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July 10 saw Bonhams & Brooks (15/10% buyer’s premium) offer a mammoth selection of well nigh 500 lots of toys and models that incorporated no fewer than three single-owner collections: live steam engines belonging to William Kirkland – scratch-built models; tinplate, die-cast and other toys from Australian Ian Cummings and David Leech’s collection of Pelham puppets (see article 'Hard shell bidding takes puppet to £1k'. Two days later it was Christie’s South Kensington’s (17.5/10% buyer’s premium) turn to take up the gavel with 203 lots of toys produced as commercial spin-offs from Disney films, television programmes and other enterprises under the title TV Generation.

Although different in size, each was equally successful in its own way. Bonhams’ outing netted £136,414 with selling rates of 73 per cent by lot 92 per cent by value, while CSK totalled £124,960 with selling rates of 85 per cent by lottage and 96 by value.

Making a major contribution to Bonhams’ sale was the separately catalogued eight-lot offering of steam locomotives built by the late William Kirkland. These sold to a packed room and a bank of telephone bidders and netted £67,600, almost half the total. A member of many model railway societies, Mr Kirkland built his models to be used and they could often be seen pulling passengers. The best known was his LNER blue-liveried Sir Nigel Gresley, completed in 1964 after 12 years labour, which operated in the grounds of Thorseby Hall, Nottingham, from 1966-88 and subsequently at Stapleford Park, Leicestershire. The loco and tender, pictured here, made the top price of the day at £19,000.

Thunderbirds’ cult following is well known but there was a particularly vivid demonstation of its strength at Christie’s with 19 lots of modern Thunderbird replica models collected by Peter Winstanley. One determined collector and Anderson enthusiast managed to secure all of these, paying out prices that were above estimate in many instances and provided four of the ten highest prices of the auction. Leading the list at £5500 was the model of Thunderbird 2 shown here. The largest of the Tracy family’s International Rescue machines, this replica was of substantial size, just under 3ft (89cm). Built, like many of the models, by Martin Bower, it was used by Thunderbirds comics from 1991-3 and for other ITC publicty.

Outside the Winstanley property , the demand for rare Pelham puppets was again underscored when a boxed version of Fireball XL5’s Steve Zodiac sold with various other pieces of cult memorabilia to a different buyer for £1100 against an estimate of £200-300.