It’s not an exaggeration to say that the movie Blade Runner had a profound effect on me when I saw it in the early ‘80s. As a kid living in the urban sprawl, pretty much all the sci-fi I’d seen up until then was full of clean lines, flying saucers and food pills. None of it reflected the city I was growing up in, and none of it looked like the future I expected.

But Blade Runner did - and I dove in deep. I read everything I could find about the design and the creation of the film - and that’s where I first came across the work of artist Syd Mead, who created a lot of the signature design from the movie, including the “spinners”, the flying cars that criss-crossed the smog-choked skies over a future Los Angeles.

The original 1982 collector’s set.

Back in ‘82, to coincide with the release of Blade Runner, Ertl released a set of four die cast vehicles in blister packs and a box set (although the two on the right hand side are labelled incorrectly...)

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“He say you Blade Runnah...”

The iconic vehicle from the movie is the Police Spinner (described as Bryant’s Police Spinner on the packaging), with its scissor doors and “twist-wrist” steering; those teardrop sections at the front would rotate out 90 degrees as the car took off.

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One of my favourites in this set in Deckard’s Ground Car, the vehicle belonging to down-at-heel replicant hunter Rick Deckard. Notes in the production design for the movie mention that his car is a decommissioned Spinner Sedan, once a flying car but now no longer airworthy. A little detail on the casting here that highlights this... See the bisected circle on the roof? On the prop car that was an illuminated piece, red on one side, white on the other; the idea being, this was a “turn indicator” to show vehicles flying overhead if the car was rising or descending.

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One of Mead’s production sketches of Deckard’s car.

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The Ertl set also gives the character of Rachel her own vehicle, imaginatively named Rachel’s Spinner. While this vehicle is seen in the movie (it overtakes Deckard and Gaff’s Spinner en route to the Tyrell Corporation), we never do get to see if Rachel is actually driving it. Another great detail for this one not visible on screen is the Alfa Romeo marque on the flank that the model makers added to the original FX miniature!

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The last in the set is Deckard’s Chase Spinner, a re-coloured and re-tampoed version of the Police Spinner without the dual light bar. This one doesn’t appear in the movie, but I guess you could infer that it might have been Deckard’s police issue vehicle back when he was in the Blade Runner unit hunting down rogue humanoid replicants. More likely, Ertl wanted to add another car to the line without having to tool up a whole new casting...

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Syd Mead started off working for the Ford Motor Company’s Advanced Styling Center before he went on to become a “visual futurist” for movies, working on Tron, Aliens, Timecop, right up to date with Elysium and Tomorrowland. His art books are full of incredible vehicles, including one that was immortalized as a Hot Wheels model - the Sentinel 400 Limo, adapted by Nathan Proch for the 2002 First Editions line.

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There have been eight re-colors of the Sentinel 400, the rarest of which was one made for a Mattel staff dinner dance - But I think that only this original metallic teal version and the 2003 “police” version have that iconic Blade Runner look.

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With Blade Runner 2049 coming out later this year, the trailers have already revealed some more futuristic vehicles, and I’m hoping we’ll get new 1/64th scale die casts to got with my ‘80s vintage set...

And naturally, my soundtrack for this post could be none other than this one: