kong: 797, 1972 Mercury Montego GT, the wheels are incorrect, they should be five-spoke.
  2. Same model, rear view, most details are present in the plastic moulding.
  3. Base showing the slot into which the launcher fits.

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Politoys Military Models

By Robin Godwin

Back in the old days of print, MAR 109 (March 1997) to be exact, I reviewed the long-obsolete Politoys range of 1:41 scale (as stated by the manufacturer) plastic military models. The 19 models in this series were mostly copied from other mainstream diecast manufacturers such as Dinky (UK and France), Matchbox, Corgi, FJ (France Jouets) and Solido. Where I had the original and the Politoys copy, a photograph was provided for comparison in the original article. As I added to my Politoys collection, updates were provided to MAR, in issues 120, 123, 145 and 198.

I have finally acquired the the elusive #11, Campagnola Rover Raf con Missile Thunderbird (to quote the box), after 20-plus years on my wants list. This model is a copy of the original Corgi Land Rover #351 and Thunderbird Guided Missile #350, or I suppose more correctly, Gift Set number 3 which included both models. MAR 148 and 149 had a two-part article on Surface-to-Air Missiles, which discussed the British-designed and built Thunderbird, so I won’t go into any real detail here.

The Politoys Land Rover (or Campagnola) is a simpler model than the Corgi, without windows or bonnet spare tyre, but it is an exact scale match (the Corgi is 1:46 scale, according to the Great Book of Corgi). Similarly, the Politoys missile itself is an exact scale match, except that the nose is hard plastic, and thus it is not susceptible to the melting or drooping typical of the Corgi model (see photograph). Neither company chose to model a launcher or to include the four booster rockets on the basic missile body. In fact, a ready-to-fire English Electric Thunderbird looked very similar to the other surface-to-air missile modelled by Corgi, the Bristol Bloodhound. A real discrepancy is the Assembly Trolley, where the Politoys model is made to a much larger scale and significantly simplified. Perhaps this was to give extra robustness to the all-plastic structure. Where the Corgi has two wire missile retainers on the trolley, the Politoys retainers are made of separate plastic pieces, pin mounted to the frame, which can easily go missing. The Corgi features two-axle, four wheel steering, via a wire link between the axles, whereas only the Politoys front axle steers. Neither company replicates the Assembly Trolley very well, judging by internet reference photographs.

All in all, the Politoys model is difficult to find in mint condition, so even though it is somewhat inaccurate it is a superb model to add to a military collection and to display alongside the Corgi original. I should add that these early Politoys plastic models are of a very stable compound, and are highly resistant to warping, so eBayers can have a reasonably high level of confidence in bidding (I bought mine from eBay in Italy).


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