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Old 28-12-2008, 11:15 AM   #1
Jim Lewis
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Default PROJECT SWORD TOYS


I was going through my own collection of TV21s and for me some of the most interesting stuff aside from the Anderson strips are the full colour or half page ads for toys and related Anderson stuff from the period. Although not a line I have any of, aside from a ZERO-X, the PROJECT SWORD line fascinated me as a kid. I don't have much now but the whole concept was very good I think. Considering the response the public, and some members of the Century 21 staff, gave to later shows like THE SECRET SERVICE at the time perhaps the idea of a task force exploring the galaxy as well as trying to manage internal strife and natural disasters on Earth would have proven more popular. Some of the text stories in TV21 and the annual are really not bad at all and as a live-action or puppet show I think it could have worked. Any of you into this toy line or think it could have had potential as a show back then? Certainly for me the PROJECT SWORD strips and stories hold far more interest than other 'hone grown' non Anderson show TV21 strips such as THE INVESTIGATOR, CATCH OR KILL or FRONT PAGE. The toys themselves are beautiful and really do have the classic 'Anderson' look in many instances. Obviously by the latter part of the 1960s the line was losing momentum and the real Moon landing was what people were thinking of so the ads tended to go in that direction like the one above.

Last edited by Jim Lewis; 28-12-2008 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 28-12-2008, 02:01 PM   #2
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Hey Jim:

I can't help but think that the Project SWORD back-story was pretty grim for it's time. Outside of the TV21 text stories, C21 Toys marketing seemed to emphasize the space exploration theme in its advertising - probably a wise move on their part.
It's assumed that that Keith Shackleton and perhaps Jack Rosenthal cobbled the toy line together from various licenses that they had access to via their Hong Kong toy manufacturing contacts. That would explain the inconsistent scale and design aspects of the vehicles. I suspect that the Anderson licenses alone would not be enough to keep the toy company going at the time: Simply retooling existing dies to feature the SWORD and C21 logos was a cost effective way to expand their product line. -Only my opinion, though.

Paul Woods has a cool blog/website devoted to Project SWORD toys and related space vehicles:
http://projectswordtoys.blogspot.com/

He also moderates a Yahoo group here:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/projectswordtoys/

Cheers,
Graeme
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Old 28-12-2008, 02:17 PM   #3
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Grim is a very fair way to describe the concept for definite. I think that's why as an adult now these stories really do have some resonance. Given that the Anderson team were heading towards more adult themes with UFO and of course SPACE:1999 the fact that the PROJECT SWORD scenario pre-dates that is an interesting aspect of the whole concept. I think you are again quite right with the toy angle as many of the toys clearly do look different to others in scale and design while others have a uniform look and an 'Anderson' feel to them. I would say though that the TV based Century 21 toys were huge sellers back when I was a kid so those based on THUNDERBIRDS and CAPTAIN SCARLET would have almost certainly have kept the company ticking over very nicely in terms of sales. However there was certainly less hardware in JOE 90 and obviously THE SECRET SERVICE so the bigwigs at Century 21 Toys may well have looked upon PROJECT SWORD as a line to bolster what those later shows lacked in terms of merchandisable characters and vehicles. PROJECT SWORD does pre-date JOE 90 so perhaps they guessed that however good the shows which followed may be they wouldn't compare to THUNDERBIRDS and 'SCARLET' in terms of the wealth of craft to make into toys. Who knows for sure? A great line of toys though whatever the reasoning behind them was.

Last edited by Jim Lewis; 28-12-2008 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 28-12-2008, 05:31 PM   #4
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Default Thanks for the Link

I've never heard of PROJECT SWORD before, thanks for posting the link. One thing I really like about this Forum, learning about new things.

Also, it's the first time I've ever encountered anyone on the same Forum with the same name too - a little disconcerting...

Jim Lewis
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Old 29-12-2008, 08:10 AM   #5
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I love the Sword toys. There`s been lots of discussion about reused Hong Kong moulds over the years, but I`ve noticed that only a few of the Sword toys ever turned up in a non-Sword guise, which is odd if the moulds were recycled or dupes. I`ve seen many different versions of the `Space Glider`, so that`s a given. There`s also a US version of the Cape Kennedy set so again a given. I`ve also got here two US versions of Probe Force 1 and 3, but these are still Project Sword toys. I`ve never seen any evidence of some of the flagship Sword toys, ie, Prospector, Dyna Soar, Booster Rocket, Probe Force 2, Scramble Bug, Moonbus, ever being issued before or since by anyone else, which makes me wonder if these are actually true C21 designs and perhaps more important in the history of things than we give them credit for.
I remember an ad in an old Sears catalogue showing the US Cape Kennedy, its reprinted in a US space toys book. Do you have it Jim?
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Old 29-12-2008, 08:33 AM   #6
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Here is an ad Chris as requested. I beleive from the 1966 Sears mail order catalogue. Clearly their playset includes what Century 21 later put out as the Apollo Rocket so that was for sure an already available toy which was rebranded. However like you say many do have the proper Anderson look to them and do look to have been specifically designed for that range. As a kid the rocket seen here always reminded of the one from the THUNDERBIRDS episode 'Day Of Disaster' and I remember a mate had it and I always used it to re-enact that rescue. BTW MOON McDARE!! Cool or what?
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Old 29-12-2008, 10:13 AM   #7
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Keith Shackleton was the fella as was pointed out a few posts earlier by Terraform1.
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Old 29-12-2008, 01:27 PM   #8
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Most of the SWORD toys were released in the USA and elsewhere under the Tarheel Industries Inc. banner. Tarboro, North Carolina appears to be the head office at the time and 'The British Crown Colony of Hong Kong' is proudly stated as the origin of manufacture on the boxes. The box art across the line was different from the UK artwork, featuring close-cut photos of the toys against colourful space backgrounds. However, the red SWORD stickers were still present.
There are definite variations of some of the vehicles out there:
This rare Probe Force 3 below is battery operated, remote controlled, while the common version is friction drive. The box logo says that it's produced by 'Hover' and the SWORD sticker is replaced with NASA labels.






The friction drive UK/ European box art:




The USA friction drive Tarheel box. Note that the large wheels have been cropped out of the photo:



Graeme

Last edited by TerraForm1; 31-12-2008 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 29-12-2008, 10:45 PM   #9
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Some nice images there mate. I saw one on eBay a day or so back and it brought a smile to my face seeing as we were discussing the line. For definite some of these toys were around before the line kicked off in England and I am sure many were re-issued later and when this sort of thing happens there is lots of conjecture as to which came first and when. Like I said all that aside these are some of the coolest space toys ever. I feel lucky to have grown up with these and the Anderson toys, Major Matt, Billy Blastoff and all the rest. Kids now are really missing out on this sort of thing especially as I connected it all to the real Apollo missions as a child and people today don't get just how exciting that was for the likes of us back then.
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Old 30-12-2008, 08:32 AM   #10
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Default Project Sword / Major Matt Mason / Billy Blast Off

In the U.K. we have had many of the vintage Action Man toys reissued. They are from the same time frame. It would be absolutely marvelous if these toys were re-issued. Mattel please re-issue Major Matt Mason. I tried contacting them but never had a reply to my E-Mail. Likewise Project Sword and Billy Blast Off would be great. The reissues could be accompanied by a DVD of the adverts corresponding to the relevent toys. Is there anyone out there who knows anyone in authority or the U.S.A. toy industry? Mattel could also reissue their Space 1999 catalogue. I know a book about Major Matt Mason is in the works and the author hopes this might act as a catalyst. Lets hope so.
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Old 30-12-2008, 08:39 AM   #11
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Maybe 10 or so years back a company called Leadworks got hold of the Major Matt molds and released some repros. No neck movement and not as good as the originals but re-issues all the same. eBay can throw up some decent originals even now. Only yesterday I visited Modellers Loft in Caterham, Surrey and they had some incredible stuff there. Mint and carded accesory backs, Firebolt gift set and a carded mint Jeff Long too! Worth going to see the toys in the big vintage cabinet alone. They are the people who are behind the ACTION MAN re-release too. There was a great Major Matt book out a few years back with ZEROIDS too and that pops up regular on eBay as well. Sadly I think there were only a couple of MMM TV ads but the good news is that they are on YOU TUBE. I guess if there were more, or more avaialble, they'd be up there as well. Lovely idea on your part though Dunc!



Leadworks astronaut


James Gillams book too! On Amazon now!
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Old 30-12-2008, 08:56 AM   #12
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It would be really useful, if there are a few Sword collectors here, to try to work out which ones were issued in another form. As far as I know its only the ones I listed earlier in the thread. If this is the case then the rest are true C21 designs.
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Old 30-12-2008, 01:54 PM   #13
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I was in the Game store yesterday with my wife , who was in the queue . The young girl behind us was trading in her Hanna Montanna game which she had both received AND completed on Christmas day . Sigh , I find this really sad , our toys lasted us years not days .
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Old 31-12-2008, 01:12 AM   #14
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Some links:
Project SWORD Collectibles Checklist
Project SWORD comic strips article - page 1
Project SWORD comic strips article - page 2
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Old 31-12-2008, 02:41 PM   #15
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Default AMERICAN SWORD

http://projectswordtoys.blogspot.com...s-sent-me.html

http://projectswordtoys.blogspot.com...heel+task+forc

http://projectswordtoys.blogspot.com...and-sword.html


I've really enjoyed reading the SWORD thread. It's great. An earlier reader, Chris, I think was wondering which of the UK's Century 21 toys did the US's Tarheel replicate. I have attached links to pictures/descriptions of all the known Tarheel versions. I have no pictures of the carded Task Force 1 and 3. Though not Tarheel, I have attached the Sears 3-Stage Rocket box as the Ad for this appears earlier in the thread. There is no Tarheel Cape Kennedy or Saturn V set as far as I know.

Basically, the C21/ Tarheel list is as follows:

Moon Prospector - both C21/ Tarheel
Scramble Bug - both
Space Glider - both
Probe Force 1,2,3 - both
Moon Ranger - both
Moon Bus - both
Task Force 1,2,3 - both

Saturn Rocket - C21
Cape Kennedy Set - C21
Zero X - C21
Dyna Soar - C21
Scouts 1,2,3 - C21
Nuclear Ferry - C21, existence confirmed
Moonbase Playset - C21 but existence as a toy unconfirmed.

There are many other 1960's/ 70's versions of some of these toys - Hover (I would love to know how many different Sword toys Hover did. Anyone help?), Day Fran, NASA and many are scaled-down in the wonderful Spacex/Golden Astronaut/ Apollo Moon Exploring toy ranges. For pictures of these and many more check out my blog http://projectswordtoys.blogspot.com/. Happy New Year, Woodsy ( pictures courtesy of blog readers Darth and Astronit).

Last edited by Paul W; 31-12-2008 at 03:04 PM.
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Old 31-12-2008, 02:50 PM   #16
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I think what Chris was more intrigued with, and I guess I am too, is more what came before PROJECT SWORD as opposed to after. This would likely narrow down what was specific to that line and later re-issued under different guises by other companies and what stuff was already 'out there' and rebranded to become SWORD. Nice site you have BTW. Can't see any pics though just a red x on the post mate.

Last edited by Jim Lewis; 31-12-2008 at 03:13 PM.
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Old 31-12-2008, 02:50 PM   #17
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Paul, but it looks like you have some problems with your links. The first two do not show up, number 3 and 4 have a missing [/IMG]
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Old 31-12-2008, 03:08 PM   #18
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WOW PAUL!!! That Sears Apollo/gantry set is gorgeous mate. I see a guy called Rob Goodwin sent the pics. He isn't by chance a big TV Batman fan too is he?? Whatever, that set of shots is really spectacular Thanks!
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Old 31-12-2008, 03:09 PM   #19
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My picture links don't appear to have worked so I have listed links to the picture page on my SWORD blog. Hope these work.
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Old 31-12-2008, 03:44 PM   #20
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Default Origins of Project Sword?

Thanks Jim. I have been sent some fabulous SWORD pics from all over the world over the last few years Rob Godwin is a great SWORD enthusiast and a NASA book publisher/author to boot. As for the origins of SWORD toys, most collectors agree that many of them, both SWORD and SPACEX, are based on existing or concept designs for actual spacecraft e.g. Saturn V, Dyna Soar, Probe Force 3 (German Silverbird) and so on. The origins of the SWORD comic strip is well documented by Shaqui Le Vesconte in her beautiful TECHNODELIC website. The trickier question is the one Chris and yourself have posed, which existing toy range formed the basis of the SWORD line? Most collectors also agree that Century 21/ JR21 executives, most likely Keith Shackleton/ Jack Rosenthal, whilst scouting round Hong Kong, picked up a pre-existing set of toy moulds for a line which was to become SWORD in both toy form and a comic strip. Very little is known about this original toy line. I have corresponded with Century 21 years ago but no further light could be shed on this question my own opinion now is that the source is probably right under our noses in the Hong Kong versions we do actually know about, Hover, Day Fran and 'NASA'.
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