The James Bond 007 Annual (1966)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a look at some of the film-related books I can’t help but pick up in secondhand shops (including a James Bond/Marvel Comics crossover here, and a vintage Batman annual here), and while I recover a little from the mad rush to finish the 40×40 challenge, I thought this would be a nice change of pace.

Obviously, the Bond franchise has changed massively since its heyday, but one thing that seems to have disappeared completely insofar as the merchandise aspect of it is the tie-in stuff for kids. Gone are the days of the cheapie Aston Martin DB5s with ejector seats and little plastic fella that goes missing every time you fire him through the roof – I mean, you can still get them, but they’re a lot more expensive and aimed at adults who mostly prefer to keep them in their packaging on the off-chance they might increase in value.

Gone too are the yearly annuals, packed with spy shenanigans, loads of text, and a few pictures of the latest film to whet the appetite of the lucky kids who received the book and would no doubt pester their parents to take them along to the pictures to see Connery ooze class all over the big screen.

This particular annual cost me £2 (a bit of a mark up from the 12′ 6d it cost on release), came out in 1966, published in Manchester, printed and bound in Norwich, and featuring pages of full-colour pictures from Thunderball…

… a shot which appears to have been taken seconds before Connery threatened to stick the photographer’s camera where the shun don’t shine if he didn’t pish off…

… a behind-the-scenes shot which feels like it couldn’t be taken today…

… and a couple of pictures of Connery in The Hill, for some reason.

It’s also got pages and pages of “THRILLING SPY FICTION” – short spy stories which don’t feature Bond, but feel right at home in that 1960s Cold War period – and “DRAMATIC SPY PICTURE STORIES”, which are 5-7 page cartoons along the same lines… although one of them features giant locusts.

Brilliantly, there are also several pages of “FEATURES”, which are essentially articles about real-life spy business, including a handy explainer on how industrial espionage works, and a couple of pages on the “ELECTRONIC SPY WAR” which basically look at real-life Q-Branch gadgets.

I’ll be honest, I’m not likely to reread this very often, but I do like the idea of the Bond franchise putting out affordable merchandise rather than hideously overpriced fashion or trinkets every now and again. I get that the franchise has changed along with the priorities of the world and the entertainment industry, and I also understand that kids just aren’t as excited about a new 007 outing as they were in 1966.

Still though, look at one of the final pictures and the back cover and tell me that anything put out on public release related to No Time To Die was as slightly off-kilter but fun as this…

Anyway, that’s enough nostalgia for today, but I’ve got another one of these knocking about from a few years later so if anyone’s interested I’ll post a few bits and pieces from that another time.

Until then, have you checked out the 40×40 Challenge reviews? Or the Special Features? There’s another feature just waiting to drop, but I’d love to hear from anyone who fancies submitting one.

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