The Catacombs The Merchandise Guide
Eagle Models: Dinky
Compiled by Martin Willey

Parent company Meccano had three hugely successful toy lines: the Meccano construction system (1901), Hornby Trains (1920), and Dinky Toys, which started in the 1930s making die-cast metal cars as accessories for Hornby Trains. Dinky was one of the pioneers of the die-cast process, in which a zinc-alloy is poured into a mould. The Dinky brand was known for quality and range, and competition was other manufacturers such as Corgi, Matchbox and Mattel forced increasing accuracy, including plastic windows, working suspension and opening doors. In the 1960s they agreed a licensing deal with Gerry Anderson, producing Theunderbird 2 from Thunderbirds in 1967, and, even more popular, three vehicles from Captain Scarlet in 1968. The interceptor and Shado Mobile from UFO were the top selling Dinky toys in the early 1970s. Airfix acquired the Meccano and Dinky companies in 1971. International competition, particularly from cheap countries such as Hong Kong, led to the closure of Dinky in 1979. The brand was sold to Matchbox, which itself was acquired by Mattel.


UK £2.99, later £4.99 US $14 1975-1980
Dinky Eagles

No. 359. Die cast metal model, 22 cm long. Green metal nose cone & fuel pods, white metal pod (detachable using catch button) with opening red plastic doors (hinge open to form steps), red engine bottles and silver nozzles. Side jets yellow plastic, spine moulded white plastic over metal. Legs with spring suspension. Red strips for pod supplied as water decals. This model, and the Freighter, were still in production when Dinky-Meccano went into liquidation in 1980.

The plastic parts changed colour over the years:

Issue Underside screws Side jets Engines: bottles Engines: rockets
1 Slot pan-head Yellow Red Chrome
2 Phillips (cross-head)
Later Pozidrive
Red Chrome Red

Other variations (NB: also applies to Freighter):

The box also changed:

  1. First edition was a card base with bubble top. The Eagle stands on a card base enclosed in a plastic bubble. The base is 25.5 x 11 cm.
  2. Second edition changed the card base, from blue to red and yellow.
  3. Third edition was the same box, with plain yellow card.
  4. Fourth edition was a card box with plastic display window, 25.5 x 6 x 11 cm, with a 6cm tall top flap showed photos of Koenig & Helena (year 2). The Eagle sat in an expanded polystyrene diorama.

First edition, with chrome engines and red engine bottles. The passenger module windows are red. This is the original card base, with plastic bubble cover.

A slight variation of the first edition: the passenger module windows are orange.

Second edition, with red engines and chrome engine bottles. On this model the passenger module windows are clear. The second version of the box base.

Second edition model, in the "moonscape" box.

Second edition model, in the plain yellow box.

Various colour advertisements appeared in children's comics, featuring colour artwork of a launching Eagle and a panel illustrating the "action features". "EAGLE zooms into the year 2000!" and "EAGLE blasts into the future!" were the titles. A flash promised "From Gerry Anderson's New TV Series Space: 1999. On Your TV Screen Soon!".

Note: a white version of the Eagle Transporter never existed. There was a white Eagle Freighter, and you could swap the pods to make an all-white Eagle Transporter. In the 1970s kindly toy shop owners allowed children to open both boxes in shops to swap the Eagles and pods. Since then, collectors have done the same, and claimed it was a rare Dinky variation. Nevertheless, an all-white Eagle Transporter never left the Dinky factory.

Dinky catalogue No. 11

Dinky catalogue. More

Dinky print adverts

FAB Book of Gerry Anderson Dinky Toys

Fanderson fan club published the 64 page The FAB Book of Gerry Anderson Dinky Toys in 2010. The Dinky Eagle Transporter is covered on page 36-37 (making the grave mistake of showing an all-white Eagle and incorrectly implying it was one of "many colour variations"). The Dinky Eagle Freighter is covered on page 38-39. The Dinky catalogues are covered in appendix 1 (p48-51 covering the Eagles), and advertising in appendix 2 (p55 for the Eagle print adverts)

Dinky Toys book p37 Dinky Toys book p39 Dinky Toys book p55


Dinky Eagle Freighter

UK £2.99, later £4.99 1975-1980

No. 360. Die cast metal model. The model appeared shortly after the Transporter. The Eagle main body was identical to the Transporter, though in different colours; pod is a metal platform with a revolving disc to store 4 yellow plastic cylinders (with metal top), and a winch line with magnet to carry cylinders. Initially wet transfers were supplied for the cylinders (showing the radioactivity symbol & words 'Danger Waste Material'), later being replaced by adhesive decals.

Eagle was at first white with red side jets, engine bottles & pod. Later it was painted blue with a white pod.

The plastic parts changed colour over the years:

Issue Main colour Module colour Underside screws Side jets Engines: bottles Engines: rockets
1 White Red Slot pan-head Red Red Chrome
2 White Red Phillips (cross-head) Red Chrome Red
3 Blue White Phillips, then Pozidrive Red Chrome Red

Boxes as Transporter.

Advertisements appeared in children's comics featuring artwork of the Eagle in exactly the same pose as the Transporter adverts. "The year: 2000... Identity: Eagle Freighter... Mission: Nuclear Waste Disposal".

Second edition Freighter, with red rockets, on the original card base.

The second card base, now in red and yellow.

The second edition model, with a third edition white freighter pod, in the box with plain yellow card. This i

The standard blue third edition model.

The third edition with the "moonscape" box.

There were variations of the decals.

  1. Initially, these were simple self-adhesive stickers which wrapped round the barrels. With play, they became less sticky and fell off.
  2. The second edition were wet transfers.
  3. Later, they returned to self-adhesive stickers, which were easier to apply. The decal designs for all 3 were identical - they had the standard (scientifically correct) radiation trefoil symbol in black on red, with the words "Danger Waste Material"
  4. In 1980, the words changed to "Fuel Waste Container" with a different symbol (a "Y" over a triangle)

In 1979 an 11 year old girl named Marianne Fleckery found some of the hollow cylinders in the garden of her home in Langley Crescent, St Albans, Herts. She persuaded firemen to visit in anti-contamination suits and take the cylinders to the then-government radiation centre in Amersham. After the incident Meccano, Dinky's parent company, promised to remove the radiation symbol and words.


Dinky Toymaker

UK 1975 (Never commercially released)

32 part die-cast metal model, to be sold unassembled and unpainted. A single Eagle, with both the Transporter "life support module" and the Freighter winch pods. The box was to be a rectangular carton, featuring artwork of the Eagle with both pods, and the text "Two Toys In One!". The serial number was to be 1035, although this was used later for another kit. The design of the box appears as an illustration (incorrectly identified) in "Dinky Toys and Modelled Miniatures" by Mike and Sue Richardson, in the Hornby Companion Series (1981), and is shown here (thanks to Gerry Forrester).

Copyright Martin Willey