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British Phantom heads impressive new tooling collection

British Phantom heads impressive new tooling collection

Welcome to this latest edition of Corgi Die-cast Diaries and your regular look at all the news, updates and stories from the fascinating world of Corgi die-cast model collecting. Over the past three years, we have learnt that our readers like nothing more than finding our about some new Corgi models and in this latest edition, we are really going to be spoiling you. The start of a new year also brings with it the launch of a new Corgi model range and in something of a break from recent tradition, the latest collection of diecast delights covers a full year, rather than the six monthly ranges we are more accustomed to. More importantly, the range includes the announcement of several new tooling projects, an impressive new toy range and the return of a much loved range of high quality military vehicles which have been absent from the range for quite some time. Also containing many appealing new liveries to feature on popular existing model toolings, we think the 2019 range will prove to be something of a classic and will certainly leave us with plenty of interesting blog content for the coming year.

With so much new Corgi information to bring you, it is difficult to know where to start, but there is one thing for certain, our blog will not be struggling for content over the next few months. To mark the announcement of the new range, we will be focusing on some of the many highlights we have to look forward to during 2019, publishing our first selection of exclusive Diecast Diaries images along the way – as usual, our readers will be the first people to see the latest pictures from all the most eagerly anticipated diecast projects. Having said all that, there really is only one place to start and that is with the announcement of our second 1/48th scale classic British jet and one of the most exciting new Corgi tooling projects for many a year – the magnificent McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1.

Protector of the Fleet – A desktop classic

New Corgi 2019 model range McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1 on Corgi die-cast diaries blog

One of the most exciting aircraft to see British service, the McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1 made the ideal choice for our second new 1/48th scale model tooling. This image is from the first decorated pre-production sample model

As the most popular Corgi range in the current product line-up, it will probably come as no surprise that the collectors who regularly post on our social media sites and send in e-mails via our website tend to be Aviation Archive collectors. These people will have undoubtedly been delighted to see that the new 2019 Corgi range included the announcement of no fewer than three new tooling projects for Aviation Archive, including two in the larger 1/48th scale. This range received a huge boost in 2017 with the announcement of a new English Electric Lightning F.6, a model which represented one of the finest achievements in the world of die-cast model aircraft manufacture and an exciting new direction for this popular range of aircraft models, which is now entering its 21st year of existence. The Lightning has been a resounding success with collector’s and its release stimulated significant discussion regarding what would be the ideal model with which to follow up this initial release – for many, that second release was thought to be the British variant of the mighty McDonnell Douglas Phantom and we just happened to be in full agreement. Another very large aeroplane, our new Phantom will be the perfect companion release for the Lightning and will make an imposing centrepiece model for any display of aircraft models.

Although the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II was undoubtedly an exceptional aircraft, it was not initially destined for service with either the Royal Air Force or the Fleet Air Arm. The Navy were looking to replace their De Havilland Sea Vixen fleet defenders with a more capable aircraft and were expecting the indigenously designed Mach 2 V/STOL Hawker P.1127 to fill this demanding role. At the same time, the RAF were looking to replace their Canberra and Hunter Squadrons with new reconnaissance, strike and close air support aircraft. They were originally expecting the Hawker P.1154 and BAC TSR.2 to fulfil these roles, but protracted development, significant cost overruns and a period of political uncertainty resulted in the cancellation of these British aviation projects, which forced them to quickly look overseas for an acceptable alternative.

New Corgi 2019 model range McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1 on Corgi die-cast diaries blog

A photographic guided tour of our new 1/48th scale McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1. These images are from the first decorated sample from the pre-production ‘first shot’ tooling and is still subject to change

New Corgi 2019 model range McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1 on Corgi die-cast diaries blog
New Corgi 2019 model range McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1 on Corgi die-cast diaries blog

Is there a more iconic profile in aviation? Flying from the relatively small deck of HMS Ark Royal, Fleet Air Arm Phantoms must have required a special breed of airmen to operate them successfully

Frustrated by persistent procurement delays and ever spiralling costs associated with existing British designs, the Navy looked across the Atlantic at a readily available solution to their fleet defence requirement and an aircraft which was already in service with the US Navy and proving a great success. Aware of their interest, McDonnell Douglas ensured that a Phantom just happened to drop in at RNAS Yeovilton whilst on the way back from the 1961 Paris Airshow and additional aircraft were subsequently made available to the Navy to confirm how compatible the US manufactured Phantom was with existing British aircraft carriers. Impressed with the American jet fighter, the Admiralty made it clear to the Government of the day that the Phantom was now their preferred option for a new fleet defence fighter and an order for 150 aircraft was subsequently placed in 1964.

It would be accurate to say that the Royal Air Force were much less enthusiastic about the Phantom than the Navy and virtually had the aircraft thrust upon them. With the Admiralty choosing the Phantom and with the lack of a suitable British built alternative for the RAF, the Government announced that it did not make financial sense to procure different aircraft for both the Navy and the Air Force and the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom had been selected to equip both. The new British Phantoms would ultimately have a number of distinct differences from the aircraft in service with US forces, most noticeably in their choice of powerplant, which required some significant structural modifications to the airframe. Concerned about operating these mighty jets from the relatively short decks of Britain’s diminutive aircraft carriers, the Admiralty wanted their Phantoms to have the additional thrust offered by the larger and more powerful Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan engine, which was proving such a success in their Buccaneer strike aircraft. This resulted in British Phantoms requiring a re-design of the engine bays and rear fuselage, larger air intakes, auxiliary intake doors to the rear of the aircraft, larger flaps and a folding nose radome. The Navy’s Phantoms would also employ an extended nose wheel oleo, which could be extended during the catapult launch procedure, affording the aircraft a much higher angle of attack and giving the aircraft an unusually aggressive profile in the moments immediately prior to launch.

New Corgi 2019 model range McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1 on Corgi die-cast diaries blog

Rear of the year. Our new Phantom is already looking like it will be an extremely popular addition to the Aviation Archive range and the perfect companion for our classic Lightning F.6

As the heaviest and fastest fighter aircraft to serve on board Britain’s aircraft carriers, the Phantom FG.1 has gone on to become a source of fascination for aviation enthusiasts and modellers over the years and have to be considered amongst the most iconic jet aircraft of the Cold War period. Requiring the very best pilots to land these mighty aircraft on the relatively small decks of British carriers, the Phantoms of the Fleet Air Arm are thought by many to be the best looking incarnations of this classic American aircraft and for this reason, we are certain that this new Corgi 1/48th scale example will be an extremely popular addition to the Aviation Archive range.

The perfect second release

Classic Corgi Aviation Archive trio on Corgi die-cast diaries blog

Aircraft of distinction. A classic trio of 1/48th scale Aviation Archive releases, covering 50 glorious years of British fighter technology – Sopwith Camel, English Electric Lightning and Phantom FG.1. The extra size of these models not only makes for a more impressive display model, but also allows a greater appreciation of the majesty of these famous aircraft

Although the Aviation Archive range could already boast a number of existing 1/48th scale aviation releases, in the shape of our ever popular WWI range and several helicopter releases from a few years ago, the new Lightning tooling was an exciting new direction for the range and certainly caused quite a stir with aviation collectors. We were also left in no doubt whatsoever that our choice of subject was spot on for this first new tooling release, as the Lightning saw strong pre-ordering activity from the first day it was announced and was completely allocated well before its eventual release date. The second Lightning release is still available at the moment, however it will not take long before this model is also confined to the die-cast history books. Significantly, the release of the Lightning immediately stimulated discussions amongst collectors about which aircraft type should be the follow-up model and even though we had already made that decision here at Corgi, it was interesting to listen to all your suggestions – we think that we have made the right choice, particularly as it appears that many collectors appeared to agree with us.

Undoubtedly, the Phantoms of the Fleet Air Arm are some of the most interesting aircraft to see British service and a very big aeroplane to be operating from the relatively small deck of HMS Ark Royal. Images of these might jets in the colours of the Fleet Air Arm are so appealing that it is not difficult to see why the subject of aviation continues to captivate millions of enthusiasts and this latest edition to the Aviation Archive range will definitely serve as a magnificent centrepiece for any model aircraft collection. But how will the Corgi team go about immortalising this Cold War aviation classic into 1/48th die-cast and ensure it continues to advance the reputation of the Aviation Archive range? Well, in this case, they count themselves extremely fortunate to be sharing office space with the talented Airfix team, who were in a position to provide significant assistance at the front end of the project. Airfix have a massive store of research data which has been built up over the years and in the case of the British Phantom, they had recently obtained accurate scan data in support of their own recent 1/72nd scale kit release, which was only announced back in 2016. Fortunate to be allowed access to two preserved examples of the aircraft during their research, the resultant scan data was available for the Corgi team to use at the outset of their new project and even though this would certainly prove to be a big help, there was still much work to do.

Corgi English Electric Lightning F6 and McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG1 on Corgi die-cast diaries blog

A classic diecast formation. The new Corgi Phantom FG.1 makes the ideal follow up release to accompany the popular Lightning F.6 tooling and marks the British variant of one of the world’s most successful jet fighters

Corgi English Electric Lightning F6 and McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG1 on Corgi die-cast diaries blog

The existence of accurate Airfix Phantom scan data provided the Corgi team with a magnificent starting point for their latest Aviation Archive project, but unfortunately, that is where their assistance would have to end. There are some significant differences between the injection moulding and die-cast model manufacturing processes, not to mention the size difference between the two projects. The scan data would, however, allow the accurate outside shape of the Phantom to be referenced and act as a guide template for the new Corgi model. This shape could be scaled up to 1/48th scale, but the individual component design and die-cast tooling manufacturing tolerances would all have to be developed from scratch by the Corgi team. Amongst the exclusive images we are bringing you in this first blog of 2019, we have two pictures of the very first Phantom model to come from the new 1/48th scale tooling blocks, the first time these images have been published anywhere. As usual, we have to stress that these images document an early pre-production sample of the new Phantom and the team have been hard at work ensuring that this impressive model will be a stunning addition to the Aviation Archive range and something they can be rightly proud of.

New Corgi 2019 model range McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1 on Corgi die-cast diaries blog

The latest diecast treat for our readers, this pair of exclusive images show the first pre-production sample model from the new Phantom tooling and are being published for the first time. With a high metal content and the iconic Phantom shape, this is one model definitely worth looking forward to

New Corgi 2019 model range McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1 on Corgi die-cast diaries blog

The new 1/48th scale Phantom is certainly the headline model in the 2019 Aviation Archive range and we are very much looking forward to bringing you regular updates from this project throughout the year, particularly as we know many of you will have already made a little Phantom shaped space in your display cabinets, in preparation for its eventual arrival. However, in what has turned out to be an exciting year for Aviation Archive collectors, the Phantom is not the only new model tooling destined to join the range in 2019. Again in 1/48th scale, we have an extremely welcome addition to our popular WWI aircraft series with the announcement of a Fokker E.II Eindecker, an aircraft which heralded a new era of aircraft design and the true advent of aerial combat. This is joined by a handsome 1/72nd scale Bristol Beaufighter TF.X, one of the most effective maritime strike aircraft of the Second World War and a significant addition to this popular model range. We purposely wanted to focus on the Phantom in this first blog of 2019, however, you can be sure we will be bringing you all the development details from these other new models in a forthcoming edition of Die-cast Diaries, but for now, these and all the other new Aviation Archive announcements are available for closer inspection on the Corgi website.

Apollo 11 – History amongst the stars

Apollo 11 Lunar Module and Eagle Lander 50th Anniversary on Corgi die-cast diaries blog

The 2019 Corgi catalogue is packed full of fantastic new model announcements, so much so that it will take us a few editions of our blog to cover them all effectively. From appealing new liveries of existing toolings, to our fantastic new Chunkies models and the return of some old favourites, there really is something for everyone on the 2019 range. We also have some significant anniversaries to commemorate this year, which are marked by the return of some classic corgi models to the range. The 75th anniversary of D-Day will not only see the appearance of a number of Aviation Archive releases, but also a specific series of Showcase armour and the welcome (and long overdue) return of our superb 1/50th scale military vehicles. We will be devoting large sections of future blogs to the stories behind these models, so please keep checking your inbox for notification of the latest editions, or head for the community section of the Corgi website and our Diecast Diaries blog area.

Another of the significant anniversaries which will be commemorated during 2019 is the 50th anniversary of man landing on the moon, which was without doubt one of mankind’s most significant achievements to date and a source of fascination for millions of people over the years. For anyone who is old enough to remember watching the Eagle lander on the surface of the moon and the crew of Apollo 11 being the first humans to set foot on earth’s natural satellite, it is difficult to imagine any event having more impact on their lives than this – the entire world was glued to their television screens for the duration of this mission and absolutely everyone who witnessed this unbelievable triumph must have been talking about it for months. In commemoration of this historic lunar achievement, the 2019 range includes two classic spacecraft models, both of which are connected to Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the intrepid crew of Apollo 11 – the command module and the famous lunar lander. For those familiar with the space race and also those who will be studying this fascinating subject for the first time this year, these models will make for a fantastic die-cast keepsake of this year’s anniversary and will surely be sought-after items in the years to come. They will also undoubtedly rekindle an interest in the fascinating subject of space exploration and the men and technology behind it.

A quick flick through the pages of the new Corgi catalogue, or a few minutes browsing the website for new 2019 models will also reveal models linked to Harry Potter, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Vintage Glory steam engines and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in the new range, which we sincerely hope will contain some models which will be of interest to everyone.

Vanguards – A range of distinction

Exclusive 2019 Corgi Vanguards pre production models on the die-cast diaries blog

The majority of the 2019 Vanguards range on parade. This unusual image features a collection of most of the hand decorated sample models from the new range, before they head out for some important PR work 

As one of our most popular model ranges, the Vanguards series of 1/43rd scale classic motor vehicles has an established and active collector base and they will have been thrilled to hear that the range will benefit from the addition of a brand new model tooling in 2019. In fact, although we are classing this as a single new tooling project, it will allow us to introduce examples of the Jaguar XJ6, XJ12 and Daimler Double Six series of cars into the Vanguards range. This is also an exciting development for the Diecast Diaries team, as this will be the first time that we will have been in a position to feature the very early stages of product development from a Vanguards model, allowing us to bring you even more exclusive content, which will hopefully be of interest to many of our readers. Again, there is only so much information we can cram into a single edition of the blog, so this will be the lead feature in a future edition of Die-cast Diaries, as the Vanguards range continues to be a major focus of our attentions during the coming year.

New Vanguards Jaguar XJ6 tooling on the die-cast diaries blog

The new Jaguar XJ6 Series 2 Police Car will be a welcome new tooling addition to the popular Vanguards model range

The fascinating picture at the head of this section is a group shot of the majority of the 2019 Vanguards range and we are indebted to our talented company photographer David for making this happen. Each one of these models is the unique hand produced sample of the individual 2019 releases, expertly produced by our Vanguards expert in his workshop and intended as a production guide for pre-production sample model creation and for illustration purposes in the catalogue and on the Corgi website. These models will also work hard in representing the Vanguards brand during the early season preview events and on product displays at the significant Toy Fair events in London and Nuremburg. It is unusual to see all these sample models arranged together in this manner, but David felt that this would be a scoop image for our blog and we are extremely grateful that he took the opportunity to take this fantastic picture for us. Again, we do have to point out that these are sample models and do not represent the actual model releases which will eventually join the Vanguards range.

Red Arrows classic Mini Van for the Red Arrows 55th display season on Corgi Diecast Diaries Blog

As the Red Arrows embark on their historic 55th display season, this unusual Vanguards release makes an attractive tribute to arguably the world’s most famous aerobatic display team. It features the original Red Arrows team badge on the side of the van

One new model which has distinct cross-over appeal for both Vanguards and Aviation Archive collectors is this attractive Mini Van, which is presented in distinctive Red Arrows livery, as one of the few vehicles used specifically for light logistics duties in support of the world’s most famous aerobatic display team. As the Red Arrows prepare to embark on their historic 55th display season, we have an example of their famous Hawk jet, as well as this Mini Van in the 2019 range, paying our own die-cast tribute to these magnificent British flying ambassadors.

The Mini Van was used by Britain’s military forces in a huge variety of transportation roles and being economical, reliable and surprisingly capacious, it was ideal for use on large, flat RAF airfields, where its lack of ground clearance was not an issue. The vehicle presented with our new VA01427 release was used by the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team ‘The Red Arrows’ in a general transportation role during the early 1970s, when the legendary display team were based at RAF Kemble, in Gloucestershire, which was their home between 1966 and 1983. At the time this vehicle was in service, the Red Arrows were still flying the diminutive Folland Gnat, which they used from their formation in 1965 until replaced by the now famous British Aerospace Hawk in 1979. This magnificent British training aircraft has now served the Red Arrows faithfully for almost 40 years and has helped the team to enthral millions of spectators across the world.

There are lots of interesting new models in the 2019 Corgi range and if you haven’t already done so, a quick visit to the Corgi website will reveal everything model collectors have to look forward to over the coming twelve months. We will be bringing you much more detail regarding these projects in forthcoming editions of Diecast Diaries, but for this first edition of 2019, this is where we are going to leave it. Join us next month for more exclusive information about the range, including our first ever behind the scenes look at new Vanguards tooling development.


That’s another edition of Corgi Diecast Diaries done and dusted, however, we will be back as usual with more updates and exclusive Corgi model information in four weeks’ time. In the meantime, we would certainly be interested to hear your views regarding our blog, its content and if there is anything you might like us to feature in a forthcoming edition. With the release of the new 2019 catalogue, we would be particularly interested to hear what our readers think of the new range and if there is anything you would like to see included in future years. Please do be as constructive as possible and bear in mind that new diecast model tooling is incredibly expensive and we have to produce a convincing commercial argument for any suggestions we take to the powers that be.

Aviation Archive D-Day 75th Anniversary special packaging on Corgi Diecast Diaries Blog

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, several of the new 2019 Aviation Archive models will be released in this distinctive specially designed packaging

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 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 pictures of your favourite models over the coming few weeks.

Finally, we would like to thank each and every one of you for your continued support of our blog and we look forward to bringing you plenty of Corgi related news, features and updates in the months to come. The next edition of Die-cast Diaries will be published on Friday 22nd February.

The Corgi Die-cast Diaries Team

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