Hello Paul, found an excellent website on De Luxe/ Topper Toys (click on the bottom pic). The 'History' section solves the De Luxe - Topper mystery. And the 'Catalog' section suggests the Rocket set appeared in America as early as 1960!And take a look at 'The 60's'. Doesn't the Operation X 500 look cool (bottom picture)!
The advertisement I have - top picture - dates to December 1962. It is an announcement in the toy trade magazine British Toys, indicating that De Luxe Toys were being made in Great Britain. Sadly, the quality of the photocopy is appalling, thanks to the British Library. Photocopies from there are a bit hit and miss, depending upon whether or not the person doing was in a 'do I look bovered' mood. you see in the advert are shop displays. I remember a cold, dark, winter evening out with my parents. We passed one of the two excellent toy shops which were within walking distance of home, and in one was the Fire Chief set. It seemed enormous at the time, and extremely exciting, lit up as it was.
The toy itself was good, but somehow it never did live up to the emotions that window display engendered. Such is the power of advertising. Anyway, the Rocket Base U.S.A. looks like the one Wotan had. But again, this is a window display.What is interesting is that I am pretty sure I did not get the Fire set in 1963; more like 1964 or 1965. So the gap between this advertisement and the remembered shop display is curious. Even moreso is the discrepancy between the first appearance of the rocket set and the year Wotan recalls getting it. I don't think for a minute that he has misremembered; more likely it just means the set continued to be available for the major part of a decade.
The Philosophic Toad
Nice one Philosophic! Topper/ De Luxe/ De Luxe Reading Corporation made some awesome toys didn't they. Checking out that site I remember Johnny Astro so clearly now! Here's more Johnny Astro - those crazy space balloons!