Corgi tanks rumble back for 50th blog edition
Welcome to this latest edition of Corgi Diecast Diaries and your regular look at all the news, updates and stories from the fascinating world of Corgi die-cast model collecting. We are celebrating a significant blog landmark with the publication of this latest edition – 50 blogs and still going strong. With our very first edition going live back in summer of 2015, we have endeavoured to bring Corgi collectors more news, information and features than they had ever had access to before, featuring the development of new Corgi models from much earlier in this process than they had previously been used to. With hundreds of exclusive images and product announcements already behind us, we hope you think this has been a success. Never content to rest on our laurels, we are always looking for more exclusives, as well as more blog readers and we would like to thank everyone who takes the time to share our links with friends and acquaintances, as well as those more technically minded readers who use social media to grow the Corgi Diecast Diaries family – thank you to one and all. We are very much looking forward to continuing this work in the next 50 editions and although we are always on the lookout for content we think our readers will find interesting, we would also love to hear your thoughts on the previous 50 editions and what you might like to see featured in the next – please drop us a quick line at firstname.lastname@example.org where we would be delighted to hear your views.
So, what do we have lined up for this special 50th edition of our blog? We continue our look at the 2019 model range by featuring the welcome return of our 1/50th scale Military Vehicle range, which represent some of the most impressive models of their kind in the history of diecast model collecting, before moving on to take a closer look at the latest release incarnation of a famous flying car, which will certainly meet with the scale approval of one Mr Caractacus Potts. We look at how the Aviation Archive range intends to commemorate this year’s 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings and in a development which will be of interest to all Corgi model collectors, we have a spectacular selection of unique ‘signed sample’ models up for grabs in our 50th edition competition. Another bumper edition awaits, so let’s make a start straight away.
The Panther which became a Cuckoo
Making a welcome return to the Corgi model range in 2019, our 1/50th scale Military Vehicle range includes some of the most iconic fighting vehicles from the Second World War and representing machines operated by both the Allied and Axis forces (and in some cases, used by both)
Collector’s inspecting the contents of the 2019 Corgi model range will have no doubt been pleased to note the welcome return of the 1/50th scale Military Vehicle range, a high quality series of models which had seemingly fallen out of favour over recent years and specifically following Corgi’s acquisition by Hornby. A range of popular diecast military vehicles have been in the Corgi range since the 1970’s, however, these first models were definitely intended to be played with and featured such appealing features as rolling tracks, traversing turrets and spring loaded main guns, which fired plastic shells, to the delight of their owners, but probably causing a bit of a nightmare for manufacturers in today’s health and safety conscious world. Whilst perhaps not adding to the authenticity of the models themselves, these working features certainly endeared the models to youngsters everywhere and formed the basis of many a carpet conflict across the country, during our formative years.
As the Corgi model range continued to expend in the early 2000s, collectors were presented with a completely new range of high quality, highly detailed military vehicle models in the relatively large 1/50th scale, which possessed huge appeal for both new and existing model collectors. Also proving to be of interest to wargamers, these beautiful new models were described as a collection of historically accurate die cast military vehicles from the Second World War and included such iconic vehicles as the mighty German Panther, American Sherman and British Churchill tanks. In this 75th anniversary year of the D-Day landings, the long overdue return of these magnificent models will be of interest to a great many collectors, however, their inclusion in the range is an interesting story all in itself and posed some significant challenges for the Corgi development team. With a number of iconic WWII military vehicles in the range, the individual tooling blocks for each model had to be located and assessed for production viability, before they were in a position to be included in any return announcement. Indeed, this proved to be such a challenging process that its very inclusion in the range was in some doubt right up until the publication date of the new Corgi catalogue, which has used generic descriptions and product representations for all the proposed releases. These details were always going to be for representative purposes only and subject to quite significant change, however, this was always going to have to be the case, if we wanted to include the models in the 2019 range – thankfully, that is exactly what happened.
This exclusive ‘First Shots’ Tiger I casting was captured on a visit to a manufacturing plant back in 2003, as these fantastic new models were just about to hit model stores in the UK
Featuring such iconic fighting vehicles as the fearsome German Tiger and the A4 Sherman, which was made available to Allied units in such vast numbers, the initial return range includes eight models from this series, marking some of the most famous and numerous fighting vehicles from the Second World War. Interestingly, collector’s who already have a copy of the 2019 catalogue in their possession will note that every one of the sample images used to illustrate the military vehicles section are now different to the hand decorated sample model images featured on the Corgi website – a little piece of diecast ephemera which is destined to become the subject of some discussion in the years to come and another reason to look after your copy of the latest Corgi catalogue. Although this may appear a little strange at first, it simply underlines our determination to include these popular models in this years range and its commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings.
One of the earlier Sd.Kfz.171 Panzerkampfwagen V Panther medium tank releases in the 1/50th scale Military Vehicle range, showing why these proved to be an instant success with collectors
Collectors who are fortunate enough to have a copy of the first Corgi Military Vehicle range catalogue will notice that it features a German Panther tank on its front cover and this tooling will once again be taking a prominent position in the forthcoming release range. Although perhaps not as infamous as the feared Tiger Tank, the Sd.Kfz.171 Panzerkampfwagen V Panther medium tank was intended as both a replacement for the earlier Panzer III and IV designs, as well as to counter the effectiveness of the Soviet T-34 which had proved so problematic on the Eastern Front. Required to be more mobile than the heavier Tiger and able to operate in conditions where heavier tanks would find it difficult, the Panther was initially plagued by a multitude of technical inefficiencies, typical of a new weapon whose design was regularly altered during its development and was subsequently rushed into service, however, later variants were regarded as perhaps the most formidable tank of the war and one which earned the respect of its Allied opponents. The Panther was used extensively in the Normandy area of France, both prior to the D-Day invasion and in the frenetic battles which followed, with the tank helping to lead the German resistance to Allied advances and the spearhead of many armoured counter attacks. As an extremely effective enemy tank, the main aim of Allied units both on the ground and in the air was to destroy these mighty vehicles as quickly as possible and certainly before they could rampage through their own lines, unleashing their destructive potential, however, there are just a small number of fascinating stories concerning Panthers which fell into Allied hands and were pressed into service with their new owners. One such tank has been immortalised in diecast metal for the re-launch of this fantastic range and will no doubt be of huge interest to collectors.
A fascinating wartime image of British troops running passed a knocked out Panther tank, during the battles which raged in Normandy, following the D-Day landings
During the Battle of Normandy in 1944, many of the actions involving Wehrmacht Panther units occurred during engagements with British and Canadian forces, particularly in fighting around the town of Caen, where the Panther acquitted itself extremely well, taking a heavy toll of Allied armour and earning the respect of its opponents. The use of weapons captured from enemy units was far more commonplace during WWII than you might think and whilst this was often restricted to small arms and ammunition, it sometimes involved much larger equipment. In the case of operating an enemy tank, this could be both a technological challenge and extremely dangerous for its adoptive crew, as friendly units had learned to fear the very profile of these mighty vehicles and the mere sight of their silhouette could have rounds hurtling in their direction from twitchy trigger fingers, irrespective of any distinctive insignia applied to highlight its new ownership. In the case of a feared Panther tank, was this a clandestine attempt by the enemy to infiltrate Allied units, or had it indeed been captured and pressed into Allied service – in either case, could they afford to take that chance?
Although a hated adversary, the German Panther tank was certainly admired by its Allied opponents and consequently, the opportunity to capture and inspect an intact example was highly prized. During the Battle of Overloon in the Autumn of 1944, a group of men from the 4th Battalion, 6th Coldstream Guards Tank Brigade managed to stumble across a Panther tank hidden in a barn in the combat zone. Its owners were the 2nd Battalion Panzer Brigade 107 and they had presumably concealed the tank due to a mechanical malfunction, intending to return and recover the Panther once there was a lull in the fighting. The British thought that this would make an ideal, if slightly unusual addition to their fighting inventory and set about repairing the vehicle, using parts recovered from destroyed German tanks in the near vicinity and without too much trouble, returned the Panther to operational status. Assigned to the 4th Battalion Coldstream Guards Staff Section, their former adversary took its place amongst their more usual Churchill tanks, after being repainted in an olive drab finish and further embellished with a large white Allied star on both sides of its turret – hopefully, this would be enough to prevent its destruction by other Allied units. It was also required to continue the tradition of naming HQ tanks after birds, with other tanks carrying the names Vulture and Eagle on their turrets – bearing in mind the ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ nature of its intended use, it was decided that the name ‘Cuckoo’ would be appropriate.
This magnificent image shows a captured Panther tank, possibly Cuckoo, in action for the Allies against German forces, in the weeks following the D-Day landings
A ‘Panther in sheep’s clothing’ – the story behind this captured German Panther tank will undoubtedly make this one of the most popular releases in the Corgi Military Vehicle range. Cuckoo is presented as she would have appeared during actions in the winter of 1944/45
In British service, this particular Panther acquitted itself well in over three months of almost continuous operations, impressing its new owners with both its manoeuvrability and overall combat effectiveness – its high quality sighting equipment proved to be particularly capable. During actions to take the castle stronghold at Geijsteren in late November 1944, the Panther was used to great effect in dislodging its stubborn defenders, by accurately directing shells through the open windows of the castle and pummelling the defenders within. With the subsequent taking of the stronghold later that same day, the irony of the situation cannot have been lost on the combatants, as this German tank was used to ensure victory over its former owners.
‘Cuckoo’ went on to fight during Operations Blackcock and Veritable, where it continued to acquit itself extremely well in the harsh winter forest conditions, whilst its new Churchill fighting comrades were finding the going much tougher. Ultimately thought, the forests of the Reichswald would mark the final actions of this British Panther, as an unrepairable fuel pump failure saw the unit’s Churchill tanks pressing on into Germany without their illustrious armoured captive. This fascinating story from the final months of the Second World War clearly illustrates why so many people are still captivated by wartime subject matter and will undoubtedly ensure that Britain’s captured Panther ‘Cuckoo’ will be a popular addition to the Corgi model range. We hope to bring you more details from the new military vehicle range throughout the year, as we head towards each model’s respective release dates.
Renaissance of a Corgi Classic
The return of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to the 2019 Corgi range is much more than just the re-release of a much loved classic diecast model and tells a story of determination to restore this magnificent model to its former glory – (pre-production model image)
One of the best loved models in the history of the Corgi model range has taken its place in the new 2019 range and as it is already looking like being one of the most popular releases of the year, we need to spend a little time explaining why this is much more than simply a re-issued model. The beloved musical ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ is an adventure packed with songs, humour and invention, whilst also featuring one of the most famous cars ever seen on the silver screen. The movie is loosely based on the 1964 novel by Ian Fleming with the screen adaptation written by iconic children’s author Roald Dahl and directed by Ken Hughes.
Rebuilt by inventor Caractacus Potts, the car becomes capable of flight as well as zipping around on water like a hovercraft. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang takes on a sentient life of its own throughout the film and features a tangible personality thanks to the distinctive engine noise that gives the car its name. Caractacus Potts, Jeremy Potts, Jemima Potts and Truly Scrumptious are all ready to take to the air for another adventure in this die-cast metal and plastic version of the iconic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, featuring moving spring-loaded opening wings!
Chitty at the double. These two sample images were used at the very early stages of this project and do not feature many of the improvements incorporated on the restored version. They were used for catalogue imagery and will make an interesting footnote to the story behind the 2019 model range
The box description which will accompany this release certainly provides some indication as to why this colourful flying car occupies such a prominent place in the hearts of many people, but from a diecast collecting perspective, still only really tells half the story of its return to the range. Over the years, this tooling has been used for several high profile releases of this famous car, but for economic reasons in the days prior to the acquisition of the tooling bank by Hornby in 2008, the Chitty tooling had been downgraded somewhat, allowing the model to be produced to stricter budget constraints. These changes saw some incarnations released without the spring loaded mechanism for the main wings, the colourful sails at the front and rear of the car and even three of the figures being removed, just leaving a rather forlorn looking Caractacus Potts sitting on his own. For this latest release, the development team wanted to produce a model which was as film friendly as possible and a faithful representation of this much loved car, allowing long standing collectors and fans of the film to have a beautifully accurate model of a vehicle which means so much to them and hopefully allowing a new generation of collectors to marvel at this unusual mode of airborne transportation.
As you may well suspect, trying to rectify the actions taken over ten years ago and under different management was not without its problems, and a full tooling inventory check had to be undertaken, recovering all available assets and ensuring all these original parts could still be used to make an authentic representation of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’. Once this work had confirmed that we could indeed return Chitty to her former glory, the next step was to ensure the iconic sail colours, vehicle detail and character figures were all represented as accurately as possible. The rubberised figure moulds were prepared for use and samples sent to HQ – our multi-talented photographer David took the responsibility of taking the figures home over the weekend and hand painting them for use in the sample model, which was used to illustrate the catalogue for range launch. Interestingly, the pictures featured above show the hand decorated sample model and still features the manually operated main wings and a distinct lack of front and rear sails – the actual production model will be very different to this.
Ready for take-off. Although this is still a pre-production sample model, it does incorporate all the work put in by our development team in helping to return this casting to its former glory and producing a representation of this much-loved car which is as faithful to the film as possible
Succeeding in adding value to this iconic Corgi release and producing a faithful representation of one of our most popular diecast models, CC03502 will see the welcome return of many classic features which made this one of our best loved models. The clumsy manually opening wings have been replaced by the spring loaded deployment of the much-loved original, operated by pushing the handbrake at the side of old Caractacus Potts and the front and rear sails have also made a welcome return. The second set of product images feature the latest pre-production sample models and feature all these updated details the team have worked so hard to incorporate, once again showing the continual development work required on many of our models, which in some cases can continue almost until the eve of their eventual release. With the actual production release destined to be much more accurate and feature packed than the product picture used to illustrate the model in the current range catalogue, this latest release is set to reaffirm the status of this famous model in the history of the Corgi brand, as one of our most popular releases, a development which is underlined by the fact that this is currently the most heavily pre-ordered model of the new 2019 range by some margin. It appears that where classic Corgi models are concerned, the enduring popularity of these diecast treasures shows no sign of waning and with this latest incarnation recreating the glory days of this famous tooling, ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ will once again prove to be the perfect combination of much-loved film and classic diecast model release – a heady combination indeed. CC03502 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is currently scheduled to arrive in all good model stores in June and is available for pre-order on the Corgi website now.
D-Day - OK, we'll go!
This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings and the 2019 Aviation Archive range includes a selection of models commemorating this significant period of WWII. This C-47A is described as the aircraft which led D-Day and is destined to play a significant role in the commemorations 75 years after its historic flight back in 1944
Following months of meticulous preparation, strategic air strikes and clandestine diversionary actions, a massive Allied airborne and amphibious force stood ready across southern Britain, poised to mount the largest operation of its kind the world had ever seen and with it, the long awaited assault on Fortress Europe. As tens of thousands of men climbed onto ships at ports on the south coast of England, they knew that what lay ahead of them was the most heavily defended coastline in the world, manned by battle hardened troops who had been training for months to repel an invasion force. At their side was the largest combined land, sea and air operation the world had ever seen, with over 150,000 troops standing ready to launch the long anticipated Allied invasion of Northern France and the liberation of occupied Europe. The scene was set for the most crucial battle of the Second World War and a day which would be fought by heroes who had placed trust in their military planners and faith in their god.
Despite all this preparation, there was one thing the planners were not able to influence, the weather. Originally planned for 5th June, the initial assault was postponed due to cloudy skies, heavy seas and unfavourable tides, however meteorologists were predicting that even worse weather was due in the days to come. A full bad weather delay would not only cause a logistic nightmare, but may remove the Allies meticulously worked element of surprise and allow German defenders time to discover their actual invasion intentions and better prepare their defence strategy. A full postponement would result in a delay of at least two weeks before conditions were once again at their optimum for an amphibious assault and although they clearly would not have known this at the time, may have resulted in a very different outcome. Despite this less than optimistic outlook and worsening weather conditions, Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D Eisenhower was given a window of opportunity by his specialist advisers, a slight lull in the conditions. In what must have been an incredibly tense meeting with all his planners and advisers, Eisenhower assessed the information he was being given and the responsibility he had in his hands, before calmly saying, “OK, we’ll go!” The invasion was on – D-Day, 6th June 1944.
Each of the D-Day model releases will be presented in specially designed commemorative packaging and will be supplied with a limited edition certificate
The 2019 Aviation Archive range contains many highlights, not least of which is the fact that it can boast more new tooling projects over the next twelve months than it has done for many a year. Despite this encouraging development, perhaps the most poignant collection of models in this year’s range are the five releases specifically produced to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, four Allied and one Axis aircraft. With each model released in specially designed commemorative packaging, we have selected aircraft which all played significant roles around the time of the landings, with the Allied aircraft all featuring the distinctive black and white identifications markings which are now so famously linked with air operations in support of Operation Overlord. With fighter, strike, reconnaissance and paratrooper delivery aircraft all represented, these handsome models will make a fine collection by themselves and certainly help to tell the story of one of the most significant air operations of the Second World War. The range includes the aircraft which was described as the one which launched D-Day itself, Douglas C-47A Skytrain ‘That’s All Brother’ and one which has been restored to airworthy condition and will be playing a prominent role in this summer’s Daks over Normandy commemorations. We think this is such an important model not only in our D-Day 75th Anniversary collection, but also in the entire Aviation Archive range, that we will be devoting a full section to this model in the next edition of Diecast Diaries, so please keep an eye out for that. For this latest blog, we are going to take a look at another aircraft type which proved significant around the time of D-Day and one which flew thousands of dangerous sorties, attempting to ensure that German forces could not rush armoured reinforcements to combat areas in Normandy, potentially stalling any Allied advances.
AA36512 – Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB MN625/MR-B, RAF No.245 (Northern Rhodesian) Squadron, Homesley South Airfield, Hampshire, June 1944.
If the Douglas C-47 Skytrain is considered the most famous multi engined aircraft of the D-Day aerial operations, then the single engined equivalent must be the fearsome Hawker Typhoon. Agile and extremely heavily armed, the Typhoon was to see plenty of action during the summer of 1944, either attacking strategic targets in the weeks prior to invasion, such as German radar sites or providing invaluable close air support to ground units breaking out from the landing beachheads. With forward air controllers installed with ground units throughout Normandy, RAF Typhoons were ready to respond to any request for aerial support, with aircraft not already engaged in strike missions holding off the coast of Northern France, ready to be called into action. These missions proved to be incredibly hazardous for Typhoon crews, not so much down to the attention of Luftwaffe fighters, but from the murderous anti-aircraft fire hurled in their direction from seemingly every German gun in the Normandy region. Indeed, in the weeks following the D-Day landings, more than 500 Hawker Typhoons had been lost, less than 10% of which were attributed to enemy fighter attack. Flying at high speed and at extremely low level, the opinion shared by Typhoon crews was that you had not experienced real combat flying until you had spent time on a Typhoon squadron.
Intended as the high performance successor to the Hawker Hurricane fighter of Battle of Britain fame, the Typhoon was forced to endure a long and troubled development, which would eventually see the aircraft considered unsuitable for the interceptor role and almost brought about the cancellation of the entire project. Thankfully, a few influential people had the foresight to see through these problems and championed the many qualities of this rugged aircraft, which would go on to earn a fearsome reputation above the battlefields of Normandy. With a seemingly endless supply of these heavily armed fighter bombers at their disposal, German ground units feared the swarming Typhoons squadrons of the RAF more than any other aircraft, knowing that clear skies would bring bombs, rockets and cannon fire upon them, should they be caught in open ground. In fact, there were many reports of German tank crews abandoning their vehicles and running for cover during the battles of Normandy, if they spotted Typhoons in the clear skies above, fearful of what might be coming their way. Research conducted after the war showed that actual success rates for Typhoon rocket attacks were extremely low, however, the psychological impact of the Hawker Typhoon appeared to be much more effective on German ground units than its actual combat successes. Nevertheless, RAF Typhoon operations kept German forces pinned down in the weeks following D-Day and prevented any concerted and coordinated large scale German response to the invasion, allowing the beachheads to be consolidated.
An exclusive Diecast Diaries view of the decoration guide artwork produced in support of the forthcoming RAF Homesley South D-Day Typhoon release
As shown in the current Corgi catalogue, each of the D-Day 75th Anniversary Aviation Archive releases will be presented in specially designed commemorative packaging, with each one coming with its own limited edition collector’s certificate. Hawker Typhoon AA36512 is scheduled for an April release, so should be resplendent in many a display cabinet before the anniversary itself.
Spectacular 50th edition competition
With all this talk of exciting new models, we almost forgot that we have some responsibilities to carry out in this landmark edition of our Diecast Diaries blog, namely to provide one lucky reader with the opportunity to win an impressive collection of desirable and unique Corgi collectables. Our fantastic Assistant Brand Manager, Emily, has been on the lookout for suitable competition prizes for some time now and has managed to secure a handsome collection of models, the like of which have never been offered in any Corgi competition before. With a selection of signed sample models from across the Corgi ranges, this is one competition no self-respecting Corgi collector would want to miss, especially as many of the prize models will be unique additions to your collection.
The impressive collection of unique Corgi models which await the lucky winner of our spectacular 50th edition competition
For the Aviation Archive collector, we have the sell out RAF 100 Chinook (AA34214 in signed sample form), which proved to be one of the most popular releases of 2018 and a fitting way to mark the Centenary of the Royal Air Force and for the bus collector, we have both the A and B releases of the Brighton Pride bus (OM46515A/B), both signed samples. Vanguards collectors will be pleased to see Ford Escort Mk.1 (VA09523) available as a signed sample and VA10712 MGB Roadster Mk.III joining it as a production sample, as part of the prize haul, but there is more to come. All Corgi collectors would be interested in owning the signed sample of our James Bond Aston Martin DB10 from Spectre (CC08002), along with the Bloodhound SSC (TY81002) which is also in hugely collectable signed sample format – we are pleased to see that this exciting project is now back on track and hopefully destined to capture the world land speed record. At this point, it is probably a good time to explain what a signed sample model actually is – a pre-production sample model which represents the final stage of a model’s development, if the Corgi development team are happy with what they see on closely inspecting the sample, they sign it off. The model itself will then usually benefit from the addition of a unique sticker, complete with the signature of the development manager.
The models offered here are in our view, the most impressive collection of unique Corgi models ever offered as a competition prize and will certainly provide our lucky winner with a significant boost to their collection and several models that only they will have – real Corgi collecting kudos. We do have to stress that the models offered here are mainly signed sample editions, which have played a significant role in the development of their individual releases. They have been used and inspected by our development team, often passing through the hands of several of our professionals, before they receive their important signed status and as such, may be subject to a little box damage. This will not be significant, but as these are working samples, they may not be as pristine as the production releases they triggered – they will, however, be delightfully unique and hugely collectable.
So, now for your chance of winning our 50th blog edition competition. Simply head over to our Corgi Competitions Page, where you will find all the relevant details you may need, along with the all important blog related question for you to answer. We will announce the lucky winner in a forthcoming edition of Die-cast Diaries and wish everyone who enters the very best of luck. We know that this is going to receive plenty of entries, but you know what they say, you have to be in it to win it – you never know, it may just be you. Good luck.
We are afraid that is it for another edition of Corgi Diecast Diaries, however, you can rest assured that 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.
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@example.com, 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 social media accounts. We look forward to reading all your latest Corgi collecting discussions and pictures of your favourite models over the coming 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 March.
The Corgi Die-cast Diaries Team
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