‘Modern Classics’ or ‘Classic Moderns’?

01 April 2018
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Whatever way you look at Corgi’s ‘Modern Trucks’, it was a groundbreaking range when it was launched 20 years ago in 1998.

From its inception in 1956, Corgi immediately established a reputation for innovation. The business quickly moved from being ‘the ones with windows’ in the late 1950s to producing diecast toys full of fantastic gizmos in the 1960s – just look at the James Bond Aston Martin DB5 or the Batmobile as two examples. By the 1990s the product cycle had moved on and Corgi was at the forefront of developing ranges of diecast models for adult customers. Classic trucks of the post-war golden age of road transport evoked a feeling of nostalgia in the baby boomer generation that created a whole new collecting genre.

Following the Corgi management buyout of 1996, the pressure to innovate became ever more critical. Corgi had succeeded in finding independence from the huge Mattel corporation, but as a result it was now financed by venture capitalists whose demands were for fast growth and profit maximisation, usually with a view to selling out again within five years.

This spurned what for collectors must have been a utopia in terms of choice. In the space of just four years between 1996 and 2000, we saw the launch of the Original Omnibus Company (OOC), Heavy Haulage, Aviation Archive, Vintage Glory (steam wagons) and of course Modern Trucks. Add to this the development of Collection Heritage for the French market and a new US range developed by a Corgi team in Chicago, plus the acquisition of Lledo including the Days Gone and Vanguards ranges. Wow, did they ever come up for air? It seems almost inconceivable that none of these now familiar ranges existed for Corgi before that time.

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Read the full story in the May issue of Diecast Collector