Time for another revisit to the Dinky Thunderbird 2 die cast which was produced from 1967 to 1979. It was a popular die cast model and although there were subtle changes through the years, there were two distinctively different models – one numbered 101, and a later retooled edition numbered 106.
I should imagine most kids who enjoyed Thunderbirds the first time round in the sixties might have been lucky enough to have one. I can remember one of my schoolmates bringing his example into class, more or less as soon as they appeared in the shops.
It was obviously one of the 101 first versions, painted in that lovely flat green, just like the box art.
Most collectors will probably know by now that the first box and plinth didn’t carry the name ‘Gerry Anderson’, but only ‘Straight from Thunderbirds’ .
One of the biggest problems with this first version is the base is riveted, making it a little more difficult to change the spindly legs if any broke, which was more than likely as they are extremely fragile.
The pod carries a nicely detailed Thunderbird 4, with a big ‘4’ on each side.
The base of the pod carries the inscription build under licence for Century 21 Toys Ltd.
This is the slightly later version of the Dinky 101 Thunderbird 2, and first one I owned getting it in the late sixties.
Unlike the previous version which were painted a more screen accurate flat green, this is finished in a metallic green. This colour change always raises speculation as to why Dinky did this. Some reckon it’s because flat green is more associated with military vehicles, other say it’s because kids don’t like green toys as they associate them with things they’re not keen on like vegetables. On reflection,I ‘m probably best leaving that question to the armchair experts. Although, I have to say the metallic green does look attractive.
The box and card display are slightly different too. The main difference is the addition of the words ‘straight from Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds’, whereas, as I previously said, the earlier box and display card omitted the name ‘Gerry Anderson’.
Version 1 Version 2
The main toy is held together with screws, rather than rivets which makes repair a lot easier. The pod base retains the Century 21 inscription.
This metallic version would be slightly altered in 1973 when Dinky changed the packaging on their model range to bubble packs. This Thunderbird 2 101 third version omitted the now defunct Century 21 toys wording on the pod base. (Although, the display card base gives copyright to A.P. Films)
This version would have lasted more or less around a year before Dinky redesigned the model giving it a new model number, 106. This retooled version was slightly bigger, painted blue and had a plastic base.
This 106 version would have begun to appear around 1974/75.
Although the pod and top section of this version was blue, the base came in three colours – A metal blue one, probably the best looking of a bad job. A black plastic base, obviously due to cost cutting measures and a rare plastic white one, which I though looked awful, but uber-collectors are happy to part with shed loads of cash to own one.
The flip down legs, which were much stronger than the previous 101 version, came in either red or yellow)
My 106 boxed example has the window box packaging, which I’m assuming first appeared in 1978 based on the year given on the box, replacing the previous plinth bubble pack versions, and would be the last, as the Thunderbird 2 die cast ceased production in 1979.
Comparing the two models, I think it’s fair to say that the 101 version does look a little more attractive than the robust looking 106, but it is also quite delicate. The legs are far too thin to support the toy when the pod is still attached to the main body.
The 106 on the other hand is pretty tough. The thicker legs spring out and the toy still retains a solid feel. Some might consider the paint scheme and the plastic base a big let-down, but in other ways I think the redesigned 106 did improve the durability of the toy.
So, to sum up while both the 101 and 106 both have their draw backs, they equally have their good points, and personally I’m glad to own examples of both.