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A Change in the Calendar
August 1, 2006, by Bill Cawthon
In the Northern Hemisphere, summer is still with us and 2006 has been a brutal year for heat with many areas experiencing the kind of temperatures one expects to find in Texas or Arizona. What better time to think of the cooler days coming in the months ahead? To help us with this effort, Herpa has kicked off the holiday season with their new product announcements for September-October. Among the scheduled releases are the 2006 Advent Calendars and specially decorated truck and Wings models.
Next year will mark the twentieth anniversary of the Herpa Advent Calendar program but this year is significant because of the first major change in the Wings Advent Calendar since its introduction in 2001.
When Herpa introduced the first Wings calendar, I wrote my friend Andreas Spector and suggested Herpa produce a Wings calendar with twenty-four doors like the Cars version. I knew two dozen airplane models would make the calendar far too expensive, so I suggested Herpa mix a few models with selected accessories to create a small scene.
Of course, this was a while back and Andreas left Herpa earlier this year for a new opportunity in a different city, so I claim no credit for the new format. But someone at Herpa apparently had the same idea. The sixth edition of the Herpa Wings Advent Calendar has twenty-four doors behind which you will find a pair of aircraft models and enough accessories to spend the days from December first to Christmas Eve making a little Wings diorama. If you're already a Wings collector, it will be quite a treat. If you're not, it's hard to imagine a more pleasurable way to get started. Fair warning, though: Wings models can be addictive.
A tradition that has been revived for 2006 is the special Christmas Eve model in the 2006 Herpa Advent Calendar. As before, this will be a Herpa car model with a transparent body. I am happy to say Herpa appears to have put the four-model-calendar idea firmly behind it and we again have a full two dozen special models to which we can look forward.
This year's holiday truck is a MAN TGA XXL with a jumbo canvas-side trailer. As always, the rig is black with gold trim and features a beautiful holiday-themed four-color print. The 2006 Christmas Truck is a limited-edition model and only 2,200 copies will be made, so I suggest you reserve yours now.
The 2006 Wings Christmas model is a 1:500 scale Boeing 747-400. This is the latest version of the Wings model and features a moveable bow hatch and a delightful cartoon print. Herpa promises an extra bonus this year: a surprise is packed inside the fuselage. Order early as production is limited to just 2,006 pieces and they are sure to be gone quickly.
Among the other interesting models in the Herpa fall releases is a Mercedes-Benz Viano van in the colors of the Storch funeral home in Margretenhaun, near Fulda. The company's actual motto is, "Serve the living, honor the dead," but because "Storch" is German for "stork," there is also an unofficial and rather ghoulish motto that translates as, "The stork brings you and the stork takes you away."
Instead of the customary black, the Viano is finished in silver and features the firm's trademark and telephone number. While Storch does indeed have silver Viano in their fleet, the Herpa is missing the large viewing windows that replaced the standard side glass on the Storch van. Incidentally, you don't need a funeral for this model. Vans like this are commonly used to transfer the body from the home, hospital or morgue to the funeral home.
The reason I found this model interesting is not that I have a taste for professional cars as such, but because Busch produced a Smart Fortwo decorated for Storch in 2005. This is also a model of an actual vehicle in the Storch fleet. No, it's not used for very small funerals. It's used as a courier vehicle and by Storch staff members for customer consultations.
Storch also has a stretched Mercedes-Benz E-Class hearse in their fleet, but I doubt we will see a model of this vehicle. While Herpa could use their Binz ambulance as a starting point, an accurate replica would require tooling for an almost completely new body.
Rod Brown was kind enough to bring to my attention an error I made in an earlier column. In my column for November 15, 2004, I listed incorrect production information for the DHC-1 Chipmunk. Rod, a RAF veteran who is a chief flight instructor for one of Great Britain's top flying schools, told me that instead of 1,231 Chipmunks being built, there were actually 1,283, including 217 assembled in Canada, a thousand in England and 66 that were built in Portugal. As Rod's experience with the DHC-1 spans a half-century and he is the co-author of "Chipmunk - the first 50 years" which is considered the authoritative work on this aircraft, I am more than happy to accept his correction and bring it to your attention. If you would like to learn more about the DHC-1 Chipmunk, I suggest a visit to Rod's Chipmunk Flyer website.
See you next time!
- Bill Cawthon
Bill Cawthon is a modeler and collector. His primary hobby interests are vehicle models in 1:87 and 1:160 scales and model railroading. He is one of the creators of the award-winning "Grimy Gulch" model railroad layout.
In real life, Bill is a marketing and public relations consultant working with the information technology and hobby industries. He is an associate editor for Model Railroad News and writes a monthly column on the U.S. light vehicle industry. He is a member of the 1/87 Vehicle Club and the Texas Auto Writers Association.
He lives in Houston, Texas with his wife, Marge, and their children.
Bill's columns appear twice monthly on Promotex Online. To learn more about him, click here.
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