ALTERNATIVE 007


Luke Quantrill's James Bond Toy Box!


james bond toys


The Spy Who Loved Me Lotus Esprit S1 Underwater

lotus bond toy

With the exception of the Goldfinger Aston Martin DB5 the most famous James Bond car must surely be the white Lotus Esprit which famously featured in the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me. The big Lotus chase sequence in that picture immediately made it an iconic vehicle in the world of Bondage with Roger Moore and Barbara Bach involved in an outrageous action sequence involving all manner of mayhem, huge lorries, motorcycle riders ("All those feathers and he still can't fly!"), winding coastal roads, Caroline Munro flying a machine gun equipped helicopter and Richard Kiel's steel toothed Jaws in dogged pursuit with a collection of baddies and goons. The sequence and the Lotus is best known though for the bit where the car turns into a submarine when it crashes off a jetty into the sea and engages in some underwater action shenanigans before allowing 007 to snoop on Carl Stromberg's Jules Verne-esque undersea base. Yes, I must say I miss the days when Bond villains wore a cravat and were intent on taking over the world. I have often wanted to drive a Lotus Esprit out of the water onto a beach and comically hand someone a fish like Roger Moore but short of robbing a bank and being arrested for endangering sunbathers and paddlers the closest I'll get is owning this 1:36 scale range Corgi toy die-cast replica.
These Corgi Bond vehicle replicas are nicely detailed and quite durable and sturdy. It's more of a collectible really but whether this is a gift for someone who is actually going to play with it or merely a purchase by a James Bond collecter to sit on the shelf with the other Corgi Bond vehicles this range is of a high standard. It certainly looks pleasantly nostalgic and fun too on first sight in its see through box. The dimensions of the Underwater Lotus are 30.5 x 38.1 x 7.6 cm and it weighs 454 g. The detail is on the whole impressive with Sub-aquatic fins on the side and Surface to air missiles located in the rear window shutter just like the real thing. A button makes the Sub-aquatic fins pop in and out and the missiles can be made to fly out too - although not to tremendous effect. Sadly they aren't real missiles though because that would be grossly irresponsible. It is possible to lose the missiles if you aren't careful and this feature is probably why the Lotus Underwater replica is recommended for ages 14+ on Corgi's official website. Although I was sorely tempted I obviously would not recommend trying to test this car out in the bath either.
The best thing about owning the Corgi James Bond Lotus Underwater is probably having it alongside the other replicas in this range like the red Ford Mustang Sean Connery drove in Diamonds Are Forever and the Aston Martin replicas from several of the Bond films. This is hailed as the most comprehensive Bond vehicle collection ever by Corgi and James Bond collectors will certainly find this range of interest. The Lotus Underwater retails for about 14 at the moment so isn't the most outrageously expensive purchase anyone will ever make although it will obviously all add up if you are intent on buying more of these as part of a collection. I don't have the Corgi Aston Martin replica Pierce Brosnan drove in Die Another Day yet but it would be really impressive I think if that could turn invisible like it did in the film. I would take my hat off to Corgi if they included an invisibility option with that or ever had a stab at the amphibious Venetian gondola that converts into a hovercraft from Moonraker!
I think there is something about the Cubby Broccoli era of James Bond though that lends itself more to collectibles/toys with their fantastical larger than life approach and gadgetry where each new film tried to outdo the previous one. The Underwater Lotus is a prime example of the enjoyably daft largesse that typified the old Bond films and owning a toy replica car that old misery guts Daniel Craig drove for about five minutes in one of his charmless Jason Bourne clones just wouldn't feel the same really as a replica of a car that Roger Moore drove in The Spy Who Loved Me - and underwater no less. It is of course rather difficult to sharply replicate the high-tech gadgetry of the real thing with something this small but the detail is good and it's obvious that a great deal of care and affection for the source has gone into this model. The Lotus also includes Sub-aquatic propellers and a little number plate. The black grill style shutters over the windows are quite nice too and double up as a cheese grater.
The Lotus Esprit Underwater is a fun little collectible/toy and just looking at it evokes funky seventies Bond music by Marvin Hamlisch and Roger Moore dispensing quips and karate chops in a blazer and a pair of cream flares. It does make you feel like adding some more of these to the collection once you have one or two of these and the Corgi range of Bond vehicles is a good one on the whole. Although the toy is well made and can be whizzed up and down the hall as you pretend to be chased by a buxom Caroline Munro in a helicopter it obviously won't hold up forever if handled too roughly or sent in the general direction of a wall or something. I would also not recommend trying to recreate the moment when the Lotus is propelled off the jetty in Sardinian waters as tempting as it might be to try. I like these Corgi Bond cars and I think James Bond collectors would certainly find them interesting and enjoyable. I'm not sure if they would ever have any great value like some collectibles you can pick up but they are fun to own and you do have the added option of adding more of these to your set from the Corgi range.

Corgi James Bond You Only Live Twice Gyrocopter

little nelly toy bond
Little Nellie, the portable mini-helicopter or "Gyrocopter" from the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice is probably the second most famous Bond vehicle after the Aston Martin DB5. Maybe the Lotus Esprit is as famous but it's a close run thing. The Gyrocopter was built and flown by Wing Commander Ken Wallis and when Bond production designer Ken Adam and Bond producer Harry Saltzman got wind of the invention they arranged a test flight at Pinewood Studios and decided to include it in the next James Bond film. In the film Little Nellie is of course designed by Q and includes missiles, two flame throwers, machine guns and smoke ejectors. It arrives packed in four suitcases for Bond to fly over remote volcanoes looking for missing US and Russian space craft before he is attacked by SPECTRE helicopters. "Little Nellie got a hot reception," reports Bond after he's made short work of them with the numerous gadgets at his disposal. "Four big shots made improper advances toward her, but she defended her honour with great success." The Corgi Little Nellie You Only Live Twice Gyrocopter is another in their excellent collection of Bond replicas in the 1:36 scale range and certainly one of the most fun and impressive.
This is a quality toy replica that captures the likeness of the real thing with some impressive detail and looks really good with the slightly dipping blades hanging overhead. The Rotorspan of the blades is 210mm and they do indeed rotate. The blades are very nicely done and give the toy a distinctive and stylish look. It's a colourful toy too with a lot of yellow on the main body and the red tipped missiles underneath. There are also rocket launchers on either side and machine guns mounted on the front. The front of the Gyrocopter has a red circle with black rings around it and looks like a bullseye. The missiles are wonderfully done with the red and black fins on a white casing. The main frame of the toy is yellow but the front and rear blades and undercarriage are a metallic silver and this makes for quite a nice overall contrast. Once you take the toy out of its You Only Live Twice themed box it's hard to resist swooping it around and pretending to attack Roger Moore in his Lotus Esprit. The Gyrocopter feels relatively stable and sturdy but it's obviously not the most robust toy ever devised and as much a piece of memorabilia as anything.
The box is mostly black with some gold around the edges. It isn't the most colourful or fun of the Corgi 007 vehicle cases and sadly lacks a picture of Sean Connery - preferring the ambiguous Bond silhouette. The peeled off poster graphic art of the film with the word 'Twice' in You Only Live Twice appearing, er, twice, is replicated though in what is quite a nice touch. As ever with toys and collectibles it's advisable to keep the box if you can and as usual with these Corgi Bond die-cast replicas this is recommended for ages 14+ because of the various attachments, rotating blades, sharp edges etc. This would actually be the most fun of the Corgi replicas to play with as a toy but one can see why this would not be suitable for younger children and - like the others in the range - is more of a purchase for James Bond collectors than anything else and something to be looked after carefully. This is a great toy to have as part of your Bond replicas as it is one of the more complex and striking ones and of course isn't just another car or yet another version of the Aston Martin and will stand out a little more.
Some of the intricate details on the replica Gyrocopter are very impressive like the way the seat morphs up into the frame for the blades and I like the little wheels that jut out on either side too. The rear flame throwers from the Little Nellie of the film are also present and nicely detailed. You also get a Sean Connery James Bond figure piloting the Gyrocopter with a little crash helmet and a pale shirt on. These replicas are always a little more enjoyable and complete feeling when you get a Bond replica with the vehicle. With the Sean Connery figure at the helm of this excellent miniature facsimile of the You Only Live Twice Gyropcopter you can almost hear Nancy Sinatra singing and picture a volcano themed title sequence by Maurice Binder. I tend to keep this in the box with the other Bond Corgi replicas but I have occasionally found myself flying it over a bored looking cat and muttering things like "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ernst Stavro Blofeld. They told me you were assassinated in Hong Kong" or "Bon appetit!" as I pretend to dispatch a henchman into piranha infested waters.
Corgi's Little Nellie Gyrocopter replica usually retails at around 14 but as ever you might get a slightly better deal than that if you look around. It actually feels like it should be a little more expensive than some of the more basic replica die-cast 007 cars in this range so it doesn't feel like an outrageous price to shell out for the toy/model. This is an impressive and fun collectible I think with some great detail and an admirable likeness for the real thing flown by Sean Connery in the film. This is certainly a must have for any James Bond fans, anoraks or completists who collect these types of things but have yet to add the You Only Twice Gyrocopter to their collection. With the Full body decoration, Rotating blades, Seated James Bond figure and Front firing missiles this is another James Bond themed winner from Corgi and a great product to add to the shelf alongside the Aston Martin, Diamonds Are Forever Ford Mustang and all the vehicles in this enjoyable range.

Corgi James Bond Goldeneye BMW Z3 & Figure

goldeneye bmw toy james bond
1995 saw the first James Bond film for six years after studio litigation had mothballed the franchise since 1989. GoldenEye marked the debut of Pierce Brosnan in a role he'd been linked to since the early eighties and also gave Bond a brand new car (in addition to the returning Aston Martin) in the form of the BMW Z3 - which was given a big build-up by Q in the lab sequence ("Now, this I'm particularly proud of - behind the headlights, stinger missiles!"). To the annoyance of many though the BMW was not seen in action at all and only featured very briefly in the film being driven down a dusty road by Bond and Natalya Simonova before Joe Don Baker flew a plane over their heads to bring them to a halt. It felt like a bit of a swizz but they probably made up for it in Tomorrow Never Dies where (a slightly different) BMW was put through a boisterous and explosive action sequence set in a huge car park. Despite only getting a disappointing cameo in the actual film the blue GoldenEye BMW Z3 did get its own Corgi die-cast replica though in the 1:36 scale range.
This is another quality Bond replica die-cast model from Corgi (the length of the BMW is 110mm) and the first thing you notice is the wonderful metallic blue paintwork which is very impressive and gives the car a sparkly sheen that catches shadows. The model boasts Spoked wheels, Wing mirrors, Full body decoration, Interior decoration and Front firing missiles and is nicely detailed as you'd expect from this popular range of Bond related vehicles. The silver spokes are stylishly done and look very intricate and striking cast against the black plastic wheels. I don't know anything at all about real cars but it's obvious the BMW Z3 is a very snazzy little vehicle and Corgi have done a good job here in capturing the sleek likeness of the car used in the 1995 film (albeit for a disappointing length of time with no gadgets deployed etc). There are many clever little details you only notice on your second or third examination of the die-cast replica - like the tiny BMW badge on the front of the car.
The replica car also has a little 007 number plate which is a nice touch but probably not something Bond would really do as he's supposed to be incognito and not advertise his codename! There are (two) white and (one) orange lights on either side at the front of the BMW adding an extra daub of colour and I like too the small parallel grills alongside one another inbetween the lights on either side. All it lacks is a tax disc, some furry dice and half a packet of polo mints on the dashboard. The interior of the car is beige with a black dashboard, steering wheel etc and the seats and little bits and pieces are very nicely detailed and crafted. As usual, this Corgi Bond replica is recommended for ages 14+ because the little attachments (and figures) that come with it could potentially be dangerous for younger children.
Consequently and understandably given the mad propensity of Bond fans to buy anything 007 related (I, for example, have purchased Bond magazines printed in languages I can't read) and the 14+ tag of these vehicles the Corgi range of Bondian transport replicas tends to be slanted more towards the Bond collector than this being a mere toy. Not that you can't play with it though if you want to with the other cars you might have in this range. I have (purely for research purposes) and I can confirm that poor old Pierce wouldn't stand a chance in this against Sean's Aston Martin and Roger's Lotus Esprit. The box with this is a little disappointing and bland though. It's black with gold trim and has the familiar Bond silloette/gunbarrel at the top and the GoldenEye graphic font from the film poster but apart from the Corgi and '007' logo that's about it. It would have been nice perhaps to incorporate some sort of photo montage from the film or a picture of Pierce Brosnan as Bond as most people who buy these tend to keep the box in good condition and keep hold of it.
You get two figures to put in the car - Pierce Brosnan as James Bond and Izabella Scorupco's Russian computer programmer Bond girl Natalya Simonova. It's always quite good fun when you get a figure to put in your Bond replica model so it's nice to get two here even if they look absolutely nothing like Pierce Brosnan or Izabella Scorupco. It must be hard to get a good likeness of someone from a relatively small piece of plastic but they don't even get Brosnan's hair colour right. The Brosnan figure looks vaguely like David Beckham for some reason. The figures are taken from the Cuba sequence where the BMW is stopped by Joe Don Baker's (friendly) Felix Leiter substitute character Jake Wade in a light aircraft with the little plastic James Bond in a beige summer suit with a white shirt and the little plastic Natalya in a fetching orange/red dress as she stares vacantly ahead like one of the Stepford Wives. The figures are a nice addition though even if they do look a trifle stern as if Natalya has been nagging Bond about him reading the map wrongly or something.
The die-cast replica GoldenEye BMW Z3 is a fun addition to the Corgi Bond toyshelf and adds a nice bit of variety to a range that is slightly Aston Martin heavy. It's an attractive and well made toy/collectible with a good likeness for its cinematic source and well up to the standard set by the other James Bond die-cast models it follows on from. Now, if you'll please excuse me, I have to Bungee Jump off a dam into a chemical weapons factory and save the free world yet again...

- Luke Quantrill
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