100: Lady Penelope’s FAB 1

DINKY 100 LADY PENELOPE’S FAB 1 (1966-1977):

Dinky’s Lady Penelope’s FAB 1, was a futuristic but somewhat implausible Rolls Royce that featured in the hit TV series ‘Thunderbirds‘.  This was Dinky’s first TV character toy and was hugely successful becoming the ‘must have’ toy of Christmas 1966. Dinky had beaten Corgi* to the rights, from Lew Grade’s ITC, to produce this model and it was shortly followed by the 101 Thunderbird 2. However, the Dinky FAB 1 may never have been as Doug McHard, the Marketing Manager at the time explained that getting into character merchandising was seen as a ‘something of a gamble’ at the time.

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The model remained in production for 11 years, a clear testament to its popularity.

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FAB 1 was packed with features, it had a rocket that was fired by pressing the front down which opened the grill and then ejected the rocket. At the back there were 4 harpoons launched by pressing the rear  wheels down or 2 could be fired by pressing down on the left wheel and the other 2 by pressing on the right. Underneath the movable canopy were figures of the Chauffeur, Parker and of course Lady Penelope. The early versions had a badge on the top of the front grill, which was removed on some later models because of safety concerns.

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The two main variants, dusky pink and fluorescent pink

 

TV PROP v DINKY MODEL:

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Top: Original prop (2 doors) – Middle: Dinky FAB1 – Bottom: 2016 prop (Thunderbirds 65)

The prop had a Rolls Royce badge under the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ figure on the radiator which was changed to a ‘P’ for the Dinky model possibly due to trade mark issues with Rolls Royce. The Dinky toy had four doors rather than the two on the main props, although the large ‘puppet’ size version had four.

THE TV PROP:

When considering the car’s make, series co-creator Gerry Anderson explained that considering Lady Penelope’s personality it could only be a Rolls-Royce. Derek Meddings incorporated a  six-wheel drive into the design to distinguish the appearance from that of contemporary vehicles. Measuring seven feet (2.1 m) in length, the plywood model, which was equipped with fully functional steering and headlights,  cost £2,500 to build in 1964 which is equivalent to £30,000 today.

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Derek Meddings, the special effects director, remembered FAB 1 for its “outrageous styling, which bore no resemblance to any Rolls-Royce ever produced”. Rolls-Royce supervised the model’s sculpting and also supplied AP Films with a genuine radiator grille, complete with Spirit of Ecstasy ornament, costing £100. This was used in close-up shots (such as the machine guns firing, and a stock photograph of the car’s front that appears in the series’ closing credits).

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TV SERIES:

In the original Thunderbirds (1965–66), as well as the feature films Thunderbirds Are Go (1966) and Thunderbird 6 (1968), FAB 1 is depicted as a modified Rolls-Royce. Owned by International Rescue agent Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, the car is usually driven by her butler, Parker. The driver sits in a central position at the front of the passenger compartment, which is covered by a bulletproof bubble canopy.

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The most recent version of FAB 1 created for the the new  2016 Thunderbirds 65 episodes

FAB 1 was modified by Brains, the inventor of the Thunderbirds machines, to include weaponry and gadgetry such as front and back-mounted machine guns (although grappling hooks are seen to shoot out of the rear in the episode “The Perils of Penelope”). The car was also equipped with a smoke screen canister and oil slick dispenser, extendable tyre-studs for increased traction, and hydrofoils or outriggers for travel on water and snow, respectively.

FAB 1 TECHNICAL DATA:

  • Length: 21 feet – Width: 8 feet – Weight: 3 tons.
  • Top Speed on land: Between 200 and 300 mph, at sea: 50 knots.
  • Seating Capacity: 3 (1 driver and 2 passengers)
  • Front Armaments: 2 machine guns and 1 central machine cannon.
  • Rear Armaments: 2 machine guns, 4 harpoon launchers, smokescreen canister, oil slick dispenser and 2 laser guns

The FAB 1 machine gun was replaced by a missile for the Dinky model. FAB 1 was fitted with a front rocket launcher, activated by pressing on the front wheels. The rocket provided, was also used with the Dinky SPV 104,  SHADO 2 353 and Galactic War Chariot 361, and came in 3 different colours. Later models had two rockets.

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First FAB 1 issues had a single red and white rocket and 4 harpoons provided. Later issues had 2 and the rockets came in different colours

6 spare harpoons, pack 755 and 6 spare rockets, pack 756 were available when they inevitably got lost. Or you could have looked under the sofa.

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Dinky Accessory packs 755 and 756
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Meccano Dinky Blueprint for 100 FAB1

THE FIRST FAB 1:

Note the ‘Mustang’ style wheels, pink roof stripes and a bare metal base with short rails and a Century 21 text.

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VARIATIONS:

The key variation, released in 1970,  was a fluorescent pink version but there were also changes to the wheels, the baseplate, rocket firing mechanism, the front grill, the seat colours  and the sliding roof cover finishing. The original pink paint also had different hues over the years.

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Fluorescent version

WHEELS AND TYRES:

Wheel types: Wheel 1 on the first FAB1 as 161 Ford Mustang, Wheel 2, the most accurate hub,  Wheel 3 as 218 Lotus Europa and Wheel 4 as 192 Range Rover.

FAB1 Wheels 4 hub versions.pngThere were 3 types of tyres for FAB 1 – Narrow Rubber, Large Nylon and Small Nylon tyres.

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FRONT GRILL AND HEADLIGHT SURROUNDS:

Grill 1 with mascot and silver painted headlamp surrounds. Grill 2 omits mascot and silver surround paint. Note the Rolls Royce ‘RR’ motif is replaced by a ‘P’

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BASES:

The first version had a bare metal base with short rails and a ‘Century 21’ markings. Later versions had longer rails, were painted and then varnished. The last versions omitted the ‘Century 21’.

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SLIDING CANOPY:

The earlier versions of the roof had pink stripes on the sliding canopy.Top comp.png

INTERIORS:

The first version and the most common seat colour was gold. Dark and light brown seats were also made but the rarest version has black seats which is the closest to the original prop version

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From the top: Black, Brown and Gold seats

PROTOTYPE:

Black and white images of pre-production prototype.

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THE BOXES:

The first box was all cardboard with an inner tray.

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The second box had a tray with a bubble top.

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The third and last box had a high narrow tray with a bubble top.

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ODDITIES AND RARITIES:

Spotted on a Belgian website this gold version was sold for €1,200 on an auction site.

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CATALOGUES:

FAB1 features in nearly all the Dinky catalogues during its production run, although the artwork was often similar.

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Dinky 1967 and 1968 UK consumer catalogues
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Dinky 1969 consumer catalogue

The 1971 and 1972 catalogues artwork for FAB1 was a more strident pink akin the the fluorescent version released in 1972.

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Dinky 1970, 1971 and 1972 UK consumer catalogues
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Dinky 1973 UK consumer catalogue
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Dinky 1974 UK consumer catalogue
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Dinky 1975 UK consumer catalogue
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Dinky 1976 UK consumer catalogue

TV Century 21 Comics:

FAB 1 hit the front cover of TV Century 21 comics twice.

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ADVERTS:

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MISCELLANEOUS:

Corgi FAB 1: Corgi eventually produced 2 versions in 2003, one pink and the other a chromed pink, and the former re-released in 2016.

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