The Dinky model of the now almost forgotten Rex was introduced in 1934, forming set 51 together with its companions Europa, Queen of Bermuda, Strathaird, Empress of Britain and Britannic.
With her original 51,062 gross tonnage the Italian Rex was the biggest (not the longest) liner model in the 51 series of Famous Liners.
It exceeded the German no. 51b Europa in size by 1,316 gross tons. Both of them were the only non-British ships in the range. Though belonging to the bigger ship models (152 and 165 mm long respectively), contrary to the Queen Mary (and Normandie) the Rex (and Europa) consisted of one single casting only. The single casting was supplemented by two separate masts of wire, inserted into the appropriate deck holes to complete the model.
Manually applying the tiny green band, neatly below the red funnel top, must have been a tricky job, a reason to usually place the green line a little bit lower than reality would prescribe (see photo of the real one below). The correct distance is one band width below the red funnel top. But this hardly affects the modelâ€™s realism and its fair accuracy. Ventilation intakes next to the funnels were accentuated by a touch of red paint against the funnelâ€™s sides, other individual intakes have the same red touches.
The main superstructure is white, on top of the all black hull. Besides the colourful funnels and the red ventilation intakes a few other details were picked out with touches of contrasting paint. The front deck hatch is painted the same brown as the masts and one touch of blue reveals the swimming pool aft. The overall representation of the real ship, with its nice, pronounced sheer line is very nice and crisp.
From below the familiar imprint is visible, cast into the inside of the model.
Like all contemporary Dinky Toys many examples of the Rex model have serious fatigue, the photo above showing the difference in size which can occur as a result of that destructive process.
The Rex was the luxurious flagship of the Italian Line (Italia, Cantieri dell' Adriatico, TriÃ«st).
The detail shows the two Flying Fortresse passing along the ship. In fact this early version of the WWII American bomber was represented by a Dinky model as well (see inset, Boeing 'Flying Fortress' / Long Range Bomber no. 62g).
Both triumphs and bad luck were the shipâ€™s fate. Her maiden voyage in September 1932 was a disaster but in the subsequent year she took the Blue Riband over from the other ship modelled by Dinky, the German Europa.The Blue Riband (trophee above) was the reward for the fastest east-west crossing of the Atlantic.
Her sister ship, in the shadow of the glorious Rex, was the Conte di Savoia (48,502 tons gross), not with an overhanging stern, like the Rex, but easily identifiable by her a cruiser stern (like both Queens).
In 1935 the Normandie, another famous liner, modelled by Dinky France (no. 52c), took over the Blue Riband from the Rex.
This triumph was followed twice by a competition Normandie-Queen Mary, Queen Mary winning in 1936 and definitely in 1938.
The Rex ended as a victim of war. It was sunk near Capodistria, TriÃ«st, salvaged again, but apparently useless, sold for scrap in 1947, scrapped on the spot 1947-1958.
This rather long introduction was a lead up to three questions:
1. The set presentation box is well known, even showing two quite different label versions. However, like other small single Dinky items, it must have been sold from trade boxes too. Or not ? Are examples known ?
2. Quite surprisingly, a single presentation box for this model showed up in the 29 October 2009 Vectis auction of Ken McRaeâ€™s collection. The box lid is without illustration label. The company's name is now 'Italian Line' instead of the usually mentioned 'Italia Line '.
This packing is very unusual as presentation boxes of this kind were thought to have been adopted for the Queen Mary and Normandie (as shown above) only. Are more details known about this box, for example its provenance, possible printing date etc ? Ken McRae, on this DTCA forum too, or the present owner may have some additional information ?
3. Now that this single Rex presentation box appears to exist : are other similar boxes known for some other Dinky ships of the 51 series? Especially the similar sized Europa might be expected to have been sold in such a presentation box too.
I hope this Rex record may stimulate some discussion: answers or even more questions!
Kind regards, Jan Werner