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Workings of a Corgi Sunderland

Workings of a Corgi Sunderland

We would like to welcome all our readers to this 32nd edition of Die-cast Diaries and your regular look at the fascinating world of Corgi model collecting. The recent addition of snow flurries on the Corgi website header banner illustrates just how close we are to the festive season and in this latest edition of our Corgi blog, we will take a look at some of the die-cast delights which may be lurking in your stocking or under your tree in just a few week’s time. We will also be taking a fascinating look inside the magnificent 1/72nd scale Short Sunderland from the Aviation Archive range, to see what it takes to produce one of the most impressive models in the die-cast hobby. Certain to be of interest to many Die-cast Diaries readers, we have the FINAL update from our highly-anticipated 1/48th scale Lightning F.6 new tooling, including an exclusive box artwork reveal and a series of images which have never previously been published, charting the pre-production progress of this beautiful new model. As we come towards the end of this 21st Anniversary year of the Vanguards range, we feature the latest instalment in our Vanguards 21 series, where this time we look at a project that required a certain amount of manufacturing dexterity to produce a distinctive version of one of British TVs most iconic comedy vehicles. We also put Vanguards collectors on standby for a spectacular competition to be launched in the next edition of Die-cast Diaries, with the prospect of a truly unique model prize for our lucky winner, something no self-respecting Vanguards collector would want to miss. We have a lot to get through, so we had better make a start.


A flying home from home


Evocative box artwork featured on the latest Short Sunderland release AA27503


Although the cultured shape of R.J Mitchell’s classic Supermarine Spitfire will always be regarded as Britain’s most famous aircraft design of WWII, perhaps the most impressive machines were the mighty Sunderland Flying Boats of the Royal Air Force. Operated by crews from all over the Commonwealth, these majestic aircraft would engage in lengthy ocean patrols, attempting to keep Britain’s sea lanes clear, searching for marauding U-boats and rescuing downed airmen, in what was a particularly hostile environment. Despite its size, the Sunderland was more than capable of looking after itself should it attract the attention of enemy aircraft and was nicknamed ‘The Flying Porcupine’ by Luftwaffe crews who quickly learned the capabilities of this magnificent aircraft.

Taking its lineage from the beautiful pre-war Short S.23 Empire flying boats that provided Blue Riband transport to the British Commonwealth nations and were the pride of the Imperial Airways fleet, the Sunderland was designed from the outset as a long-range military patrol aircraft and its cavernous hull was bristling with a multitude of offensive and defensive weaponry. As these patrols could last up to thirteen hours in length, the hull of the Sunderland also acted as a second home for the crew and afforded them a few home comforts during sorties, such as a fully equipped galley, beds and even shaving facilities. It also had a number of hatches which could be used to fire a machine gun through, in the event of enemy aircraft attack and further ensuring RAF Sunderland’s were treated with the utmost respect.


Corgi Short Sunderland AA27502 shown in fully assembled state


Unfortunately for an aircraft of this pedigree, most aviation enthusiasts will not have had the opportunity to see one of these magnificent aircraft breaking the water and climbing majestically into the air to begin its latest patrol and we can only imagine how spectacular a sight this must have been. As one of the most successful military flying boats in the history of flight the Short Sunderland helped to win the Battle of the Atlantic and ensure Britain continued to receive the commodities of war, also seeing service in the Mediterranean and Far Eastern theatres. Following the end of WWII, Sunderland’s went on to serve during the Berlin Airlift and throughout the Korean War.


An Aviation Archive classic

As one of the most impressive models in the Aviation Archive range, our 1/72nd scale Short Sunderland has proved popular with die-cast collectors and is a fitting tribute to the men who flew and fought in these distinctive aircraft during WWII. It also beautifully marks one of Britain’s largest aircraft of the Second World War and is a triumph for the Corgi designers who produced this magnificent model. As one of the most accomplished models in the history of die-cast aviation collecting, the Corgi Sunderland is undoubtedly the centrepiece of many an aircraft collection and we are pleased to bring you this fascinating image which shows the second release in this series AA27502 in breakdown component configuration.


A fascinating images showing the component parts of the 1/72nd scale Corgi Short Sunderland


Regular die-cast Diaries readers will probably recall that we showed a similar de-construction image of our new 1/72nd scale Messerschmitt Bf 109E in edition 18 of our blog, but this Sunderland image is altogether a more impressive beast and clearly illustrates just how much work goes in to producing these magnificent models. Featuring a heavy metal content, the Sunderland model requires quite a significant man hour count to produce, paint, assemble and finish all these component parts and this fascinating image helps to give an understanding of the work that goes in to producing such an impressive piece of die-cast. If we ever needed reassurance as to why we are so attached to these models, surely this picture provides the answer.

In this 80th anniversary year of the first flight of the mighty Short Sunderland Flying Boat, it is interesting to see that this old aviation warhorse is still of great interest to modellers and die-cast collectors alike, earning an enviable reputation as one of the most interesting aircraft to see service during the Second World War. As the Aviation Archive range continues to immortalise classic aircraft in our growing die-cast model collection, the Sunderland certainly stands as one of the most impressive toolings yet produced and a faithful representation of this distinctive aircraft. If you have yet to sample the delights of the 1/72nd scale Corgi Sunderland, please head for the Corgi website for details of the two models still available, or ask your usual model supplier for details. We would like to thank our hard working Corgi photographers for producing this magnificent image, which will surely be of interest to a great many die-cast collectors around the world and is the latest Die-cast Diaries exclusive image.


Final Corgi 1/48th scale Lightning update


Stunning box artwork that will accompany the release of AA28401


Throughout 2017, Die-cast Diaries has been charting the progress of one of the most exciting new tooling projects to grace the Aviation Archive range for many a year – our spectacular new 1/48th scale English Electric Lightning F.6 AA28401. Exclusively announced to our readers in the first blog published in 2017 (Edition 22), this fantastic model was so new that it did not even appear in the January – June 2017 range catalogue, which was produced with a ‘Lightning Flyer’ included to inform everyone about the existence of this model. Although the announcement of the new Lightning was made much earlier in the development process than is usually the case with an Aviation Archive new tooling, this was such a significant project for Corgi and a spectacular new direction for the Aviation Archive range that we decided that we simply had to share the excitement. The response from collectors was nothing short of astounding and it appears that the passage of time has done nothing to diminish the appeal and affection in which this iconic British fighter jet is held. With the January 2018 release date of our new 1/48th scale Lightning fast approaching, this will be our final update on the project before these beautiful new models begin appearing on display shelves all over the world.


A view of how this impressive model will look on the shelves of your favourite model store (if they have any left)


In yet another exclusive announcement for Die-cast Diaries readers, we are pleased to bring you the exciting news that the new Lightning release will benefit from the specially produced artwork featured above, which is a break from tradition with regular Aviation Archive releases and underlines the significance of this new model. Although the Aviation Archive range has previously included 1/48th scale models, such as our impressive WWI aircraft series and a trio of earlier Bell helicopters, the Lightning represents an exciting new direction for the range, bringing one of Britain’s most famous post war jet aircraft to collectors, in a scale which befits an aircraft of this pedigree. For Aviation Archive collectors, the iconic shape of the English Electric Lightning was always a popular subject in 1/72nd scale, but in this larger representation, it is in a different league of die-cast splendour - it is quite magnificent.

Although this striking, specially commissioned artwork will feature on the packaging of our first 1/48th scale Lightning release, it has to be pointed out that this is not an indication of a change across the Aviation Archive range, but simply a decision to do something a little special with this extremely high profile new model release and one which has definitely captured the imagination of die-cast collectors everywhere. With unprecedented ordering activity and huge interest shown in this project, we are very much looking forward to the arrival of our new Lightning and this significant addition to the Aviation Archive range - we don’t have long to wait now! The final few remaining Lightning F.6 models can be pre-ordered on the Corgi website now and this may be a good opportunity to check the status of your order with your usual model supplier ahead of release. It is almost Lightning time folks.


The first time this picture has been seen by an expectant Aviation Archive world


We thought it would be a good idea to end this exciting few months of Corgi Lightning news and updates by bringing you a series of images showing the various test and pre-production models that have graced the Corgi offices over the past few months, in support of this fantastic project. Each one of these models has an important part to play in the production of this significant new model and we have to say that each one has come in for plenty of attention around the office, as they really do look spectacular and demand your attention. Models featured in the images are the original ‘First Shots’ model, which represents the first time that the new mould has been used to produce parts for the Lightning, the first sprayed sample, the first fully decorated sample and the latest pre-production model. Although it is exciting for any die-cast collector to see these models, it still has to be stressed that each one is still a pre-production sample model and each one has been used ensure the accuracy of the final production release. Indeed most, if not all of these models exhibit a certain amount of damage due to the constant handling they are subjected to, a fact which is clearly evident if you look at the state of the various pitot tubes.


A selection of images showing the various pre-production sample models used during the Lightning development programme




All four Lightning models pictured together for the first time – looking good!


Produced exclusively for the enjoyment of Die-cast Diaries readers, we are once again indebted to our model loving company photographer, who not only managed to round up these models from various places around the office, but also made them presentable for viewing and produced these fascinating pictures. We know that David’s work will be appreciated – enjoy.


‘What’s not to like, Rodney?’



In the latest instalment of our Vanguards 21 series, we will be taking a break from the serious business of charting the history of the brand to feature an iconic vehicle which became something of a household celebrity in its own right, especially when it was represented as a die-cast model release. We will be looking at a project that came off the back of a hugely successful initial model release and how the modelling mind of a Vanguards legend created a truly ‘Cushty’ model release.

As far as classic British TV comedy series are concerned, Only Fools and Horses stands as one of the most popular, regularly posting viewing figures which could only be dreamed of by some of today’s offerings. Indeed, the 1996 Christmas Special attracted over 24 million viewers and is one of the most watched programmes in British TV history. The series followed the fortunes of Del Boy and Rodney Trotter as they struggled to make ends meet, wheeling and dealing at the local Peckham Market or wherever they could make a few quid. Always managing to get into a scrape or two, the hilarious antics of these lovable rogues became an instant success with TV audiences and something of a TV broadcasting institution.


Body shell of the famous Trotter Reliant Regal Supervan lll from ‘Only Fools and Horses’


As you may well imagine, characters of such pedigree needed a mode of transport which befitted their lofty social status, which is where their uniquely sign-written Reliant Regal Supervan lll three-wheeler came in, which without doubt became one of the most famous vehicles to appear on a British TV programme. Always carrying a scrap of paper stating, ‘Tax in post’ where the actual tax disk should be, this little yellow van was a constant companion in helping the pair secure their latest money-making enterprise and transporting them to their latest comedic scrape.

Whilst producing these Vanguards 21 features, we have been fortunate to be able to call upon the recollections and expertise of Vanguards supremo Mark Pinnigar, who has been involved in producing these much-loved little models from the day’s back at the Lledo factory in Enfield. As well as astounding us with his knowledge and passion for the subject, he also has many a modelling tale to tell which really do help to bring the hobby of die-cast model production to life and leave you understanding that these are much more than just metal cars. One such story involved the production of the classic Only Fools and Horses Reliant Regal Supervan of Trotters Independent Trading Co and we thought we would share this with you now.

Mark describes how life at the old Lledo factory was really exciting for a young man fascinated by motor vehicles and helping to establish this new range of collectable die-cast model vehicles. At the time, it really did seem as if everything they tried became a huge success with collectors desperate to get their hands on these models and everyone at the factory was encouraged to suggest ideas for future releases – no idea was a bad idea. As everything was produced at the same factory, the regular production meetings would include representatives from every department in the building, from the foundry to marketing and from sales to packing, with everyone encouraged to contribute. One such meeting came after the incredibly successful release of the first Only Fools and Horses Reliant Regal van, of which several thousand were produced and lovingly snapped up by die-cast collectors and fans of the show. At this particular meeting, it was suggested that they consider making a dirty version of the Trotter’s van, as it was depicted in many of the shows episodes and whilst accepted as a great idea, there were problems. A number of senior people felt that it would not be possible to dirty, or distress the models on a large scale production run and they certainly could not print finish the model, but our Mr Pinnigar thought otherwise – the felt he could come up with a process that would produce the desired effect, even though it may require the assistance of several of his colleagues. Mark was invited to see what he could come up with and report back.


Mark demonstrates the process he used to obtain the desired effect on the dirty version of the model





At his workstation, Mark began to gather up any painted body shells of the original Trotter’s van release and tried a number of different processes in an attempt to achieve the effect he was looking for. At first, the results were a little disappointing, especially when considering the process would have to be carried out on several thousand models, but he soon had the answer. Using some brown paint and a foam sponge, he applied the paint to the already (yellow) painted and dry body shell of the Reliant Supervan, before removing most of it by dragging a cloth over the surface of the model. It worked – the finish was exactly what he was looking for and it was an excellent representation of the vehicle seen in the popular TV show. Mark showed his process during the next production meeting and it was decided that they would proceed with the production of the new dirty model.

Obviously, Mark was delighted with this development, but it did present him with a new dilemma – he had to train some of his colleagues on how to achieve the required finish and they would have to produce thousands of dirty Trotter vans. It will also not be lost on readers that this process, however successful, would result in the production of thousands of unique, totally individual models and it was quite possible that no two models would be exactly the same. This certainly added to the charm of this particular release and was very much in keeping with the spirt of ‘Only Fools and Horses’ - as the yellow Reliant Regal Supervan lll began to roll off the production line, the grimers set to work.


When applied correctly, the effect was really effective and just what Mark was looking for


This picture shows just how different individual models could be using this process


The dirty Trotter’s van proved to be a huge success and in the end, 14,860 models were produced, each one finished by hand and different to any other in the production run. It was marketed as being decorated by hand, making each model unique, which is testament to Mark’s original idea and the dexterity of his Lledo colleagues. The model was sold as a ‘direct sale’ item, marketed mainly through adverts placed in newspapers and magazines and Mark recalls that demand for the model was so high that staff from all departments of the factory were needed to help pack the models in time for Christmas. It would be interesting to see how many workbench readers have this model in their collection and if they knew just how unique their example was – quite possibly one of a kind.


It’s amazing what you can achieve with a pot of paint and a bit of imagination


Lovely Jubbly! Practice attempts placed next to one of the production models


On a recent visit to Mark’s offices, he kindly gave us a demonstration of how he perfected the paint dirtying process for this model, using some of the blank model body shells he just happened to have lying around. In the pictures above, you can see a number of attempts compared with one of the original production models and it is clear to see how each one looks really effective as a stand-alone model, but can look completely different to other models in the run. Once again, we are indebted to Mark for his help and support in producing this latest Vanguards feature and we look forward to bringing you more Vanguards content in future editions of Die-cast Diaries.


A unique prize to commemorate Vanguards 21

Although we are not quite ready to reveal all the details just yet, we are advising all Vanguards collectors to check the next edition of Die-cast Diaries for news of an exciting model competition. We have been working on something very special to mark this significant anniversary year for the Vanguards range and we think we have come up with something that every Vanguards collector would want to get their hands on. As we have been talking about the unique nature of the dirty Trotter’s Supervan, Mark has agreed to produce something that is truly unique in the Vanguards range, something that has never been done before and is unlikely to be done again. Our lucky prize winner will be the proud owner of the only version of this model in the world and will instantly have one of the most collectable die-cast model vehicles in existence. Based on our popular Ford Escort Mk.II tooling, the model will be an RS Mexico with a host of different and unique features, hand produced by Mark Pinnigar himself. We will bring you full details of the model and how you can enter our competition in the next edition of Die-cast Diaries, so be sure to check edition 33 when it goes live on Friday 15th December.


Two of the latest releases in the Vanguards model range


That’s all we have for you in this latest feature packed edition of Die-cast Diaries, which we hope included something of interest to you. If you would like to suggest a die-cast modelling subject to be covered in a future edition of our blog, or send us pictures of your own Corgi model collection, please contact us via our usual diecastdiaries@corgi.co.uk e-mail address.

If social media is more your style, we also have our Die-Cast Diaries forum as well as our popular Facebook and Twitter accounts – please use the #CorgiDiecastDiaries when posting. We look forward to enjoying all the latest Corgi discussions.

Thank you very much for your continued support and happy collecting. The next edition of Die-cast Diaries will be published on Friday 15th December.

The Corgi Die-cast Diaries Team


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