New Year, New Tooling!
We would like to welcome all of our readers to the latest edition of our Die-cast Diaries blog, where we give you an insight into everything that is going on behind the scenes at Corgi. Most readers will now be aware that the latest Corgi January to June 2016 range was launched just before Christmas and the Corgi website now includes full details of all the recently announced new models. With something for all Corgi collectors, we will be looking much more closely at the development of some of these models over the next few months and keep you informed as they progress towards release.
If you have already managed to get your hands on one of the new Corgi January/June 2016 catalogues, you will have seen that it has been produced with a rather appealing retro feel to it. The blue and yellow scheme has been selected to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of Corgi and pays homage to some of the classic model releases over the past 60 years. The early boxes that were supplied with the models used these classic colours and the latest catalogue has been produced using this same, appealing presentation. It is clear that 2016 will be a significant year in the history of Corgi and we have some big plans for celebrating this anniversary – we will let you know more about these a little later in this blog.
New Year – New Model Announcements!
For the Corgi model collector, there is nothing like EXCLUSIVE news of a future new tooling release to get the die-cast juices flowing and that is exactly what we are going to give you in our latest blog. More than that, we are going to be sharing development information with you much earlier than we have ever done before, so that the collector can be involved at the very start of these projects and watch as they progress through the different stages, before eventually making it to release. As 2016 is the 60th Anniversary of the Corgi brand, we will not just be kicking the year off with a bang, we have an announcement of almost seismic proportions for you – we are about to unveil not one, but TWO brand new model tooling projects this week, even though the latest Corgi range has only just gone live! So, without any further ado, let’s get on with it.
New tooling announcement in 1/72nd scale
Over the years, the Corgi range has included models that will appeal to a wide variety of die-cast collectors, from the much loved Vanguards motor vehicle range, to the Showcase range for the younger collector, the Aviation Archive range has become arguably the most popular range, since it first appeared back in 1998. As the first 1/144th scale Corgi Lancasters and Dakotas were released for the aviation enthusiast, this mix of high quality model finish, combined with the appealing weight of die-cast metal, attracted a new breed of collector to the hobby and the range went from strength to strength. With the release of the first models in the larger 1/72nd scale, the Aviation Archive range had now moved into what was considered the definitive scale for aircraft modellers and collectors, with some inevitable consequences – they quickly became some of the most popular die-cast collectable models the hobby had ever seen. From that day forward, the Aviation Archive range has continued to bring the collector highly desirable model releases and an ever-expanding range of aircraft types covered.
New Tooling - 1/72nd scale Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3/4
The unmistakable shape of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 ‘Emil’
Without doubt, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 series of fighter aircraft are some of the most famous aircraft ever to take to the skies. This diminutive and highly capable aircraft was in production throughout WWII and actually made its combat debut during the Spanish Civil War – it was one of the first truly modern fighter aircraft, making its first flight before either the Spitfire, or the Hurricane. Indeed, it could be argued that the modern monoplane fighter began with the Messerschmitt Bf 109.
During the Second World War, the Bf 109 earned a fearsome reputation and was synonymous with the ruthless effectiveness of the Wehrmacht, particularly during the early years of the conflict. It was also the mount of many of the worlds most accomplished air aces and proved to be one of the most reliable and adaptable fighter aircraft ever produced. Perhaps the most significant statistics connected to the Messerschmitt Bf 109 are that it served throughout the entirety of WWII in its various incarnations and was the most heavily produced fighter aircraft in history, with 33,984 machines built. The Bf 109 is undoubtedly one of the most significant aircraft in the history of powered flight.
As the Aviation Archive range moved into 1/72nd scale aircraft models in 2000, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 was one of the first subjects to be covered and certainly the first Axis aircraft to be produced. As one of the most popular aircraft of WWII and specifically, the main Luftwaffe fighter during the Battle of Britain, there was no shortage of appealing schemes for Corgi to produce, with the collector gratefully adding them to their growing collections. There was, however, one rather high profile scheme anomaly – Bf 109E ‘Black 8’ (49204) was described in the release notes as an aircraft that had been flown by the famous Luftwaffe ace Hans Joachim Marseille, but this high profile aircraft, which was the subject of some classic 1941 colour propaganda photographs, was actually the mount of Werner Schroer. This particular release went on to be one of the most sought after releases in the early Aviation Archive range, as the Messerschmitt Bf 109E proved to be one of Corgi’s best loved toolings.
Front profile of the Messerschmitt Bf 109E fighter
Collectors will be aware that over recent years, some of the earlier ‘Classic’ Aviation Archive fighters have been updated, or to describe the situation more accurately, totally re-tooled. With the Spitfire, Hurricane and Mustang already benefitting from the very latest developments in die-cast tooling technology, the Messerschmitt Bf 109E is the latest model to be re-tooled. Without doubt, last years 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain would have been significant in encouraging Corgi to look at producing a new tooling for the Bf 109E, as this important aircraft continues to enjoy great collector interest and the original tooling was certainly beginning to show its age. As was the case with the Spitfire, Hurricane and Mustang toolings before it, these models were all popular enough to warrant the significant expense of a totally new, modern tooling upgrade.
AA2800X – the new 1/72nd scale Messerschmitt Bf 109E
CAD screenshot from the new Messerschmitt Bf 109E project
From the perspective of our Die-cast Diaries blog, the fact that we are able to exclusively announce this new Messerschmitt Bf 109E tooling is really big news for our readers. As far as the Aviation Archive range is concerned, this is the earliest that any new model tooling project has been announced to the collector and outside the company, you really are the first people to know. It also marks a significant development in the way Corgi announce their new models, as our blog readers and collectors will be finding out about these new projects much earlier in the process than would usually be the case. If this is an indication of how things are going to be done in the future, things are going to get very interesting!
The most significant reason for producing a totally new tooling for the Bf109E is clearly the fact that the new model will benefit from the very latest design and manufacturing technologies available to the Corgi team. Over the fifteen years since the original Bf 109 was released, there have been some significant developments in the die-cast model industry, which have resulted in the production of more accurate models, which include much finer detail than was previously possible. Indeed, the manufacture of the earlier Corgi Aviation Archive models will have helped to highlight areas of potential manufacturing improvement, many of which will be incorporated into future model tooling projects.
The new Messerschmitt Bf 109 has been developed using the very latest computer design technologies available to the Corgi team and as it advances through the design process, it will also benefit from further significant improvements in both tooling production and die-cast manufacturing. It will be a highly accurate and beautifully produced 1/72nd scale representation of the Luftwaffe’s most famous WWII fighter.
CAD screenshots from the new Messerschmitt Bf 109E project
Of critical importance to the success of any new model tooling project is to secure the most accurate research material you possibly can – until you have achieved this, there is absolutely no point in pursuing the project any further. The required data can be obtained in a number of ways, such as engaging the services of a LIDAR scanning company, to electronically scan every centimetre of an actual aircraft of the type you are looking to produce in die-cast. Although this will result in an extremely accurate scan of the aircraft, it may not always be possible to use such a service, particularly if the aircraft you need to scan is situated in a difficult to access location in a museum, or there simply aren’t any suitable aircraft available. In these cases, the research team will secure technical drawings, photographs, books and any number of other details, to allow them to advance the project to the next, critical stage of the process.
Converting all the gathered research data into a usable, computer design programme that the Corgi engineers can work from has to be the most interesting stage of the entire process. The raw data is loaded into a base model CAD software package, which will then allow the designers to produce a 3D data version of the information and critically, a base model file, which can be used to design and develop every aspect of the proposed new model. This is an extremely powerful tool and allows the designers to break down the information and not only check every aspect of the scale dimensions of the new model, but to individually construct each part, using their experience of the die-cast manufacturing industry to incorporate all the necessary tolerances. As you can see from the fascinating CAD screen grabs used to illustrate this feature, the software is incredibly flexible and allows designers to see a representation of the complete model at any angle they may wish to view it from, or to isolate individual sections or components for more detailed inspection.
CAD screenshot detail, showing the Bf 109’s tropical filter
As the Hornby Hobbies group includes two of the British aviation hobby greats in Airfix and Corgi, the opportunity to share ideas, information and research is extremely valuable to both brands and the new Corgi Messerschmitt Bf 109E is a fantastic illustration of this cooperation. Benefitting from the excellent research resources available at Airfix, the Corgi team were able to access the base model CAD details created by Airfix designers and used on their recent Messerschmitt Bf 109E kit, which would have been a significant help at the outset of this project. Unfortunately, that is where the help ended, as the base model will have to be developed specifically for the production of a die-cast model and there are some fundamental differences from that of an injection moulded plastic model tooling. For Airfix, the base model will have to be used to create many more individual plastic kit components, whilst the Corgi tooling will use fewer parts and usually involve more materials (multi-media) – this is probably a rather simplistic explanation of the differences, but does illustrate how the two projects need to be developed differently.
CAD screenshot from the new Messerschmitt Bf 109E project
Once the designers are happy with the accuracy of the digital files they have produced, a 3D resin stereo model will be constructed, using a high quality 3D printer – this model is basically a three dimensional representation of the digital files that have been produced and is crucial part of the new models development. Once the designers have the 3D resin stereo model in their possession, it will be checked for accuracy, assembled and checked again - if there is anything that requires attention, alterations or modifications can be made to the digital design files at this stage of the new model's development.
Clearly, this is the stage at which the new model begins to come alive and the hours of detailed work done on the computer really does start to bear fruit. This is obviously a very exciting stage of the process for everyone involved and one that we will cover in much more detail in a future edition of Die-cast Diaries – we are letting you know about the new Bf 109E so early in the process that we have yet to receive the 3D resin stereo sample model! The design team have to be completely satisfied with the accuracy of their digital files and the 3D resin stereo sample they produce, before any tool cutting work can be undertaken.
You can be assured that we will keep you fully updated as this exciting new model advances through the various stages of development. We will end by letting you know that it has been given its model number, which is AA2800X, with the first release obviously being assigned AA28001. We will bring you the scheme details for this first release as soon as we have them, but for now, the Bf 109 ‘Emil’ is on its way later this year!
New Tooling - 1:72 Curtiss B-40B Warhawk
Curtiss P-40B Warhawk operated by the Fighter Collection at Duxford
There is nothing like starting the New Year with a die-cast bang and not content with bringing you news of the new Bf 109E tooling, we have a second exclusive announcement for you – the Aviation Archive range will also be getting a 1/72nd scale Curtiss P-40B Warhawk/Tomahawk IIA. This will again be a brand new tooling and has been developed in exactly the same way we described for the Messerschmitt – you are also finding out about this model before anyone else!
Although the Curtiss P-40 is not generally regarded as one of the best fighters of WWII, it is difficult to think of a more important aircraft for both Britain and America, during the first few years of the conflict. At a time when European nations were desperate for modern, monoplane fighters, the Curtiss P-40 was arguably the best the Americans had and they allowed the French (this order was ultimately transferred to Britain) and the British to order the aircraft in large numbers. The P-40 was quick and easy to manufacture and allowed nations already in combat with Axis forces to obtain large numbers of new, modern fighters, giving them the ability to continue fighting the war on many fronts. This proved to be critical in the history of WWII and ultimately allowed Allied forces to stay in the fight, until America entered the conflict.
Line drawing of the early Allison powered P-40 Warhawk
For the British and Commonwealth Desert Air Forces, the P-40, which they christened ‘Tomahawk’, proved to be a critically important aircraft and they were the first to take the P-40 into combat during June 1941. Being rugged and reliable, the RAF P-40s were a dogged adversary for Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica units – even though many Tomahawks were lost in combat, they also took a heavy toll of Axis aircraft.
The P-40 was also used by the famous American Volunteer Group, who were better known as the ‘Flying Tigers’, in their battles against the marauding Japanese, in the months before the US entered the Second World War. As the Japanese launched their surprise attack against the US at Pearl Harbor, the P-40 Warhawk was the most capable fighter available to the USAAF, but many aircraft were destroyed on the ground during this ferocious attack. Famously, a handful of P-40s managed to get off the ground during the attack and shoot down a number of Japanese aircraft.
CAD screenshot from the new Curtiss P-40B Warhawk project
In the months following the Pearl Harbor attack and America’s declaration of war against the Axis nations, the P-40 would be extensively used in Pacific Operations against the Japanese, until it could be joined by newer fighters, such as the P-38 Lightning, P-47 Thunderbolt and the Navy’s F6 Hellcat. Although often dismissed as a fighter, the P-40 was actually a very capable aircraft and at lower altitudes, was more than a match for the Axis aircraft it was fighting against. In the Western Desert, China, the Soviet Union, the Aleutians and the Pacific Theatre, the Curtiss P-40 was quite simply irreplaceable and although it is not as enigmatic as a Spitfire, or Mustang, it is no less important an aircraft. When production ended in November 1944, the Curtiss P-40 was the third most produced American fighter of WWII, after the P-51 Mustang and P-47 Thunderbolt and takes its place as one of the most important fighters of the war.
Although the Aviation Archive range added a later mark P-40E/F Warhawk (Kittyhawk in RAF service) back in 2005, this version of the aircraft is quite different from earlier P-40 designs. Arguably, the earlier Warhawks are much more appealing to the aircraft enthusiast, as they have a very different nose profile and almost resemble a flying shark. As these aircraft were the mount of both the RAF Desert Air Force and their shark mouthed Tomahawks and the Flying Tigers of the AVG, the earlier P-40s are some of the most interesting aircraft of WWII and the announcement of this new tooling will be a fantastic addition to the Aviation Archive line up. It will also allow Corgi to release models in some of the most iconic schemes of WWII, which will certainly be of interest to the die-cast collector.
CAD screenshots from the new Curtiss P-40B Warhawk project
The new Curtiss P-40B Warhawk tooling will carry the model number AA2810X and is at the same development stage as the Messerschmitt we announced earlier, so we will not repeat the information we have detailed above. What we can tell you is that this impressive new model has also been developed using research data obtained by Airfix, with the Corgi designers taking over the base model CAD files and developing them around the specific demands of the die-cast production process. It will clearly benefit from the latest technological advances in both design and production techniques and will be a highly detailed addition to the Aviation Archive range. As one of the most requested models for new Corgi tooling production, this new P-40B model looks like being extremely popular with the die-cast aviation collector and we very much look forward to bringing you regular updates as the project progresses.
CAD screenshot from the new Curtiss P-40B Warhawk project
The interesting and appealing CAD screenshot images we have used to illustrate this feature show some of the flexibility this powerful software allows the Corgi designers, as they work to create the most accurate and detailed model they possibly can. They also show the distinctive profile of the early Curtiss P-40 and leave us excited to see the next stage of the design process.
What’s on the Desk?
Even though we have started 2016 in fine style, with the exclusive announcement of two brand new 1/72nd scale aviation new toolings we would like to end this latest edition of Die-cast Diaries with our regular look at what pre-production models have arrived on the development desk at Corgi HQ. Since the last time we reviewed the latest sample model arrivals, we have been positively inundated with new models and certainly far too many to include in this weeks blog. We will take a small selection and hope to mop up some of the remaining models in future editions of Die-cast Diaries.
AA27701 North American P-51D Mustang 44-14798 ‘Butch Baby’
Pre-production sample model of the new P-51D Mustang
The new Corgi Mustang will feature optional flap positions
We continue with the aviation theme, by first looking at this beautiful and much anticipated new tooling release of the mighty P-51D Mustang. Even though the Mustang has been part of the Aviation Archive range since 2000, this new model is a brand new tooling release, which has been developed using the very latest technologies available to the Corgi engineers. With much cleaner lines and a host of new and interesting features, this magnificent new model will allow Corgi to release versions of the Mustang that have not previously been available to the Aviation Archive collector. The Mustang has always been a popular subject with the die-cast collector and this new model will surely continue this successful legacy.
OM46310 London Transport Classic Routemaster
Pre-production sample model of the 60th anniversary Routemaster bus
Pre-production sample model of the 60th anniversary Routemaster bus
Corgi are commemorating their 60th anniversary year by producing a series of specifically selected models which will be presented in distinctive blue and yellow anniversary packaging and will be made available at extremely attractive prices. Some of these models have already started to appear in pre-production form and we thought you might like to see one of them.
The Routemaster bus was designed and built in London by AEC and Park Royal Vehicles and were specifically constructed for London Transport use. Although conventional in appearance, the design was technically sophisticated, featuring innovative construction techniques, braking systems and semi-automatic transmission. Featured on tourist souvenirs at outlets all around London, the traditional red Routemaster is one of the most famous images of Britain’s capital and perhaps one of the most iconic public transport vehicles in the world.
This handsome model is currently scheduled for release during April 2016 and will be a fantastic way to mark Corgi’s 60th anniversary.
VA06310 Morris Marina 1.8 TC ‘Jubilee’ Citron
The ever popular Vanguards model range continues to present the collector with high quality classic motor vehicles, which were, or are regular sights on Britain’s roads. Due for release during June 2016, this Morris Marina will bring back happy memories for many vehicle enthusiasts.
VA06310 Morris Marina pre-production sample model
Morris Motors was founded in Cowley, Oxford, in 1913 when bicycle manufacturer William Morris launched his first car, the Oxford 'Bullnose'. In order to celebrate their Diamond Jubilee, Morris produced a special edition Marina 1.8 TC 4-door costing £1,500, which was £362 more than a standard TC. One was supplied to every BL dealer in the UK for the M registration of 1st August 1973. All were in a new colour, 'Citron' and featured a black vinyl-roof, black door-mirrors, dual-layer black pinstripe, navy blue cloth seats, Sundym glass, front fog lights, citron-trimmed grille, side repeaters and 'Jubilee' wing badges. The Marina Owners Club believes only 5 roadworthy examples of the 2000 produced remain.
The 'Jubilee' modelled here is owned by Sussex-based enthusiast Paul Viney who restored it over a 3 year period ending in 2010. He was inspired to do this because, when he was a child his Uncle, Keith Best, had bought a new Marina Jubilee in 1973 and Paul had loved it. He was subsequently given his Uncle's car as a surprise present on his 16th birthday and after some work, put it on the road on his 17th. He passed his test 4 months later and, sadly, wrote it off after only 11 days. Twenty years later Paul decided to find and restore a Marina Jubilee and his immaculate current car, which has the Leyland Special Tuning steering wheel from the original, is the result.
VA06310 Morris Marina pre-production sample model
We will have more new pre-production model images for you in the next edition of Die-cast Diaries.
New Year competition winner
In the previous edition of Die-cast Diaries, we ran a competition for our readers, with the offer of a £100 giftcard to be spent on the Corgi website up for grabs. We were looking for the best suggestion for a future Die-cast Diaries topic and we really did receive some crackers – it is clear that we have some extremely knowledgeable and committed collectors within our ranks and we are extremely grateful for the excellent suggestions you sent us. We will certainly be looking to incorporate several of these suggestions in future blogs, but we had to choose one winner and that winner is …. Mr Ray Parnaby. Ray suggested that we cover the deregulation of bus services in Britain and some of the interesting model liveries that Corgi have produced since this development, almost 30 years ago. Thanks for your entry Ray and we will be in touch shortly regarding your prize – to everyone who took the time to enter, thank you so much for your valuable input.
That’s it for the latest edition of our regular Corgi blog. We are really pleased to have been able to bring you this exclusive new tooling information and hope that it will not be too long before we can bring you further announcements. It is clear that 2016 will be a big year for Corgi, as we celebrate our 60th anniversary and it would be great if Die-cast Diaries readers could share their Corgi stories with us and let us know which models have a special place in your heart. We will have more details on what we are looking to achieve in our next blog, but we now have a new e-mail address to allow collectors to contact us directly and send your pictures and stories. If you do have anything that you would like to share, email us directly at Die-cast Diaries and you may see your photos or memories on the website later this year.
As always, we are keen to hear your views on our Die-cast Diaries blog and any ideas you may have for future subject matter – you may even want to offer us an article to feature in a future edition. As well as our new e-mail address , we also have our dedicated Die-Cast Diaries forum, or you may prefer to contact us through Facebook or Twitter using #CorgiDiecastDiaries.
Until the next edition of Die-cast Diaries, we really hope that you continue to enjoy your die-cast model collecting!
The Corgi Team
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