Quercetti Fireball XL5 and box

The only Fireball XL5 toy that can actually be flown, this finely-engineered model was made by Quercetti in Turin, Italy, and is 29.2 cm / 11 1/2 in long. Shown here without any decals applied, it is launched in the air with the catapult provided with it. Going up, the two halves of its fuselage would be held closed by air pressure, but as soon as it loses its momentum, the two halves would open to release both the main parachute for the spaceship as well as an astronaut figure (meant to represent pilot Steve Zodiac) with its own parachute. A second, alternative Fireball Junior nose cone was also supplied, having less prominent fins for use on more windy days.

Quercetti toys advert by J Rosenthal (Toys) Ltd from Spacemakers catalogue 1964

First distributed by Cavendish, and then by J Rosenthal (Toys) Ltd, the Fireball XL5 was part of a more extensive range of missiles of Quercetti's own design. Whether a condition of the Fireball deal or taken as an opportunity to sell more toys, Rosenthal also distributed Quercetti's other missiles. The advert above is from the January 1964 Spacemakers catalogue by AP Films (Merchandising) and therefore only shows the Fireball XL5 (and without even mentioning the Quercetti name). But in the very first issue of TV21 magazine in 1965 (below) there were no such restrictions so the other Quercetti missiles were also included. And continued to be advertised regularly in TV21 magazine along with JR Toys' other Anderson models - the detail further below is taken from a full-page advert that is otherwise devoted to Thunderbirds toys. (Note the boy in Rosenthal's XL5 advert is actually launching the Mach-X missile also illustrated, which uses a double catapult and launch pad.)

Quercetti toys advert by J Rosenthal (Toys) Ltd Quercetti detail from Thunderbirds toy advert

The images below are from contemporary Italian adverts and show the other Quercetti missiles as well as how the Mach-X works, which is basically the same as the others except for the more powerful catapult and base plate.

Quercetti range from Italian advert Mach-X from Italian Quercetti adverts

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Mike Burrows has written a very evocative recollection about the XL5 on Moonbase Central, with more photographs and advertisements and a quote from Keith Shackleton whom he was fortunate to meet.

Martina Zenz has an excellent page about this type of missile that includes many fine photographs of Fireball XL5 with decals applied (second toy down on that page - text in German so use Google Translate, or just worth it alone for the beautiful images). Other Quercetti missiles are shown in detail on her follow-up page.

In continuous production since the 1960s, Quercetti continue to offer their original Tor missile. Their website also has some historical details on the Tor and subsequent models.