Model Auto Review Magazine 1987

By Maz Woolley and Karl Schnelle

This is the sixth in a series of articles looking at each year’s output of the original Model Auto Review magazine.   Last month, we reviewed the year 1986 so this month we have reached 1987, 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.) Now each issue is so large, and there are six a year, future articles will cover half a year at a time. 

What happened in the World in 1987?

American Motors was absorbed by Chysler after Renault decided to abandon their ownership. Chrysler wanted the Jeep brand and the new factory recently built by AMC but little else and AMC cars were no more. The top selling car in the US was the Ford Escort which sold for 6,895 dollars whilst the Taurus was 11,895 dollars. Things were starting to change in the sales charts as Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, and Toyota all had cars in the top 15 sellers.

In the UK and France work on the Channel tunnel began and in London the new Docklands airport opened allowing quite a few planes with short take-off and landing capabilities to travel to the heart of London. Primarily focused on business traffic the airport is still active today and offers services throughout Europe.

Around the world US President Ronald Reagan travelled to Germany in a state visit which was as heavily publicised as Kennedy’s had been. In the US Pope John Paul II paid a visit, and the recession was gradually easing as unemployment continued to fall though there was a wobble when the crash of Black Monday hit the stock markets. Here in the UK Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative party won the general election and she continued as Prime Minister.

USSR President Gorbachev signed a missile reduction pact with the US whilst elsewhere in the world Terry Waite the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ambassador was kidnapped in the Lebanon. In France Disney made an agreement with the French government to build a European Disneyland in Paris.

Here in the UK we had a major disaster at sea when the car ferry the Herald of Free Enterprise set sail with its doors open and sank with the loss of over 190 lives. We also had a hurricane that caused considerable destruction despite the fact that the weather forecaster had said on National News the night before that it wouldn’t be that bad…

Petrol was one pound and 89 pence a gallon in the UK but only  89 cents a gallon in the US. Even if the UK gallon is a little larger that shows why big cars were not so popular here in the UK.

In entertainment Fox broadcasting opened in the US and films included Three Men and a Baby, Fatal Attraction, and Good Morning, Vietnam, and Dirty Dancing.

In the word of computers Commodore launched the Amiga 2000, Macintosh announced the Macintosh II and SE whilst Nintendo Entertainment system outsold its rivals the Atari 7800 and the Sega Master System.  Windows 2.0 was launched and IBM introduced its PS/2 computers with a new operating system developed by Microsoft and only installed on IBM PCs, OS/2. Whilst most users were still using DOS based systems and software the world of graphical interfaces was just around the corner.

Against that background MAR was now a well established magazine catering for the growing world of adult collectors. From issue #25 it became 52 pages long with four pages of colour. A page of that was intended to be advertising though that was only rarely the case. The established diecasters such as Corgi, Matchbox and Solido were clearly focusing on this adult market. The magazine still had plenty of coverage of obsolete models  but new models of classic vehicles from smaller firms fill many pages of the magazine and are a growing part of the model collecting scene.

No 24 Winter 87

Te front cover shows an interesting assortment of collectors models from Matchbox and Corgi  as well as collectors resin models from FDS and ADB. Finally we get a Conrad model of an articulated city bus which was something collectors would not see on the streets in the UK.  All were promised for production in the forthcoming year. An interesting cover background was probably produced using crayons buy the artistically gifted Rod Ward.

The inside cover was again a mixture of diecasts from Rio, Corgi, Schbak and Brumm. Mixed with resin models from Provence Moulage, Jempy, Jielge, Starter and Dahinden. The subjects ranged the eras from a 1899 Renault to a contemporary Rover Sterling. The range of models available to collectors with lots of money to spend was increasing very quickly by the end of the 1980s with a collectors becoming the target for even the big diecast concerns.

The contents include a lot of information about future releases which was something MAR covered in a lot of detail in the days when only the lucky collectors living near a proper model shop could see more than a basic range of the models made by the industrial firms in their own country. For many around the world it was the only way they would hear about the smaller ranges.

Letters pages asked for more coverage of plastic kits and trucks and feature some well know names like Robert Newson as well as a large table of follow up information on Minix cars.  Henri Orange who has published a series of excellent books on French models in recent years popped up to praise MAR. And several letters came from from figures in the trade seemed to be making digs at each other and justifying their own position over past history of trading issues. Chris Sweetman a sometime writer of articles for MAR and other collectors magazines pops up with suggestions for MAR and praise for its focus on facts and information.

As usual there are articles about obsolete models and their associated catalogues as well as more than usual news items as it is Toy fair time when announcements were made.

One news article that caught my eye was the launch of Bernard Taylor’s 4mm Carkits range, on of my favourites (Maz).

The Editorial is fascinating and the issue covered are still around today. John Ayrey had had models stolen from his van, last year it was from their premises! A raid to steal items from the van making a delivery to the now closed St. Martins Accessories was rather more dramatic.

Rod Ward looked at the trends which had developed over the previous year, 1986. The main trend was the huge growth in 1:43 scale collecting. Choice and detail were increasingly hugely. At the same time larger scale models were also increasing in detail and availability.

The idea of running a model of the year contest had been raised and Rod explained that he was against the idea as he said, how could you compare different models made to sell at very different prices?

The back cover again spanned a huge variety of models with an obsolete Corgi Cortina from Dave Turner’s Ford Article, a super-detailed MG kit in 1:14 scale of the Ferrari 156 F1 car. Others include more 1:43 resin models from Starter, Record, Jielge, Provence Moulage, and Robustelli,  Jemmy. Rod’s own Sun Motor company 1:43 scale white metal 1970 Mustang Boss is there too. More main stream diecasts from Brumm and Vitesse make up the page.


No 25 Spring 87

Another bright and graphic rich cover. Again a selection of models covering a wide spectrum of the hobby. A beautiful Marque One Ford Fairlane 500 represented the UK specialist industry. From France Starter and 1:43 resin were represented by a Porsche “pink pig” a car in doubtful taste with a livery of dotted lines named for cuts of meat. A Corgi scheduled for later in the year represented industrial producers.  Models from small producers like a Paris-Dakar DAF turbo in 1:50 from Portegies, a 1:10 scale Ferrari 250 GT SWB from Conti, and a Mini Auto Emporium Chrysler 300 Hardtop, make up the others on show.

The inside cover shows a whole range of Volkswagen Transporters from Tekno. A lot of different models for a VW fan to chase for their collection. Vroom’s 1:43 scale resin model of the Mercedes-Benz transporter was well done for its day but has been followed since by several newer and ever more accurate versions from Schuco and the like. Vitesse were relatively new and their Austin Healey and Porsche 911 set new standards for relatively cheap diecasts. In contrast we see Challenge, Brianza, and Rio covering Italian classics in various scales. Some tiny Herpa models represent smaller scales and a limited edition Provence Moulage super kit of a Peugeot 205 T16 features at the bottom of the page.

Inside the magazine more news of models for 1987 mix with articles from Roger Bailey on bus models along with Heavy Goods Truck reviews. The late Vic Davey shared his encyclopaedic knowledge of models from the far east which were rare at this time!   A lighter note was introduced by Don Elliot’s look at smurf transportation.

More regular contributors appeared with Andre Blaize continuing coverage of Rolls-Royce models and Dave Turner continuing with his Fords and Clive Chick with Tekno.

Readers letters cover five pages which is a sign of a really active collecting scene. Some letters followed up topics in previous columns and some expand on others articles with Vic Davey telling us of models that might be expected from the far east.

A letter from Jonathan Roberts bemoans the quality control on the Franklin Mint Silver Ghost – some things never change! Other letters complained about the service from mail order dealers and Corgi inaccuracies  themes that re-occurred frequently.

The subject of restoring obsolete and play worn models came up. At this time many MAR readers were  dong this as many tatty obsoletes could be found at toyfairs and jumble sales. The editor recommended spraying with Car Cellulose another thing that has changed over the years as all paint is now Acrylic.

The back cover shows off a wide range of subjects showing how much choice collectors were beginning to have. Classic American cars were represented by several makers: diecast Solido Age D’Or Buick; Miniature Cars 1:43 White Metal handbuilt Pontiacs;  Alloy Forms/Motor City 1:43 Cadillac Fleetwood; Marque One Fairlanes; Provence Moulage Ford Tudor; Sun Motor Company De Soto Bearer car; and finally a Precision Miniatures Mustang.

Large scale models where not missed out with a veteran Magirus Fire appliance, an Alfa Romeo 159 Alfetta, and at the budget end of the market a BBurago Chevrolet Corvette.

Other spots are taken by a Humber Super Snipe police car, a Brumm Ferrari 330 P3,  a MA Collection Hispano Suiza J12, an Eligor diecast re-make of the Norev Ford Cortina in police livery, and the Ford Sierra Diplomatic protection special from Corgi.


No 26 Summer 87

Summer 1987 kicked off with a celebration as MAR had reached 5 years of publication. The entire front cover was covered with a display of all the covers to date.

A lot of colour pages were included funded by advertising from famous names such as Western, Somerville, K&R Replicas, SMTS, Marsh Models, 9 Double 9, Enco and Pirate all joining in to help celebrate MARs anniversary. Of course all regularly appeared in the news pages and as specialists MAR reached their target clients across the world.

The inside front cover was a selection of handbuilt models many of a sporting nature. From NASCAR Pontiac Grand Prix from Starter through an MG rally car from Meri and a Golf Rally car from RIVA. CCCF DB Panhards and a lovely BBR Ferrari were accompanied by several Automany resin sports racers.  Starter, Tron and Provence Moulage finish the page with some lovely Alfa Romeo models included.

In the editorial the editor noted the development of MAR in the five years and the intention to continue to meet the new standards they had met. He also commented that a number of letters had been received criticising MAR which were included in the letters page. He closed with a  quote from a press baron which underlined the point that you cannot please everyone.

Regular contributors featured heavily in the magazine with Greg Keane’s construction column going strong, Dave Turner still covering Fords, and Roger Bailey still covering buses. Don Elliot another regular covered Lancia and Ferrari, and John Hanson looked at the Leyland Comet. The editor contributed articles on car derived vans and on cardboard models. A listing for Lledo Days Gone range was included which sold in huge numbers at this time and even attracted some serious collectors. It is a salutary lesson about buying for investment that the models can generally be bought now at toyfairs for no more than they sold at initially.

The Marco Bossi white metal replica of the Mercury Cadillac Eldorado shows that reproducing obsolete diecast has been part of the hobby for many years.  Next to that is a Epokit Renault sports of the 1930’s in resin. A large number of Elegance 1:43 resin Cadillacs are pictured, models that are still sought after today.  Below there are AMR Cadillacs again still sought today.

There are some Gama models of contemporary Opels  pictured as well as some resin Mini transkits from Sun. Other items of interest include Brooklin Ford Fairlane showing how simple their level of detail was compared to the current models and the Motul XJS used for circuit racing from Robustelli in resin.

By contrast another colour page shows various model fire appliances from vintage to contemporary including a seres of Solidos. Also from Solido are the Circus Pinder models which are now collected avidly by fans of Circus models.

Some Bellini Piccolos sit above examples of Micromodels card vehicles. Unusually for MAR the cover also included a military model.



No 27 Extra 87

Red dominated the cover of the Extra edition with a wide range of vehicles. In resin we have a Starter Ford Sierra Cosworth, a BBR Ferrari 410, and the Vulcan Rover 3500. In diecast we have a Solido 1:18 Ford fire pickup. And in white metal we have a K&R Morris 10 Royal Mail van.

Inside we have two views of a FYP 1:43 scale Rolls-Royce Phantom Vi Landaulette which was made in resin to an exacting standard and is still very sought after today.  Heco 1:43 Rolls Royce Phantom II again in resin is not quite as detailed but still a good model with details like ice buckets on some.

A Sun Bugatti in blue was accompanied by some more blue models. Diecast models include a Zaporozhets, a Volga, and a Yesteryear Bugatti. In resin we have a blue ESDO Volvo 760.

Other models include the new Volga in green which was not yet available in the west. An Aston Martin Zagato, Rosengart and Renault 11 turbo also feature. As well as a finely detailed yellow Bugatti from Boissou which even included lifting bonnet and engine detail.

The editorial announced the arrival of a computer operated typesetter. The changes in technology since the first edition only five years before were marked. Some things never change with Rod making a call for contributors something we still do on a regular basis today! The editorial also announced a new regular column on trucks called Truck Stop to be written by Geoff Moorhouse.  Internal changes were made to with News and Views items clustered together rather than being spread around the magazine.

The magazine was again brimming full of interesting items with Soviet military vehicles and cars. A German theme was found elsewhere with articles about Setra, Jim McLachan’s VW review, and Rosenbauer fire appliances. Don Elliot provides two articles on Burago Disney Models and Race Car Promos whilst Dave Turner continued the Ford Story.   Max Tomlinson produced a fine article on Bugatti Type 35 models whilst Greg Keane’s construction series reached JCB with perhaps a dozen models shown – how much longer that article would be today!

The news contained the Franklin Mint Classic Cars of the Fifties models with their stand. At $55 each they cost no more on eBay today for the most part. The Corgi Collectors 1:43 scale Morris Minor 1000 vans finally arrived in the Editors hand and were deemed “good value” if not entirely accurate.

Model Auto adverts included a further liquidation of John Day white metal kits for £9.95 each.

The rear cover showed a fine mixture of models from the Oldsmobile Club Coupe by Tron through three SMTS Lotus Europas to Pathfinders Rover 90 which although a nice shape now looks unfinished compared to modern diecast models. Racing cars from Automany and Western looked finely modelled as did Miniature cars Pontiac and Western’s Plymouth Belvedere. As ever in MAR the expensive collectors models are mixed with simpler models like the Tomica toy FX4 taxis, and an obsolete JRD Citroen. The page is finished off with Soviet Lada Nivas as well as a Corgi/Solido tank chop, a racing car from Marsh, a Ferrari from MOG, a GMC Military Truck from Sibur, and a 1:87 Scania Truck from Herpa.


No 28 Autumn 87

A yellow background brightened up the autumn front cover. Starter’s XJ9 from Le Mans in 1987 has a lovely set of Silk Cut decals and looks like a fine model. In complete contrast is a DG Dinky toys replica of the 28/2 Ford Y Van; it just shows again that copies are not a new phenomena, just the fact they are being made in large batches by an industrial producer.  The middle of the page features a Scania in 1:50 scale from Tekno and the lower part of the page features a Sun Motor Company Super Snipe Fire car and a Matchbox Yesteryear steam lorry.

The inside front cover is crowded with lots of models. Industrial models from Vitesse (Cadillac Convertible and Porsche 911), Ertl (1950 Cadillac Sedan), Tomica FX4 taxis, Gama (Opel Omega), REI models from Brazil (VW Beetle and VW Gol in 1:43). and Solido 1:18 scale (Bugatti T41 Royale). From smaller producers we see: Rextoys Cadillac V16; Provence Moulage Oldsmobile, Buick and Jaguar XJ12C; Record Peugeot 202; very detailed Robustelli Prsches; Madisons lovely Chyrsler 300C again looking plain by modern standards; and the MVI Peugeot 309 and 205 1:43 resin models  which have been eclipsed by Vanguards diecasts since..

The new format with Readers Letters to the front articles together and then news and views together is now established and the new Truck Stop article made its bow. As ever the articles formed a solid body of information for collectors with Rosenbauer and the Bugatti T35 continuing as well as the regular features on Rolls-Royce and Ford Models. An excellent article on the meaning of model Code definitions is included in the edition as is a good guide to model restoration. John Hanson’s look at the Morris 1 Ton vans would be longer today with lots of examples from Rod Parker in 1:76 and the Vitesse in 1:43 but Don Elliot’s look at the less well known US Manoil toy company is probably subject to fewer additions.

The Editorial set out clearly the fact that MAR was not going to set out a guide to value and had been backed by readers in that stance. The theme of the need to send International Reply Coupons if you want to get a reply is raised again a continual bugbear until the advent of email!

An editorial snippet was that it appeared that the vans made by Vitesse for Corgi and returned to them when relationship broke down seemed to be doing the rounds fitted with blank plastic bases.

The letters pages covered all manner of models from American inter-war rubber ones through obscure kiddies diecasts in a hunt for a De Lorean to NZ Dinkies, Lone Stars and Solidos. A discussion of fair prices show the shadow of Mint and Boxed attempt to push obsolete models prices to giddy and unsustainable heights.

The back cover carried Ertl advertising so we will look at the inside rear cover. Here working vehicles dominated with Buses from: REI using old Schuco moulds; Soviet AMO buses, one hand built; Tomica toy coach; the layout and captioning must have been rushed for this edition as the captioning goes wrong and the London Bus is unattributed.

Models illustrating John Hanson’s Morris article are shown in colour as are a Bill Barnes Military Ambulance in 1:50; Ertl Case construction vehicles; and a Zon Mammot trailer and heavy load. American trucks from Sibur and De Hanes line the lower page. A Somervilles Ford van liveried with 5 years of Model Auto is also featured.


No 29 Winter 87

The Christmas cover had a nice graphical background with the outlines of houses with lights on and a Church with lit up windows as well as “snow” falling across the cover. The front cover had an expensive Heco Rolls-Royce Phantom III at its head, only a few well healed collectors might have expected that as a Christmas treat. Rather cheaper would be the Albedo MAN articulated tanker in BP livery.  The Tron Club Royal Lancer Convertible features, a kit of which we have seen lately turned into a Dodge La Femme by John Quilter. Sporting models are represented by Gamma’s Porsche 930 and SRC’s Honda F1 car. Finally the Paris/Dakar Tatra in tin plate with its box was presumably a Christmas gift for a few lucky children in the former Czechoslovakia.

Apart from the regular series which had been running during the year an article on Zagato was written by Paul Niewenhuis who wrote the Auto Review book on Daf cars years later. This article is fascinating if only because so many models have been added since by firms like BBR, Matrix and partwork makers too. Rod Ward looks at chopping a Norev bus to make the open rear platform version, A piece on Acorn models is a rare look at some rare plastic models. lovers of obsolete models were catered for with articles about Metal Masters, Marx, Mobil and Fun Ho and Crescent. A feature on land speed records by Jim Marsden is included and such features were run from time to time in MAR as new models got added to the list.  A Tony Steenmeyer article with a fine chop on a GMC 6×6 to create a Dutch variant started off a long series of conversions shown in MAR over the years.

The inside rear cover is mainly covered with commercial vehicles but there is an oddball in the Trax Redex Holden sedan. This partners the Trax Royal Mail van. The Sun Humber Imperial Ambulance sits amongst an Igra Tatra pickup and a series of Piccolino vans in 1:76 scale. A 1:70 scale Yesteryear model made in the far east and used to advertise Halls Mentholyptus sits alongside and above Tekno and Conrad 1:50 trucks. The Paris bus conversion by Rod Ward sits above a Diapet Fuso bus and a Tomica minibus. Some 1:87 Brekina and Roskopf models sit above a chopped Jaguar Pickup, a chopped Solido into AA livery and page ends with more 1:87 models from Germany.

The back cover sees out 1987 with some lovely resin Rosengart models from MA Collection at the base. Higher up are are some Picollino racing cars from Lotus, Aston, Ferrari and Spice. A Future Models Ferrari F40 is shown up with the rear propped open and a Record model of the same car is shown elsewhere on the page closed.  An Oldsmobile Starfire made by SMTS for Conquest models showed the very high standards some of the premium white metal ranges were reaching. This contrasted with a number of Dandy diecasts of the Mazda 626 which show the standards that the diecast industry were producing to for a more general market.

Three Corvettes from Remember of Italy in racing liveries complemented a Pathfinder Bristol 401 , Zaug Mercury Cyclone, and CCC Bugatti from the specialist end of the collectors market. All this and a Kouros Hong Kong diecast Mercedes racing car made for Yves Saint Laurent for an in store promotion.

1987 was certainly a very active year with a whole host of model makers expanding whilst others sprung up. The big diecast firms were also waking p to the potential of the adult collectable market with some like Vitesse being specifically targeted at that market from the start.

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