The two underwater rebreathers from 'Thunderball' and 'Die Another Day' are the latest props to be replicated by Factory Entertainment
MI6 caught up with Factory Entertainment creative director Barry Eldridge to hear the story behind these latest replica props, due to ship in Q4 2013.
Can you tell us a little about the new "Thunderball" and "Die Another Day" underwater breathers you showcased at the Toy Fair this year?
They will actually be one product... what we are calling an 'Evolutions Series'. Although the two props appeared in two different movies separated by decades they share a common DNA and are even referred to as being from a shared heritage in the films. So we felt that they belonged together.
How did the idea to produce the breathers come about?
We had highlighted the breathers early on as one of the 'go to' Bond gadgets. If you ask anybody to name the top items bond used they are typically up there with Aston Ejector Seats and Walther PPKs, when you ask the average person. But the idea to do them as a set came about as we wanted to capture Bond's long history in one pieces as a continued celebration of the 50th anniversary.
How are your re-breathers different from past versions?
Taking them separately the "Thunderball" one is finally accurate and correct. Whist the previous version made some years ago is very nice, it was made using incorrect reference and has a number of pretty big inaccuracies. The original props are long lost so the construction of any replica is something of an exercise in prop-archeology. Our 'boffins' had access to better reference and information than the previous attempt. The "Die Another Day" version has never been replicated officially and is an exact copy of the original prop, which luckily survives safely in the EON archive and could be studied in detail and copied.
Can you tell us how you worked with fans to create the "Thunderball" re-breather? Did you find any plans / drawings for the original prop?
We often work with fans to get information or details correct, but this project is the first one that is truly 'by the fans'. Two well-known-to-the community Bond enthusiasts Pete and Jeff stepped up to the plate here and offered to create the 'master' prototype pieces. They had already undertaken a lot of research and investigation into the "Thunderball" breather and had been able to obtain a wealth of reference and resource. We shared with them our idea of the Evolutions series. They then crafted and hand-made 'blank' or master for both breathers which were then sent to our factory and reverse engineered for production as a limited edition replica. It's actually a fascinating story and will be fully detailed in the prop story booklet that accompanies the product...
How did you match the finish to the onscreen version?
Research and lots of it... we could tell you, but its classified information... needless to say they are precise and exact in every detail.
So, the "Die Another Day" breather was found in the EON archive? How did the two breathers compare in design and construction?
Yes the "Die Another Day" breather is in the archive and is very well made, almost designed to be an actual item and this makes replication much easier as the piece can be copied exactly because it functions exactly as it appears to do on screen... apart from allowing you to breath underwater of course! What we mean by that is that it's not a 'looks-like' prop, what appears metal is metal, what appears rubber is rubber and the design has a certain industrial design aesthetic which means it looks like it could actually work. The two breathers are very similar in this regard, they were both clearly designed and built by people who knew about and were familiar with actual scuba equipment and tried to bring a flavour of that into the props... you want to pop these into your mouth and dive into a shark infested pool or a polar lake... you can't help it, they just call to you.
Will you offer a dual display for both re-breathers?
Yes, the two pieces will come together on a tired acrylic stand under a cover as a 'twin' set.
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