MARCEL VAN CLEEMPUT: a farewell tribute to an absolute genius

 

We've sadly received news that Marcel van Cleemput, Chief Designer at Corgi Toys from 1956 to 1983, and author of The Great Book of Corgi (1956-1983) and The New Great Book of Corgi (1956-2010), passed away on March 15, 2013.

Marcel was the undisputed genius behind the magical, innovative Corgi Toys that thrilled a whole generation of children and which today have become highly prized by adult collectors worldwide.

Back in 1956, Mettoy proudly launched the Corgi Toys brand, promoting the new models with the unforgettable slogan “The ones with windows!”; Marcel, of course, was the man behind this pioneering new feature. As Mettoy locked into battle to challenge then market leader Dinky Toys, Marcel kept the innovations coming thick and fast. The name Mettoy may have been printed on every Corgi box but in many respects the choice of models, and the creation of so many novel features, was down to Marcel alone. We’re sure everyone in the toy/model industry, all those children who grew up almost certainly not knowing his name but enjoying the fruits of his incredible and imaginative talent and, of course, the global fraternity of classic toy collectors, will agree his legacy is an achievement beyond compare.

As well as being a legend in his own lifetime, Marcel was also a very dear man, as any of you who may have had the privilege of meeting him will be aware. At Model Collector, Dominic and I had the pleasure of talking with Marcel on a number of occasions (you can view an interview we ran with him in the July 2011 of Model Collector by clicking on this link: http://www.modelcollector.co.uk/sites/11/documents/corgi%20toys%20interview.pdf and you can also find  some video footage of one of our discussions with him posted on this website).

But while his loss will be felt by all familiar with his wonderful work, it is of course his much-loved family who our heartfelt condolences really go out, especially his life-long sweetheart and devoted wife, Molly.

Marcel reflects on the hundreds of fantastic toys that he, as Chief Designer at Corgi Toys from 1956-1983, was responsible for creating, as he once again handles this piece of his work, an original pattern for the Husky Batmobile  bought at auction by our New Releases reviewer and contributor Dominic Borrelli.

 

Marcel signs copies of The New Great Book of Corgi (1956-2010) for devoted followers of his work at The Sandown Toyfair in 2010.