Volume IX, Number 2

50 Years of Alfa Romeo in Miniature
by Doug Breithaupt

The recent addition of Penny's Alfa Romeo SS and Schuco's 1972 Alfa Romeo 1300 Junior Spider (High Speed), brought my collection of this famous marque to 38 (not including color variations). While there are still more toy Alfas I want to find, it seemed appropriate to review the wonderful models that represent this manufacturer in small-scale.

Twenty-two different manufacturers produced the small-scale Alfa Romeo models shown below. While that may not be a record for the most manufactures to produce examples of a specific marque (think Volkswagen), with only 38 Alfa models in my collection, 22 manufacturers is a very high number. Ten of the models shown here are concept cars, a rather high percentage. Most of the models shown are the only example of a particular Alfa produced in small-scale diecast. We begin with an Alfa model from late 1930's and move through 50 years of models to those in production today. The Alfa 6 by Norev (right) is a good example of one of the unique Alfa models that collectors can find.

Perhaps most striking is the almost total absence of any pre-war classic Alfa Romeo models in small-scale. Maybe there are some of which I am not aware. Considering that some of the most important automobiles ever produced, came from Alfa Romeo in the 1920's and 30's, this is an amazing omission by toy car makers. Where are the 6C 1750 or quality examples of the fabulous 8C 2900B models? The sole pre-war model shown here is Summer's unexpected version of what may be an 8C 2900B Cabriolet. The great Grand Prix racers and sports cars from Alfa Romeo were some of the best of their era and models can be found in 1:43 or 1:18 scale. We need them in 1:64 scale too. A recent, and very positive trend, is to see classic models like the B.A.T. 9 (Hot Wheels) and Spider (Schuco/High Speed), being produced today.

One of the most recent additions to the Alfa Romeo toy car story is a series of models by Kyosho. Kyosho has already done marque-specific series for Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, BMW and others. Now, Alfa Romeo has been added. Below are images of four of the current models offered (courtesy of Henri Kroeze). Several new Alfa models in small-scale are featured however the majority of the models are of cars from the most recent decades.

Summer - 8C 2900B Cabriolet
Almost certainly a reduced-size version of a 1:43 scale model (Solido did one), the grill and general shape still mark this as an Alfa Romeo. Is it an 8C 2900 or 6C 2500, who can say?

Hot Wheels - 1956 B.A.T. 9 concept by Bertone
As unexpected as it is welcome, especially from Hot Wheels, this is a delightful toy car. We can only hope the B.A.T. 5 and 7 will follow.

Penny - Giulietta SS (base says Giulia)
This amazing model by Penny is a challenge to find but well worth the effort. Based on the Disco Volante concept car, the SS is a treasure in full-size or small-scale.

Impy Lone Star - Giulietta Spider
Another beauty, this time from Impy, the Spider is another cherished small-scale model. With opening doors, hood and trunk, it is an amazing toy car.

Penny - Giulia TI
This model represents Alfa's bread and butter sedan for the 1960's and as such is a nice change from the usual sports cars. This Alfa was actually far sportier to drive than many sleek coupes of the day.

Penny - 2600 Sprint
Perhaps what makes the Penny models so appealing is that they often represent cars done by no other manufacturer. The 2600 Sprint is a good example.

Penny - Giulia Canguro concept
Without Penny's models, this period of Alfa history would be rather bleak. The Canguro by Bertone is a lovely car with fastback, Kamm tail and a sexy shape. The spare tire is a great touch.

Penny - 2600 Sprint (polizia)
The 2600 Sprint was offered in 'polizia' trim by Penny as well. I expect most models were worked hard by Italian kids in pursuit of all the other exotic Penny sports cars in the range.

Playart - Carabo concept
Few concept cars of the late 1960's have been produced as often as the Carabo by Bertone. Playart's version is shown with the early wheels and can be a challenge to find.

Matchbox - Carabo concept
Bertone did many Alfa concepts. This Carabo is by Matchbox and the metalic hot pink and superfast wheels are an obvious response to Hot Wheels.

Corgi - Carabo concept
Corgi also jumped to offer metalic colors and speed wheels in their 'Rockets' series. The wheels can be removed from the plastic chassis. It seems the Carabo was very popular.

Polistil - Carabo concept
Bertone's wedge-shaped wonder tempted Polistil too. Dropping the Penny name, Polistil also added speed wheels. The 'STP' sticker may be a kid-added option, I don't know.

Playart - P33 concept
Another Bertone concept, the P33 was a mid-engine, runabout. Playart's example is quite good. The later Playart wheels must have been inspired by Porsche's Fuchs wheels.

Corgi - P33 concept
Corgi's take on the P33 is shown in 'Whizzwheel' form. The targa-style roof bar is plastic. The P33 was built on Alfa's racing chassis (see below).

Hot Wheels - 'Jack Rabbit Special' (P33 inspired)
While this model was never labeled as an Alfa Romeo, it was inspired by the P33 concept. The more angular lines and rear-engine lay-out have a re-bodied VW feel for this Hot Wheel.

Tin Toys - Iguana 'Karina 1700' concept
This Alfa concept model is a curious choice for the budget Tin Toys range. It is the only example in small-scale and was included in the Tin Toys line for many years.

Siku - Montreal
It is a mystery as to why Siku was the only toy car maker to offer the sleek Montreal. The odd black doors and tinted windows were used on other Siku models of this era.

Polistil - P33
This is the racing P33, a mid-engine V8 sport/GT. Polistil offered this model in their more toy-like, post-Penny range. Later Tipo 33 models won the Targo Florio, at Brands Hatch and Watkins Glen.

Ertl - P33
A more detailed example of the P33, Ertl's version offers an opening engine compartment. The scale is in the 1:58 range and the tires are a bit delicate for serious play.

Universal - P33
One of Universal's factories did the original Ertl models and later they offered smaller copies as seen here. The circled 'U' on the base was one of the many Universal brands.

Luso - Tipo 33 TT3
Portugal is where Luso models were made and this Alfa Tipo 33 sports/racer is one of a series of such cars they produced. While not particularly handsome, these race cars did have some success.

Galgo - Tipo 33 TT3
This example of the Tipo 33 TT3 comes from Argentina. The stick-on decals are more authentic and a driver is included. The casting detail is better than the Luso example.

Norev - 6
Alfa's top sedan from the late 70's was the 6 and Norev produced this fine example. With other, sleeker Alfa models to choose from, Norev selected to do a 4-door car. Collectors are happy they did.

Guisval - Alfatta GTV6 2.6
Another unique Alfa was offered by Guisval. The Alfetta-based GTV6 was popular in Europe and North America although they gained a reputation as being a bit fragile. The doors open.

Schuco/High Speed - 1300 Junior Spider
Why it took so long for the classic Alfa Spider to be done in small-scale is a mystery. Fortunatly, this Schuco/High Speed casting is finally here and an excellent example.

Majorette - Giulietta
The Alfa sedan of the 1980's comes from Majorette. With opening doors and tow hitch is has great play value. The casting is quite good and the model is unique in small-scale.

Majorette - Giulietta (polizia)
Many Majorette models of this era were offered in standard and Police trim. Appropriatly, the Giulietta received Italian 'polizia' colors.

Majorette - 75
Again, Majorette offers a nice Alfa sedan. While saloon racing Alfa models were done by others, Majorette gave us this welcome example of a production version sedan, again with opening doors.

Matchbox - ES30 SZ Zagato
Zagato and Alfa Romeo have a long history. The SZ 'il mostro', saw a limited production run based on the Zagato concept. Matchbox did the only small-scale example.

Dragon Toys - 155 GTA Super Touring
Alfa Romeo found success in Super Touring with their 155 GTA model. The only Dragon Toys models I have seen came to me from Australia. The authentic racing colors are nice.

Matchbox - 155 GTA Super Touring
This excellent casting by Matchbox was one of several saloon racers produced. This version of the 155 was offered in the Premier Edition series. The detail is very good with authentic graphics.

Real Toy - 155 GTA Super Touring
While the graphics are generic on their 155 saloon racer, Real Toy has added an excellent racing interior and paintwork. These unlicensed models by Real Toy are really quite good.

Yat Ming - GTV
It was a bit of a surprise to see the Alfa Coupe from Yat Ming. Complete with opening doors, the casting and interior are very good. This model is still in production.

Welly - Spider
As they seem willing to do models that others neglect, Welly is appreciated by collectors. Their Alfa Spider is a perfect example. While in current production, these can be hard to find.

Polistil/Real Toy - 156 GTA (Carabinieri)
Collectors were thrilled to see the re-birth of small-scale Polistil models a few years back. This 156 GTA casting was produced by Real Toy but the Carabinieri version was unique to Polistil.

Yat Ming - 156 Sport Wagon GTA
While these last three models are by Yat Ming and in 1:72 scale, the quality is collector-level. The 156 Sport Wagon has been done by no other manufacturer in small-scale and most welcome.

Yat Ming - 156 GTA
The standard 156 GTA provides us with a current example of the Alfa sedan in the tradition of models from Penny, Norev and Majorette. Five decades of Alfa sedans in 1:64 are represented.

Yat Ming - 147 GTA
Only Yat Ming has offered the 147 GTA 3-door coupe by Alfa so far. I wonder how hard these will be to find 20 years from now. While these are small, the detail is exceptional.