09 December 2021
An occasional look back at a popular Corgi Toys release, when it reaches 50, by Rick Wilson.
One of the first Corgi Toys issues for 1972, No 461 Police ‘Vigilant’ Range Rover was released in January, alongside No 308 Monte Carlo Mini, No 393 Mercedes-Benz 350 SL and No 681 Stunt Motor Cycle. It was the Range Rover that I played with the most, thanks largely to all the accessories that came with it, but also because it was a rather exciting vehicle in my mind too – I loved the boxy looks and the original design is still by far my favourite version.
The Police ‘Vigilant Range Rover, scaled at 1/43, was initially released in a splendid red and yellow window box that featured a lovely backscene. The model features a two-part opening tailgate and a pair of plated searchlights that swivel on the roof, complete with separately-moulded translucent blue lens inserts. To really add some play value, the model came with a police figure with raised arm to stop the traffic, three grey plastic warning signs and a set of yellow and red-tipped traffic cones. The signs and cones are stored neatly in a crate that slides perfectly into the opened rear of the vehicle, and all this, plus the police figure, came mounted under a clear plastic bubble on a piece of card, placed on the plinth next to the vehicle. Tucked away under the plinth was a sticker sheet for the warning signs, plus two first aid labels, that were to be affixed to panels on either side that were revealed by slide down shutters.
The body of the car was, of course, painted white and there were side stripe stickers added to complete the ‘jam sandwich’ look of the period. The model ran on Whizzwheels, as was the norm at the time. Later issues came in the darker, striped window boxes. Additionally, later models came with black plastic signs, rather than the earlier grey.
No 461 was withdrawn in 1979 and, during its 7-year run, nudged past the 1 million milestone in terms of sales – 1,055,000 to be precise, according to The Great Book of Corgi. The casting had proved so popular, in fact, that it got a second lease of life in 1975, when a slightly remodelled version appeared (the ‘box’ on the roof was rejigged to incorporate two blue lamps, plus the side shutters were gone), stickered as No 482 Range Rover Ambulance. For this later incarnation, the accessories offered were a patient on a stretcher, carried by two paramedics. No 482 only lasted for two years, selling 306,000 units.
Some fifty years on from the first release, both are still fairly easy to find today, although, inevitably, most were played with hard and have the scars to prove it. But score yourself a minter and it makes for a great piece to display, especially if you get that attractive early box.