14 January 2013
The finest TV shows and collectables of Gerry Anderson ...
After jetting off with Supercar, Gerry Anderson followed it up in October 1962 with the spectacular Fireball XL5, which featured the adventures of Colonel Steve Zodiac of the World Space Patrol. Set between the years 2062 and 2063 the organisation is based at the imaginatively titled Space City on Earth and is responsible for looking after Sector 25 of chartered interstellar space. There’s an interesting note online that points out that although Fireball XL5 patrols Sector 25, there are only three different sectors indicated on a map at HQ.
The star of the show was, of course, the spaceship known as Fireball XL5 and the series coined Anderson’s signature intro showing the ship blasting off from its launch ramp. The craft itself is made up of two detachable sections and the winged nose cone – known as Fireball Junior – can shoot off when required. Meanwhile, the rest of Fireball contained a navigation bay, laboratory, lounge (vital for long distance space travel), workshops and crew quarters. It was all powered by the mysterious-sounding ‘nutomic rocket motors for interstellar travel’ which enabled it to travel at Space Velocity 7 that, judging by clips in the show, was about 40mph.
You've got to love that swingin' 1960s soundtrack. Anyway, onto the collectables...
One of the most sought-after Fireball XL5 collectables is Multiple Toy Makers (MTM) Space City playset, based on Steve Zodiac’s headquarters in the series. Space City’s centerpiece is a 21-inch plastic version of Fireball XL5, complete with detachable nose (Fireball Junior) and hidden rockets that spring out of two panels at the side. Fireball Junior also featured a simple landing mechanism and a cockpit that could be opened to allow Steve and ship medic Venus to be seated inside. Another nice touch is a cardboard replica of Space City HQ (something that’s very tough to find in decent condition) and a 24-inch spring-powered track launcher that could be used to fire XL1 into orbit (or just onto your carpet). Because of the sheer variety of pieces and the delicate cardboard playset, a Space City in good condition can be worth serious money.
Another nice MTM piece is the Galaxy Patrol set, which compromises four plastic figures (Robert the Robot, Steve Zodiac, Venus and Zoonie), two jetmobiles, the Jet Car, Fireball transport truck/trailer and the eight-inch XL1. These are actually the same pieces that can be found in the Space City playset.
Moving away from MTM, another rare piece is Fairylite’s Jetmobile from 1962. The toy features the iconic flying vehicle that Steve Zodiac used to zip around in the TV series. It comes complete with a friction motor and Steve perched at the controls, ready to rescue the galaxy. It’s a rather delicate piece, thanks to several thin plastic aerials that are easily snapped and doesn’t often come up for auction in good condition.