This particular version of the Tri-ang Operating Helicopter Car Set, Catalogue Nº: R128, was first introduced in 1962 and was available for four years.
It worked by winding up a spring 'motor' on the car, upon which the helicopter would sit. Then, as the car passed a track-side trip lever that was clip-fitted to the track, the chopper would be automatically 'swish' into the air.
Great fun for any small boy - and bigger boys too no doubt, especially when it was joined by all of the other NATO rolling stock that Tri-ang produced at the time. These included a rocket launcher, bomb transporter, searchlight wagon and an exploding car. Some of the wagons even came with a selection of soldiers, which was ideal for lads like me who liked to play trains AND wage war at one and the same time!
The Helicopter Car was sold both singly and, also, as part of a Snow Rescue Train Set, see lower photograph. In this set it came with a snow plough, ambulance car and diesel shunter. This was clearly aimed at the Canadian market since we do not get enough snow in this country to warrant such a train - or at least we didn't!
From 1966 until 1971 the Helicopter Car became part of the Battle Space fleet of rolling stock and, as such, changed its livery. The car becoming army green in colour while the helicopter changed to yellow.
Then, in 1982, it returned as part of the Task Force Action Set, the helicopter was still yellow but now the car was white.
The Helicopter Car finally went out of production in 1985 and, these days, nice examples in working condition can fetch good prices amongst collectors.