This week saw Vectis Auctions host the sale of the Chris Freeman Meccano & Vintage Toy Collection, and as we reported here, among a large selection of both original Dan Dare and Eagle collectibles offered was a lot that sold for £2100 that included a prototype Corgi Dan Dare-inspired toy.
The amount raised, given the rarity of such an item is not surprising – but perhaps the successful bidder was even luckier than some fans might have realised… and not just because, when Vectis previously offered a Corgi Dan Dare Car prototype back in 2014, it sold for £4000.
The prototype sold in 2014 – one of a few that have survived – was clearly the vehicle featured in the first edition of Corgi’s 1981 catalogue, that proudly announced their No. 278 Dan Dare Car with “independently operating radiation shield and cock-pit hood. Retractable wings and rotating radiator grill”.
Finished in red with white flip-out wings, the car, a tie-in with the abandoned ATV Dan Dare TV show produced by Brookside creator Phil Redmond.The “radiation shield” could be retracted to reveal a bright yellow cockpit.
When the Dan Dare show failed to launch, in part a victim of changes within the ITV network structure that brought an end to ATV, Corgi shelved the project and reprinted its 1981 catalogue to remove any reference to the Dan Dare Car, although plenty have survived.
However, the latest Vectis sale has revealed that, perhaps, Corgi had plans for more than one tie-in vehicle based on designs from the show.
The prototype sold in this week’s auction is completely different to the better-known Dan Dare Car prototype, this design echoing the spaceships seen in the 2000AD “Dan Dare” comic strip, at the point when Colonel Dare commanded a giant Space Fort and the strip was being drawn by Dave Gibbons.
Assuming the Corgi model sold this week is a genuine prototype, and we have no reason to doubt it, then whoever bought it clearly nabbed a bargain, even at £2100 – far more than the £40 – £60 estimated selling price in the Vectis catalogue!
However, the mystery deepens, because downthetubes contributor Steve Winders notes this prototype was released by Corgi as a futuristic Royal Mail MCII vehicle in 2000.
“I saw one about a year ago in a charity shop and wondered whether it was the Dan Dare vehicle repackaged. I didn’t buy it but when I got home I researched it and obviously saw that it wasn’t the Dan Dare car.
“Whether it was originally created to be a second Dan Dare vehicle and then released as the Royal Mail vehicle is unknown, but obviously these vehicles can be found in some numbers.
“The Dan Dare sticker looks like it comes from the cover of the Dan Dare Biography by Daniel Tatarsky, scanned and reduced in size to fit”.
Part of the Royal Mail Millennium Collection, the miniature (Scale 1:43) die-cast ‘Futuristic Vehicle’, produced in association with Corgi, 2000, was I issued free after purchase of Millennium stamp packs, between October and December, completing whole set of twelve packs. With a futurist design, ‘MCII’ included a rotating forward thrust fan and rear aerodynamic spoiler, and was described as “multifunctional for road and air”.
If the item sold by Vectis was a Dan Dare prototype eventually repurposed for the Royal Mail, line, it poses the question – were there other Corgi prototypes based on the Dan Dare show – and if so, what were they, and have any survived?
In an age of custom built adaptations, here’s something to muddy the waters still further, listed on eBay Italy but sold by someone in Germany, in such a way to suggest it was not an original…
“It was advertised as a ‘Code 3’” notes downthetubes reader Neil Kent, “models that are adapted from an original factory made model (i.e. colour change) by a third party and have advertising/ promotional decals applied by said third party.”
But this raises another question… what prompted the person to customise the MCII into a Dan Dare vehicle? Did they know something we yet don’t?
With thanks to Wakefield Carter and Steve Winders