Corgi Rockets

Corgi Rockets

Corgi Rockets

The Corgi Rocket range first appeared in October 1969. Mettoy had taken the decision that merely competing against their rivals with high performing low friction models was not enough. To add more "play value" Corgi Rockets had die-cast metal bases that featured a central channel where a separate black nylon chassis, that also held the wheel and axle assembly, would fit. The chassis could be removed using a "Golden Tune Up Key" - a gold coloured metal tool which was supplied with each model that featured a simple key at one end to unlock the chassis from the base of the model, and a tool at the other end to remove the axles from the chassis. As such, the models could be "tuned up" and the axles lubricated using a separately available "Rocketlube" lightweight oil dispenser in the form of a felt tip pen. The "Golden Tune Up Key" supplied with each model was also labeled with the name of the individual model.

Corgi Rockets had bright chrome-like finishes obtained by chrome electro-plating the body of the model and then coating the body in a clear coloured layer. The effect was similar to Hot Wheels "Spectraflame" finish. Initially seven models were introduced, three of which were adapted from the Husky range:

D901 Aston Martin DB6, D902 Jaguar XJ6, and D907 Cadillac Eldorado.

The remaining initial models were new designs, later to be added to the Corgi Juniors range:

D903 Mercedes Benz 280SL, D904 Porsche Carrera 6, D905 The Saint's Volvo P1800, D906 Jensen Interceptor.

All the models in the Corgi Rockets range also featured in the Corgi Juniors range, as well as some of the models carried over from the Husky range. A Jaguar E-Type 2+2 was featured in both Corgi Juniors and Husky ranges, but the earlier Husky version was a different casting to the Corgi Juniors version, which also featured an opening bonnet. The Corgi Juniors range was priced to compete with Matchbox models whilst the Corgi Rockets range sold for a higher price comparable (in the UK) with Mattel's Hot Wheels. The Rockets range met with early success and was voted Boys' Toy of the Year for 1971 by British toy industry journal Toy Trader.

Corgi Rockets were sold in conjunction with a series of track sets which featured "autostarts", power boosters, covered mountain-style "hair-pin" bends, "space leaps", "superloops" and even an ingenious cable car. The range expanded rapidly and around 30 models were produced including a highly valuable James Bond 007 set featuring four models from the film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" - a Mercury Cougar, an updated Mercedes Benz 280SL in "S.P.E.C.T.R.E" finish and a Ford Capri and Ford Escort in ice racing colour schemes.

It is suspected that losing a court case to Mattel (over a copyright claim by the American toy maunufacturer to the sole production rights of associated tracks systems for their range of Hot Wheels cars) was the main reason for the failure of the range since the cars had little purpose without the tracks to race on. Production of the track sets was halted immediately whilst stocks already in the shops were allowed to be sold. Sales of the Rockets cars suffered as a result and the costly-to-produce range was withdrawn at the end of 1971, after just over a year in production.

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