Christmas Memories 2.0

Fireball XL5. Show creator Gerry Anderson added the “XL” because he liked how it sounded on Castrol XL motor oil.

Dateline, Louisville, Ky. Early December, 1965.

My whole family goes over to my grandma’s house on Trevilian Way in Louisville. I’m only five at this point. We’re all in the living room, and then my mom disappears with my grandma (AKA “Nan”) into her back bedroom. Nothing suspicious….yet. This very house, we’re sitting right inside that big window in front.

Trevilian Way, Louisville.

They’re back in there for a long time. A half hour, maybe longer. I started to get a little impatient. It was probably getting late, and I wanted to go home. I announced to no one in particular, “I’m going back there.”

I swing open the door (they didn’t lock it- pivotal error) and what do I see? This very box: “Steve Zodiac’s Big 20 inch long Fireball XL5.” Made by MPC, it was the one toy I had that wasn’t made by Mattel, I think. (Major Matt Mason was soon to arrive.)

Photo by Tony K.

I had seen one earlier in the summer- my cousin Coleman brought one to the golf course we were on as I recall, and I wanted one ever since. I went bonkers when I saw it, and it was now time to go bonkers again. There it is, the Holy Grail, sitting on the bed. Both my mom and Nan just stood there with the classic deer-in-the-headlights look. They were totally nailed, and they knew it. Here’s the show:

So the compromise to get me calmed down was, they gave me the detachable nose cone (“Fireball Jr.”) and the instruction sheet. That had to do until the 25th, when Santa would deliver the rest. I never had the big Space City- heck that was five bucks! All I wanted was the ship. For some reason I think I acquired bits and pieces of the Space City as seen below, like that launch rail.

Space City. Five dollars! Are they nuts?
Here’s the nosecone I got to take home. I got the instructions, too. I cut out one of the drawings of the pilot and stuck it in the nosecone.

Today, I have my own die cast Fireball, sitting right by me as I type this. It’s 10" long, well made, and I’ll never part with it.

Parents, let this be a lesson. When discussing top-secret presents: lock the door.