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the pre-tech years

specific aspects or series, all written by members. Those who have only experienced today’s world, where word processing, digital images and PDFs are the order of the day, would be amazed at the hours Jim took in typing up contributions, patiently laying out paste up pages (Tippex and Pritt stick inclusive) and getting each issue photocopied and then distributed by post, with all the variations of stamp purchases that mailing to many international destinations entailed. The Club had an impressive innings, with the last issue being published in May 2007, by which time black and white photocopying had moved on through coloured feature pages to full colour, Word processed PDF copies sent via email supplementing the distribution process. By then, MC reader (and proprietor of VW Models) Mark Johnson was assisting Jim with shouldering some of the editorial work. The demise of the Club, with a healthy, participating, membership to the last, belied the reality that, amongst other things, the age of the internet meant that news of new models, etc, travelled far quicker than the quarterly issues could keep pace with. For me, the VWMC halcyon days were those as the 1970s moved into the next decade. Back then, displays of models (toys and more serious collectors’ scale models) became features of several of the participating VW club displays at UK VW events. Of particular attraction to many were Jim’s displays, which featured various parts of his collection, hosted on the Lothians VW Club stands. On a couple of notable occasions, also in the early Long term champions of VW model collecting: our contributor Stephen (with long hair and sun hat) can be seen to the left of this small group, sat in front of his Beetle of the time and discussing models with Jim McLachlan, centre (moustache and hat) at VW Action 1981.

62 www.modelcollector.com | october 2017

“In this new era, sourcing obsolete models for a collection meant gearing up from scouring shops for dusty, forgotten, old stock and rummaging at jumble sales to the fast expanding world of swapmeets and toyfairs” 1980s, the Club managed internationally attended informal swapmeets on the Saturday evening of what was at the time the biggest International VW meeting on the events calendar, called ‘VW Action’ (this event name still lives on today, but in a totally different format and no longer run by the same organisers responsible for those in the halcyon days of the late 1970s and ‘80s). At ‘Action 80’ not only did Jim’s display on the Lothians VW Club stand draw attention from the crowds but so, too, did displays on the Cabrio Club stand and VWMC member Mark Taylor’s very imaginative and original Beetle shaped show-case, containing, again, many rare models.

The transitional ‘80s By the beginning of the 1980s the toy car collecting world was rapidly changing. Dinky Toys had gone bankrupt in the UK in 1979, followed by Lesney, makers of Matchbox toys,

in 1982. Corgi Toys, too, was teetering on the brink, only to fall mid-decade. In mainland Western Europe brands such as Solido, Norev, Gama, Pilen and Metosul were hanging on, but the era of schoolboy automotive collectables (such as Brooke Bond Tea cards, etc) was waning in the face of Playmobil and a whole new era of imaginative play production – not to mention the arrival of Playstation electronics. Only the fading days of the Matchbox Superfast track racers lingered, mainly in the guise of Mattel’s Hot Wheels. The 1980s was a truly transitional decade. With the children of the 1950s and 60s all grown up, we began to see the emergence of a whole generation of adult model collectors. These collectors were encouraged by Lesney’s Models of Yesteryear, Dugu, Rio, Solido Age D’Or, etc, despite some very bleak years in the wake of the 1973/4 oil crisis. Fortunately, the market was also supported by

a growing number of prestigious new names on the scene, whose products – often handbuilt – were defiantly not toys, Somerville, Western Models and Brooklin being amongst them. The era of the ‘Not suitable for children – Collector’s Model only” had arrived. In this new era, sourcing obsolete models for a collection meant gearing up from scouring shops for dusty, forgotten, old stock and rummaging at jumble sales to the fast expanding world of swapmeets and toyfairs. The growing, and ever more discerning, ranks of collectors were hungry for reliable information sources. This hunger was fed in 1982 by the enthusiasm and energy of Rod and Val Ward, from whose well-known model shop sprang the publication Model Auto Review. This was a breath of fresh, authoritative, air and opened up a much wider world of information, sources and contacts.

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