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A Necktie, a Fruitcake and 007’s BMW Z3

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James Bond and Santa Claus don’t generally work as a team, but in this year’s Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalogue the world’s foremost super-suave secret agent has become something of a Yuletide phenomenon.

Bond has a new face in MGM’s “GoldenEye,” which opens Friday--that of actor Pierce Brosnan, who takes over the license to kill last held by Timothy Dalton. But Bond is also driving a new car in the film--a BMW Z3 roadster, which replaces 007’s traditional Aston Martin. BMW, MGM and Neiman-Marcus worked together to make a special luxury version of the car available to catalogue-shoppers seeking out a lavish holiday gift for the spy who has everything.

“All along we’ve been talking about doing an unconventional launch for this new model,” says Tom McGurn, general manager of corporate relations for BMW. “We were really excited about being in the Bond film--where most people will get their first look at this car--and we wanted to play with the Bond association. The Neiman-Marcus catalogue is always a fun part of the holiday season, and seemed like a natural match for us.”

Item 54 in the specialty retailer’s 1995 Christmas Book is a limited-edition model of the Z3 in “Bond blue-gray,” complete with cellular phone, hi-fi system, deluxe trimmings in wood, leather and chrome, and a “Specially Equipped 007" dash plaque (the catalogue makes clear that this model, unlike Brosnan’s, does not include a built-in guided missile system).

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The car can’t be picked up as a last-minute stocking-stuffer, however. McGurn reports that BMW’s initial run of 20 Bond models sold out within two hours on Sept. 11, the first day the catalogue was out--at a price of $35,000, which included a pair of tickets to a special Brosnan-hosted screening of “GoldenEye” this week at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a benefit for the Norris Cancer Center.

Neiman-Marcus received nearly 6,000 inquiries about the car, and easily sold an additional 80--minus the screening tickets--that BMW made available. Some of those frustrated inquirers are undoubtedly among the more than 3,000 buyers who have already placed orders for a less-suave, non-Bond model of the Z3 with BMW dealerships, where the car will be available in February for a price closer to $30,000.

While the response to the catalogue offer has been noteworthy, Carolyn Cobb, manager of promotions for Neiman-Marcus, says that the gift itself isn’t all that unusual by the company’s standards.

“We always have some weird feature gifts, and even though the Bond car was one of the most successful things we’ve had in a long time, it’s probably one of the least weird,” she says. “A few years ago we offered his-and-her camels, so James Bond is pretty straightforward.”

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One of the weirder of this year’s offerings may be of some interest to 007’s villainous foes, who, if “GoldenEye” follows Bond traditions, will not come to a happy end: Item 22, decorative hand-carved coffin. $3,000.


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