Quite aside from its merits as a toy, it’s a token of the dramatic change in Britain’s history. During much of WW2, the government faced the reality that with Britain’s antiquated farming systems and the U-boat threat to shipments of food across the Atlantic, the UK was no more than two weeks away from starvation. As a consequence, the growth of post-war mechanisation and agro-chemicals in farming was phenomenally fast.
The highly successful 780 series, built in Kilmarnock from 1953-62, was an early UK example of a harvester with a bagging system, grading the grains into sacks and depositing them in the field to be picked up later. In this respect, it lived up to the name combine’ in coupling the cutting and threshing of cereals.
It’s a large model, perhaps 1:48, packed with intricate features. But best of all are the working tines on a revolving drum with a revolving Archimedes screw to the back. In addition, the whole cutting assembly can be raised and lowered by a screw and wheel.
There were a whole host of alterations to the model in its duration from 1959 to 1964. Early versions have a die-cast seat, painted fuel tank, red painted die-cast hopper feeder, no driver, yellow metal wheels fore and aft, yellow metal steering wheel, metal tines and bars on two discs without perforations, a red painted die-cast cap to the main stack and upon which are two cylinders, separated by a thin steel rod. The model was also offered in the early Gift Set 8 and by this stage some had orange plastic wheels. At some point a basically painted driver was included and some models were made with an unpainted cap to the stack.
In its final form, No. 1111 had a yellow plastic seat, red plastic wheels all round, a yellow plastic steering wheel (a few retained the metal version), unpainted fuel tank, plastic tines and bars upon perforated die-cast discs, yellow plastic hopper feeder, a more intricately painted driver and an all-in-one plastic assembly on the stack, consisting of two cylinders, the pipe in between and an insert to close off the stack. In addition, a tyre was added to the external cutter drive to aid rotation when the model was pushed forward. How was it packaged?Apart from the unique packaging for the early Gift Set 8 and later Gift Set 22, No. 1111 was always presented in a sturdy Corgi Majors card box with a lift-off lid. Although the typeface changed, the illustration remained the same.
Two packing pieces of card were included, one of which was a tray, covering the entire model and holding two spare drive bands.
History aside, it’s probably the finest model of a combine harvester from the 1960s, or indeed, from any decade. Subject aside, the sheer skill with which the design team managed to create effective and ingenious ways of making it work warrants a place on your shelf. If that isn’t enough, then marvel at the relief casting of wheels, pulleys and belts on the side opposite the driver. Watch outThe metal wire used to hold the chaff funnel can rust. With so many moving and angled parts, paint chipping and damage is likely. Both metal and plastic tines can be broken, or go missing.
There is currently a greater demand for late versions. However, prices are stable in the region of £100-£170.