Desert island diecast

Pat Conneally reveals the five models he’d most like to take with him if he were to swap life on the lush green Emerald Isle for a tiny, far more tropical and totally uninhabited retreat…

As a somewhat solitary (and car mad) child growing up in the 1960s, the Corgi, Dinky and Matchbox die-cast toys of the day were my constant and treasured companions. When I compare the vintage toys in my collection to the die-casts I buy these days for my grandchildren, it is easy to understand my attachment to the contents of my toy box back then and why I still admire them so much now.

It is a truism that every generation believes its own youth to have been some sort of golden age. However, I think it is fair to say that when it comes to die-cast toy cars those of us who were children in the 1960s were the lucky ones. The quality of build and finish was superb and there was a constant stream of ever more sophisticated features incorporated for added play value.

I am, therefore, in complete agreement with Ian Thurley in the inaugural piece of this series when he says “It is still my old toys that I treasure the most.” Certainly in the event of a domestic catastrophe it would be to the vintage die-cast cabinets that I would go first for items to save.

So, if I were to be spending time on a desert island with only die-cast cars for company, my selection would be drawn from those same cabinets. It has been very difficult to narrow things down to a final five, but in the end the toys I've chosen are all ones that I enjoyed playing with as a small boy and yet which still give me so much pleasure today.

Probably my favourite toy car ever, the Volkswagen joined the Corgi range in December 1965, shortly after the introduction of the first James Bond Aston Martin (No 261). The Volkswagen was another superb piece of miniature engineering, featuring opening bonnet and boot and “true-to-scale” steering operated via the roof-mounted spare wheel. What I liked most, though, was how solid and well put together it felt and the details like the rally bars on the bumpers and, incredibly, two tiny mud fl aps on the rear wheels complete with VW logo. This quickly took pride of place in my toy box and I think it is very probable that my ability to parallel park a full-size car derives from sitting room-floor manoeuvres with the Volkswagen when I was nine. Who said toy cars aren’t educational?

Read the full article, including the rest of Pat’s picks, in Model Collector October 2017

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