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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