Husky / Corgi Juniors by Mettoy
#45a Mercedes 280sl
Rockets #903 + #928



The Mercedes 280SL was intended to be a new Husky casting for 1969, however the challenge posed by Mattel“s Hotwheels resulted in this casting becoming chosen as one of the initial 6 Corgi Rockets launched in October 1969, being painted solarbrite blue although a famous colour trial version is known chromed. Corgi at this time actually made Rockets colour trials in all solarbrite colours including chrome & a white gold that appear never to have been used in Rockets volume production. Juniors 280SLs were colour trialled in metallic colours while silver was chosen a metallic turquoise example is amongst known survivors in private collections.

Two short (or perhaps one run during transition to body & baseplate #2 with hot foiled wheels) Rockets runs were made in dayglo green over white primer in these early days mainly intended for packing in Corgi Rockets tracksets.

Corgi designed very fast deep dish wheels that ran on much stronger thicker axles than their Hotwheels & Superfast competition. The 10x4mm deep dish wheel design clearly couldn't be hot foiled in the same way that Mattel & Lesney made their foiled wheels look sharp - Rockets ran on these rather plain all black nylon wheels for the first year of production until raised centre 10x4mm wide 5 slots were designed that were suitable for hot foiling although large quantities of these wide 5 slots left the factory all black, perhaps due to the wheel hot foiling machinery not being available soon enough.

The silver (with 10x2mm plated hubcaps) issue Mercedes 280SL was also chosen as one of the USA 1970 Corgi Juniors launch models which were used in gas station giveaway when sufficient vouchers had been collected.In the UK the yellow version with all black thin 10x2mm WHIZZWHEELS were used for a similar Shell petrol promotion that launched the WHIZZWHEELS branding in the UK.

Corgi had a policy in those days of painting some more popular cars in special alternative colours for gift sets perhaps in the expectation that recipients would be disappointed to receive a Giftset containing the same coloured 280SLs that they already had as a singleton! The hard to find issues in light blue enamel,metallic brown, red enamel,very dark blue and orange are all believed to have been produced primarily for individual Giftset production runs although penny numbers exist packed in blister packs in private collections today - these particular colour issues are as rare or rarer than the Wall of Death Capri which would suggest Giftset individual colour runs could be around 10,000 cars each in these scarce colours.

The first 5 colour variations manufactured featured the 1st body casting which had bevel edged sills between the axles.The 2nd body casting was a modification in 1970 with conventional sill edges between the axles.The 3rd and final body casting appeared by 1972 , adding a skirt around the rear and to the sills between the axles to jack the body sufficiently to allow wide WHIZZWHEELS to be fitted to the WHIZZWHEELS baseplate. Ivory seats similar to Lesney“s favoured shade were used on the first Rockets however red seats were made for the earliest Juniors issues and the final Rockets issues produced. Later Juniors issues featured alternately yellow or ivory or red seats with the final bright blue 280SLs having proper white rather than ivory alongside yellow with one very short run with orange seats (like the Bedford Duple coach).

The Juniors 280SL came initially with a Juniors baseplate however it was reworded for all subsequent WHIZZWHEELS issues. Pre 1972 baseplates were chemically plated in a vacuum (vac plated) which could appear as shiny as chrome when new but often darkened with exposure to finger grease and other elements. From 1972 proper chrome plating became the norm with the short run of silver painted baseplates perhaps made on a day when neither chemical nor chrome plating machinery was functional.

The Rockets 280SL came initially with a small rounded CORGI name cast on the baseplate however this was revised during 1970 to reflect the thicker squared letters of the new style CORGI trademark. At the same time the Rockets baseplate was altered around the front rivit to make spinning easier without affecting the tow hook guide. This revised Rockets baseplate is found on all copper 280SLs although their deep dish wheels seems to prove they predate the other issues with this revised baseplate,all of which feature hot foiled 5 slots. The all black #928 007 "Spectre" labelled cars licensed from the film "On Her Majesty“s Secret Service" which have the 2nd body, 2nd baseplate and hotfoiled 5 slot wide wheels were released individually in a specially designed OHMS Rockets blistercard or in a 007 multipack.

All other Rockets 280SLs were issued on the generic Rockets blistercard with the label on the tune up key identifying the model name and number perhaps inspired by the individual model Hotwheels tin badges included in Mattel“s blisterpacks.

Corgi Juniors 280SL came in picturecard blisters 1970-72 - initially the longer design with red on yellow WHIZZWHEELS flash added for those cars fitted with WHIZZWHEELS. The bright blue models with wide wheels and the 3rd body type were made after picture cards had been dropped in 1973, they came on the standard rainbow swirl cards which could have seemingly randomly either a red, a blue or an orange background.


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Above: the first Mercedes 280 sl released was
the silver CJ version which is very hard to find.

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Above: the first metallic blue Corgi Juniors version.

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Above: the yellow version can be found with either a bright chrome baseplate or plain white baseplate.

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Above: the blue version in its Whizzwheels blister pack.

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Above: metallic red

Above: metallic red body with silver painted baseplate
photo courtesy Martin Rayner

Above: very dark blue body with yellow interior and silver painted baseplate
photo courtesy Martin Rayner

Above: very dark blue body with silver painted baseplate
photo courtesy Martin Rayner

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Above: the orange version
photo courtesy Simon Phillips.

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Above: the bright blue version with yellow, orange and white interiors
also available but not shown - ivory or red interiors.

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Above: the Rockets version in Solarbrite blue

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Above: another but this time in Solarbrite copper

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Above: and finally we have the black SPECTRE version from the James Bond movie 'ON HER MAJESTYS SECRET SERVICE'

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Above: the SPECTRE version was also available in the James Bond 007 giftset

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Above: some very hard to find variations.

Above: showing the difference between a type 2 (top) rockets baseplate and a type 3 Rockets baseplate by the engraving of an additional patent number by the rear axle
photo courtesy Martin Rayner

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Above: a preproduction Rocket in chrome finish
photo courtesy Simon Phillips

Husky + Corgi Juniors #45a
Mercedes 280SL
code number
sill type
body colour
baseplate
interior colour
wheels
code 1
bevelled sill
silver
#1 juniors vac plated
red
10mm black w plated hubcap
code 2
bevelled sill
metallic blue
#2 whizzwheels vac plated
red
thin black ww
code 3
bevelled sill
yellow
#2 whizzwheels vac plated
red
thin black ww
code 4
bevelled sill
yellow
#2 whizzwheels white
red
thin black ww
code 5
conventional sill
yellow
#2 whizzwheels white
red
thin black ww
code 6
conventional sill
light blue
#2 whizzwheels vac plated
ivory
thin foiled ww
code 7
conventional sill
metallic red
#2 whizzwheels vac plated
ivory
thin black ww
code 8
conventional sill
metallic red
#2 whizzwheels vac plated
ivory
thin foiled ww
code 9
conventional sill
metallic red
#2 whizzwheels vac plated
yellow
thin foiled ww
code 10
conventional sill
metallic red
#2 whizzwheels silver painted
yellow
thin foiled ww
code 11
conventional sill
metallic brown
#2 whizzwheels vac plated
yellow
thin foiled ww
code 12
conventional sill
metallic brown
#2 whizzwheels vac plated
ivory
thin foiled ww
code 13
conventional sill
red enamel
#2 whizzwheels vac plated
ivory
thin foiled ww
code 14
conventional sill
red enamel
#2 whizzwheels vac plated
yellow
thin foiled ww
code 15
conventional sill
very dark blue
#2 whizzwheels vac plated
ivory
thin foiled ww
code 16
conventional sill
very dark blue
#2 whizzwheels vac plated
yellow
thin foiled ww
code 17
conventional sill
very dark blue
#2 whizzwheels silver painted
yellow
thin foiled ww
code 18
conventional sill
orange
#2 whizzwheels chrome plated
yellow
thin foiled ww
code 19
conventional sill
bright blue
#2 whizzwheels vac plated
red
thin foiled ww
code 20
conventional sill
bright blue
#2 whizzwheels chrome plated
red
thin foiled ww
code 21
conventional sill
bright blue
#2 whizzwheels vac plated
yellow
thin foiled ww
code 22
conventional sill
bright blue
#2 whizzwheels silver
yellow
thin foiled ww
code 23
conventional sill
bright blue
#2 whizzwheels chrome plated
yellow
thin foiled ww
code 24
conventional sill
bright blue
#2 whizzwheels vac plated
ivory
thin foiled ww
code 25
conventional sill
bright blue
#2 whizzwheels silver
ivory
thin foiled ww
code 26
conventional sill
bright blue
#2 whizzwheels chrome plated
ivory
thin foiled ww
code 27
skirted rear sill
bright blue
#3 whizzwheels chrome plated
white
wide foiled 5 slots
code 28
skirted rear sill
bright blue
#3 whizzwheels chrome plated
yellow
wide foiled 5 slots
code 29
skirted rear sill
bright blue
#3 whizzwheels vac plated
yellow
wide foiled 5 slots
code 30
skirted rear sill
bright blue
#3 whizzwheels chrome plated
yellow
wide foiled 10 dots
code 31
skirted rear sill
bright blue
#3 whizzwheels chrome plated
white
wide foiled 10 dots
code 32
skirted rear sill
bright blue
#3 whizzwheels chrome plated
orange
wide foiled 10 dots

Corgi Rockets #903 & #928
Mercedes 280 SL
code number
sill type
body colour
baseplate
interior colour
wheels
code 1
bevel sill
solarbrite blue
Rockets plated #1
ivory
wide black deep dish
code 2
bevel sill
dayglo green
Rockets plated #1
ivory
wide black deep dish
code 3
conventional sill
solarbrite blue
Rockets plated #1
ivory
wide black deep dish
code 4
conventional sill
solarbrite copper
Rockets plated #2
ivory
wide black deep dish
code 5
conventional sill
solarbrite blue
Rockets plated #2
ivory
wide black 5 slots
code 6
bevel sill
solarbrite blue
Rockets plated #3
ivory
wide black 5 slots
code 7
conventional sill
dayglo green
Rockets plated #3
ivory
wide foiled 5 slots
code 8
conventional sill
solarbrite blue
Rockets plated #3
ivory
wide foiled 5 slots
code 9
conventional sill
solarbrite darker blue
Rockets plated #3
ivory
wide foiled 5 slots
code 10
conventional sill
solarbrite darker blue
Rockets plated #3
red
wide foiled 5 slots
code 11
conventional sill
black SPECTRE labels
Rockets plated #3
red
wide foiled 5 slots

Values based on Vectis + ebay actual selling prices.
prices for mint models in blister pack, the value for uncarded models is approximately 1/3
Husky / Juniors
silver = £50
metallic blue = £40
yellow = £30
light blue = £40
metallic red = £30
metallic brown = £40
gloss red = £40
very dark blue = £60 (uncarded gift set issue)
orange = £300 (uncarded gift set issue)
bright blue = £20 cream seats, £40 orange seats
Rockets
solarbrite blue = £30
dayglow green = £50
solarbrite copper = £300
solarbrite dark blue = £50
black 'Spectre' = £300