By Will Silk
The Schuco Rennsport-Legenden Auto Union Type C Stromlinienwagen (Stream-line car) is a leap back to the way toys were produced before 1960, to the days when Schuco was producing a variety of wind-up cars and motorcycles.
Schuco is a toy company that was founded in the early 20th century by Heinrich Schreyer in Nuremburg, Germany. With the help of a young toy visionary by the name of Heinrich Muller, who registered a number of patents for toy products in Germany in the early part of the last century, Schuco began producing innovating toys for the young and old. Schuco’s first big success didn’t have wheels, but wings, as it was known as the “Pick, Pick”, and was a tin wind-up bird. The “Pick, Pick” was in production for over a decade after its debut in 1928, with 20 million sold. In 1933, the toy manufacturer would debut a line of wind-up tin cars, some capable of being remotely steered. Though Schuco would survive the Second World War, it would not be until 1952 that the Nuremburg factory would be up to full steam once again, this time producing toys aimed solely at the American market.
When diecast cars entered the toy market during the 1950s, Schuco would debut its Piccolo series of 1:90 scale miniatures to attempt to keep up with the trend. By the 1960s, the German company was in decline; and in 1976 Schuco began to go through a string of owners until finally being purchased by the Sieber family in 1999, which saw the company become part of the huge toy conglomerate known as the Simba Dickie Group, and returned to a successful position in the international toy market. Part of their renewed success was the revival of the classic tin toys that made the company a known name amongst both children and toy collectors over five decades earlier. The Studio Series of tin toys brings back the tin wind-up toys of yesteryear in limited numbers aimed at today’s toy collector. These tin mechanical wonders in small scale began with the classic “Midget Racer” wind-up clock-spring powered toy. The series has since grown to include its most recent offering, a tin scale replica of Luigi Fagioli’s 1937 V-16 Auto Union Type C Streamliner.
The first thing that really awes you is the packaging. There is a cardboard slipcover with a nice picture of Luigi Fagioli running the V-16 Type C Streamliner at Avus in 1937. Once the slipcover is removed, the red box is split and hinged at the rear. Opening the box reveals the scale streamliner on a banked cardboard stand decorated to replicate the oval track at Avus that saw the Silver Arrows fight for so many high speed records throughout the 1930s. Inset into the box lid is again the same photo of Fagioli taking a line at Avus on the way to setting a record for the Auto Union team.
It is the scale tin replica of the number 33 machine that captures complete attention upon opening the box. The car looks as if it is truly from another world, something many must have thought who would have been present for any of the high speed record attempts held in Germany during the 1930s. The bright liquid silver metallic paint is of high quality, and eight small exhaust pipes appear on each side of the engine cover to reiterate that this model replicates one of the most fascinating and powerful cars of all time. While no scale is given on the box, the streamliner measures out to be roughly 9 inches long, 4 inches wide, and nearly 3 inches tall at the highest point of the body work. The markings are of the highest quality, and the cockpit of the car is visible to reveal a brown plastic finish with decals in place to replicate the gauges. The steering wheel is black in finish and is true to the vintage four spoke design.
Upon raising the car out of the main box, one finds a variety of accessory components that accompany the tin toy under the banked cardboard stand. These include a driver figure cast in what appears to be a porcelain type material painted to period specification with white leather helmet and brown gloves. The figure’s hands are pre-positioned to “hold” the steering wheel in place while the car is under power. Also present is a set of tools which include a hammer, a combination wrench, another wrench with a pry bar-like end to remove the wheel covers; and the most important tool of the bunch, the hand crank to insert into the right side of the body just in front of the right rear wheel to wind the spring to give the car power. You also receive a nostalgic set of directions, all in German, just the way you would have in the 1930s.
Returning to the car, upon inverting the replica to remove it from the cardboard stand, you find that the factory has also included a metal pit stand that comes attached to the hold down ties. Once free of the stand, the car is rather light, and feels very much like the old toys that were constructed during the classic era of the 1930s and 1940s. Looking behind the wheel covers, one notices the painted tin wheels done up to recreate the wire wheels used on the original Type C. Just like the real car, these wheels are removable once the covers are taken off, by using the tools that come with the replica. The tires are of grooved rubber construction and even bear the Fulda name. The under side of the car is flat and has graphics to show different mechanical aspects, and also bears three words of incredible significance, “Made In Germany”.
The most fascinating aspect was the window in the rear under panel that allows you to view the differential. Once the spring motor is wound, power is transferred to the rear wheels via a gear set that then turns an exposed working differential. The differential then sends the power out to the rear wheels just like a genuine car. Marvelous! Rear suspension is carried out by a swing axle, just as Dr. Porsche’s Type C utilized seventy plus years ago.
Steering for the toy is via scale rack and pinion that is able to be set in position prior to releasing the toy for a powered run. The driver figure is cast in such a way to actually “hold” the steering wheel in position with the assistance of four small pegs that sprout up from the steering wheel. Set the steering, wind it up, and let it go; and the Auto Union Type C will accelerate at a good rate in the direction the wheels are pointed. Straight line runs are extremely fun, though lateral room should be given as even when the wheels appeared to be set straight; there was still a tendency for the toy car to pull to one side.
Sunrich Toys and Hobby are offering a special promotion to readers of Sports Car Digest. Call them at 909-287-0655 and mention that you’ve seen their product on Sports Car Digest, and Sunrich Toys will take 10% off your order. Schuco will only produce 1000 examples of this incredible tin toy, which collectors are bound to snatch up at a rapid pace. It must be reiterated that while this product is more of a working toy rather than a simple static model, the quality is present in both the packaging and the scale replica to make a great display piece that will certainly generate conversation. The best thing is that you can recreate the autobahn record runs whenever you feel like it, all within the comfort of your own home.
Auto Union Type C Streamliner by Schuco – Additional Photos (click image for larger picture)
Auto Union Type C Streamliner by Schuco – Model Car Profile and Review
Material: Tin metal with some plastic, rubber, and metal components
Quality: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Value: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Quantity: Limited to 1,000 pieces
For more information, visit www.sunrichtoy.com or call 909-287-0655.
[Source: Sunrich Toys]