Although Dinky Toys was in operation as early as 1935, I first learned of the company’s toys in the mid-1970s, when I was a young fan of Star Trek (1966-1969) and Space: 1999 (1975-1977).
Older fans probably knew the company — a maker of high-quality die-cast metal cars and vehicles — for an earlier generation TV tie-ins to Thunderbirds (1964), Joe 90 (1967) or even The Prisoner (1967).
But what interested me as a youngster was that the company had produced highly-detailed, heavy-duty miniatures of my favorite TV spaceship in the pre-Star Wars era.
For example, Dinky Toys produced two versions of Space: 1999’s amazing trademark, work-horse space craft, the Eagle. One was a transport, with a removable passenger section in the middle. The other was an Eagle freighter, which, with a magnet, could lower or lift barrels of radioactive waste.
From Star Trek, Dinky produced two great die-cast metal ships. The first was the Constitution Class Starship Enterprise of Captain James Kirk. The starship could fire small round projectiles from the saucer section. Also, a small shuttle craft could be dropped from the bottom of the Starfleet vessel.
The second Trek vehicle was the Klingon D7 battlecruiser. Like the Enterprise, it could also fire small orange projectiles from its forward section.
I was too young in the mid-1970s to have seen Gerry Anderson’s UFO (1970), the precursor to Space: 1999, but Dinky released vehicles from that live action series as well. First, there was the ground-based mobile vehicle, with tank tread, and a flip-up dorsal-mounted cannon. More to my liking however, was the Dinky UFO Interceptor, a one-seat spacecraft that could launch a forward missile unit.
The Dinky Club of America advertised in comic-books and magazines of the decade, and reminded children to “Ask for Dinky Toys at your favorite toy store! Today!”
They also admonished imaginative youngsters to “prepare to lift off with the daring crews of Star Trek…Space: 1999…UFO and others.”
That’s advice that I took to heart.
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