By Raymond McKee (The Southern Gent)
I have never been all that knowledgeable about Corgi. I only had two or three when I was young, now unfortunately long gone. And I only have five now, not counting a bunch of badge-engineered Hot Wheels. So when I went looking for some info on Corgis, Books in Print yielded up this tome by bill Manzke. Bill as you may know, hosts the Corgi Jr.s board over on Matchbox Community, and he has penned an excellent introduction to this old, but often overlooked diecast line.
Manzke fittingly starts with the history of the brand, documenting the rise and fall of Mettoys, the parent company of Corgi, and the various incarnations of Corgi that followed. He traces Corgi's development as a competitor for Dinky's 1:43 scale models, and the brand's extension into 1:64 and 1:36 scales. Manzke recounts Corgi's buyout by Mattel, and its eventual re-invention of itself as Corgi Classics, Limited, now primarily a brand for the adult collector. Corgi, like Matchbox, has curiously paralleled the British automotive industry, struggling to maintain its distinctiveness in the face of international competition.
From company history, Manzke then goes on to profile matters of interest to the collector. He describes Corgi's technical innovations, the origin of the Corgi name and trademarks, and Corgi's transformation from toy to collectible. There are separate chapters on Corgi's character cars, the variations of Corgi's signature models, and of particular interest here, the cars Corgi made to penetrate the American market. Here are the usual wheel types and packaging descriptions to aid the collector in identification, and contact information for clubs, organizations, and museums that keep the traditions and heritage of Corgi toys alive.
The final section of the book is Manzke's listing of models, variations, and values. As this book was published in 1997 I assume all values to be woefully out of date. The book ends with appendices containing a very useful glossary, bibliography, and a timeline of Corgi milestones.
Happily, I understand that bill is now at work on an updating to this guide, due sometime next year. I'm looking forward to it. He already has created a hobby book that not only covers the bases of his subject, but is a good read as well. This edition has already enabled me to compile a long list of Corgis I now want to obtain.
The Unauthorized Encyclopedia of Corgi Toys, by bill Manzke, ISBN 0764303082 is published by Schiffer Books and retails for $34.95. However, it is currently listed on back order by Barnes & Noble.