351: UFO Interceptor

DINKY 351 U.F.O INTERCEPTOR (1971-1980):

The UFO Interceptor produced in 1971 was the first of three models from the U.F.O. TV series, the others being the 352 Ed Straker’s Car and 353 SHADO 2 Mobile.

351 3_4.JPG

Although an reasonably accurate physical version of the TV model, unfortunately it was produced in a green colour, rather than the white of the the actual Interceptor used in the TV series.

351 side.JPG
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The best feature by far was the ‘nuclear missile’ on the front. This was activated by releasing a spring loaded lever on the bottom of the model which could also be fitted with an exploding cap that produced a satisfying bang as the missile shot out. These caps were usually used in toy guns but could be inserted singly behind the missile

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This was a Gerry and Sylvia Anderson production for Century 21. The U.F.O. TV series premise was that a secret organisation called SHADO.

The Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation were defending Earth against alien invaders.  SHADO Interceptors were red and white space fighters used to defend Earth against these marauding hordes of aliens and were equipped only with a single nuclear missile as a weapon. Usually they flew in groups of three taking off from SHADO’s moon base.

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Apart from the colour, the Dinky model is a close and faithful representation of the model craft used in the TV Series. The original prop was designed by Mike Trim and Derek Meddings.

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There is a disagreement between some experts about which was the first version produced.  It’s either the red legged or the orange legged version.

The evidence to support the orange legged version as the original issue is based on the red pilot, which was from an existing model, the 102 Joe 90 car, and was only ever used in one Interceptor version, the other versions all using a grey-green pilot also used in the 722 Harrier and other aircraft models. In the May 1971 Meccano Magazine, the launch of the model is featured the ‘Dinky News’ section and is described as having orange legs. The red legged version is rare which implies that Dinky ran out of red legs and red detailing early on in the production cycle which is unusual for a first production run. Red detailing inserts are also seen on orange legged versions and vice versa which suggests that ‘red’ plastic supplies were available for a long time.

The evidence to support red legs as the original model is the red legged version being sold in a plain cardboard box dated 1971, the first year of manufacturing, and interestingly with a red plastic details with no chrome paint,  alongside the red legs, (see Oddities and Rarities below). These are similar to the last ever versions but those were made with orange plastic detailing.

351 3_4 Red.JPG
Is this the first version? 
Chrome and orange 3_4.jpg
or is it this one on the left? All agree on the last version on the right.

There were at least 9 parts that were changed or modified over the 9 years the Interceptor was in production. The final version, in line with many other models at the end of the factory’s life, cut costs wherever possible. In the case of this model the brass coloured paint details and the chrome finish were dropped.

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The most numerous version had orange legs and has many variants, including cockpit colours and pilots and as the production came to an end the removal of the chrome detail finish, as well as the bronze detailing, leaving a significant amount of orange plastic in view.

Variants orange legged COMP.png

Some of the red version variations are illustrated below. There is a red ‘Joe 90’ pilot variant and this has orange detailing and red legs. All red versions are the rarest, although the red detailing is usually under a chrome finish.

Variants red legged COMP.png

The model below is an interesting black nosed hybrid, from Matthew in NZ, of red plastic legs but underneath the chrome detailing is orange plastic. The SHADO labels are a yellowish-orange colour rather than the usual deep orange.

Yellow sticker 1 edt.jpgBOXES:

The Interceptor production run encapsulated three box types, the cardboard with inner tray, the bubble pack and the window box.

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The first box was all cardboard with an inner tray with excellent artwork although the interceptor depicted was white and red, as in the TV series, rather than the green of the actual model.

box COMP.png

The inner tray had two pieces as well as a packing piece. The back of the main tray usually came with a warning notice but some were plain.

box COMP2.png

Instructions were included in the first box type.


The second type of box was the bubble tray, which could have a blue or a less seen white base. There were also two fonts used on the blue base version.

box bubble COMP2.png

The final box version was the hanging window box type.

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There are two descriptions of  a 351 Interceptor model sold at Christies Auctioneers in 2002.

A Dinky factory resin, brass, aluminium and steel large-scale prototype 351 Interceptor 23cm long and constructed oversize for pantographing down to final production size. (Source: Christie’s catalogue)

The white Interceptor is not a master model. The master models are usually two or three times the size of the finished product. So far only three Dinky Toys master models are known to have been saved : the Renault 16, the Opel Rekord 1900 and the Super Mystère fighter (not issued). The large Interceptor is probably an evaluation mock-up which was found to be too big and it was then decided to make the production models to a smaller scale. (Source: Jacques Du Jardin, Dinky Encyclopedia)

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A trial colour finished in metallic blue with black plastic parts, chrome engine with black inner rear thrusters sold by Vectis Auctions.

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This No.351 Interceptor finished in green with red legs and blue tinted windows was packaged with an unusual mail order plain box and inner packing card. This was due to shortage of printed carton. There was an enclosed leaflet stating why this was necessary and it was signed Meccano 1971. Sold by Vectis Auctions.

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The 351 Interceptor made the front cover of the 1971 catalogue in its year of release.

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Dinky 1971 UK consumer catalogue

In 1972 all 3 of the UFO TV series model appeared together at the same time.

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Dinky 1972 UK consumer catalogue

The 1973 catalogue has a red legged, black nosed version on show. It also appears to have rocket with a red tip which is very rare, if ever commercially made available.

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Dinky 1973 UK catalogue
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Dinky 1974 UK consumer catalogue front cover
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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
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1977 UK trade catalogue
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Dinky 1977 UK consumer catalogue

The 351 featured again on the front cover of the 1978 catalogue. Note that the trailing edges of the landing skis appear to be raised.

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Dinky 1978 UK consumer catalogue

The final appearance was in the 1979 trade catalogue and separated away from its sister model the 353 SHADO 2 Mobile which appears on a different page.

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Dinky 1979 UK trade catalogue


A window display from around 1972.

Ad 351.jpg
Window display 1972
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1971 Countdown magazine

Dinky Ad 6.jpg

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Italian Ad
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Italian Ad
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1973 Italian Topolino Ad
Italian topolino 1978.JPG
1978 Italian Topolino Ad
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Italian Topolino Ad
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1971 Meccano Magazine July
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1971 TV 21 comic Feb

4 thoughts on “351: UFO Interceptor

  1. Hi
    This is a question rather than comment, has the interceptor ever been commercially produced with orange metal ski’s as I seem to remember having one as a child and bought one (because of this ) that looks to be original paint and rivet work under the wings and it shows no sign of having any work done ?
    Hope you can confirm / deny the validity as it is driving me crazy trying to find every scrap of info from every site I can.
    Kind regards.


  2. Hi Brian, Thanks for your note. To be honest I’ve not seen a production run 351 with metal legs or seen any reference to one in my research. That doesn’t mean its not genuine as the records of what was produced by Dinky are very incomplete. I have seen metal legs as replacement parts and so it may be a code 3 or it might be a pre-production model. Would it be possible to have photos of your model which I could then put up on the site to see if we get get more insight into what you have. Thanks Kevin (dcmtvspace (at) virginmedia.com)


    1. Probably late to the party. This will be more than likely a rebuild. If you do it properly, once you have drilled out the rivet you can fill it in again with a “solder” glue like liquid solder in a tube. The use of certain bic pen lids can be used to to shape the solder into a rivet appearance. I used to use this method when renovating a model.


  3. Thoughts on which can first. I did a lot research on this a while back. I came to a conclusion based on other dinky first runs. Namely the more effort put in the earlier the production run. That lead me to belief red ski version is the earlier as it has the most window dressing; chromed “bonnet”, bronze exhaust and intakes, black missile housing and blue tinted screen. This was borne out (at least on the eagle 360) after talking to an ex-meccano friend who worked on the 360/361 eagles. The first versions of any toy were the boldest and brightest and as the production runs continued less and less effort was put into any given toy. Also it was unlikely that the 351 would have swapped from orange to red and back to orange plastics. Although it would depend heavily on what new products using the colour where being produced at the time. It’s also worth pointing out the screws, earlier models were flathead and latter crosshead (Phillips).
    The advertising of these things was notoriously unreliable due to using drawings rather than photos

    As for nukes, red/white and yellow/black were the original colour scheme. Since they are so easy to renovate the 351 is subject Frankenstein-ism much like the fabled white eagle transporter.

    Ages ago I used to run a site on fixing these things up. I got annoyed at the inflated prices people were asking for a non original model whilst claiming otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

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