2018 – A Corgi Diecast Diaries Review
We would like to wish all our readers a very festive welcome to this special Review Edition of our Corgi Die-cast Diaries blog and a traditional look back at some of the interesting features we have brought you over the previous twelve months. Hopefully, many of our readers will have benefited from a couple of new corgi model additions to their collections over the past few days, or maybe even a new display cabinet made it down the chimney on Christmas night. However you spent the Christmas break, we hope you had an enjoyable time and that you were not forced to eat too many sprouts.
At this time of year, it is always nice to acknowledge some of the people who have help to make the blog such a success over the past 12 months and without whose support it would not be possible to produce Diecast Diaries. From the Corgi Development Team, to the Brand Manager, from the Assistant Brand Managers, to our fantastic Photographer, everyone contributes hugely to the blog, which is a real team effort and without everyone’s individual input, things simply would not be the same. We would like to sincerely thank the team for their unstinting support and remind them that all this praise means that we will be coming looking for your help again in 2019. It would also be remiss of us if we did not mention our readers, who have stayed loyal to us since we posted our first blog in the summer of 2015. We have seen steady readership growth since that date and we are especially grateful to the readers who help to spread the Diecast Diaries word, by sending details to friends and family, or by linking some of our features on various collector social media sites. Thank you for your support this year - we can promise you a very big year for Corgi in 2019, a year we very much look forward to sharing with you. This is going to be a wild diecast ride folks!
20 Glorious years of Aviation Archive
The same diecast subject, just 20 years apart. Our Anniversary release shows just how far these popular models have come over that time
In what proved to be a significant year for our popular Aviation Archive range, 2018 marked 20 years since the first of these delightful little diecast aviation models arrived in model shops all around the country and started a collecting phenomenon which is still going strong to this day. Back in 1998, aviation enthusiasts were no doubt intrigued by the launch of a new range of 1/144th scale die-cast metal aircraft models from Corgi, which included a number of iconic aircraft types from the world of military and civilian aviation. Many people initially thought that these would be more like toys than high quality collectable models, but were presently surprised when they inspected them for the first time and probably walked out of the store with one, the start of a new collecting obsession. Featuring high quality pad printed details and optional undercarriage parts, these little models allowed aviation enthusiasts to simply take the aircraft out of their box and immediately enjoy them, whilst at the same time possessing the reassuring weight and resilience of die-cast metal construction. The new models proved to be an instant success and quickly established themselves as a popular range within the Corgi portfolio, possessing plenty of scope for future development.
The exceptional finish on AA38209 stands testament to the professionalism of the current Corgi development team, who served up a real Aviation Archive treat
Assessing the range chronologically, the first release in the series was model number 47101, a Douglas C-47A Skytrain named ‘Fassberg Flyer’, which was released to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Berlin Airlift and marking one of the most famous aircraft to take part in ‘Operation Vittles’. We had been planning to release a new model to commemorate this anniversary for some time, but were a little unsure about what the subject model should be, particularly as there have been so many impressive releases over the past 20 years. In the end, the choice proved to be quite an obvious one and whilst paying homage to the first model in the series, the 20th Anniversary model showed just how far the Aviation Archive range has developed since those early days - AA38209 Douglas C-47A Skytrain 315208 ‘Fassberg Flyer’, US Air Force, Berlin Airlift, 1948 was a new, much larger representation of our very first model, but now in 1/72nd scale, expertly researched and beautifully manufactured. This fitting tribute to the Aviation Archive range was also released during the 70th anniversary year of the Berlin Airlift and in advance of what will surely be a significant year for this magnificent aircraft type, as 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, an operation which relied heavily on the attributes of the C-47 Skytrain.
The perfect follow up to our initial 1/48th scale Lightning F.6 release, AA28402 presents this famous jet fighter in perhaps its most iconic scheme
Of almost equal significance during 2018, the range made a diecast aviation tribute to the RAF’s centenary year by releasing a collection of models intended to mark this historic occasion, featuring such famous British aircraft as a Dambusters Lancaster and the awesome Eurofighter Typhoon of today’s Royal Air Force. Benefiting from special commemorative packaging and with just 12 limited edition releases in the series, these models are destined to be prized items in any collection in the years to come, particularly when considering that several models sold out within days of their release. Arriving in formation with these models, even though it did not actually form part of the RAF 100 Collection itself, the second release from our acclaimed 1/48th scale English Electric Lightning F.6 tooling graced the Aviation Archive range with arguably the most iconic Cold War scheme applied to Britain’s most famous jet fighter. Clearly a popular addition to the range, can we look forward to new releases in this scale during 2019? This is certainly a case of watch this diecast space.
You had your say – the 1/72nd scale poll
This is the big one and the one our readers have been waiting for – the results of our 1/72nd scale poll. In the previous edition of Diecast Diaries, we published the results of both our 'Anything goes' and '1/48th scale' polls, which made for interesting reading and highlighted some of the models you would most like to see joining the Aviation Archive range in the years to come. When we initially decided to launch this initiative, we thought that it would be a little bit of fun for our readers, but we could hardly have imagined just how popular it would become, clearly capturing the imagination of Aviation Archive collectors the world over and resulting in thousands of e-mails flooding in to the Corgi website. Although we were lucky enough to receive a great many suggestions in each individual category, we were left in absolutely no doubt that 1/72nd scale remains the most popular for diecast model aircraft collecting, as we received thousands of individual e-mails containing your suggestions for future new tooling additions in this scale. Indeed, even since we published the previous edition of our blog, suggestions have continued to come in, with one arriving last week all the way from Brazil. Please be aware that we will no longer be collating any further suggestions, even though we are always happy to receive your opinions. It is now time to finally reveal the results of our 1/72nd scale poll.
Aviation Archive 20 – ‘1/72nd scale’
We purposely held the results of this most popular poll back until our review edition, playing a little game of Christmas cat and mouse with you all, knowing that you would all be interested to view the poll list and also because we wanted to have something exclusive for you to read over the holidays, a time when hopefully more people will have the opportunity to spend a little more time reading the blog. We will announce the top ten in reverse order, however, before we do that, let’s look at some of the interesting suggestions which proved popular, but which ultimately fell just short of the final top ten. The only Italian aircraft suggestion came in 19th place and was the unusual, if not unattractive, Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 'Sparviero', a three engined medium bomber from WWII. This was joined a little higher up the list by the Russian Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik ground attack aircraft, the most heavily produced military aircraft in history and again, the only Soviet aircraft suggestion to make the top 20. The only Helicopter to make the top 20 was the Westland Wasp, which whilst being a particularly diminutive aircraft, would be an attractive addition to the Aviation Archive range. Let’s take a look at the top ten aircraft suggestions:-
In joint 9th place – English Electric Lightning T.5
Highlighting the enduring aviation appeal of the only all-British built supersonic fighter aircraft, the Lightning T.5 was the two seat training variant of the aircraft, a development of the F.3 fighter. Retaining the stellar performance of the single seat fighter, this magnificent aircraft allowed the student pilot to experience the thrill of a Lightning flight, without it being his first solo. As something of a poll anomaly, if we had added the scores for the T.5 with the earlier T.4 variant, the two seat Lightnings would have ended up in joint first place – something we were certainly not expecting.
In joint 9th place – Avro Shackleton
Tracing its lineage back to the mighty Avro Lancaster, the Shackleton was a long range maritime patrol aircraft which enjoyed a 40 year career in this demanding role, following various upgrades. With the final AEW aircraft retiring from service in 1991, many readers will probably still remember seeing the Growler performing at Airshows up and down the country, or would that be better described as remembering hearing it? Powered by four mighty Rolls Royce Griffon engines and employing contra-rotating propellers on each one, this was a noisy beast, but one which proved incredibly effective in its service role.
In joint 7th place – British Phantoms
As one of the most famous jet aircraft of all time, the McDonnell Douglas Phantom was initially selected for use by the Fleet Air Arm, as a replacement for their ageing Sea Vixens in the role of fleet defender. In British service, the Phantom differed in several ways from their US counterparts, not least in the adoption of the Rolls Royce Spey powerplants, resulting in a redesign of the airframe. Later also serving with the Royal Air Force, these are still regarded as some of the most exciting aircraft to see British service and are undoubtedly amongst the most attractively presented of any of the world’s Phantoms.
In joint 7th place – Re-tooled de Havilland Mosquito
At a time when Britain needed it most, the Wooden Wonder became something of an aviation enigma and arguably the aircraft the Luftwaffe coveted most during WWII. Initially conceived as a fast bomber, the Mosquito proved versatile enough to be considered a true multi role aircraft, fulfilling a variety of important tasks and proving an essential component of the Allied war effort. An extremely popular model in the Aviation Archive range, the fact that a newly tooled version of the Mosquito appeared high in this pole despite the fact that it has been in the range since 2001, proves that this magnificent aircraft still has plenty of appeal for the die-cast aviation collector.
In Joint 4th place – Handley Page Victor
Most definitely at the larger end of the tooling suggestion scale, the request for a Handley Page Victor in 1/72nd scale will have certainly come on the back of our impressive Avro Vulcan from 2014, with collectors clearly feeling that this famous V-Bomber needs its distinctive aviation partner in crime. Whether the Victor is produced as a bomber or a tanker, this would surely be one of the most impressive models in the history of the Aviation Archive range.
In Joint 4th place – Westland Whirlwind fighter
One of the most interesting British fighters of the Second World War, the Whirlwind was both the fastest and most heavily armed fighter in the world at the time of its first flight, however, a protracted development and problems with its engines more or less consigned the aircraft to the aviation history books. Introduced at around the time of the Battle of Britain, despite showing great potential, only 116 of these slender aircraft were built, equipping just three RAF squadrons in total. It would nevertheless make a superb subject for a new Corgi diecast model.
In Joint 4th place – Avro Manchester
For many Aviation Archive collectors, the forerunner of the mighty Avro Lancaster seems an obvious choice for future inclusion in the Aviation Archive range, not only because it was the aircraft which was directly responsible for the creation of Britain’s most famous heavy bomber of WWII, but also because it played a significant role in Bomber Command’s strategic bombing campaign against Germany. Much more than just a baby Lancaster, the Manchester possessed many of the design qualities which made its famous Avro stablemate such an impressive aircraft and had the Rolls Royce Vulture engines not been so problematic, many more than 202 machines would have surely been built.
In 3rd place – Messerschmitt Me 410 Hornisse
The highest placed German aircraft in our poll, the twin engined Me 410 was an attempt to perfect the concept of the Luftwaffe’s heavy fighter, or Destroyer, whilst also emulating the success of the British Mosquito. Desperately in need of a fast and powerful fighter to break up Allied bomber streams and to launch effective nocturnal strike raids against targets in southern England, the Me 410 was an impressive and rather sinister looking aircraft, even though its appearance did not quite match its operational effectiveness. When assessing the performance of Germany’s much vaunted heavy fighters of WWII, the Messerschmitt Me 410 was certainly the most capable aircraft of this type, which was made available to the Luftwaffe in any significant numbers.
In second place – Boeing B-29 Superfortress
Now we are really at the business end of the poll and there was very little to choose between the first and second placed suggestions. With an impressive 8% of all votes cast, many Aviation Archive collectors would probably have placed this particular aircraft high on their ‘wants list’ as it represents one of the most significant bombers of the Second World War and the one which introduced new levels of technology and innovation to aerial warfare. Also the aircraft which delivered the final nuclear blows to bring WWII to a close, the Superfortress was the single most expensive weapons programme of the war and one of the most impressive wartime aircraft, all credentials which surely make this a future new tooling project for the Aviation Archive range and one which will have undeniable international appeal. One significant drawback to this will the size of the task facing the Corgi development team, as this will not only be a demanding project from start to finish, but also a challenging one in terms of the physical size of the tooling block itself. It is unclear if the complexities of producing a 1/72nd scale version of this aircraft would make this project something of a non-starter, but it would certainly be a popular model if it ever did make it into production and one which gained plenty of support during our poll – let’s keep our fingers crossed on this one.
In first place and the overall winner of our ‘Have your say’ poll
Handley Page Hampden
Poll respondents who have been collecting Aviation Archive models over the past 20 years would probably admit to thinking that they are surprised that an example of the Hampden had not already found its way into the range before now, as this was such an important British aircraft during the early years of the Second World War, with ten squadrons equipped with the bomber at the start of hostilities. Such a distinctive bomber, there are just some aircraft models which are regarded as being squarely in Corgi territory and the Hampden is undoubtedly one of these types, with many collectors waiting patiently to add it alongside their Blenheims and Wellingtons. Posting over 9% of the overall suggestions, the Hampden was consistently vying for top spot with the Superfortress, with the British bomber just pulling ahead in the final stages of this aviation contest, emerging a worthy winner of this hotly contested 1/72nd scale poll. With a magnificently restored example of this rare aircraft edging closer to completion at the RAF Museum with each passing year, interest in the Hampden will only increase in future years, with many diecast collectors hoping that this will make the aircraft well placed for inclusion in a future range. Once again, our readers have proved that they have exceedingly good taste when it comes to the suggestion of models which they feel would grace any future Aviation Archive range.
Although our poll was just a little bit of fun in this 20th anniversary year for the Aviation Archive range, it was absolutely fascinating to see both the scope of subjects suggested and the enthusiasm which you all got behind the initiative – you all helped to make the entire project a resounding success. Although clearly not committing themselves on future model selection, the Corgi development team have been extremely interested observers of this poll since day one and will certainly have received valuable information to augment their own extensive research and industry experience. On behalf of everyone here at Corgi, we would like to thank each and every one of the people who took the time to send in their suggestions and for helping to make this a really concise view of Aviation Archive collector’s opinions. We also hope that some of your particular favourites ended up in the respective top ten polls. It won’t be too long before we will be looking at the new model ranges for 2019 – could any of the poll suggestions be included?
Vanguards continue to lead the way
Rally sport Morris 1800 Mk.2 ‘The Beauty Box’ was one of the most colourful Vanguard releases of 2018 and one of the most challenging for the development team to produce
Coming off the back of its 21st anniversary year in 2017, the popular Vanguards range continued to serve up desirable new models throughout 2018, tempting collectors with 1/43rd scale representations of vehicles spanning over half a century of British motoring. With many sell-out releases this year, arguably the most colourful and certainly one of the most interesting models to join its ranks was this Morris 1800 Mk.2 ‘the beauty box’, which took part in the 1970 World Cup Rally. The Mk2 'Landcrab' was launched in 1968 and this, the sixth produced, is the oldest known survivor. It was initially used for publicity work and tested at 100mph by John Bolster for Autosport magazine before being 'purchased' by BMC/BL champion rally and racing driver Jean Denton. It was one of five 'Super-Landcrabs' prepared by Basil Wales' Leyland Special Tuning at Abingdon as private entries for the World Cup Rally to back up BL's official Triumphs, Maxis and a solitary Mini. NOB 284F was sponsored by 'Motorwoman', the motoring section of Woman Magazine and, because of the female crew, was christened 'The Beauty Box' by the magazine's editor Barbara Buss during a pre-event champagne launch.
Entering a Motorwoman car was motoring editor Jean Barrett's idea but after Denton and Wright took her on a tough recce in Yugoslavia she withdrew! Regular rally competitor Liz Crellin joined and the experienced girls avoided the problems that beset others although, even with oxygen, they suffered altitude sickness in South America; remedied with coca leaves. The most serious mechanical problem, a cracked sump in Lima, was solved with Araldite and otherwise the car needed only a new starter motor. The team covered over 16,000 miles in 39 days driving and finished 18th of 23 finishers from 106 starters. Restored by Ian Feirn in 2008, 'The Beauty Box' is now owned by David Scothorn who regularly uses it for historic rally events and shows.
We were fortunate to receive these magnificent images of the ‘Beauty Box’ whilst it was competing in the 1970 World Cup Rally
Sending an example of the model to one of the ladies involved in this project, our Brand Manager was pleased to receive an e-mail from Pat Smith (formerly Wright) recently, which included some of her recollections and some magnificent pictures from their 1970 rally experiences – we thought that you might like to see them, particularly as they add a new dimension to this model’s appeal, if you are lucky enough to have one in your collection.
‘I have just received a Corgi model of ‘The Beauty Box’ by Special Delivery and I am thrilled with it. It brings back all the happy (and not so happy) memories of that epic drive to Mexico, which was the greatest adventure of my life. The following is a piece that I wrote for a programme on the 40th anniversary of the event, which I hope will be of interest’
I was delighted to be chosen by Woman Magazine as a member of the crew of their entry for the World Cup Rally, a Morris 1800, prepared by Special Tuning Department of British Leyland at Abingdon. Our two drivers were Jean Denton who had been successful on the 1968 London to Sydney marathon and Liz Crellin another very experienced driver. The three of us got on very well and had the adventures of a lifetime.
Again, more evocative images showing the car in need of some running repairs and looking less than pristine between stages
We took it seriously and prepared hard. The mechanics at Abingdon did a marvellous job. Woman Magazine were supportive but had some strange ideas about kit to take. We did a lot of publicity events for them before the start. The Beauty Box was car 91, waved off from Wembley by Lord Stokes. It was a fairly uneventful journey through Europe except for an incident with a bicycle in Yugoslavia and a bump from Timo Makinen on the Quatre Chemins stage. We had time for two hours in bed at Sophia - the first rest since leaving London - and a night in bed at Monza where we were the highest placed women's crew. At Lisbon, after 4,500 miles, we were 26th overall and 3rd women.
Cars were re-started from Rio de Janeiro in order of placing so we got better conditions than in 91st place. The girls drove brilliantly and we had no navigational problems, using the BMC-issued road books as well as the rather inadequate South American road maps. The main problems were things falling off or getting choked with dust. We did our best at controls to screw them back on. We were amazed and excited to arrive in Santiago in 24th position. This was half distance and only
43 cars made it there. Back over the Andes we witnessed Andrew Cowan's crash in Argentina and suffered from altitude as we approached Bolivia. At Vilazon on the border I was treated for altitude sickness by the local doctor with a brew of coca leaves. La Paz was vibrant with locals and visitors who had never seen anything like this event. From there to Lima, over the Andean high passes was incredible, but we made it and slogged up the Pan-American Highway stopping frequently to top up our oil. We had cracked the sump which couldn't be repaired.
Triumphant homecoming. The three ladies on their arrival back at Gatwick Airport – interestingly, the aircraft they had travelled on was Bristol 175 Britannia 312 G-AOVJ, wearing the striking colours of Caledonian Airways
We had two day’s respite on the ship ‘Verdi’, to avoid the Darien Gap, as we sailed from Buenaventura to Panama, through the canal and with the cars in the ships hold (ours leaking oil). Then, there came the long slog up through Central America to Mexico. We made it to the finish hotel at Fortin, coming in 18th place out of 23 finishers. After clocking in, we parked the car and jumped into the pool, fully dressed, along with many others in high spirits.
It is stories like this one which really bring these little Vanguards models to life, giving them a distinct personality all of their own and further enhancing our collecting pleasure. We will certainly be looking to bring you more content like this throughout the coming year.
Sell out Vanguards competition
There is nothing like saying goodbye to the current year and looking forward with optimism to a new one than by staking your claim in the latest Diecast Diaries competition. We mentioned earlier that many of the Vanguards releases over the past twelve months have proved incredibly popular with collectors and as a consequence, can now be quite a challenge to obtain. For our latest blog competition, we have a trio of 2018 sell out releases awaiting our lucky winner, which includes VA13507 Mini 1275GT 1972 RAC Rally - Phil Cooper and Mike Bennett, VA12611 Ford Escort Mk2 1.6 Harrier in Strato Silver and VA06412 Vauxhall Cresta PA in Alpine Green & Glade Green. Each one of these striking models would grace any Vanguards collection and although we only have one prize available, our lucky winner will be extremely fortunate indeed.
This magnificent trio of sold out Vanguards releases will make one lucky reader very happy, as they head into the New Year
All you need to do to be in with the chance of winning our festive Vanguards competition, is to head for the Corgi Competitions Page of our website, where you will find all the relevant competition details, along with a simple Corgi Vanguards related question for you to answer. We will announce the lucky winner in a forthcoming edition of Die-cast Diaries and wish you all the very best of luck – you know what they say, you have to be in it to win it, so why not have a go. You could be having a Vanguardstastic start to 2019.
New Corgi range in early January
We are afraid that is all we have for you in this special review edition of our blog. We have enjoyed bringing you all the latest news, stories and features from the world of Corgi diecast model collecting and are proud to have brought you numerous exclusives during the course of the year – Diecast Diaries readers usually hear about the most exciting developments before anyone else does. We are looking forward to being even bigger and better during 2019, including our blog search to find the Corgi Collector of 2019 – if you think you have what it takes to be considered for this prestigious accolade, we will be bringing you full details on how you can put yourself forward early in the new year, so please watch out for this.
The ideal way to sign off any annual review blog is to let you all know that we will be starting the new year with the announcement of a new range of Corgi models, due to go live on the Corgi website at 4pm on Monday 7th January. Although we are clearly not in a position to give you any details yet, we can confirm the exciting news that the collection will contain several new model toolings across the various ranges, a nice little exclusive to leave you with as we say goodbye to 2018. All that remains now is for us to wish you all a safe, happy and enjoyable New Year’s celebration and we look forward to seeing you all back here in 2019, to discuss all those lovely new Corgi models. Once again, thank you for your fantastic support during 2018 and Happy New Year to you all.
If you do manage to steal a little time to yourself over the holiday period, we are always interested to hear your views regarding the Corgi blog and if there is anything you would particularly like us to feature in a forthcoming 2019 edition. Also, fellow die-cast collectors are always interested to see pictures of impressive model collections, so if you would like to give your Corgi model display a little international blog exposure, please send details to our usual firstname.lastname@example.org, email address, where we will be only too pleased to hear from you.
If you can’t wait for the next edition of our blog, there is always plenty of Corgi model related news, views and conversation taking place on both our official Facebook and Twitter channels. We look forward to reading all your latest Corgi collecting discussions and seeing pictures of your favourite Corgi models, over the coming weeks.
Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to posting the next edition of Die-cast Diaries on Friday 25th January 2019.
The Corgi Die-cast Diaries Team
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