The production of Corgi’s first Aston Martin DB5 model in 1965, which was based on the car featured in Goldfinger complete with ejector seat, coincided with the beginning of the Bond phenomenon, but the success of the company’s James Bond model cars could hardly have been predicted.
Three years later Corgi had sold 3.9 million units of the DB5 making it an instant and – judging by the fact it is produced to this day – timeless classic. Much sought after as collector’s pieces, if you are lucky to own one in pristine condition from the early 1970s the value is something in the range of £200-£300, although why would you want to part with it at all? And if you have one showing some wear and tear, the value is probably something of the order of £50.
Corgi is currently going strong and with each new James Bond film it produces another of its die-cast classic scale models, which are keenly snapped up by collectors. And although it is easy to see Corgi as a company producing children’s toys, nothing could be further from the truth – when in the ’80s the company suffered from a downturn in the toy market due to computer games and the like taking a significant amount of market share the company took a long hard look at what it was doing and deliberately refocused on the adult collector.
The change of strategy paid off with a huge increase in sales as James Bond models other collectible cars were snapped up. Corgi has continued to develop its ranges and current models in the James Bond range in clued a gold-plated collectors edition DB5 model car, proving the eternal interest in this car.
While Corgi has been well established in Britain for years, it is not the only company to hold a license to produce 007 cars – RC2 produced 1:18 scale models including the DB5 and the Aston Martin DBS from Casino Royale, while radio controlled versions of the cars are available from Nikko.
And proving that the market for 007 model cars remain strong, there is a new magazine aimed at Bond model car collectors. It’s called The James Bond Car Collection and in addition to a full colour magazine each copy includes a 1:43 scale model from one of the films.