Culture > Play

I just bought back a nostalgic piece of my childhood

I own a 1960s Corgi James Bond Aston Martin DB5 again

The brand is Corgi, just in case you only ever know Hot Wheels, Matchbox and Tomica. PHOTO BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

Admit it: When you were a kid, you had at least one toy that you still fondly remember and now wish you had kept. I certainly did, and one of my all-time favorite toys growing up was a James Bond Aston Martin DB5 die-cast scale model. Sadly, my young self wasn’t very good at taking care of his stuff—or you could argue I used my toys the way they were meant to be used—and so it somehow disappeared. Which is why my heart skipped a beat when I saw the same toy car listed in a local auction catalog a few days ago. A short bidding war later and I’m once again the owner of one of the coolest toys ever made (and the very model that put its maker, Corgi, on the map).

There’s an interesting story behind the shiny-gold paint color used on this toy car. PHOTOS BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

The real DB5 from the James Bond movie Goldfinger sold at auction for £2.6 million nearly a decade ago, but this mini version went for a mere P9,500 after auction fees and taxes. It was made by British toymaker Corgi and first sold in 1965, when it was listed in the company’s catalog for nine British shillings and 11 pence, which translates to around P600 in today’s money and was a sizable amount for any Bond-loving kid back then. This is the original version, model number 261, and it proved to be an instant hit with the public. Produced from 1965 to 1969, after which the firm released a slightly updated version, the first Goldfinger DB5 toy sold over 2.7 million pieces and established Corgi as one of the biggest brands in the field.

Try to find an example with the box still intact. PHOTOS BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

The model car was primarily created to promote the upcoming James Bond movie Thunderball at the time, the fourth film in the acclaimed franchise and the second movie after Goldfinger to feature the famous tricked-out Aston Martin. Eagle-eyed observers will notice not only the fact that the color doesn’t match the one of the movie car (which was painted in Silver Birch), but that the design is slightly different from that of a real-life DB5 as well. For the color bit, legend has it that the toy company didn’t want to sell a silver die-cast car out of fear people might think it wasn’t painted properly, and so they decided to go for a shiny gold color as a nod to the previous movie, Goldfinger. As for the design, the rear of this DB5 looks more like a DB4, a detail that must have slipped through quality control when tooling was changed from the DB4 toy that the firm had previously made—all while in a rush to get the new model out before Christmas in 1965.

Don’t you wish your own car had James Bond weapons? For use on EDSA or SLEX. PHOTO BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

The coolest thing about this toy is that it has James Bond’s gadgets copied from the original movie car. Press on the exhaust and a bulletproof shield pops up behind the rear window. Hit a tiny switch on the side and two machine guns emerge from below the headlights. And then there’s the pièce de résistance, which is the best feature of them all: Hit a switch below the passenger door and a fully working ejector seat opens the roof and catapults a tiny bad guy (complete with a gun) across the room. There’s no telling how many of these miniature baddies were lost in children’s rooms over the decades, but I’m guessing it must have been many.

This toy has a fully functioning ejector seat. PHOTOS BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

Having this awesome toy again really brings back childhood memories. And although millions of examples were made, few appear to have survived in good condition and with the box (and the mini bad guy) still intact. This one I just bought is not in perfect condition, which was reflected in the price I paid, but a mint version can sell upwards of P30,000.

So teach your kids to always take care of their stuff. You never know what these might be worth in the future.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring.