Corgi Toys 1956-73
462 Commer Promotion for Combex Industries Ltd (copy)

462 Commer Promotion for Combex Industries Ltd (copy)

49 GBP
This is a bit of a mystery in the Corgi tale. They did produce several models for companies to give to visitors, customers or staff and these, because of the small numbers involved are usually very difficult to find and expensive when you do come across one. A slip that may have been included with the model refers to Combex Industries Ltd in Birmingham, a firm doing electro-plating. Few details of that firm survive, though, and one colleague tells me the company was dissolved in 1970.

That would have been about the time that this model will have been produced too so I am not sure whether Combex ever actually got them. Rumour has it that a Masonic Lodge acquired several models but how many and what they did with them I have no idea. Oddly, the name Combex does recur, many years later. Combex Limited was the name of a company in the early 1980s that became Wembley Playcraft Sports and Toys Ltd., with a registered address in Exeter Devon.  Wembley Playcraft Ltd had a registered address in Swansea and shared several directors as a number of other 'Playcraft' companies so there does seem to be some other links between Corgi and Combex over the years.

Another source says that the name was invented and the slip printed just to add a token of reality to the vans which were produced but never issued.

I thought I would try and make one of these models as I had a spare Commer Van of the correct type (not from the Commer Construction Set) and having the full-length base. Now the grey paint I had available isn't as dark as it should be but I may redo that another day when I do have the right colour. It's not far off. The tricky bit was to get the wheels right. They are neither the normal Commer Van wheels nor the cast variety that were used for items like the Co-op Van. In 1970 Corgi would have been producing the GP Beach Buggy Whizzwheels and it seems that these are, indeed, what they fitted. That's a bit strange but it looks like them. I would imagine they used just the Buggy's front wheels (whereas I have used front and back here). I had to file down the wheels to make them thin enough to fit in the arches without rubbing against them - even the thinner front ones needed some attention. I also had to add some tubing for the very thin axle to pass through under the suspension wires. So why on earth Corgi didn't use normal or cast wheels I do not know There would surely have been plenty available. This, and the need to adapt an old base too, and somehow make the wheels fit, does add a little fuel to the conspiracy theory that this was someone's invention! However, I'll stick with the view that Corgi did make a few of these but will not try and explain what happened to them. Suffice it to say that they do appear from time to time and sell for crazy prices!

I have also seen that some have bases fitted with a screw rather than a rivet. Now those I would feel a bit suspicious of, I must admit. But who knows?

Anyway, I enjoyed making this one and am not anxious to see it go but if someone wants it for their collection then it is available as it stands, with slightly too wide axles and in the lighter grey.

Since writing this I have made two more as someone was keen to have my first one and another customer has reserved one of the two recent additions. I have included photos now of the two latest models.