Siku Diecast Trains

Mike Pigott looks at the 1/120 scale diecast railway models made by the German company Siku.

gwOjWgoAIn 2010, the long-established German company Siku added a number of railway items to its popular ‘Super Series’. The Siku Super Series dates back to 1975, and is mostly a Hot Wheels sized range, but with cars to a constant scale of 1/55. Siku models are made to a much higher quality than Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars, with realistic wheels, detailed interiors and opening parts. However, Siku vehicles are usually two or three times the price of other makes.

The train models were not made to the regular 1/55 scale, which would have been too large; they were instead produced to a size that fit the standard blister packs. Fortunately, that size was 1/120 scale, or TT gauge. While TT gauge was something of a fad in Britain and the USA during the 1960s, it was extremely popular in Eastern Europe and has recently enjoyed a huge revival in Germany. Other manufacturers, such as Corgi and Lionel, have also produced diecast locomotives in 1/120 scale. The Siku trains were not intended to be compatible with TT model railway layouts, they were much simpler than the more detailed electric trains, and were aimed at children rather than collectors. However, they were reasonably good replicas, and – unlike the ranges by Lionel and Corgi – there were carriages produced to accompany the locomotives. All the models had rolling wheels and working ball-and-socket couplings.

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Classic Streetcars from Reader’s Digest

Mike Pigott looks at a set of classic American trams which was a premium offered with a book subscription.

streetcars 2Most people would be familiar with Reader’s Digest, a long-running pocket-sized magazine containing a wide range of stories and features. In addition to its monthly flagship title, Reader’s Digest also publishes a large number of books; these can be one-off publications such as atlases or instructional handbooks, or serial publication like encyclopaedias or ‘condensed books’ (volumes containing a number of abridged novels). Most of its products are sold via mail-order, and to entice customers to buy new titles – or continue subscribing to existing ones – free gifts have often been offered. These are often cheap items such as pens or clocks, but at times there have been diecast models. Sets of eight models were sent out with issues of ongoing publications; these have included fire engines, vintage cars, classic American cars and trains. At other times, boxed sets of two or four models have been included with large books such as DIY manuals or gardening handbooks. These have included vintage cars, classic vans, WW1 aircraft and the subject of this post…streetcars.

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Harry Potter by Tomica

Mike Pigott returns to the world of magic with a look at the Harry Potter models produced by Japanese company Tomica.


The long-running Tomica range of model cars has been produced by Tomy of Japan since 1970. This high-quality range is similar in size to Matchbox or Hot Wheels, but is generally made to a much higher standard. In recent years, Tomica has begun producing a wide range of character models, ranging from juvenile franchises such as Disney and Hello Kitty, through to more dynamic properties such as Star Wars, Marvel Super Heroes and DC Comics. Tomica seems to have a separate licensing agreement for its models, which are mainly sold in the far East, and generally do not overlap with franchises for the same characters held by Mattel or Corgi. One of the more exciting character ranges produced by Tomica is based on Harry Potter, the incredibly popular boy wizard created by J. K. Rowling.

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Harry Potter by Corgi International

Mike Pigott looks at a small range of models from Corgi based on the adventures of the boy wizard, Harry Potter.Corgi Ford AngliaHarry Potter first appeared in the 1995 novel Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling, and proved to be a massive success around the world. The book spawned five sequels and several spin-offs. In 2001, Harry made the transition to the big screen, with a series of seven big-budget, star-studded movies. Unsurprisingly, there was a great deal of Harry Potter merchandise produced, including a range of diecast models from Corgi, based on three very diverse vehicles seen in the films.

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The Wild West by Corgi Juniors


Western town made by combining the two sets

Howdy, Pardners! It’s time to join that two-timing, four-flushing, six shooting son of a gun Mike Pigott as he moseys out to the Wild West to look at this range of cowboy-themed models made by Corgi in the 1980s.

  In 1981, Corgi released a number of Wild West themed diecast vehicles in the miniature Corgi Juniors range. It was a unusual theme to say the least, given that Western toys were no longer really popular with children. The models were extremely toy-like; they lacked realism and were painted in bright primary colours.

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Lionel Classic Series Locomotives

Mike Pigott looks at a high quality but little-known range of diecast locomotives from the 1990s, made by the long-established American company Lionel.The GeneralAlthough best known for large-scale electric trains, the venerable American company Lionel also ventured into diecast metal train models during the 1990s. This range of six famous locomotives was produced in the once-popular 1/120 scale, or TT gauge.

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