• Toy Department - March 2011

    1 March, 2011

    The Volkswagen Kombi T1 entered production in March 1950. Initially manufactured at the Wolfsburg plant, it was transferred in 1956 to the new Transporter factory in Hanover. With its innovative design where the driver was placed over the front wheels and the engine at the rear, the Kombi, or ‘Kombination’ passenger and cargo vehicle, was produced in several forms including as a delivery or panel van with or without raised roof, Minibus, flat-bed truck with standard or crew cab, and as a camping van (Westfalia).  Production ceased in Germany at the end of 1967, but continued in Brazil until 1975, and then, after modification into the so-called T1.5, right up until 1996.

    The first T1 Kombis were sold in Australia in 1954, and by 1955 were being assembled in Melbourne from German CKD kits. The amount of Australian parts increased, and by the early 1960s the body panels were being stamped here. The T1 was a popular work vehicle in Australia, with the basic van and the ‘Kombi’ the biggest sellers. The Deluxe Microbus (known here as the ‘Alpine’) was available but was expensive. The 23-window ‘Samba’ was not sold here except on special order or overseas delivery.

    In the USA, the T1 VW Bus became an icon of the ‘60s and, in particular, of the hippie youth sub-culture. It could carry a number of passengers, camping gear and supplies, its shape was the antithesis the American automobile of the period, and as a second-hand or used vehicle, it was extremely cheap. It quickly became a symbol of the “Peace and Love”, anti-war generation.


    Sun Star Models Development Ltd is a Macau-based manufacturer of die-cast and plastic models for collectors
    world-wide. Their models range from 1/43 scale up to a huge 1/12, with many working mechanisms such as wheels, steering, doors, bonnets and highly detailed engines, undersides and interiors. Their range currently includes European, USA and Classic collections, Limited Editions, Modern and Classic Rally and special runs such as ‘Back To The Future'. Their website is

    As its first Volkswagen model, Sun Star chose the European/US style ‘Deluxe Microbus’ version, with its eight
    additional skylight windows and fabric sun-roof. This model is called the “Samba” in the UK, and the ‘23-window’ version in the USA. Nearly 40cm long and 8 kg, the model contains over 600 separate parts.


    Features of this model include an opening fabric roof; Functioning door handles on front and side doors; Extending radio aerial; All four wheels can be changed by unscrewing the 5 nuts; Front seat back folds up for access to removable spare wheel; Fully position able external mirrors and supports; Removable hub caps; Removable fuel cap; Possible windscreen wipers which also hinge outwards; Movable gear lever; Sun visors fold down and swivel; Front seat back folds up for access to removable spare wheel; Bench seat folds up for access to tool kit; Fully functional steering; Front side windows slide to open; Front quarter-lights open;
    Working front and rear suspension; Soft leather-effect seats; Detailed engine with separate HT leads fan belt, alternator, starter motor etc.

    The 1:12 VW T1 range was then extended to a 1957 Kombi in Dove Blue and a 1958 Standard Bus in Mango Green/Seagull Grey, both standard vehicles. In addition, Sun Star offers three ‘art’ Kombis using the same basic body.


    The ‘Woodstock Bus’ represents Dr. Bob’s most famous Art car, the Volkswagen bus “Light”. It was photographed by the Associated Press and Rolling Stone at the original 1969 Woodstock rock music festival, and is still seen today regularly reprinted in media all over the world. This die cast model of Hieronimus’s painted Woodstock bus was produced in recognition of Woodstock’s 40th anniversary in 2009.

    The Volkswagen Kombi was an extremely versatile utility vehicle. Used as a minibus, it could carry 9 people in comfort. Alternatively, one of the two rows of rear seats could be removed to create a large cargo space, or both could be removed to convert it into a van. This versatility made it the ideal service vehicle for use by airlines for the transportation of any combination of crew, passengers or cargo, either to and from the aircraft, or outside the
    airport. This model is an authentic replica of a vehicle used by Lufthansa during the 1950s.


    Pan American World Airways, commonly known as Pan Am, was the principal international airline of the United
    States from the 1930s until its collapse in 1991. During 1950s and ‘60s, the Volkswagen Kombi was made the service vehicle for use by Pan Am, and this model features period Pan Am logos. Interestingly, VW intended calling the later T2 Microbus the ‘Clipper’, but was prevented from doing so by Pan Am’s copyright on the term. All Pan Am aircraft used ‘clipper’ in their names and as their callsigns.

    For an in depth view of the detail in these models you can view a review eith commentary on YouTube; just do a search on ‘Sun Star VW’.