Yes, we know it's a little bit of a contradiction in terms, but here's where you can talk about Norev, Minialuxe, Siku, Polistil, Tomte, Auburn, Sun Rubber or any other ready-made model car that's made of plastic or rubber. Hey, they're still cast in dies!
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TOPIC: The Magic of Merit

The Magic of Merit 2 months, 4 weeks ago #1

Platinum Boarder
<p>It has been quite a while since I made a contribution to these forums.</p>
<p>The recent death of racing driver Stirling Moss, made me aware of the cars he has driven in his life, many of these were made by plastic model company Merit.</p>
<p>Here is a story:</p>
<p>The Magic of Merit.<br />The Merit brand from North London, by toymaker J and R Randall Ltd., was an early player in the plastic model kit industry. Cars weren’t their only focus, ships and planes played a part too. But in this story the racing model cars by Merit are really the only ones that will be addressed.</p>
<p><br />Many an enthusiast reading can possibly relate to building a plastic kit. Referring to the instructions, cutting pieces from the sprues, filing, sanding, detail painting and glueing all the parts together to create a 'masterpiece'. Hopefully with no spares left over!</p>
<p><br />The 1/24 scale racing car model kits by Merit relate to the golden era of the late 1940's and early 1950's motorsport, with legendary names like Fangio, Ascari, Trintignant, Farina, Collins, Brooks, Hawthorne, Salvadori and Stirling Moss, the latter who recently passed away.</p>
<p><br />These kits were not as elaborate and finely detailed as those from modern day Japanse brands like Tamiya or Hasegawa, but they were true and fine in their own merit. The parts count (around thirty) was low, just enough to make it look complete like the real thing, and as a bonus not too difficult for the inexperienced builder. And that is what they did very well in fact. These kits were not cheap in them days, 2 shilling and sixpence if I remember well. And now, many years later prices have gone through the roof. Fifty pounds for an all original unbuilt kit including box is just a starting price.</p>
<p><br />The racing car series from Merit consisted of fourteen different cars, moulded in colored plastic which matched the racing color of the country from which the car originated. Red for Italy, blue for France, British racing green etc.<br />These cars were, from top left to bottom right (see picture):</p>
<p><br />Talbot Lago T26, Gordini T16, Mercedes W196**, Cooper 500 MK IX** and Aston Martin DB3S**.</p>
<p><br />(Lancia) Ferrari D50, Maserati 250F**, Alfa Romeo 158, Maserati 4CLT and Lotus 11.<br />BRM P25**, Vanwall VW4**, Connaught B-type** and Jaguar D type**.</p>
<p><br />
</p>
<p><br />With the exception of two of these cars, the Jaguar (by Lindberg) and the Talbot Lago (by Heller), all the other models have never been issued by other plastic model kit manufacturers*, and that makes them rather unique. For instance almost every plastic kit manufacturer once issued a model of a Spitfire airplane, so if you want you can make a dozen Spitfires. Kit car companies duplicated eachother constantly, but not Merit.</p>
<p><br />Merit kits are the bees knees for scratch builders who put these cars on a slot race chassis and go racing in historic events.</p>
<p><br />*Several of these kit have been copied (legal or not?) by Japanese manufacturers which they did with so many products in the sixties.</p>
<p><br />* A selection of these kits were put on the market by the French firm of Sitaplex, licensed by J &amp; R Randall/Merit. Only a small piece of text on the identical box evidencing the involvement of the French company.</p>
<p><br />* The Czech company SMÊR and the Polish company Mister Craft have both reissued the Alfa Romeo 158 and Talbot Lago T26 in large numbers. These kits are based on the original Merit moulds. They are still widely available and are nicely priced at around 9 pounds. A pity they did not re-issue the others.</p>
<p><br />** Cars driven by Stirling Moss during his active career.</p>
<p><br />With the exception of the Jaguar D type, Cooper 500 and the BRM P25, I have built them all. Most of them as a slot racer, a few as a static kit. Many of them are in the collection of one of my friend's 'museum'. Right now I have three kits of which one is race ready. The other two awaiting the arrival of a fitting chassis.</p>
<p><br />
<br />Italian cars.</p>
<p><br />
<br />Three British cars.</p>
<p><br />
<br />Build instructions.</p>
<p><br />
<br />Maserati 250F.</p>
<p><br />
<br />Alfa Romeo and first box.</p>
<p><br />
<br />Second type box.</p>
<p><br />
<br />SMÊR box.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /></p>
Last Edit: 2 months, 4 weeks ago by Ecclesley.

Re: The Magic of Merit 2 months, 4 weeks ago #2

Platinum Boarder
Good to hear from you Ecclesley, interesting topic packed with knowledge & great models.

Re: The Magic of Merit 2 months, 4 weeks ago #3

Platinum Boarder
<p>Thanks Andy we both are well alive and kicking, even in these troubled times of the pandemic.</p>
<p>I read you from time to time and I also enjoy your collection.</p>
<p>Best, Gerrit.</p>

Re: The Magic of Merit 2 months, 4 weeks ago #4

Platinum Boarder
<p>By the way, the blue and yellow Maserati 4CLT in the group shot, is an Italian car in the Argentine racing colors, as it was driven by Juan Manual Fangio.</p>
<p>In other words one could paint these cars in whatever appropriate color, matching the country of the driver, not the manufacturer only.</p>
<p>The dark blue and white striped Jaguar D type is in the colors of the Scottish Ecurie Ecosse team.</p>
Last Edit: 2 months, 4 weeks ago by Ecclesley.

Re: The Magic of Merit 2 months, 4 weeks ago #5

Platinum Boarder
I enjoyed reading this post. Sterling Moss drove a lot of different cars in his career it would seem. Not really following european racing I did not know much more than he was an F! race car driver of noted fame.
Sad to hear he has passed on even though it was a ripe age and a very successful career.
Thanks for the info Garret.

Re: The Magic of Merit 2 months, 4 weeks ago #6

Moderator
that was great reading. And the cars are stunning. Thanks
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