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Bren

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  1. Like
    Bren reacted to Datsuncog in Shite in Miniature II   
    Always good to see Dinky Dublo models – a well-intentioned, if ultimately unsuccessful, effort to compete against Matchbox. They really are very charming in their own right; a couple have passed through my hands over the years and they’re very good quality.
    But today I’ve been thinking about the time when Matchbox tried to take on Dinky… and also lost.
    I’m talking about Matchbox's tragically short-lived 'King Size Cars' range.
    I've been aware of these for a while now, but only managed to get my hands on a couple of ropey examples over the summer.
    Basically, with the Superkings range of large trucks, service and construction vehicles doing rather well at the tail end of the 1960s, it probably seemed logical to Lesney's management go after Corgi and Dinky's traditional patch of large, 1/43-ish passenger cars.


    After all, Corgi had only just freed themselves from the restrictive Woolworths/Husky deal by 1969, and were squaring up to take on Matchbox 1-75s with their expanded Corgi Juniors range, now available in toy shops worldwide.
    Dinky, now under the ownership of Lines Brothers, was also well aware of Matchbox's dominance in the small-scales market, and despite the Dublo failure of the 1950s, began overseas production of their own Mini-Dinky range in 1968 - hoping, no doubt, to snatch some market share for itself. However, chronic quality control problems and slow sales led to the enterprise being abandoned after only a year or so.
    So, perhaps feeling that their toes were in danger of being stepped on, Lesney took the fight to its rivals with a new, handsome range of high-quality 1/43 models, featuring opening doors, working suspension and steerable wheels. Product diversification for the win.
    Matchbox rolled out four brand-new King Size Car models in the 1969 catalogue - the K-21 Mercury Cougar, K-22 Mercury Commuter Police Car, K-23 Dodge Charger, and K-24 Lamborghini Miura. These four were roughly the same scale, and used the same chromed plastic wheel hubs with separate plastic tyres as the K-6 Mercedes-Benz W110 'Binz' Ambulance, introduced to the King Size range two years before, in 1967.
    Mostly though, these were scale-ups of models already in the smaller 1-75 range. The Mercury had previously been seen in smaller format as No.62, introduced in 1968...



    While a smaller Mercedes was also available as No.3 in the range, also with an opening rear loading door:




    Although, interestingly, the smaller version appeared in the 1-75 range the year after the larger King Size version made its debut.
    Similarly, the smaller version of the Muira had already been in the toy shops since 1968 as No.33, while the Mercury wagon had been introduced in both similar Police colours as No.55, and as a civvie suburban hack as No.73, the same year.

    And yet, after only two years the King Size Cars range was dropped - replaced in 1971 by the new Speed Kings range, resulting in the Commuter, the Merc Ambulance and Miura gaining plastic speed wheels, but both the Cougar and Charger castings were chopped-up to turn them into drag racers with lairy paint jobs and stickers.
    So what gives, Daddy-o?
    In a word: Mattel.
    The introduction of Hot Wheels in 1968, in a blaze of publicity, sent the market leaders - and their profits - into a tailspin. Suddenly, making finely detailed models of cars you'd see on the road wasn't enough - average customer age had already fallen during the 1960s, and the flashy, speedy Hot Wheels with their gravity-defying playtracks represented a serious threat in the fight for Little Tommy's birthday ten-bob note - or indeed, Little Hank's dollar bill.
    Foreshadowing much of how Western Europe's manufacturing was to go in coming decades, very low staff costs and tax-free import deals meant that the Hong-Kong made Hot Wheels toys cost less to make than their competitors’ diecast, while making bigger profits for their parent company. The writing was on the wall, and would stay there until the mid-1980s when the last of the 'old guard' of toymakers collapsed into insolvency. It was no accident that Matchbox and Corgi toys were all Chinese-made by the late 1980s.
    Overseas sales quickly plummeted for Lesney, where the US represented a major export market (40% of their products were sold there) - by 1969, their sales had collapsed by nearly 79% in the face of the Hot Wheels onslaught, causing Lesney's share price to tumble accordingly.
    Corgi too was left on the back foot after a devastating fire at their Swansea warehouse in January 1969 destroyed a year's worth of production, causing unfilled orders and shopkeepers casting around for other toy cars to stock their shelves. Mattel were happy to step into the breach.
    After a terrible year, Matchbox and Corgi both went all-out in 1970 to show that they too could be hip cats with fast-rolling, death-defying stunt cars in eye-popping colours - Matchbox's Superfast range landed just before Corgi's Rockets, and both were in direct competition with Mattel's product.
    Corgi had quite possibly the better product, scooping the coveted Toy Of The Year award in 1970 for its Rockets, but a nasty legal spat with Mattel over track patents led them to withdraw the entire range by the end of 1971. The cars themselves, with separate chassis and metal 'tuning keys' were also expensive, and hadn't sold as well as Mettoy had hoped.
    Matchbox, perhaps fearful of similar action, appeared to quietly modify some of their Superfast track sets, renumbering them from 1972 on, and continuing with the Superfast name and their ever-expanding custom and fantasy range. The initial Superfasts were mostly re-wheeled and re-coloured versions of their existing 1-75 range, but quickly new cars were developed - often custom or fantasy vehicles, just like Hot Wheels. Despite this makeshift approach, it seemed to work - sales of Matchbox shot back up, and the farm was saved.
    Mattel, despite being a significant disruptor in diecast toymaking circles, were quite reluctant to admit that their Hot Wheels range hadn't been quite as successful as they'd planned, either - despite crowing about their Hong Kong factory’s capability of churning out a staggering 16 million toys a month, production very quickly slowed to just 1 million pieces a month, before closing in 1973 and production moving to Malaysia.
    For all the excitement generated, track cars had been a fad, a flash in the pan, and like so many of other must-have new toys - think Furbies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Wars figures - an initial rush of sales driven by their wild and immediate popularity couldn't be sustained at the same level in the long-term.
    So where did that leave the range of Matchbox King Size cars?
    Well, initially nowhere - as Lesney struggled mightily throughout 1969 for their core product line's survival, the King Size range stood still as designers and marketing were flat-out developing the Superfast line. So the rather nice little 1/43 King Size Cars were pretty much forgotten about, puttering on unchanged into the 1970 catalogue, which heavily emphasised the Superfast range but still contained those lovely line illustrations.



    But the following year, the brand revamp expanded into their bigger-scaled range. The 1971 Matchbox catalogue not only used colour photography rather than illustrations, but it also dumped the King Size branding, splitting their bigger models into the Super Kings range – made up mostly of commercials - and the Speed Kings range, now consisting of seven models.
    This range encompassed the newly-modded K-21 Cougar and K-22 Charger: 

    And the K-23 Commuter and K-24 Miura (largely unchanged, beyond their new plastic one-piece wheels):

    ...plus a lightly retooled Mercedes Ambulance, now with much bigger rear arches to accommodate the speed wheels, and renumbered K-26.

    Added to the range was the new K-27 generic Camping Cruiser, plus the K-25 Seaburst power boat and trailer.
    The K-28 'Drag Pack' matched a plain green Commuter with the Cougar dragster on a trailer, while the Miura was (somewhat implausibly) fitted with a towbar to pull the powerboat.

    This all went hand in hand with the 'Superfastication', if you will, of the rest of the large-scale Super Kings line - for 1971, most of the former King Size models found themselves gaining bright paint, and large plastic one-piece wheels as a stop-gap process to modernise these older castings.
    So the white K-2 Scammell Heavy Wreck Truck went metallic gold; the K-10 Scammell Pipe Truck became hot pink; the K-16 Dodge Tipper went bright yellow and blue; and the K-17 Ford D-Series low loader was made over in lime green.



    Subtle, it wasn't.
    Other long-running models retained their existing paint schemes, like the K-15 Merryweather fire engine and the K-7 Shelvoke & Drury Refuse Truck, but their upright 1950s stylings looked frankly daft on the big, chunky wheels.

    A few retained their separate tyre and red hub arrangements into 1971, but in the case of the K-5 Racing Transporter, its days were numbered and it never made the transition to the Superfast era – maybe for the best, as I don’t think its lines would have suited speed wheels.

    At this stage, the design team at Lesney were busy with the next generation of Super Kings and Speed Kings - such eye-poppers as the Cambuster, Bazooka, Bandolero and Shovel Nose were in the works, sweeping away the replica dustcarts and horseboxes for what they believed kids really wanted - wild colours, cartoon proportions, and the promise of untrammelled speed.
    Naturally, I'd quite like to track down all five models from the King Size Cars range – they’re not mega rare and they do crop up now and again, with the Charger seemingly the most valuable of them. I did have a Speed Kings Commuter towcar in green, now sold on, but I’d like to find a regular wheels police version.
    The original plastic tyres are fragile and can break easily – ask me how I know. Steve Flowers can supply reproduction parts, but fitting them will require drilling the base to remove the shell, so I’m still in two minds about what to do with the Cougar and the Merc Ambulance.
    It’s hard to know whether there was ever really a future for the King Size Cars range, even if the Hot Wheels threat hadn’t reared its head – Corgi and Dinky already had a substantial chokehold over the 1/43 market, and many of the then-current cars you’d have seen on the road were already being modelled.
    The fact that three of the five were American cars may have hinted at where Lesney's sights were set with this range, but quite possibly there wouldn’t have been space in the market for yet more cars of this scale - sales of which had already peaked by the late 1960s, and would never return to the same levels again.
    And yet – the cast-in detailing of these big Lesney cars is really crisp, and in many ways better than the models being punted out by their rivals in Liverpool and Swansea.
    It’s an intriguing might-have-been; and there’s a few 1-75s from that era that I’d have loved to see blown up to 1/43 scale to join the King Size Cars range – can you imagine the MG 1100 made bigger, for example, or the VW 1600 TL fastback, or the Studebaker Wagonaire, or the Lincoln Continental...?
    Don't get me wrong, I like Matchbox across all eras and I have plenty of nostalgia for their 70s output, but I think the transformation of the "beautiful... fabulous" King Size Cars into the "kings of speed on floor or table" Speed Kings marks the point at which the demands of a younger, action-oriented customer base overtook the previous brief to produce detailed model miniatures.
    Still, we weren't completely denied a smaller-scale Dodge Charger - I wonder if the No.70 Dodge Dragster was originally conceptualised as a road car version for the 1-75 range, but ended up as a funny car?

    Either way, it was Matchbox's biggest selling model in the US, so it made a lot of kids very happy... and at the end of the day, entertainment's what it's all about, no?
  2. Like
    Bren reacted to bunglebus in Shite in Miniature II   
    While I was sorting those out, this arrived - one of the few Husky Cadillacs to have escaped the clutches of the mad collector whose hoard I shared a while ago

    Pretty sure I can locate a 4th wheel
  3. Like
    Bren reacted to Fumbler in The grumpy thread   
    I'd imagine the plug scenario to be something along the lines of the the outgoing conductors have fallen out or lost connection with the terminal for whatever reason. They can melt too which causes a horrible mess.
    EDIT- @3VOM beat me to it!
  4. Like
    Bren reacted to 3VOM in The grumpy thread   
    I suggest the kitchen is on a radial circuit and the connection in the back of the working socket or the next non-working socket is broken.
  5. Like
    Bren got a reaction from Shite Ron in The new news 24 thread   
    Much want for the cortina
  6. Like
    Bren got a reaction from Wibble in Wibble’s Wittering - Cortina & Senator ramblings   
    Love them both. The senator was the high watermark for GM.
  7. Like
    Bren got a reaction from Wibble in The new news 24 thread   
    Much want for the cortina
  8. Like
    Bren got a reaction from Cord Fourteener in The new news 24 thread   
    I bought a clay bar kit and tackled the BMW. It had not been polished since I had some paintwork done 12 months ago. I gave the wheels  a clean and dressed the tyres. The car is now 17 years old - thoughts of a change come and go as I am mindful if it developed engine problems no one would touch it - it seems many places no longer want to do anything more taxing than a service. In its favour are its excellent condition and low mileage - it's just gone over 97k 
    It is still a capable mile muncher with plenty of oomph - I would have to spend at least three times what it would sell for to get something else as capable.
  9. Like
    Bren reacted to stuboy in The new news 24 thread   
    Driver assessments for new recruits today, noticed few cars in auction.. so for your viewing pleasure..









































  10. Like
    Bren got a reaction from mercedade in The new news 24 thread   
    I bought a clay bar kit and tackled the BMW. It had not been polished since I had some paintwork done 12 months ago. I gave the wheels  a clean and dressed the tyres. The car is now 17 years old - thoughts of a change come and go as I am mindful if it developed engine problems no one would touch it - it seems many places no longer want to do anything more taxing than a service. In its favour are its excellent condition and low mileage - it's just gone over 97k 
    It is still a capable mile muncher with plenty of oomph - I would have to spend at least three times what it would sell for to get something else as capable.
  11. Like
    Bren reacted to Jazoli in The new news 24 thread   
    It looks fab, I really like these and have been waiting for a decent 530 i or d to pop up locally but they are all knackered with 200k on usually.
  12. Like
    Bren reacted to HMC in The new news 24 thread   
    Looks fantastic!
  13. Like
    Bren got a reaction from dome in The new news 24 thread   
    I bought a clay bar kit and tackled the BMW. It had not been polished since I had some paintwork done 12 months ago. I gave the wheels  a clean and dressed the tyres. The car is now 17 years old - thoughts of a change come and go as I am mindful if it developed engine problems no one would touch it - it seems many places no longer want to do anything more taxing than a service. In its favour are its excellent condition and low mileage - it's just gone over 97k 
    It is still a capable mile muncher with plenty of oomph - I would have to spend at least three times what it would sell for to get something else as capable.
  14. Like
    Bren got a reaction from BorniteIdentity in The new news 24 thread   
    I bought a clay bar kit and tackled the BMW. It had not been polished since I had some paintwork done 12 months ago. I gave the wheels  a clean and dressed the tyres. The car is now 17 years old - thoughts of a change come and go as I am mindful if it developed engine problems no one would touch it - it seems many places no longer want to do anything more taxing than a service. In its favour are its excellent condition and low mileage - it's just gone over 97k 
    It is still a capable mile muncher with plenty of oomph - I would have to spend at least three times what it would sell for to get something else as capable.
  15. Like
    Bren reacted to Jack D in Project Madonna. 1993 Range Rover 3.9 Vogue SE - Finishing touches.   
    I’ll give it a watch some day, thanks.  
     
    Right, back on topic.  The Range Rover now had a clean MOT but was cosmetically untidy.  Aside from the lack of badging the faded pillar trims were really letting it down.  
     
    They went from this nasty mess 


    To this 

     
    With the help of some satin black rattle can.  It made a massive difference to the overall appearance of the car.  
     
    In the same week it received new front and rear steel bumpers.  When everything was coming together it made it glaringly obvious that it didn’t have any correct badging left on it.  The previous owner had stuck a P38 autobiography one on it, I removed that along with the perished coach line.  New correct vinyl badging and coach line were ordered.  Still with no exhaust in this shot.  

  16. Like
    Bren got a reaction from warch in Brand new to motorbicycling - conveyance purchased   
    An unfaired bike makes more sense - you WILL drop your first bike - everybody does - you will not have to worry about broken plastic. It will also encourage maintainence and regular checks - you will not be arsing around with plastic panels.
    Sitting on a bike is not as good as a test ride - if your wrists and arse are numb after 20 minutes you need to look elsewhere. I had a GSXR750 - it was like being impaled on railings - it was so bad that long rides were avoided. No good buying something that you don't want to use.
    And I echo every other comment already made. As you were.......
  17. Like
    Bren got a reaction from privatewire in What makes you grin? Antidote to grumpy thread   
    Just watched cassetteboy's latest video on youtube. It's the only time our clown of a PM sounds coherent.
  18. Like
    Bren got a reaction from chodweaver in Return of the Rusty Justy   
    Looks as dodgy as a month old vindaloo.
    Which means you must undertake hours of cutting, welding and grinding.
    The finished item will be worth around £200.
    Crack on.....
  19. Like
    Bren got a reaction from Shite Ron in Wibble’s Wittering - Cortina & Senator ramblings   
    Love them both. The senator was the high watermark for GM.
  20. Like
    Bren reacted to danthecapriman in Project Capri. Door mirrors pg.46.   
    Famous last words wasn’t it!? I’ll get it done for this summer… yeah bollocks!
    Its not done! It’s sat exactly where I left it how I left it after the last update. Tbh I had something else come up shortly after that but since then I just couldn’t find the interest or enthusiasm to touch it, so I didn’t.
    This week’s weather is supposed to be ok though so I’m going to use it to get as much as possible done. Hopefully to break the back of it now. 
    So, I’ve picked up where I left off and continued work on the drivers door. Last time I’d assembled some bits of it, sprayed in a quick blast of cavity wax around the very bottom of the frame and left it to soak in. 
    Today I’ve attempted to finish this but as usual ran into a problem, which I’ll get to later. 
    I started by hoovering out the cobwebs and dead flies from the inside of the door, then fitting all the door lock and latch rods. I’d actually already done the rod for between the interior handle and latch mechanism but it turned out to be fitted the wrong way round so I had to re-do it. 
    With all those now in place (the rod for the interior door lock pin was an absolute cunt!) I went to fit the exterior chrome handle, which is where I ran into problem number 1.
    Basically on offering up the handle it was clear that the the locating dowels/bolt holes on the back of the handle would not line up with the holes in the door itself. There was also an issue where the lock cylinder would fit tight against the hole in the door skin. All this meant the handle would not ever fit in the door skin.
    You can see how misaligned things were here. 

     
    The cause of this, boys and girls, is because of non genuine parts. 
    Unfortunately, the drivers door skin I got for this car is a new pattern part. The door frame however is an original Ford part and you can see here the quality issue trying to line them up together. 
    The skin itself looks absolutely fine, it’s just the holes for the handle misalign with the original frame, the hole for the lock cylinder is significantly too small and as a side note, the non genuine skins don’t have any factory made holes on top for the chrome trim retaining rivets (these are easy to drill, but still…).
    The solution isn’t difficult but a bit of a pain, simply use a file to open out all the holes. After removing a little bit at a time until everything fitted as it should the next job was to protect the now bare steel edges where I’d filed it down, so a modelling brush was used to carefully touch in the edges with a couple of coats of Miami blue paint. 
    Once dry the handle could be slid in, with its new rubber seal and bolted into place.

     
    With that done I tried operating the latch and lock mechanism. Which completely failed to do anything! 
    As per the passenger side, the mechanism was just gummed up and seized from sitting unused for so long so several blasts of penetrating spray and working through saw the latch mechanism working. However, problem number 2 was the lock mechanism was having non of it! It was jammed solid and wouldn’t work from the key in the lock or the manual interior pull. 
    It actually took me hours to find what was wrong with it, which pissed me off no end. 
    Turns out that because of the trouble I had with the door skin not being aligned, this actually meant that the handle itself was now not sitting in exactly the same place as it was originally. This caused the latch handles operating rod to be sitting too high up which forced the lock mechanism interlock to become stuck! Easy to fix once you work that out though. 
    The two rods on the back of the handle have a hairpin bend in the middle of them, which I guess is how you adjust their lengths to fine tune them. In my case I needed the latch rod to be a gnat’s cock length longer, so simply putting a big flat blade of a screwdriver into the hairpin and twisting it slightly was enough to open the bend out a tad, making the rod slightly longer and allowing the mechanism interlock to work. The result? A working lock! Finally!

     
    Next up was fitting the last few sheets of the sound deadening material, as per the other door. I’ve said it before, but the difference this stuff makes is incredible. The panels feel and sound so much more solid and heavy than without it. Infact, I reckon this car will be bulletproof with all this stuff lining the panels out! It’ll certainly weigh a good deal more!
    After that I cleaned all the gunk and grease out of the mechanism and then gave the inside of the door a second, heavier coating of cavity wax to finish that off.
     
    Another job I need to sort is the fuel filler door. This is fitted but the bump stop for its closed position is missing. Turns out the bodyshop fucked up a bit! Unfortunately, not being familiar with Capri’s they’ve actually thought the metal tab that holds the rubber bump stop was a spare seam for the inside of the fuel cap area and they flatted it down and spot welded it down! So I now need to drill out their spot weld, bend the tab back up and find a rubber bung/grommet to fit as the bump stop. Shouldn’t be too hard but access is tight so I’ve ordered a right angle drill attachment to do it. Hopefully that’ll be a job for later this week.
     
     
  21. Like
    Bren reacted to Wibble in Wibble’s Wittering - Cortina & Senator ramblings   
    We’ll, after the warm welcome on the new members thread, thought I’d have a go at this…
    Fact is, both cars need work but are entirely useable and have both been out today on the fruitless hunt for E5 pez locally.

     
    I’ll add more about the Senators recommissioning work later and just add a couple more pics for now

    None of your posh 24V cow skin here mate, just blue, blue and more blue!
    Meanwhile, 15 years prior to 1992, interiors looked like this
    And you’d be following this in the outside lane
    Seems a lot of progress in a short time
  22. Like
    Bren reacted to MarvinsMom in The new news 24 thread   
    Got all 4 cones changed on Cocopop, at last. George has had a mare of a job with it, as everything has been seized solid, and then the other week he had been in and out of the garage to deal with loonies running outta fuel.

    the car is more like a monster truck instead of the low rider, that we were driving before hand.
    car is booked in now for its MOT next week. the first time in more than 2 years
    we have had the tracking done, now we have to run it for a bit, and then get the tracking done again when the suspension settles a bit.
     
  23. Like
    Bren got a reaction from LightBulbFun in The Bikeshite Thread   
    New rear pads for the busa - 
     

    Had my monies worth out of these.
    Fitted the new ones with the caliper in situ - having had a caliper bolt snap on me on my previous gixer that took an afternoons drilling and tapping to rectify I had the fear.

    New EBC ones fitted.
  24. Like
    Bren got a reaction from Stevebrookman in The new news 24 thread   
    I just started the SD1. It hasn't run for about three weeks.
    It started straight away - I may have to leave the timing at 6 BTDC as any more advance leaves the starter struggling to turn it over.
  25. Sad
    Bren got a reaction from DSdriver in Criminal Shite   
    Range rover classics were ram raiders favourites. All the everlast/ adidas/ puma would then be put in the boot of a sapphire cosworth.
    At the turn of the century criminality in Manchester liked turbo'd saabs.
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