This is a perfect article to demonstrate what motivates me in diecast collecting: obscure but interesting brands, vintage European cars and for those on a tighter budget, just how much bang you get for your buck.
And that last point is important to me. In an era when prices of luxury goods are rising constantly, diecast collecting is fast slipping towards being out of reach to some. Tomicas and Ignition branded Tarmac cars can quadruple in price overnight. Some 1/64s are worth more than a week’s wage. It’s important therefore that alternatives to premium diecast exist. Important that there is still joy to be found away from the “must haves”, in the mainlines of some of the less well known brands. And it’s also important that when you do treat yourself and invest in an expensive diecast, that it’s really a show stopper.
With all that in mind, today I’ll be looking at couple of budget offerings and a high end piece from a unique brand. And we’re going to be looking at 3 effortlessly cool vintage Citroëns, starting with Welly’s 1974 Citroën DS 23.
Now Matchbox’s 1968 DS is long gone from the mainline, a “pocket money” DS has been missing in the diecast world. Welly’s offering fills that gap nicely.
It’s an attractive, well proportioned model with a rather well detailed interior. Simple but effective, the wheels look great and there are small details that have been nicely and sharply replicated like the chromed swage line and door handles. Considering Welly cars are supposed to be budget offerings, they consistently manage to knock out decent diecast like this.
But there’s a downside. And that downside is availability and the effect it has on prices. I’ve seen Welly diecast go for a couple of Euros in toy stores in mainland Europe, if I’ve been lucky enough to locate them. That makes them brilliant value for money. But they’re thin on the ground seemingly. Virtually non existant in the UK and scattered in Europe, which will have collectors reaching for Ebay. And at the time of writing there are only 3 listed costing around £10 inc P&P. And that puts it into the realm of the fantastic 3 inch offerings from Norev, one of which is the brilliant Citroën SM.
Those who’ve kept up with Lamley might remember the SM from my introduction to Norev from February. And it’s a cracker of a diecast from a strong line up from the French brand. It’s oozing with French chic with that oh so 70s gold colour.
It’s got cracking detail for the money. This is a diecast that looks like a premium but rolls like a mainline.
Prices can go down to around £8-10 including postage (to the UK) meaning you don’t have to break the bank to add a bit of Gallic variety to your collection.
And on the continent they’re easier to find than Welly cars. I’ve found Norevs in museum shops, diecast stores and they can be found in car dealerships and brand boutiques like L’Atelier Renault in Paris. In the UK, Lobster Diecast keeps a small stock of 1/64 Norev listed so it’s always worth checking in there.
Finally we’re onto the gem of the trio, the Minialuxe Citroen DS 21.
Minialuxe are a classic French brand well known for producing brilliant plastic and metal bodied 1/43 models through the 50s, 60s and 70s. Like their Dinky counterparts, second hand prices for mint examples can be high. Production ceased in 1978 but in 2012 the company was relaunched thanks with an effort from the owner of French diecast magazine 43éme. The company is now focused on selling old stock and producing reproduction models from the old tools. As part of the resurgence the Miniabox line of 1/66 models was released.
They’re a real premium line, and “gem” is quite an appropriate word for this model, considering it uses real Swarovski crystals in the headlights.
They retail at around £30 including postage to the UK direct from the brand website, and are attractively packaged with an outer presentation box “designed to enhance the collection piece”.
I treated myself recently and I’ve got to say it is a special diecast. It is worth that premium. Heavyweight, brilliant paint and looks that hark back to the vintage Minialuxe cars. It’s a superb model with high collectability.
And it’s part of a brilliant lineup of Miniabox models including a Renault 8 Gordini and Austin Mini.
If you’ve got the cash to splash it’s a beautiful addition to any collection, but Welly and inparticular Norev prove that a smaller budget can still obtain fantastic diecast.