Little Nellie stole my heart

That nod to the past got me thinking. What was my first big Bond memory?

So much gets written about Bond movies when the next instalment hits the screens and given that, I’m not even going to start to review or analyse Skyfall. A fellow Union Jack News blogger, Rupert Potter, captured his love of Bond and Skyfall so well. Read and enjoy. Anyway, yes I’ve seen the movie and yes I enjoyed it, particularly the Aston Martin moment. That nod to the past got me thinking. What was my first big Bond memory?

No hesitation. My introduction to Bond came in 1967’s You Only Live Twice. Possibly the first ‘big budget’ Bond. Not only was it my introduction proper to 007, the movie showcased a wonderful array of talent and characters. Where would Mike Myers be without Donald Pleasence as Blofeld. Would John Cleese have delivered the same Q if it wasn’t for Desmond Llewelyn’s benchmark setting performances. It was a certainly a superb supporting cast. Okay, the movie attracts differing reviews, however, for an elementary school boy, it was two hours of total escape in to a world a million miles from the south east of England.

Ken Wallace and Little Nellie. Photo credit, Wikipedia
Photo credit. Wikipedia

It’s one thing having a great cast of humans, but where would 007 be without the supporting hardware? And, it was hardware that captivated me. One piece in particular. Little Nellie. Although I was years away from joining the RAF, I had a deep interest in all things flight. My bedroom had started to resemble the Airfix catalogue in 3D, aircraft were being suspended from every conceivable space on the ceiling. Little wonder that when Nellie appeared, auto-assembling herself it was love at first sight. Small, manoeuvrable and armed to the teeth, Little Nellie stole my heart and I so wanted a Nellie of my own.

The autogyro that is Nellie, was designed by Wing Commander Ken Wallis. An inventor in the great British traditions, Ken Wallis flew Wellington bombers, raced speed boats, designed his own cine-film camera and built the worlds first slot car racing track to name but a few of his achievements. I guess doubling for 007 and flying his own creation in You Only Live Twice was all a bit of fun for someone that appears to have lived a pretty full life. This Guardian article from 2010 tells his story.

Airfix, of course delivered the goods and I was eventually able to get my hands on my very own piece of 007 hardware, even though it was only in 1/24 scale. Having built Nellie, she was flown around my bedroom extensively before retiring to a shelf. I don’t think Ken Wallis would have approved.

So, what would be your first Bond memory?

This post also appears on the Union Jack.

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