Saturday, 21 March 2015


You're looking at the fairly recent CORGI JAMES BOND
ASTON MARTIN D.B.5, which was released to celebrate the
50th Anniversary of  the movie GOLDFINGER (1964) and, of
course, Corgi's 1965 issue of their diecast car.  There's an interest-
ing story behind this little metal model which some of you may
not be aware of, so allow me to tell you about it. 

Back in the '60s when Corgi Toys (a METTOY company)
first considered releasing a JAMES BOND tie-in, they decided
against it.  Later, they had a change of heart and had to work 'round
the clock to have it ready for the approaching Christmas market of
1965.  It was too late to create a D.B.5 from scratch, so they utilised
existing moulds of their D.B.4 toy and had a trio of designers work-
ing separately on the three different working features of the
scale-model vehicle.  The rest, as they say, is history.

A couple or so years after the first version, which had been
coloured gold to tie-in with the name of Goldfinger, they released
a slightly larger scale (about 4 or 5 millimetres bigger) of an actual
D.B.5, with revolving number plates and rear tyre-slashers, as well as
the original features of extending front machine guns and overriders,
a bulletproof shield, and ejector seat.  This version was the correct
silver-birch colour.  It's been said that the original toy was coloured
gold because, when painted silver, it looked like unpainted metal.
However, I find this strange, as there had been silver toy cars
before which had looked okay.

Sometime around '95, a magazine advertisement appeared,
proclaiming "The original is back!"  Corgi had reissued the
original car (they said), which was available in either silver or gold.
Trouble was, contrary to their claims, it wasn't the original model
and had been created from completely new tooling.  Not only that,
it was a poor imitation of the second, slightly larger version - not the
original, smaller (D.B.4) car.  The bonnet outline wasn't symmetrical,
and the door outlines were unfinished.  What's more, the bonnet's
raised vent didn't extend as far back as it should, and was slightly
longer on one side than the other.  Also, the ejecting baddie
was in a darker shade of blue.

 Furthermore, the spoked wheels were far inferior to the
highly detailed ones on the original versions, the machine guns &
overriders didn't look extended when they were (too short, although
they soon revised this after I pointed it out), and the bulletproof shield
didn't extend upward enough, as well as being very poorly shaped and
uneven.  In short, it was a mess.  I contacted Corgi and spoke to one
of the design team.  When I catalogued the list of faults, I said that the
chassis looked as if an inferior mould had been made from an actual
'60s 2nd version, and the faint or absent outline detail had been
added back in.  "That's exactly how it was done" he
readily conceded.

When I spoke to CHRIS GUEST (the managing director)
a day or two later and made the same observation on the chassis
(before I mentioned having spoken with one of the designers), he
said  it wasn't the case, but I put this down to him being unaware
of exactly how the finished result had been achieved, not that
he was lying about it.

Which brings us to the present day and the current 'original'
re-release.  This, too, is based on the 2nd version, not the first,
and while the box is a thing of beauty and the car is superior to the
'90s issue, it still falls short of the high quality of the two '60s models.
The paint finish is not as good, the passenger is still the wrong colour
of blue, the spoked wheels are vastly inferior (moulded with a mere
impression of spokes), the ejector seat is not as powerful (same as
the '90s one), and the shield still does not protrude far enough.
Curiously, there's no tyre-slashers on this version, although
it does have the revolving number plates.

Corgi is now owned by HORNBY (as is AIRFIX), and
full credit to them for improving on the previous re-release, but
when you think about it, with all the technological advances made
over the years, models made mainly for adult collectors in the 21st
century should be more detailed and of a far higher standard
than toys made for kids back in the '60s.

This current version is available in silver or gold - or at
least it was.  Gold ones now seem to be sold out, but the silver
version can be obtained from HAMLEY'S for £20, or ordered
direct from Corgi at - it's worth it just
for the retro-style box alone.


TC said...

I remember seeing ads for the DB5, and other James Bond toys, in a catalog ca. 1965-66, but I never had any. It was a sort of catch-22: when I was young enough for toy cars and action figures, I was too young for Bond (and Flint, and Matt Helm) movies.

I vaguely understood who "James Bond" was, since the name had already become a metaphor for a secret agent action hero. And I was aware of the spy-fi fad at the time, since I was allowed to read "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" and "Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." And to watch "Man From U.N.C.L.E." and "Get Smart."

Kid said...

I was aware of James Bond in 1965, but only as a name associated with the Corgi car, TC. I didn't see my first Bond movie 'til 1972. Of course, And before I'd ever heard of 007, I also watched Man from U.N.C.L.E. and, later, Get Smart.

Ken said...

Happy memories of being taken to the first four Bond movies. The Corgi DB5 was the toy to have! Years later I found it strange that the Bond movies,which were pretty violent and full of sexual innuendos (Pussy Galore being the uber innuendo that springs to mind), were obviously not made with 5 year olds in mind. Yet the 1960s 007 toy franchise was massive and probably in this country at least on a par with the flood of Batman merchandise during the years 1966/67. Go figure Mr Bond!


Kid said...

I think the adult (for the '60s) content of the Bond movies was probably why Corgi initially decided against basing a toy on the franchise, Ken. However, even wee kids knew who Bond was, because they heard their older brothers raving about the films. Corgi must've twigged to this fact and reconsidered their decision.

Phil said...

I've said before and I'll say it again. First of all kids are sadistic little buggers. We loved to see Bond dispatch the villains. Second the sex jokes went right over our heads. But what kid isn't going to be love a car with machine guns and an ejector seat!

Kid said...

Walter the Softy, perhaps?

moonmando said...

Did you get a free one after offering your observations! You could be a salesman for their company. :)

Kid said...

They did actually send me a Corgi freebie of a truck and trailer. Later on, I was sent the gold chassis of a DB5, with which to convert a silver one I had. Salesman? Dunno about that. Salesman are supposed to 'talk up' the product, not point out its faults.

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