Tom & Jerry by Corgi

Mike Pigott looks at the many models made by Corgi of the famous cartoon cat and mouse duo and their pals over the years.165The cat and mouse duo Tom & Jerry was created in 1939 by the now-legendary team of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. As domestic animals, they were unlikely subjects for a range of diecast vehicles, but they were modelled by Corgi on a number of occasions, spanning three decades.

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Siku Super Classic Fire Engines

Mike Pigott examines the 1/50 scale ‘Super Classic’ fire engines made by German company Siku.

Mercedes Zetros

The Siku range from Germany has traditionally been made to a uniform scale of 1/55. The miniature cars and large truck models have always been in this scale, although many of the trucks and other vehicles in the Matchbox-sized Super Series were to ‘fit the box’ scale. Siku has consistently made very high-quality diecast products, which are probably closer to being toys than fine-scale models. The oddball scale of 1/55 and the abundance of moving parts meant that Siku not really compatible with fine scale models, and tend to be aimed at the juvenile market.

However, in recent years, Siku has begun manufacturing models in more standardised scales. There have been a range of tractors and agricultural vehicles in 1/32 scale, plus trucks, tractors and construction equipment in 1/50 and 1/87 scales.

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Johnny Lightning Commemoratives: Series 2

In the second part of our series on the Johnny Lightning Commemorative Series, Mike Pigott looks at the reissued classics produced in 1995.

Custom Thunderbird

Johnny Lightning was a brand of diecast cars produced from 1969 to 1971 by Topper Toys of New Jersey. The models were largely knock-offs of Mattel’s Hot Wheels range, but were quite popular until the Topper company was shut down due to financial problems in 1971.

In 1994, the Johnny Lightning brand was reintroduced by Playing Mantis Toys, and eight of the original models were re-cast and sold in facsimile original packaging called the Commemorative Series. These reproductions of almost-forgotten vintage diecasts proved remarkably popular with diecast collectors, and the following year a second collection of Commemoratives was released.

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Summer Toys Fire Engines

Mike Pigott takes a look at a fairly unoriginal range of diecast miniature fire engines made by budget manufacturer Summer.

Aerial Ladder Fire Truck

 During the 1970s, a number of far-Eastern toy companies entered the diecast market to compete with the extremely popular Matchbox and Hot Wheels ranges. Some of the best known of these were Universal Toys, Zylmex, Playart, Yat Ming, Tintoys and Welly. While some of these companies made reasonably competent models, others were of extremely dubious quality and finish. Some were notorious for copying the leading manufacturers, and churned out inferior copies of toys produced by the likes of Matchbox, Corgi, Dinky and Tomica.

One Hong Kong-based company that was notorious for shoddy quality and ripping-off other manufacturers was Summer Toys. Summer was a low-end toy manufacturer that first appeared in the mid-1970s, when ‘Made In Hong Hong’ was still a byword for cheap, poor-quality toys. The Summer name was not marked on the toys or the packaging, although they could be identified by a trademark on the bottom of the blister cards and on the base of the models. The logo appears to be a leaping horse in front of three trees. The bases are also marked with the initials ‘SM’ which stands for Summer Metal Products Manufacturing Ltd.

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The Golden Compass by Corgi

Mike Pigott looks at this unusual range from Corgi, which was based on the 2007 fantasy film.

CarriageWhile there have been a lot of diecast models based on science fiction movies, ones based on fantasy films are quite rare. The 2007 film The Golden Compass featured some stunning looking fantasy vehicles, and these were soon modelled by Corgi. Despite being of excellent quality, they did not sell well, possibly due to the disappointing performance of the film at the box office.

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Johnny Lightning Commemorative Series

Mike Pigott looks at the the first series of revived Johnny Lightning models, produced by Playing Mantis in 1994.

bug bomb

Johnny Lightning was a brand of diecast cars produced between 1969 and 1971, made by American company Topper Toys. While the original run did not last long, the marque was revived in 1994 by a different toy company, Playing Mantis, producing exact replicas of the models first made in the ‘60s.

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Blade Runner by Ertl

Now that 2019 has finally arrived, Mike Pigott looks at Ertl’s small range of diecast models based on the cult sci-fi classic starring Harrison Ford.

ertl bladerunner

Blade Runner, first released in 1982, is one of the most respected and influential sci-fi movies of the 20th Century. Directed by Ridley Scott, and loosely based on the 1968 novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ by Philip K. Dick, it follows the adventures of Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a police officer called a ‘Blade Runner’, a type of bounty hunter who specializes in catching runaway androids called ‘replicants’.

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TITANIC by Claytown Collection

Mike Pigott looks at this unique waterline model of the famous doomed ocean liner.


Everyone would be familiar with the story of RMS Titanic, the huge luxury liner which collided with an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in June, 1912. The Titanic is, without a doubt, the most famous sunken ship of all time, and is still widely in the public consciousness, having been the subject of innumerable books, films and television programmes. A waterline model of this short-lived ship would seem unlikely, although surprisingly one was made by an obscure American manufacturer in the 1990s.

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Thunderbirds Mini-Metals by Aoshima

Mike Pigott examines this little-known but high quality range of diecast Thunderbirds miniatures made by Japanese company Aoshima.

g_thunderbird 5, shown on its display stand, was the first ever accurate model of the satellite

Thunderbirds has always been a popular subject for Japanese toy and hobby manufacturers. From the 1960s through to the present day, there have been a wide range of toys, models and kits based on the franchise, with significantly more produced than in the show’s home market of the UK. In 2003, long-established Japanese hobby company produced a range of six miniature Thunderbirds models, which included all five Thunderbird craft and the Mole.

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Captain Scarlet by Corgi

Mike Pigott looks at Corgi’s models based on Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, with vehicles from the original 1960s series as well as the new CGI re-boot.

SPV by Corgi

Over the years a number of manufacturers have produced models of the fabulous vehicles from Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Probably the best known models are the large diecast models made by Dinky in the 1960s, although other companies have also made replicas, including Eidai Grip, Vivid Imaginations, Bandai and Product Enterprise. In 2006, Corgi Classics obtained the license to Captain Scarlet and produced three models based on the classic TV series, plus a further three based on the brand new CGI re-make of the series.

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