Earlier this month I asked if any readers were prepared to share their SOLO #19 (cover above but PS isn't mentioned!) PROJECT SWORD comic strip, the VERY FIRST, with fellow bloggers. I have previously posted the toy ID charts courtesy of the Philosophic Toad but not the actual story. I'm pleased to say that blog reader John Croot has come to the rescue and sent in scans of the very beginning of PROJECT SWORD, it's origin in 3 short b/w pages, dated June 24th 1967. What a great year and summer that was, the same year that the Beatles released their Sgt. Peppers album! Big Thanks again to John for sharing. Enjoy!
There are many things that I find fascinating about this initial SWORD story. The Earth Base is in Australia ( is it explained why later on?) and we see Moon Base in a very similar picture to the one in the Official Manual - they were obviously planning the toy from the off but what happened to it? The Booster Rocket is called the ATOMIC BOOSTER (not to be confused with Atomic Rooster!) and it's front jet the DEEP SPACE PROBE sent off on a mission to Pluto. In fact the whole tone is Star Trekkish, to boldly go... and no mention of the mining element brought in later stories. I talked about the military might of the PROBE FORCE craft earlier this month and lo and behold, they are the 'protectors' of the fleet from the start, something which I never really grasped when I had them as a kid as toys. And Re-Entry Crafts 1 and 3 are personal spaceships - Company cars! - of the SWORD commanders, Sabre and Rapier (Swords, get it! Is there a Foil and Cutlass?)
I love how page 2 gives us some scale - the Nuclear Ferry and Booster are HUGE and the Probes are tiny! And just what is the 'scabbard'? Finally and discussed previously on the blog, the ID chart is hugely interesting - the Booster Rocket toy's fuel tanks look white ( the C21 toy's are blue) and the Re-entry craft look like mock-ups and not actual toys (had they not manufactured them yet?). Only the Probe Force Flights look like the real deal although the black stripe on the PF3 is a bit odd. There is no mention of these vehicles being available as toys in this story. Is there anywhere else in issue #19 or does that happen in a later issue? I wonder when in 1967 the very first toys were in the shops - an area to boldly go into I think. Well I've enjoyed reading this first SWORD story immensely. Thanks again John! Well, I have to ask, has anyone got the next 'exciting episode'?