Bond. James Bond. The most iconic secret agent in fiction, code name 007, got his start when Ian Fleming wrote his first novel, "Casino Royale," in 1952. Fleming was so taken with his debonair British spy that he wrote 11 more novels and two short-story collections about the guy before his death in 1964.
While 007 has appeared in television and radio programs and comic strips, he really took hold of the public's imagination in 1962, when Sean Connery played the suave, sexy intelligence officer, who liked his martinis, "shaken, not stirred," in the film "Dr. No." This production kicked-off the longest-running franchise in movie history; the official James Bond production company, Eon, will have 23 movies in its canon by the end of 2012, including "From Russia With Love" and "Goldfinger."
Six actors have played Bond in the Eon series, including Connery, Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. There have also been two non-Eon James Bond films, the 1967 spoof, "Casino Royale," and 1984's "Never Say Never Again," a remake of "Thunderball."
How do you squeeze 25 movies out of 14 books? Well, clearly, you write more books. After Fleming's death, six others have been sanctioned to write official James Bond novels or novelizations of movies: Kingsley Amis (as "Robert Markham"), Christopher Wood, John Gardner, Raymond Benson, Sebastian Faulks, and Jeffrey Deaver. Novels have also been written about a young James Bond (Charlie Higson) and about the character Miss Moneypenny (Kate Westbrook).
Besides Bond's lady's-man demeanor and his talent for navigating life-threatening dilemmas, a large part of his appeal lies with his toys. James Bond drove top-of-the-line cars like Bentleys, BMWs, and, of course, Aston Martins; carried high-quality guns like Beretta 418s and Walther PPKs; and was equipped with the latest high-tech gadgets from Q Branch. These gizmos included a booby-trapped attaché case, an autogyro, and a jet pack.
The head of Q Branch went by Q, which stood for Quartermaster. That's how it worked in the Bond universe. The operatives in the fictional British Secret Service all go by number codes, while those at headquarters used letters, representing their titles. M was the head of the agency, which was based on the real M16 intelligence service. Fleming based M on Rear Admiral John Godfrey, the director of naval intelligence when Fleming served in the Navy during World War II.
While Fleming said Bond was inspired by the agents he encountered in the war, he gave 007 many of his own tastes, including a love of golf and gambling, and put names of his friends, family, and lovers in his books. The spy's name, however, was inspired by American ornithologist James Bond, an expert in Caribbean birds...
James Bond collectibles include books, comics, posters, lobby cards, toys, action figures, and other items based on the character. Of course, a badass operative required a badass soundtrack. James Bond aficionados collect records with the thrilling themes written for the films, some of which have even won Academy Awards.
Early editions of the Ian Fleming books are among the most coveted 007 collectibles. In 2006, a first edition of "Casino Royale" went for $11,000, while a signed copy sold for more than $40,000. Early comic strips featuring James Bond include the first one drawn by John McLusky in the Daily Express in 1957, as well as the Fleming-sanctioned 1958 "Casino Royale" by Lord Beaverbrook.
Model cars are another popular arena for James Bond collectors. Diecast cars, particularly those based on the Aston Martin DB5 seen in "Goldfinger" and other films, are coveted (an actual Aston Martin used in filming sold for $2 million in 2006). Other popular model Bond cars include a gold-plated Corgi 24 from "Goldfinger," with spoked wheels, wing mirrors, ejector seat, and rear tire slasher, and the Corgi Lotus Underwater from "The Spy Who Loved Me," with working side and rear fins, as well as a missile launcher.