Leigh’s nos­tal­gic truck col­lec­tion

Big Rigs - - PROFILE - David Vile

A POP­U­LAR hobby among a lot of peo­ple in­volved in the trans­port in­dus­try is col­lect­ing die-cast mod­els of trucks and ma­chin­ery.

With the pro­duc­tion of die-cast trucks and trail­ers spe­cific to Aus­tralia in re­cent years, col­lec­tors have been spoilt for choice.

One such en­thu­si­ast is Leigh Hud­son, from the north­ern sub­urbs of Mel­bourne, who has taken the leap from col­lec­tor to man­u­fac­turer, with the re­cent launch of his Iconic Repli­cas brand into the mar­ket, and in par­tic­u­lar the first is­sue of Ken­worth K100G cab-overs.

With a back­ground in trans­port, hav­ing driven trucks since his early 20s, Leigh started col­lect­ing diecast mod­els four years ago.

“I saw there was a gap in the mar­ket for these types of trucks and came up with the idea of a nos­tal­gic col­lec­tion,” Leigh said.

With the Ken­worth K100G from the mid-1990s as the first model to tackle, Leigh re­ceived li­cens­ing ap­provals from Ken­worth and started the de­sign phase in 2017 for the first range.

“There was no 3D data for this truck, so it took about three to four weeks to get the data and mea­sure­ments to draw the truck in 1:1 scale,” he said.

From the draw­ing phase, which used a full-size K100G as a tem­plate, a scaled down sam­ple was pro­duced and a num­ber of ad­just­ments made be­fore tool­ing was man­u­fac­tured to make the model in larger num­bers, with the process tak­ing a num­ber of months to get the model ac­cu­rate and di­men­sion­ally cor­rect.

Leigh set­tled on mak­ing the Ken­worths in the 1:50 scale, which is con­sis­tent with a num­ber of other die-cast col­lec­tions.

“I wanted to get the model per­fect and didn’t want to scrimp on the de­tails. The 1:50 scale is pop­u­lar with col­lec­tors, it’s small enough to make a lot of but large enough to show a lot of de­tail,” Leigh said.

The ini­tial run pro­duced 250 trucks in six liv­ery de­signs – Lew­ing­ton’s, Thur­wood’s, Churchill, Hi-Haul, An­thony Janner and Cootes Tanker Ser­vice.

Leigh set­tled on the paint schemes by see­ing who had well-pre­sented trucks on the high­ways.

“I pay a lot of at­ten­tion as to who is out on the road with an im­mac­u­late truck ... Hi-Haul, An­thony Janner, Thur­wood’s – you will never see a dirty Thur­wood truck out on the high­way.”

A cou­ple of com­pa­nies which are no longer on the road but ran the Ken­worth cab-over dur­ing that time­frame are also fea­tured.

“Lew­ing­ton’s was a stand­out paint scheme from that era, while the orig­i­nal Cootes tanker ser­vice was a very pro­fes­sional out­fit back in the day,” he said.

To date the take-up by col­lec­tors and model truck en­thu­si­asts has been good, with Leigh us­ing so­cial me­dia for sales and mar­ket­ing of his prod­uct.

With his Face­book page hav­ing more than 5000 fol­low­ers, Leigh has been able to share the jour­ney and up­date the de­vel­op­ment of the first batch of mod­els.

As a re­sult, or­ders and sales have come from as far away as Scot­land, as well as across Aus­tralia and New Zealand, with Leigh pro­vid­ing cus­tomers with an op­tion to fit out their trucks in­di­vid­u­ally upon de­liv­ery.

“Each truck comes with four types of air clean­ers and two types of ex­haust pipes, which can make the truck look dif­fer­ent in a num­ber of ways,” he said.

Across the range the trucks are fit­ted out with ei­ther Cat or Cum­mins mo­tors, tilt­ing cabs, or­ange bea­cons or ra­dio an­ten­nas.

All mod­els come with a num­bered cer­tifi­cate of au­then­tic­ity.

The project has taken up a fair pro­por­tion of his spare time in the past 18 months, with Leigh be­hind the wheel of a Ken­worth K200 dur­ing the day, which he drives for fam­ily busi­ness Atkin­son Trans­port.

With five Ken­worth trucks in the fleet, in­clud­ing the K100G which was used as the mea­sur­ing stick for the model project, Atkin­son Trans­port hauls John Deere agri­cul­tural equip­ment from the wharf, through Mel­bourne and across re­gional Vic­to­ria.

Run­ning the op­er­a­tion from home has been pos­si­ble with the sup­port of Leigh’s wife Tammy and their chil­dren.

“Tammy – ‘the Chief’ – has been a god­send on the pack­ag­ing and check­ing over the trucks and do­ing what needs to be done while I am out in the truck. I can’t give her enough credit.”

A num­ber of com­pany liv­er­ies have been sug­gested for the pro­duc­tion run of the K100G with Leigh look­ing at other re­leases, in­clud­ing trail­ers, in the fu­ture.

He is mind­ful of not outsourcing sales and mar­ket­ing to other par­ties, pre­fer­ring to keep full con­trol of the process.

Most im­por­tant is the on­go­ing in­ter­ac­tion with his cus­tomers.

“I want to be in charge of my own des­tiny – I want to make the best prod­uct pos­si­ble. I have a good group of guys be­hind me and make it as per­sonal for my cus­tomers as I can,” he said.

“Any is­sues I have I can deal with per­son­ally and do what I can to make it right.”

“I wasn’t ex­pect­ing the re­sponse the trucks have got, I am rapt with the way these have come up.

“I have come full cir­cle from play­ing with them as a kid to build­ing mod­els in my teens … start­ing driv­ing trucks around the yard and now I am back build­ing and play­ing with them again.

“I have some re­ally great cus­tomers and a lot of sup­port which has been re­ally hum­bling.”

Check out the Iconic Repli­cas range on Face­book.

PHO­TOS: DAVID VILE

CARE­FULLY REPLI­CATED: The colour schemes have been care­fully recre­ated.

The An­thony Janner Ken­worth is just like the real thing.

Leigh Hud­son, of Iconic Repli­cas.

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