Model: Welly Polski Fiat 126p
Line: NEX Polish Series
Ebay link: Welly Polski Fiat 126p
Why I am featuring it: Welly have done a fabulous service to Polish vehicles recently, and I recently managed to get hold of the last model I was chasing to complete the set. I’d originally planned to cover them all in one go, but the article sat in my drafts for a while, needing some tweaks to wording and photography. Then the new Single File series came along and gave me a good opportunity to split the cars up as some of them are unique to this scale.
But we’ll start with a Lamley Daily and this: the Polski Fiat 126p. And yes, a Lamley Daily; Polistil have modelled the Italian Fiat 126 in 1/60 scale before.
Affectionately given the nickname “Maluch” (Polish for “small one”) there’s so much to be said about the cultural and political significance of the car that it could take up a full form article by itself. The little 2 cylinder 126p is a cultural icon in Poland.
A license built version of the Fiat 126, the 126p was produced by FSM under the brand Polski Fiat between 1973 and 2000. When the license was agreed with Fiat it was intended the 126p would be the first real affordable and popular car in Poland, providing mobility and freedom to ordinary families. The low price meant it was highly popular and the 126p often played the role of a family car. And from shopping trips to holidays to learning to drive, there are always memories attached to family cars, and the 126p is no exception. Like the East German Trabant, it seems to be a car that always raises a smile. Only yesterday I was talking to my Bulgarian friend about the two Polski 126s she owned, and my other friends from Europe always have a story or fond memory attached to a “Maluch”.
It was a huge success. Over 3.3 million were sold and the car was the most popular car on sale in not just Poland but also Hungary. Because of its popularity in the former Eastern Bloc states you can still find them buzzing around Central Europe to this day.
Export versions ended up as far away as Australia, where they were badged as the FSM Niki. And these days the car’s popularity hasn’t disappeared, second hand prices are rising fast as they’re becoming a popular classic car.
The casting itself is a simple yet faithful representation of the real thing. The wheels work well here, there aren’t many decals present but they’re neat and well aligned and the interior has been nicely finished. My only criticism is that overall the model is a little plain. As the casting lines are all there, more detail could have been bought out with a touch of paint on the side intakes, radiator grille and indicators and this really shows at the rear where there could have been a little more colour and definition added to the rear lights. Also, there is a debate about the actual scale of the model. I haven’t had a tape measure out yet, but I can say it’s a lot closer to 1/43 than 1/60 scale! But hey, you get 1/43 scale for 1/60 prices and that’s not a bad thing!
But the fact that it exists at all in the Welly lineup is such a bonus as it shows they are obviously not afraid of tooling less mainstream vehicles. And that’s always a good thing, adding variety to the hobby and pulling in enthusiasts of vehicles that are scarcely seen in diecast. The pricing is also a strong point; the aforementioned Polistil 126s are fetching daft sums of money these days, whereas this can be found for as little as €4 on Ebay. And for those who like to customise your diecast, these Welly vehicles are great blank canvases….
I’m hoping this Lamley Daily will pique the interest of Polish and European readers alike, and there’ll be more for you soon in the way of an FSO Syrena, a Polonez Caro and the 126s bigger brother, the Polski Fiat 125p. So keep a look out for those appearing on Lamley in the future, and for some more diecast with a European flavour feel free to look me up on Instagram @alex_the_hoarder.