When I saw a picture from Anthony A. McGoldrick’s book, ‘TV Toys’, on-line and recognised three of the toys that I own, I thought I ought to investigate further. It’s always interesting to see what other toys might be there in such books and when I scanned the pages, identified fourteen from the photos.
This book is more like a whistle-stop tour from the 1950s-1980s of British toys than showing everything. Don’t expect to see the ‘Star Wars’ franchise but as that’s been done to death elsewhere, that’s hardly surprising.
McGoldrick tends to write authority but it did tend to put me on alert when I spotted the odd mistake here and there. He certainly should have had someone knowledgeable look over his shoulder looking for omission and errors or even checked some of it against the Internet. As its worth getting the book for the photos, I’ll include some of the errors and corrections here.
‘Twizzle’ and ‘Torchy The Battery Boy’ were the creations of Roberta Leigh (aka Janey Scott Lewin although that’s not so widely known), not Gerry Anderson who only made the show.
Professor Popkiss and Doctor Beaker created Supercar together.
U.N.C.L.E.’s main adversary was THRUSH and they only really encounteredd communism in the first of the four seasons.
With the Corgi Batmobile, later versions didn’t have bats on their wheels.
Joe MacClaine from ‘Joe 90’ wasn’t a nephew to the MacClaines but adopted before his step-mother died in a crash.
Captain Scarlet himself was the driver whenever I popped open an SPV, not Captain Blue.
‘U.F.O.’ was 26 not 22 episodes long.
These aren’t things that a real fan would get wrong or a little research couldn’t rectify and even in a smaller word count, would still have fitted within this book format. I tend to be more conscious of such errors because they do have a nasty habit of propagating across other books without people checking.
To be fair, McGoldrick covered a lot of ground and it’s the material away from the Anderson shows that is far more accurate or where he lacks knowledge, he simply hasn’t played with them. Being brought up and still owning these toys, you do remember these things. I mean, Steed’s sword stick could draw up water and be used as a water-gun explains the secret aqua-moisuriser and why it ultimately broke from over-use. Mine can cracked. The Century 21 Thunderbird 5, which I still own, and the Marx Dalek use a similar bump and move in a different direction mechanism although all it really does is move the main wheels around until it can find another direction that it can move in.
One cannot fault the photographs, many of which show a lot of rare media toys from cars to dolls, most taken from the Moffat Toy Museum. It’s a shame that the year when each toy was released wasn’t included with the photograph to put things in context. There are some areas which I which had been covered better. It’s rare to come across all the Century 21 ‘Thunderbirds’ toys together and rarer here because only the Dinky FAB ONE is shown and the rest detailed in the text. It tends to feel like a home goal when so much is said about them but none shown. ‘Captain Scarlet’ fares better and seeing the 70s doll might make you ponder as to whether you would treat it as gold if you could collect it. If anything, it was a reminder how much our toys have been refined in recent years.
I love the photo of Fred Flintstone working on the back of his brontosaurus and one I’ve never seen before, a Terror Fish from ‘Stingray’, even if it didn’t quite look like the real thing.
There are some gaps in McGoldrick knowledge but I suspect that if you’re buying this book, you’ll be getting it for the photographs which will do their best to stir your memories. If we only knew back then just how valuable they would be, we’d have probably taken better care of them and kept the boxes instead of playing with them to death. The only reason I kept my Dinky and Corgi media cars in their boxes was because it looked after them better. I had less relevance for the Saint’s car and because its box didn’t have much of the way of support inside ultimately just fell apart. Boxes weren’t just thrown away, they just didn’t last that long.
If you’re just checking up on your media toys or want to stir memories and of the right age then this would be a sure-fire stock-filler this December. Pointing out to your sprogs or grand-sprogs what you had in your childhood might even remind them to look after their toys after use more.
(pub: Shire Books. 48 page illustrated indexed small softcover. Price: £6.99 (UK), $12.95 (US), $14.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-74781-217-3)
check out website: www.shirebooks.co.uk