During late 2012, the famous British model train manufacturer, Hornby, began to release a range of die-cast metal vehicles under the Corgi Toys Built to Last brand, with further releases appearing during 2013. To quote Hornby’s web-site, “This new range features British outline vehicles that children see on the roads today”.
The range includes four main themes – agriculture, construction, emergency and military. An advertising poster found on the internet shows a range of 50 vehicles, including different liveries on the same vehicle but not all versions are available yet. The toys are sold individually or in packs of five. There are also four themed play sets, each with two vehicles, a small plastic building and a play-mat.
As with similar ranges, the toys appear to have been made to dimensions to best fit the blister type packaging. Sizes and scales vary with some of the toys being close to 1/64th and 1/72nd scales, with a few being close to 1/87th scale.
The vehicle of most interest to 1/87th scale modelers is the Mercedes Sprinter. Three British emergency services’ themed versions are currently available; two long wheelbase vans in police and fire liveries and a long wheelbase, box bodied ambulance.
Police: Long wheelbase van with blue painted light-bar, wing mirrors, door handles, scene-lights and Mercedes star badge castings. White body with blue and yellow Battenberg markings, red and yellow rear chevron markings and blue and red Police lettering.
Fire: Long wheelbase van with blue painted light-bar, wing mirrors, door handles, scene-lights, Mercedes star badge and silver painted roller shutter and lifting door type locker castings. Red body with red and yellow Battenberg markings, red and yellow rear chevron markings and yellow Fire lettering.
Ambulance: Long wheelbase box body, with blue painted light-bar, wing mirrors, door handles, scene-lights, Mercedes star badge and tail-lift castings. Euro Yellow body with green and yellow Battenberg markings, red and yellow rear chevron markings and green and red Emergency Ambulance lettering.
The ambulance is a particularly good choice of vehicle as Euro Yellow liveried, Mercedes Sprinters, with box type bodies, are widely used as Emergency Ambulances throughout Great Britain. In addition, Sprinters are also widely used in a variety of roles by British police forces and fire and rescue services.
In addition to the emergency vehicles, a box van has recently been released in the green livery of Britain’s largest road haulage company, Eddie Stobart Ltd. This is very similar to the ambulance but without the light-bar, scene lights, windows and tail-lift castings. Printed with white Fleet Maintenance lettering, this model is part of a five pack set of vehicles all in the Eddie Stobart livery, the other four being different Scania trucks in a smaller scale.
The advertising poster shows six other variations of the Sprinter: Military ambulance, police prisoner transporter, horse transporter, delivery van, tow truck and flat-bed/pick-up truck. However, these versions have not been released yet.
Finally, we need to remember these are toys, not models. However, having said that, they are of good quality and their low cost (GB£2.00 each – approx. US$3.20 or Euro2.50) make them excellent value for money and ideal for conversions. It is good for British, HO gauge modelers to have such a common van produced in 1/87th scale featuring right-hand drive. I appreciate that right-hand drive vehicles (rare for toys or models) may not be of much use for most visitors to this web-site but it’s great to have such readily usable/convertible, British style vehicles in 1/87th scale.