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  • Bond Vehicle Collectibles by Paul Brent Adams

    A pair of Corgi Aston Martin DB5 models, with working ejector seats. Over the years this model has been produced in both gold and silver. (Bond Vehicle Collectibles, Amberley Publishing)

    The Bond films have always been great fun - especially all the super-spy gadgets and exotic cars. Many of these cars are available as diecast models, and you can own as many Aston Martins, Ferraris, and Rolls-Royces as you want, even on a very modest budget. I began collecting film and television related models over twenty years ago, but never set out to specialise in Bond. It is just that there are so many Bond models - literally hundreds - which anyone with an interest in film and TV models is going to end up with at least a few examples. I now have close to two hundred, which is actually rather a modest total, and the collection is still being added to. With each new film there are new releases, and an occasional new model of a vehicle from one of the older films. When I wrote my first book, Film and Television Star Cars - Collecting the Diecast Models, I had intended to include a chapter on Bond models, but the subject was simply too vast. Mr Bond needed a whole book all to himself. Actually there was a previous book on Bond models, The James Bond Diecasts of Corgi, by Dave Worrall, published in 1996. This was the first diecast book I ever bought, as a novice collector. It is very detailed, but only covers Corgi, and appeared just before Corgi and others unleashed a flood of new models.

    In his first film, Dr No (1962), Bond drove a Sunbeam Alpine. The James Bond Car Collection model is set in a detailed diorama, with a printed backdrop. (Bond Vehicle Collectibles, Amberley Publishing)

    Diecast models based on the vehicles used in films and television shows have been produced in large numbers since the 1960s, although the first examples appeared as long ago as the 1930s. They are known as Star Cars, or Character Cars. The most popular single character has been James Bond - there have been diecasts, plastic toys, plastic kits, slot cars, and remote controlled models made. The first James Bond diecast appeared in 1965: the classic, gadget-packed Aston Martin DB5 from the film Goldfinger. This was released by the British firm Corgi, and apart from a brief break in the 1980s, they have been producing Bond models ever since. Corgi would eventually produce several versions of the DB5 in various sizes, most with an array of spy gadgets - including a working ejector seat - which must have been tremendous fun for any small boy or girl (it is still tremendous fun for all ages). Corgi, and others, have produced models for all the twenty-four films made by Eon Productions, and the cartoon series James Bond Jr, but not the two non-Eon films (the 1967 version of Casino Royale with David Niven; and Never Say Never Again with Sean Connery).

    A classic villain car, the Rolls-Royce Phantom III driven by Oddjob in Goldfinger (1964). This is another model from the James Bond Car Collection. (Bond Vehicle Collectibles, Amberley Publishing)

    Most of these models tend to be of the 'glamour cars' such as the various Aston Martins, the Lotus Esprit submarine car, and the BMWs from the Pierce Brosnan era. There have been fewer models of the less exotic types, but you can still find a couple of trucks, several taxis, an electric milk float, and even the double-decker bus Bond drove in Live and Let Die. There are also a few boats and planes. By far the best source for the less common types was the James Bond Car Collection, a fortnightly partwork published by Eaglemoss that ran for over a hundred issues. Each model came in a clear plastic display case, and was set in a small diorama, depicting a scene from the film it appeared in. Most came with figures, which really helped to bring the models alive. The accompanying magazine also provided a great deal of useful information on the more obscure Bond vehicles.

    From the Real Toy Action City series: the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, seen at the beginning of Moonraker (1979). The real SCA uses an early version of the Boeing 747, but the model is based on a later production aircraft. (Bond Vehicle Collectibles, Amberley Publishing)

    Apart from the many vehicles driven by Bond himself, or his allies, there are also a number of 'villain cars' - vehicles used by Spectre and other unfriendly types. Again, these range from the exotic to the mundane. Numerous types were included in the James Bond Car Collection, while Corgi, Hot Wheels, and others have also produced several examples. There have been a number of multi-vehicle sets - some are general Bond sets with a selection of vehicles from various films, others focus on just one film. Corgi were especially fond of these sets; as was the American firm Johnny Lightning, which at one time produced a range of small scale models. Apart from all the regular models there have been a number of special issues: anniversary models in special boxes; Limited Editions of which only a fixed number are produced; and gold-plated models - actually gold chrome - although these are certainly not how the vehicles appeared on screen.

    Corgi Aston Martin V12 Vanquish from Die Another Day (2002), in gold chrome. The black plastic interior has also been detailed with gold paint. This anniversary model is a Limited Edition, only 12,000 of this version were produced. (Bond Vehicle Collectibles, Amberley Publishing)

    In some cases there are no official Bond models available of a particular vehicle, boat or plane. In order to fill these gaps in a collection it may be necessary to use a non-Bond model, which may not be in exactly the right colours or markings to depict the film vehicle. You will either have to live with this, or leave the gap unfilled until someone does produce an official Bond version. Some collectors even modify an existing model so that it matches the screen version. Plastic kits are another way of filling gaps. Some types have been modelled several times, often in different scales, while others have been modelled only once. This makes it impossible to build up a full collection of Bond vehicles to a single scale - the model you want may only have been produced to the 'wrong' scale for your collection. Again, you will either have to live with this or leave some annoying gaps in your collection. I would rather have the model.

    Paul Brent Adams' new book Bond Vehicle Collectibles is available for purchase now.

  • Photographing Models and Miniatures by Paul Brent Adams

    Photographing Models and Miniatures 2 Lledo RNLI Tyne Class lifeboat. This is a full hull model, and normally sits in a plastic cradle. Depicting such models in the water is more difficult than with waterline models, as the lower hull has to be hidden. (Photographing Models and Miniatures, Amberley Publishing)

    Once upon a time, model photography was hard work, and required some fairly sophisticated and expensive equipment, even for basic shots. This usually meant a 35 mm Single Lens Reflex camera. Today, a small and cheap digital compact camera is capable of producing high quality close-up photographs, without the need for any extra lenses or other special equipment. The cameras are highly automated, so you can leave the technical side of photography: aperture, exposure, etc, to the camera, and concentrate on composing the photographs.

    Photographing Models and Miniatures 3 Corgi Aston Martin DB5 posed on a simple grass mat, sold in model shops. Features such as opening doors can be shown both open and closed. (Photographing Models and Miniatures, Amberley Publishing)

    Photographs can be taken against a plain background if you just want to catalogue your collection or sell online; or complete miniature worlds can be created for a more realistic look from a city street, to forests and mountains, or outer space. You can use readymade scenery items, or make your own, often using items that most people would throw away – used tealeaves are very versatile. As a modeller and collector, rather than a photographer, this is the part I enjoy the most – but even non-modellers can produce simple and cheap backgrounds and settings for their models. The photographs show some typical examples.

     

    Photographing Models and Miniatures 1 The Canon PowerShot A490 camera is so clever it can even take a self-portrait, with the aid of a mirror. The result will be a mirror image, but this can be flipped in an image-editing programme so everything is the right way round. The camera screws to the tripod, which is adjustable. The background is a large sheet of Woodland Scenics ReadyGrass grass mat. (Photographing Models and Miniatures, Amberley Publishing)

    I only bought my first digital camera after my 35 mm film camera died, and I needed a replacement. I soon found how easy it was to use, much easier than a big 35 mm SLR. The most basic cameras may not have the features needed for close-up photography, but my Canon PowerShot A490 certainly does. You need the ability to focus on small items at close range; a socket for a tripod; a self-timer; and a modest zoom range. The small size and light weight of a digital compact also makes it easier to use in a limited space. The only extra equipment needed is a small tripod to hold the camera steady during the long exposure times often required in close-up work. Table-top tripods can be bought in any camera shop, and are not expensive. Get a good sturdy model, which will not tip over, even with the camera angled well down. If you do not have a tripod, just rest the camera on a block of wood.

    Photographing Models and Miniatures 8 Even a very simple painted background makes this lion look more at home. A piece of coloured card is finished with streaks and blobs of green and brown paint. It is not intended to be anything specific, and a background such as this requires no painting skill at all. (Photographing Models and Miniatures, Amberley Publishing)

    Most of my working methods would probably appal real photography buffs, but I get the results I want, and have fun doing it. All my photographs are taken indoors, by a window, using natural light. This means I do not have to contend with the wind, or complicated lighting set-ups. With the light usually coming from only one direction, one side of the model is well lit, while the other side may be in shadow. A reflector – a simple piece of stiff white card – is used to bounce light back into the areas in shadow. This makes a surprising difference with many shots. Pressing the shutter can disturb the camera, even when it is mounted on a tripod. Using the self-timer means there is a slight delay between pressing the shutter, and taking the photograph, reducing the chances of camera shake. The A490 has two standard settings, or you can select your own – the two-second setting is fine. If you want your photos to have a 'period' look, the camera settings can be adjusted to take black and white or sepia shots. This suits some subjects more than others.

    Photographing Models and Miniatures 14 The roadway is grey card, with the building sitting on a grass mat. The clouds are painted on blue card, using white and grey acrylic paints. (Photographing Models and Miniatures, Amberley Publishing)

    Over the years I have built up a collection of backgrounds and props for model photography. Some of these I have bought in model or toy shops; adapted from old toys or household items; built from kits; or made from odds and ends. One of the best general purpose backgrounds - suitable for most types of models - is a grass mat. Sold in model shops, this is a sheet of paper or plastic, covered with a grass-like material. Some brands do shed their 'grass' very quickly, but the American Woodland Scenics range is very good, and the sheets are available in a range of sizes, and grass shades. A piece of fine green material would be an alternative. Printed backscences are available in model railway shops, in a range of sizes. The ones I use are by the British company Peco. Even if you have no artistic skill you can still paint your own; fluffy white clouds can be dabbed onto a sheet of plain blue card with a sponge; or distant hills streaked on, again with a piece of sponge, using various shades of green. Model trees and loose 'clump foliage' can be bought in model shops, which is easier than making your own. These can help to disguise the transition between the three-dimensional foreground, and a two-dimensional background. One way to give the illusion of great depth to a scene is to place smaller scale models behind the main subject: being smaller they will appear to be further away. These are many simple tricks like this that can be used to make your photographs more realistic.

    At the end of each session, all my equipment has to be packed away in a drawer or cupboard, as I do not have a permanent photographic studio. All the photographs here were taken with this simple set-up. Photography does not need to be complicated and expensive; it can be simple, cheap, and fun.

    9781445662541

    Paul Brent Adams' book Photographing Models and Miniatures is available for purchase now.

  • Film and Television Star Cars - The Latest Additions by Paul Brent Adams

    No one I have ever met seems to have any idea what a Star Car is, but as soon as you mention the James Bond Aston Martin or the Batmobile, no further explanation is needed. It is any vehicle, not just a car, used in a film or television programme. The term has been around since at least the 1980s - I first recall seeing it used by Mat Irvine in the pages of the British modelling magazine Scale Models. It has also been used in the titles of several books devoted to the actual screen vehicles.

    Film and Television Star Cars 1 Corgi Junior Lotus Esprit submarine car from the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, released in 1977. The wheels are hidden in the base.

    I began collecting these models in the 1990s. Apart from a book by Dave Worrall in 1996, which covered only the Corgi James Bond range, I think this is the first book ever devoted entirely to collecting model Star Cars, although diecasts have featured heavily in a number of books on film and TV toys, or on characters such as Batman. It is amazing that it is still possible to find a subject that has not been covered before. As it appeared no one else was going to write a book on Star Cars, I decided it was up to me. Between finishing the book, and publication in November 2016, I have added several more models to my collection, a mixture of older models bought at various fairs for collectors; and current models bought in retail shops, and a local supermarket while doing my grocery shopping. To show just how affordable this hobby can be, none of the models shown here cost more than $10 New Zealand, less than £5. At the opposite extreme, it is possible to spend hundreds of dollars or pounds on a single model.

    The James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) featured probably the second most famous of all Bond cars, the Lotus Esprit which converts into a submarine.  Corgi did a large version, with pop-out fins and missiles, which was included in Star Cars. This is the smaller Juniors version. It does not have any special features, and the fins are fixed in place. Like the larger version, it runs on concealed wheels. The 007 and gun logo on the nose did not actually appear on the movie car; after all, James Bond is a secret agent.  This slightly play-worn example was picked up at a collectors fair for $10.

    Film and Television Star Cars 2 From a small range of Flintstones models, the Corgi Junior model of Wilma's Coupe, released in 1983, with Wilma Flintstone at the wheel. Again the model runs on concealed wheels.

    From The Flintstones cartoon series of the 1960s, Corgi produced a set of three models in the early 1980s, each driven by one of the main characters: Fred or Wilma Flintstone, or Barney Rubble. All had plastic figures. This is Wilma's Coupe, which runs on four concealed plastic wheels, and again it was about $10.

    Film and Television Star Cars 3 Corgi Junior Chopper Squad Bell Jetranger helicopter with floats. Both the main and tail rotors rotate.

    Next up is a Bell Jetranger helicopter from the Australian TV series Chopper Squad, about a team of surf life savers at an Australian beach. The model has white plastic floats (other versions of the model had a different lower fuselage, with the more common skid undercarriage), and the main rotor blades fold so the model will fit inside its packaging - this is common among diecast helicopter models. There was also a larger version. I am not sure now how much this one cost, perhaps $5.

    Film and Television Star Cars 4 The Hot Wheels mainline toy version of the Aston Martin DB10, built expressly for the Bond film Spectre.

    From the most recent Bond film, Spectre (2015) is the Aston Martin DB10. Hot Wheels have included it in both their main toy line and in the more detailed and higher priced HW Entertainment series. Very few of these Hot Wheels models have any working features, and this applies to the DB10. Oddly, the model is not included in the HW Screen Time series of film and TV models, but is part of the HW Showroom series, although it still comes on a card with the Spectre title in the corner.

    Film and Television Star Cars 5 The 2016 Hot Wheels Yellow Submarine is much smaller than the 1969 Corgi version, but both run on concealed wheels. The model can be found on both long and short cards.

    Yellow Submarine (1968) was an animated film starring The Beatles. Corgi released a regular model of the submarine in 1969, which has been reissued several times with slight differences; but they never did a small Juniors version. In 2016 Hot Wheels finally gave the world a small, Matchbox-sized model of the Yellow Submarine. Like the bigger Corgi model it runs on concealed wheels. This one was included in the HW Screen Time series. This proved a very hard model to find in the shops, but I did manage to get a 2016 model on a long card; and a 2017 short card version from my local supermarket. The only difference in the models seems to be a very slight variation in the shade of yellow used for the lower hull, which is so slight it is only apparent when the models are studied side by side. The main difference lies in the design of the cards. Hot Wheels begin releasing their new models late in the preceding year, which is why I obtained a model dated 2017 in November 2016. These models were both $3 each, the usual Hot Wheels price in NZ. I have seen them at fairs for $10, and $15 for the less common short card version; prices which I refuse to pay for current models.

    Film and Television Star Cars 6 The popularity of video games has seen a number of tie-in models being produced, these Hot Wheels models are for the games Halo and Minecraft.

    I am not a video game player, and know little of the subject, however Hot Wheels have released a number of video game related models over the last few years. It seems logical to count these models as Star Cars, especially as several games have been turned into movies. Hot Wheels clearly share this view, and have included these models in their Screen Time series. The models shown here are for the games Halo and Minecraft, and again cost just $3 each. There is also a separate series of Halo models, on special cards. Other game related models have been the Red Bird and green Minion Pig from Angry Birds; Super Mario Brothers; and various Atari games as part of one of the higher priced premium lines.

    9781445662107

    Paul Brent Adams book Film and Television Star Cars is available for purchase now.

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