Captain Scarlet by Corgi

Mike Pigott looks at Corgi’s models based on Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, with vehicles from the original 1960s series as well as the new CGI re-boot.

SPV by Corgi

Over the years a number of manufacturers have produced models of the fabulous vehicles from Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Probably the best known models are the large diecast models made by Dinky in the 1960s, although other companies have also made replicas, including Eidai Grip, Vivid Imaginations, Bandai and Product Enterprise. In 2006, Corgi Classics obtained the license to Captain Scarlet and produced three models based on the classic TV series, plus a further three based on the brand new CGI re-make of the series.

NEW CAPTAIN SCARLET

A new version of Captain Scarlet was produced in 2005. Unlike the original series, this was done with computer-generated animation rather than puppets. It was not a continuation of the old series; rather it was a re-boot. The general theme was retained, with the concept of Spectrum against the Mysterons, but the look of the show was completely different. The characters were redesigned, as were the vehicles, and even the Spectrum logo was new. Captain Scarlet lost his Cary Grant-type accent and sounded more American, and many of the other agents were re-cast as women or minorities to make the show more politically correct. New Captain Scarlet was the last series to be produced by Gerry Anderson.

The new show was broadcast on British TV, but unfortunately was buried in a Saturday morning children’s variety show and was not well publicized. As far as CGI animation goes, it was reasonably good, but only 24 episodes were made so there was even less character development than in the original show.

CORGI

This time around, the franchise for diecast models went to Corgi, which had recently produced a couple of Thunderbirds models. While Corgi’s Thunderbirds were well-made, they were largely re-creations of the earlier Dinky Toys. With Captain Scarlet, Corgi came up with the novel idea of having three vehicles from the original series, and their modern equivalents from the new CGI version. Corgi’s models were completely new interpretations and were of extremely high quality.

The series consisted of the SPC, SPV and Angel Interceptor, plus their modern re-boots, the Rhino, Cheetah and Falcon.

SPECTRUM PATROL CARCorgi's version of the SPCCorgi’s version of the SPC is slightly larger and wider than the old Dinky version, but weighs less as it has a black plastic base. The car is well-proportioned and nicely finished with clear plastic lights and windscreen, while the rear windows are in clouded plastic. It is painted an accurate bight red colour, with the window frames and trim picked out in silver. There is a metallic Spectrum logo label on each door. The action features are limited to working doors, which open to reveal a painted Captain Scarlet figure at the wheel.

CHEETAHCheetah by CorgiThe newer equivalent of the SPC is the Cheetah, which like all the new Spectrum vehicles has an animal name. The Cheetah is much less angular than the SPC, having a much more rounded profile similar to a modern concept car. Also known as an RRV (Rapid Response Vehicle), the Cheetah is capable of extremely high speed. While it cannot actually fly, the car is capable of gliding over obstacles thanks to its pop-out wings and tail spoiler.

Corgi’s version is finished in bright red with generous amounts of silver trim. It has a black plastic base and interior, and there is a figure of Captain Scarlet at the controls. There are chrome mag wheels with black tyres, and a new Spectrum logo on each door.

The action features on the Cheetah are quite ingenious and great fun. When the front wheels are pressed down, the wing stubs behind the doors flip down, and the tail spoiler pops up. These then have to be pushed back into place manually.

SPECTRUM PURSUIT VEHICLE

SPV by CorgiOn first impressions, the Corgi SPV looks quite similar to its Dinky predecessor. However, it is quite a different model with a higher level of detail. Although not as solid, having a plastic base, it is a lot more accurate to the ‘real’ thing. It is painted a very shiny shade of metallic blue, with ‘SPV’ tampo printed in white and the warning markings in red. The Spectrum logos are metallic labels. The base is plastic, but painted metallic blue, and the front bumper is in soft white plastic and can absorb impacts. The wheel hubs are in chrome plastic, but all have double tyres.SPV by Corgi, showing Captain Scarlet figureThe action features are largely the same as the Dinky version. There is a pop-up hatch in the nose which fires rockets, although this time the hatch is the correct shape. The missiles are long, one-piece rockets that loaded into a tube inside the hatch. They are fired by pressing down on the front axle. The side door again pops open, and is operated by pushing down on one of the red-bordered rectangular panels on the roof. A Captain Scarlet figure is seated inside the door, which is an excellent fit with the SPV body. Again, the rear tank treads can be lowered, and work properly when pushed along. The only working feature not included is the raising rear aerials, which were replaced with very fine fixed aerials. The central fin on the roof is a separate rubber part.

RHINORhino by CorgiThe Rhino TRU (Tactical Response Unit) is the updated version of the SPV. Clearly much larger than an SPV, the Rhino is very much a vehicle of two halves, with a windowless cabin up front and the power plant at back. Again it is a five-axle machine, and while the two front axles appear normal, the threerear ones have overhead suspension. Mounted above these wheels is a pair of ramjet motors for high-speed boosts. The Rhino can fire missiles from a front hatch and has fore and aft battering rams.

Corgi’s Rhino is an impressive model and captures the unusual lines of the ‘real’ thing. It is painted silver grey with black and bronze trim. Although it has a plastic chassis, it is a very solid model, and the rear suspension is finely replicated. It has several working features which are operated by a pair of concealed buttons in the cab roof. Pressing the front button operates the missile hatch, which drops down to reveal a pair of missiles that pop out but do not fire. This button also activates the front and rear battering rams. The second button opens the side door, which reveals a very small Captain Scarlet figure.

ANGEL INTERCEPTORAngel Interceptor by CorgiCorgi’s experience in producing diecast model aircraft in its Aviation Archive series shows in this replica of the Angel Interceptor. It is about twice the size of the earlier Vivid Imaginations version, and about ten times the quality. It is mostly diecast, with the upper fuselage and tail forming one part, and the wings and underside comprising the other main component. The nose and front canards are made of soft plastic. The cockpit canopy is clear plastic and reveals a tiny Angel figure. The model is finished in very pale grey with black and red trim, and four metallic Spectrum roundels. A large ‘A’ is printed in black on the underside.

FALCON INTERCEPTORCorgi Falcon InterceptorThe Falcon ATF (Advanced Tactical Fighter) is a much more modern design than the previous plane, but has the same basic design with the wings also forming landing skids. The canards are mounted below the cockpit, while the tail is more like a spoiler than a traditional fighter jet tailplane. Corgi’s model is again very impressive, with a diecast upper and lower section, and the tail assembly is a separate metal part. The nose cone is plastic, while there is a clear canopy and detailed cockpit and pilot. The Falcon is painted white with lots of flat black trim. The afterburner engines are touched up in black and gold, and there are new-look Spectrum labels on the wings and nose. This model represents the plane flown by Destiny Angel, as her name is stencilled behind the cockpit.

PACKAGING

The Corgi models were sold in individual window boxes which were dark blue for the old Captain Scarlet items, and red and yellow for the new versions.

corgi Capt scarlet twin
Corgi’s ‘old & new’ twin pack.

There were also a set of three ingenious ‘twin boxes’ which had both the old and new models in one pack, with different packaging styles on either side.

corgi capt scarlet
2018 reissued version

The Corgi models did not sell well when first released, possibly because The New Captain Scarlet was not widely seen on TV. Many were sold off at marked-down prices. However, now that ten years has elapsed, they are becoming harder to find and thus more desirable. The Spectrum Patrol Car has recently been released by Corgi to tie in with the 50th anniversary of the original TV series.

This article first appeared in the June 2016 issue of Diecast Collector magazine.

Captain Scarlet TM and (C) ITV.

Text and model photos (C) Michael Pigott 2018.

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