Leigh’s nostalgic truck collection
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.
CAREFULLY REPLICATED: The colour schemes have been carefully recreated.
The Anthony Janner Kenworth is just like the real thing.
Leigh Hudson, of Iconic Replicas.