The Scalextric James Bond set from 1967 – Boxing clever!

It’s is difficult to find a james Bond Set from 1967/68 these days and just about impossible to find a mint one. Well, does one exist! Using reproduction boxes is a sensible way of preserving rare Scalexric items. Repro boxes for cars have been around for decades and are very well accepted. Boxes for Sets, though, are not sought after – even the originals are usually dispensed with even if they are in mint condition – EXCEPT, that is, for the 1967/68 James Bond Set box. The James Bond Set box is worth more than most collectable Scalextric cars so, this box is always repaired or preserved but rarely thrown away!
Richard Johnson offers an excellent quality reproduction James Bond set box (search for “Scalextric reproduction boxes” on Facebook).

A significant part of Scalextric sales has always been achieved by producing sets based on characters or cars appearing in popular films or television series and, of course, ’James Bond 007’ is no exception. James Bond 007 was the first of the special Scalextric themed sets, available during 1967-8. This followed the success of the full-length features films, ‘Dr No’ 1962, ‘Goldfinger’ 1964 and ‘You Only Live Twice’ 1967.  The Set disappeared from the catalogue after just two years, which explains why they are difficult to find and command a very high price. Surprising perhaps as the films were enormously popular. Their discontinuation was possibly prompted by high development and production costs resulting from the complexity of the special cars and track items, which made the set quite expensive.

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007’s car, a white Aston Martin GT, was extensively reworked from the basic Aston Martin (C68). The main body alteration from the standard model was the construction of the body shell in one piece. The underside was open to allow for the passenger seat ejector mechanism, while the incorporation of a sunroof allowed the spring-loaded seat to eject its passenger. A ‘Race Tuned’ type of swivel guide blade was also used. A further feature of the 007 Aston Martin was the spring-loaded rear number plate, which when rammed by the pursuing Mercedes raised a ‘bullet proof’ screen behind the rear window. The track section in the set included straight and curved chicanes and a 90° crossover. Other set contents included a special straight track section with a concentrically mounted dummy ‘rock’, which is allowed to turn freely in its mounting. The passage of the cars going past gradually turns the rock around, and it is so shaped that when in a certain position the rock will hit a lever mounted under the side of the Aston Martin as it passes and send the passenger flying through the sunroof.

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The villains’ car is a black Mercedes 190SL, standard except for a long wire spring fastened to the body in front of the rear bumper, which, when the bumper is hit, causes the car to overturn. The normal racing driver figure is replaced by a gangster type in a mask, accompanied by a passenger leaning over the windscreen with a gun. A wire roll-over bar fitted behind the rear seats completes the changes. The standard production C75 and C94 Mercedes 190SL continued to have the hole in the passenger’s compartment and the extra moulding underneath where the overturning spring was located on the 007 version. The cars were never available individually, so no factory ‘C’ reference numbers were ever given; neither do they appear in price lists or other literature. However, C97/C68 is stamped onto the underside of the Aston Martin, so the reference number C97 can correctly be used. Whilst perhaps it is logical that C98 could have been allocated to the Mercedes 190SL it has to remain without a separate official reference number. It seems that the cars were intended to be available outside of the set in the HP4 007 Accessory Pack. Though a pre-production example has been seen on the collector’s market it doesn’t appear to have been produced officially.

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It is probably true to say that more solo James Bond cars are circulating in the collector market, than the boxed Sets. It is quite difficult to find a Set box that has not all but collapsed! Though the quality of box was pretty good for the era the sheer weight of the contents was enough to break the base of the tray. The yellow card inner sections which hold the track, cars and accessories in place, will not do their job with a collapsed tray. The contents would fall out and parts lost – the ‘shooter on the bank’ figure being particularly difficult to find! The lid would likely lose its form and become damaged rather quickly. So, being a Film related item, unique Scalextric content in track, cars and accessories and a disintegrating Set box made the entire ensemble a pretty rare item.

For a James Bond Set box that needs repairing or replacing there is an answer – buy a reproduction box! So, I searched online and found that I could buy the fully decorated lid, the tray and yellow inner sections. Richard Johnson offers box, the inner pieces or both. I soon found myself in discussion with Richard to find out more about his offering which happily revealed an interesting story about how he researched the project.

 

Richard found that the original box and most set boxes were high quality back in the day and would have been quite costly to produce. The owner of the printing service that Richard used reckoned that  Scalextric didn’t cut corners because back then word would soon get about if it were sub-standard. Also, the set would be shipped in the box so it would need to be sturdy as well. Unfortunately, the 007 Set box together with the quality contents made it expensive for the day and hence a rarity today. When Scalextric made the boxes, the print placement wasn’t very accurate so all original boxes vary with the main picture not always in the dead-centre of the box – though you can’t tell unless you put a few original boxes next to each other, then it’s quite obvious.

Richard described the biggest challenge was trying to reproduce the print. “The box,” Richard said, “…started with was pretty much mint although faded to some degree with some small tears which had to be digitally removed. Trying to get the colours right was tricky, too dark, too light, too red, too yellow. It seemed to go on forever until we got it almost perfect. The insert was quite straight forward although colour was an issue again as the original yellow on my insert was bleached so took a few goes to get it right. On making the insert from flat pack I can see why so many inserts are torn in the same places. I think this was done at the factory from new and not the contents of the box tearing it. Pay special attention to the track end of the insert (not grass bank end) as this, when bending to shape, will tear in the same place as the originals, so don’t rush it!

I stamp all the pieces with “Auric Enterprises 1967” as a homage to Auric Goldfinger the best villain ever! The stamps distinguish the reproduction box parts from the original.

All the parts of the reproduction box are exactly the same dimensions as the original, so they are interchangeable with the original.”.

Having kept an eye on third-party Scalextric products, or ‘Code 3’, as such products which are further worked on by someone other than the manufacturer are known in the auction and collecting world, a reproduction box is better than no box.
Check out “Scalextric reproduction boxes” on Facebook for more information about Richard and his box.

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