For the true collector, the thrill is more than just acquisition; it’s also in the chase. Collectors are rarely in it for the money; it’s the excitement of finding the rarest, most obscure things that makes being part of the collecting hobby so much fun. Exchanging notes and showing off your collection to other fans is another big part of the fun; collecting can be like joining a secret club with members all over the world, exchanging tips on finding, restoring and displaying their collections. But of the many kinds of collectors in the world today (and there are collectors of everything from beer cans to rare stamps), probably the most determined treasure seekers of all are toy collectors.
And nobody, but NOBODY, has cooler toys than James Bond.
Since he exploded onto the movie screen in 1965, the suave super spy has been a front-runner in the toy world. And it makes sense; what other character in film and fiction has an entire secret division of the British Government busy making him ever more amazing gadgets? In his every incarnation, James Bond has
had the coolest gadgets, the sleekest vehicles and the most deadly foes-all perfect to be translated into toys for the want to be spy-and the determined collector. James Bond toys cover a span of nearly fifty years, with each new movie generating its own variations for the determined Bonda-holic to collect. You now see all sorts of cool kids toys that let kids play just like James Bond. Of course, there are also more sophisticated toys that adults seek to collect too.
Hobbyists collect James Bond toys for a wide variety of reasons. Some want to recover a lost favorite-the Bond toys were among the most popular boy’s action lines of the early 1960s. Many are fascinated by the clever vehicles the spy has employed over the years, and collect die cast cars exclusively. Others fix their sights on a particular area-Bond weapons and secret gadgets for example, or Bond games. Still others collect Bond toys as part of a larger Bond collection; there are even a few Bond toys in “spy” museums in
both the United States and the United Kingdom. No matter what part of the James Bond legend excites your collecting interest; there are plenty of great items to go around.
The Original Action (Figure) Hero
A.C. Gilberts James Bond Action Figure with spring-activated gun-firing action and their matching Oddjob figure with spring-activated throwing action started this category off with a bang (literally). Later incarnations in the action figure department included Action Man (GI Joe’s British cousin) starring as 007 in several incarnations, as well as 8″ versions by Mego and Exclusive Premiere’s later six and a half inch versions. Collecting them all can be quite a challenge-the AC Gilbert toys are over 40 years old and many have simply fallen apart with age-finding one with its “shooting action” mechanism and firing cap gun is nearly impossible. And while Exclusive’s line is still readily available, locating all of the “Bond Girl” figures to complete a full run can keep a collector busy for quite a while.
No Ordinary Car
Of course, the most prized bit of Bond-ailia had to be the super spy’s trademark Aston Martin. The Aston has appeared as a battery operated car with bump-n-go action, two model kits, and even as an HO scale racer. But most collectors remember the original diecast cars from Matchbox and Corgi; detailed gems with real working ejector seats, pop out guns and rubber tires. Over the years, dozens of manufacturers have made entries into the Bond motor pool, not only reproducing old favorites like the Aston, but also all the many other cars, planes, boats, submarines, mini-jets, rocket packs, helicopters, motorcycles and even spaceships that have appeared in Bond’s film adventures.
Weapons, Mister Bond, Weapons
In 1965, it was the toy every red blooded boy wanted. A realistic black briefcase packing a sleek shell firing Beretta handgun, silencer, stock and scope-plus secret hidden daggers, 007 passport and code-o-matic decryptor, this is the ultimate prize for a Bond toy collector, and can set you back anywhere from
$6-800.00 But what if the briefcase too big for your mission? For the subtle spy, American Character brought us the James Bond Vapor Paper & Action pen. With vanishing paper, projectile firing pen, a secret whistle and a built in booby trap to boot. While spy gadgets are no longer as big a part of modern day Bond offerings, you can’t really consider yourself a true Bond collector if you don’t have at least one of these.
Your Mission, Agent Double-Oh-Collector
If you’re thinking of starting a collection with wide opportunities for expansion, James Bond may be the secret agent you’re looking for. Starting with readily available die cast cars (like Johnny Lightning’s recent version of the Aston) is an inexpensive way to begin. But be warned, just like every Bond mission, the stakes may mount up, as you discover the many games, action figures, secret gadgets and incredibly cool vehicles that you can add to your collection. Because collecting James Bond is a guaranteed license-to thrill.
About the author
David Leigh is a lifelong fan of 007 since discovering his dad’s old James Bond books at the age of 8, and remains particularly interested in the literary character. As well as contributing to various Bond related websites and forums, he also owns the popular website The James Bond Dossier.