Corgi Toys were introduced in 1956 to compete with Dinky, which had become complacent on the British Market. Corgi were advertised as the “the ones with the windows” having a small plastic window insert making them look more like their full size counterparts than their Dinky counterparts (Dinky introduced windows in 1958). Corgi were named after the Queen’s favourite dog breed, the parent company Mettoy also had a factory in Wales (Corgi dogs being Welsh). Corgi like Matchbox, remind me of my childhood and the hours of fun I had driving these cars around the carpet. Here are some of my collection. The Porsche Carrera 6 and Lamborghini Miura come from around 1970, manufactured in Great Britain. I found the Porsche at Drybridge Market here in Tbilisi and I bought the Lamborghini on E-bay, when I lived in UK. The base of the Porsche showing its manufacture in “Gt Britain”. The Ford Cortina Mk1 and Audi Quattro are more recent models “Designed in England” but “Made in China.”
My two favourite Corgis in my collection are: a Ghia 6.4L and a Renault 16TS. The Ghia is my most expensive model to date (it cost me £25 knocked down from £30), the Renault, I bought for 20 lari here in Tbilisi at Drybridge market. Both have a number of features which made Corgi Toys so popular. The Ghia has four opening parts, tip up seats, jewelled headlights, detailed engine, suspension and even a dog lying on the back parcel shelf. The Renault was a revolutionary car, featuring a hatchback and front wheel drive, now these are common but then they were innovative. The model has a dial on the base to tip up the seats and also has opening bonnet and hatchback. Corgi also produced smaller models to compete with Matchbox and Hot Wheels, these were known as Corgi Juniors or Corgi Rockets.
I have two of the smaller models both found in Tbilisi. A Mercedes “Binz” Ambulance, painted by a previous owner, a “Royal Mail” Land Rover and a “Royal Mail” Bedford Van . Corgi’s most successful manufacturing period was between 1965 and 1968 coinciding with the introduction of many film and television related models. James Bond’s Aston Martin and the Batmobile were hugely successful. The only TV tie in model among my Corgis is a more recent model: Gene Hunt’s Audi Quattro from the “Ashes to Ashes” TV Programme. In the 1980s Corgi moved away from the mass production of Children’s toys to concentrate on the Adult Collector’s Market. They continue to produce interesting models today (like the Quattro) buying into the nostalgic buzz middle aged men like me get when we see cars similar to those we played with as children. It is slightly ironic that part of the success of Corgi, was the robust indestructibility of the cars, but today many of those cars which survived will not venture beyond a display cabinet.