By Maz Woolley
All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.
Universal Hobbies seem to be primarily known today for the production of scale models of Agricultural and Construction machinery. But in the past they were active in making models to be used in partwork series, many in the James Bond series were from UH as were many 1:43 scale French partwork models. Today their 1:43 scale tractors have been used in a recent tractors partwork as well as sold in UH Packaging They also make larger tractors in 1:32 scale to compete with Britains and others.
This article is the start of a short series looking back at models UH made to 1:87 scale which were included in a French partwork: The Golden Age of French Cars which was produced in about 2009. Partworks are traditionally based upon 1:43 scale models which are large enough for the public to see them as worthy of the cover price and not to bulky for the newstrade and delivery firms to cope with. So this partwork with a cover case holding two 1:87 models of different versions of the same car was a novelty. Having two cars did address the issue of perceived value but perhaps it was not a success as it has not been repeated and the models are still available new in France without the magazine that once came with them.
These models were all diecast in metal in China for France and are fitted with a nice turning key type fixing that allows them to be easily removed from the case for display. The first models from this series that I will look at are the classic Citroën Tractions.
Citroën Traction 7A 1934
The original Traction Avant was a small saloon car powered by a 1,300cc engine. It was designated 7A and about 7,000 were made of this model with only one wiper and where all luggage had to be loaded from the inside as there was no opening boot. The front doors were front hinged.
The model captures a car shown on the Internet in a car museum very well though that like that car the model has two wipers. Maybe that was an option or was fitted to some of the last 7As to be produced. The two tone grey and black colours are authentic and the grille and horns has been very well reproduced as have all the bonnet side fitments. The wheels are quite simple but so were the originals with a very small silver coloured hub cap contrasting to black wheel and tyre.
The rear is neatly finished with the two filler caps fitted until 1935 moulded in and highlighted in silver. The spare tyre cover is neatly painted in black with the small silver centre cap printed on. The rear lights are printed well capturing the slightly oval shape they had well.
Citroën Traction 11 légère FFI 1944
The 11 was built in two versions and the one that UH have modelled here is the 11BL (“légère”, or “light”), which was the same size as the 7 CV. Whilst it was similar to the 7A there were actually quite a few differences which means that UH had to produce two different castings. In 1935 the front grille was part painted and not entirely plated and the headlight covers were restyled. The changes at the back were more practical and involved an opening boot lid, re-positioned rear number plate and a single fuel filler cap. In 1936 the suspension was revised and rack and pinion steering fitted.
The UH model incorporates a new front bumper, and a modified grille and wheels. The painting is the markings of the Free French who took over France as the allied invasion of Europe pushed the Nazis out of France. The 11 in this form has been modelled by others including Solido in 1:18 scale and Edicola, as well as UH, in 1:43 scale.
The modifications to the rear are all fully incorporated including the boot opening lines and handles and the relocated number plate.
Whilst the models in this series are not as finely moulded or detailed as Brekina or Herpa they are quite acceptable perhaps on a par with an average Oxford Diecast 1:76 scale model.
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