great robots & toys
from the space age



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Thunderbirds Are Go!

A great many toys have been created from Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation shows, among them Supercar and Fireball XL5. But most have been inspired by his most popular and enduring series, Thunderbirds. Carlton, Bandai, Konami, and Matchbox are a few companies that have created Thunderbirds toys, collectibles and action figures.

Many of these sets are for sale on the web and through e-Bay. The Carlton/Vivid set shown here is in the large plastic playset category, which is pretty much what people like about it. Complaints included that the stickers fall off, which is a standard gripe about this sort of set. The stickers on mine are staying on, but it's also not getting rough treatment. This is not a roughneck sort of set, but viewed as a collectible, it's pretty good. You can usually find Tracy Island for around $150 US, although most sets were sold in Britain, and SoundTech vehicles carded for about $10 each. Matchbox also made a Tracy Island playset.

Left: Thunderbirds Tracy Island playset by Carlton. This set is designed as an accessory for Carlton's SoundTech vehicles, and doesn't come with any of the vehicles shown. This is a large, plastic playset measuring 20 inches in length and 8 inches high.

Right: The frontview. Launchbay hanger door shut and palm trees lining launch ramp. Push a button on the floor of the hanger and the door slowly opens. The swimming pool slides away to reveal the TB1 launch silo. The round house tops the silo for TB3.

Left: Backview. Six pictures light up along with twelve SoundTech phrases when you push the control buttons.

Right: With vehicles added. Move a lever and palm trees fall away and TB2 launch ramp elevates. TB1 in silo with swimming pool slid away. TB3 in round house. Both craft are standing on film cans to make them higher for this picture. Fab1 in foreground.

Below: SoundTech vehicles. TB1, TB3, and Fab1 each feature three phrases. TB2 makes electronic sounds. Push a button and TB2 rises on spring-loaded legs, and can carry either the tiny TB4 or TB5 included with TB2. This picture also shows small keychains of TB1 and TB3, to the left and right of the four carded vehicles.

Above: A beautifully-made metal TB1 from Bandai. TB1 can be set on the plastic launchpad, or set horizontally on the gantry for the "in flight" mode. Push a button on TB1 and the wings pop out. TB1 is 4.5 inches high and sets in a foam cutout in the box, which is about 8 X 5 inches and features graphics on all sides. Bandai wins for attractive presentation with this unusual set, which originally cost under $40 at Kimono My House (see Robot Links pages).

Above left: SHADO 1 mobile from Gerry Anderson's live action series, UFO. The plastic car measures about 3 inches long, and comes with a black plastic 4 inch display case. This mobile is from a Konami "blind box" UFO series. Each box contains one of seven random "pre- colored figures" from the show. This mobile is an example of Japanese "Gashapon", which means "capsule" and originally referred to toys dispensed in gumball machines, Nowadays, "Gashapon" refers to small, but sometimes intricately detailed toys which are usually packaged in a "blind box" series.

Above middle: This  6 inch tall, plastic TB1 from Thunderbirds was made in China by WT Venture in 2004. Turning the bottom fins extends retractable landing gear. The wings can also be extended.

Above right:  In 2001, Johnny Lightning/ Playing Mantis hailed the new millenium with a look back. "Another classic TV vehicle from Hollywood on Wheels" reads the tag on this series of six  vehicles from The Mod Squad, Green Hornet, The Partridge Family, Scooby-Doo, and, as shown here, Supercar. The sixth was from the '90s; Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me", which wasn't from TV . Supercar wasn't from Hollywood, either, so the tag wasn't completely accurate.  But another line was: "Specially designed for the adult collector". The three inch, color, metal Supercar came in what amounts to a display case (the four inch Supercar graphic shown on the package is actually a cardboard cut out), so we just left ours in the package.
It would be great if the package was reclosable, so you could take it out and put it back, but it's not.  One reason might be that on the package back was an ad for a real display case-- an acrylic Johnny Lightning "table top" display case for $44.95 (plus $6.95 S&H) that could display 30 "of your favorite 1:64 scale collectibles".


Above left: Signed artwork by British artist Walt Howarth for Gold Key comic, Supercar, issue number two, 1963. Howarth was known for his comic covers, including Gold Key's "Man from U.N.C.L.E", as well as Beatles memorabilia.
Above right: The cover art as it appeared on Supercar #2. Instead of advertising, the back cover shows the art at left, without the lettering, suitable for framing.

Planet Zero