By Maz Woolley
All pictures used to illustrate this article are from Corgi’s web site. Most are mock ups or 3D renderings rather than examples of the final models.
I make no apologies for starting this article with news about the Hornby Hobbies business as June is not only when they announce the second half models but it is also their financial year end.
Already this year we have seen the company drop its plans to build a visitor centre to replace the one lost when they sold their headquarters site. This was followed in April by a major shareholder, New Pistoia Income Limited, calling for the removal of Roger Canham the Executive Chairman. Before the Annual Results New Pistoia decided to cut their losses and sold the 20% they held in Hornby hobbies for 32 pence a share to Phoenix Asset Management Partners the biggest shareholder who now have 55% and have now to offer to buy any other shareholders shares at 32 pence.
Whilst all this upheaval took place the annual results were announced and the CEO/Chairman Roger Canham’s resignation as well. A growing underlying pre-tax loss of over six million pounds was widely reported in the Financial columns. Whilst their cash situation has significantly improved this will still leave them little capital to invest in new products so only the fast selling products with the highest level of margin will get any investment. The shareholders have not had a dividend for several years now and the shares values have flat lined over the last year so they are all losing money on the shares which cannot go on for ever.
Why does this matter to collectors of model vehicles? Well Corgi is hardly mentioned in any discussions of Hornby at all and apart from the 1:48 Lightning model investments in new mouldings are non-existent apart from a single 1:50 truck not even listed in the second half release section of their web pages. The company states that its turnround is well under way with a belief that all UK brands have been maintained despite all the cost cutting measures taken, lower sales, and restrictions in the sales channels they are servicing. I am not sure that that does not count as what are now known as “alternate facts”. Collectors are right to be uneasy when they see that the Corgi brand is not mentioned once in the plans for the next stage of the turnround.
It is against this background that Corgi announced their July to December catalogue. Almost everything in it is a new version of a casting already used several times in the past. Some castings like the Vanguards Morris Minors and Mini are now several generations old and simply not up to the standards of Oxford Diecast, or PCT made models for part works or ranges like Whitebox. Looking at the Corgi Forum the posts about the new releases are mostly negative which I know reflects several MAR Online readers views as well. Corgi have not even listed some models on their web site that Hattons has listed like the re-released Basil Fawlty Austin or yet another Mr Bean Mini.
I believe that the situation is clear: Hornby has no intention of investing in any significant level of new tooling for the Corgi ranges. Their sole idea of keeping Corgi alive is to produce re-paints of old castings and hope that they sell enough to milk some contribution from the brand to their financial recovery. In my opinion Corgi is now a spent force and Hornby is deluding itself if they expect collectors to pay nearly thirty pounds for Vanguards models made from ageing moulds when DeAgostini/Atlas and others offer more for less money.
Corgi 2017 Second Half Catalogue
The models listed below are those listed by Corgi on their web site for the second half of 2017. Their January 2017 announcement was already reported here. When checking a supplier website there are models available to order that are not in the catalogue such as five re-released James Bond vehicles, Mr Bean’s Mini, and Basil Fawlty’s 1100. There is also a single 1:50 scale lorry, Scania R (Face Lift) Flatbed Trailer & Brick Load “Ian Craig Haulage Ltd, Falkirk, Scotland”, claimed to be new tooling. If these are new it seems strange that Corgi did not include them on their website listing.
My observations on the models offered are:
- The Royal Wedding Anniversary models are crude and horrid and quite expensive for the type of souvenir shop likely to want to stock them. I can’t see collectors wanting them at all.
- I hope the metallic models are not made with reflective flakes the size showing in pictures
- How many times are they going to release that Mini casting – it was not good when first released and looks even worse now compared to modern models?
- Who lined up all that awful thick silver detailing on the Minor Police Car windows?
- Why are they using the same moulds used already for re-paints recently so soon like the Sunbeam Alpine?
- Why is an “export” Rover 3500 fitted with UK number plates?
- Why keep on flogging the “New London Bus” to death when the new Mayor has cancelled buying any more of them?
- Why keep on releasing Land Rovers when Oxford will be doing them and charging significantly less?
- Why bother with the Captain Scarlett car? It has now slipped out of fashion again.
- Many earlier releases of the re-used castings are available on eBay and at Toy Fairs for much less money why buy a new one?
- How can anybody at Corgi say they are “proud to introduce the July to December 2017 Corgi range, featuring a host of new introductions“
English Electric Lightning F6 XR728/JS , RAF Binbrook
Albatros D.Va D.7327/17, Lt. Lothar Weiland, Jasta 5, Seefrontstaffel 1
Fokker DR.1 Triplane 213/17 ‘K’, Lt. Friedrich ‘Fritz’ Kempf, Jasta 2
Sopwith Camel F.1 B6313, Major William George ‘Billy’ Barker RAF
Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress 42-97880/DF-F ‘Little Miss Mischief’ USAAF
Panavia Tornado GR.4 ZA461, RAF No.15 Squadron, Special Scheme
Dornier Do17Z-2 U5-BH, 1./KG.2 ‘Holzhammer’ Operation Marita
Junkers Ju-88C-6 F8+BX, 13./KG40, Battle over the Biscay
Short Sunderland Mk.III W3999/ RB-Y No.10 Squadron RAAF, Early 1942
Blackburn Buccaneer S.2 XW538/S, RAF No.16 Squadron, RAF Gutersloh
Hawker Typhoon lB RB389/I8-P ‘Pulverizer IV’, No.440 Sqn RCAF
Messerschmitt Bf 110E-2 G9+LN, Oblt. Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer
Westland Puma HC.1 XW220/AC, RAF No.72 Squadron, Aldergrove, 1997
Hawker Hurricane Mk.1 N2359/YB-J, ‘Winged Popeye’, RAF No.17 Sqn
Gloster Sea Gladiator N5519/G6A, No,802 NAS, HMS Glorious, 1939
Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 ‘Yellow 1’ Oblt. Gerhard Schopfel, Battle of Britain
Curtiss Hawk 81-A-2 P8127 ‘White 47’, Robert ‘R.T’ Smith, 3rd Sqn AVG
North American P-51D Mustang 44-13586/C5-T ‘Hurry Home Honey’, USAAF
Volkswagen Beetle, Type 1 Export Saloon Horizon Blue
Ford Escort Mk3 XR3 Prairie Yellow
Ford Cortina Mk3 2000E Automatic Sahara Beige
Rover P6 3500S Scarab Blue, Export Speciﬁcation, RHD
Ford Escort Mk1 RS2000 Modena Green
Ford Sierra XR4i Strato Silver
Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800 1979 Lombard RAC Rally of Great Britain
New Routemaster, Go-Ahead London, 88 Camden Town
Paddington Bear New Routemaster
70th Anniversary of The Royal Wedding – Classic Mini
Bloodhound SSC Super Hauler
Long time MAR readers will know that I have been a collector of Corgi models in the past and have been getting more and more restive with each underwhelming release announcement. I know many of you feel the same. I think that the thing I find most insulting to collectors is the pretence that the Corgi range is active and vibrant. Some honesty and openness about the role Hornby think Corgi has going forward would be welcome. Some of us have been Corgi Collectors since our childhood.
What do you the reader think?
Last thought. If Hornby can’t make anything of the range, it would surely be better to sell it to someone else who can?
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