Franklin Mint 406th P-47 Die Cast Models
There seems to be a resurgence of activity surrounding the 406th Fighter Group WWII Memorial Association. Starting with a US Postal Service Commemorative Stamp featuring our P-47 "Angie", then a planned 406th Permanent Display at the Pima Air and Space Museum, on to the archeological excavation recovery of 513th Squadron's Paul Mazal in Germany and capped by the a succession of die cast 406th P-47 Thunderbolt models issued by the respected Franklin Mint.
Starting with 512th Fighter Squadron's P-47 "Angie" in 2003, the Mint followed with the 513th's "Big Ass Bird" and most recently the 514th's "Blooms Tomb". That makes one model for each 406th Fighter Squadron! The 406th Association contacted Joe Sellari, Director of Product Development for the Franklin Mint to explore how this trio of models came to be.
Joe stated that the Franklin Mint purchased the Armour Collection line of toys in 2003. That company had already issued the "Angie" ...which had been flown by Walker Diamonti... earlier that same year. While he wasn't sure why it was chosen, he thought it likely that it had an attractive "look" plus there was a color photograph available which is rare. (Here we go again with the 406th's Stanley Wyglendowski and his prolific picture taking during the war!)
With "Angie" already in their toy line-up, the Mint's marketing department searched for other P-47's that would make good models and could be authenticated, which almost always means locating some color photographs to get the colors right. They did this with help from consultant Joe Smith — who might know a little something about the 406th.
Thereafter came the 513th's "Big Ass Bird" flown by Howard Park and most recently the 514th's "Blooms Tomb" flown by JC Van Bloom.
What the Franklin Mint looks for when considering a model toy collectible is:
- Does the plane have a noteworthy design?
- Who was the pilot?
- Does it have interesting nose art?
- Are the specifications still available?
- Does it display good color?
- Soes this particular plane have historical significance?
- (last but not least) does it have what marketing people call a "strong image"?
Once a major player in the toy model business issues a good selling model, second tier toy model companies often follow suit with "copycats" versions. At last count, there were perhaps four or five other 406th P-47 Thunderbolt models for sale in the marketplace.
Sixty long years after the fact, it is nothing short of amazing that not one, but three 406th Thunderbolts have been made into model airplane collectables! We thank the Franklin Mint for making this happen and want them to know that it is an honor for those of us at the 406th Association…and a lot of fun!