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1957 Ford Thunderbird with Continental Kit
originally written, 1999, updated 01/2008, revised 01/2009, revised 10/2011
by Dot Lang
Corgi Classics is known for producing quality diecast models of vehicles from well known film & television shows so it is no surprise that they made their first Classic 1957 Thunderbird to represent the hit action show, Vega$ - a show from the late 70's starring Robert Urich as "Dan Tanna."   Dan Tanna is represented as a diecast figure sitting in the driver's seat of his red convertible '57 T-bird with gun in hand, Cell phone antenna behind him.     Sadly, Robert died in 2002.
click me!  (orange top) The model was manufactured in two sizes.  A 5inch (  cm) that came with or without a plastic soft top and a 1/63 scale model commonly referred to as the "Corgi Jr."   A few gift sets were made that contained both sizes.
open hood & trunk The larger size comes with hood and trunk that opens.  The Jr. just has a hood that opens.  Both have detailed engines and the non-stock continental kit that the "Vega$" T-bird had in the show.
The Corgi Junior
The Corgi Jr's came in various type bubble paks thru the years.  There was even a Corgi Jr. representing the Vega$ show.

Click me!
They were also boxed in small boxes in the late 80's and early 90's.
Some of the different boxes the 1/  scale  models have come in.
Click me!  (Brown top)
Click Me!
Click Me!


Click Me!


Year issue unknown
but box looks similar to the 1981 boxes.
Mattel used the mold under their name from 1992 thru 1997.  The 1995-1997's are detailed in the Hot Wheels articles & H.W. list.  Meanwhile, Corgi Classics, Ltd of Gt. Britain, continues to produce the larger size.
In 1998 Corgi Classics introduced the "Elvis" model which contained a diecast figure of Elvis in his white suit, sitting & strumming a guitar, but sale was "limited" to just the United Kingdom.  Of course that didn't stop eventual sales to the U.S.
Elvis & pink t-bird
2001 saw the introduction of a Marilyn Monroe set with a silver grey 1957 Thunderbird..  The figure is of MM in her famous white dress scene with the air vent blowing her skirt up.
. .
KIKO   ~  UPDATE ~ May 99
This past month, I  acquired two models made by KIKO in Brazil back in the early '80's.  The two models are called "Corgi Jr's" and the body looks identical to the British made Corgi Jr's but the  chassis is different and marked "KIKO" "IND BRAS" "1980."   I do not know the relationship between the two companies but one model is still in it's original box and carries the same "scottie dog" logo as the regular "Corgi's" plus the box is labeled "KIKO" "Corgi Junior."  If anyone  has information on the relationship between the two companies please let me know.  The wheels are different - 5 spoke.  Three colors so far that II know about: red, white and school bus yellow - all with black interiors.  The yellow model has black painted bumpers & grill w/s.b. yellow headlights and tailights; the white & red have grey bumpers, grill. & head lights & red tail lights. All have black cont'l kit.
Here's another KIKO set with a yellow 57 T-bird and chrome bumpers.

Update October 2004: According to Bill Manske, author of Corgi Jrs and ...., "Corgi and Corgi Juniors were produced briefly in Brazil by A. Kikoler during the 1980's when Brazilian tariffs were high."

KIKO set from Brazil
Sometimes models are used to make dioramas such as this "gift trophy" to a Heinz representative.   It's a commemorative "to" actor Vic Tayback for  his 57th birthday and includes the Heinz 57 bottle as a gas pump along with the 1957 Thunderbird by Corgi.
Not sure of origin as I've only seen one of these on ebay.  Actor Vic Tayback (best known for Alice sitcom) was a spokesperson for Heinz during the late 80s.  Died in 1990 at age 60.  Timing for the placque on this would put it at 1987, for his 57th birthday just a couple of years after this particular model came out.  I do not know the time period for the label on the bottle though, however, Heinz website says they made a label change in 1987.[above updated 2011]
In 1992, another model was released.  I've heard rumors that it was a Mattel product but the packaging at right says "Corgi."  Info I've received says this:  Item #  92627. "Auto-City" but package at right does not say that – Misbehaving Set (’57 T-bird). 

Update 01/08 from Bill Manske:  "Corgi belonged to Mattel, Inc. from late 1989 through June of 1995. When they finally split, Corgi got all of the big castings and military stuff. Mattel kept all of the dies for the Juniors and more toy-like items. The packaging of the Mattel items was soon changed to "Hot Wheels Auto-City" and then to "Hot Wheels." The Corgi castings all went out of production when Mattel bought the Matchbox brand."

Package at right is the first of the Mattel releases of the Thunderbird.  It came in a set with a Kenworth Flatbed truck in maroon and light blue.  Script on the side of T-bird says "Misbehaving".   Metallic Maroon T-bird with Blue and White “Misbehaving” Script on Sides, White Interior, Clear Windshield, Gloss Black Baseplate, Kenworth Flatbed Truck with Maroon Cab and Light Blue Flatbed Body, Maroon and Gold “Misbehaving” Script on Flatbed.

Click on photos for larger views.

List of Corgis

model #/ name
country of origin
1980 #348  Vega$ w/Dan Tanna1 red w/Dan Tanna figure; cell phone antenna; topless Gt. Britain
1981 #8011 cream w/ orange plastic soft top; black & white interior Gt. Britain
1981 #8011 cream w/black plastic soft top Gt. Britain
1981 #801, Ford Thunderbird1 cream w/brown plastic soft top; black & white interior Gt. Britain
1983 #810, Cars of the 50's2 cream upper body, red-orange lower body; black & white interior; topless Gt. Britain
1984 #810 dark pink w/white fin stripe; black & white interior; topless Gt. Britain
1985 #810, Corgi Classics, 1957 Ford Thunderbird3 red w/white fin stripe; black & white interior Gt. Britain
1986 #810, Corgi Classics, 1957 Ford Thunderbird3 black w/white fin stripe; red & white interior Gt. Britain
? black w/black soft top Gt. Britain
1998 #39901  Elvis Thunderbird5 pink w/ cream interior; Elvis figure w/guitar; no top Gt. Britain
2001 #39902 Marilyn Monroe5 Thunderbird Grey with blue pearl clearcoat; pink and white interior; w/ Marilyn Monroe figure in white dress [©2000] Gt. Britain
Corgi Jr size - 1/63
1980 Vegas1, Corgi Jr.
card 56128 #96
card 56092 #96
red w/black interior Gr. Britain
1980 Corgi Jr. Red with black interior - like Vegas C. Jr.  Gr. Britain
1980? #96, Corgi Jr.1 cream(white) w/black interior Gr. Britain
1982 Cool convertibles pale yellow w/black interior Gr. Britain
1982 #96 Ford T Bird1
Corgi Jr.
red w/black interior Gt. Britain
 mid 80's  Corgi Jr. green; black interior Gt. Britain
Mattel took over production of the Corgi Jr.
1988 J121/1, Corgi Jr. red w/silver fin stripe China
1988 J6121/2, 
black w/silver fin stripe; black interior China
c1990 J121/1
 color trial6
flat pink w/silver fin stripe; black interior - black base; rare China
1992/1995? photo by someone else?  can't remember name MisBehaving Metallic Maroon T-bird with Blue and White “Misbehaving” Script on Sides, White Interior, Clear Windshield, Gloss Black Baseplate, Kenworth Flatbed Truck with Maroon Cab and Light Blue Flatbed Body, Maroon and Gold “Misbehaving” Script on Flatbed. Package China
. . . Mattel  produced it in their Hot Wheels line in 1995, 1996 & 97 .

Packages are marked as:
1Mettoy Co. LTD of Northampton, Gr. Britain
2Mettoy Co. plc. Swansea, Gr. Britain
3Corgi Toys Ltd, Swansea, Gr. Britain
4Corgi Hong Kong, Ltd
5Corgi Classics Ltd, Leicester, Gr. Britain
6 Corgi Sales Ltd.

If this is not enough for you, check out T'bird UK Roost website.   You'll find the Corgi there listed in more detail with the different styles of wheels found.
Lists:  1955 A-H 1955 I-M 1955 N-Z ?? 1956 A-F 1956G-J 1956 K-N 1956 O-Z + ? 1957 A-H 1957 I-R 1957 S-Z ??
released in:  1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
AVON Battle Bird,
Hot Wheels
Micro Models
 Racing Champions

©1999-2008 Dot Lang

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