By Robin Godwin
A while back I discussed the re-launch of Solido, with one of their first cars being a 1:43 Volkswagen Beetle. Regrettably, it was produced by PCT (Premium Collectibles & Trading, parent of Ixo and the source of models for numerous partworks) and was not an original Solido casting in any way. At the end of that article, I said that I thought the new Greenlight (GL) 1:43 “Gremlins” Beetle also looked like a partwork. Proof arrived in the mail today with a DeAgostini partwork model for Brazil. The series is called “Veiculos de Servico do Brasil,” no translation required. You can see from the pictures that there have been some minor modifications to change it from the 1967 Beetle used in the 1984 Gremlins movie, into a 1977 VW Fusco as used by the telephone service in Brazil (this info is printed on an included card). There are different tampo printed vents, wheels, mirror arrangement, and of course, the addition of a roof rack, but it is the same casting, with the same base. PCT is tampoed on the base of the Brazil issue, along with Volkswagen Fusco, so a slide was inserted into the die to accommodate this. Hard to see in the pictures, but the licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Entertainment appears in black tampo on the black plastic base of the Gremlins model, along with Greenlight in white.
Perhaps this goes some way to explain why GL chose to use an existing mould from PCT rather than create their own – money saved by not having to produce your own dies can be put towards the cost of licensing and, apparently, turn a profit at a price point of around $15 US. The GL lineup (1:64/1:43/1:24 and 1:18) is getting crowded with licensed vehicles from various films and TV series, which presumably all require fees of some sort, so models produced by someone else at a contract price may be a very smart business solution. But from this collector’s point of view, it is a real disappointment, in that it is a casting that has been used many times before. GL issued a military Willys Jeep recently in 1:43 which I found tempting, but I’m pretty sure it is from PCT as well. Since I already have the Ixo version, I won’t bother.
There is a large and growing group of “ex-partwork” companies that issue castings already used in partworks as their own lines – Whitebox, Edicola, and now Greenlight and Solido among others, although these latter two may have some originals in their lineup, particularly the current GL 1:64 scale issues (but, GL started with High Speed castings). It will be increasingly difficult for regular die cast manufacturers, i.e., those who make their own dies, to compete with the many old partworks floating around at what appear to be bargain prices. The number of partworks series is increasing all the time, so it could be that, even though Norev, Corgi and Oxford Diecast have supported that market, PCT is the future of die cast models, or at least the main player (perhaps excluding Mattel). If you doubt that statement, then have a look at the sheer volume of models in various partworks coming from PCT at their website http://premium-collectibles.com/partworks.html Tough to compete, given that virtually all these partworks have a second life in derivative ranges.
Editor’s note. Things have also happened the other way with Corgi supplying moulds for re-use by Atlas, Corgi and Solido providing castings for a partwork series, and of course Norev models are used for partworks and Atlas series as well. Robin’s point is taken that anyone funding a die for their sole use may struggle to compete when PCT, Universal Hobbies, Hongwell, High Speed or Hongwell make a casting of the same model and make it available at a contract rate to a number of others.
Gremlins VW in orange, front; Vieculos de Servico partwork Telephone Service vehicle, rear
Effective tampo printing can significantly change vehicle appearance
Base differences. An insert to the die was used to cast specific vehicle data
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