007 SPY FILES COLLECTABLE CARD GAME (GE-Fabbri)
In January 2002 a brand new James Bond magazine popped up at the local book stores. “007 Spy Files” magazine was issued as a run-up to the new James Bond movie “Die Another Day”. The content of the new 007 magazine was aiming to the younger James Bond fans in the age between 8 and 14. Each magazine was packed with pictures of gadgets, cars, allies, villains, Bond girls and all kinds of spy things to teach the youngsters in how to become a spy. The retail price for the first magazine was £0,99 about 1,5€ at the time, following magazines would be issued every fortnight at a retail price of £1,99 or about 3€. The idea behind this first issue being sold for less is simple mass marketing, it is thought by companies who sell this type of part magazine that the first issue is the pull in and each issue after this will sell less, with around ten or so issues in it’s pulled from shops and sold as a print on demand subscription basis. Each magazine contained 24 colour pages and a wrapper pack containing 10 collectable game cards. The beautiful designed 007 gifts that came as a bonus with the first three issues where something to look out for. A first gift came in the shape of a small tin box embossed with the 007 Gunlogo, the tin box could be used to collect your spare or double cards so you could trade them at the school yard. The second bonus was a hardboard magazine holder, the magazine holder was finished in a shiny silver colour depicting the 007 Gunlogo surrounded with bullet holes. What everybody was waiting for was that third issue, here the bonus was again a tin box but bigger in size to hold all the 160 cards.
"Tin Collectors Box with 007 logo"
There was 32 spy files magazines, enough to get about two sets and a few jokers if lucky. Inside the tin box was divided in five parts, one part for each card category. All these wonderful 007 items were manufactured by GE Fabbri. When one took out a magazine subscription, a “007 Spy Files Recorder Pen” was given as bonus free gift. A real 007 spy gadget, the spy pen was able to record and replay recorded conversation. A gift gadget that came straight out of Q’s laboratory.
"Digital Recording Pen"
It was a while ago, but this time it was really collecting and swapping cards just like we use to do at the schools playground in the sixties. The collectable game card set was divided into five different categories; “Allies”, “Locations”, “Q-Branch”, “Vehicles” and “Villains”, each category holding 30 cards and two holographic joker cards. This time there was no possibility to buy a complete box, as the cards were only issued with magazines. Fans soon became aware that each issue had almost the same cards, so buying double issues to speed up the collection became a waste of time but all in all collecting the 150 base cards went quiet quickly. The joker cards were another matter, issued only in limited numbers in each issues print run they became very rare and very soon they became a big request on eBay, sometimes offered for 5 to 6€ per card. The cards were beautiful manufactured, but on many cards the picture was out of centre. For the die-hard collectors this developed a huge amount of misprints. Today the cards and all the accessories are offered on eBay and memorabilia markets for very interesting prices.
The magazine was packed with spy information and many different puzzles. To solve the puzzles you needed special decoding lenses. The lenses came as a bonus with the first magazine. They were packed in a silver envelope embossed with the 007 Gunlogo.
Issued with magazine number three there were five checklist or divider cards, one card for each category and one card to explain the game rules. These cards were a little higher than the actual game cards and could be used as dividers inside the big tin box. Within the last magazine there was an order form to obtain your missing cards, including the joker cards, because of this special service I was able to compose a second set.
There is in fact two versions of this card set producing a number of different cards. Three months before the official release GE Fabbri tried out the set in one county of the UK, this produced a number of cards with the front picture being on the back of the card and the back picture of the card being on the front. Some cards had different pictures or reframed pictures, one or two cards went thru re-text information, and all of the cards in this first limited run have a different copyright year. These cards are to be considered very rare. Two examples from the "Villains Category" are shown here below. When looking carefully at the pictures on the right side, you notice that the pictures are more cropped. Also the text is different.
In 2016 it came to my knowledge that the same magazines were issued in Poland. The picture here below showing magazine N°. 2 in their own language.
"Magazine N°. 2 issued in Poland."
As James Bond, GE Fabbri will return in 2007 with another James Bond collectable card game. More details and information on this set are in a special chapter on the “007 Spy Cards Commander Set”.