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gift guide 2020

Tasco Folding Opera Glasses Binoculars

Timothy Dalton as James Bond uses Tasco Folding Opera Binoculars in The Living Daylights. He holds them upside down.
Timothy Dalton as James Bond uses Tasco Folding Opera Binoculars in The Living Daylights. He holds them upside down.
photo © Danjaq LLC, MGM, United Artists
photo © Bond Lifestyle
Tasco Folding Opera Glasses Binoculars (similar model as seen in the film)
photo © Bond Lifestyle

photo © Danjaq LLC, MGM
A behind-the-scenes photo or promotional photo featuring Timothy Dalton and a different variation of the Tasco binoculars (this is NOT a screenshot from the film). Thanks to Thunderballs.org for the photo.
photo © Danjaq LLC, MGM

photo © Danjaq LLC, MGM, United Artists
Comparing the binoculars seen in the film (top) and the glasses in the promotional photo show different model variations of the Tasco binoculars
photo © Danjaq LLC, MGM, United Artists

photo © Bond Lifestyle
Compare the two models here with the closure mechanism on the top or bottom, and the black or metal rings around the lenses.
photo © Bond Lifestyle

photo © Bond Lifestyle
Different style back: the model with plastic rings on the front also has black plastic rings on the back. And see the 'tasco japan' or 'coated lens japan' plaque, each with different screws. One of my models has a 'leather' covered back.
photo © Bond Lifestyle

photo © Bond Lifestyle
More differences: look at the more square shaped body and fine grain leather on the left, compared to the rounder body and 'crocodile' leather on the right and top. The fine grain leather model is the one that has the leather on the back side as well (see comparison two photos up)
photo © Bond Lifestyle

photo © Bond Lifestyle
Compare some of the boxes of the Tasco #540 chic and #540
photo © Bond Lifestyle

photo © eBay
This set offered on eBay in 2014 is actually a fan made box, not an official release.
photo © eBay

In the first (post-credits) scene of The Living Daylights (1987), James Bond (Timothy Dalton) uses a pair of Tasco Folding Opera Glasses Binoculars.

James Bond visits a symphony performance in 'Bratislava, Czechoslovakia'. Bond joins his local ally Saunders, Head of Station V (Vienna) in a balcony box. To take a closer look at Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé), a Soviet general, he uses the Tasco Folding Opera Glasses Binoculars. With the glasses he also catches a first glance of cellist Kara Milovy (Maryam d'Abo), who's playing the cello during the concert.

In the movie, James Bond holds the glasses up side down, although this doesn't matter for the glasses, they would still work that way. But the Tasco logo on the front is up side down and the focus ring would then be at the bottom of the device, which is not ideal. But in another behind-the-scenes image (thanks to Thunderballs.org for that image) he holds the glasses the correct way. This image is possibly taken during a deleted scene from the Tram / Pushkin scene, when Bond wears a black necktie and white buttoned shirt.

What to look for when buying Tasco binoculars from the film
The glasses have been produced for many years and although they are mostly the same, there are some differences in the models over the years. The model number is "#540" or "#540 chic."

I ordered 3 different models and they had these variations:

- plaque with "tasco" logo or "Coated Lens" on the back
- black leather covered back or bare metal
- black plastic or metal rings around ocular lens on back
- black plastic or metal rings around objective lens on front
- opening button on the top or the bottom of the device
- croc leather pattern or finer grain pattern on black leather
- square body compared to rounder body shape
- yellow packaging with ballet performance
- white packaging with red and blue tasco logo

So which model is Bond using? Based on the screenshots and the behind-the-scenes photo from the film, we are able to see some of the key elements, but strangely enough, he seems to use a different pair in the film compared to the model in the behind-the-scenes shot.

The glasses seen in the movie:
- rounded body shape
- black plastic rings around the lens
- opening button on top part of glasses

The glasses in the behind-the-scenes photo:
- rounded body shape
- metal rings around the lens
- opening button on bottom part of glasses

So perhaps the prop department had different models laying around (probably without even realising it) or Dalton used a different pair during different takes or during a promotional photoshoot or the deleted scened. So whichever of these two you get (or already have), in a way they are both correct.

The main thing is to look for is the more rectangular or rounded body: both used by Dalton are the more rounded model.

A picture says more than a 1000 words, so check the images on the left to compare the models and see the ones used by Bond. There might be many more model variations than the three models I have - for example there is a special edition that is branded with the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976, but that one would not have been in the Bond film as it has a bright yellow cover with Olympics logo instead of the black fake croc leather.

The variations also come in a variety of packagings. It's not quite clear which would have been the exact packaging from the film.

On eBay, in 2014, I found images of a Tasco "The Living Daylights" branded packaging, but I couldn't find anything about it since and I wasn't sure if this was fan made or an actual movie tie-in release from 1987. See the photos all the way below on the left. UPDATE: the owner of the glasses has contacted me and confirmed this is a fan made case.

The Tasco Opera Glasses are actually surprisingly easy to find today, on eBay there are always many on offer for very reasonable prices (anywhere between $5 - $25).

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Definitely a nice and affordable prop for a Bond collection. Just take note of the different models mentioned below when you buy a pair.

At the time of filming, Czechoslovakia was behind the Iron Curtain and communist, so many of scenes of the movie were actually filmed in Vienna. The exterior scenes of the Opera building were filmed at the Volksoper in Vienna, which to this day looks quite similar. The corner place where Bond and Leiter hide is still there, although that looks a bit different and is now a chocolate store. You can visit the locations at the Währinger Strasse in Vienna. If you are there, try to find the photos of the Bond film that can be spotted in the shop's windows.

The Tasco Opera Glasses are not the only binoculars used in the film: Bond also uses Binocular Glasses in Tangier, Morocco.

This is not the first time that Bond uses Tasco binoculars. In For Your Eyes Only (1981), Roger Moore as James Bond uses a Tasco 7800 Binocular Camera.

Product Code: 
ga091

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