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Dinkinius's picture
Dinkinius
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-406 Commer Articulated Truck (1963-66)

I have decided to bring this Topic up for discussion for the simple reason that I honestly believe this model NEVER existed, just the figment of someone’s imagination that resulted in this fictitious model appearing in modern-day price lists such as Ramsay’s British Diecast Model Toys Catalogue. The model description does appear in the DTCA Website PDF library from which I copied the title of this Topic.

The Commer Articulated Truck only existed as a 424 Commer Convertible Articulated Truck containing two plastic additions to the trailer, a blue cover and a white stake, both plastic, packaged in a large semi-display box. If it did exist just as a Commer Articulated Truck, then it did so as a 424 without its accessories. Giving it a vacant Sales Number is perhaps an easy way of describing a Commer Convertible Articulated Truck without the “convertible” accessories!

Every price list and order form for the period during which the “406” is supposed to have existed never contained such a model.

However, I stand corrected when documentary evidence can be produced that states otherwise!

Reproduced below is a 424 aka “406” Commer Articulated Truck, with the last image showing its chassis and a very small piece of the blue canopy which should not be there as a 406!

Bruce   (150)

20160423/912/1650

janwerner's picture
janwerner
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

Hi Bruce, you may have read the article 'A tale of two Commers' by Roger Wynn (Brian Salter) in Diecast Collector 85 (November 2004) p. 40-43. He found no evidence of the possible existence of a 406 either.

If not, and you wish, I could send the scans to you. Kind regards, Jan 

Dinkinius's picture
Dinkinius
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Jan Werner wrote:

Hi Bruce, you may have read the article 'A tale of two Commers' by Roger Wynn (Brian Salter) in Diecast Collector 85 (November 2004) p. 40-43. He found no evidence of the possible existence of a 406 either.

If not, and you wish, I could send the scans to you. Kind regards, Jan 

Hello Jan

Many thanks for bringing the Diecast Collector article to my attention, as I previously was unaware of it.  At the start of this century, I had to make some radical changes to my lifestyle when I moved into semi-retirement. My numerous magazine subscriptions, from aircraft monthlies, war history issues as well as model magazines had to be severely culled.  As for model magazines, it was a toss between Diecast Collector and Model Collector, so I resorted to the only true and tested means – toss a coin.  After three goes I finally settled on Model Collector!

 I would certainly appreciate a scan of the article, and many thanks for your generous offer.

 

Kind regards

Bruce   (150)

20160424/914/1219

janwerner's picture
janwerner
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

You're welcome. I will send it today, kind regards, Jan 

Dinkinius's picture
Dinkinius
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After reading the Diecast Model article quoted by Jan above, I decided to conduct my own investigation based on some of the books I have in my library. This is what I came up with, the result being an almost identical conclusion to that reached by the author of the Diecast Collector article, “Roger Whynn” confirming my original assessment at the start of this Topic.

If we were to go back to the very early days of interest in collecting Dinky Toys we find Cecil Gibson’s “History of British Dinky Toys 1934-1964”, the original in-depth analysis of these famous toys. The book was first published in 1966, at a time when the 424 Commer Convertible Articulated Truck was in its final days of production and with the Meccano factory still in full operation although starting to show the pains of bad management and a difficult work-force. In Gibson’s book, the remarks beside the 406 are “According to Bender, this was 424 minus the plastic accessories”.  The question arises, “Who was Bender”?  Perhaps a fitting name for one who “bends the rules”. According to the Preface, André Bender “was a tower of strength and I was lucky enough to be given a pre-publication copy of his index of Dinky Toys, which was a great help to me” wrote Cecil Gibson. (Has anyone seen Bender’s Index of Dinky Toys?) What surprises me is that Gibson apparently did not contact Meccano to ascertain the veracity of Bender’s advice on the 406.  Perhaps he did, but was met with a wall of indifference.

Then in 1981, two years aftere the factory closed came the first edition of what was to become The Authorised History of Dinky Toys, Mike and Sue Richardson’s book being Volume 4 in The Hornby Companion Series, “Dinky Toys and Modelled Miniatures” published by New Cavendish Books. This monumental work was revised and reprinted in 1986, with a second revision in 1989 and two further reprinting occurring in 1992 and 1993. In 1986, Patrick Trench prepared a Dinky Toy Compendium that was available as a separate purchase through Cavendish Books, but by the 1993 reprint, the Compendium was included as part of Volume 4 itself. At no stage through any of the revisions were there changes to the inclusion of 406 Commer Articulated Truck. It is interesting though, the drawing of the 424 on page 171 shows the Commer in a darker colour scheme than the usual light yellow. (See the image below.)

In 1982, Frank Thompson includes the 406 in his “The Dinky Toy Price Guide” with this notation:

“This model was mentioned by Gibson, but no details were given. Export only item, being 424 minus the plastic accessories. There are two colours; the first is a yellow cab with grey rear and blue plastic wheels, windows and interior. The second colour, dark green with black rear, green plastic wheels, etc. is much rarer and worth treble. Original price when issued 9/11. Issued 1963. Deleted 1966. (A strange price for a model when one could buy the complete unit including accessories for the same price!)  Just where Thompson obtained his information about the 406 as well as it having an interior I can only speculate and Gibson never mentioned the “two colours” and two different coloured plastic hubs.

In 1984, John Ramsay’s British Diecast Model Toys (actually with the title “The Swapmeet & Toy Fair Catalogue of British Diecast Model Toys”) arrived on the scene.  It was notable in that although the 424 Commer Convertible Articulated Truck was included in the catalogue, the “406 Commer Articulated Truck” was not, and yet the catalogue acknowledges the use of Cecil Gibson’s book in the preparation of his book.

I do not have a copy of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Editions of John Ramsay’s British Diecast Model Toys but by the 5th edition published in 1993, the 406 had appeared with the notation, Yellow/Grey, Blue plastic hubs, Supertoy, (424 without accessories), with the entry for the 424 reading, “Yellow/grey, 406 plus trailer canopy & stake body fittings”. So by 1993 the catalogue had included the 406 and had upgraded its status to that of a Supertoy, when the 424 was packaged in a Dinky Toys box with its base plate bearing the words COMMER DINKY TOYS. Right up to the latest 15th Edition published in 2015, it still carries the same description as recorded 22 years earlier.

In 1996, the renowned French authority on French Dinky Toys, Jean-Michel Roulet published “A Guide Dinky Toys Anglais – Tous Les Modeles De 1953 A 1980”. Page 65 mentions the 424 and on Page 61 is reference to the 406, “voir 424”. Then on page 145, the 406 is mentioned as having been available as from 1962 – one year before the 424 was released.

Then we come to 2000 when the updated and enlarged treatise on Dinky Toys by those venerable authorities on all things Dinky, Mike and Sue Richardson “The Great Book of Dinky Toys” was published. With all that had preceded it, one would have thought that the 406 would have been worthy of closer examination, but no. There it is on page 125, under the remarks column “casting used for the 424 Commer Convertible Articulated Truck”, but with an added entry in the column marked “BOX”, we are now informed that the model came in an individual yellow box.

 It appears that each time a new book is written, the “406” has some added features! Firstly it was the basis for the 424, then it became a Supertoys when the 424 remained an ordinary Dinky Toys and then it became available one year before the 424 was released, and yet strangely, no one was watching when it came out! Not forgetting its interior, the availability of two colour schemes and finally, its very own yellow-lidded box.

However, we should really check the details that came out of the Meccano factory rather than relying on reference material published by well-meaning enthusiasts and “experts”. In 1982, Frank Thompson wrote that the 406 was for export only and its period in production was 1963 to 1966, with 424 being May 1963 to 1966. On checking the 1963 Canada catalogue (an over-print of the USA Catalogue published in May 1963) with the print code of 13/1063/50 (October 1963), although the 424 is included, (with a number of others that were not part of the down-sizing undertaken across the border) the 406 was not included. Strange when a previous publication stated the 406 was for export only?  Isn’t Canada considered an “export” from the UK? Then a check of the 1963 catalogue for Australia – it does have the 424 but the 406 is also not included. Isn’t Australia also considered one of those countries to which Meccano’s products were exported? As mentioned above, an identical catalogue for the USA with the print code of 13/563/50 did not include either the 406 or 424 and of some noteworthy is the date of the catalogue, May 1963, this being the same month when the 424 was released together with 241 Lotus Racing Car. The Lotus was included in the May 1963 USA catalogue.

Then we examine the literature for those models distributed in the United States from 1964 until 1971 by Lines Bros. Inc, bearing in mind that during 1964, Meccano was taken over by Lines Bros. In 1964, Lines Bros Inc (The American arm of the company) following an exhaustive analysis of the current range of Dinky Toys that were available in the United States, drastically reduced the range and then issued a colour two-page brochure announcing two new display dispensers available for retail sellers. The back page shows the two types of dispensers available -  the smaller stand with an opening assortment of models, and the larger version that shows the complete range of Dinky Toys now available.  (See image below.) It is interesting to see that the 424 was not included. But more importantly, there was no 406 either! All the models available were packaged in a see-through yellow then gold box. It should also be mentioned that both the 1964 and 1965 catalogues printed in the United States provides further confirmation that the 424 and certainly not the 406 were not available in that country. So the question is raised, if the 406 was “available for export only” as stated by Thompson, and if Canada, USA and Australia never listed it, which countries are left that would even warrant such a specially packaged model when the 424 was readily available?

I think the answer is a resounding NONE as the model simply never existed, except as a 424 that has had its accessories lost, misplace or destroyed!

However, having decided that the 406 never existed, how does a collector display a Commer Articulated Truck of which the plastic accessories have become lost or were never included when the model was purchased at a swap meet, auction etc?  Perhaps it could be referred to as a “424a”!  Then what would one call my Commer Articulated Truck when it came with just the blue canopy?  A 424b?!! What about a “424 and a half”!! 

Even without the accessories, the model is still a 424 Commer Articulated Truck.

Bruce   (150)

20160510/919/0006

fodenway's picture
fodenway
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DTCA MemberUK

With regard to the "phantom" 406 Commer Articulated lorry, I bought a copy of Dr Gibson's book in 1970, and noted the mention of the existence of this model. At the time, I wrote to him and said that I thought I had such a model, bought a year before when our local Co-operative store was having a closing-down sale prior to demolition as part of the re-development of the town centre. This particular toy had been on display and came without a box, although I was assured by the assistant that it was complete, but now, on reflection it was almost certainly just a standard 424 with its accessories and box lost - for five shillings, I was not going to argue!  I remember that it had windows, and the towing hook was absent from the trailer - it had never had one, as the retaining spigot had never been spun down - a factory error, perhaps? The model went missing during the 1970's, and was never replaced.

 In the early 1980's, I bought Frank Thompson's book, and found a great many mistakes and fanciful entries. At that time, Thompson had a shop on the main street in Haworth, Yorkshire (Bronte Country) , which I visited on one occasion. He seemed to have little idea of the values of the toys in his shop, some being ridiculously expensive - one example was a Dinky Humber Hawk, in green and black, "the extremely rare version without windows" (his description) at  £75, (the equivalent of a mint, boxed Slumberland van in those days). It was in moderately playworn condition, and it was obvious that the windows had been broken out from the small section remaining around the rivet. When I pointed this out, his reply was that I didn't have to buy it, but I would be missing out because it was very valuable!  From then on, I found it very hard to give credence to any of his statements. Maybe we will never know the full story of the Commer Articulated Lorry.