Tornado disbandment trio complete
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.
The previous edition of our blog headlined with the exclusive announcement of a magnificent new ex-catalogue model which is intended to serve as our final retirement release tribute to one of the RAF’s most popular post war jets - the magnificent Panavia Tornado. In bringing you this information, it appears as if we may have inadvertently worried some Aviation Archive collectors into thinking that this was actually going to be the last ever model to be released from our 1/72nd scale Tornado tooling and whilst we currently do not have any plans to include a further example in a forthcoming Aviation Archive range, we are most certainly not retiring this popular model. Although carefully worded to avoid giving this impression, we seem to have caused a little concern amongst collectors and whilst this was certainly not our intention, we do apologise for any confusion caused.
Even though the RAF Tornado was the main focus of our previous blog, we make no excuse for retuning to this subject again this time for one very good reason – we have recently received the signed sample of the third model in our high profile disbandment Tornado trilogy. For the first time, our photographer David has had the opportunity to photograph all three of these distinctive models together and as many Diecast Diaries readers will no doubt be intending to add all three models to their own collections, we wanted to give you an idea of what your Tornado model display will soon be looking like.
In addition to featuring a unique selection of Tornado images, we have the latest development images from a stunning model release which provides collectors with a scale representation of one of the most historic aircraft from the Second World War, before moving on to a model which has to be considered one of the most elaborately presented bus models we have ever produced. We stay with public transport as we bring you details of two very special models which have been produced to mark this year’s Hornby Centenary and are surely destined to become highly collectable in the years to come. Finally, we end this latest blog by bringing you exclusive images from the 2020 Military Legends in Miniature range, a collection of models which have been designed for the younger collector, yet sharing the same build quality as their 1/50th scale collectable cousins. We are going to be keeping you busy for a good few minutes, so we had better get stuck in straight away.
And the ‘Goldstar’ makes three
An exclusive first look at the final signed sample ‘Goldstars’ Tornado GR4 model which will soon be completing our trio of disbandment scheme releases
In advance of the service withdrawal of the RAF’s Panavia Tornado GR.4 strike jet at the end of March 2019 and following almost 40 glorious years of service, the final two squadrons operating the type were allowed to commemorate the occasion by presenting one each of their jets in special markings. No.IX(B) and 31 Squadrons proudly marked their association with the Tornado by applying special tail markings to one of their aircraft, which featured the silhouette of a Tonka in high speed flight configuration, with a stylised representation of the squadron’s crest on the tail. These two were joined by a third aircraft which was adorned with a wraparound camouflage scheme, similar to the very first RAF Tornados to enter squadron service back in early 1982 – this aircraft also featured the squadron crest of every RAF unit to operate the Tornado during its service life down its spine.
Following the sad withdrawal of the final RAF Tornados at the end of March 2019, last year’s Royal International Air Tattoo served as the high profile launch platform for our project to immortalise the disbandment jets, as we announced both the ‘camouflaged’ Tornado ZG752 (AA33619) and the ‘Green Bat’ ZG775 (AA33620) at the show. Although this development met with great collector acclaim, it immediately sparked heated debate as to why we had not produced the third of the iconic disbandment liveried Tornados – why only two? The simple answer is that we always intended to produce models of all three aircraft, however, we felt that announcing them all at the same time might be a little much. Thankfully, collectors didn’t have to wait too long for confirmation of the third Tornado, as this was one of the headline announcements with the launch of the 2020 Corgi model range, with ZD716 ‘Goldstars’ (AA33621) scheduled to take its place in this iconic RAF model collection trio later in the year.
Representing the latest in a long line of Diecast Diaries model exclusives, we are delighted to be in a position to bring you this series of images featuring the signed sample model of the beautiful ‘Goldstars’ Tornado, highlighting the fact that this model, which many readers will be looking forward to getting their hands on, is fast approaching release. For those of us who already have the previous two Tornado disbandment model releases in our collections, we will no doubt be desperate to get our hands on this final model and we won’t have to wait long now. Allowing us all to complete our personal modelling tributes to an aircraft which served the nation faithfully for almost forty years, let’s take a closer look at this third and final Tornado Disbandment special scheme model release.
AA33621 – Panavia Tornado GR.4 ZD716, RAF Tornado FINale, No.31 Squadron ‘Goldstars’ Special Retirement Scheme, RAF Marham, Norfolk, March 2019
A further selection of images which feature the signed sample model from the ‘Goldstars’ Tornado GR4, one 2020 model which many of our readers have been very much looking forward to seeing
Having the distinction of being one of final two RAF squadron’s to operate the Panavia Tornado, No.31 squadron were determined not to allow their long association with this exceptional aircraft go unheralded. During November 2018, Tornado GR.4 ZD716 emerged from the paint shop at RAF Marham wearing a distinctive new disbandment scheme, which marked 35 years of Tornado operations for the squadron and featured the silhouette of a Tornado on the tail of the aircraft, with the unit’s famous ‘Goldstar’ emblem placed on top of it. The black spine of the aircraft also carries the wording ‘31 Squadron Tornado 1984-2019’ and marks 35 years of Tornado operation, initially from bases in Germany, right up until the final days at RAF Marham.
The gold star, which appears on the squadron’s crest is a representation of the ‘Star of India’ and marks No.31 Squadron’s heritage as the first military unit to fly in India. Tornado ZD716 would go on to undertake a series of high profile national flypasts and official RAF events during the final months of the Tornados service career, helping to give this Cold War warrior the fitting send-off it deserved. This scale representation of the aircraft is taking its place in the Aviation Achieve range alongside the other two specially presented disbandment Tornado models (AA33619 and AA33620) released earlier this year, with the trio making a fitting diecast tribute to an aircraft which served the Royal Air Force with such distinction.
A stunning diecast tribute
With the remaining RAF Tornado squadrons pulling out all the stops to ensure they provided a suitably effective retirement for their famous charge, whilst at the same time allowing the British public one final opportunity to pay their respects to an aircraft which had served the nation so faithfully, the scene was set for a busy few months of Tornado activity. With the three commemorative jets now resplendent in their new schemes at Marham, plans were drawn up to allow the three aircraft to fly a nationwide farewell flypast tour on three consecutive days, with the aircraft overflying RAF stations and other locations associated with the Tornado during its long service career. With the routes for each leg being published in advance of these flights, RAF Marham staff were also giving enthusiasts and members of the public notice of the times and locations of where the formations would be overflying, so they could take one last look at these magnificent aircraft in the air.
Thanks to our hardworking photographer David, we are delighted to show you this group image which will no doubt be replicated in display cabinets up and down the country, following the impending release of the third ‘Goldstars’ disbandment Tornado
Although crews taking part in the flights would obviously have been hoping that a few people might turn up to view their flypasts, they could hardly have imagined the crowd numbers which would eventually line the routes on each day of their Tornado GR4 FINale flypasts. Underlining the affection in which the British public obviously held the Tornado, hundreds of thousands of people attended the published flypast venues, in addition to more who simple selected a suitable location along the route, as it seemed the nation was determined to thank this hard working and highly effective aircraft. Although it was initially intended that the three specially painted jets would perform the flypast flights on each day, serviceability issues dictated that this could not be the case – at least we got to see them.
A development which will serve to commemorate the heritage of the RAF’s Tornado force in the years to come took place on 23rd January 2019, just a few short weeks before the aircraft was scheduled to be withdrawn. An official RAF Tornado GR4 photo sortie was arranged to take place over the North Sea, featuring all three of the specially painted disbandment jets flying in formation with each other. Flying high above the clouds in clear blue skies, a series of stunning pictures and videos were taken from another Tornado flying alongside and a Voyager specially commandeered for the occasion. Those lucky enough to be on the Voyager will never forget this opportunity and the images taken during the sortie will preserve the memory of this magnificent aircraft in fine style for many years to come.
Thanks to our photographer David and following the arrival of the ‘Goldstars’ Tornado signed sample model, we can now see how our own diecast RAF Tornado display will look once this final model of the trio has been released in just a few short week’s time. Although the vast majority of us weren’t allowed on the RAF Voyager for the official photo sortie, our scale diecast displays will make for a fitting tribute to the legacy of this magnificent aeroplane – many of us will probably also be attempting to source one of the official photo sortie images to display alongside our models. The RAF No.31 Squadron ‘Goldstars’ retirement Tornado AA33621 is scheduled for release during the first half of September, so we all need to start clearing that little Tornado sized space in our display cabinets. Many hundreds of us are surely just about to attempt to recreate the GR4 retirement photo sortie, diecast style.
Happy Birthday Hornby
As the Corgi brand is now proud to be part of the Hornby Hobbies plc group, we are also pleased to be playing our own small part in what is a hugely significant year for our parent brand, their Centenary Year. Before we look at the recently announced Corgi model we are releasing to mark this auspicious occasion, let’s take a look at why Hornby has such a special place in the hearts of millions of railway enthusiasts.
Very few brand names are fortunate enough to become synonymous with the items they produce, however, like a handful of other household names, Hornby has become much more than a brand name over the past 100 years, it has actually become a byword for the love of model railways. The Hornby name is now familiar to generations of rail enthusiasts and once you have been touched by these beautiful and historic little models, they stay with you for life. This year marks the historic centenary for Hornby and we are determined to mark the occasion in some style, with specially commissioned products, media features and special website pages all dedicated to telling the Hornby story, one which continues to be written to this day.
When Frank Hornby produced ‘The Hornby Clockwork Train’ toy railway system in 1920, it was an extension of his Meccano range, a ‘Meccano model of an altogether new and delightful type’, that could be assembled and dismantled, from components which adhered to the principles of the company. New parts could be purchased and fitted by the owners, as Hornby positively encouraged customers to ‘take them all to pieces and refashion them’. Each set contained an engine and tender in one of initially three colours, one truck and a set of rails, including a circle and two straights. Back in those first days, the original set was priced at 27/6, which equated to around four day’s wages for a skilled tradesman, something like £39.95 in today’s money.
A collectable Corgi tribute to mark this centenary year for the Hornby brand, this handsome Bristol Lodekka bus is a dual destination release and features a selection of brand logos associated with Hornby trains over the years
To mark this historic anniversary for Hornby, Corgi are delighted to announce that we will be producing a rather special model this year, a ‘Hornby Centenary’ Bristol Lodekka bus, one which will be adorned with various Hornby brand logos from over the past 100 years. A dual destination release (A and B models), these models are being specifically presented to mark important stages in the history of the company, with both the number and destination boards being significant in the history of the company. CC40801A wears the number 20 and destination ‘Liverpool’, which signifies the year the first Hornby train was produced (1920), at a time when the company was based on Binns Road in Liverpool.
CC40801B features the number 64 and destination Westwood, which denotes the year (1964) when the company was purchased by Lines Bros Ltd and production was transferred to their purpose build factory site at ‘Westwood’, Margate, Kent. Historically, this famous site is still our home, something which seems rather fitting in this centenary year for the company. The model chosen to wear these centenary markings is a 1/76th scale diecast representation of an iconic Bristol Lodekka London bus, which will act like something of a model billboard for these famous brand logos. Certain to become highly collectable in the years to come, these two models are scheduled for an Autumn release, but are available to pre-order now.
It’s almost time to ‘Release the Kraken’
Our eagle eyed photographer David thought the signed sample model of the Kraken New Routemaster would look great when placed on this diorama scene, and he was spot on – it looks magnificent
Staying with the subject of our current model catalogue and 1/76th scale buses, the 2020 range is about to be graced by the release of a model which has to be considered one of the most distinctive to have ever appeared in the Original Omnibus Company range, one which is really causing a bit of a stir. When boarding a London New Routemaster bus for your journey home at the end of a busy day, you wouldn’t expect it to look as if it had just come under attack by a huge sea monster – would you be brave enough to ride the Kraken bus?
This fascinating project followed on from an incredibly successful brand presentation campaign in the Angel tube station, where advertisers created an imaginative transformation of the public access tunnels into the lair of the Kraken sea monster, in support of this brand of black spiced rum. The campaign proved so successful that it is reported that pubs and bars in the vicinity of the station reported an impressive 80% increase in sales of Kraken rum, in the weeks following the unveiling of the station makeover.
In an extension of this successful campaign, it was decided to adapt this impressive design to feature as distinctive graphics wraps applied to new Routemaster buses, with the massive tentacles of the beast appearing to crush the bus, causing the windows to smash. This visual treat was all achieved by taking advantage of the latest vehicle graphics technology and the clever use of one way vision film on the windows and five separate buses were to benefit from this eye-catching presentation. Despite the effectiveness of the appearance of the Kraken buses, the work to transform all five vehicles was completed within three days – have you taken a ride on one of these awesomely presented buses yet? Bet you don’t get a free sample of rum during your journey!
More exclusive signed sample views of the ‘Release the Kraken’ bus, surely one of the most distinctive models to have ever graced this range. Featuring both destinations produced for this dual release, would you dare to ride the Kraken?
The product descriptions on the website and in the 2020 catalogue for these two attractive models is as follows. First introduced in 1912 to connect Victoria with Leyton Green, Route 38 now runs between Victoria and Clapton Pond and is London's most frequent bus service, with a bus running every sixty seconds during the morning peak period. Originally operated from Leyton Garage, the 38 weathered the changes forced upon London's bus routes during the First World War and even retained its route numbering through both the introduction of The London Traffic Act in 1924 and the changes brought about by the London Passenger Transport Board in 1934. Between 1934 and 1968, the 38 went through a number of route changes, extensions and reductions, but it was the large scale re-organisation brought about by the opening of the Victoria Line in September 1968 that changed the face of the route, along with further cut backs in October 1969.
Run by London Forest Buses from 1989, then Leaside Buses and East London Buses during privatisation, the 38 has been operated by Arriva during the TfL period and the Hackney Central to Victoria part of the route was chosen to run the eight prototype Wrightbus New Routemasters between 27 February 2012 and 10 May 2014, when full conversion took place. LTZ 1230 (LT230) entered service with Arriva London at their Clapton Depot, operating exclusively on Route 38 from 23 June 2014 right up until 27 June 2019, when the vehicle began to operate on Route 67 (Aldgate to Wood Green). During May and June 2016 Exterion Media ran a competition to design a bus livery, which was won by Sehba Basra of Dr Triplett's CE School from over 500 entries. LTZ 1230 was selected to wear Sehba's design for six months and was unveiled at the 'Transported by Design' Festival on 3 July 2016.
A final look at the Kraken signed sample model, again positioned for a rather appealing diorama shot
LTZ 1192 (LT192) entered service with Arriva London at their Clapton Depot, operating exclusively on Route 38 from June 12th 2014 right up until the present time and has been used in several high profile advertising campaigns, notably for Adidas (twice), Monster and the Lego Store. One of the most striking advertising liveries ever to have featured on a London bus, Kraken black spiced rum’s ‘Release the Kraken’ campaign was spread across five vehicles and was inspired by a mythical tale of a cargo ship which was said to have been carrying one of the largest cargoes of black spiced rum ever brought out of the Caribbean.
Unfortunately, the ship failed to arrive at its destination and all that was found were a few barrels of the rum, which was later renamed ‘Kraken’ in recognition of the fearsomely powerful mythical beast, which was suspected of being responsible for the ship’s disappearance. Seafaring legend has it that the Kraken will not rest until it reclaims the lost barrels and takes them to its watery lair, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, as it searches the ocean for its quarry.
A dual destination (A and B) release featuring two stops on the famous 38 route, this spectacularly presented new ‘Release the Kraken’ bus is now scheduled for impending release and will be an attractive addition to the Original Omnibus range. The model images featured above are being published for the first time and show the signed sample Kraken bus, the final stage before this popular model is released for production – they will be gracing our display cabinets in the very near future.
A truly historic aircraft
Yet another exclusive product image for Diecast Diaries readers, this signed sample model shows why the new ‘Betty’s Dream’ B-25 Mitchell has proved to be one of the most popular Aviation Archive releases of recent years – it is quite simply stunning!
Our Aviation Archive range can boast the inclusion of a great many scale representations of famous aircraft throughout its 22 year history, however, a model which is just about to join its ranks must surely be considered one of the most significant from a historical perspective. The heavily armed B-25 Mitchell’s which flew Pacific strafing missions during the latter stages of the Second World War are an interesting subject in their own right, as they effectively sought out and destroyed Japanese military supply lines on land and at sea, massively reducing Japan’s ability to keep fighting. Referred to as the ‘treetop terrorists’, these aggressively flown aircraft make for a fascinating diecast project, but when you combine one of these aircraft with stunning nose artwork and its involvement in one of the most historic events of WWII, you know you have a real collectable winner on your hands.
In the latest exclusive for our blog readers, we are delighted to bring you the latest signed sample images of ‘Betty’s Dream’, one of the most anticipated model releases from the current catalogue and one which is already assured of diecast greatness. Exhaustively researched and beautifully produced, this is a truly stunning release and one we know many of our readers will be looking forward to adding to their collections.
AA35314 – North American B-25J Mitchell 44-30934 ‘Betty’s Dream’, 499th BS, 345th BG ‘Air Apaches’, Le Shima, Okinawa, August 1945
Constructed as a late model B-25J Mitchell, 44-30934 was assigned to the 499th Bombardment Squadron (‘Bats Outta Hell’) at Clark Field, Philippines, one of the squadrons which made up the 345th Bombardment Group, the famed ‘Air Apaches’. Flying dangerous, yet devastatingly effective low altitude bombing and strafing missions against Japanese targets across the Pacific, the unit earned a fearsome reputation for aggressively carrying out their missions, using heavily armed B-25 Mitchell gunships. Even though ‘Betty’s Dream’ only saw action in the Pacific Theatre for a relatively short period, the aircraft was afforded a unique and historic honour at the end of the war, in recognition of the unit’s significant contribution to eventual Allied victory.
She was one of two B-25 Mitchells sent to rendezvous with an official Japanese surrender delegation which was flying from a base in Japan and to escort the aircraft to the US airfield at Le Shima, on the island of Okinawa. The Japanese officials were flying in two G4M2 ‘Betty’ bombers, which had been hastily overpainted in a distinctive white scheme, with their national insignia replaced by green crosses, intended to avoid being shot down by US forces. Once the Japanese officials arrived at Le Shima, they were transferred to a USAF C-54 transport aircraft and flown to Manila, where representatives of the victorious Allied nations were waiting to formalise the terms of the Japanese Empire’s surrender.
Possessing huge historical importance the actual aircraft on which this model is based had the honour of meeting and escorting the Japanese surrender delegation flight in the skies above the Pacific, following the end of the Second World War. This could quite possibly be your final opportunity to reserve one of these stunning models
Earning a reputation as one of the most effective medium bombers of the Second World War, the B-25 Mitchell would also be used as a hard-hitting, low altitude attack aircraft, fighting across the South West Pacific and helping to drive the Japanese back to their home islands. Around 800 of the B-25J variant were produced specifically for this task, replacing the greenhouse nose of the bomber version with a solid nose housing eight .50 calibre machine guns and incorporating additional fuel tanks to allow long distance strike missions to be undertaken. Targeting airfields, shipping, supply dumps and troop concentrations, these extremely hazardous missions were usually flown from an inland direction, breaking away out over the sea, to give them the best chance of avoiding enemy defensive fire. With groups of two or three aircraft attacking in waves at tree top height and from different directions, strafing with up to fourteen guns each and dropping parafrag bombs as they came, being on the receiving end of an ‘Air Apache’ attack must have been a terrifying experience.
Helping to establish the fearsome reputation of these attack Mitchells, many of the 345th BG aircraft were embellished with aggressive looking nose artwork, such as the ‘Hell Bat’ featured on 1st Lt. Charles ‘Pop’ Rice Junior’s ‘Betty’s Dream’, an aircraft which would have an important escort role to perform in the days after the end of the Second World War. It was charged with escorting the Mitsubishi ‘Betty’ bomber carrying the only official copy of Japan’s surrender terms, as it headed for an airfield near Tokyo on 21st August 1945.
We don’t know about this Mitchell being ‘Betty’s Dream’, but when the crew of the Japanese ‘Betty’ bomber en route to Le Shima airfield saw the aircraft’s nose artwork, it must have been more a case of ‘Betty’s nightmare’! This beautiful model has now negotiated all the product development stages and should be available in just a few short weeks’ time – this could be your final pre-order opportunity to make sure you don’t miss out on this Aviation Archive classic.
Prepare for carpet combat!
Over the years, the Corgi model range has been famous for producing a wide variety of appealing diecast models, covering many different subject themes, from TV and Film, to Aircraft of the Aces’. Whether these models provided hours of robust playing fun or became the latest collectable addition in a display cabinet, the one constant throughout 64 years of production has been the high quality reputation of the models, something which continues to be refined as it endures to this day. When we combine Corgi models which are designed to be played with, but at the end of the day are good enough to take their place on a display shelf, then you have a range which will appeal to a great many of our younger followers.
That ‘collectable toys’ tag most certainly applies to our fantastic Military Legends in Miniature range and we are please to bring Diecast Diaries readers a first look at the new packaging design which is now a familiar sight in all good toy shops everywhere. A range of fit the box models which feature some of the most iconic military vehicles to have ever taken to the world’s battlefields, younger collectors will be delighted with the quality of these beautiful little models, which are destined to be fighting hectic carpet campaigns in the years to come.
An evocative grouping, once the day’s playing has finished, these high quality models would grace any model display shelf
The Military Legends in miniature model range is presented in smart new packaging, which gives them real presence on any retail display
These beautiful little models have been described as ‘Good things which come in small packages’ and have been designed to fulfil a rather demanding position in the Corgi range. Each model is made from the highest quality material, with a fit the box scale brief which means each model measures around 95mm in length. The quality of production extends to the authentic markings applied to each model, with the use of accurate colours, even though the size of the models can mean that other details would simply be too small to replicate. It truth though, military vehicles are usually quite light on markings, other than national insignia, which again adds to the authenticity of each model’s production.
From the young collector’s perspective, one of the interesting features of the current range is that some of the models mirror ones which appear in the premium 1/50th scale limited edition Military Legends collectors range, so it is highly likely that they could have a miniature version of their dad’s model (which must not be touched) to play with, something which may also stir the collector in them!
The images attached here illustrate these range commonality benefits perfectly and feature a representation of the same German Tiger I tank in both the Military Legends and Military Legends in Miniature ranges – a case of little and large Tigers on the prowl. Although this feature extends to several models in the current range, our Military Vehicles in Miniature range also includes a number of models which have yet to make it into the larger 1/50th scale. These subjects include the mighty King Tiger, ubiquitous Panzer IV and the diminutive M3 Stuart Light Tank, all produced to the same high standard and all allowing our younger collectors to quickly build a keenly priced model collection of their own. All the models in the 2020 Military Legends in Miniature range are available now and feature the new packaging shown above. Let the battles in miniature commence!
Looking after my little brother, the current MLiM range includes several models which replicate releases in our premium 1/50th scale Military Legends range. Here, we can clearly see why the mighty German Tiger is still regarded as the most famous tank in the world for most people
We are afraid that’s all we have for you in this latest edition of Diecast Diaries, but you can be sure we will be back as usual with more updates and exclusive Corgi content in four weeks’ time. In the meantime, we are always interested to hear from our readers, especially if you would like to suggest a subject for future inclusion in our blog.
Better still, if you would like to send us pictures of your own model collection, or details of a Corgi model release which is special to you, you may even find yourself featuring in a future edition of Diecast Diaries. As always, we would be grateful if you would address all correspondence to our usual email@example.com email address.
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 our official Facebook and Twitter social media pages, which welcome your contributions. We look forward to reading about all the latest Corgi collecting discussions and pictures of your favourite models over the coming few weeks.
Finally, we would like to thank all our readers for their continued support. We look forward to bringing you much more Corgi related news, features and updates in future editions of our blog. The next edition of Diecast Diaries is scheduled to be published on Friday 11th September.
The Corgi Die-cast Diaries Team
© Hornby Hobbies Ltd. All rights reserved.