Model Auto Review Magazine 1986

By Maz Woolley and Karl Schnelle

This is the fifth in a series of articles looking at each year’s output of the original Model Auto Review magazine.   Last month, we reviewed the year 1985 so this month we have reached 1986, a year when 6 issues were produced. We show you the Cover and Contents pages of the magazines and some colour pages to give a flavour of what the magazine looked like. (Click on the images to get a larger copy.)

1986 was the year of “Big-Bang” deregulation in the UK and Perestroika in the Soviet Union with most evening news bulletins in the UK seeming to feature Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Mikhail Gorbachev. After years of worrying about the impact of Nuclear Weapons being launched from the Eastern Bloc the first Nuclear fall-out for Europe came with the meltdown of the Soviet Nuclear Power Station at Chernobyl.

Over in the US collectors were more likely to have a job with unemployment falling  but in UK the opposite was true with high unemployment showing no signs of declining.

Here in the UK the examinations usually taken at 16 were radically changed. Gone were the Ordinary (O) Levels and Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) exams taken by the editor to be replaced by the new single General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams.

In the world of Transport the M25 Motorway which runs in a ring around London was completed. Agreements were reached to finally build the Channel Tunnel. Over in the US smoking was banned on public transport. Sadly, the US Space Program had a set back with the sad disintegration of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

The best selling car in the UK was the Ford Escort and the transition from the Mark III to the very similar Mark IV version happened that year. All the 10 top selling new cars in the UK  were produced by Ford, Vauxhall or Austin Rover with most made in the UK.  There were some significant changes as PSA dropped the Talbot brand and yet again scaled back UK production. The sign of the times was the opening of the Nissan factory in Sunderland outside the traditional car building heart of the UK in the same way Japanese factories in the US were well away from Detroit. In US local production again dominated the sales charts. The top seller was Ford F series which was no surprise.  The Chevrolet Celebrity, Chevrolet C/K Pick-up, US Ford Escort, Chevrolet Cavalier, Oldsmobile Ciera, Ford Ranger , and Ford Tempo were all in the Top 10. The sign of the times was the Honda Accord up there in the top 10, albeit built in the US though.

In the Cinema Top Gun and Crocodile Dundee were blockbusters of the year. Wham and George Michael had a successful year in the pop charts with multiple hits, as did Madonna and the Bangles.

The technology the personal computer was developing again as IBM introduced the first laptop computer the PC Convertible which cost $2,000 which is the equivalent of around $4,400 now. Although “portable” it was still a DOS machine with a monochrome screen. But big changes were taking place in Intel Labs and the 386 chip was starting to be produced which was to be the game changer that would make the resource heavy Windows operating system practical.

So this was the background to our collecting. And despite the economic situation MAR shows that adult collecting was increasing with a steady increase of firms making models for collectors and even the large diecast firms seeing this as an opportunity for more sales with Corgi finally launching its 1:43 scale Classics range.

#18 Winter 1986

A somewhat sombre cover enlivened by the multi-coloured borders. The models on the cover are mainly to 1:43 scale with a mix of kits and finished models from small producers  as well as industrial firms. Provence Moulage presented a very nice Ford Woodie in resin and Starter’s NASCAR resin Ford Thunderbird appeared too. Another French company Sibur’s diecast Talbot Lago Le Mans was pictured alongside Revival of Italy’s Ferrari 500 F2 car. Finally a Matchbox Yesteryear Electric vehicle and a Corgi Thorneycroft in a dealer only Corgi livery are shown.

This being the first magazine of the year fourteen pages are devoted to the new model announcements from ranges around the world.

There were two editorials with Rod Ward the first tackling the problem of makers following each other by repeating the same subjects leaving other good subjects unmade, and the second discussing whether MAR should include model ratings and setting out what they may be if used. In practice then and now  MAR has steered clear of ratings as there are so many factors to consider and it is a subjective process.

Readers letters occupied a full 2 pages and covered contributions from Vic Davey in Hong Kong and others around the world. Subjects covered included USSR models, small models, and clarifications and corrections to previous articles.

Articles covered a huge range of items from Don Elliot’s Avon Automotive Decanters to Brian J Elliot’s “how to” on converting a Brumm Fiat to a Mercedes Simplex land speed record holder. Roger Bailey pops up with another article on buses, the Greyhound this time.

The colour pictures cover a huge range of items in multiple scales but it is noticeable that obsolete items are less prominent than in the early MAR years.

#19 Spring 1986

Green dominates the spring issue with a rural backdrop and a selection of vehicles in different scales. The FDS Ferrari Daytona is a very detailed kit even by current standards. An obsolete  Mettoy Morris Z  points to a John Hanson article on the Morris Z inside. A DAF promotional lorry sits alongside a Gama Opel Kadett to represent up to date subjects. A Provence Moulage kit of the Toyota Le Mans car is shown above a 1:16 scale Case tractor from ERTL. Finally we get one of two adapted Corgi Transits made specially to present to the Prince of Wales on a Ambulance Service visit.

Inside Andre Blaize continues his Rolls-Royce coverage, and Richard Ineson continues to write about Mebetoys. Don Elliots offbeat transport subjects are back in the form of decanters. Gerard Palazy has a great story of the models of the Paris Bus. Letters cover more than two pages and include one from the then editor of Stamp Magazine Richard West who many readers will recognise as the Editor who launched Model Collector and edited it for many years. A topic returned to again and again in MAR is the lack of credit given to the makers of masters by most ranges.

The colour covers show a wide range of scales , materials and prototypes. Estetka plastic models from Poland are featured as well as Igra and Bohemia from Czechoslovakia. Homburg models expensive hand built  resin Ferraris also feature. Amongst the others are Vitesse diecasts, and Herpa 1:87 plastic. A variety of resin models from Provence Moulage, MH Models, FDS are shown as well as Box  and Old Car diecasts.   All set off by a sole tractor from ERTL, a Farmall to 1:16 scale.

#20 Summer 1986

A suitable set of summer holiday graphics on the front cover which features an expensive Styling Models model built by BBR to 1:43, Starter resin kits of the MG Metro 6R4. A Ford Zephyr to 1:20 scale by an unknown maker heralds the start of a very long running series of articles.  Diecast VW Transporter in Fire livery  and  the obsolete Solido Silver Cloud are also featured.

The editorials show the problems with international mail order in the 1980s with the need for readers to pay with a method which UK banks would accept without a large fee and to send IRCs and not foreign stamps to allow questions to be answered. It made me realise that the Internet and Paypal have been wonderful enablers.

The colour pages include a wide range of models with everything from obsolete Minix models to Sun models of the Humber Super Snipe drophead and the Sun transkit for the VW Beutler Estate Car based on the Tomica Dandy VW. Eligor, Gama, Polistil and Shaback models represent current diecasts.

Inside an excellent article on Minix from Robert Newson who has written many books on model makers is inside. Tekno trucks are back with the L series looked at in detail by Clive Chick. Andre Blaize continues his Rolls-Royce coverage. Amongst other articles are Roger Bailey on Tuff-Tots and Midland Red Motorway coaches and John Comber on Model Caravans. A very long running series starts with part one of a series initially entitled Ford Miniature Cars by Dave Turner covering early Consul and Zephyr models. You can find many postings on this web site as Dave continues to chronicle the Ford in Miniature  30 years later!


#21 Extra 1986

A return to stylised graphics for this issue and the Front Cover has an interesting mix of models from the Allsorts resin kit 1:48 scale London Transport RF single decker to a restored Bing tinplate model. A Team T resin kit of the Jaguar XJR6 with Jaguar livery as run at Silverstone is  centre stage. Diecasts from ERTL , Box, and Schabak fill other spots.

Two pages of readers letters with lots on Bugattis and models in the form of decanters and bottles were followed by a further section on responses to the motor caravans article from the previous month.

An article by the magazine’s editor tells readers that the new Corgi 1:43 Classics were to be made in Portugal by Vitesse – a relatively short lived arrangement . This marked the shift for Corgi away from 1:32 scale and back to 1:43 with a series kicked off with the Morris Minor models. Andre Blaize looked at the SIlver Cloud II in models. Clive Chick got to the Tekno Ford D series. Catalogue Corner by Horst Macalka features Corgi and this series continued for may years. Don Elliot concentrates on the rare US made AM (ambo) tinplate models. Dave Turner’s article now gets the same title it runs under today “The Ford in Miniature”  with part two covering further UK Fords up to the Scorpio. John Hanson looks at the Scammell Scarab and again we see reader’s chops as well as a wide range of new models for sale.

The colour pages show models from many firms that seem to have come and gone quite quickly like Dubray and Guild Models. Others that lasted longer were Provence Moulage, Replicast, Automany, MA Collection and Western. Land speed record cars feature on inside cover a subject which was very popular in the early years of MAR. The rear colour cover included the ERTL 1:43 tractors and a Ford car as well as many 1:87 plastic models. There is even a set of Arcade cast iron models.

#22 Autumn 1986

The cover is autumnal with a leaf motif as a background. The cars featured are all 1:43 except for a single 1:50. The old timer is a Bussing by Cursor. Provence Moulage resin Ferrari Daytona and Ford Escort in sporting liveries are pictured. Lion Cars DAF tractor unit represents commercial vehicles . The Williams-Honda FW011 is from Tameo as a white metal kit. The Nascar Chevrolet Monte Carlo came from Starter as a resin kit as did the Renault 5 Turbo rally car.  The final model shown is the unusual Sibur diecast and plastic model of the Citroen Kegresse half track which crossed from Persia to China in the 1930s.

The editorial on the devaluation of the pound sounds awfully familiar to UK collectors today who have seen the recent significant increase in model prices.

Readers letters again come from around the world and pose questions to Editor and readers on a range of topics. The topic of quoting prices and suppliers cane up – a topic that was to be repeated many times – MAR did not quote prices or sources due to the fact that any price quoted would be irrelevant to many readers around the world.

Articles inside look at Bugatti,Ford, and Zee Toys. and Solido, A Ford Tug chop is described and various other chops by Fred Harris are shown. Coverage of new models shows items like the Picollino 1:76 sports and racing cars models and Brooklins latest.

The stand out models for me on the inside front cover are the Jensen Hardtop and Facel Vega II by Enco both superb castings by Pete Comben and models I greatly enjoyed making from kits. Other models include several E Types. Eligors derived from earlier Norev plastic models in convertible and 2+2 form and Minimarque white metal handbuilt open cars. Others of note are CSV resin models of the Aston Martin DBS convertible, Mini Marque Packard Caribbean,  CCC resin Peugeot 401D, We also see Progetto K Ferrari 225 Spyder as well as MPA Ferrari 512M and a Lotus Elite in racing trim from DM in resin. A Sun Motor company Beetle transkit in resin to turn a Tomica Dandy into a VW convertible sits above a Yesteryear conversion which in turn sits above a Vitesse TR3A with its very overscale rack on the boot. Finishing off are a 1:20 scale Volvo-BM Tractor from Finland and a MA Collection resin 1937 Renault.


#23 Christmas 1986

A very geometric background suggestive of boxes perhaps for Christmas. The cover had models from Japan, France and Canada. From Sakura there was a cast Rolls-Royce and from Tomica Dandy a Mitsubishi Fuso bonneted fire appliance. From France in resin came a CCCJM kit of a Panhard Dyna woodie, from Provence Moulage a a Le Mans E Type, and from Starter a Ford RS200 and a Ford Mustang GTO. From Canada Mini Auto Emporium had a handbuilt Buick 1939 Canadian Royal Tour car.

Readers letters spilt over four pages and covered a wide range of topics from a suggestion that people form a model caravan collectors club to additional information to follow previous articles. The inter-war Marsh models mystery which ran for some time gathering information was also a subject of a letter.

Inside Stu Schaller gives an authorative account of the John Day range of models which were largely sold as kits made in white metal, and of racing cars. Vic Davey covered the Tomy Dandy Leisure series which consisted of cars from the standard range with roof racks ready to go on holiday. Regular items on Rolls-Royce and Ford continued and Jim McLachan looked at pedal powered Volkswagens. Geoff Keans continued his exploration of construction related models focusing on Volvo BM and M J Sharp looked at Impy Roadmasters. Catalogue corner covered French Dinky. Amongst the news pages is a picture of the first of the Corgi Classics in 1:43 scale the Minor Post Office Telephones van. Though not entirely accurate Corgi had hit the spot and it sold in large quantities as it was relatively inexpensive and was of a popular vehicle. The centre pages were dominated by pictures of Kids cars, the “ride in” variety

The colour pictures have a lot of classic British vehicles. From Provence Moulage in resin there were XJR6s in various liveries as well as the Aston Martin DB4 Zagato. Starter from France are featured with their Ford RS200 and Aston Martin DBR1 and a Ferrari 328 GTS. In white metal GPM’s white metal Bentley R Type features along with Brooklin’s Mustang Shelby. Pinder and Knie Circus models from Verem complement a 1:25 Schabak Transit. On the rear cover a Precision Miniatures Lincoln is driven by Santa Claus alongside a picture of the made up K&R Ford Pilot Woodie kit. Two Tomica Dandy Toyota saloons are complemented by their Mazda RX-7. A lovely Brumm diecast Alfa Romeo 2900 sits above a superb Aston Martin DB5 in resin from Provence Moulage.   Rio Hispano Suizas feature in open and closed forms. The Solido Age D’or 1950 Chevrolet in metallic blue sits on its plinth. A Lledo Ford A van with BBC Livery features alongside a model made in the Far-East for Australia with Grace Brothers livery. Editors note: Grace Brothers was a fictional Department Store featured in the BBC Comedy series “Are you being served?”.

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