DINKY 359 EAGLE FREIGHTER (1975-1981):
Two models were released in 1975, first the 359 Eagle Transporter and then later the 360 Eagle Freighter. Both of these models were licensed from Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s TV production Space:1999, a UK science fiction television series that originally aired from 1975 to 1977.
The Dinky Eagle Freighter carried cylinders of hazardous cargo, initially labelled with a radioactive symbol but later as a fuel waste container.
The pod could be removed and the containers lowered or raised via a manual winch. The grabber was a magnet and the tops of the containers were metal.
IN THE TV SERIES:
The Eagle was designed by Brian Johnson who had worked with Gerry Anderson on Thunderbirds in the mid-1960s and had then produced the spacecraft for the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The Eagles served as the primary spacecraft of Moonbase Alpha, which had a fleet of them, and were used to explore alien planets, defend Moonbase Alpha and to transport supplies and other items to and from the Moon.
Various types of module could be attached to the Eagles including:
- Transporter: Used to transport supplies and equipment
- Rescue: These Eagles are recognisable by their vertical red stripes
- Freighter: These specialised Eagles are used to transport dangerous nuclear waste to the Nuclear Disposal Areas. The waste canisters are carried in a ‘pallet’ type pod which links to a conveyor belt at the disposal areas.
PROP V ACTUAL:
The model of the Eagle used in filming was built in four scales: by the end of the series, there were three 44-inch (110 cm) Eagle models, two 22-inch (56 cm) Eagles, one 11-inch (28 cm) Eagle, and a 5-inch (13 cm) Eagle.
The white Dinky model was a pretty good copy of the actual prop.
There were three main Eagle Freighter variants. The first version had a white chassis with chromed engine nozzles and red engines, the second a white chassis with red nozzles and silver engines and the third and last version had a blue chassis with red nozzles and silver engine.
An all white Eagle freighter is sometimes seen but was not sold by Dinky. It is in fact an amalgam of the green Transporter’s pod and the white Freighter’s chassis.
The 359 Eagle Transporter chassis was the same as the 360 Eagle Freighter chassis and had the same body variations.
The Freighter pod was the differing factor from the Transporter. It was designed to carry yellow plastic containers, held by a revolving plastic disc and then lower or raise them using a magnetic hoist and string operated by a thumbwheel.
The first decals were wet transfers but were then replaced by adhesive stickers.
In 1979 the change of label design for the containers was said to be due to an 11 year old girl named Marianne Fleckery who found some of the hollow cylinders in the garden of her home in Langley Crescent, St Albans, Herts. She persuaded firemen to visit in anti-contamination suits and take the cylinders to the then-government radiation centre in Amersham. After the incident Meccano removed the radiation symbol and words.
ODDITIES AND RARITIES:
A 32 part Eagle Transporter and Freighter kit, similar to other metal Dinky Kits available at the time, was proposed but not commercially released.
In kit form and unpainted, it would have contained a single Eagle chassis but with both the transporter lab module and the freighter container pod. All that appears to survive today is the artwork for the box labelled under Dinky Die Cast Toymaker brand. The serial number was to be 1035, but this was allocated to the Striker Anti- Tank Vehicle kit in 1975 so making this a very short lived project.
The first Eagle Freighters came in a bubblebox with a blue base and subsequently with a yellow base but these were only issued for a short time.
The next box type was a window hanging box. On the front it featured two actors from the series, Martin Landau (Commander John Koenig) and Barbara Bain (Dr Helena Russell) and on the back a contrived mission featuring the 353 Shado 2, the 351 Shado Interceptor and 106 Thunderbird 2.
The interior was an attractive polystyrene lunar moonscape which also helped hold the model in place whilst being transported.
The last box did away with the foam inserts and replaced it with a simple yellow cardboard tray.
The Eagle Freighter first appeared in the 1975 catalogue.