363 DINKY ZYGON PATROLLER (1979-1980) AND MARKS AND SPENCER COSMIC INTERCEPTOR (1979):
The Zygon Patroller was in production when the factory closed in 1979. The model did not appear in the 1979 or 1980 Trade catalogues but was visible in the Earl’s Court 1980 Toy Fair brochure and may have been released after the factory closed.
A Meccano Dye Line Shop Floor Assembly Drawing for Sales No.363 Cosmic Interceptor Job No.50375 dated 04/02/79 gives a probable production date of the toy of September 1979 just prior to closure of the factory.
Both models were based on the 729 Panavia MRCA chassis (see below).
The model had two dark blue firing missiles similar to those used on the 367 Space Battle Cruiser. These were basically spring-loaded tubes with a square button to one side. When a missile was inserted, it locked in place with a click and was released when the button was pressed.
There was no ‘Dinky Toys’ or ‘Meccano’ labelling on the underside of the model and the Cosmic Interceptor similarly omitted this. This was due to plates being used here to create smaller holes from the re-used 729 Panavia Multi Role Combat Aircraft chassis. There was a plate covering (above the ‘Made in England’ text) used to hide the M.R.C.A text on both models.
2149/8900 MARKS AND SPENCER COSMIC INTERCEPTOR (1979):
Initially in Xmas 1979, the model was released exclusively in a red livery for Marks and Spencer as the Cosmic Interceptor.
Note the safety conscious Marks and Spencer version with its warning stickers on the rocket launchers.
Apart from the colour and sticker differences the Dinky and the M&S models were identical.
The models had identical casts, including both carrying ‘Cosmic Interceptor’ text inside the body section.
The Cosmic Interceptor was sold alongside its sister model the Cosmic Cruiser which also became a Dinky model, the 368 Zygon Marauder.
DINKY 729 PANAVIA MRCA:
To create the Cosmic Interceptor and Zygon Patroller, the base chassis of the 729 Panavia Multi Role Combat Aircraft (M.R.C.A.) was used. The wings were removed and missile pods from the 367 Space Battle Cruiser added, as well as a large rocket exhaust port. The booster fixing used the holes originally made to fix the twin jet exhausts of the M.R.C.A. The slot on the top of the bodywork, along which the button slides to open the wings on the M.R.C.A., was filled-in but the airbrakes were still visible.
The ‘MRCA’ label on the bottom was blanked out but the ‘Made in England’ remained. The landing skis were similar, but surprisingly not identical to the ones used on the 351 UFO Interceptor, although they were used on a pre-production/prototype. The Dinky Toys logo area was covered by the plates used to make the original retractable landing wheels slots smaller.
PROTOTYPES, PRE-PRODUCTION AND COLOUR VARIATIONS:
The pre-production Zygon Patroller had white rocket launchers, as used on the 367 Space Battle Cruiser and a French tail fin flag. Foreign but not alien! The Cosmic Patroller prototype had orange 351 UFO Interceptor legs and a red booster, this is clearly a work in progress model.
A colour variation which as a black booster and tail tanks. The rocket launchers are missing. Note that the black plastic fittings appear to be overpainted.
The box could be converted into a Space Station.
The Cosmic Interceptor box did not refer to Dinky but instead carried the St Michael’s and Marks and Spencer’s brands. It also had the numbers 2149/8900.
Cosmic Interceptors in the Dinky box are occasionally seen. Its hard to tell if these are Dinky re-using unsold M&S stock or these are just made up from Interceptors without boxes.
The Zygon Patroller got a mention in Dinky’s 1980 Earls Court Toy Fair brochure which also listed the 368 Zygon Marauder.