“Bond, James Bond” – those immortal lines spoken by Sean Connery in the 1962 movie, Dr No introduced the film going public to that suave British secret agent.
As a youngster growing up in the sixties, superspy James Bond was such an appealing character to me, and although, I was a tad too young to see Dr No at the cinema at the time, I did get to see the second film in the series, From Russia with Love. However, it was the third film in the series, Goldfinger that had me hooked. To my young mind, Goldfinger was a much more appealing film. It looked glossy and expensive, and Bond was at his coolest. But, there was something even cooler that made its debut in that film – the gadget-laden Aston Martin DB5.
Like most young lads who collected model cars, I really wanted a toy replica of Bond’s DB5, and in October, 1965 Corgi released their gold painted 1/46 scale die-cast model of the iconic sports roadster, numbered 261. Why gold when the film version is silver? The reason was apparently that the men from Corgi reckoned people would think the model would look unpainted. This was rectified however, when the model was retooled for Corgi’s later and slightly larger C 270 silver version.
Considering it was so small, a mere 97mm the Corgi engineers had 261 packed with features operated at the flick of several switches. Flick one of the side switches and the front over riders and .303 machine guns would pop out.
Push the twin exhausts at the rear and the bullet proof shield flicks up.
Flick the other side switch and the roof tilts back allowing the ejector seat to flip up and fling the passenger, one of Goldfinger’s henchmen into the air – usually to be lost under the couch, doomed to be a victim of the Hoover!
Note that the passenger's feet are replaced with a flat section so he fits inside.
The DB5 C 261 model was actually retooled from the then discontinued Corgi DB4 C218, however it has been noted that the rear of the 261 model DB5 still retains features seen on the DB4 218, in particular a single rear petrol filler cover, instead of one each side. When the re-tooled C270 model appeared in 1968 this was corrected.
The 261 model was a massive seller, and won the Toy of the Year Award and Best Toy for Boys Award in 1965.
The packaging was pretty cool too. It comprised of a box and a display plinth, which contained the secret instruction envelope.
Inside was a peel- off 007 lapel badge, and pictorial instructions on how to operate the features. There’s also a Corgi Toys check list.
Both my plinth and box are original examples, however as I acquired each of them at different times they do show different subtle versions of the artwork.
On the plinth, the word’ ‘JAMES BOND’S’ has a black outline, whereas the box doesn’t have this.
Below is a comparison using a replica box.
The other difference on my possibly later plinth is the words ‘SECRET INSTRUCTIONS’ bordered within an arrow pointing to one end of the plinth base, apparently earlier ones don’t have this.
The gold 261 version continued until 1968 at which point Corgi introduced a slightly larger, silver version, re-numbered 270, however to me the 261 is the one I’m most fond of. I can still remember my brother and I receiving one each just prior to seeing the then latest Bond film, Thunderball at the end of our 1965 Xmas school holidays.
As a post script, Corgi (owned by Hornby these days) re-issued two models based on the original 261 but in actuality using the slightly larger 270 1/43 scaled casts , one in 2014 and one 2015 to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Goldfinger and Thunderball. Most are silver, although a limited number are a flat coloured gold.
My look at the CORGI JAMES BOND’S DB5 will return with the model 270