Product Enterprises Die-Cast Gerry Anderson vehicles
Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray and Spectrum Patrol Vehicle (SPV)

Jeff is back tonight from across the pond, bringing us a very cool die-cast review.  Product Enterprises has produced some cool action figures, but they also do vehicles, and Jeff has the scoop on several - take it away, Jeff!

You'll have to bear with me on this one; it's my first foray in the die-cast review arena. The last review I did was for the Product Enterprises (PE) 12" Avengers set, and very impressed I was too. I let the good people at PE know about my review and in return they sent me some die-cast vehicles to cast my eye over, so a big thank you from me to all at PE, especially Steve Walker. 

Now as I said in that piece I try to stick pretty much exclusively to 1/6 scale collecting. But when someone offers you some neat toys for free, what are ya gonna do? I get that out of the way so that in the spirit of complete disclosure you know when it gets to the value category I can only 'base' my score on what I think I would give them had I shelled out my hard earned! And continuing the disclosure thing, I did inform them that as grateful as I was to be getting some freebies it couldn't and wouldn't affect my review. 

I also feel I should point out that Gerry Anderson, though probably pretty well known in the US is held in VERY high regard in the UK and is considered something of a national treasure probably somewhere between the Queen and God. He influenced so many people and defined television viewing for a whole generation, in much the same way Ray Harryhausen did for the cinema. So here we go, have they wet my appetite for die-cast?

Packaging - ****
These boxes are very cool, and to someone who grew up watching reruns of these programs since he was quite literally fresh out of nappies (diapers to our US friends) they bring back many fond memories. I have to admit those memories of Fireball XL5 and Supercar are pretty hazy, and as I'm a mere snip of a lad at 39 years old, and Supercar aired in 1959 and Fireball XL5 in 1962, both shot in black and white (B/W), thatís hardly surprising. 

Stingray and Captain Scarlet however (1964 and 1967 respectively and both broadcast in colour) were both absolute essential viewing, and my memories of these are almost as fresh as when I first watched them. I even had toys of both these when I was young, so perhaps even George Lucas followed Anderson's marketing and merchandise lead. They were a second hand pretty busted up Dinky Toys (Dinky were a part of the Meccano Toy company) SPV, with a missing missile plus broken aerials, and a huge plastic Stingray Sub, bought with my pocket money whilst on holiday, thinking back I'm pretty sure this was a bootleg item, cheap and nasty, but I loved it!
Now back in those days die-cast Dinky toys were considered pretty much the top of the heap, with a price to match. Hence I'm sad to say (cue violins!) I didn't have any, well not new boxed ones anyway. But from my distant memory of having my snotty nose pressed up against the local toy store window those old boxes were never as cool as this.

Although all four vehicles are from different programs, and all have a very distinct retro feel, they also sit incredibly well together which will please all the MIB'ers, but there really is no need 'not' to take these out, as the boxes are completely collector friendly.

Two vac-formed trays, one for the vehicle to sit in and one to go over it and hold it in place, keep the item held very securely without a twisty in sight. And the large window means you can see the merchandise in its full glory. The top quality traditional illustrations are a nice touch as well, adding to that sense of nostalgia and the info printed on the back about the shows, on these sturdy boxes is fantastic too. All carry logos for Gerry Anderson (a reworking of the old TV21 logo), Product Enterprise and Granada Ventures. 

Sculpting - ***3/4
Once you slip these babies out of the boxes and pick them up, you'll realise you really are dealing with a quality product. They are HEAVY, maybe I shouldn't be surprised, after all they are die-cast but the Fireball and Stingray in particular weigh like a brick in your hand. This 'weighty' bulk doesn't however seem to have hindered the incredible attention to detail.

I've given all four the same score here, and almost feel mean not giving them the full **** treatment, and if I was to be fair I find it hard to think how at this scale they could have gotten more detail in there. The Fireball XL5 even has (all be it very tiny) representations of the pilot Steve Zodiac and his trusty robotic companion Robert; in fact all have tiny figures inside their cockpits. The largest and most detailed being Mike Mercury in Supercar, he is incredibly detailed and the face looks just like the original puppet, admittedly he does have a rather huge head, but this again is totally accurate as Gerry Andersons earlier puppets had the lip-sync mechanisms housed in their 'large' heads (in the later versions, Joe 90, Captain Scarlet, etc it was moved down into the body).

But it's the actual vehicles here that shine. Most people into these early Gerry Anderson series must have despaired of these ships ever being made to this quality and with this much love. Sure, you can get some expensive Japanese models by Konami and Aoshima of 'some' of Andersonís creations, but in my opinion from the few I've seen at trade fairs and online these far outstrip even them. 

The devil really is in the detail from the fantastically fine moulding on Supercars air-vents and its wire thin aerial (the only part you have to actually insert) right through to the control panels on the inside of the SPV, you have to peer right inside with a torch, most people will probably never even notice it's there. All three of the flying/water vehicles come with a stand, so they obviously need a hole in the craft to insert it. But again for your purists these are even covered up with over-painted small plugs, so if you just want to sit it on your desk it won't spoil the overall look when picked up and scrutinised.  

Paint - ****
In my opinion all four are faultless, super crisp paint, all lines and divisions are clean with clearly defined logos and lettering. The SPV is the only one with a weathered look, but all the others looked as they did in publicity shots. I say this as Supercar and Fireball XL5 were both shot and broadcast in B/W, but the bright reds and yellows used on the actual props and replicated here really 'zing' out, making them look fantastic displayed on the shelf. Some of the finer work is on things like the pilots and their cockpit control panels. Steve Zodiac sitting in Supercar even has a small TV screen on his dash with a tiny picture or Prof Popkiss staring back at him. But the finest painting IMHO has to be on the Fireball Junior (the detachable nose-cone of XL5). The bars running over the clear canopy are as fine as hairs but are still painted perfectly with no over-painting at all. It just has to be top marks for all four.

Articulation - ***1/2
At first I thought articulation wouldn't really be a category best suited to die-cast vehicles, but all have at least one action feature, kicking off with XL5. As I mentioned above the nose cone or 'Junior' as it's affectionately known is detachable. But no fussy buttons or clips here, instead a completely hidden and very strong magnet does the business, and I warn you now it is VERY strong. Not so strong as to make taking apart difficult, but be aware it has a lot of pulling power and the nose-cone literally flew onto mine as I lifted it out of the box.

Next Supercar, firstly you have to attach the fine aerial/antenna to the rear of the cockpit, and then its other action feature is extendable/retractable wings. As you gently pull out one wing the other automatically follows, likewise when you retract.

Stingray has a spinning rear propeller, and both the skids on the underside can be extended should you choose to display it this way rather than on its stand. Lastly we have the SPV, both the caterpillar tracks at the rear can be placed in the up or down mode and if you press the concealed button on the right side door, it springs open to show a miniature Captain Scarlet sitting in the reverse position, as anyone who knows this vehicle will already be aware, the pilot sits facing the back using monitors to control it.

Thatís it as far as articulation is concerned, I suppose they could have tried to squeeze some more in there somewhere, but at this scale I'd rather have an accurate depiction of the vehicle, so I think they hit the nail on the head and got it just right!

Accessories - ***1/2
Almost bupkiss, but all bar the SPV come with a sturdy stand, and they need to be sturdy because as I said these babies are heavy!

Fun Factor - ***1/2
I can't see these being played with by kids much, and as it says 14+ on the box, thatís an indication that really as I also mentioned earlier these will appeal mostly to men of a certain age. So as far as I'm concerned we're looking at how much 'fun' this will give you as a display item. And that has to be virtually top marks. I said in the opening blurb my memories of Supercar and Fireball XL5 were hazy to say the least, but I shall be looking to display ALL of them, as my wife, who though vaguely interested in my collecting actually got quite excited about these, rather than raising her eyebrows and saying, oooh great ANOTHER doll!

Value - ***
£39.99 isn't cheap, but for a fully licensed item of this quality I'm sure it's the going rate. I've looked on eBay and most sellers are asking the same price as PE direct from their website, a few are markedly cheaper at £29.99 but claw it back with expensive shipping. So shop around. I would definitely be prepared to pay £39.99 and already have my eye on the UFO-Skydiver and Space 1999-Eagle, as for the studio scale replica Eagle, Whooa! Now that is cool, and even at £299.00 seems reasonable for a model of this size with a display case, limited to 1500 and SIGNED by Gerry Anderson himselfÖ.Well I can dream!

Things to Watch Out For Ė 
These are intended as display items, and as such many of the finely sculpted details are fragile, so handle with care. Especially Supercar and the aerials on the SPV. Stingray and Fireball XL5 seem pretty robust to me, but you'd be pretty gutted if you dropped one.

Overall - ***3/4
I kid you not, I'm converted. I'm gonna have to stay pretty choosey about what die-cast I collect, as budget, but more importantly space are at a premium. But if the UFO and Space 1999 vehicles are as hot as these, and from the pictures I've seen on the website they look every bit as good or better, then bring it on.

Packaging - ****
Sculpt - ***3/4
Paint - ****
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - ***
Overall - ***3/4

Where to Buy:
All are available from Product Enterprise's own website  for £39.99 each + shipping. You can always try eBay where I see a US seller called thetoysdepot is selling a lot of the PE Gerry Anderson range for $63 each and specialty bricks and mortar shops should have them as well.


Figure from the collection of Jeff Parker.

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