I saw this Avengers Set advertised recently and, coupled with a conversation with a correspondent who is far more expert than I am in matters of the TV series, decided that I needed to write something on the subject of reproduction models of John Steed and Mrs Emma Peel.
Just look at the stupid expression on Mrs Peel's face and there is something decidedly strange about Steed which could even get him a part in a Dr Who episode requiring Cybermen. These are dreadful, really quite bad and we need to stop buying them. Now, let's take a closer look at Steed.
In the image above the same reproduction character is in the driving seat of Bertie Wooster's Bentley, sitting next to Jeeves. Look carefully and you'll see that these are both from the same cast. Jeeves is an original, by the way, so looks better anyway but the jacket style, bowler inclination and arm positions are the same. It seems that these idiot suppliers of spare parts couldn't be bothered to find a real Steed to copy and just reckoned we would all be happy with Jeeves in a brown suit. Well, we shouldn't be.
Here is Steed as he should be, albeit in need of a wash and brush-up perhaps. This and the one below are originals and you'll see the distinctly different clothes - there's a waistcoat, no flower in the lapel, an angled bowler and a quite different expression on his face. Not visible here are his hands which are closed and not well detailed, whereas Jeeves' are more slender.
Steed can be found in both the sage-brown and grey shades. I suspect that the sage-brown is the older of the two but I have no evidence for this. Below are some more pictures that emphasis the differences and which may help you to avoid the reproductions for years to come. They also show something else that I am not sure about - the screens on Bentleys have pips at each top corner, presumably to help keep the hood in position on the 9001 and 9002 models. On the Gift Set 40 Bentleys and the 9004 Jeeves & Wooster Bentley they seem to be missing in many cases - but not all. The reproduction screens are quite easy to spot. They're not bad but are less well-finished and have more rounded corners and no pips. An example can be seen on the red Bentley below.
And here is Steed in a 9001 Bentley that didn't have racing numbers or a flag on the passenger door. This made it a good candidate for a set but the tell-tale pip remains on one corner! Of course, the sets would only have had a green Bentley with red wheels but I do feel the green one with normal steel wheels is an acceptable alternative for display.
Generally, reproductions of Mrs Peel that I have had myself have been pretty good. In fact, I am not sure I can tell which of these three is a reproduction. I used to think that it was only those with the triple line on the flared trousers that were original but now I am pretty sure that those with a single line could also be original. Sometimes she can seem to be just a little too white and that makes me suspicious but most are not at all obvious.
However, the dreadful attempt at painting illustrated at the beginning of this piece is, indeed, obvious and we need to avoid those like the plague. Another problem is that of size. Below you'll see a range of five Emmas: the two at each end being reproductions made the incorrect size. At least they were reasonably well-painted, though.
Whilst on the topic of characters, my correspondent also told me that several characters were, indeed, recycled by Corgi and that was something I had not realised before. He tells me that the 215S Ford Thunderbird convertible driver was later chopped and fitted without legs in The Saint's Volvo P1800. I doubt that Sir Roger Moore would have been happy with that.
I also looked the 303S Mercedes-Benz300 Open Tourer and reckon that has the same chap driving too. There may well be several others where Corgi have used the same mould for more than one character. One thing is certain, however, and I hope suppliers will now take note - Steed and Jeeves are most definitely not the same character!