While many toys were made as merchandise for Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds, those relating to Fireball XL5, the TV series created three years earlier, are less common.
Fireball XL5 was also a British sci-fi puppet show created with his wife Sylvia. The name refers to a craft of the World Space Patrol that polices the cosmos in the year 2062.
A toy Fireball XL5 came up at C&T (22% buyer’s premium) of Kenardington on May 3 estimated at £80-120. It did rather better, selling online for £5200 to a UK collector.
The c.1963 ‘Empire Made’ No 4409 plastic spaceship, 12in (30cm) long, with friction motor, was catalogued as having a ‘small repair to one rear wing, in very good used condition, rear clear plastic turbine missing’. It came with an original illustrated box described as ‘very good, some edge/age wear, with inner packing’.
Most of the later Anderson-related toys were produced by Century 21 and Rosenthal, but Fireball XL5 toys were made by a number of different manufacturers including Louis Marx, Merit and Quercetti (a series of later diecast issues were made by Product Enterprise).
The C&T example was produced by a company called Fairylite in Merton, south London.
The firm manufactured toys for many early Anderson shows including Supercar (1961-62) and Stingray (1964-65) and also action figures for Thunderbirds in 1966. Perhaps a handful of these Fairylite Fireball XL5 toys now exist, it is thought.
Glen Chapman of C&T said of the price: “To me it was a surprise for a Empire-made Fairylite toy, but it was very rare and desirable, even in the condition described, and we had two buyers who really wanted it.”
Bidding was electric
The 1920s-30s CIJ (France) Alfa Romeo P2 clockwork racing car is a relatively familiar sight at auctions these days but very much in demand for good examples which often make around £3000-5000.
Compagnie Industrielle Du Jouet produced this 21in (53cm) long toy which was based on the grand prix racing car designed by Vittorio Jano that raced between 1924-30.
In the May 3 auction C&T offered a silver version described as ‘some wear to model, owner’s name to base’, missing its key but ‘overall in excellent condition’. Estimated at £6000-8000, it sold online for £8200 to a private international buyer.
On March 24 a blue version took $4500 (£3690) at US saleroom Bertoia. In the UK, a red example realised £4600 at Duke’s in 2021. Three versions sold together at Brightwells in 2019 took £5200, £5400 and £4600.
However, C&T said the key to the price this time was working electric lights and the fact it was a later issue.
The lots mentioned above were consigned by an English collector.
Top scorer among a collection of toy figure footballers available at C&T turned out to be a set of Arsenal players produced by a short-lived company.
Several Famous Football Teams sets made by Britains featuring clubs such as Notts County and Manchester United all sold well, with a Chelsea 1935 in original box taking a within-estimate £920.
However, from the same consignment, netting £1800 from a UK collector bidding online, three times the top estimate, was a later, 1950, set of 11 Gunners players (plus one extra), a linesman, goal and corner flags, all unboxed but mainly in ‘very good’ condition. They were made by Phillip Segal Toys which was known for nursery rhymes and fairy tale themes but also sets such as sport figures. Based in Hampshire, production began in 1938 but was immediately interrupted by war and ran again only from 1947-51 (when Segal died).
Glen Chapman of C&T said: “Segal toys seem to be very rare but desirable, just produced in a very limited time period. Last December we sold a rare Segal unlicensed Disney Mickey and Minnie Mouse set for £1200 [from 1950, estimate £200-300].”