A premium Lysander and a rainbow bus
We would like to wish you a very warm welcome to this latest edition of Corgi Die-cast Diaries and all the up-to-the-minute news and release updates from the world of Corgi model collecting. In this twenty-fourth edition of our blog, we are going to be looking behind the scenes at a fascinating project to bring a colourful addition to the Original Omnibus range, as well as marking the launch of a brand-new page on the Corgi website and a supersonic project to break the world land speed record in 2018.
We also have an interesting reader supplied feature which involves a Corgi model, a diorama and the retirement of a Fire Officer … most intriguing. Our regular ‘On the desk’ feature includes a model that has been produced to mark the 35th anniversary of the Falklands Conflict, and we will be looking at a section of the Corgi business that takes our iconic models and uses them to help companies and organisations to promote their brands and services in some style. We have a lot to get through, so let’s make a start.
The Ride with Pride story: how London got its rainbow bus
Martyn Loukes with the beautiful bus he helped us to create
One of the most popular new models in the current January – June 2017 range has proved to be a rather colourful London New Routemaster bus. OM46618A and B are beautiful ‘Ride with Pride’ Rainbow buses and we have been privileged to have the help and support of Transport for London’s Martyn Loukes throughout this project. Martyn has kindly sent us an overview on how the project came about and we are extremely pleased to share this with you now.
“Back in 2012 I was elected chairman of Transport for London’s (TfL) seven year old Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) staff network – OUTbound. It’s a voluntary role alongside my regular daytime role as Business Development Manager of our Communications, Customer and Technology division and almost a fulltime job in itself. Within weeks of becoming chair I was contacted by Mike Freer MP to ask if TfL could put down a rainbow crossing, a symbol of LGBT diversity popping up in various cities across the world.
I won’t say it was an easy task making that happen, in fact I’ll say that in London it’s probably one of hardest things I’ve ever had to do in the workplace. In fact it took nearly two years before I could make it a reality. Stringent road transport laws, road ownership, health and safety, sponsorship and City Hall all had their say on how it should happen and where it should go.
But in 2014 – for Pride in London – I launched a mobile rainbow crossing that attracted world attention. I knew it would be a success, but I hadn’t perceived the actual convenience of having something you could move around as being such a good idea. We went on to use it to support a number of campaigns including placing it outside Arsenal Tube Station for Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign (anti-homophobia in sport). Most importantly for me though was putting it down in Trafalgar Square to celebrate same-sex marriage equality on 10 December 2014. It was the day I turned my five-year old Civil Partnership into a marriage – and there was only one place I was going to have my wedding photos taken, as did many other gay couples.
The pre-production sample bus pictured on a rainbow crossing
But having succeeded in doing something that people said would be impossible to do, I needed a new challenge – something unique, eye-catching and a word first. Bring on the rainbow bus.
There was a general perception at the time that most bus drivers had less than favourable attitude to the LGBT community (to put it politely). So what would happen if we put a giant rainbow on one of London’s new Routemaster buses demonstrating TfL’s commitment to diversity?
I set to work in September 2014 to find a bus company through contacts I’d gained by my work on the crossing. Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport was the man to make this happen and by December Stagecoach London were ready to make my idea a reality. They were incredibly enthusiastic by the idea and happy to sponsor it for a year.
My masterplan was to get something on the road for LGBT History Month, but by pure coincidence it was also OUTbound’s 10 year anniversary. So we had to hurry, just three months to get this idea from my head on to the road.
I won’t say there weren’t any hitches – the first designs from an external contractor were hideous but once the TfL design team stepped in we had something that looked incredible, the very bus I had imagined three months earlier.
On Saturday 28th February the bus was prepared overnight and on 1 March, we were ready for a photoshoot on Westminster Bridge, against the iconic backdrops of the London Eye and Houses of Parliament. The biggest problem was trying to keep it a secret from leaking to the press before we officially announced it.
By the following week, it had gone viral buoyed up by our social media campaign it went on to be lauded in the mainstream press, with Sir Terrence Conran calling it ‘Beautiful’.
But this wasn’t just a fancy gimmick by TfL to grab attention; it was a real statement of LGBT diversity in action, in one of the world’s greatest and most diverse cities. It went to work every day on route 8 which took it through some of London’s most popular sights. I deliberately chose route 8, not only because it’s the same day as my birthday (and my favourite number) but this route would also take the bus through Shoreditch and the top end of Soho, traditional LGBT hotspots.
The actual Routemaster bus in a classic London setting
Two incredible events happened in June 2015; I was awarded the British Empire Medal by the Queen in that year’s Birthday Honours for my work in diversity (specifically for the crossing and the bus), and the bus took part in its first ever Pride in London 2015. It was joined in the parade by a rainbow Hackney Carriage in a similar design.
I’d also added by this time a Dockland’s Light Railway (DLR) Ride with Pride train – another world first – launched the same week as Pride. The reception the bus got at Pride was incredible as we were at the head of the parade handing out Oyster wallets with the bus emblazoned across it on a gloriously sunny day.
By September of the same year the bus had inspired similar interventions in Calgary and Toronto, and to give it greater exposure I was asked if we could use it on route 15 too. This would take it past St. Paul’s Cathedral and along the strand. I agreed this was a great idea and the bus served both routes from that point on.
In 2016 I asked Stagecoach London if we could extend the year’s contract beyond March to see us through another Pride. I was aware that the windows needed replacing and the wrap would need to be removed, but the bus was such a hit they agreed we should do this and the bus remained on London’s streets until October 2016.
I’d always had the sneaky suspicion it would go on to inspire other cities – Brighton also followed with their rainbow bus in 2016. But I had no idea that iconic toymaker Corgi, a brand from my youth would pick up the idea and miniaturise it.
OM46618A/B are still available for pre-order on the Corgi website and at all good model stores
When I saw the initial design last year I was stunned. It felt like my life had gone full circle and it was all I could do to keep it quiet from people. I jumped in of course and asked Corgi how I could help with the project, and this leads me to here. A very proud, gay Londoner who brought diversity to life – and very thankfully inspired Corgi to keep the project alive with this brilliant and inspiring miniature.”
Our grateful thanks go to Martyn Loukes for his help with this extremely successful project and for supplying us with the words and pictures featured above.
Corgi Premiums – a unique business proposition
This month we're going to take a look at a part of Corgi that many of you will be unfamiliar with. Corgi Premiums is the business to business promotional division of our company and provides a specialist service to businesses looking to produce something a little special in support of their latest marketing project. This may be a new product launch, general company awareness campaign or an event giveaway promotion, but it might also include a range of branded models for sale in their own retail outlets. Some famous business names that have already called upon the expertise of the Corgi Premiums team are Harrods, Tesco, Selfridges, Kellogg’s and Cadbury’s and you can also find Corgi models produced for the RNLI and the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre.
A recent trip to Corgi HQ unearthed a really unusual Corgi Premiums project from 2016 that we thought Die-cast Diaries readers would like to hear about. The 1/72nd scale Westland Lysander is regarded as one of the most accomplished models in the Aviation Archive range, and since it first appeared in 2007 has been a popular addition to any Corgi catalogue in which it appeared. Designed as an Army co-operation and liaison aircraft, the Lysander adopted a unique and distinctive wing design and possessed exceptional short-field performance, which saw the aircraft used extensively in clandestine and pilot recovery operations in occupied Europe during WWII. First flying in June 1936, the Lysander was also used as a light bomber, artillery spotting and search & rescue aircraft during WWII, but despite almost 1800 Lysanders being constructed at factories in both the UK and Canada, only two examples are currently preserved in airworthy condition.
The unique box presentation of the Lysander Funds Lysander model
Corgi Premiums have produced a beautiful model
An evocative black and white image of Lysander CP36808
This fantastic Westland Lysander model (CP36808) was produced for Canadian investment managers Lysander Funds Limited as a business gift. Using the distinctive profile of the Lysander’s wings as a logo on their website, they also describe how the aircraft served as inspiration to their managers when establishing their business.
The aircraft that served as inspiration for this release is an RAF No.161 Squadron Lysander, which was used on clandestine night operations into enemy occupied Europe between 1942 and 1945. An aircraft wearing this same serial number and Squadron code (V9367 MA-B) is maintained in airworthy condition and thrills Airshow crowds at the regular Old Warden flying days and is one of the rarest historic aircraft in the world. Surely, this magnificent model is one of the most distinctive ways in which to promote your business and is just one of the many projects brought to life by the Corgi Premiums department.
We are pleased to offer Die-cast Diaries readers the unique opportunity to win one of the magnificent Westland Lysander models pictured above, which is certainly a prize that would grace any collection of Corgi models. We actually have two models available, which are production samples of the models produced for Lysander Funds and whilst they are complete with their limited edition certificates, the certificates themselves do not have a number printed on them – if these models were not desirable enough already!
Your chance to win a Limited Edition Lysander CP36808 production sample
All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning one of these fantastic models is to head over to our Competitions Page, where you will find a simple Lysander related question for you to answer - you've got until 28th April to enter. Good luck to one and all and we will bring you details of the lucky winners in the next edition of Die-cast Diaries.
New livery for a future record breaker
Regular visitors to the Corgi website will have probably noticed an attractive recent addition to the site, in the form of a dedicated page to mark the exciting BLOODHOUND SSC project. BLOODHOUND is a fascinating project described as an International Education Initiative, focused around a 1000 mph world land speed record attempt in 2018 – this rocket powered vehicle is being designed to streak down a 12-mile desert racetrack on the Hakskeen Pan in South Africa, beating and then obliterating the current record. The challenge team will be making two visits to the desert site with their incredible vehicle, firstly to attempt to reach a speed of 800mph to capture the world land speed record for the project, before later attempting to take BLOODHOUND to an amazing speed of 1000mph.
The BLOODHOUND SSC vehicle is being constructed in the UK and involves the most accomplished minds from the worlds of aerospace and Formula 1, as they attempt to build the most complex racing car the world has ever seen. Using a jet engine from a Typhoon fighter the project was intentionally designed to be highly visible from the start, allowing members of the public to share in every detail of the design, construction and testing of the BLOODHOUND SSC - importantly, it is hoped that engaging with this project will inspire a new generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians. The rallying point for the project is the official BLOODHOUND SSC website, which includes all the very latest information and details of how schools and businesses can get involved in this fascinating record attempt.
TY81002 marks the UK Display Version of the Bloodhound SSC
The new Corgi BLOODHOUND SSC webpage really is a treat for the eyes and includes a host of images, interesting facts and figures and a project video, which helps to tell the story of this record attempt that will be big news all around the world over the coming months. It also showcases a commemorative model (TY81002) marking the UK display version of BLOODHOUND SSC, which is scheduled to be available this coming June and will be of interest to die-cast collectors and followers of this record breaking attempt. We hope to include several BLOODHOUND SSC related features in future editions of Die-cast Diaries, as we move closer towards the first record breaking attempt.
“From the Fish Pier, Scarborough - One in Attendance!” - a unique Corgi diorama
We were contacted recently by Steve Brook-Smith, who sent us details of a diorama project his father produced to mark his retirement from the North Yorkshire’s Fire and Rescue Service. With a background in modelling and art, this proved to be no ordinary Corgi fire appliance display and we had to share it with Die-cast Diaries readers – in the words of Mr Jeff Brook-Smith, here is the story of his rather personal diorama build.
Jeff’s Corgi diorama is as personal as it is spectacular
"I was born into a family of artisans in the leafy suburbs of North-west Kent. Our house was already home to my Grandfather George, a master craftsman and pattern-maker, who ran a successful business in London making full-sized models used in metal casting specialising in gear-wheels and marine-propellers. In retirement he filled a niche by repairing mainly stringed musical instruments and eventually produced an accurate copy of a beautiful Stradivarius violin, whilst his wife Hannah made a range of trinket-boxes decorated with minute coloured seashells. My father, Joe Brook-Smith, with friends such as Fred Hutchins, who made large-scale steam-powered models of traction-engines and locomotives, was something of a perfectionist. He was very unhappy with the appalling lack of detail in factory-made post-war models, and with two other like-minded friends, Doug Jones and Malcolm Cross, they formed the E.M. Gauge Society with the intention of promoting extreme accuracy in railway modelling - their chosen scale was one millimetre to one foot.
One of my earliest childhood memories was having to abandon a much looked forward to kick-about with my dad in order to visit a railway siding behind a pub in Sidcup. Having spotted some flattened cardboard boxes awaiting collection outside ‘The Jolly Farmers’ I had to wait until he returned with one of them which I had to press up against the enormous rusty coupling-hook on an old goods wagon whilst my dad drew around it with his propelling-pencil! Job done, we went straight home where the shaky outline was converted to E.M. Gauge and a week or two later the very first accurate and realistic miniature coupling-hook became available to the then growing number of true-scale modellers. Soon, the merely functional, large ugly contraptions previously used to connect one coach to another became relegated to history. Other improvements led to the formation of ‘Protofour’ and the production of several types of driving-wheels with scale flanges so fine that when not in use, locomotives had to be laid on their sides. My sister Gill also became something of an expert in producing very detailed and life-like scenery.
The latest generation of fine-scale ‘scratch-builders’ expanded so rapidly that many of the well-established major companies admitted to having ‘taken their eyes off the ball’ and for a while, were in danger of being left behind! Finally, the three pulled everything together with the formation of the ‘Scalefour Society’ and a prototype diorama was put on display for an amazed public and the unveiling ceremony was carried-out by Princess Alexandra. Their eventual achievement was recognised recently in several specialist magazines that credited them with having “Changed the face of model-making worldwide, and in a way that will never be seen again!”
After being enrolled at the City of London’s Sir John Cass’ College of Art, I studied Classical Drawing under a brilliant tutor John Bowles R.A. and later became a painter in acrylics fascinated by extreme detail and helping to promote the new style of ‘Photo-realism’. A small but significant contribution to my father’s accuracy was in explaining the theory of perspective in colour. For some time, he couldn’t understand why the red double-deckers and Green line coaches didn’t look very realistic despite having obtained two small jars of the proper paint from a London Transport garage! Thankfully, I was able to explain that looking down at the scale-models was the equivalent of seeing the ‘real thing’ from about two or three hundred yards away where to some extent, even the type of weather would have some influence on the actual shade of red or green! (It was something I’d often thought about and I was pleased that it didn’t take him long to embrace the theory.) By that time, I was also engrossed in building, altering and painting a variety of ‘war-ravaged’ Airfix kits from Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory to WW2 Tiger tanks.
Star of the show. Jeff has modelled himself as part of this enigmatic scene
After fifteen years in London as a commercial artist and manager of several of the West-End’s top advertising studios, a complete change beckoned and I moved to the seaside with my young family and joined North Yorkshire’s Fire and Rescue Service! Having enjoyed every day as a fire-fighter, upon eventual retirement my partner Janet surprised me with a special gift. It was a model fire-appliance made by Corgi and represented the new Volvo that I’d manned during my final weeks! Unfortunately, the model simply languished in its box at the back of a cupboard until one day, without a ‘project’ to occupy my time I decided to do something with it. . .
My intention was merely to ‘open’ one of the locker-doors to display some of the equipment, ‘lower’ one of the cab windows and change the number-plate to ‘my’ machine’s current registration. Simple! However, more than a year later I began to think I’d bitten off more than I could chew! I began by completely dismantling it and stripping off the paint. Then I realised that instead of the small lights on its roof, the real appliance was fitted with a full-width light-bar which would have to be made from scratch. (By then, the fifty-foot ladder didn’t look that good either!) Once I realised just how much work there was ahead I decided to create something really worthwhile and decided on a diorama with one of my favourite buildings as a backdrop, the listed building on the harbour at the entrance to the Fish Pier. To ensure accuracy, I revisited the fire station and photographed each locker and their contents and set about producing my miniature as a tribute to my dad, in 4mm-1 foot. With perspective being a subject close to my heart I decided to put one of my theories into practice, and it is this that I believe makes this model quite unique.
Jeff has incorporated an impressive level of detail in his diorama
I have always felt that the reason one can tell that a photograph of a model is a model is because the builder has completely failed to realise the importance of incorporating at least some semblance of perspective into their models. We all know that say, real buildings appear to get smaller the further away they are and yet simply overlook the fact that the same principle still applies to models! In order to appear even remotely realistic, buildings at the front of a layout must be made bigger than those at the back! I realise that making every building on a layout to the same scale might be a lot simpler and most viewers brains will simply ‘blot out’ the discrepancy in real-life, but when it comes to photographs, the brain will have to struggle a little bit harder to convince itself that what it’s looking at is ‘real’. Therefore, whilst the building in my diorama, and the figures on the balcony are in 4mm to the foot scale, the fire appliance and the fire-fighter nearest the camera are much larger. In fact, instead of measuring 23 or 24mm, the nearest figure (who incidentally represents me!), is more than twice the size at 54mm! I thought I could inject a touch of humour by depicting a greedy seagull taking advantage of some discarded chips between the front wheels whilst its partner looks down from the chimney-tops! Whilst you’ll no doubt realise that adjusting the scale in order to incorporate perspective is far from easy, I hope you’ll agree that it’s certainly worth the effort!"
Jeff, it is clear you have a real talent for this kind of work, which may lead to a rather busy modelling retirement! Thank you for allowing us to share your story with Die-cast Diaries readers, who we feel sure would like to join in wishing you a very long and happy retirement.
What’s on the desk?
AA33421 is one of the most famous aircraft to take part in the Falklands Conflict
We end this latest bumper edition of Die-cast Diaries with our now customary look at one of the latest pre-production models to have arrived on the development desk at Corgi Headquarters. At the head of this section, we always like to stress the pre-production nature of these models and whilst they illustrate the fact that these new models are progressing closer to their eventual release date, they are still pre-production sample models and we are showing them on the understanding that they may well require further alteration before they are finally released for production.
By the time this latest edition of Die-cast Diaries is published, the 35th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War will have passed and 35 years ago, a sizeable British naval Task Force would already be heading towards the South Atlantic, determined to return the Islands to British control. Unable to broker a diplomatic settlement to the escalating crisis, the South Atlantic erupted in conflict on 1st May 1982 and for the next 74 days, the two nations went to war over this fiercely contested group of Islands, whose inhabitants were determined to remain under British rule.
The amazing story of this famous Sea King has been immortalised in die-cast metal for the Aviation Archive range (AA33421) and these images of the pre-production sample model show that this highly anticipated model is advancing steadily towards its release date.
AA33421 Sea King pre-production sample model on the desk at Corgi HQ
The Royal Navy’s Sea King HC.4 ‘Junglies’ were specialist troop carrying helicopters and were synonymous with the Commandos of the Royal Marines and saw their combat introduction during the Falklands Conflict of 1982. Amongst the many roles performed by these relatively new aircraft included numerous rescue and replenishment flights and acting as decoys against the feared Argentine Exocet missile attacks.
AA33421 is one of the Aviation Archive models that will mark the 35th Anniversary of the Falklands War
We hope to bring you some very special news regarding this particular model a little later in the year, but for now, we hope that you enjoy seeing the very latest pictures from the Falklands Sea King project.
That’s all we have for you in this latest bumper edition of Die-cast Diaries, but we sincerely hope we managed to include something that was of interest to you. Please don’t forget to enter our Westland Lysander competition, as two lucky collectors will have the opportunity to own one of these extremely rare and highly desirable production sample models from this fascinating Corgi Premiums project.
Although the 21st Birthday of our Vanguards model range has not featured in this latest blog, we are planning something special for our next edition and are still looking to receive any Vanguards collector stories you care to share with us. Please do drop us a line at email@example.com with your pictures and collector stories and you may just find yourself (and your model collection) featured in a future edition of Die-cast Diaries.
By now, you will know that we are always keen to hear your views on our Die-cast Diaries blog and any ideas you may have for future model related content. There are a number of ways you can get a message to us - as well as our dedicated firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address, we also have our Die-Cast Diaries forum and our social media pages on Facebook and Twitter using #CorgiDiecastDiaries. Please do join in with all the discussions, better still why not start your own Corgi related thread?
Until the next edition of Die-cast Diaries, thank you very much for reading our latest blog and for continuing to collect Corgi die-cast models.
The Corgi Team
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