Tribute to well known diecast collector Mike Richardson

09 May 2013
imports_CCGB_msmcsmalllogo_28471.jpg Tribute to well known diecast collector Mike Richardson
Michael Driver provides a personal tribute to the founder of the Maidenhead Static Model Club. ...
Mike Richardson 1937 - 2013

The death of Mike Richardson is a sad loss for his family, friends and the collecting world. Over many decades Mike had been at the forefront of collecting and was known throughout the world for his knowledge and interest in cars both model and real.

His early interest in vehicles started with a Dinky Toys Motor Truck no.22c which he was given and this has remained with him throughout his life even though it had been well played with and repainted.

Mike was born in Wolverhampton and like most children of the time enjoyed visiting his local toy shop to add to his collection of cars. His father was a Research Chemist who also had an interest in cars and passed on to Mike motoring magazines for his car enthusiast son. He also provided him with a Trix Twin train set which he played with and allowed Mike to watch!

Whilst at school, Mike was able to see cars being tested including Jaguar C-Types prior to their entry for Le Mans. This race and other events increased his growing interest with almost anything on four wheels and he later owned many cars and sports cars including an actual Jaguar C-Type.

After school in 1954, he left home and proceeded to University in Glasgow where he studied engineering. Whilst a student there in his second year he was elected to represent the Engineering Students on the Students Committee. They had a newspaper, the Gilmorehill Guardian and in 1956 he became its motoring correspondent. In this role he was able to pursue his love of cars and would visit local car dealerships to ask to borrow and test drive their cars.

During the course Mike won an ICI Vacation Scholarship which enabled him with four other students to gain work experience at an engineering company in Redcar and then to a placement at Borsig AG in Berlin. At the end of his course Mike moved permanently to Glasgow and settled into a flat owned by the director of a garage where he was then working. Subsequently the garage had tax problems with the directors being prosecuted. As a result of this the flat was sold to Mike.

Having acquired his home Mike then had a call from his parents asking what they should do with his box of toys and his possessions.  His answer was for him to take them to Glasgow where he found that he still had his collection of toy cars including the 30, 36, 38 and 39 Series Dinky Toys cars. These he proudly placed in an existing drinks cabinet in the flat and then decided he should have some more models to display. This led him to visit to model shops and search for model cars. Here his life of collecting really began in earnest. His best find was a shop in Glasgow which still had some old stock of mint boxed Dinky Toys which he purchased at their original prices!

As Mike had been working in the garage he was always on the lookout for a new car for himself and in 1960 he saw an advert in Autosport for a 1952 Jaguar C-Type at £750.00. After a phone call and an exchange of cash the car was his and was proudly driven up to Glasgow.

However, life for Mike was not all cars and there were parties and social occasions. At one such party he met Sue who was in the Officer Training Corps of the University and was about to celebrate her 21st birthday. A romance blossomed and they married in 1964. Not only was this a romance but it was the beginning of a collecting passion shared by both of them. One of Mike’s first presents to Sue was a Tekno Jaguar E-Type and having received the model she decided that if you cannot beat them you should join them and she then started to collect the Matchbox series.

During 1965 they moved south to Bracknell with Mike starting work for Black & Decker. Here he worked within various departments including Production, Quality Control, Maintenance and Research and Development. Based in Bracknell, Mike was able to visit model shops and meet fellow collectors. Amongst the places he visited was Auto Models in London and he went to meetings organised by them where he met collectors including ones local to him. All this led to Mike becoming a founder Member of the Maidenhead Static Model Club and being involved with the very first Swapmeets. As his interest in model cars continued to increase he was instrumental in starting the first magazine devoted to collectors of model cars. This magazine, Modellers World, first appeared in 1971 and ran for some 14 years.

As his model world and collecting progressed Mike was becoming disillusioned with his life in industry and he decided in 1974 to leave it and concentrate on his passion for models and model making. For a number of years he had already been involved in the white metal kit industry and now wanted to produce more models under the Mikansue name.

He was also instrumental in the writing of the definitive book Dinky Toys and Modelled Miniature, published in 1981, which was part of the New Cavendish series about Meccano and its products. This was followed later in 2000 by the Great Book of Dinky Toys. Following on from the first book it was decided to expand the business from their home to shop premises and so in 1983 the Modellers World shop opened in Eton Wick.

There was of course another side to Mike’s life and those who knew him will know of his love of food and wine which often complimented his collecting trips or was part of a deal or meeting with friends and collectors.  He also had a great interest in gardening and even had an allotment producing numerous vegetable and flowers

In 2005 he and Sue moved to France, partly for Sue’s health and also because they felt that it was time for them to finish with collecting. Here they enjoyed the milder climate and Mike pursued his other love of gardening with bumper crops of vegetables and beautiful roses. It was also a chance to further their love of the local food and wine.

After Sue’s untimely death in 2010, Mike settled into a life devoted to the garden, the dogs and furthering his knowledge of the local wines. But that was not all, despite having given up collecting, he was asked to give a talk on collecting Dinky Toys to a local group in Loudun, a nearby small town. This was reported in the local press and so toys entered Mike’s life once more. As a result he was also contacted by some local collectors and even attended a number of French toy fairs – therefore, once a collector always a collector.

Mike celebrated his 75th birthday last year back in England at Eton Wick with his family and friends. He then returned to France to continue his life in the garden and his regular tasting of the local wine and food. His sudden stroke came as a shock to his family and friends but fortunately his family were by his bedside until the end.

The collecting world has lost one of its founding fathers and with it a truly wonderful character who has shaped for many, the collecting world we know today – Mike will be missed, but his collecting legacy and views on model collecting will continue to inspire all collectors for a long time to come.
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