The Quercetti Fireball XL5 is one of my favourite Gerry Anderson toys and, apart from a Budgie Supercar , one of the oldest Anderson toys I have.
As a collector I tend to be drawn to things that I had, or remember as a youngster.
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by space travel, and in the very early sixties, Fireball XL5 was one of my favourite series as a kid.
I was too young to bother collecting Zoom wrappers for a Kitmaster Fireball, and I was totally unaware of the Fairylite version. The only Fireball XL5 toy I really wanted was the Quercetti, which I knew about through its eye-catching advertisements.
I wrote about my early recollections on wanting this toy on the blog some years ago, and re-reading it I thought it might be time for another airing.
Cue wavy lines and a journey into my past…
The Promise Of A Quercetti Fireball XL5.
During the mid sixties my family and I spent a week at a Pontins holiday camp at Middleton Towers near Morecambe. It was notable for being the largest camp in the Pontins empire and for having a huge entertainment centre built in the shape of an ocean liner, named the S.S. Berengaria.
But for me one of it’s main attractions was a gift shop selling toys.
In the shop one particular item stood out from the rest, a Quercetti Fireball XL5 spaceship.
Not many XL5 toys or models were available at the time. I was never aware of the Fairylite version and the plastic kit from Lyons Maid Zoom was only available mail order. The Quercetti XL5 was extensively advertised in comics exploiting the colourful box artwork and it looked great.
For a holiday treat I asked my Dad for the spacecraft with the catapult. That was my mistake, I should have been more specific. I was given the Quercetti Tor spacecraft. A fun toy, I’m sure you’ll agree - but it isn’t an XL5.
To make matters worst the spoilt brat in the next chalet to us got a Fireball, although, after one day of play he did lose it on a chalet roof!
Anyway, from that day on I promised myself that eventually I’d possess a Quercetti XL5 and fire it into space, avoiding chalet roofs of course! .
The years passed and life moved on. The next time I came across a Quercetti XL5 was when I attended the first Fanderson Convention in 1981. During the charity auction a boxed example was offered. It went for far more than I could afford. - and dealers had a nice high book price to work with.
Fast forward to the present , and the evils of eBay.
All I wanted was a reasonable example of a toy that is, let’s face it, nearly fifty years old. I’d seen a few dog eared, well used and dubious examples of my target toy, but then a decent and apparently unused one came up. I bid and won it. I probably paid too much for it but what the heck, I had been waiting for a long, long time.
And what do I think of the toy after my wait?
Well, considering it’s a flying toy it’s a pretty good representation of it’s TV counterpart. Any deviations are probably there to aid it’s performance in the air and to accommodate Quercetti’s clever parachute opening system . The durable yellow Fireball Junior of which there are two versions depending on the weather, no doubt helps in finding the toy following landing .The instructions enclosed are very detailed, even giving technical notes about the working principles of the Fireball. The decals are quite adequate considering that the odd scratch would be unavoidable. The only real downside is the Steve Zodiac figure which is simply a generic spaceman.
Much as I‘d like to fit the decals and catapult my Fireball way up to 200 ft in the air ,thereby finally fulfilling part of a promise made all those years ago, obviously that’s not going to happen.
The damn thing is just too precious now.
Still, in spite of that it was well worth the wait.
Mike B (age 6 years & 564 months)
As a bit of a post script, when I attended the Future is Fantastic convention last year, A.P Films and Century 21 merchandising maestro, Keith Shackleton mentioned the Quercetti Fireball during his talk and reckoned it was the best Fireball toy on the market at the time. He'd travelled all the way to Turin to meet the owner of the company, and strike a deal. He didn't think a child launching something 200 feet in the air was an advisable thing to do these days, but he was still thought it was still a clever toy.