Back in the early 1990's when 'Small Ads' were still being placed to make contacts there were only a few pioneering souls who talked to me about PROJECT SWORD and SPACEX: WOTAN, Paul [Vreede], Philosophic Toad, and a few others. Later we were to talk online with the revolution that was the Internet. Yet it was off-line where perhaps the most knowledgable fan resided, with whom I corresponded by Snail Mail. One Will Osbourne, the "Swordfather". Will was and is steeped in the family toy business and it was his knowledge of 1960's trade journals like Toys International [as shown below] that first introduced me to SWORD's Century 21 siblings, the indredible LUNAR CLIMBER and the wondrous bullet-shaped MOONSHIP with it's tiny Union Jack decal.
With only Will's black and white illustrations to hand I set about trying to find these two amazing toys using the only 'arsenal' UK collectors had back then: toy fairs, Model Mart magazine and other collectors. It was one such collector, Chris Avis, the "Swordfinder" [a big Dr. Who toy fan], who managed to find me my entire SWORD collection over a ten year period up to 2000. I told Chris about the Climber and Moonship and he did his thing, which resulted in locating what we now know as the Chinese Tinplate Moonship seen below [sadly without the box].
As work life took over around the Millennium and my SWORD collecting waned [it was missing what seemed to be unfindable: Moonship, Climber, Ferry and Moonbase], sadly I lost contact with Chris. The next time I came across a Moonship, this time in colour, was years later in the glorious pages of the book FUTURE TOYS by Anthoni Emchowicz. This ship was green and minus the 'Union Jack' decal and turned out to be the AHI version called the SUPER ROCKET PLANE, which I was lucky enough to acquire a fine unboxed example of last year as seen below [featured previously].
It was only via the liberating power of the internet and some ten years after first seeing Will's 1960's trade ad that I eventually saw for the very first time a colour picture of the Century 21 Moonship with it's box, this time courtesy of the Mighty WOTAN from his Ebay archive [below]. In many ways it was the mystery of the Moonship and similar SWORD 'shadows' that lead to this blog and my first bit of decent posting was indeed called "Moonship Meltdown" during it's first month in October 2008. I have not seen nor heard of the Century 21 Moonship since...
......Until now! In one of those all too rare Ebay moments when your stars are all aligned and you snaffle something when you least expected too, from an American seller I won the gorgeous unboxed Moonship below in all it's Century 21 glory proudly bearing the tell-tale Union Jack flag and only missing it's front wheel! It is indeed a thing of beauty and fits the SWORD fleet perfectly and in many ways is a similar vehicle to the even more elusive 'Holy Grail', the Nuclear Ferry, in that they are both lunar shuttles.
Interestingly both the white 'Century 21' [above] and the green 'AHI' [below] versions have the same model [?] number on the undercarraige - "6801", which means nothing to me and as there are no actual Brand names shown we have yet another classic 'chicken and egg' scenario of who copied whom? I don't know enough about AHI [Azrak Hamway] to know if they were creative enough to design it initially?
You can see the Union Jack decal up-close and personal below as in WOTAN's original colour shot from Ebay below too [wonder who has that boxed 'blue variation' one?]. I'd love to know what's on the back of the Century 21 box but I'll no doubt find out when I least expect it!