Liberator Spotters Guide - Part 1

The Liberator from the BBC Sci-Fi series Blake's 7 is, for many a large child like me, one of the most iconic space ships designs in TV history.
Its design history is well documented, having been snatched from under the in-house model-building team's collective noses, especially that of Ian Scoones, by the series Production Designer Roger Murray-Leach. Roger's design for the Liberator, unrestricted by a background in model building, was one of the most alien looking ships of that time. Rogers initial drawings contrasted well with the more earth-bound designs of the other ships in the series. The initial designs were then handed over to external freelancer Martin Bower to make sense of and build. Martin's contribution to the final look and feel of the Liberator has, in my view, been overlooked. Without his detailing the Liberator might never have had the feeling of scale that jumped out from the screen.

It wasn't long before the first replica of the Liberator hit the shops, a small die cast ship from Corgi. A reproduction of this toy was released with a Special Edition of the DVD of the series. Unfortunately some of these are now surfacing on E-bay purporting to be genuine 1977 die cast toys.

There is a simple way to tell the two apart. First of all you'll be hard pushed to find a 1977 version without any scratches or exposed silver metal showing through chipped paint. Also there is often damage to the thin plastic antenna, usually the central one has been bitten off by an excitable child! So if its all shinny and new and it looks too good to be true it probably is. But the real clincher is that the modern version has a blank side on the main hull, where the 1977 version has the words Made in Great Britain.
Also the Corgi logo is different, being lower case letter in 1977 and uppercase on the new version.
You can see this clearly in my comparison pictures of my 1977 version, (on the left), and the DVD version, (on the right).
My 1977 version was very kindly given to me several years ago by Gordon Fraser who has a second one in his collection which is in much better condition than mine.
There was also a colour variant released at the same time. I'm not sure what the thinking behind this was but I seem to remember that it wasn't even branded as Blake's 7 so perhaps it was intended as a generic spaceship for sale in other markets. (I'm just guessing on this.)


Harlock said…
Thanks for distinguise this two ships, I had the old one, in a good condition, without the gold piece, but my brother ask me for paint and now he have it. And when I saw it in ebay I bought it, is very similar, but I found some diferences, I played very much with it when I was a child!!, but then i did'nt know that that ship was in a tv serie. Now I have the new one in my little collection.
Gordon Fraser said…
Hey buddy! You just ahd to have one of the originals so no problem...(hahaha! It was Les' anyway!)

Interesting that you've put this up now...anything to tell me or wot?......

Last put them on their spikes....ARGGHHHH!!!!!! IT HURTS....IT HURTS!!!!!!!!!
Mike Malynn said…
Hope I don't upset anyone but I just got a 1977 one on eBay for £1.04p, thanks to you I now know know it's real, so thank you
Willfarl said…
Actually, I can (sort of) confirm the idea of the color model being for foreign markets...I live in the U.S. and bought the colored ship at a store in Maryland when I was around 9 years old. (so about 1981) The store was considered a kind of "high end" toy store, and carried a lot of imported Corgi toys, which were much more detailed than most American produced toys at the time. My siblings and I got to pick out one toy each if our grades on our report cards were good enough (pretty effective positive reinforcement!)
I remember the toy being packaged with NO mention of "Blake's 7" anywhere on was simply labeled "The Liberator". I was a sci-fi fan and just thought it was a cool-looking spaceship. It would only be many years later, when I happened upon re-runs of "Blake's 7" late night on PBS in the States, that I would realize that the toy was based on a British television series. Oh, and incidentally, realize that for years I'd flown "The Liberator" around my house BACKWARDS...I'd assumed that the green sphere was the "cockpit", with backward-leaning engines, a la "The Enterprise"!
Mark Stone said…
Any idea what the original liberator die cast is worth now?
Mark Stone said…
Any idea what the original liberator die cast is worth now?
Niel Bushnell said…
Check E-bay for current prices.