Friday, 14 February 2014

Bentley Part 2: The Avengers

Whereas there are just a couple of variants of #224, the Bentley Continental, I have been struggling with a whole load for the other Bentley - the 1927 4½ litre one - that was originally a Corgi Classic release and became well-known particularly for its inclusion (or not, as we'll see) in the Avengers Gift Set.

While the box shows Steed driving a green Bentley, most sets actually had the red one. That's just the start of confusion. Model numbers #9001 and #9002 were the ones around when the set came out first. But they had big hoods, a closed canopy. #9001 was green and had green mudguards like the picture but had a white suited racing driver and a strange number 3 drawn in white on the grill and on the back.

#9002 was red and had black mudguards, no driver, no number and. apart from the hood, was the one included. They made a folded black hood which fitted nicely on to the two lugs on which the big hood had rather strangely tilted. With a grey-suited Steed behind the wheel, this is the version that you should encounter in most original sets. It is what I had in mine.

This is #9001 with red wheels instead of steel colour and no racing number, the hood's been removed and the driver's swapped. You may even find this with green wheels and it would seem a genuine Steed car in the later sets.

The 'usual' #9002 with the roof replaced and Steed inserted is very common.

You will, though, also find #9004 sometimes. Now whether this is someone making up a set and using a not strictly correct item or Corgi, with that model now available, adding it in themselves. Short of someone having a genuinely untouched original we can open and look at, we may never know. #9004 was billed as the Bertie Wooster Bentley from another TV series and had much brighter red seats. It did have black mudguards like #9001 and a folded roof and, without numbers on the grill or rear, it was quite a simple task to swap Wooster for Steed and nothing else needed to be changed.

Some lazy sellers leave Bertie in the driving seat in his black suit and presumably hope we don't notice.

Sometime later in around 1985 the mould gets used again and surfaces as C861. This comes in two colours - a much brighter green and a distinct maroon. The green car has black seat and the maroon very pale tan seats. Both had ready folded-down hoods, much shinier wheels and brasswork, looking much fresher and that's not because they haven't been around so long.

Now these two came in their own boxes and were not in the original gift set (which had long stopped being produced). However, you will find examples of people putting them in with an Emma Lotus from time to time!

There was a new Avengers 'set' that came out in 1998. It had just the green Bentley, looking magnificent and almost too clean and shiny, with Emma Peel and Steed behind the driving seat. The two figures look remarkably similar to the originals. This is a lovely car and, whilst it is some 30 years or so behind the dating of the original gift set, you can hardly blame someone for including it. They're still quite expensive to buy too.

Lastly in the old Bentley saga, I mention this one - the Mobil item that Corgi produced. It is quite a bit different but may appear right at first glance. Look again and you'll see that it has no mudguards or rails and the chrome radiator surround and lamps are quite distinct. It's a cheap alternative, however - just don't let Steed, or worse, Mrs Peel see you using this!

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