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Remembering Corgi’s glory days 

A nostalgic post: Toys celebrates its 50th anniversary in July. A 50th anniversary mini-site is up at www.corgi50.com.
   Now part of —and a brand that it hasn’t ruined, unlike Matchbox—Corgi’s anniversary site reveals that the glory days are over. Corgi’s top 40 models, by its own reckoning, is heavily biased toward the 1950s and 1960s; the other decades are relatively sparse.
   This was a company that once innovated like crazy: with suspension, clear plastic windows, opening doors, and it still produces its most famous model, the DB5 with ejector seat.
   Financial difficulties which saw to the end of Lesney (), and itself (in 1983) meant that it changed direction toward the end of the 1980s. Corgi would appeal to the adult collector market, and that suited Mattel, which acquired it in the late 1980s, quite well.
   The company still designs excellent model cars, with production now in China, but other than London cabs, Routemaster buses and models, it’s been a long time since we saw additions to the regular line.
   It’s all very well focusing on the adult , but Corgi is at risk of losing new customers: today’s kids who will grow up to be adult collectors. Relying on us “grown-ups” means a steadily dropping customer base. Younger collectors today won’t have had the connected to the Corgi name.
   Corgi’s boss realizes this and says that 2006 will be the year where some toys will be reintroduced. The official site, however, shows some Postman Pat toys; while the brand has a new Vauxhall Astra and a Rover 75 (which I can find in New Zealand for nearly $50). There is a Mini from the Italian Job remake, but even discounted, at £7·99, it’s not exactly the pocket-money fare that will get loads of kids on board. Rover 75s are going for £5·99—bit like the real thing, they are being heavily discounted; a regular Mini goes for £4·99. Still pricey, and hardly “toys”.
   The only sign of new toys is in a Corgi Collection—of tanks, airplanes and helicopters. Hardly what Corgi was known for, nor does it connect with the adult collectibles.
   I know that Mattel has its line, which kids love; it also owns a steadily improving Matchbox. However, both brands are strictly —Matchbox has models that kids outside North America have little connection with. Corgi, once the great , still needs to get those , and it’s a cinch that kids won’t graduate from either Hot Wheels or Matchbox to it, if the are so different.
   There remains a huge market for the 1:64 scale models, served best these days by the likes of European brands such as and —who, with their present approaches, will likely retain . I realize they are less profitable, but with Mattel’s money, it could ensure future custom.

Del.icio.us tags: model cars | toy cars | Corgi | Mattel | brands | anniversary
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.

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