Corgi's famous model vehicles captured the imagination of millions of baby boomers and, what were once simply toys for boys, are highly sought-after in the expanding collectables market.
Some models, in mint condition and complete with box, which originally sold for a few shillings are now fetching hundreds of pounds. Today, the majority of Corgi cars, trucks and buses are produced as once-only Limited Editions and are often sold out within weeks of release.
Although top prices grab the headlines, diecast scale model collecting is an easy hobby to start and many vehicles, both old and new, can be acquired for a few pounds.
The Corgi brand was created by the Mettoy Company of Northampton which first started to produce colourful, pressed metal toys in the 1930s. The name Corgi (after the Welsh dog) was chosen for three reasons: first, because it was short and catchy; secondly because the models were to be produced in Swansea and thirdly because of its strong association with the Royal Family.
The first Corgi models appeared in 1956 and covered British-built saloon cars of the period. Names redolent with nostalgia including the Ford Consul, Austin Cambridge, Morris Cowley, Riley Pathfinder, Vauxhall Velox, Rover 90 and Hillman Husky were among the first to be produced. Each model sold for 3/- (15p).
Always at the forefront and to ensure a point of difference from other die-cast vehicles, Corgis were sold as the ones with windows. Other later innovations included Glidamatic spring suspension, opening bonnets and boots and diamond jewelled headlights.
Without doubt, Corgi's best known model is James Bond's Aston Martin DB5. First produced in 1965 and featuring ejector seat and front-mounted machine guns, it was an instant success earning the UK Toy of the Year Award. Priced at around 10/- (50p), by 1968 more than 3.9 million had been sold. At an auction, a rare gold-plated version given only to visiting VIPs to the Corgi factory made £1,300.
One of the top selling models of all time, reaching five million units, is the 1966 Batmobile. Other best sellers include the John Player Special Lotus Formula 1 racing car and the Ghia L 6.4 (which had a moulded Corgi dog lying on the rear parcel shelf).
In 50 years, Corgi has produced models of virtually every type of car, bus and truck. Some of the most sought-after model cars include the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally Mini Cooper S (£300 to £400); the 1966 The Man from U.N.C.L.E's 'Thrushbuster' Oldsmobile (£250-£300) and the 1959-61 Ford Thunderbird Hardtop, pale green body (£175-£200). If you have got the right Noddy car, produced in 1969, lurking in the attic it could be worth an amazing £700 or even more!