Spotlight on: Corgi - Diecast model holiday gift sets

05 August 2010
imports_CCGB_corgigiftset31rivier_95958.gif Corgi Gift Set 31: Riviera
Andrew Ralston relives the diecast models available in Corgi's range of holiday gift sets. ...
Spotlight on: Corgi - Diecast model holiday gift sets Images

"Holiday time. You are all looking forward to that wonderful last week of July when the schools break up and you start on that seemingly never-ending summer holiday." These words from the July 1964 edition of the Meccano Magazine sum up the excitement youngsters of the 1960s felt about summer vacations.

While many of today’s children expect frequent holidays, usually outside the UK, back then a fortnight by the seaside would be the highlight of the year. And at a time when car ownership was within the grasp of an increasing number of families, a holiday more often than not would involve a trip by car, perhaps towing a caravan or even a boat.

All this provided plenty of scope for models on the vacation theme and toy companies were more than ready to exploit this in the form of gift sets.

Content continues after advertisements
  • Corgi’s first holiday gift set, the ‘Riviera’ gift set, was introduced in December 1965. The depth of winter might seem a strange time to introduce such a set; on the other hand, the Christmas period would be a time when more expensive toys like gift sets were likely to be purchased.


The Riviera set might be regarded as Mettoy’s equivalent of the Dinky ‘Fun A’Hoy’ set – but with a difference. Whereas Dinky combined a British family saloon with a boat that had been in the range since 1960, Corgi offered a more glamorous American car, the Buick Riviera, with a Dolphin Cabin Cruiser. Similarly, Dinky re-used already existing driver figures (with the female driver previously seen in a Triumph Spitfire now incongruously sitting in the back of the motorboat with arms outstretched) while Corgi offered a plastic Captain figure and a waterskier. Even the title of the set sounded more exciting, with ‘Riviera’ not only referring to the name of the real car but evoking a more exotic location.

The whole ensemble was neatly presented on a plinth with two levels depicting land and sea. It remained on sale until 1968 and is one of the most desirable of Corgi gift sets, fetching up to £350 in pristine mint and boxed condition.

  • Another gift set produced by Corgi in the 1960s was Gift Set 10: Rambler Marlin and Kayaks. The Marlin made a second short-lived appearance (after being included in Gift Set 36) in a gift set in July 1968, attached to a camping trailer which was in fact nothing more than the earlier Pennyburn Workmen’s trailer minus the tools. Two kayaks, a roof rack and a figure with paddle completed the package. For some reason, the set was withdrawn after just 11 months. Ramsay’s valuation is in the £200–£250 range.

This is an excerpt of the article 'Corgi Gift Sets - Holiday and Leisure Time: Part 1'. To see which issues of Diecast Collector are available to buy online, click here.