Search Results For Marcel Van Cleemput


Counterfeits, Fakes, Imitations, Unlicensed – the Bad Boyz of the Collectible World

For some collectors, these are the subject of what they collect, for others the cause of much financial and emotional pain. In particular new collectors are often taken for a ride and if your collecting theme is popular with some high-ticket items then it is imperative that you learn about the different types of hustles that you might come across.  So here are the “Bad Boyz” of collecting  –

  1. Copies
  2. Pass-Offs
  3. Fakes
    • Repaints / Repairs
    • Restickered
    • Recards
    • Made-ups
  4. Remanufactured
  5. Repackaged
  6. Not Licensed

And here is a quick overview of what each of these categories are  –

1. Copies

Until the 1970s, it was quite customary to copy other brands’ products with some companies doing nothing else.  This entailed buying a toy, taking it apart and using the parts as a negative for a new mold.  Here is a typical example of that, in this case, a Matchbox copy.  The plastic Morris Minor by Hong Kong’s Blue Box is a copy of a Matchbox model  –

In fact, there is a copy of the copy.  The Commer Van by Blue Bow is a copy of the Commer Van by Blue Box which in turn is a copy of the same model from Matchbox!  The new model could even be in a different scale, for example, Playart collectors know how the brand famously copied a Yamada kit to make its Mazda Rotary Coupe and copied the wrong bit of text off the kit box, marking the Playart model as the “Yamada Super Discmatic Rotary Coupe” where “Yamada Super Discmatic” was actually the model kit range.

2. Passing off as another Brand

Copies have now been mostly replaced by the Pass-off.  Here, for example, Hot Wheel (note, not Hot Wheels!)  –


These products are generally not available in Western markets (one of our members spotted Hot Wheel in Georgia, the former Soviet republic and not the home of Coca-Cola collectibles).  And another Argentina-based member shared Popipo vinyl figures with us  –

They are clearly based on branded products (not sure why this one is called Freddsde versus say Freddy Fazbear) but fool nobody and are picked up by parents that either want to save money or when the original item is just not available.

3. Fakes

These come in different forms such as Repaints, Restickered, Recards and a combination of the other three forms – the Made-up item.

3.1 Repaints / Repairs

Here is a Dinky Toys Fire Engine 25H offered for sale as a rare (and much more valuable) pre-war version of this model  –

It is actually a post-war version and has the following issues  –

  • It has been repainted
  • The ladder is unpainted, making it a 1950s ladder (1)
  • Post-war axles have longer and sharper crimps (2)
  • The wheels are ridged and thus post-war wheels
  • The tires are possible more modern tires aged in tea


3.2 Restickered

Probably some of the easiest fakes are sticker variants.

Corgi Toys sold a number of its normal production Minis to a Danish company called Jensen. The only distinguishing feature is a paper decal with the logo of the company. These stickers are easily recreated making it very hard to know if you get the original promo model.

With Funko, it is even easier as you can buy almost all of their stickers on eBay and Etsy (but not on hobbyDB!).  Here is a current eBay listing (it is even Sponsored!).

It is obviously very easy to change a shared exclusive (value $29) into an SDCC 2015 Exclusive (value of $55).  And that is the only reason why people buy these stickers – shame on these other sites to support this kind of fraud.


3.3 Recards

This Hot Wheels Redlines VW Bug from 1968 is actually a genuine model and so is the card.  But the combination is not, it is a Recard.  Somebody created it.  We allow hobbyDB users to share this information with detailed information on how to spot them.


You can only see this item at the same time as the genuine products (i.e. you have to click on the overview of Subvariants) –

3.4 Made Ups

There was surviving correspondence between Omnisport, a general store in El Salvador, Central America and Dinky Toys in the 1950s, but an order to make the model was never taken up.  This car came to auction in 2009 after it was bought by a dealer from a customer who said he worked in South American and got it there.  It could be that this was a prototype shipped to the store in El Salvador for approval or it was made much later to benefit from the sensation it caused.  It sold for more than $10,000 to a private buyer – so we still don’t know (but our money is on the latter).


4. Remanufactured

Often old forms are bought by other companies.  A good example is Brinquedos Rei in Brazil that re-made Majorette and Schuco models.  Another example is Michael Mordaunt-Smith who bought some of the forms of Timpo Toys and now makes parts and sells them.  Brinquedos Rei made models in different colors and put its name on the baseplate and Michael is changing the colors so that his parts can be spotted as remanufactured items (these parts were originally produced in silver).

These are fine as long as they are marked accordingly. The problem is if unscrupulous folks repackage, age or otherwise manipulate these items or just preys on new collectors that just don’t know.

5. Repackaged

Perfectly fine is an instance where a dealer, manufacturer or distributor finds a stockpile or old merchandise or parts and sells them.  For example, the Salacious Crumb that came in the 1983 Kenner’s Jabba the Hutt Playset

It used to sell for good money as the Crumb could easily get lost.

The almost $700 were always ambitious (the set sells for around $400) but has now become ever more so as recently one of the distributors found a large stash of these and is now reselling them in new trade packs of 40 each to retailers  –

Here is an explanation from their website  –

Another example is the Rosebud Factory find where a collector found 1,000s of very early Hot Wheels buttons  –

And while these are perfectly legit it helps collectors to know about these finds as it often influences market prices for items (simple economics with significantly more supply).  Generally, there is a collector site that provides the relevant information (for this find it is the excellent RedlineButtons site that reports about this fascinating find here).

6. Not Licensed

Some figures, models and other toys are made but not licensed by their respective IP owners (i.e. no payment has been made).  When Christian met Marcel van Cleemput, Corgi Toys’ Chief Designer for over 30 years Marcel explained that no royalties were paid until well in the late 80s. Since then it has become part of the business to pay between 5 and 25% of the wholesale costs in license fees when making a figure of a pop culture character, a plane model or diecast car.  Licensors have won lawsuits in most advanced economies (the exception to this is Opel and VW losing lawsuits against model car brands in Germany). Collectors sometimes speculate about this but have no way of knowing if an item is licensed or not.

Here is an example of a business that was not licensed (the Hard Rock Cafe in Heidelberg, Germany operated for more than 35 years before it closed down after many years of litigation).  The restaurant produced a large number of pins  –

This next pin does it twice! It is neither licensed by Hard Rock Cafe nor by Disney  –


How do we document all of these on hobbyDB

We are working hard to expose or explain all of this on hobbyDB.  For example, we have a production status for fakes, explain how to spot them and co-operate with our contributors, curators, champions and other users to share as much of this important part of the hobby with the public. Avoid falling for the scams as there is no good way out once you did (do not sell the item on without full disclosure)!

Please help us with this (we still have some work documenting every collectible ever made… 😉 and/or share your stories or tips and tricks in the comments.

Planet Diecast’s Charity Dinner with Marcel R Van Cleemput

Young Christian Braun

Musings By Joschik

Christian is one of the founders of the hobbyDB project and this post is about a fundraising event he organized with Marcel Van Cleemput who was Corgi Toys‘ chief designer for more than 30 years and also a member of hobbyDB’s Advisory Council. The dinner was on the 10th of March 2012 and Marcel unfortunately died a year and a half after this event.  I believe this was the last time he got together with his fans.  The article was written by Chris Sweetman and initially published on Planet Diecast’s Blog here.


As part of a fundraising drive for the Helen and Douglas House children’s charity Tony Brandon, Christian Braun and I met Marcel for dinner last Saturday. Apologies from Andrew Adamides (Editor’s Note: that is Baskingshark here on the site), Chris Aston (of Aston Auctions), Hugo Marsh (formerly Christie’s and now SAS) and Tom Hickwell who after paying up in full for the charity all for various reasons could not make the dinner.

The Venue

The dinner took place at Fawsley Hall which is located near Daventry in Northamptonshire.  Fawsley has an interesting history and was a Royal Manor as early as the 7th century. Over the centuries Fawsley was continuously developed in a variety of styles, reflecting each period. Today Fawsley Hall is a Country House Hotel and Spa with facilities to house conferences and is an ideal wedding venue. For anyone wishing to explore Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire, Althorp, Warwick Castle and Blenheim or racing at Silverstone Fawsley Hall is ideally located.

Fawsley Hall is the quintessential English Country House

Over a very enjoyable dinner, there were lots of questions for Marcel from ourselves and other members of the Planet Diecast site! To start with, we asked him to name the five top models he’d include in his model range if he was still in the toy car business. Marcel told us that since he doesn’t follow current car models, he’d be pushed to name five but that the range would definitely include a Smart Car because he has one, and a BL Wedge Princess would be number two because he once owned one during his time at Mettoy and found it to be totally reliable (in contrast to the image of most BL products!). Another likely candidate would be a Triumph Herald as he had a memorable journey in one, driving from Daventry to Florence, Italy on a summer holiday with his wife and two young daughters in around 1960. The journey was 1002 miles and Marcel hadn’t booked accommodation in advance but struck it lucky while driving round Florence looking for somewhere to stay. He suddenly found himself outside “The Grand Hotel” and, taking his two young daughters into the reception area, he managed to persuade the reception staff to allow him and his family to stay. Marcel said that a special feature for this model would be a roof rack with two large miniature suit cases strapped on. He didn’t mention whether it would be a coupe like the famous Corgi model!


Marcel went on to tell us more about Mettoy. At its peak, the company employed over 5,000 people. These included 60 tool makers and three people in their Art Department. There were occasions when they outsourced moulds to Germany in the first few years, later, toolmakers were used in Italy. Prototype models were mainly outsourced from Ian Pickering of Southend, Ian was the finest model maker and was responsible for the best prototypes, The Coronation Coach, as shown in the Great Book of Corgi being typical of his fine work. When really stretched Marcel used Gerald Wingrove whose models were outstanding.

The injection moulding machines Mettoy used were designed and made in-house. These machines were always on the forefront of technology and regularly updated. Mettoy did use die-sets made by Die Casting Machine Tools (DCMT). Copper masks were deployed for two-tone models and for applying additional painted detailing such as grilles and bumpers. The Art Department were responsible for producing all art work including catalogues, decals and packaging. However, the decal production was outsourced and the manufacture and printing of the packaging was carried out by Vernon Packaging of Northampton.

Although car manufacturers would supply blueprints of their models, Marcel never used them. He recalled that Studebaker once sent him 1:1 scale plans of their Golden Hawk. They weren’t used for two reasons – one was the lack of space they had to roll out the plans in their office and the second was that they were out of date! Soon after he received the plans, Studebaker had carried out several modifications to the car and Corgi wanted the most up to date version. As was common with manufacturers, they rarely updated the blueprints when they made design changes after the fact.

Instead of using blue prints Marcel preferred to photograph a car. This would result in around 70 images of the vehicle in question, taken from all angles, including the interior and occasionally of the underside of the chassis. Marcel would then develop the films at home that evening and print off all the whole plates  early next morning so that the model designer could start work immediately on producing an accurate body external drawing of the model. These were always drawn at 4 times model size for accuracy but then reduced to twice the model size for the master pattern maker to produce the body pattern. The wood used was lime as it has a very fine grain. Marcel always took along with him the designer who was to produce the accurate body external drawing. This helped to ensure that the designer was fully au fait with the vehicle and would easily recollect the fine features etc. After taking the photographs, they measured the car and made a drawing to scale on graph paper of the side, front and rear elevations as well as a plan view. They also used very large sheets of paper to lay over the main areas of the car and used crayons to rub over the entire curves and shapes. The principle was” just like taking brass rubbings in a church” Marcel told us. He explained that using this method all the details and their relationship with each other was faithfully recorded. These records would then be used by the model makers to prepare scale models for evaluation purposes. Once the go-ahead was given they would then be used by the tool makers in the first step towards model production.

In the Mettoy era, paying royalties to make models of cars was a rarity – Lord Stokes and Ken Tyrell wanted to be paid royalties from Mettoy for certain Corgi Toys, but Marcel refused and managed to get ELF fuels, Tyrrell’s Formula 1 sponsor, to pay Ken the £6,000 he asked for, in return for selling ELF 20,000 Corgi Tyrell in special boxes for them to sell in their filling stations. Indeed, all deals Marcel struck with car, film and TV companies were on a handshake! There was no paperwork involved.

Many of our members asked why the move to 1:36th scale. Marcel took full responsibility for this one! He reasoned that a larger scale would enable finer details and the only additional costing implication would be for materials. Research and development costs incurred were the same whatever the scale. Marcel felt that the larger scale was well suited to the Formula 1 racing cars Corgi were planning at the time. When asked why didn’t he use the more established 1:32nd scale, the same used by Airfix for their plastic car kits and Scalextric for their slot racing system, he replied that he never considered any competitor’s ranges. “We were too busy dealing with what we were doing to look at what other firms were making” he replied.

The discussion then moved to the 1:18th scale Formula 1 racing cars. Marcel said that this decision was based on an historical connection. Back in 1958 Mettoy released a large scale Vanwall Formula 1 car at the same time as the Corgi Toys version was issued. The Vanwall was roughly 1:18th scale and was a special for Marks and Spencer’s. So in 1974 the first 1:18th scale F1 car was released. This was the Lotus ‘John Player Special’ and sold very well in its four year production run. Only one other 1:18th scale model was issued, the Marlboro McLaren. Further models were considered but other projects took over and the demand on time for their development curtailed any future involvement in this scale.

In the early 1970‘s there were plans to produce the Rocket stock cars in the Corgi Toys scale. These would have complimented the dragster range Corgi were currently developing. However, there was no time to proceed with this venture either, as other topics suddenly took priority. Marcel said that this was a typical recurrence. His team was small in number and they were always overstretched. At any one time they would be responsible for around 45 different models at various stages of development. His team of designers were always stretched to the limit and very hard working. They often put in as many as 25 hours overtime per week, this would include Saturdays and Sundays.

The first version of Corgi’s James Bond Aston-Martin DB5 was in Gold as Corgi’s Management felt that they could not just make it in a bare metal color!

Personal recollections at Mettoy

Marcel didn’t enjoy a particularly good working relationship with Howard Fairbairn, his boss at Mettoy. An authoritarian leader, Fairbairn was set on doing things his way and his interpersonal skills could leave a lot to be desired. Marcel once had a personal invitation from the James Bond producers to spend three weeks on their set in Egypt, but wasn’t allowed the time off by Fairburn. The invitation was in recognition of Marcel’s hard work on the Corgi Toys James Bond Lotus Esprit and on previous James Bond models. His consolation was a lovely card from the film signed by most of the cast.

Another personal invite did actually go ahead. One day he received a call from Anthony Bamford, owner of JCB. Neither Anthony nor Marcel could find time for an essential meeting, Anthony therefore suggested a weekend and to meet him at East Midlands Airport and to ensure he brings his passport. On arrival he was taken to Mr Bamford’s private jet and taken off to Le Mans! Again this was in recognition of Marcel’s work on a variety of JCB models and a Ferrari Daytona owned by Mr Bamford that raced at Le Mans. It was a tremendous occasion.

There were plenty of other visits too – Marcel fondly remembers that when he visited the Lamborghini factory, it was spotlessly clean and he felt one could eat dinner off their floor! It was an amazing place and they were treated very well by all staff there. The only other impressive car plant was that of the De Lorean factory in Northern Ireland.

On a different matter Marcel recalls the problems with Spanish toy car companies pirating their models. Suing would have cost lots of money and one could never know what the outcome would be if it did go though the court system. Marcel didn’t think that moulds were offered to any Spanish firm.

One model that Marcel always wanted to make was a camper van with an opening roof with ‘fabric’ sides. The main difficulty here was selecting the material for the sides. Finally, Plastic moulded slats onto fabric material was tried out but it then proved too complicated to be able to fold the material. The folding was important because the roof had to be opened and closed repeatedly in the process of play. Unfortunately, lack of time was against them and the project was shelved.

The Marcel R Van Cleemput Collection

We also asked Marcel about his famous collection. There were, he said, many reasons why Marcel sold it. The main reason was that he was in the process of moving to a small cottage from his large family home of many years. The move took seven weeks and there was no room for Marcel’s Corgi collection. Instead a friend offered to store the 50 boxes in their loft.

Nigel Turner of Turner’s Merry Go Round, in Northampton was using Marcel to design a computerised musical instrument for him and learnt of his collection of Corgi Models.

Nigel wanted to buy the collection and agreed to create a museum at his Merry Go Round complex where the models etc. would be on permanent display as they really belonged to be in Northampton. Marcel sold the collection to him for £ 7,250. This included all the models to the early 1980’s as well as posters, leaflets, over 100 prototypes, master patterns and resins together with a body mould.

Nigel then talked to Allen Levy about a Corgi book, Alan jumped at the chance of a book about Corgi Toys and the rest is history, up to a point. The fact that all the models were now on display made it easy to do all the photography for the book, which took 3 weeks. Nigel then also wanted to buy Bassett-Lowke, the other Northampton based toy legend but would only do so if Marcel agreed to come in as Design and Management consultant. This he agreed to do for 3 months but eventually stayed for 9 months.

Unfortunately, shortly after Marcel stopped working with Nigel the collection was sold onto a collector in Switzerland for £55,000. 10 years later that collector fell on hard times and had to sell up. A German auction house was given the collection to sell and it realised £250,000!  Needless to say that it is a shame that this collection is not available to the public anymore; but maybe some of our members here want to consider creating a Corgi Museum.

Marcel signing Chris Sweetman’s copy of The Great Book of Corgi

All in all, we had a very enjoyable evening and would like to thank Marcel for taking the time to make it possible and for answering all our many questions. Thanks too to Fawsley Hall for providing a wonderful venue!  We raised a total of £860 for the Helen & Douglas House on this occasion with the cost for the dinner being paid for by Planet Diecast and Fawsley Hall.