Lightning strikes 2017 range launch
We would like to welcome all our readers to this 22nd edition of our Corgi Die-cast Diaries blog and all the very latest news and release updates from the world of Corgi. Due to unforeseen circumstances this latest edition will be the first one in 2017 – thankfully, we have a feature packed edition for you to look forward to. Before we get started, could we please take a moment to thank everyone who voted in our Corgi Ultimate Top Ten poll and helped to make it such a resounding success – it turned out to be the ideal way to bring our 60th Anniversary year to a close. We received thousands of votes from Corgi collectors all over the world, each one determined to help their favourite model climb as high as it could in our ultimate top ten list. We were also sent some great collector stories and collection photographs, many of which will feature in our blog as we head through 2017 – thank you so much for taking the time to send these great Corgi stories in.
It is difficult to believe that the first month of 2017 is already behind us and our marketing teams are busy attending their first toy and model exhibitions of the year. Last week saw the Hornby Hobbies teams exhibiting at the London Toy Fair, before heading off for the Nuremberg International Toy Fair in Germany – one of the largest events of its kind in the world. With some of Britain’s best known hobby brands to our name, the Hornby Hobbies stand is always a popular destination for visitors.
Since our previous blog, we have also announced the new January – June 2017 Corgi range and will begin this latest blog by taking a closer look at some of these new models. We will also have news of another significant anniversary for a popular Corgi model range during 2017 and bring you fascinating pictures of a 1:1 scale ‘First Shots’ Avro Lancaster. We will end in time honoured fashion with our popular ‘What’s on the desk’ feature and a review of some of the latest pre-production sample models to arrive at Corgi HQ. We have a lot to fit in, so let’s make a start.
New range launched in early January
The new January to June 2017 Corgi catalogue front
As far as the die-cast collector is concerned, there is nothing quite like starting a new year than with news of a new range of Corgi models. Wednesday January 4th was the date for the January to June 2017 range to go live on the Corgi website, with retailer websites quickly following later the same day, along with the new printed catalogue being available. Although Die-cast Diaries had exclusively revealed four new 2017 models in the weeks leading up to the range launch and confirmed another which had been announced in Diecast Collector magazine, the launch of a new catalogue is always a time of great excitement within the hobby and heralds a period of feverish activity on the Corgi website. Let’s take a closer look at some of the new models announced at the beginning of January.
This evocative artwork features the latest Vickers Wellington model to join the Aviation Archive range
The ever popular Aviation Archive range benefits from the addition of 14 new models, all of which are in 1/72nd scale, except for one beautiful Great War SPAD XIII in the distinctive colours of famous Italian air ace Major Francesco Baracca (AA37907). Amongst the other new models announced, we have a trio of aircraft which mark this year’s 35th Anniversary of the Falklands War, along with James Nicolson’s VC winning Hawker Hurricane Mk.I, which will make an irresistible companion model for the camouflaged Battle of Britain 75th anniversary Eurofighter Typhoon (AA36407), which was released in 2015. We also see the welcome return of one of the most accomplished Aviation Archive toolings in the range, in the form of Vickers Wellington 1C AA34811. The Wellington first appeared in the range in 2004 and has always been a popular choice with collectors – this latest release is a beauty and features some of the most distinctive artwork applied to the nose of any WWII Bomber Command aircraft.
BBMF Dakota ‘KWICHERBICHEN’ basking in the sun at RAF Coningsby
Airshow and aviation enthusiasts will be delighted to see the inclusion of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Douglas C-47 Dakota (AA38208) in her current livery ‘KWICHERBICHEN’, which is certainly one model that has been consistently requested on collector forums in recent times. With models marking aircraft in the BBMF fleet always amongst the most popular models in any range, this Dakota will certainly continue this trend, especially as 2017 will see the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight celebrating their 60th Anniversary year.
The coming year will be a significant one in the history of the Vanguards range of classic motor vehicles as it celebrates its 21st birthday and Die-cast Diaries will be featuring a number of articles throughout 2017 to mark this auspicious occasion. The new Jan – June range includes 15 new Vanguards models, featuring such iconic vehicles as the sleek Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth and the elegant Wolseley Six – we will have more Vanguards news a little later in this blog.
Original Omnibus - when did public transport become so trendy?
Providing a splash of colour to any model collection, the Original Omnibus range may be a little smaller than in previous years, but the new models are already making quite an impact. Featuring extremely eye catching schemes, our London ‘Ride with Pride’ new Routemaster and Brighton & Hove Bus & Coach Company Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 ‘Andy Durr’ buses are both available in dual destinations and will make distinctive additions to any collection of public transport vehicles.
James Bond related models are always popular with the collector
Another major section of the new model range is our James Bond 007 collection, which features six models and coincides with this year’s 50th anniversary of the release of the film ‘You Only Live Twice', starring Sean Connery as Britain’s most famous spy. Our Ultimate Corgi Top Ten search proved that TV and Film related models are some of the most popular releases in the history of the Corgi brand, with James Bond inspired models very much at the head of this range. With models representing vehicles from the classic Aston Martin DB5 to the agile ‘Little Nellie’ Gyrocopter, James Bond fans will be pleased to see these popular models in the new range.
With model releases in the Thunderbirds, Best of British, Showcase and Super Haulers ranges, if you have yet to view the models in the new January to June 2017 range, please head for the Corgi website, where you can view them in all their die-cast glory.
English Electric surprise from Corgi
We are using this selection of Lightning F.6 images courtesy of the Lightning Preservation Group and photographer Colin Collis
For many die-cast collectors and certainly for fans of classic British aviation, the most significant news from within the new January to June 2017 model range was the unexpected announcement of a spectacular new tooling in the Aviation Archive range – a 1/48th scale English Electric Lightning F.6 (AA28401). As one of the most iconic aircraft ever produced by the British aviation industry, the Lightning has always been viewed with great affection by aviation enthusiasts and RAF personnel alike, which is why this announcement caused such a stir. The release details published in January are as follows:
AA28401 English Electric/BAC Lightning F.6 XR728/JS, RAF Binbrook Station Commander’s aircraft, liveried as Lightning Training Flight. Now preserved by the Lightning Preservation Group, Bruntingthorpe Airfield Leicestershire.
If the Supermarine Spitfire is considered to be Britain’s most famous piston engined fighter, then its direct jet powered counterpart was certainly the superlative English Electric Lightning. Representing a huge leap in aviation technology the Lightning introduced the concept of an integrated weapons system, which allowed its Ferranti radar to acquire hostile targets and feed this information to the pilot, enabling him to launch his air to air missiles with the optimum profile. It possessed incredible performance, becoming the most capable interceptor fighter in the world when first introduced in 1960 and Britain’s primary interceptor for the following two decades. Nine RAF squadrons were equipped with the type and defended UK, Near and Far East and the former West German airspace. With two Rolls Royce Avon engines stacked vertically on top of one another, the Lightning could boast speed and climb performance statistics which would eclipse most of todays fighter aircraft and was the World’s first aircraft capable of ‘supercruise’ (supersonic flight without using reheat). It was likened by pilots lucky enough to fly this aviation hot-rod as being, ‘saddled to a skyrocket’. As the only all-British built Mach 2 plus/1500mph capable fighter aircraft, this Cold War warrior occupies a unique place in aviation history and remains as one of the finest achievements of the British aviation industry. Gaining exported orders from both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the Saudi contract represented the UK’s largest export order at the time. The Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) bestowed the Lightning with its coveted Engineering Heritage Award which recognises innovation and excellence in engineering.
The Lightning Preservation Group is an organisation dedicated to preserving the Cold War legacy of the magnificent English Electric Lightning at their Bruntingthorpe Airfield site. The custodians of Lightning F.6 XR728/JS for over 29 years, the LPG team managed to keep the aircraft in ground running condition, which stands as testament to their professionalism and steadfast dedication. This aviation icon of Britain’s air defence capability during the most volatile period since the end of the Second World War was stored for many years in the open air, which is never ideal for a historic aircraft. In 1994, the group secured a genuine Cold War Quick Reaction Alert Q shed, which was formerly stationed at RAF Wattisham, where it housed a pair of Lightnings. Following a successful fund raising campaign, the newly erected Q shed was opened in 2010 and now protects Lightning XR728 and her stablemate XS904 from the elements, as well as being the focal point for many of the popular LPG enthusiast events arranged each year.
In 2017 XR728 celebrates her 50th anniversary of entering RAF service in 1967 with 23 Squadron at RAF Leuchars.
The original Corgi Lightning (F3) in 1/72nd scale was released back in 2000 and went on to become one of the most successful releases in the Aviation Archive range. With the tooling subsequently upgraded to allow production of the later F.6 version of the Lightning, the latest release in this successful series AA32315 arrived late last year and was completely sold out on release, which underlines the enduring appeal of this spectacular aircraft.
Although our new 1/48th scale tooling of the Lightning F.6 was announced just too late to make it into the printed January to June 2017 catalogue, its appearance on the Corgi website caused something of a stir and resulted in some hectic pre-ordering activity – collectors certainly do not want to miss out on this spectacular model. Without doubt, this is a significant new model for the Aviation Archive range and one that already seems to have captured the imagination of the die-cast collector. Although we are still relatively early in the development of this new model, we are very much looking forward to charting the progress of this project throughout 2017 and bringing you regular updates on what promises to be an extremely popular new tooling. Leave a space in your display cabinets, the 1/48th scale Corgi Lightning is coming! Thanks to Colin Collis and the Lightning Preservation Group for allowing us to use the images displayed above.
Viva Vanguards – 21 Years of Modelling Excellence
Since the range was first introduced in 1996, the Vanguards range has been providing collectors with high quality scale models of classic motor vehicles spanning over 50 years of motoring in Britain. In recognition of this significant anniversary for the range, Die-cast Diaries will be including a series of Vanguards related features throughout 2017, looking at the production history of these fantastic models, some of the classic releases from the past 21 years and importantly, some of the stories behind the actual cars we have modelled. We will also be inviting readers to send us pictures of their Vanguards collections and why these models bring them so much collecting pleasure. If we have produced a model of a car that you own, please get it touch so we can feature your story as part of our 21st birthday celebrations. We will bring you further details of our plans in the next edition of Die-cast Diaries, but for now, let’s take a closer look at some of the models announced in the new January to June 2017 range.
Pre-production trio - three of the new Vanguards models from the January to June 2017 range
Although we are always looking to bring you exclusive pictures of the latest models within Die-cast Diaries, this does cause our design teams some real concerns, particularly as the pre-production models we feature are still being worked on and may have some details which require changing. We know that readers love to see them, particularly as they represent such an important stage in the development of a new model release, but we do have to stress that they are pre-production sample models and not the finished model.
VA02624 is a Grasshopper Metallic Hillman Imp Mk.2 and marks one of the most appealing little cars produced by the British motoring industry. This economy car was always in competition with the Mini, but was the first mass-produced car to utilise an engine block and cylinder head cast in Aluminium. The Imp modelled here was first registered on 12th September 1972, to Mr Frank Surridge who purchased it from Rutland Hill Motors, High St, Newmarket, Suffolk. The total cost was £835.15; metallic paint was £10 and seatbelts, which were by then a legal requirement, were also £10! The delivery was £17.50 but Mr Surridge received £45.15 discount and actually paid £790 for the car. He used it regularly until he decided to give up driving on health grounds in May 1996, by which time it had covered 58,000 miles. He intended to scrap the car but luckily his son-in-law, Tony Canning, offered Mr Surridge £50 and was able to rescue it.
Tony Caning started his working life at Rutland Motors and was based there for 12 years, including his apprenticeship as a mechanic, so was able to tackle the restoration. The car was basically sound but required work on the brakes and a lower-half re-spray after the corroded wheel arches had been repaired. Since being finished this largely original family heirloom has become well known to fellow Imp Club members as Norwich-based Tony and wife Hazel take her father's old car to classic car events. At one rally, they ran into Ted Rolfe, former salesman at Rutland Motors, who remembered selling the car new. The only modifications are disc brakes to improve safety and a water expansion tank to save the notoriously weak head gasket.
VA09521 is a stunning Ford Escort Mk.1 Mexico in Electric Monza Blue. Only 10,352 Mk1 Escort Mexicos were produced at Ford's AVO plant in South Ockendon, Essex, between November 1970 and January 1975 and because their stronger 'Type 49' body shell made them suitable for competition, many were modified for racing or rallying. As a result, original unmolested 'matching numbers' Mexicos are sought after by Ford enthusiasts and their value has increased considerably over recent years. The car modelled is a rare survivor and was originally registered in Swindon in June 1972. Current owner, Colin Bailey from Crawley, bought it in 2004. He has used it regularly throughout his ownership and still greatly enjoys driving his iconic fast Ford, which is modelled as it was when new.
Colin sorted numerous issues immediately after purchase then had the Kent crossflow engine rebuilt and enlarged to 1700cc by Boss Racing Engines, who also fitted a lightened flywheel, Kent 244 camshaft and big-valve head fed by twin Weber 40DCOE carburettors. Through the forum 'Old Skool Ford', of which Colin was a founder member, he met Glen Johnson and Sean Saffin whose business 'Maximum Application' took on the thorough body restoration in 2011. They retained the original colour but used Ford Pearlescent Ice White paint instead of vinyl for the stripes, which was very time consuming! The result, however, is one of the most admired Mexicos in the classic Ford world. On first glance it looks original but on closer inspection it's stunning, and unique.
VA10208 Leyland Princess 2200HL in Sandglow. The Princess modelled can be seen on display at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, as it was used by Top Gear in an episode looking at BL cars. The team bought three cars, one each, Jeremy Clarkson driving a Rover 3500 SD1 V8, Richard Hammond piloting a Triumph Dolomite Sprint and James May in the Princess modelled. James defended the Princess, quite rightly, as the most interesting and forward looking car BL ever made, but the episode is probably most remembered for the team filling every cars interior entirely with water and attempting to drive the sealed cars around the test track while wearing dry suits; the Princess won with ease.
BL project ADO 71, universally known as the 'wedge' Princess, was originally given the product planning name 'Diablo' and started development in 1970. Stylist Harris Mann initially envisaged it as a hatchback but internal politics overruled this as the Maxi and forthcoming Rover SD1 used this body style. It was launched in 1975 under three brand names, Austin, Morris and Wolseley, as the 18-22 Series indicating one of two engines, an 1800cc 4-cylinder and a 2200cc 6-cylinder. Its initial reception with both customers and media was very promising; the car's daring styling and comfortable ride were much praised. However, within six months it had been re-launched as the 'Princess by Leyland' and strikes disrupted both quality and delivery schedules. A total of 224,942 were produced.
As this is such a significant year for the Vanguards range, we are looking forward to unlocking some of the fantastic stories behind these models throughout 2017 and encouraging Vanguards collectors to help us mark our 21st birthday celebrations in style.
What’s on the desk?
We end this latest edition of Die-cast Diaries with our now customary look at some of the latest pre-production models to have arrived on the development desk at Corgi Headquarters. Although the images we are including prove that these new models are progressing closer to their eventual release, 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.
We have several models to show you in this edition, so we will keep individual release details to a minimum, but for all the information regarding each model, please head for the Corgi website.
VA01207 Volkswagen Beetle – Coral - oval rear window saloon
VA08506 Wolseley Six in Rheingold Metallic
VA10817 Ford Capri Mk.3 1.6 Calypso in Cardinal Red & Strato Silver
GS82328 Corgi ‘Best of British’ Routemaster Bus (1:64th scale)
GS85924 Corgi ‘Best of British’ Taxi (1:36th scale)
STOP PRESS – We are pleased to announce that the Corgi events team will be attending the London Classic Car Show, which will be taking place between Thursday 23rd and Sunday 26th February. Held at London’s ExCeL exhibition centre, this motoring extravaganza will feature amongst its many highlights, a special display to mark the 70th birthday of Ferrari, a pop-up Autojumble area and some of the most desirable cars in the world. The Corgi stand will be full of interesting models and information, so if you are heading down to the show, please drop by the Corgi stand and meet the team – our stand is C190.
That’s all we have for you in this latest edition of Die-cast Diaries, but we hope it included something of interest to you. If you have any Vanguards collector stories you would like to share with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – it also goes without saying that any pictures of your collections, or favourite Vanguards models will also be gratefully received.
As always, we are 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, which we sincerely hope you enjoyed.
The Corgi Team
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