21 September 2022
Stephen Paul Hardy opens his book on Calculus to differentiate between 1/43 and 1/24.
Back in 2008, vehicles illustrated by Hergé in the Tintin stories were modelled in an enchanting range of 1/43 scale models by Editions Atlas, in collaboration with Moulinsart s.a. of Belgium. More recently another series in 1/24 - again of seventy(ish) models - have resulted from a Moulinsart collaboration with Hachette.
Originally released as partworks editions, they are now coming onto the market repackaged in boxes and including several vehicles from the stories not previously modelled in 1/43. Of them, I have chosen just three examples from L'Affaire Tournesol (1956) - subsequently The Calculus Affair (1960).
First up is probably one of the world’s best known images of the early version ‘Barndoor’ VW typ.2 van.
E.Cutts, the butcher’s van (2 991300 000006)
Or, in the original French ‘Camionnette de la Boucherie Sanzot’ which is probably one of the best known and much loved vehicle images from L'Affaire Tournesol, with its unmistakable livery that appears briefly in just three frames of the story. Interestingly, the previous 1/43 model depicts the action in the second frame and the 1/24 the action in the third frame with both Prof. Calculus and M. Sanzot on board. Both are absolute must-haves as far as I am concerned.
The Rover Taxi for Nyon (2 996300 000001)
Making its brief appearance in two frames of the story, the Swiss-registered Rover P4 is just one of quite a number of 1960s-era British cars captured by Hergé over several stories. With its cream paintwork and red-brown interior, this gorgeous model of the 'Auntie' P4 must surely appeal to Rover and classic British car fans, as well as to Tintin followers.
What this particular model also illustrates is, thanks to its superb interior detailing, how 1/24 gives just that extra scope to replicate the characters in far better detail than was possible in the 1/43 series.
The black Mercedes (2 994300 000007)
Surprisingly, it is this and not the ‘Barndoor’ VW that is my favourite of the three featured models. This shiny black Mercedes-Benz 180 (W120) ‘Ponton’ saloon with its red interior and highly detailed dashboard must, like the Rover, be on the wanted list of many M-B collectors. Again, appearing very briefly in the same cameo sequence as M.Sanzot’s VW, it is one of the vehicles (complete with its caricatured Bordurian Secret Agent occupants) that set the opening tone of the tale.
It, along with the other two models, amply illustrates how a car can be translated so successfully into cartoon artwork and that artwork in turn can be translated into a scale model without losing the charm of the artwork - a clever, subtle, 2D/3D juggling act.