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This model is the Matchbox Yesteryear Ford Model T Van Van (1912) in Code 3 Mijon Yesteryear Conversions livery. It comes packed in the original straw coloured box with small label declaring "Final Coats Not Applied By Lesney". It was produced by Mijon Yesteryear Conversions of the UK.
The model has no opening parts. The vehicle roof is yellow, the seats are black plastic, the rear door type is a Code 3 single line representation. There is no glazing.
Coded to the 2002 Yesteryear Book
Body Colour: Originally Mid Blue body & Black chassis, now Dark Green body*
Seats: Black plastic
Steering Wheel: Black plastic
Wheel Hubs: 12 spoke, Gold
Plated Parts: Gold colour
Box Type: I - straw coloured box
Other Comments/Identifying Features: The model has "Y12" blanked out on the baseplate. The baseplate is held in place by three Self Tapping screws.
Issued originally in 1982 with a stated scale of 1:35. Converted to Code 3 circa 1994?
Having obtained the van I set about trying to find out more about the reason for its production. After posting on various forums to no avail, I started to try and track down "M Ford" and eventually found a phone number to try. Knowing the time difference was going to be a problem I settled for trying to contact him via phone in the evening (UK time) before sending a letter to both addresses I had for him. Fortunately on my first call I reached Mike Ford who was very surprised by my call (and the fact I'd tracked down a phone number for him) and that I was willing to call from the other side of the world just to find out the history of the model. He explained he had moved from the original address shown on the model some years ago and that it was probably luck that had enabled me to contact him.
Mike explained he had been a collector of the Yesteryear models himself at the time, but had since sold off the majority of his collection some years ago. A local wholesaler had been left with a stock of around 2000 vans when the collector slump arrived many years ago - sales of the models fell dramatically at that time, as they did world wide, and since they could obtain the models over a period of time at a reduced cost, Mike and his friend John (surname not mentioned) decided to convert some into models bearing the livery of some local companies, hotels and football clubs. The name they settled on was Mijon due to their respective first names.
Mike's father-in-law worked out how to dis-assemble the models by drilling out the rivets and re-assemble them using self tapping screws. He was also responsible for re-spraying the bodies in his small home workshop**. John was responsible for the artwork and design of the decals applied as he was interested in that sort of thing, and Mike was responsible for finding the customers to buy the models. A maximum of 200 of each model were made and they were released as limited edition collectables until supplies of the cheap models from the wholesaler ran out.
Mike recalled the majority of the vans were either Wright's Coal Tar Soap (Y5-4-G Talbot) or Cerebos (Y12-3-H Ford Model T). He mentioned the bulk of the models were Ford Model T vans although he still has one of the Wright's vans as it was the gold wheeled version and he recalled there might have been two boxes (cartons? ) of these supplied to them and he knew they were a model that sold at a premium. He recalled there were around 32 models per box (actually 36 in my experience) - so that means there are 72 less gold wheel versions of the Talbot in the wild as these were resprayed in new liveries. He also still has a van in Reading Footbal Club's colours and one made for Bristol Construction (he did not mention whether they were Model Ts or Talbots).
Mike was unable to recall exactly how many different vans were produced. He advised the models were made around 20 years ago and he thought there were only 10 or so liveries produced. I asked about the Talbot van with Talbot signage but he did not think this was one they produced even though it is reconstructed in a similar manner with almost identical screws on the base. He thought his friend John might remember better. He did recall they had done models in Reading and Bristol Rovers liveries and hadn't remembered the production of the Mijon van - I suggested it might have been a special produced with his name and address and sold off with his collection but he did not recall this. I also suggested there might be another with his friend John's name on it but he wasn't sure.
**If only the bodies were resprayed then this opens the question of whether this item was originally a RARE issue 3 Cerebos van — one of the ones we all wish we could find! However, if both roof and body were resprayed then the donor model would have been the more common issue 8 or issue 9 with the White roof and the colour match to the yellow is very good to my eye.