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.

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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.

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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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IN THE TV SERIES:

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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TV PROP V ACTUAL DINKY:

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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VARIATIONS:

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? 
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Instructions were included in the first box type.

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Instructions 

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.

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The final box version was the hanging window box type.

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PRE-PRODUCTION AND COLOUR TRIALS:

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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ODDITIES AND RARITIES:

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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CATALOGUES:

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

ADVERTS:

A window display from around 1972.

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Window display 1972
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1971 Countdown magazine

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Italian Ad
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Italian Ad
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1973 Italian Topolino Ad
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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

25 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.
    Brian

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  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)

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    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.

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  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

  4. Hi there, I have a red UFO with flat head screws that Don’t appear damaged at all, Does anybody know anything about the colors , thanks.

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  5. Hi Paul, Could you please clarify if you mean a UFO interceptor in a red paint colour scheme, i.e. not the usual green or just with red legs. If it’s the former then its probably a Code 3 as there are no currently known original variants of this model in any other colour than green. If its possible to send pictures of your model then I’m happy to take a detailed look. Thanks for sharing. Kevin

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    1. Hi there, Kevin, The body is all red, orange legs and brass coloured rear tail peace, I’ll try and get the kids to put up a picture, if it has been painted they did a good job of it because I can’t see any green anywhere, I just picked it up at a garage sale, thanks.

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  6. Hi Paul, A picture or two would be great. It’s not possible to load these onto the site but you can send them to the website address dcmtvspace (at) virginmedia.com. Thanks again Kevin

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  7. Hi Kevin,

    What is the timeline for the correct missile color tips and when did the yellow missile with black tip come into being? Also for me to put in correct order of model types of the 351 I would like to know other characteristics like plain silver exhaust or brass exhaust had the white missile with orange or red tip for example friend. I purchased several 351’s and the missiles were mixed up. So I need to know what goes where buddy. I enjoyed your different types on the site but none show the missiles that go with them but a very very few.
    Would greatly appreciate it !
    Fellow collector,
    Matt

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    1. Hi Matt, It’s a good question but hard to give a definitive answer. The first missile was white with an orange tip, the second white with black tip and the third, yellow with a black tip. I am pretty sure that there was never a white missile with a red tip released at the time and that these are all reproductions. Looking at images of boxed models with missiles then roughly speaking (and there are overlaps and its also easy to swap missiles).
      The all cardboard box (1966-73) mostly white/orange, the blister/bubble box (1973-1977) mostly white/black and the final hanging boxes (1977-80) mostly yellow/black. In terms of the model variants, then the earlier model had brass detailing on the engine cowling and front detailing and a chrome finish on the thrusters and front plate. The final models had no brass or chrome finishes. And there are transition models in between. Again it’s possible for parts to be swapped about so putting together a definitive timeline of release is very hard.
      Cheers Kevin

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      1. Thank you Kevin for your timeline buddy! I too thought red tip was a code 3! Never seen any other than repros.
        Kind Regards,
        Matt A.

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      2. Hi Kevin,

        Here are the pics, I tried to show difference of the darker hue compared to a normal metallic green one. By the way, correction on the area covered by the sticker/decal. It is actually slightly lighter? I know it can be difficult to assess not being hand held. But it is a true factory darker hue of color than the usually bright metallic green issues. Also a strange yellowed but clear type windscreen?

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      3. Hi Kevin,

        Here are the pics, I tried to show difference of the darker hue compared to a normal metallic green one. By the way, correction on the area covered by the sticker/decal. It is actually slightly lighter? I know it can be difficult to assess not being hand held. But it is a true factory darker hue of color than the usually bright metallic green issues. Also a strange yellowed but clear type windscreen?
        Regards,
        Matt A.

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      4. On Tue, Dec 10, 2019 at 6:02 AM Dinky Toys: TV Shows, Space and Specials wrote:

        > KO commented: “Hi Matt, It’s a good question but hard to give a definitive > answer. The first missile was white with an orange tip, the second white > with black tip and the third, yellow with a black tip. I am pretty sure > that there was never a white missile with a red ti” >

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  8. Hi Kevin,

    My left eagle eye just spotted green metallic paint under the oddities category or ‘Color trial’ one that was sprayed metallic blue! Look at the legs? Where they meet the black plastic legs and metal craft. I hope the buyer didn’t pay too much? Just an observation. So I guess it was a just green metallic primer or more probable a regular 351 then over-sprayed metallic blue! Really love your site!
    Regards,
    Matt

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    1. Hi Matt, Interesting observation and fair comment. It may be a code 3 but the black legs appear to be genuine and as far as I know these were not featured in any commercial release (the Zygon patroller 363 has a similar but different black leg design). This was sold originally by Vectis who are trustworthy and I believe would have taken a careful look at the model before describing it as a colour trial. As always it’s hard to be sure unless one can see and hold the actual model. Cheers Kevin

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      1. Hi Kevin,

        So true about not being sure unless holding it in our hands. The legs look real. I totally concur friend.
        Regards,
        Matt

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      2. Hi Kevin,

        So true about not being sure unless holding it in our hands. The legs look real. I totally concur friend.
        Regards,
        Matt

        Like

      3. Here are the pics for the darker interceptor color.

        On Tue, Dec 10, 2019 at 5:38 AM Dinky Toys: TV Shows, Space and Specials wrote:

        > KO commented: “Hi Matt, Interesting observation and fair comment. It may > be a code 3 but the black legs appear to be genuine and as far as I know > these were not featured in any commercial release (the Zygon patroller 363 > has a similar but different black leg design). Th” >

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      4. Hi Kevin,

        It might be from a house where they smoked a lot???It could account for the yellowing of windscreen too. Matt

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  9. Hi Kevin,
    I got a message from your site stating that they weren’t able to process my messages. So, just to ask you if you have ever seen a darker hue on the interceptor like this one? It has not been repainted from what I can assess. It is in terrific shape even. Except missing decals/stickers. I sent pics comparing/contrasting it to a normal metallic green color.
    Regards,
    Matt A.

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  10. Hi Matt, Thanks for your note. Unfortunately this site doesn’t accept uploaded images via the comments section. Please send your images via email dcmtvspace(at)virginmedia.co.uk and I’m happy to take a look. Cheers Kevin

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  11. Hi Kevin
    I wanted to ask you by passing comment on and therefore probably add more uncertainty to the subject of ‘Which came first – The red pilot or the red ski’? I have always been from the school of thought that the red Joe 90 pilot was the first release as they simply do not appear on the latter releases when cost cutting was rife and there is an awful amount of logic to using the previous and dwindling pilots from the earlier Joe 90 car, but as it appears there is an equal amount of people who believe the red ski version was the first, i thought i’d come at this from a different angle and see if another contributing factor could lend support to either argument, so i have been keeping a close eye as of late on what has come up for sale with regards to the variant that has no raised edge or lip around the machine gun area just in front of the cockpit. My thinking was that this was an actual casting change and therefore the die’s would have to be changed one way or another and this would make it a marker for either the first casting or the last. As you say above, there is no disagreement that the ones without chrome (usually all orange) are the last releases and i have seen NO Interceptors come up for sale in the last few months that are all orange and have no ridges (they all have the ridges around the plain orange machine guns) so i am now thinking to myself that the flat area was likely a first release variant???? With that i’ve taken time to notice that, although the red ski variant makes up 5% – 10% of the Interceptors listed, they probably make up around 70% of the Interceptors that have no raised area around the machine gun????? To confound this, every single red Joe 90 pilot i saw had a raised lip around the machine gun area too! So with all that noted, I have personally gone from being 90% certain that the Joe 90 pilot was the first issue to about 66% sure now in the red ski version being the first issue….. Couldn’t trouble you for your own and your readers thoughts on this anomaly could i please?
    Best Wishes
    Daryl

    Like

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