Naomie Harris emerges as 007’s unofficial ambassador

Naomie Harris introduces the Lego Aston Martin DB5 in 2018

Naomie Harris, seven years after entering the film world of 007, may have emerged as a sort-of unofficial ambassador for the James Bond film franchise.

When Sony was the distributor of 007 films, it employed Harris as her Moneypenny character in a commercial. She retrieves Bond’s smartphone for him.

It fell to Harris to introduce the Lego Aston Martin DB5 that came out at an event in London in 2018.

Also in 2018, Harris was the headliner for the opening of 007 Elements in Austria, “a James Bond-themed installation.”

This week, she appeared at Eon Production’s “reveal” event in Jamaica. In an interview with Nine News Australia, she said she wasn’t involved in filming Bond 25 scenes there.

“I’m not, unfortunately,” she said. “I know I’m not…I wish I was.” Meanwhile, other members of the 007 “Scooby Gang” (Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Rory Kinnear) didn’t put in an appearance in Jamaica.

For many years, Roger Moore, who starred in seven of Eon’s Bond films, filled the “ambassador” role. He publicly spoke in support of his 007 successors.

“Roger came down to set one day on ‘GoldenEye’ and wished me well,” Brosnan wrote in a 2017 tribute in Variety published after Moore’s death “I was still in awe of the man” Moore also complimented Daniel Craig’s Bond performances.

Perhaps Harris’ schedule makes her available to promote Bond more. Still, she has developed a presence that’s reaching out to audiences on behalf of the gentleman spy.

About that whole James Bond-Aston Martin thing

Iconic publicity still for Goldfinger with Sean Connery leaning against the Aston Martin DB5.

One wonders what Ian Fleming would have thought about the love affair between the James Bond films and Aston Martin.

In the Goldfinger novel, Bond had a choice between the Aston Martin DB3 or a Jaguar for use as a cover as “a well-to-do, rather adventurous young man with a taste for the good, the fast things of life.” He chose the Aston.

By the time Goldfinger was adapted by Eon Productions in 1964, Bond drove a government-issued DB5, complete with an elector seat, machine guns, oil slick and other extras. Bond films were never the same again. The cinematic Bond, despite some breaks here and there, has been driving Aston Martins frequently since.

Indeed, the DB5 has shown up in a number of films since 1995’s Goldfinger, including 2015’s SPECTRE where he drove it at the end of the movie.

In the novels, Bond was a civil servant who lived relatively modestly (although he could afford a housekeeper). But Aston Martin isn’t concerned about the middle class.

Latest example: The announcement that Aston Martin will build 25 replica DB5s at a price of 2.75 million British pounds each. The cars, though, won’t be street legal, according to a separate Aston Martin statement.

The replicas are supposed to come with Bond gadgets. The literary Bond might burn through a year’s salary (inflation adjusted) just paying for the insurance and maintenance bills. Then again, the 007 movies have glossed over, or simply ignored, other aspects of Fleming’s novels.

At the same time, Aston Martin has its issues as well. It’s a bit of an orphan in the automotive world. For 30 years, it was part of Ford Motor Co. But Ford had to sell it off in 2007 amid financial troubles.

As a result, Aston swims in an ocean of automotive sharks. The auto industry is a bit unsettled these days. Even the giants aren’t exactly sure what’s going to happen next in an era of self-driving cars and ride-sharing services.

In 2014, Adweek wrote about how Aston’s connection to the 007 films didn’t really help sales because the company sold so few cars. For a time, Aston was talking about the need to diversify from James Bond. In stories such as a 2016 article in Marketing Week, company executives said they relied too much on the 007 image.

That was then, this is now. Besides making DB5 replicas, the carmaker last month was part of a pact to sell pricey (129.99 British pounds) Lego versions of the 007 DB5. If Aston Martin is diversifying from Bond, it doesn’t much look like it.

The Bond marriage with Aston Martin continues, even if the literary 007 couldn’t afford the products that marriage produces.

Aston Martin to make (expensive) DB5 replicas

A model describes the Aston Martin DB5 at the 2013 Detroit auto show.

Aston Martin plans to produce 25 expensive replica DB5 cars with some gadgets, according to an announcement by the car company and Eon Productions today.

(UPDATE, Aug. 21: Aston Martin’s separate press release has a key detail. The cars won’t be street legal.)

The cars “will be authentic reproductions of the DB5 seen on screen, with some sympathetic modifications to ensure the highest levels of build quality and reliability,” according the Eon statement.

“This authenticity will extend to include functioning gadgets, such as revolving number plates, which were made famous in GOLDFINGER.” Chris Corbould, a special effects supervisor on several Bond films, helped develop the gadgets for the replicas.

The replicas won’t come cheap. They’re priced at 2.75 million British pounds ($3.51 million) each. They won’t be ready very quickly, either. Deliveries will begin in 2020.

In July, Eon and Aston Martin announced a deal with Lego to sell Lego versions of the DB5 for 129.99 British pounds each.

Lego Aston Martin DB5 unveiled

Lego today unveiled its version of the James Bond Aston Martin DB5.

Lego conducted an event at a store in London. It also spread the word on social media, including a post on Twitter.

The Lego car has 1,295 pieces. It costs 129.99 British pounds, according to Gizmodo UK. That’s $169-plus at current exchange rates.

The Lego version of DB5 comes with ejector seat, radar tracker, rear bullet proof screen and front-wing machine guns.

Lego, Eon Productions and Aston Martin have been teasing the licensed product since mid-June. Images leaked earlier this month.

Not everyone was impressed. The Jaloponik website devoted to everything about cars declared July 5 that the DB5’s “handsome and elegant design, does not translate well in LEGO.”

Below is the tweet that Lego sent out this morning. It includes a video.

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UPDATE (1:30 p.m. New York Time): Here’s a video from the event at the Lego store in London this morning. Naomie Harris, who played Moneypenny in Skyfall and SPECTRE, was part of the festivities.

007 collectibles then and now: From kids to old guys

James Bond lunchbox seen around U.S. school yards, circa 1965-66

In the mid-1960s, there was no doubt. James Bond — suave ladies man with a license to kill — was being marketed to American school children.

Gilbert marketed a series of James Bond figures that included backgrounds based on the 007 films produced by Eon Productions.

Among the figures:

–James Bond being menaced by Goldfinger’s laser beam. Or, as it was phrased on a home video extra, the “most famous near castration in cinema history.”

–M’s desk with a sheet of bullet-resistant glass that came up from the desk, presumably based on Ian Fleming’s final 007 novel, The Man With the Golden Gun, where bullet-resistant glass came down from the ceiling.

–A small model of Dr. No’s “dragon,” a small figure of the Disco Volante from Thunderball.

Some of the 007 Gilbert figures

I know this because I had that Gilbert set. My late father explained the significance of the bullet-resistance glass in M’s desk and how it worked in the novels. The set didn’t survive my childhood. Kids, after all, tend to be destructive when it comes to toys.

There was also, during this time, a James Bond lunch box. I never had that. But I saw it in school.

Almost 60 years later, things have changed. New 007 collectibles aren’t really aimed at kids. They’re intended for middle-aged (or older) men who have enough money to afford them.

The newest example will debut officially later month — a Lego Aston Martin DB5. It’s to be unveiled at a July 18 event at a Lego store in London. Images have leaked out and it may sell for about $170.

People have told me via social media that, of course, Bond can’t be aimed at kids. Bond, after all, has that license to kill and there’s no way it could ever, ever be marketed to young audiences.

Except, of course, it once was. But that’s how it goes.

All this may reflect the aging of the Bond audience. The people most likely to plunk down $170 (or whatever the price ends up being for a Lego Aston Martin DB5) are men in their 50s and 60s with some disposable income.

In any event, things rarely stay the same.

Images of Lego Aston Martin DB5 apparently leak

One of the images of the Lego Aston Martin DB5 on Instagram

Images of packaging for the new Lego Aston Martin DB5 appeared to have leaked and are on Instagram.

The images appear on #legoleaks on Instagram.

When the blog looked this morning, there were five postings of the packaging, including special cards. One of the postings quotes a price of $169.99.

The packaging include words “Licence to Build.” The hashtag #LicenceToBuild has been used by Lego, Aston Martin and Eon Productions’ official 007 feed on Twitter to promote the project.

The companies formally haven’t identified the DB5 as the licensed product. However, in recent social media promotions, they have used quotes from Goldfinger, Skyfall and SPECTRE. Lego has scheduled an event at 10:07 a.m., July 18 at its store in London.

Thanks to .@CorneelVF on Twitter for the heads up.

Lego announces 007 event for July 18

Lego logo

Lego plans a James Bond-related announcement in London on July, according to a post on Lego’s Facebook page.

“Something TOP SECRET is happening on July 18th in LEGO Store at Leicester Square, London…” according to the post. “Stay tuned to learn more!”

While the name James Bond wasn’t mentioned, the announcement includes the 007 gunbarrel logo with the words “top secret.”

Also, the event will begin at 10:07 a.m. London time.

Lego, Aston Martin and the Eon Productions official James Bond feed on Twitter have been teasing a 007-licensed product.

The most recent teases strongly imply it will be a Lego Aston Martin DB5, including lines from Goldfinger, Skyfall and SPECTRE that refer to the DB5. No explicit statement has been made, however.

Lego makes another 007 tease

Lego logo

Lego has put out another tease for its 007-licensed project.

The company put out a Twitter post that includes a 7-second video (or 0:07).

The video has a James Bond gunbarrel logo with two phrases: “Are you gonna complain all the way?” and “It’ not very comfortable, is it?”

The video also had the hashtag #LICENCETOBUILD, which has been used previously by Lego in teasing the project.

Nothing else to report but you can take a look below for yourself.

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UPDATE (11:45 a.m.): A reader notes that Aston Martin had a similar tweet on June 25. The highlighted lines there were, “Oh, and I suppose that’s completely inconspicuous,” and, “Get in.”

Of course, all four lines from the two twitter posts are between Bond (Daniel Craig) and M (Judi Dench) from Skyfall after 007 drives off in the Goldfinger Aston Martin DB5. (Although “gonna” doesn’t seem Bondian, but oh well.)

The obvious conclusion is that the Lego 007 product will be the DB5. We’ll see.

UPDATE II (July 1): The official James Bond feed on Twitter by Eon Productions got into the act with a tweet. It had the same visual format. This time the lines are from Q (Ben Whishaw) talking about the DB5 after it has been rebuilt (for whatever reason) in SPECTRE.

UPDATE III (July 1): Same reader as before points out a June 24 tweet from the official James Bond account. In this post on Twitter, the lines are by Bond (Sean Connery) and Q (Demond Llewelyn) about the DB5 in Goldfinger.

A 007-licensed Lego Aston Martin is teased

Lego logo

A 007-licensed Lego Aston Martin was teased this week.

It began with a June 14 tweet from Lego:

“We’ve been thinking about creating a special Secret (Service) model that could help an agent out in a tricky situation. Any ideas? @astonmartin #LicenceToBuild.”

Twenty-four minutes later, the official Twitter feed of Aston Martin responded:

“We may have a few ideas for what the special model could be…” The response also had a smiley and the  #LicenceToBuild hashtag.

After another five minutes, the official James Bond Twitter feed of Eon Productions responded: “Licence to build is authorised #LicenceToBuild”

For now, no additional information is available. (It’s classified “Eyes Only.”) Here’s the post from the 007 Twitter account to give you a little flavor.

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How fans view 007 movies as LEGO blocks

On Her Majesty's Secret Service poster

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service poster

Fans treat the object of their affection like LEGO blocks. You can just move a few blocks from here to there without any other differences.

So it is with 007 films and 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

For years — decades, actually — Bond fans have debated the subject. The 007 film series produced its adaptations of Majesty’s and You Only Live Twice out of order.

Take out George Lazenby and put in Sean Connery? OHMSS would be a lot better is a common talking point.

Except, real life doesn’t necessarily work that way.

“If only they’d made OHMSS before YOLT…”

Except, you don’t get Peter Hunt as director. In turn, that means a ripple effect. You likely don’t get the most faithful adaptation of an Ian Fleming novel, as the 1969 movie turned out to be.

Instead, you get You Only Live Twice except the character names and locations are changed.

Meanwhile, you have a greater chance of an underwater Aston Martin (in one of the script drafts before Hunt came aboard). You may even get Blofeld as a half-brother of Goldfinger.

All this isn’t speculation. Author Charles Helfenstein provides a summary of the various 1964-68 treatments and drafts for Majesty’s written by Richard Maibaum. Blofeld as Goldfinger’s half-brother was in a screenplay dated March 29, 1966, according to the book (pages 38-39).

In real life, making movies is more complicated. Change a major piece, such as the director, and there are ripple effects throughout the production.

Meanwhile, Eon Productions changed the order it filmed Dr. No and From Russia With Love.

With the novels, Russia came first. Dr. No came second. The movies reversed the order. Yet, few Bond fans complain about that.

Fan discussions about 007 movies are similar to debates among sports fans. Example: Which baseball team was better, the 1927 New York Yankees or the 1976 Cincinnati Reds?

For fan purposes, things would have been a lot better if Ian Fleming hadn’t sold off the rights to Casino Royale, his first novel, so quickly. In theory, if that had happened, Eon could have done Fleming’s novels in order.

Except, does anyone believe Sean Connery would have done a dozen Bond films?

Would Connery really have been satisfied doing that many 007 films in a little more than a decade? On the other hand, would fans have been satisfied with a Bond series of only six Connery movies starting with Casino Royale and ending with Dr. No?

Fans have their fantasies. Real life, though, is more complicated. Certainly, making movies is not like assembling LEGO blocks.