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Thunderbirds

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Archive-name: Thunderbirds/FAQ
Version: 1.0
Last-Modified: 2003/08/12 12:43:23
Maintained-by: Michael Faries <webmaster@(nospam)space1999.org>.
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Grateful acknowledgments: Special thanks to: Daria <JohnTracyTB5@(nospam)aol.com>, Kimberly Murphy-Smith <kamurphy@(nospam)ix.netcom.com> and Marc J. Frattasio <fm@(nospam)gis.net>.
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This FAQ covers the "Thunderbirds" productions from 1965 to the present.

In the interest of maintaining an ever-growing quality FAQ document, we welcome your submissions for inclusion via e-mail. Each contribution should consist of a question and an answer, ready for publication. (In the interest of our very limited free time, please provide concise information rather than initiating an ongoing dialogue. We're truly sorry; we can't answer individual questions.)

Of interest: U.S. customary and metric conversions for unit measurements are provided below. (Example: 124 mph/ 200 kph). We note that decimal points are not always provided in the conversions, as measurements are generally rounded off to the higher number.

This FAQ is maintained/updated at http://www.space1999.org/thunderbirds/faq/index.html. It is subject to both a Common Creative License (CCL) and Open Content Model (OCM) for distribution and republishing for non-commercial purposes. This FAQ may be freely redistributed in its entirety provided that this copyright notice is preserved and the terms of the CCL and OCM are adhered to. Permission is expressly granted for this document to be made available for file transfer from installations offering unrestricted anonymous file transfer on the Internet.

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Table of Contents (TOC)


1.0 General Introduction

This document was drafted in an effort to educate fans, new and old alike, on the "Thunderbirds" television and motion picture entertainment properties. The specific mission of this document is to provide:

While the document is called an FAQ (acronym for Frequently Asked Questions), our goal is to outline additional news and information, too. We do not guarantee the full accuracy of information within this FAQ, although we do provide a list of various references.


Created by Gerry Anderson, along with his then-wife, Sylvia Anderson (nee Thamm), "Thunderbirds" became a pop culture and cult classic in the U.K., Europe, and Asia-Pacific (Australia, New Zealand and Japan). ["Thunderbirds" did not receive broad exposure or attention in North America, though, despite airings beginning in 1967.]

The idea for "Thunderbirds" originated from Gerry Anderson during October 1963. He had heard a radio news report about a mine collapse in Germany, resulting in many men being trapped. Subsequently, equipment would have to transported from all over to aid in the rescue efforts. Anderson met with Sir Lew Grade to discuss his proposal for a new series entitled "International Rescue."

The first television episode of "Thunderbirds" aired 30 September 1965 in the U.K.: "Trapped in the Sky," written by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, directed by Alan Patillo. A budget of 22,000 pounds was set for each episode (the approx. equivalent of 500,000 pounds in 2003). The production began in 1964. After viewing the first half-hour episode, ITC executive Sir Lew Grade instructed Gerry to extend each episode to fill a one-hour time slot. As production for the series was already well underway with nine episodes almost completed, this meant a massive undertaking for the AP Productions team at Slough Studio to extend each episode and still have them finished on time. Ironically, for the U.S. market, the episodes were later broken into half-hour shows with a cliff-hanger ending for the first half, then a one-minute recap at the beginning of the second half of the episode.

The final first-run broadcast of classic "Thunderbirds" was 25 December 1966 in the U.K. with the episode "Give or Take a Million."

The 32-episode classic "Thunderbirds" is recognized as the most popular of Gerry Anderson's shows, mainly in England (where the show originated), Australia and New Zealand. The show has strong fanbases worldwide, too.

"Thunderbirds" utilizes Supermarionation, a marketing term which highlights advanced puppetry designs/usage. marionette process combining the traditional strings with electronic impulses that allowed the plastic puppets to move their eyes, blink, raise their eyebrows and move their lips in a reasonably lifelike fashion. (The 1960s television series and motion pictures used Supermarionation.) However, a subsequent series, "Thunderbirds 2086," used traditional cel animation. And a live-action "Thunderbirds" movie from Universal is due in July 2004.

We hope this document is helpful to better understanding "Thunderbirds" -- and the various productions from the 1960s to the present.

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2.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Introduction

Set in the year 2065 (according to both Gerry Anderson and Alan Fennell who cite a misprint in the official Supermarionation guide which stated 2026), "Thunderbirds" focuses on the valiant Tracy family who perform rescue operations without any personal gain or glory-seeking fanfare. Headed by Jeff Tracy from his uncharted Pacific Island, the team is comprised of Tracy's five sons who pilot various sophisticated rescue craft. Each is designated as a Thunderbird ship: "Thunderbird 1", "Thunderbird 2", etc. The team's organization is known publicly as "International Rescue (I.R.)."

Other resident members of the team including Brains, the scientific genius; Kyrano, their servant and his daughter, Tin-Tin. From England, Jeff Tracy employs the services of Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward and her chauffer, Aloysius Parker, as remote agents. Lady Penelope and Parker regularly use a pink Rolls-Royce designated FAB1 in their missions.

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3.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Production Team

Born Gerald Alexander Abrahams on 14 April 1929 in West Hampstead, London, England, U.K., Gerry Anderson is the co-creator of "Thunderbirds" along with then-wife Sylvia Anderson (nee Thamm).

Writer Alan Fennell Alan Pattillo David Elliott Dennis Spooner Donald Robertson Gerry Anderson Martin Crump Sylvia Anderson Tony Barwick Director Alan Pattillo Brian Burgess David Elliott David Lane Desmond Saunders Producer Reg Hill Executive Producer Gerry Anderson Creator Gerry Anderson Sylvia Anderson Music Barry Gray Special Effects Derek Meddings Art Director Bob Bell (I)

Many of the production team that Gerry had used on his earlier series stayed on for "Thunderbirds," including special effects wizard Derek Meddings, producer Reg Hill, chief puppeteer Christine Glanville, composer Barry Gray and Sylvia Anderson.

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4.0 Classic Thunderbirds - FAB

Perhaps the most frequently asked question by new and old "Thunderbirds" fans alike, the definitive answer came from series co-creator Sylvia Anderson herself during her promotional tour for her 1991 autbiographical book, "Yes, M'Lady: A Personal Memoir." According to Sylvia, F.A.B. stands for...

...absolutely nothing.

It was something they made up on the spur of the moment during a writing session, Sylvia says, and it was never intended to stand for anything other than to spell out the letters of a popular British slang word "fab" (for "fabulous") during that era. Many people have attempted to find other meanings ("Filed, Actioned, Briefed", "Fine--Acknowledge Broadcast"), but it never meant anything other than "fabulous."

The expression "FAB" is used by the Tracy brothers within the "Thunderbirds" series. It was first spoken by Lady Penelope in the episode, "Trapped in the Sky."

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5.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Supermarionation

The term Supermarionation is derived from three words, "Super," "Marionette" and "Animation." Supermarionation is both a marketing name/brand and a puppetry technique involving marionettes with extremely fine wires and electronics which control the puppets' lip movements (a solenoid that transfered an electronic pulse to the wire attached to the bar the moved the lip) inside their heads -- and later, in their chests -- that synchronized the mouth movements with the vocal tracks. It is completely different from the puppetry technique used in "Terrahawks" called Supermacromation, a Muppet-style puppetry technique, and the stop-action animation of plastic puppets in "Dick Spanner P.I." It is also different from Anderson's "Captain Scarlet" CGI series which uses Hypermarionation: computer graphics (CGI) animation.

The early Supermarionation marionettes were made primarily of wood and leather (used as the hinge on the moving lip); the wires were fine tungsten metal. As the marionettes improved over time, features became more lifelike and more properly proportioned, while plastic eyes constructed by oculists were added (starting with "Thunderbirds") for increased realism. Each marionette was between 20 and 24 inches/ 51 and 61 cm tall. Starting with "Stingray," the marionettes often had multiple heads in order to give the impression of changing expressions (usually called the "serious face" and "smiling face") and multiple hands to be exchanged when different hand positions and gloves were needed (gloves were often merely painted hands). Later, puppet bodies (second season "Thunderbirds" and onward) replaced the wood with fiberglass, metal, and various types of plastic. Items like hats, helmets, and other headgear had wires threaded through them and were slid up the wires out of the way when not needed.

Supermarionation was first developed for "Supercar" (though electronic lip synch and steel wire were used in "Four Feather Falls") and used for every Anderson puppet production through "The Investigator" series. It was revamped between "Thunderbirds" and "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions."

Of further interest: Anderson puppet artists Mary Turner and Plugg Shutt had developed stringless puppets during the period between the end of "Thunderbirds" and startup for "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions"; stringless puppets meant that the puppets could be controlled from underneath and thus look more natural in sitting positions, flying planes, driving cars, etc. Also, toward the end of "Thunderbirds," engineers John Read and Reg Hill had experienced a breakthrough in solenoid technology for the voice mechanism that enabled it to be reduced in size so it would fit inside the chest cavity rather than the head (which had always been overlarge and out of proportion to the rest of the puppet). The combination allowed a complete redesign of the puppets to 1/3 human scale, which made them look much more realistic; at first glance, it is often difficult to tell that some of the shots in "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions" are not of humans. The drawback was that they did not move as realistic as they looked, so many shots done of the puppets going from place to place were done on moving walkways, and other motion was often implied by changing camera angles and sounds of movement. (The famous "walk down the alley" during the opening credits of "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions," for example, is done strictly from the point of view of the person walking; all one hears is the click of bootheels on pavement.)

Puppeteers often found the perfectly proportioned marionettes harder to control when they were on strings because they were so much lighter that any movement looked highly exaggerated at that scale, destroying the illusion they were designed to create. Nevertheless, the perfectly proportioned marionettes were used for all the remaining Supermarionation productions, allowing for some interesting live action intercuts in "The Secret Service" and much puppet recycling in "Joe 90" and "The Secret Service."

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Classic Thunderbirds character bios under development

6.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Characters/Actors

The primary cast of "Thunderbirds" consists of:

Jeff Tracy

Voiced by Peter Dyneley

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The deep-voiced Peter Dyneley was 13 April 1921 in Hastings, East Sussex, England U.K. and passed away 19 August 1977. Dyneley also performed other voices throughout the "Thunderbirds" series, including:

Preston in "Give or Take a Million"; Professor Lundgren in "Lord Parker's 'Oliday"; Controller Norman in "Alias Mr Hackenbacker"; World Navy Commander in "Atlantic Inferno"; Commander Norman in "Security Hazard"; Martian Pete in "Martian Invasion"; Hugo in "Brink of Disaster"; Chandler/ Casino Owner/ 1st Croupier in "The Duchess Assignment"; Lord Worden in "Danger at Ocean Deep"; Jeremiah Tuttle/ Air Force Officer/ Air Force Lt. in "The Imposters"; Fire Chief in "City of Fire"; Professor Holden/ 1st Reporter in "The Mighty Atom"; Lord Silton/ Longman in "Vault of Death"; Commander Norman/ International Air Minister in "Operation Crash-Dive"; Professor Heinz Bodman in "Sun Probe"; Dempsey/ Officer Jones/ Erdman Gang Member in "30 Minutes After Noon"; Professor Wingrove/ NTBS Reporter/ Crane Chief in "Day of Disaster"; Commander Norman in "Edge of Impact"; Sir Jeremy Hodge in "The Perils Of Penelope"; Ralph in "Pit of Peril"; and Commander Norman/ Interceptor One in "Trapped in the Sky."

Scott Tracy

Voiced by Shane Rimmer.

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Shane Rimmer provided the voice for Scott Tracy. Born in 1932 in the U.S., Rimmer has been an active actor since the late 1950s. His voice can also be heard within these "Thunderbirds" episodes:

Director of Photography in "Martian Invasion"; Reactor Control Assistant in "The Mighty Atom"; Carter in "Vault of Death"; Radar Lieutenant in "Operation Crash-Dive"; Scanners/ Washington in "Terror in New York City"; Johnny in "Pit of Peril"; TX204 Co-Pilot in "Trapped in the Sky."

Virgil Tracy

Voiced by David Holliday/Jeremy Wilkin.

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David Holliday provided the voice of Virgil Tracy for most of the classic "Thunderbirds" series. Holliday also provided the following additional voices within the show: Timekeeper in "Move... And You're Dead"; Scientist Voice in "The Mighty Atom"; and Newsreader in "Operation Crash-Dive." Holliday passed away August 1999 from cancer.

Jeremy Wilkin provided the voice of Virgil Tracy after Holliday's departure. Wilkin also provided the voices with the show: TV Reporter in "Give or Take a Million"; S.E.C. President ("Thunderbirds Are Go"); Hogarth ("Thunderbird 6"); President of Exploration Center Power in "Ricochet"; Senior Puccini in "Lord Parker's 'Oliday"; Mason in "Alias Mr Hackenbacker"; Peterson in "Path of Destruction"; and Dick O'Shea in "Atlantic Inferno."

Gordon Tracy

Voiced by David Graham.

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Graham provided numerous voices for Gerry Anderson's productions. Within "Thunderbirds" his voice was used for four of main characters! His vocal talents were also heard in the "Thunderbirds" episodes cited below:

Straker in "Give or Take a Million"; Loman in "Ricochet"; Party Goer in "Lord Parker's 'Oliday"; Skythrust Co-Pilot in "Alias Mr Hackenbacker"; Jim Lucas in "Path of Destruction"; Atlantic Captain in "Atlantic Inferno"; Morrison / Bob Gray / Solarnaut Asher/ Captain Hansen/ Frank/ Dave Clayton - Security Hazard"; Olsen in "The Cham-Cham"; Bletcher in "Martian Invasion"; Culp in "Attack of the Alligators"; Warren Grafton in "Brink of Disaster"; Wilbur Dandridge in "The Duchess Assignment"; Victor Gomez in "Move... And You're Dead"; No. 2 Ocean Pioneer 2 in "Danger at Ocean Deep"; Colonel Jameson in "Cry Wolf"; Carl in "The Man From M.I.5"; Elliott in "The Imposters"; Tower Control Assistant in "City of Fire"; Collins in "The Mighty Atom"; Light Fingered Fred in "Vault of Death"; Captain Hansen in "Operation Crash-Dive"; Solarnaut Asher in "Sun Probe"; Zombite Leader in "The Uninvited"; Cheng in "End of the Road"; Sir William in "30 Minutes After Noon"; Dave Clayton in "Day of Disaster"; Colonel Tim Casey in "Edge of Impact"; Joe in "Terror in New York City"; Professor Borrender/ Roache/ Waiter/ Colonel Benson in "The Perils Of Penelope"; Colonel Sweeney in "Pit of Peril"; Captain Hansen in "Trapped in the Sky"; and Hassan Ali.

John Tracy

Voiced by Ray Barrett.

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Alan Tracy

Voiced by Matt Zimmerman.

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Matt Zimmerman provided the voice of Alan Tracy. Zimmerman also voiced other characters in the show: Carter ("Thunderbird 6"); Messenger ("Thunderbirds Are Go"); Franklin/ Gutierrez in "Path of Destruction"; Atom Sub Reefer Lt. in "Atlantic Inferno"; TV Reporter/ Bill Craddock in "Security Hazard"; Banino/ Macklin/ Foreign Lieutenant in "The Cham-Cham"; General X/ Slim in "Martian Invasion"; Hector McGill in "Attack of the Alligators"; Doolan/ Stan (Patrol 304)/ Patrol Base in "Brink of Disaster"; 2nd Croupier/ Hendricks in "The Duchess Assignment"; WTV Commentator in "Move... And You're Dead"; Lieutenant Jensen in "Danger at Ocean Deep"; Lieutenant Lansfield in "Cry Wolf"; Third Man in "The Man From M.I. 5"; Eddie Kerr/ Wakefield / Speed Merchant in "The Imposters"; Tower Controller/ WTV Reporter in "City of Fire"; 2nd Reporter/ Press Officer in "The Mighty Atom"; TV Reporter/ Seahawk Pilot in "Operation Crash-Dive"; TV Reporter in "Sun Probe"; Lindsey/ Zombite Controller in "The Uninvited"; Chuck Taylor in "End of the Road"; Tom Prescott/ Frank Forrester/ Policeman (Police Barrier) in "30 Minutes After Noon"; Bill Craddock/ 2nd NTBS Reporter in "Day of Disaster"; Goddard/ Captain in "Edge of Impact"; Ned Cook in "Terror in New York City"; Albert/ TV Reporter in "The Perils Of Penelope"; and Captain/ Helijet Pilot Charlie in "Pit of Peril."

Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward

Voiced by Sylvia Anderson

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Her home base is the Creighton-Ward Manor and its 2000 acre/ 8.09371e+06 square meter estate. This is Lady Penelope's ancestral home in Foxleyheath, Kent, located in the south of England.

Anderson also voiced other characters throughout the series: Nicky/ Nurse Nimmo in "Give or Take a Million"; Professor Marshall in "Ricochet"; Madeleine/ Telephone Operator - Alias Mr Hackenbacker"; Maria in "Path of Destruction"; Chip Morrison in "Security Hazard"; Make-Up Girl in "Martian Invasion"; Mrs. Files in "Attack of the Alligators"; Mrs. Godolphin/ Air Terrainean Hostess in "The Duchess Assignment"; Parola Sands Page in "Move... And You're Dead"; Bob Williams in "Cry Wolf"; Fireflash Stewardess in "The Man From M.I. 5"; Ma Tuttle/ Fireflash Stewardess in "The Imposters"; Blanche Carter/ Tommy Carter in "City of Fire"; Tannoy in "The Mighty Atom"; Lil in "Vault of Death"; Gladys Saltzman in "30 Minutes After Noon"; and Air Terrainean Guide in "Trapped in the Sky."

Aloysius Parker

Voiced by David Graham.

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Brains

Voiced by David Graham.

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Grandma Tracy

Voiced by Christine Finn.

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Finn also performed other "Thunderbird" character voices, including the Indian Fortune Teller ("Thunderbird 6"); Deirdre/ Saville's Secretary in "Alias Mr Hackenbacker"; Mrs. Lucas in "Path of Destruction"; Grand Hotel Receptionist in "The Duchess Assignment"; Tony Williams in "Cry Wolf"; Woman Driver in "City of Fire"; and the Police Radio voice in "Edge of Impact."

Kyrano

Voiced by David Graham.

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Tin-Tin

Voiced by Christine Finn.

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The Hood

See: Classic Thunderbirds - Villains

Additional trivia:

Sylvia Anderson, responsible for Character Creation and Visualization on the series, developed the unique personalities of each of the main characters, even down to assigning them birthdays to coincide with their behavior patterns (ie. zodiac signs/traits) and the birth order of the Tracy brothers.

The puppets were created by Chief Puppeteer Christine Glanville and her team. To give Scott and Virgil the appearance of being taller than the other members of their family the puppets were made with narrower waistlines. This technique was also used on the Hood who's puppet was fitted with larger hands and head to give the appearance of being more powerful. The puppets were all made to one-third life size (approximately 22 inches/ 56cm high). Scott's appearance was based on Sean Connery; Alan Tracy's face was modeled on actor Robert Reed. Brains is thought to have been modeled on Anthony Perkin's.

The characters Lady Penelope and Parker were designed to suit the U.S.'s conception of the English class society, hence the exaggerated accents and appearance. When making the face for Lady Penelope, Christine developed Penny's looks from a model for a shampoo advertisement, Sylvia provided the voice for the character. Parker's character was based on a barman at the local pub the production team frequented. Arthur, the barman, had previously worked for 'er Majesty's Service and spoke with an accent that allowed free use of the letter 'H'.

Lady Penelope was a female James Bond, her family motto being "Elegance, Charm and Deadly Danger." [This coincided with the production of a James Bond 007 movie ("You Only Live Twice") at the same time as the screening of "Thunderbirds." The Bond production crews often watched "Thunderbirds" on TV to check on the series -- and also on special effects being made for the TV series.]

John Tracy was initially to be one of the main characters in the series. Gerry Anderson was never happy with John Tracy's appearance or voice. The character was consigned to Thunderbird 5 where he only made brief appearances.

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6.1 Are the first names of the Tracy boys based on actual U.S. astronauts?

Yes. Jeff Tracy's sons were named after U.S. astronauts from the N.A.S.A. Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions: Scott Carpenter, Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Leroy Gordon Cooper, Jr. and John Glenn. Gerry once wrote to the surviving astronauts with signed photos of their "Thunderbirds" counterparts, dryly stating, "Now you know why you became so famous."

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6.2 Is the Tracy family structure inspired by the U.S. show Bonanza?

Yes. Jeff Tracy was modeled on Canadian actor Lorne Greene, famous for his portrayal of patriarch Ben Cartwright on TV's "Bonanza." The Cartwright family structure bore a loose resemblance to the Tracy family: The father was raising his good-natured sons without a mother.

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6.3 Why was David Holliday replaced with Jeremy Wilkin as the voice of Virgil Tracy for the last six episodes of "Thunderbirds"?

The reason for the departure of voice artist David Holliday from the highly-successful "Thunderbirds" prior to the last six episodes of the series seems to be cloaked in mystery. Gerry Anderson says that Holliday asked that his contract be renegotiated between shooting blocks of "Thunderbirds" and wanted too much money and perks. Holliday admits he asked for his contract to be renegotiated but says it was because he was offered better paying work and wanted his duties restructured. In any event, Holliday was released from his contract and actor Jeremy Wilkin (who later went on to provide voices in "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions", "Joe 90", and "The Secret Service" and the Skydiver navigator in "UFO") took over the role of Virgil Tracy for the final block of "Thunderbirds" episodes and the two classic "Thunderbirds" movies. Holliday went on to making a living primarily as a stage actor, especially in musicals. Holliday passed away August 1999 from cancer

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6.4 Which "Thunderbirds" voice actor worked the most in all of Gerry Anderson's productions?

Shane Rimmer, who began his Gerry Anderson career as the voice of Scott Tracy in "Thunderbirds" and later went on to provide voices for "Thunderbirds Are Go", "Thunderbird 6", "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions", "Joe 90", "Secret Service", "The Investigator", and "Dick Spanner P.I."

Rimmer also wrote or co-wrote episodes for "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions", "Joe 90", "Secret Service", "The Investigator", and "The Protectors." He appeared live in episodes of "UFO", "The Protectors", "Space: 1999", and the original pilot of "Space Precinct (then-called "Space Police").

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7.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Vehicles

The vehicles of "Thunderbirds" are widely regarded as the stars of the show. These specialized, top secret rescue craft enable International Rescue to perform their missions in virtually any environment, whether air, land, sea or space.

In the show, the "Thunderbirds" rescue craft were designed by Jeff Tracy and Brains. In reality, they were created by Special Effects Supervisor Derek Meddings, with approvals from Gerry Anderson and Reg Hill.

From his biography, Gerry Anderson comments about the Thunderbird ships: "It (TB2) was the only craft that did anything for me, to be honest Thunderbird One was not detailed enough, and time has shown it's not a believable vehicle. Thunderbird Three seemed okay then, but today I think it's a joke. Thunderbird Four, I was frankly disappointed with. And Five... well, the less said about that the better. Which is not to say I didn't think they were all good at the time."

[Note: Gerry Anderson had intended to call the series "International Rescue." The series was eventually named after Thunderbird Field, a U.S. airfield where Gerry's only brother, Lionel Anderson, learned to fly for the R.A.F. (Royal Air Force) during World War II. (Sadly, the man was killed in action.) The rescue craft for the series were originally to be called Rescue 1, Rescue 2, etc.]

Thunderbird 1

Piloted by Scott Tracy.

Specifications: First Response/Reconnaissance Aircraft
Wingspan: 15.0m/ 49 feet
Length: 23.6m/ 77 feet
Height: 9.5m/ 31 feet
Top Speed: 15,000 mph/ 24,140 kph
Power Plant: Atomic Pile
Propulsion: Turbojet, RAMjet, Rocket-based
Crew: One, Scott Tracy

The role of Thunderbird 1 (TB1) is first response/reconnaissance vehicle requires it to carry sophisticated computer, surveillance, and communications equipment. These include the Mobile Command Console, advanced imaging cameras to provide high resolution pictures and high powered radio communications.

A forward mounted, retractable destructor cannon provides firepower when it is required and like all of TB1's operations, this is controlled via a multipurpose TV monitor mounted on the pilot's control panel.

For the fastest possible takeoff, TB1 is stored in a bay close to the Tracy lounge. Scott can thus get aboard within a matter of seconds and carry out all necessary preflight checks whilst the craft descends the ramp to the launch bay located under the house's swimming pool. It can take as little as 30 seconds for TB1 to be airborne after receiving an emergency call.

After a rocket assisted vertical launch, TB1's Turbojet and RAMjet engines take over as it levels out for horizontal flight. The flight console and seat pivot during this transition to allow Scott to remain upright and to help him survive the high g-forces necessary during launch.

The "Swing-Wing" design allows TB1's wings to be swept back for launch and ultra-sonic high speed flight or swept forward for low speed manoeuvring and descent. During the VTOL takeoff and landings a centrally located rocket provides thrust with forward mounted pitch-and-yaw jets providing stability.

Thunderbird 1 is the ultimate emergency response aircraft.

[Note: Thunderbird 1 was Derek Meddings's least favorite design, but one of the FAQ author's favorites. :) ]

Thunderbird 2/Thunderbird 2 Pod Vehicles

Piloted by Virgil Tracy.

Specifications: STOL/VTOL Heavy Transport Aircraft
Wingspan: 57.0m/ 187 feet
Length: 75.5m/ 248 feet
Height: 18.0m/ 59 feet
Top Speed: 5,000 mph/ 8,047 kph
Power Plant: Atomic Pile
Propulsion: Turbojet, RAMjet, Rocket-based
Armament: Surface-to-Air Missiles
Crew: One, Virgil Tracy (save for passengers, such as Brains; or Gordon Tracy/TB4 in a Pod section)

The green-colored Thunderbird 2 (TB2) is capable of carrying large payloads which are housed in the centrally mounted pod. Prior to departure on a rescue mission a decision is made as to which pod vehicle is to be taken to the rescue zone. This decision is made by Scott, if he is already on the scene in TB1, or by Jeff and Brains at Tracy Island after gathering as much information as possible about the emergency.

With the separate pod vehicles: One of six pods is then automatically loaded into TB2's hangar, directly underneath the craft. TB2 lowers itself down over the pod and engages the solenoid activated magnetic bolts which lock the pod into position. Once the rock covered hanger doors have opened and the "drawbridge" lowered, TB2 taxis down a short runway to the launch ramp where it is elevated for the rocket assisted takeoff.

Taking into account the heavy-lifting nature of Thunderbird 2 (TB2), Brains decided against a vertical takeoff craft. The launch bay therefore bears some resemblance to a conventional hangar, but the resemblance ends when one considers the details which, like all TB equipment, are years ahead of their time.

At the rescue site TB2 is able to maneuver into position for landing or deployment of the rescue crew using the four VTOL rockets. Full view of the area is offered to Virgil via the observation windows and TV cameras. On landing, TB2 releases the pod locking mechanism and elevates on the hydraulic legs to clear the pod. TB2 can then resume flight without the pod in place.

TB2 is fully equipped with living accommodating and gallery, an internal lift to access the pod whilst in flight, an armoury of cutting tools, drills lasers, thermic lances and other rescue equipment and external flood lighting.

TB2 has proved to be a fan favorite, from the design to its functionality to its spectacular launch cycle (involving the TB2 emerging from the side of Tracy Island onto an elevating ramp hidden by special folding palm trees, then rocketing into the air.)

TB 2 featured a wide variety of rescue pod vehicles. (How many people tuned in to "Thunderbirds" on a regular basis in anticipation of what surprise would come out of Thunderbird 2's pod? Many.) TB2 was the only International Rescue craft to appear in all episodes of "Thunderbirds" and just about every episode featured some wonderful machine which emerged from the giant transporter's pod. TB1 through TB5 may have received "star" billing, but more often than not it was a pod vehicle that accomplished the actual rescue!

The pod vehicles were sophisticated rescue machines. For the most part, each machine was designed to accomplish a specific type of rescue. Beyond this specific built-in purpose, each machine was of limited versatility. Thus, International Rescue's large stable of pod vehicles.

Thunderbird 2 Pod Vehicles

1. The High Speed Elevator Cars

Four High Speed Elevator Cars were featured in the first "Thunderbirds" episode, "Trapped in the Sky." These vehicles were designed to safely land aircraft which have malfunctioning landing gear. The Elevator Cars are powerful six axle trucks with large spring loaded platforms on top. In practice, a stricken aircraft can land on top of an array of High Speed Elevator Cars speeding down a runway and be brought safely to a stop. The High Speed Elevator Cars are normally seen emerging from Pod #3.

Two different sized High Speed Elevator Car studio miniatures were constructed for use in Thunderbirds. At least two, representing a manned master unit and a radio controlled drone, were constructed in the standard "pod vehicle scale" of 1/24th (about 19 inches/ 48 cm long) for use in close ups and scenes of the vehicles emerging from the large scale TB2 pod set. Please note that this was the standard model automobile scale in use in the USA at that time. Three smaller scale models were build for use in scenes with a Fireflash nuclear powered airliner miniature.

Remember the smoking brakes and exploding tires? Titanium Tetrachloride, a very corrosive and toxic chemical which smokes spontaneously in contact with the air, was used to produce the brake smoking effect. The tires were blown out using electrical explosive detonator squibs.

[Check out that scene showing the radio controlled High Speed Elevator Car going crazy and crashing into a hastily put together model airliner during the first Fireflash landing attempt! This started off as an accident that looked so cool in rushes, Gerry Anderson decided to build a little scene around it. In actuality, a front control wire broke during filming on the rolling road and the miniature pod vehicle was dramatically thrown across the stage as seen on film!]

2.) The Recovery Vehicles

International Rescue owns two Recovery Vehicles which were featured in "Pit of Peril." The Recovery Vehicles are tracked yellow/orange craft which can tow distressed vehicles out of danger by means of two magnetic projectiles anchored to a strong cable and winch system. Like the High Speed Elevator Cars above, the Recovery Vehicles come in manned and remote controlled versions. The Recovery Vehicles are normally seen emerging from Pod #5.

Two Recovery Vehicle studio miniatures were constructed in the standard pod vehicle scale (1/24th). These two miniatures were approximately 17 inches/ 43cm long and used the characteristic undercarriage of some unknown battery operated toy or model tank which was also incorporated into several other ground vehicles used in Thunderbirds. The studio also constructed larger nose and cannon sections for use in close up action scenes. The projectile cannons of the Recovery Vehicle miniatures were elevated from beneath the set and liberal quantities of Titanium Tetrachloride was applied to produce the smoke effects so noticeable in this episode.

3.) The Jet Mole

International Rescue owns one Jet Mole which is used to burrow beneath the earth to perform subterranean rescues. The Jet Mole is a two component machine. The actual Jet Mole is a manned yellow cylinder with a big revolving drill bit located at the front. This device is carried into position by a blue colored tracked trolley. This trolley is remotely controlled and featured a ramp which elevates the Jet Mole into the proper angle for drilling into the ground.

The Jet Mole can be seen emerging from Pod #5 in "Pit of Peril" and "City of Fire". It can also be seen emerging from Pod #4 in "The Duchess Assignment" and "Security Hazard."

It would seem that only one 1/24th scale Jet Mole model was made but this was reworked several times during production since it took a lot of abuse on set. It was about 22 inches/ 56cm long. Take note of the Airfix Girder Bridge, Revell "Everything is Go!" Atlas missile, and other plastic kit parts incorporated into the trolley.

4.) The Radio Beam Transmitter Truck

The name says it all. This blue double-tracked vehicle has a large silver parabolic antenna mounted on the back capable of transmitting a powerful radio signal. It was used in "Sun Probe" to transmit an emergency control signal into deep space which fired TB3's steering rockets.

This was a one off 1/24th scale roughly 20 inch/ 51 cm wooden model which not only incorporated the standard toy tank tracks used in several other Thunderbirds miniatures but was also reworked into several other vehicles seen in various episodes (like the explosive truck seen in "End of the Road"). It was even reworked into some kind of fire truck pod vehicle as seen briefly in a parking area below Tracy Island in "Security Hazard."

5.) The Domo (Restraining Unit)

A one-off tracked vehicle which has three powerful suction cups mounted on adjustable arms. It is used to support structures which have been weakened by damage and are in danger of falling. The Restraining Unit can be seen emerging from Pod #3 in "The Duchess Assignment."

Another 1/24th scale miniature (about 14 inches/ 36 cm long) which was constructed mainly out of wood on top of the standard Thunderbirds toy track assembly. Looks like standard dart-gun black rubber suction cups were used on this model!

6.) The Drilling and Crushing Excavator

The Drilling and Crushing Excavator is a tracked vehicle which resembles the Restraining Unit except that it has a powerful rotary excavator device mounted on an adjustable rig at the front. This vehicle is used to rapidly clear away large volumes of earth and rock from disaster sites. This machine is capable of crushing excavated rock into a sand-like substance which is routed through ductwork and ejected behind the vehicle. The Drilling and Crushing Excavator can be seen emerging from Pod #5 in "Martian Invasion."

This of course is merely a reworking of the very same Restraining Unit miniature described above. Check out the Airfix SRN1 hovercraft structure parts prominently mounted on each side of the drill housing!

7.) The Monobrake

A low-slung utility vehicle with a retractable crane(?) that mounted along its transverse axis. Used only in "The Perils of Penelope" to check out a monorail train tunnel. The Monobrake is carried in Pod #6.

The Monobrake appears to have been made out of wood in 1/24th scale and was about 16 inches/ 42 cm long. The toy caterpillar tracks used to make this miniature were different than those used to make the Recovery Vehicles, Jet Mole, Drilling and Crushing Excavator, etc.

8.) Thunderbird 4

The submersable Thunderbird 4 is a Thunderbird 2 pod vehicle. (The vehicle is discussed in further detail down the page.)

9.) The Bomb Neutralizer

A small tracked vehicle featured in "Move and You're Dead". This machine incorporates some kind of sonic device which neutralizes the acoustic trigger mechanism of a particular type of bomb. Kind of specialized but what the heck. It worked! This vehicle emerged from Pod #1. The Bomb Neutralizer miniature seems to have been built around the same toy tank or tractor tracks used to make the "Perils of Penelope" Monobrake.

10.) The Hover Bed

A strange air-cushioned hovering vehicle which has a mechanism on the back which produces a blast of air sufficient to cushion the fall of a person from great height. In essence, this machine acts like a contemporary "fireman's net." The Hover Bed was used in "Move... and You're Dead" and can be seen emerging from Pod #1.

The Hover Bed miniature was about 10 inches/ 25 cm long and used two small props first seen on a puppet set as oil rig machinery in the "Stingray" episode, "Sea of Oil," as the high pressure air blast mechanism.

11.) The Firefly

A tracked heat resistant yellow firefighting vehicle. The Firefly's most distinctive characteristics are the nitroglycerin cannon and plow blade mounted on it's nose. The cannon is used to launch nitroglycerin shells which literally "blow out" fires by momentarily depriving the fire of oxygen. The plow blade is used to clear blazing wreckage. The Firefly also has a rotating chemical fire suppressant turret mounted at the back. The Firefly emerged from Pod #6 in "Terror in New York City" and Pod #5 in "City of Fire." The Firefly was probably made up from fiberglass castings on top of the standard Thunderbirds track set. The studio miniature was about 15 inches/ 38 cm long.

12.) The Mobile Crane

A six axle red truck with a long extensible "cherry picker" mounted on the back. Used in rescue situations where access to high places is required. It was seen emerging from Pod #3 in "Path of Destruction." The actual Mobile Crane studio miniature was about 16 inches/ 41 cm long and was built on radio controlled model aircraft wheels.

13.) The Laser Beam Cutter

A tracked mobile high energy laser beam unit capable of cutting through thick metal. A high pressure air device mounted near the cutter is capable of blasting back wreckage. It was seen emerging from Pod #5 in "30 Minutes After Noon."

One of the few pod vehicles constructed as a full puppet sized prop! The smaller 1/24th scale one that emerges from the TB2 pod was about 10 inches/ 25 cm long and it incorporated the same toy track assembly used in the Monobrake.

14.) The Rescue Pack Vehicle

A small tracked vehicle with a mortar in the front capable of shooting specially packaged rescue equipment to otherwise inaccessible persons. Used in "Edge of Impact" to shoot jet-packs to two technicians trapped at the top of an imperiled TV transmitter tower.

[Note: A few TB2 pod vehicles were seen only in comic strip form in TV21 or in the Annuals during the 1960s. For example, the Excavator from the TV21 story "The Hood Makes a Strike." These pod vehicle were NOT shown in the television series.]

Thunderbird 3

Piloted by Alan Tracy.

Specifications: Space Rescue/Shuttle Craft/Thunderbird 5 Ferry
Length: 85.25m/ 280 feet
Diameter: 28.0m/ 92 feet
Top Speed (chemical rocket): 25,000+ mph/ 40,234+ kph (Some sources state 20,000 mph/ 32,187 kph, although 25,000 mph/ 40,234 kph is required to break free of Earth's gravity.)
Power Plant: Atomic Pile
Propulsion: Chemical Rocket (Take-off), Particle Accelerators (Space)
Crew: One, Alan Tracy

The red-colored Thunderbird 3 (TB3) is the resident land-to-space rescue vessel. Located under the suntrap Round House, the silo housing TB3 is the farthest from the Tracy home, likely due to the engine output (noise, exhaust) emitted during take-off. The method of approach differs accordingly, but the few minutes longer taken by the astronaut provides time for a full briefing on the mission as well as the necessary preflight preparations required for launch. Like the others, the launch bay is compact and businesslike, function being the keynote of design.

Alan is the usual pilot of TB3, but John is also familar with the craft and uses it regulary when changing shifts on TB5 with Alan. Whilst on board the crew and passengers are protected from meteor showers and cosmic storms by the twin-walled hull around the cabin area and the accomodation quarters.

TB3 is well equipped for space rescue missions. The atomic pile generators, particle accelerator propulsion and life support systems are capable of sustaining TB3 and its crew for the lengthy space voyages that must be endured. Maneauvreablity in space is provided by retro rockets, pitch-and-yaw jets and a centrally mounted fly wheel assembly that allows economical course corrections to be made without burning valuable fuel.

Sophisticated sensors, accelerometers, computers and communications ensure that Alan or John are fully aware of conditions inside and outside the craft. Docking with TB5 is fully automated as is re-entry, descent and the vertical landing back into the silo.

[Note: When John Tracy and Alan Tracy would exchange monitoring duties at TB5, John would pilot TB3.]

Thunderbird 4

Piloted by Gordon Tracy.

Specifications: Rescue Submarine
Power Plant: Twin Atomic Generators (Main), Atomic Pile
Propulsion: Turbo Drive, Jet Engines (Surface cruising)
Top Speed: ?
Crew: One, Gordon Tracy

The Thunderbird 4 (TB4) is a bright orange-yellow mini submarine which was carried into action most often within Thunderbird 2's pod #4. (TB4 was dropped from low altitude into the water.) TB4 then fired a battery of rocket tubes to power out of the TB2 pod and into the ocean, where TB4's Turbo Drive propulsion system took over. Port and starboard mounted jet engines provided propulsion for surface cruising. It was also capable of independent underwater launchings from the end of the Tracy Island runaway, as seen in "Terror in New York City." TB4 was used to perform underwater rescue operations in "Operation Crash Dive", "Day of Disaster", "The Man from MI5", etc.

Several different versions of TB4 were constructed for filming in "Thunderbirds." They varied to a great degree in overall contour, ranging in size from 3 inches to 13 inches to 20 inches. All of these miniatures were made from fiberglass and had small plasticine figures of Gordon Tracy in the cockpit and working lights incorporated into the forward trough. Large scale sections were built of the nose (to film rescue tools in operation) and cockpit areas.

TB4 is equipped with extensive underwater rescue equipment mounted in the nose of the craft behind the adjustable high powered lighting trough. The equipment includes a missile tube (commonly used for underwater demolition) and three hydraulic rams one of which carries interchangeable tool heads. A telescopic "Autolock" provides an exit for Gordon when he has to leave the craft whilst underwater.

The pilots seating position provides a wide view of the area around the craft and this is further enhanced by the centrally mounted TV monitor which relays information back to him.

Thunderbird 5

Manned by John Tracy and Alan Tracy (via duty shift rotations).

Specifications: Space Station/Communications Satelite
Power Plant: Atomic Pile, Atomic Batteries
Crew: One, John Tracy

In geostationary orbit high above the Pacific Ocean is International Rescue's space station Thunderbird 5 (TB5). Crewed by John Tracy, TB5 features sophisticated communications equipment that allows TB5 to simultaneously monitor all transmissions made from earth. Automatic translators and filters ensure that any distress calls from around the planet are immediately identified.

TB5 is divided into three levels: the power deck, on the lower level houses the battery units; the center deck contains the communications equipment and living quarters; the upper deck contains a multi-layered astrodome, astral monitoring equipment and video-linked telescopes.

The space station's position over the Pacific ensures that it is in contact with Tracy Island 24 hours a day, whilst the anti-radar devices in the ring around the station keep its location secret. Also located in the ring are the magnetic pole unit and the plasma core localised field meteor deflector. A twin hull construction filled with coagulant compound protects the station from micro-meteor punctures.

TB5 is serviced by Thunderbird 3; Alan Tracy provides relief for John every other month. Docking with TB3 is fully computerized and the station carries fuel and supplies for TB3. Accommodations for several people are available.

The top mounted astrodome features a state-of-the-art telescope which John uses for his study of the stars during quiet periods. In fact, John has made astronomical discoveries, too, during his lengthy periods on the station!

FAB1

Driven by Aloysius Parker (occasionally driven by Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward).

Specifications: High Performance Passenger Sedan
Type: Rolls Royce Luxury Sedan
Top Speed: 200+ mph/ 322+ kph (estimated)
Power Plant: Classified
Armament: Front Mounted Heavy Machine Gun, Swivel Mounted Laser Beam, Smoke Maker, Wheel Mounted Tire Slashers (6)
Features: Hydrofoils and Vortex-Aquajet Power Pack for travel on water, Retro Pack Air Brakes, Retractable Tyre Studs, Bulletproof Glass
Driver: Aloysius Parker

The shocking pink colored, six-wheeled Rolls Royce is known as FAB1. (The license plate is adorned with "FAB1", too.) This futuristic car was first seen in the premiere episode, "Trapped in the Sky."

Gerry Anderson commented, "(FAB1) was born out of necessity to provide Lady Penelope with transport that reflected her adventurous lifestyle. It needed to be glamorous, but practical and tough at the same time. Bearing in mind her personality, and the role she played in International Rescue, it could only be a Rolls Royce."

The design of Lady Penelope's car FAB1 has been officially approved by Rolls Royce. Within the "Thunderbirds" universe, the main power unit is still listed as classified and no details are currently available. Speeds in excess of 200 mph/ have been attained but it is certain that this is only a modest estimate of the engines' true potential.

A notable feature of FAB1 are the four front wheels. These have been incorporated into the design to accommodate the weight of the power unit and the retractable heavy machine gun which is controlled and sighted from the drivers seat and fires through the main grill.

Rear vision for the driver is via a dashboard mounted TV monitor relaying pictures from a concealed boot mounted camera. TV transmitters and receiver, UHF and Neutroni radio ensure that FAB1 is able to contact International Rescue at all times. The communications equipment is all controlled from inside the air conditioned, leather clad luxury of the car.

To enable easy parking and maneuvering, all six wheels rotated. The gull wing and drop-down doors allowed safe and easy access to the vehicle.

The car sported a plethora of armaments and defensive capabilities. During the design process, Gerry visited a manufacturing factory for car armor protection for research!

FAB2

Piloted by ??

No specifications available, as of this writing.

FAB2 is Lady Penelope's yacht. It was seen once in the episode, "The Man from M.I. 5." Interestingly, Parker loses FAB2 while gambling!

FAB3

Rode by Lady Penelope

FAB 3 is Lady Penelope's prize-winning race horse. A fixture at Ascot, she and the horse have won the Derby several times.

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7.1 Were actual toys and model kits used as background vehicles in Thunderbirds?

Yes. The background vehicle props seen in "Thunderbirds" generally fall into three categories:

  1. Die cast cast metal toys as were manufactured by Matchbox, Dinky, and Corgi.
  2. Model kits from such makers as AMT, Monogram, and others.
  3. Scratch built models, usually where large-scale or custom designed vehicles were required.

By far, the most numerous of these three types were the small scale die cast metal variety.

Seen during the opening credits of every "Thunderbirds" episode, in the scene depicting Thunderbird 1 landing at London Airport in "Trapped in the Sky," is the Matchbox model M-9 'Inter-State Double Freighter'. This distinctive vehicle appears in many "Thunderbirds" episodes, sometimes with both trailers attached, sometimes with only one trailer, sometimes as just the tractor. The original Cooper-Jarrett yellow arrow on the trailers is normally covered with a black arrow, sometimes with a number in the center and/or with 'BAOC' or 'Air Freight' lettering. The tractor is occasionally seen with a flashing red rooftop beacon.

Another often seen and occasionally disguised vehicle from the 'Major Pack' line of Matchbox toys is the model M-1 'B.P. Autotanker'. Examples of this sleek 8-wheeled yellow and green truck may be noticed in various "Thunderbirds" scenes that take place at London Airport, at the site of the bogus rescue attempt in 'The Impostors', and at other locations where it may sometimes be noticed painted red and customized to appear as a fire tender. One such barely visible example of this is on the left hand edge of the recent Pro-Set "Thunderbirds" picture card number 019. This same scene appears much enlarged and expanded in the 1968 "Thunderbirds Annual" where it was used to illustrate the story "Four Hours To Eternity."

In this same photograph, just behind Thunderbird 2, may be seen a Corgi model 219 'Plymouth Sports Suburban'. To the right of the customized 'B.P. Autotanker' we see the Matchbox model 63 'Fire Fighting Crash Tender' and farther left, beyond the edge of the Pro Set card, but visible in the 1968 "Thunderbirds Annual," is the Matchbox model 29 'Fire Pumper'.

In 'Path of Destruction', at the base of the San Martino dam, appears the Matchbox 'Fire Pumper' and 'Inter-State Double Freighter'. There is also the Matchbox model 3 'Bedford Tipper Truck', model 11 'Jumbo Crane', model 70 'Grit Spreader', model 30 '8-Wheel Crane', and model 69 'Hatra Tractor Shovel'. This last item, a 1/100th scale example just over three inches long, was also released by Matchbox as model K-3 in 1/61st scale and six inches in length. This 'King Sized' example with rear mounted spare tire appears in "The Impostors," driving along the deck of a World Navy aircraft carrier.

In order to supplement a "Thunderbirds" comic strip story by Frank Bellamy in "TV Century 21" numbers 90 through 95, Roger Dicken produced several sculptures of Venusian monsters in plasticine clay which were photographed with Thunderbirds craft. On Somportex color card #33, one of these creatures appears posed with some Matchbox toys, namely model 6 '10-Wheel Quarry Truck', model 18 'Caterpillar Crawler Bulldozer' model 26 'Ready-Mix Concrete Truck', and the model 69 'Hatra Tractor Shovel'. This latter model may also be seen beside the Number 1 Lift Body Hangar at Glenn Field in the "Thunderbirds Are Go!" feature film. Nearby, are parked several examples of Matchbox's model 35 'Snowtrac Tractor.' This vehicle also appears just outside the hangar door of the U.S.A.F. RTL-2 rocket transporter jet in "The Cham Cham." Parked with it are the Matchbox model 70 'Ford Estate Car' and model 22 'Pontiac Grand Prix', among others.

After Thunderbird 2 crashes at Tracy Island in "Terror in New York City," we are afforded the only opportunity to view automobiles at the headquarters of International Rescue. With scaffolding and repair equipment all around the damaged Thunderbird 2 in its hangar, we may see the Matchbox model 59 'Fire Chief Car' beside an as yet unidentified white station wagon which also appears at the rocket launch complex in "Sunprobe" and at the base of the Empire State Building in "Terror in New York City." Beside this vehicle in the latter episode can be seen Matchbox's model 71 'Jeep Pick-Up Truck.'

In addition to vehicles already cited, at London Airport may be seen the Matchbox model 7 'Ford Anglia', model 43 'Hillman Minx'. model 65 'Jaguar 3.8 Sedan', model 55 'Police Car', and an example of the model 59 'Fire Chief Car' repainted in the classic black and white 'panda' police car paint scheme. Among these Matchbox models can be spotted Corgi's model 1120 'Midland Red Motorway Express Coach'. When at New York Central Airport, the Fireflash is greeted by additional Matchbox models such as the model 10 'Sugar Container Truck', model 20 'Taxi Cab', model 25 'B.P Tanker', model 37 'Coca Cola Truck', model 38 'Vauxhall Victor Estate Car', model 40 'Long Distance Bus' and others previously mentioned.

In the "Thunderbirds" episode "Alias Mr. Hackenbacker," at the center of the crash site of Flight D-103, we can see rushing up to the exploding airliner a couple of Matchbox model 29 'Fire Pumpers' with rooftop ladders added, as well as the Matchbox model 14 'Ambulance'. During the crash of Zero X at Craigsville in "Thunderbirds Are Go," we may clearly see the Matchbox model 34 'Volkswagen Camping Car' and model 60 'Morris Pick-Up Truck' as well as other previously cited and others which remain unidentified.

One of the earliest examples is the scene of Thunderbird 1 under police guard at London International Airport in "Trapped in the Sky." In this scene are two 'Buick Rivieras' and an 'Oldsmobile Super 88', all in the classic white and black color scheme with 'POLICE' emblazoned across the front doors and with rooftop light beacons. The car to the left and in the background appears to be the Dinky #001 'Buick Riviera'. Corgi also produced this car, their #245, which was available in several different colors. To the right of this is a repainted Corgi #235 or #237 'Oldsmobile Super 88'. This vehicle was also released by Corgi as the "Man from U.N.C.L.E." 'Thrush Buster' (#479). Almost lost among the background Matchbox vehicles in this scene is the Corgi #1120 'Midland Red Motorway Express Coach.' The 'Buick Riviera' and 'Oldsmobile Super 88' police cruisers turn up in many episodes of "Thunderbirds" at roadblocks, chasing and pulling over speeding motorists, idling on the apron of the runway at Glenn Field, etc. However, they are not the most common choice of automobile by the mid 21st Century police forces or motorists in general.

The most frequently seen die cast metal car in "Thunderbirds" is undoubtedly Corgi's '1959 Ford Thunderbird', either #214 (hardtop) or #215 (convertible). In "City of Fire," for example, the Carter family is driving a white hardtop while the couple which crashes in the underground parking garage is driving in a red convertible. Both cars appear to have been used straight out of the box. Examples of the Corgi '1959 Ford Thunderbird' in various color schemes may be observed throughout the "Thunderbirds" series. Dinky's #005 '1965 Ford Thunderbird' turns up in a number of places as well. One prominent example is creamed by the Zero-X spacecraft as it smashes into Craigsville in "Thunderbirds Are Go!" while another may be spotted at the construction site for Expo 2068 in the "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions" episode by the same name. At the same "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions" location may be clearly seen the Corgi #245 'Buick Riviera', Corgi #438 'Land Rover', and Corgi #1142 'Holmes Wrecker.'

The pair of 'Buick Riviera' police cruisers at Glenn Field in "Thunderbirds Are Go!" are posed near an interesting selection of other die cast models. There is a Corgi #218 'Austin Martin DB4' next to another example of the 'Buick Riviera' police car. Beside it is a Dinky #264 'Ford Fairlane R.C.M.P. Patrol Car'. There are a couple of Corgi #263 'Rambler Marlin Sports Fastbacks', a Corgi #241 'Ghia L6.4' as well as others yet to be identified.

After the Zero X spacecraft has completely trashed Craigsville in "Thunderbirds are Go!" and the fires have subsided, we may see among the debris further die cast models. There is a Corgi #229 'Chevrolet Corvair', a Corgi #437 'Superior Ambulance', and a Dinky #281 'Pathe News Camera Car'. The Corgi 'Superior Ambulance' turns up once again in the photo of Thunderbird 1 above a prison on the cover of "TV Century 21" #115. In the same scene appears the Dinky model #259 'Fire Engine.'

This vehicle shows up in photos of the workshop of the Century 21 film studio and prominently among the background vehicles on a well known "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions" setup photo featuring the SPV, Angel Interceptor, and RTL-2 aircraft. In the same scene appears a couple of Matchbox M-1 'B.P. Autotankers' repainted into fire tender colors, as well as an assortment of automobiles including a Corgi #480 '1959 Chevrolet Impala Yellow Cab.'

The Corgi '1959 Chevrolet Impala' is known to have been released in at least nine different editions; a couple of police cruisers, a couple of taxi cabs, a couple of fire chief cars, and at least three different unmarked sedans. Even Matchbox produced one, #57, a blue and white model which may be seen at the Marineville complex in "Stingray." One of the unmarked Corgi '1959 Chevrolet Impala' sedans can be seen at the dock in the "Joe 90" episode 'Trial at Sea'. At this same location may also be seen the Corgi #245 'Buick Riviera', #437 'Superior Ambulance', #438 'Land Rover', and the #1131 'Carrimore Machinery Carrier.'

By now it should be amply clear that the makers of Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation productions relied heavily on the commercially available die cast vehicle toys of the day to detail miniature sets which depicted life 100 years in the future.

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8.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Base(s) of Operations

There were three bases of operations:

  1. An uncharted island of the Pacific Ocean was the home of the Tracy family (International Rescue) and the "Thunderbirds" ships. The island was known as "Tracy Island." The Thundership ships were stored in subterranean bunkers and hangars and launched via ingenious architecting around the island. Thunderbird 1 launched from under the swimming pool; Thunderbird 2 launched from an elevated ramp, after exiting from a hillside and moving into position; Thunderbird 3 launched from under the round house; and Thunderbird 4 (when not emerging from TB2) launched from the end of the runway into the ocean.
  2. Both Lady Penelope and her butler, Aloysius Parker, maintained residence in England. (FAB1 - the pink-colored Rolls Royce car - was accessible from here.)
  3. Thunderbird 5 served as a observation platform and communications base in near-Earth orbit. Thunderbird 3 was used to ferry between TB5 and Earth.

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9.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Villains

The main nemesis of the Thunderbirds/International Rescue was the Hood, who appeared in the first episode, "Trapped in the Sky." According to his criminal records, the Hood was born 17 July 1989. His history of crime has made him Public Enemy No. 1 in almost every nation around the world. The hefty rewards issued and publicised on International Police video services for his arrest make him the most wanted man on Earth. But the Hood continually manages to evade the lengthy arms of the law.

Within his sinister temple, deep in the heart of the Malayan jungle, the antagonistic Hood laughs scornfully at all efforts to capture him. It is from this building that the man whose sole aim is to acquire wealth no matter what the cost to others, plans and plots his fateful schemes. At his disposal is the greatest array of devices ever made to further the cause of crime - for nothing can be allowed to hinder his criminal operations.

In an underground room at his temple, the Hood keeps a fantastic collection of hoods and masks. There are thousands of them, filling rack after rack, for it is the Hood's amazing ability to change his appearance that has earned him his name and kept him safe from arrest. All the masks have been made by the Hood himself and, working from photographs, he can re-create in rubber any face in a matter of minutes.

One of the greatest interests in the Hood's life are the activities of International Rescue and the Thunderbirds machines. He continually schemes to bring about the destruction of International Rescue. In this aim he has the useful but unwitting help of Kyrano, Jeff Tracy's faithful manservant.

Kyrano is the Hood's half-brother, but any similarity ends there. Kyrano is as honest as the Hood is dishonest. Strangely, uncannily, the Hood wields a commanding power over Kyrano, and this is centred around a huge, glass-sided cabinet that stands in the central temple. Within the box is a lifelike dummy of Kyrano. By concentrating his thoughts on this the Hood is able to place Kyrano in a hypnotic trance - even though he may be thousands of miles away. Kyrano is then at his bidding.

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10.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Costumes

TEXT

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11.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Episode Lists

Note: The following refers to the U.K. airings.

SEASON ONE
      Episode  Prod.    Original       Episode Title         
      #        #        Air Date       (U.K./North America/Australia/New Zealand)

1.    1-1      1        30-Sep-1965    Trapped in the Sky
2.    1-2      4        07-Oct-1965    Pit of Peril
3.    1-3      16       06-Jan-1966    City of Fire
4.    1-4      11       09-Dec-1965    Sun Probe
5.    1-5      10       02-Dec-1965    The Uninvited
6.    1-6      14       30-Dec-1965    The Mighty Atom
7.    1-7      13       23-Dec-1965    Vault of Death
8.    1-8      12       16-Dec-1965    Operation Crash-Dive
9.    1-9      20       10-Feb-1966    Move - And You're Dead
10.   1-10     24       17-Mar-1966    Martian Invasion
11.   1-11     22       24-Feb-1966    Brink of Disaster
12.   1-12     5        14-Oct-1965    The Perils Of Penelope
13.   1-13     2        21-Oct-1965    Terror in New York City
14.   1-14     3        25-Nov-1965    End of the Road
15.   1-15     5        04-Nov-1965    Day of Disaster
16.   1-16     7        28-Oct-1965    Edge of Impact
17.   1-17              18-Nov-1965    Desperate Intruder
18.   1-18     9        11-Nov-1965    30 Minutes After Noon
19.   1-19     15       13-Jan-1966    The Imposters
20.   1-20     17       20-Jan-1966    The Man From M.I.5
21.   1-21     18       27-Jan-1966    Cry Wolf
22.   1-22     19       03-Feb-1966    Danger at Ocean Deep
23.   1-23     21       17-Feb-1966    The Duchess Assignment
24.   1-24     23       10-Mar-1966    Attack of the Alligators
25.   1-25     25       24-Mar-1966    The Cham-Cham
26.   1-26     26       31-Mar-1966    Security Hazard
 

SEASON TWO
      Episode  Prod.    Original       Episode Title         
      #        #        Air Date       (U.K./North America/Australia/New Zealand)

27.   2-1      27       02-Oct-1966    Atlantic Inferno
28.   2-2      28       09-Oct-1966    Path of Destruction
29.   2-3      29       16-Oct-1966    Alias Mr Hackenbacker
30.   2-4      30       23-Oct-1966    Lord Parker's 'Oliday
31.   2-5      32       06-Nov-1966    Ricochet
32.   2-6      31       25-Dec-1966    Give or Take a Million

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12.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Episode Synopses/Tidbits

The following is a detailed listing of classic "Thunderbirds" episode descriptions and interesting tidbits (trivia/information).

1. Trapped In The Sky

An atomic supersonic jetliner has been sabotaged by the villainous Hood, who wants to study International Rescue (I.R.) in Action! Can I.R. save hundreds of lives (including Tin Tin, who's aboard the jet!) from nuclear death while also thwarting the Hood's evil schemes?

2. Pit Of Peril

Men's lives and military technology are both on the line when a top secret Army transport vehicle disappears beneath the ground. International Rescue must execute an ingenious but incredibly dangerous operation.

3. City Of Fire

A devastating fire breaks out, trapping a family below a raging inferno. Scott and Virgil must face overwhelming odds - including the unknown side-effects of oxyhydnite gas! - to rescue the family before the entire area explodes!

4. Sunprobe

A research space ship, thrown off-course, is headed for a fiery collision with the sun! As the temperature climbs, Alan and Scott race to the rescue in the space-faring Thunderbird 3. Will Brains's new technology and the pilots' courage be enough to save the probe?

5. The Uninvited

Scott has been dispatched in Thunderbird 1 to rescue a pair of archaeologists who've become stranded in the desert. Little does he suspect they've stumbled into the secret pyramid lair of the mysterious and hostile Zombites!

6. The Mighty Atom

The villainous Hood will stop at nothing to learn the secrets of International Rescue - even if that means destroying a nuclear reactor! However, the Mighty Atom he seeks is actually a miniature automatic spy camera cunningly disguised as a tiny rat!

7. The Vault Of Death

A Bank of England employee has become trapped in the world's most secure vault! Time-and the air-is running out! Will the Thunderbird's advanced rescue technology be enough, or will they need to rely on the more traditional skills of ex-safecracker Parker?

8. Operation: Crashdive

A second supersonic Fireflash airliner has mysteriously crashed! Thunderbirds 1, 2 and 4 have been dispatched to rescue the crew and investigate the cause. Will Scott, Virgil and Gordon's courage and wits be enough to save the Fireflash program?

9. Move... And You're Dead

Alan and Grandma Tracy have been stranded on a bridge alongside a sonice wave generator connected to a time bomb! If they move, they die. Can Brains disable the bomb long distance? And can Scott track down Alan's murderous competitor?

10. Martian Invasion

A pair of actors are trapped under the collapsed set of a Sci-Fi film. Scott and Virgil in Thunderbords 1 and 2 race to the rescue, unaware that the evil Hood has hypnotically forced faithful Kyrano to disable the photodetector on Thunderbird 1!

11. Brink of Disaster

On Lady Penelope's advice, International Rescue has been investigating a development scam. Now, Jeff Tracy, Brains and Tin-Tin are aboard the crooks' mono-train, which is about to collapse, while the villians break into Lady Penelope's mansion!

12. The Perils of Penelope

Lady Penelope, investigating the disappearance of an accomplished scientist, has also been kidnapped! How far will the villians go to learn the scientist's secrets? Will Penelope pay the price for his silence? Or will Virgil and Gordon arrive in time?

13. Terror In New York City

An operation to move the Empire State Building has gone terribly wrong. Two journalists are trapped in a subterranean cavern between the collapsed building and the rising waters of an uncharted underground river! With Thunderbird 2 out of action and Virgil injured, can Scott and Gordon reach the journalists before they meet their final deadline?

14. End Of The Road

Eddie Houseman has risked his life to save his construction company. Too close when he fired explosive charges, his tractor now teeters on the edge of a crumbling mountain trail. One of I.R.'s most difficult operations is made more complicated - Eddie knows the Tracy family personally! If he sees his rescuer's faces, the supersecret identity of the Thunderbirds will be blown forever!

15. Day Of Disaster

While being moved to its launch site, a slight miscalculation has dumped the Martian Space Probe Rocket into the Allington River, activating the automatic launch countdown! It's up to Gordon in the submersible Thunderbird 4, and Brains in the Suspension Bridge Control Centre, to clear the debris trapping the rocket and free the engineers trapped inside!

16. Edge Of Impact

When the Red Arrow fighter plane crashes into its launch site on its test flight, Colonel Tim Casey is removed from the project and pays an unexpected visit to his close friends on Tracy Island. Now a second Red Arrow has crashed into a television relay tower, and International Rescue must find a way to save the operatives in the tower without exposing their secret to Colonel Casey!

17. Desperate Intruder

The Hood has learned that Brains and Tin-Tin have joined Professor Blakely on a treasure-hunting expedition, and is determined to steal the treasure! The expedition has not reported in, so Jeff has dispatched Scott, Virgil and Gordon in Thunderbirds 1 and 2 to the scene, where they've all walked into the Hood's hypnotic trap!

18. 30 Minutes After Noon

The Erdman gang has found an explosive technique for getting what it wants - and it wants plutonium! International Rescue, working with The British Security Service, has to rescue one of the gang's victims from an elevator inferno, and then race against a time bomb to prevent a massive plutonium theft!

19. The Impostors

Two crooks have posed as International Rescue operatives to steal top secret missile plans, and now I.R. is the subject of an international manhunt! Will the help of undercover operatives Lady Penelope, Parker and the Hillbilly agent Jeremiah Tuttle tip the scales of justice back in the Thunderbirds' favour?

20. The Man From M.I. 5

Lady Penelope has joined M.I. 5 agent Bondson in a top-secret effort to recover stolen plans to a nuclear weapon! Courageously setting herself out as bait, Penelope has been kidnapped. Will Scott, Virgil and Gordon, using the awesome capabilities of Thunderbirds 1, 2 and 4, be able to free her before her boathouse prison explodes?

21. Cry Wolf

Young Tony and Bob Williams have unwittingly called out International Rescue while playing, and the publicity surrounding their "rescue" has brought the attention of the villainous Hood to their father's secret government project. Will International Rescue answer the boys new cries for help, or think they're simply crying wolf?

22. Danger At Ocean Deep

Six months after the unexplained destruction of Ocean Pioneer I, Ocean Pioneer II is sailing toward disaster! Mysterious radio blackouts have led Brain to trace the cause to a chemical reaction about to be duplicated! Thunderbirds 1 and 2 race to rescue the ill-fated crewman before their craft explodes!

23. The Duchess Assignment

Lady Penelope's dear friend the Duchess of Royston has been cheated at a casino and is now bankrupt but for a precious painting. Having agreed to rent it to an American collector, she's now been kidnapped by two crooks. Only Lady Penelope's quick thinking - and Scott's fast flying - can save her!

24. Attack Of The Alligators

Theramine, a food additive that greatly increases the size of livestock, has been dumped into the Ando River! Now inventor Dr. Orchard and his guests are endangered and only the courage of Alan, Gordon, Scott and Virgil can save them from ravenous giant alligators!

25. The Cham-Cham

Three U.S. Air Force transporters are shot down, and Alan notices that before each one was attacked, the Cass Carnaby Five were performing live, broadcasting their chart-topping hit "Dangerous Game." Brains listens to the broadcasts in an attempt to unravel the mystery, while Lady Penelope is sent to infiltrate the band.

26. Security Hazard

Thunderbirds 1 and 2 sit unguarded in a field while the Tracy boys are helping fight a refinery fire. Chip, a local boy, sneaks aboard Thunderbird 2 and stows away to Tracy Island. Getting Chip home - without compromising International Rescue security - becomes the mission of the day.

27. Atlantic Inferno

With Jeff on vacation, Scott is left in charge. When a World Navy training exercise goes awry, an offshore gas rig is threatened with destruction and Scott has a series of difficult decisions to make.

28. Path Of Destruction

The crew of a giant Crablogger is incapacitated by food poisoning, and the massive, nuclear-powered machine is out of control in a Mexican forest, blazing a trail of destruction through the town of San Martino and heading for a nearby dam.

29. Alias Mr. Hackenbacker

Lady Penelope is in Paris to help designer François Lemaire with his latest fashion show. When she discovers that he is being spied on, she suggests that the event move aboard Skythrust, a new plane designed by Brains. But his rivals are ready, and the high-flying show comes to earth with a crash.

30. Lord Parker's 'Oliday

On holiday in Italy, Lady Penelope and Parker find themselves in a hot spot. The solar dish that provides Monte Bianco with electricity is toppled in an electrical storm -- and its powerful reflector ends up aimed directly at the town. If it can't be moved before sunrise, Monte Bianco will burn down.

31. Ricochet

When a rogue missle is exploded in space, the detonation damanges KLA, a pirate television station. As KLA's orbit deteriorates, its staff broadcasts a plea for help. Unfortunately, Thunderbird 5's sensors are temporarily disabled. Will International Rescue be able to respond in time?

32. Give Or Take A Million

International Rescue is working with the Coralville Children's Hospital to raise money for the hospital's new solartherapy wing. Meanwhile, a pair of bank robbers have decided taking is better than giving or receiving, and Brains is working on a way to give Tracy Island a white Christmas

Unofficial episodes: Documentaries

Brains Behind Thunderbirds

Get the inside scoop on "Thunderbirds" from the ultimate authority - Brains. Filled with classic clips and unforgettable moments, this brand-new program introduces the incredible Thunderbirds vehicles, the Tracy family, the other members of the International Rescue team and their nemesis - the evil Hood.

The Making of Thunderbirds

Filmed in 1965, this rearely-seen black and white documentary goes behind the scenes with Gerry Anderson, exposing the secrets of Super-Mationation, getting a close-up look at the mighty Thunderbirds machines and showing how the sensational special effects were accomplished. Exclusive clips and interviws with the production crew make this a fascinating treat for "Thunderbirds" fans.

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13.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Movies

Two "Thunderbirds" motion pictures were made in the 1960s by 21st Century Productions, with distribution by MGM/UA.

Feature Movies

   Release Date         Title
 
   12-Dec-1966	 	Thunderbirds Are Go
   29-Jul-1968	 	Thunderbird 6

Sir Lew Grade of ITC made the suggestion to Gerry Anderson to take "Thunderbirds" to the big screen. The result: "Thunderbirds Are Go!" The production budget was set at 250,000 pounds and began in 1966. The movie premiered at the London Pavilion, Picadilly Circus on Monday, 12 December 1966. The media gave positive reports, primarily citing the technical merits and the special effects. However, despite the glitz and glamour of opening night, the Christmas release date and the positive press, the movie performed poorly at the box office. Gerry Anderson has never been able to understand why the movie failed in such a way.

The film "Thunderbirds Are Go" was not officially released in the U.S. until 30 years after its British premiere; MGM/UA issued it on video. It has, however, had arthouse and Saturday matinee screenings in some cities.

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13.1 Thunderbirds Are Go plot synopsis/tidbits

"Thunderbirds Are Go!" told of the first manned space mission to Mars and the perils faced prior to the successful launch of the spacecraft Zero-X, as well as the dangers encountered on Mars and the craft's return to Earth. "STREAK THROUGH UNCHARTED WORLDS OF ADVENTURE!" was one of the marketing taglines. Gerry explains, "Believability was always my aim, no matter how outrageous or bizarre the story lines might appear. At that time, in the Sixties, there was a general feeling that the planets were just within our grasp. And, of all the planets, the one most people thought might possibly sustain life was Mars."

Classic "Thunderbirds" special effects supervisor Derek Meddings also worked on "Thunderbirds Are Go!". Many of the effects were more complex than anything previously produced, including within the TV series. The Zero-X spacecraft model, for example, measured 7 feet/ 2.13 meters in length, weighed 50 lbs./ 23 kg. and took two months to construct. Yet, the destruction sequence took just two days to film. (A Cortex explosive, along with naptha, gunpowder, magnesium and petrol gels, were used to create a convincing fireball.)

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13.2 Thunderbird 6 plot synopsis/tidbits

"DOUBLE-CROSS... DOUBLE DANGER... TRIPLE THRILLS!"

"Stand by for another action-packed adventure of the amazing International Rescue team! There's excitement, mystery and thrills ahead as the world-famous electronic puppets are faced with a plot to steal their fabulous fleet of rescue craft."

The trouble begins when Rescue Team member Alan Tracy sets out on a holiday with Lady Penelope, Parker and Tin-Tin. Once aboard Skyship One, they discover that their quarters are bugged. Operation ambush is under way, and Alan soon learns that a phony message has sent Thunderbirds One and Two, piloted by his brothers Scott and Virgil, flying straight into a trap in Casablanca! Back at International Rescue Headquarters, multi-millionaire Jeff Tracy and his assistant, Brains, are trying to develope a new Thunderbird craft to add to their impressive machinery. But this is put on hold when they must come up with a plan to avert disaster - fast! How will they rescue the hostages aboard Skyship One, save the Thunderbirds and bring the criminals to justice? You'll love finding out in every action-packed minute of this thrilling airborne adventure. So buckle up and take-off - with Thunderbird 6!

Despite the disappointment of "Thunderbirds Are Go!" at the box office Lew Grade and United Artists were game to commission a second movie, titled "Thunderbird 6." Production was run in parallel with the "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions" series with Gerry Anderson focusing primarily on the movie but keeping an overview of the production of the TV series. The "Thunderbird 6" script took three months to complete, the dialogue took six days to record, while the actual filming ran for 35 weeks. The best of the original "Thunderbirds" puppets were selected for the movie and given a quick sanding down, a re-paint and, in some cases, a re-wigging to smarten them up. The final budget was 300,000 pounds.

A full size FAB1 was also constructed at a cost of 11,000 pounds for promotion of the film and toured Britain accompanied by Lady Penelope look-alike, Penny Snow.

"Thunderbird 6" premiered on July 29 1968 at the Odeon Cinema, London, but again like the first movie, it performed poorly at the cinema - doing even worse than "Thunderbirds Are Go!" Once again, Gerry Anderson was at a loss to explain why simply saying, "Perhaps, at the time television was television and cinema was cinema. For some reason, we had produced a great success for television, but that success didn't translate to the big screen."

"Thunderbird 6" featured one of the most intricate shots ever produced for the Supermarionation series when Thunderbirds 1, 2 and 6, along with FAB1, travel in convoy. A set was specially constructed and ran the length of the Slough studio floor.

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13.3 What happened to the voice of the original Virgil Tracy character within the movies? (Actor David Holliday)

David Holliday had departed from "Thunderbirds" TV production previously and was not asked to participate in the movies. The reason for the departure of voice artist David Holliday from the highly-successful "Thunderbirds" prior to the last six episodes of the series seems to be cloaked in mystery. Gerry Anderson says that Holliday asked that his contract be renegotiated between shooting blocks of "Thunderbirds" and wanted too much money and perks. Holliday admits he asked for his contract to be renegotiated but says it was because he was offered better paying work and wanted his duties restructured.

In any event, Holliday was released from his contract and actor Jeremy Wilkin (who later went on to provide voices in "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions", "Joe 90", and "The Secret Service" plus the Skydiver navigator in "UFO") took over the role of Virgil Tracy for the final block of "Thunderbirds" episodes and the two classic "Thunderbirds" movies. Holliday today is alive and well and living in the U.S., making a living primarily as a stage actor, especially in musicals.

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13.4 What kind of craft was Thunderbird 6?

Thunderbird 6 was a yellow-colored Tiger Moth biplane which participated in the rescue mission during "Thunderbird 6." At the end of the film, Brains announces that it is Thunderbird 6. A "6" is seen (painted) on the rear fin.

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13.5 Didn't the Thunderbird 6 production experience legal issues?

Yes. A puppet-size model of Thunderbird 6 was made along with several radio controlled models and shots of these were integrated with the actual flying scenes of a real Tiger Moth aircraft. Joan Hughes, an experienced pilot who had flown in many movies prior to "Thunderbird 6" flew the flying sequences. During filming of one sequence on the newly constructed M40, Joan, along with Production Manager Norman Foster, were arrested after she flew under a bridge. Originally she was to taxi under the bridge, but crosswinds meant she had to keep flying just a foot or so above the ground. Gerry Anderson pleaded to the police that as Producer he should be charged instead. In the end, the jury acquitted them on all charges.

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13.6 Were there other classic Thunderbirds movies?

Various classic "Thunderbirds" episodes were edited together as films and screened in TV syndication under the "Supermarionation Sci-Fi Theatre" title. The re-edited classic "Thunderbirds" TV movies are "Countdown to Disaster" (1981), "Thunderbirds in Outer Space" (1981) and "Thunderbirds to the Rescue" (1981). These movies are NOT related to "Thunderbirds Are Go" or "Thunderbird 6."

A live-action movie from Working Title and Universal debuts in 2004, too. It is unrelated to the classic Supermarionation-based series, as it uses human actors and represents a divergent "Thunderbirds" universe.

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14.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Music

Barry Gray authored the music for "Thunderbirds." (More details forthcoming.)

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14.1 Many Anderson shows have a vocal theme of some sort. Wasn't there one planned for Thunderbirds that wasn't used?

Yes. There were actually plans to replace the reprise of the "Thunderbirds" march over the end credits with a song called "Flying High." Cooler heads prevailed at the last minute and the song was not used during the credits. It does, however, make an appearance in the series' final episode, "Ricochet", on the pirate radio station run by deejay Rick O'Shea.

The lyrics to "Flying High", as heard in the episode "Ricochet", are as follows:

When you left me last night
I was low as a lead balloon
But when you rang me this morning
My heart jumped over the moon

So now I'm flying high
Just like those Thunderbirds men
Flying high
Now that we're together again

When you are not in my arms
I'm a long, long way from Heaven
But now you say that you love me
My heart is doing Mach Seven

So now I'm flying high
It's so wonderful to be alive
Flying high
Just as high as Thunderbird 5

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What other music scores has John Barry created/conducted?

(Details forthcoming.)

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15.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Syndication

In recent years, TechTV (U.S.) has re-broadcast the "Thunderbirds" episodes.

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15.1 Why were the 1994 FOX Network (U.S.) airings cut to 30 minute episodes?

The one hour "Thunderbirds" episodes were edited down to 30 minute (half-hour) shows when aired on the FOX Network (U.S.) in 1994. New music, changed credits, and dialog tracks for its 1994 run on the U.S.-based FOX network has created various debates. In a letter widely circulated on USENET and the FAB-L mailing list, ITC claimed a number of reasons why "Thunderbirds" had to be cut down: Pressure from FOX's Standards and Practices to remove unsavory or inappropriate elements (drinking, smoking, subservient minorities, excessive violence); the short attention span of U.S. children made the hour-long format impractical; the sale in the mid-1980s of the ITC music libraries to U.S. pop star Michael Jackson meant the music and vocal tracks had to be edited out and redubbed with new voices and music; the credits after all the edits were made were simply inappropriate to the new show.

There is much evidence to the contrary to counter ITC's assertions that these were the reasons "Thunderbirds" was cut: Airings on The SCI-FI Channel (U.S.) cable network of "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions" (one of Anderson's most violent shows) and "Stingray" (where all the characters smoke and drink in several scenes) and the "Thunderbirds" films on the TNT cable network (U.S.), all of which also used the ITC music and vocal tracks, were left reasonably unmarked (cut only for time constraints and commercial breaks); much of the Anderson library, including "Thunderbirds", had run in their original format on the BBC only a year earlier and had been released on laserdisk in Japan, also in their original format; computer technology has made scene-editing to remove undesired elements almost embarrassingly easy, meaning cigarettes and wine glasses could have been looped out without much effort. There has been some debate on USENET and the FAB-L about whether the cutting for time compression of "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions" and "Stingray" on the SCI-FI Channel does not qualify as "editing", which is why SFC is able to get away with running the episodes with their original tracks, versus FOX's desire for more substantial edits creating "new use" of the footage that meant the vocal tracks had to be removed; much of that debate, however, is pure speculation. More than likely, the decision was a business one, done to maximize profits, and we shall never know the true reasons behind the dramatic editing done to "Thunderbirds."

By the way, the FOX editing was not the last editing done to "Thunderbirds" to "bring it to a new generation," as ITC has repeatedly excused its cuts of the series. A completely reworked version of the FOX edits was made for the "Amazin' Adventures" syndicated package of childrens shows running on affiliates of the U.S.-based United Paramount Network (UPN). The new version, which includes live-action footage of two teens at "Hacker Command" (a.k.a. Thunderbird 5) "controlling" action in "Thunder-World", is called "Turbocharged Thunderbirds" and began running in late 1994 and was withdrawn from syndication in mid-1995. Of considerable interest in the "Turbocharged Thunderbirds" version is the inclusion of some of the footage FOX found objectionable, particularly puppets smoking and some rather violent explosions.

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16.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Toys and Merchandise

(Further details are forthcoming.)

Simple High Speed Elevator Car kits were included with Bandai and Imai's standard Thunderbird 2 model kits first available during the 1960s and then reissued in the 1980s and 1990s. A more sophisticated model kit was available as a Furuta Thunderbirds Part 3 candy premium. Toy versions were included with Bandai's recent DX Thunderbird 2, their boxed die cast metal TB2 with 11 pod vehicle gift set, and their "System Up" accessory set for the separately purchased die cast metal TB2.

Imai produced a crude spring powered model kit of the TB2-based Recovery Vehicle in the late 1960s which was later reissued during the 1980s and early 1990s. A tiny kit was included in a three piece Imai TB2 pod vehicle set and also in Imai's TB2 "Full Container" model kit. Another simple Recovery Vehicle kit was included as a sort of premium in one of Imai's larger TB2 model kits. Bandai, Furuta, and Morinaga of Japan produced premium model kits in authentic and deformed varieties which came with their candy products during the early 1990s. Bandai's DX Thunderbird 2 toy came with a small Recovery Vehicle toy and smaller versions came packed with Bandai's die cast TB2 gift set and the "System Up" package. Bandai also did at least one battery operated toy during the 1960s or early 1970s.

The Jet Mole had to be the favorite Thunderbird 2 pod vehicle of the Japanese hobbyists/fans. They call it the Jet Mogura! Several different sized model kits of the Jet Mole were produced in Japan as proper model kits and candy premium model kits over the years by Imai, Bandai, Morinaga, and Furuta. Bandai produced a die cast metal and plastic Jet Mole toy and a great battery operated DX Jet Mole during the early 1990s. Several different die cast metal and plastic Jet Mole toys were made in Japan by Bandai, Popy, and Grip during the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s.

A tiny transmitter truck kit was included in an Imai TB2 pod vehicle set and the same kit was incorporated into their TB2 "Full Container" kit. Bandai also included a small Transmitter Truck toy with their die cast TB2 gift set and the "System Up" accessory set.

A tiny Drilling and Crushing Excavator kit was included with Imai's Special/HGV Thunderbird 2 model kit. An even smaller and cruder version was included in one of Imai's pod vehicle model kit sets and was also in Imai's TB2 "Full Container" kit. A small but highly detailed toy was included in Bandai's die cast TB2 gift set and in the "System Up" accessory set.

Imai produced a very poor quality wind-up model kit of the Firefly. Bandai also provided a small slightly deformed rubber Firefly in their Thunderbirds The Best candy premium series. A tiny version was included in a Bandai TB2 pod vehicle set and also in the TB2 "Full Container" kit. Bandai included a nice little Firefly with their DX TB2 toy and also a much smaller version in their TB2 gift set and "System Up" set.

Many different toys and model kits have been available of TB4 over the years. Imai, Bandai, and Lincoln International did proper model kits during the 1960s, 1980s, and 1990s. Kelloggs, Smith's Crisps, Boots, Gurico, Bandai, Morinaga, and Furuta did premium kits during the 1960s and early 1990s. Bandai, Popy, Grip, J. Rosenthal, and Matchbox, did die cast metal and plastic TB4 toys during the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Too many to list!

A small kit of the TB2 Rescue Pack Vehicle was included in an Imai pod vehicle kit and also in the TB2 "Full Container" kit. A small toy was included with Bandai's die cast TB2 gift set and also with their "System Up" accessory set.

Strangely enough, this pod vehicle was produced as a tiny pod vehicle by Imai to fit their standard TB2 kit. It was also included in their TB2 "Full Container" kit. A clockwork powered model was also produced by Imai as well as a larger battery operated version. Both were reissued as late as the early 1990s. A small toy version of the Excavator was included in the Bandai die cast TB2 gift set and also in the "System Up" accessory set. A completely fictional Thunderbirds pod vehicle was dreamed up by Imai in the form of the Thunderbird 7 model kit. This strange looking tracked vehicle appeared to be a missile launching platform. The kit was first produced in the late 1960s but was reissued recently. Another sort-of pod vehicle is the Thunderbird 6 Tigermoth biplane featured in the 1968 Thunderbirds 6 feature film. This was also produced in toy and model kit form in a variety of sizes by Imai and Bandai.

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16.1 How popular have classic Thunderbirds toys been?

According to "Science Fiction and Fantasy Modeler" magazine correspondent Marc Frattasio, the popularity of "Thunderbirds" in the U.K. is best illustrated by at least one report in the London newspapers around 1990 that a sexual bribe was offered in return for the privilege of purchasing examples of the Matchbox "Thunderbirds" toys which were then in very limited availability in stores.

In another case, Sylvia Anderson reported that she was accosted while shopping by a clerk who wanted to know why she couldn't find a Tracy Island playset for her child!In past years, some of the best-selling Christmas holiday presents in the U.K. have been Tracy Island toy set and "Thunderbirds" toy rescue ships. During the Halloween season, "Thunderbirds" character costumes are readily available.

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16.2 What toy/model reference guides exist?

For the model builder, there are two modeling magazines that publish material about the Anderson models frequently. To find out more about these magazines, send a SASE or SAE and two IRCs to:

SCIENCE FICTION MODELER
Greg Martin, Publisher
15 Bovey Street
North Mackay, Queensland
4740
Australia
mred@(nospam)ozemail.com.au

SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY MODELER
Mike Recchia, Publisher
57 Lynwood Avenue
Clayton LeMoors
Near Accrington
Lancashire
BB5-5RR
United Kingdom

Japanese merchandising of Andersonalia is extensive. "Science Fiction and Fantasy Modeler" magazine writer Marc J. Frattasio lists the following books (written for the most part in Japanese) as "superb" sources:

We also recommend: "21st Century Visions: Thunderbirds, Fireball XL5, Supercar, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, Secret Service, Joe 90, UFO" by Derek Meddings and Sam Mitchell. (Paperback - Dragon's World (U.K.) - 1993) (See also: Classic Thunderbirds - Current Availability)

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17.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Special Appearances

The 1991 Dire Straits music video, "Calling Elvis," featured the "Thunderbirds" puppets and vehicles. Gerry Anderson co-produced the video, using the "Thunderbirds" puppets in non-speaking roles throughout the video--which, like most videos, had very little to do with the actual lyrics of the song.

"Thunderbirds" appeared on MTV in another video in 1990; FAB featuring M.C. Parker brought out a single called "Thunderbirds Are Go!" (Telstar Records/Thunda Music), a remix of the "Thunderbirds" theme and promoted on MTV through a clip using snippets from "Thunderbirds" episodes. In the same year the same company brought out an album called "Power Themes 90" which featured remixed versions of "Thunderbirds", "Joe 90", "UFO", "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons", "Space: 1999" and "Stingray" thrmes, plus those from a couple of non-Anderson related TV series. Other clips along the same lines were made for the "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons" remix ("The Mysterons Rap") and "Stingray" (the "Stingray" theme), but were never shown on MTV. The remixes were mostly done by Rod Anderson (no relation) and Jason Mayo, and both record covers sport imagery from various Anderson series.

One other "Thunderbirds" puppet has made a prominent television appearance in recent years: Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward appeared in a dream sequence in the British comedy "Absolutely Fabulous." Sylvia Anderson provided the voice for the puppet (the actual Lady Penelope puppet from "Thunderbirds Are Go") as a favor to old friend Jennifer Saunders, one of the show's creators and stars.

A 1990s-aired Australian Kit-Kat candy bar commercial features "Thunderbirds" Scott Tracy laying back in the seat of Thunderbird One snacking on a Kit-Kat bar as Jeff Tracy calls for a launch.

In 2002, various original "Thunderbirds" puppets, including Lady Penelope and Parker, were auctioned off. And "Thunderbirds" history was made on May 8, 2003 when the only remaining original head of John Tracy, used for the films "Thunderbirds Are Go" and "Thunderbird 6" sold for a record ¬£37,600. Other puppet heads bought at the auction were an original head of Kyrano and that of pilot Virgil Tracy which sold for £11,750 and£18,800 respectively.

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18.0 Classic Thunderbirds - Current Availability

Videos:
At the time of this writing, the following video products were commercially available:

All of the classic "Thunderbirds" episodes are available in DVD and VHS formats. In Region 1 (U.S./Canada), A&E Home Video is the licensee/distributor. In Region 2 (U.K./Europe), Carlton Visual Entertainment Ltd. has DVDs available.

The two movies, "Thunderbird 6" and "Thunderbirds Are Go!" are available on VHS video tape (NTSC format) in Region 1 from MGM/UA Studios. It is also available in the U.K. in both VHS (PAL format) and DVD formats from MGM Home Entertainment.

Television syndication:
In the U.S., the TechTV cable channel began rebroadcasting the show in 2001. In the U.K., from time to time, the BBC rebroadcasts the show. (No other information for other regions is known to the FAQ author.)

Books:
At the time of this writing, the following books were commercially available:

"Thunderbirds (Gerry Anderson) 2004 Calendar" - Slowdazzle (paper wall calendar - June 2003)
"Thunderbirds Secret Files: The Inside Story of International Rescue" - Chris Bentley, Graham Bleathman (Paperback - Carlton Books - September 2003)
"Complete Gerry Anderson" - Chris Bentley (Paperback - Reynolds and Hearn - 31 March 2003) "The Complete Book of Thunderbirds" - Chris Bentley, Gerry Anderson (Introduction) (Paperback - Carlton Books (U.K.) - 28 July 2000)
"Supermarionation Cross-sections" - Graham Bleathman (Hardcover - Carlton Books - 30 September 2001)
"Thunderbirds FAB Cross-sections" - Graham Bleathman (Hardcover - Carlton Books - 28 July 2000)
"Lady Penelope's Secrets (Thunderbirds)" - Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward (Hardcover - Carlton Books - 14 March 2001)
"Yes, M'lady: A Personal Memoir" - Sylvia Anderson, Lord Grade (Introduction) (Paperback - Smith Gryphon - 4 November 1991)
"Thunderbirds Sticker Book" - (Unknown Binding - Carlton Books - 14 March 2001)
"Thunderbirds Bumper Storybook: The Uninvited / Brink of Disaster / Sun Probe / Atlantic Inferno" - Dave Morris (Paperback - Carlton Books - January 2002)
"Thunderbirds: Colouring Book" - (Paperback - Carlton Books (U.K.) - 28 July 2000)
"Thunderbirds are Go!" - (Paperback - Pan Macmillan (U.S.) - 31 January 1992)
"Thunderbirds FAB Annual 2003" - Steve Cole (Paperback - Carlton Books - 2003)
"Thunderbirds FAB Annual 2004" - Steve Cole (Paperback - Carlton Books - 5 August 2002)
"Thunderbirds Classic Comics" - Graham Bleathman (Hardcover - Carlton Books - 2002)
"Thunderbirds Bumper Picture Storybook" - Sally Byford (Paperback - Carlton Books - August 2002)
"The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide" - ?? (?? binding - Reynolds & Hearn - April 2003)
"What Made Thunderbirds Go: The Authorised Biography of Gerry Anderson" - Marcus Hearn (Hardcover - BBC Publications -February 2003)
"Brain's Puzzle Book" - (Paperback - Carlton Books - 28 July 2000)
"21st Century Visions: Thunderbirds, Fireball XL5, Supercar, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, Secret Service, Joe 90, UFO" by Derek Meddings and Sam Mitchell. (Paperback - Dragon's World (U.K.) - 1993)
"The Complete Gerry Anderson Episode Guide" - Adam Pirani (Paperback - Titan Books - 30 November 1989)
"Supermarionation Classics" - Dave Rogers, Gerry Anderson (Hardcover - Pan Macmillan - 15 September 1993)>
"Gerry Anderson's Fab Facts: Behind the Scenes of TV's Famous Adventures in the 21st Century" - Simon Archer (Paperback - HarperCollins (U.S.) - June 1994)
"The Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds Files/International Rescue" - John Peel (Textbook Binding - Borgo Pr - July 1986)
Adaptations of classic "Thunderbirds" episodes for children's books [assorted titles] - Sarah Byford (Paperback - Carlton Books - 2000)

Music:
At the time of this writing, the following music scores were commercially available:

"Thunderbirds" - Barry Gray (Audio CD - Silva America (U.S.) - 25 March 2003)
"Thunderbirds" - Barry Gray (Audio CD - Silva Screen (U.K.) - 24 February 2003)
"Thunderbirds & Other Top Sixties TV Themes, Volume 2" - [various] (Audio CD - Sequel (U.K.) - 1 June 1999)
"Theme to 'The Thunderbirds Are Go'" - Barry Gray (Audio CD - 10 August 1992)
"No Strings Attached: Themes from ATV Television Series" (Original Soundtrack Recordings) - Barry Gray (Composer), Joanne Brown (Performer), Sylvia Anderson (Performer) (Audio CD - Castle [Navarre] - 11 June 2002)
"No Strings Attached" - Barry Gray (Vinyl LP record - Cinephile (U.K.) - 1999)
"Thunderbirds Are Go - TV Themes for Grown-Up Kids" - [various] (Audio CD - Pulse - 5 February 1998)
"Gerry Anderson - Evocation" - [various] (Audio CD - Listen for Pleasure (U.K.) - 1 January 1999)

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19.0 Thunderbirds 2086 - Introduction

"Thunderbirds 2086" is a standalone series from ITC Entertainment Group Ltd. This 1982 television show is more of a tribute to the 1960s television series than a spin off. From the introduction:

"Mankind is ever-expanding the frontiers of technical superiority into areas unknown and uncharted. Each quest promises marvelous discoveries, but each also brings potential danger.

In direct response to the dangers of our advanced technology, we need an organization that is ready to mobilize dramatic survival resources at a moment's notice.

Conceptions in rescue that can challenge the impossible.

The Thunderbirds - five of the finest cadets in the world dedicated to the service of mankind wherever he may be in distress. Combined with a dazzling array of vehicles and equipment designed to specifications in the space-age technology of the 21st Century.

A special rescue squad ready to answer a last-chance distress call, a call that could arrive at any time at any disaster scene on or off this planet.

These are the Thunderbirds 2086!"

Animated and aired in Japan, it was titled "Scientific Rescue Team Technovoyager" (Kagaku kyujotai Technoboyjer), although retitled/dubbed "Thunderbirds 2086" for other regions. In Japan, the series ran April 1982 to September 1982. In the U.S., the series ran on the Showtime cable network and U.S. Prism cable network in 1983. In the U.K., the series debuted in 1986. Each self-contained (no cliffhanger) episode ran 30 minutes. A total of 24 episodes were created, although only 18 episodes aired outside of Japan. The remaining 6 were released on video within Japan.

Aside from the show's title and general set-up, there were no direct references to the original "Thunderbirds" series within "Thunderbirds 2086."

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19.1 Who produced the series?

The show's producer was Banjiro Uemura. He was also the head of ITC Japan; ITC owned the original "Thunderbirds" series. The show was sold to ITC in the U.S. The U.S. version was produced by Robert Mandell. With the help of experienced voice director Peter Fernandez ("Speed Racer", "Marine Boy", "Star Blazers season 3"), was dubbed into English and retitled "Thunderbirds 2086."

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19.2 Is the music different between U.S./U.K. and Japanese versions?

In the U.S./U.K. versions, some of the original music was removed and replaced with music from Barry Gray. (Gray composed the music for the original "Thunderbirds" series.) The series also featured Noboru Ishiguro as one of the directors and Kentaro Haneda as the series's music composer. Both gentlemen would also participate in the Japanimation sci-fi legend, "Macross."

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19.3 When/why was the show canceled?

On 11 September 1982, the episode "Rapid Current - Niagara Dead Fighting!" (called "Star Crusher" in U.S./U.K.) was the last one broadcast in Japan, due to lackluster ratings. The U.S. airings followed in 1983 on the Showtime cable channel and U.S. Prism cable network, although no new episodes were produced. (Interestingly, Showtime had also aired other prior Gerry Anderson productions, such as "Joe 90" during the same period.) "Thunderbirds 2086" was less successful opposite such children-oriented cartoons, as Hasbro's "G.I. Joe" and Filmmation's "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe", when syndicated commercially in 1986 and 1987.

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20.0 Thunderbirds 2086 - Characters

The characters of "Thunderbirds 2086" were neither related, nor bore any resemblance to the Tracy family. Per the premise, in 2066, the World Federation was formed. Twenty years thereafter, a new rescue team known as the Thunderbirds would be used to combat disasters both on or off the Earth. The Thunderbirds operated under the authority of the International Rescue Organization. The core team is comprised of:

Dr. Warren Simpson (Gerard Simpson in the original Japanese version)
Simpson is the Caucasian, silver-haired commander of the Thunderbirds team. He does not participate in actual missions, akin to Jeff Tracy of the classic "Thunderbirds" series. Simpson orchestrates missions from the International Rescue Organization Arcology, the home base for the Thunderbirds team. His nephew, Skipper, resides on the base.

Dylan Beyda (Raiji Hidaka in the original Japanese version)
The black-haired Asia-Pacifican, Beyda, is the youngest and the most daring member of the Thunderbirds team. His extroverted manner revealed a smart, cocky, competitive exterior, while remaining cool, responsible and rational. Beyda is very loyal to both his friends and his Thunderbirds team members. Beyda possess a sense of chivalry, choosing not to shoot or wound an unequally armed villain. He is always sent to the most dangerous mission. He has a younger brother named Danny; his protege is Skipper Simpson. He is flirtatious with women, although he is attracted to Kallan James. Beyda's primary rescue vehicle is the TB-1 (Thunderbird 1).

Jessie Rigel (Eric Jones in the original Japanese version)
Rigel is a thick-accented, red haired, Caucasian cowboy-type from Houston, Texas. His character embodies a strong sense of duty... and one which respects and obeys authority. [Example: On two separate occasions, Dylan Beyda angers Rigel and caused him to threaten a report to Commander Simpson. However, Rigel values his friendship very much and ends up doing a favor for his friends.] Rigel isn't cocky like Beyda. Like fellow Thunderbirds team members, he acts both rationally and intelligently. On many rescue missions, he is paired up with Jonathon Jordan, Jr. as the "Dynamic Duo." Rigel's primary vehicle is the TB-2 (Thunderbird 2).

Jonathon Jordan Jr. (Sammy Edkins Jr. in the original Japanese version)
Known as "J.J.", Jordan is a Jamaican-accented, black member of the team. Jordan is seen as the most relaxed and optimistic member of the Thunderbirds. Jordan sports an exhibitionistic flare, too, as he surfs on his flying board during emergency calls, dancing in discotheques and listening to loud music. Jordan is always paired up with Jesse Rigel as the "Dynamic Duo" of TB-2. His primary vehicle is the TB-2 (Thunderbird 2).

Gran Hansen (Gran Hanson in the original Japanese version)
The silver-haired Hansen appears to be the oldest member of the Thunderbirds team. He is the Thunderbirds team leader during rescue missions. He acts with a professional and rational attitude, believing that teamwork can solve any issue, no matter the cost or situation. Hansen acts as a father figure; he also appears to have a wife and daughter with whom he is estranged. It is safe to say that he loves his family very much, but sadly his family doesn't know it. In various episodes it was never indicated whether he solved his personal problems or not, although it is implicated that he will solve it. His primary vehicle is the TB-3 (Thunderbird 3).

Kallan James (Catherine Heywood in the original Japanese version)
James is the blonde, femme fatale of the Thunderbirds team. She is also the only female character. Her role includes diplomatic services, given her tactful mannerisms. She is also given the task to supervise various emergency projects, plus being sent to missions which require numerous communications. She's perhaps the most caring and concerned member of the team, especially to Dylan, with whom she loves. Her primary vehicle is the submersible TB-4 (Thunderbird 4).

Skipper Simpson (?? in the original Japanese version)
Skipper Simpson is the young nephew of Commander Simpson. Skipper aspires to join the Thunderbirds squad. He looks up to Dylan Beyda as a role model.

General "Star Crusher" (?? in the original Japanese version)
The Thunderbirds' chief antagonist. This evil character is the leader of the Shadow Axis, a group of renegade asteroid miners wishing to break away from Federation control and rule over the entire Solar System. It is theorized that he is either an insane cyborg or extraterrestrial being. (Note his mentions of humans as "Earthmen.")

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21.0 Thunderbirds 2086 - Vehicles/Base(s) of Operations

Unlike Gerry Anderson's classic "Thunderbirds" team that only used 5 primary rescue vehicles, the "Thunderbirds 2086" team had 17 separate vehicles capable of adapting to almost every environment.

1. TB-1 Advanced Space Shuttle
This ship can fly in both the Earth's atmosphere and outer space. I'm not sure whether it can achieve orbit by itself, or requires help from TB-2. It can combine with TB-2 and TB-3. The TB-1 is Dylan Beyda's primary vehicle.

2. TB-2 Hypersonic Transport
A rocket-shaped ship, with both atmosphere and outer space capabilities. The TB-2 is able to achieve orbit by itself. It can combine with TB-1 and TB-3. The TB-2 is Jesse Rigel's and J.J.'s primary vehicle.

3. TB-3 Ground Operations Vehicle
A giant-sized, yellow-colored rover with hover capabilities. The TB-3 requires the assistance of TB-2 to reach distant places. TB-3 can combine with TB-1 and TB-2 simultaneously, too. The TB-3 is Grant Hansen's primary vehicle.

4. TB-4 Submarine
A large yellow-colored submarine equipped with both periscopes and a windshield (watershield?). It can go as fast as 60 knots under water and into great ocean depths. Only the TB-14 can go deeper than this sub. The TB-4 is Kallan James's primary vehicle.

5. TB-5 Subterranean Vehicle
This vehicle is transported to danger areas using the TB-2. It has a turbo drill which can make a tunnel across a huge mountain very quickly.

6. TB-6 Space Station
This silver-colored space outpost in Earth orbit is described as a floating city. It houses some of the International Rescue space operations vehicles, notably the TB-17. It also houses U.N Space Colonization Program and Weather Control Service.

7. TB-7 Single Seat Jet
A high-speed, dart-like shaped jet. The vehicle is placed inside the wings of TB-1 or inside TB-2's large cargo bay. It has remote control capability which makes this ship act as a drone.

8. TB-8 VTOL Jet
This unit seems to be a single seat VTOL jet. It was shown only in one episode ("Shockwave"). It was placed in the wings of TB-1 and has remote control capability, similar to TB-7.

9. TB-9 Walker
A single seat, mechanical robot. The walker is used in outer space mission for precision maneuvers during rescue operations. It is always stowed inside another ship for transport. 10. TB-10 Small Multi-Personnel Rocket
This rocket can achieve orbit by itself, and strictly use for quick transport in areas between Earth and the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It can achieve speeds up to Mach 176.

11. TB-11 Unknown
This vehicle was never described in any of the 24 episodes. The TB-11 could be the dart-like shaped reusable escape pod used by the Thunderbirds. This escape pod is able to penetrate through hard surface and have backward retro rockets. Another possibility for TB-11 is a single seat motorcycle used in episode "Metal Head."

12. TB-12 Heavy lift/Dozer Vehicle
A small vehicle, which can clear debris and lift heavy objects (such as TB-2), both above and under water.

13. TB-13 Small Submarine
A small submarine that is often stowed inside TB-4 cargo hold. It can reach small places which are unreachable by TB-4. It may have a capability to fly or hover above water at speeds up to Mach 1.

14. TB-14 Deep Sea Bathyscape
This navigable, deep diving vessel is used for underwater rescues at incredible ocean depths. This vehicle has never been shown in any episodes. It was only mentioned in the episode "Child's Play."

15. TB-15 Small Tracked Drill
This tank-tracked vehicle is shaped like the TB-5 from the original "Thunderbirds" show. It was only shown in the episode "Cloudburst." The vehicle is stowed in TB-3, able to bore with a small drill nose, and capable of pulling heavy objects, such as a tanker. It also has drone capability.

16. TB-16 Small Tracked Vehicle
This rescue vehicle was only shown in the episode "Cloudburst." Approximately the same size as TB-15, this tank-tracked machine has multiple sensors for reconnaissance/surveillance operations. It is stowed in TB-3 and able to pull heavy objects. It also has drone capability.

17. TB-17 Interplanetary Space Transport
By far, the largest of all Thunderbirds rescue units. The transport can carry all the other units in its vast cargo hold. It has ion-powered engines and is capable of traveling with an acceleration up to 10 Gs. The TB-17 is docked inside the TB-6.

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22.0 Thunderbirds 2086 - Costumes

The costumes for the Thunderbirds team consisted of an unknown material with white, black and orange designs, akin to the SDF-1 pilot uniforms seen in "Macross." No specifics about the suits/costumes were shown.

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23.0 Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode List

Note: The following are Japan episode air dates.

SEASON ONE
Ep. #     Prod. #/    Original          Episode Title          Episode Title
          Prod. Code  Air Date          (U.K./North America)   (Japan)

1.	    1-1  03     01-May-1982       Firefall               Friendship Of The Space Colony
2.	    1-2  09     19-Jun-1982       Computer Madness       The Lunar Surface City
3.	    1-3  06     29-May-1982       One Of A Kind          Rescue The Life Which Burns In The Forest!
4.	    1-4  12     17-Jul-1982       Snowbound              Large Disaster In The Alps!
5.	    1-5  16     28-Aug-1982       Space Warriors         Space Chase Of The Prison Escapees
6.	    1-6  17     04-Sep-1982       Sunburn                Danger! The Planetary Exploration Ship
7.	    1-7  10     03-Jul-1982       Fear Factor            S.O.S. - Cell Of Fear
8.	    1-8  05     15-May-1982       Fault Line             Escape From The Sea Of Magma
9.	    1-9  08     12-Jun-1982       Shadow Axis            Pulverization! Terrestrial Takeover Plan
10.	    1-10 18     11-Sep-1982       Star Crusher           Rapid Current - Niagara Dead Fighting!
11.	    1-11 01     17-Apr-1982       Shockwave              TB Takeoff - Rescue The Earth!
12.	    1-12 15     14-Aug-1982       Guardian               The Spaceship Returns
13.         1-13        UNAIRED           Metal Head             (This episode was unaired in Japan.)
14.	    1-14 02     24-Apr-1982       Cloudburst             Bullet Train To The Al Lu Island!
15.	    1-15        UNAIRED           Kudzilla               (This episode was unaired in Japan.)
16.	    1-16        UNAIRED           Mind Meld              (This episode was unaired in Japan.)
17.	    1-17 14     31-Jul-1982       Thunderbolt            The Airport Reaches For The Sky
18.	    1-18        UNAIRED           Big Deal               (This episode was unaired in Japan.)
19.	    1-19 11     10-Jul-1982       Nightmare              Puzzle Of The Space Hospital
20.	    1-20        UNAIRED           Crusader               (This episode was unaired in Japan.)
21.	    1-21 04     08-May-1982       Stardrive              Super Gravity!! The Space Station
22.	    1-22 13     24-Jul-1982       Trial                  Demon Wreck
23.	    1-23 07     05-Jun-1982       Child's Play           TB-1 - Death Confrontation
24.	    1-24        UNAIRED           U.F.O.                 (This episode was unaired in Japan.)

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24.0 Thunderbirds 2086 - Current Availability

"Thunderbirds 2086" is not currently available on commercially-licensed VHS or DVD formats. Bootleg versions have been spotted on web sites, such as eBay.com.

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25.0 (New) Thunderbirds Movie(s) - Introduction

"(Anyway) our version of Thunderbirds will be entirely live-action, with a Spy Kids meets James Bond kind of vibe." - Jonathan Frakes, Director.

The "Thunderbirds" movie is an adaptation of the classic "Thunderbirds" television series, using the same story basis: The Tracy Family heads International Rescue (I.R.), a secret organization established to make life-saving rescues when all other efforts fail. According to director Jonathan Frakes, "This family, the Tracy family, is called in to save falling bridges and burning buildings that firemen can't save. It's one of those situations where someone calls a hotline, and this family comes to the rescue."

The movie's plot is described as a rite of passage for Alan Tracy, the youngest of the brothers, when a false distress call allows the evil Hood to invade Tracy Island to gain International Rescue's secrets. Alan is accompanied by Tin-Tin and Fermat, Brains's son (named after the 17th century French mathematician Pierre de Fermat). Jeff Tracy and his other four sons are stranded on Thunderbird 5 during this emergency. The movie is seemingly intended as a prequel to the classic series.

The titular Thunderbird rescue craft are prominently featured within the film, although slightly redesigned/modified, such as the cylindrical engine ports on Thunderbird 2 (TB2) replaced by rectangular units. Thunderbirds 1, 2 and 3 are very similar to the original designs, though, while Thunderbirds 4 and 5 are a departure.

The film includes new plot devices: A new character, Fermat, is the son of Brains. (Brains was a teenager in the "Thunderbirds" series.) The elder patriarch, Jeff Tracy, is depicted as significantly younger within the film.

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26.0 (New) Thunderbirds Movie(s) - Production Team/Filmmakers

DIRECTION:
Directed by Jonathan Frakes (Director of "Star Trek: First Contact", "Star Trek: Insurrection" and "Clockstoppers.")
1st Assistant Director: Tommy Gormley
2nd Unit 1st Assistant Director: Terry Bamber

WRITING CREDITS:
Based on characters by Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson
Script by Michael McCullers and William Osborne (Osbourne's credits include co-writing "The Scorpion King", "Twins", "The Real McCoy", "Ghost in the Machine", and "Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde.")

CAST (in credits order): Brady Corbet: Alan Tracy
Bill Paxton: Jeff Tracy
Ben Kingsley: Aristotle Spode (The Hood) (Mr. Kingsley is an Academy Award winning actor for "Gandhi.")
Anthony Edwards: Brains
Sophia Myles: Lady Penelope
Ron Cook: Parker
Philip Winchester: Scott Tracy
Lex Shrapnel: John Tracy
Dominic Colenso: Virgil Tracy
Ben Torgersen: Gordon Tracy
Soren Fulton: Fermat
Vanessa Anne Hudgens: Tin-Tin
Lou Hirsch

PRODUCTION TEAM:
Tim Bevan: Producer
Jo Burn: Co-producer
Eric Fellner: Producer
Mark Huffam: Producer
2nd Unit Production Manager: Terry Bamber
Production Company: Working Title Films

PHOTOGRAPHY:
Director of Photography: Brendan Galvin
Gaffer: John Higgins
Rigging Gaffer: Wayne Leach
Electrician: David Sinfield
Lighting: Lee Lighting Ltd.
Camera Equipment: Panavision [U.K.] Ltd.
Camera Operator/ Camera Operator: "A" Camera: Des Whelan Camera Operator: "B" Camera: Philip Sindall Assistant Camera: "A" Camera: Carlos De Carvalho

EDITING:
Film Editing: Martin Walsh
Assistant Editor: Alison Carter
Assistant Editor: Ruth Coulson

PRODUCTION DESIGN AND SET CONSTRUCTION:
Production Design: John Beard
Art Direction: John Frankish
Art Direction: Stephen Morahan
Set Decoration: Joanne Woollard

PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT:
Unit Production Manager: Angus More Gordon

ART DEPARTMENT:
Painter: Robert J. Dugdale
Storyboard Artist: John Greaves
Art Director (Useful Companies): John C. Hill
Drapes master: Chris Seddon
Drapesman: Frank Howe
Assistant Art Director: Paul Inglis
Graphic Designer: Carol Kupisz
Concept Artist: Dominic Lavery

MUSIC:
Composer: Elliot Goldenthal

SOUND:
Production Sound Mixer: Peter Lindsay
Production Sound Mixer (Second Unit): Christian Joyce

MAKE-UP AND COSTUMES:
Costume Designer: Marit Allen
Hair Stylist/Make-Up Artist: Jeremy Woodhead

VISUAL EFFECTS:
Visual Effects: Effects Associates Ltd.; Industrial Light and Magic (I.L.M.)
Visual Effects Supervisor: Mark Nelmes
Vehicle Designer: Mike Trim
Special Effects Technician: Gareth Wingrove
Editor/Visual effects: Derek Burgess
Visual Effects Coordinator: Charles Howell
Visual Effects Producer: Lucy Killick
Visual Effects Supervisor: Mike McGee
Digital Artist (Framestore CFC): Matthew Riordan
Digital I/O: Tara Walker

Useful Company Computer and Video Coordinator: Sara-Jane Valentine
Art Director: John C. Hill

STUNTS:
Stunt Double: Nicola Berwick
Stunts: Ben Cooke

OTHER CREW:
Gaffer: John Higgins
Rigging Gaffer: Wayne Leach
Electrician: David Sinfield
Stand-in: Paul Hornsby
Conforming Editor: Keith Lowes
Clapper Loader: Jennie Paddon
Creative Supervisor (Useful Companies): Simon Staines
Additional Floor Runner (uncredited): Zoe Margolis
2nd Unit Script Supervisor: Sharon Mansfield

LOCATIONS:
Australia; Hawaii, U.S.A.; London, England, U.K.; Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.; New York City, New York, U.S.A.; Portugal; Seychelles Studio: Pinewood Studios, England, U.K.

CASTING:
Casting: Mary Selway
Children Casting: Shaheen Baig
Extras Casting: The Casting Collective Ltd.

Peter Hewitt ("Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey") was originally attached to direct in 1998. During that time, the "Thunderbirds" film would have been distributed by the now-defunct Polygram Filmed Entertainment for release in 1999 or 2000. Actress Kristin Scott Thomas was also announced as having signed to star as Lady Penelope.

At one point, The Guardian (U.K.) reported that model-turned-actress Sophie Dahl was in the running to play Lady Penelope.

The current production company, U.K.-based Working Title Films, has produced "Johnny English", "The Kelly Gang", "Four Weddings and a Funeral", "About a Boy" and "The Italian Job."

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26.1 Why live-action actors, and not Supermarionation puppets like the classic "Thunderbirds" series/movies?

An official statement has not clarified this, although it was likely felt that present-day audiences would accept/embrace live actors versus the puppetry of the 1960s. It should be noted that "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are releasing a major Hollywood studio movie -- using marionation puppets as the stars! -- close to the live-action "Thunderbirds" movie opening date.

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26.2 Are Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Reg Hill or any others from the classic "Thunderbirds" series/movies involved?

No, not to the FAQ author's knowledge.

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26.3 What public comments has Gerry Anderson made about the new "Thunderbirds" movie?

  • According to Fanderson, at the 2003 'An Evening with Gerry Anderson' event at The Barbican Centre in London, Gerry Anderson updated fans on his involvement with the film. Following on from statements he made earlier in the year, Anderson confirmed that the film's producers had offered him "a fantastic amount of money" to endorse the project by being photographed on the set and speaking positively about the movie in interviews. However, on sight of the vehicle created to be the film's version of Lady Penelope's FAB 1, he felt that he was unable to accept the producers' offer as this would compromise his integrity.
  • [FAQ author's note: We don't know when the actual interviews took place, so discount the publication date of each article, as the actual interview dates aren't known.]

  • According to DreamWatch Magazine (June 2003): "I was really quite prepared to [support the picture] in my own way, but they wanted me to enthuse over it," Anderson told Dreamwatch's David Bassom. "And then I saw [Lady] Penelope's new car, which was published in the papers, and I thought it was a monstrosity! I thought if that's the kind of thing they're doing, how can I possibly support the picture? Could I lean against the car and have my picture taken and say, 'Isn't it terrific?' I couldn't do that." [...] Publicly announcing his wish to be involved with the film in a consulting role early on, Anderson confirmed that his guidance was, in fact, never sought by the studio. "It's disappointing for me, and I have a feeling it's going to be disappointing for them as well. For example, there's no way I'm going to go to the premiere unless things change."
  • According to FAB magazine (May 2003?), Anderson has recently had a number of meetings at Pinewood with the film's director Jonathan Frakes and the two became firm friends. As Anderson told FAB magazine: "I heard some of his ideas and, of course, it will be a different picture from the series we made in 1965 because, like any major movie that is made, when you do a sequel, you almost always have a different director with new ideas and that's what's happening here. But I'm getting the feeling that it's going to be a very, very nice picture."

    "Because of my friendship with Jonathan Frakes and discussions with Universal, I'm becoming more and more involved with the picture, although I have to make it clear that it is Jonathan Frakes's picture and I wouldn't dream of poking my nose in or making suggestions that might throw him. But certainly if he wants to talk about anything, I will help him out if I can. It's a very nice situtation to be in, and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing the finished picture. I am currently in discussion with Universal about what my role on the movie will actually be, but everything seems very positive at the moment."

  • More statements are forthcoming.

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    26.4 Didn't Jonathan Frakes (new "Thunderbirds" movie director) make an uncomplimentary remark about the classic series?

    Yes. While talking with SCI FI Wire (U.S.; 6 September 2002), Frakes stated he didn't know anything about "Thunderbirds" before signing on to direct. He said, "I know a lot about it now," Frakes said in an interview. "It's about a family international rescue team that functions under the radar of the public." He also stated, "This family, the Tracy family, is called in to save falling bridges and burning buildings that firemen can't save. It's one of those situations where someone calls a hotline, and this family comes to the rescue. There's also a wonderful international spy named Lady Penelope, who drives a six-wheel pink Rolls Royce. The original show was done with marionettes, and it was pretty wacko."

    Some fans have taken issue with this statement, given the cult status of the property and the desire to see it handed by someone who respects the original source material.

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    27.0 (New) Thunderbirds Movie(s) - Story/Plot/Tidbits

    When their space station, Thunderbird 5, is damaged by a meteor shower, the International Rescue (I.R.) team have to travel into space to repair it. But the station has actually been sabotaged by international master criminal Aristotle Spode (The Hood) who plans to invade Tracy Island and steal the secrets of International Rescue. But he could be about to meet his match in the shape Alan Tracy, Fermat (Brains's son) and Tin-Tin, the youngest members of the I.R. crew.

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    28.0 (New) Thunderbirds Movie(s) - Characters/Actors

    Bill Paxton (Jeff Tracy)

    Lex Shrapnel (John Tracy)

    Dominic Colenso (Virgil Tracy)

    Philip Winchester (Scott Tracy)

    Ben Torgersen (Gordon Tracy)

    Brady Corbet (Alan Tracy)

    Ben Kingsley (Aristotle Spode aka The Hood)

    Anthony Edwards (Brains)

    Sophia Myles (Lady Penelope)

    Ron Cook (Parker)

    Soren Fulton (Fermat)

    Vanessa Anne Hudgens (Tin-Tin)

    According to Fanderson, the movie may stir controversy amongst classic "Thunderbirds" fans with the revelation that John has become the eldest of the Tracy brothers, rather than Scott, as in the television series. The relative ages of the five brothers has been a long-argued topic amongst fans, as the intentions of the series' producers (illustrated by the order in which the brothers appear in the program's title sequence: Scott, John, Virgil, Gordon, Alan) were contradicted by a series of character biographies published in the mid-Sixties British comics magazine TV Century 21 (later used as the basis for information published in several books, magazines and comics published in the 1980s and early 1990s), which suggested that Virgil is older than John. Since 2000, the official character biographies endorsed by Gerry Anderson and the series' owners Carlton International Media have restored the original vision of the "Thunderbirds" chronology. However, in the Working Title "Thunderbirds" film, John is Jeff Tracy's first-born, followed by Virgil, Scott, Gordon and Alan who are all still teenagers.

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    29.0 (New) Thunderbirds Movie(s) - Vehicles/Equipment

    (Details forthcoming.)

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    30.0 (New) Thunderbirds Movie(s) - Base(s) of Operations

    Tracy Island

    Thunderbird 5 space station

    (Details forthcoming.)

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    31.0 (New) Thunderbirds Movie(s) - Villains

    The main antagonist of the "Thunderbirds" film is Aristotle Spode, aka The Hood, an international evil criminal. The character is played by Academy Award winning actor, Sir Ben Kingsley.

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    32.0 (New) Thunderbirds Movie(s) - Costumes

    The "Thunderbirds" movie features all-new costumes by Marit Allen, who was costumer for "Little Shop Of Horrors" (1986), "Mrs. Doubtfire" (1993) and "The Hulk" (2003). As Fanderson, the Official Fan Club of Gerry Anderson, is quick to point out, the uniforms include a simplified version of the International Rescue (I.R.) motif; the word "Thunderbirds" down the left arm; and, bizarrely for an organization whose operatives must remain secret from the world at large, the character's name on the left breast.

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    33.0 (New) Thunderbirds Movie(s) - Symbols/Terms

    (Details forthcoming.)

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    34.0 (New) Thunderbirds Movie(s) - Music

    Composer Elliot Goldenthal, whose credits include "Alien 3" (1992), "Interview With The Vampire" (1994), "Batman Forever" (1995), "Batman And Robin" (1997) and "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" (2001), was signed to score the movie. There is no indication, as of this writing, as to whether he will be incorporating any of Barry Gray's original "Thunderbirds" themes.

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    35.0 (New) Thunderbirds Movie(s) - Toys/Merchandise

    (Details forthcoming.)

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    36.0 (New) Thunderbirds Movie(s) - Current Availability

    "Thunderbirds" is due for release 23 July 2004. The film will compete against the opening of "Mad Max: Fury Road" (the fourth Mel Gibson "Mad Max/Road Warrior" film).

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    37.0 (New) Thunderbirds TV Show

    At the time of this writing, no official statements have been made. The FAQ author understands that there have been explorations in a television series by Carlton (license owner) which utilizes CG, possibly based on the progress of Gerry Anderson's "Captain Scarlet" series for 2005. (That series uses Hypermarionation: CG animation.)

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    38.0 Final Thoughts

    This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document remains a work-in-progress. We hope you've enjoyed the time and energy invested by various, dedicated fans of "Thunderbirds" to present this information to you! The creations inspired by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson live on. FAB!

    We remind everyone of our commitment to the Common Creative License (CCL) and Space1999.org's Open Content Model (OCM) for distribution and republishing of this document for non-commercial purposes.

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    30.0 References

    The authors of this document wish to acknowledge the following sources:

    Calling International Rescue! (http://www.geocities.com/johntracytb5/Thunderbirds_index.html)
    The Gerry Anderson Frequently Asked Questions List (Version 2.1), compiled by Kimberly Murphy-Smith
    Fanderson (http://www.fanderson.org.uk/fanderson.html)
    FAB1 - A Gerry Anderson Fan Site Featuring THUNDERBIRDS (http://www.fab1.co.nz)
    Space1999.org presents Thunderbirds Are GO! http://www.space1999.org/thunderbirds/)
    TV Century 21 (http://www.tvcentury21.com)
    TV Tome (http://www.tvtome.com)
    Thunderbirds 2086 web site (http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/club/8067/tb2086/)
    IMDb (Internet Movie Database) web site (http://www.imdb.com)

    Articles/research by Marc J. Frattasio
    Science Fiction Modeler #10 (magazine)
    Science Fiction Modeler #11 (magazine)
    SIG #12 (magazine)
    "The Files Magazine: Thunderbirds" by Gary Files
    DreamWatch Magazine (June 2003; Gerry Anderson interview);

    "Complete ANIME Guide: Japanese Animation Film Directory & Resource Guide" by Trish Ledoux & Doug Ranney (Tiger Mountain Press, Issaquah, WA; 1995; paperback; ISBN: 0964954257)
    "Gerry Anderson's Fab Facts: Behind the Scenes of Tv's Famous Adventures in the 21st Century" by Simon Archer (Harper-Collins; 1 June 1994; paperback; ISBN 0006382479)
    "Thunderbirds FAB Cross-sections" by Graham Bleathman (Carlton Books; 28 July 2000; paperback; ISBN: 1842220918)
    "FAB Facts: Behind the Scenes of Gerry Anderson's TV Adventures in the 21st Century " by Simon Archer, foreward by Gerry Anderson (Harper-Collins; 11 October 1993; paperback; ISBN: 0006382479)
    "Yes, M'Lady: A Personal Memoir" by Sylvia Anderson, introduction by Lord Grade (Smith Gryphon; 4 November 1991; paperback; ISBN: 1856850110)
    "21st Century Visions: Thunderbirds, Fireball XL5, Supercar, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, Secret Service, Joe 90, UFO" by Derek Meddings and Sam Mitchell (Dragon's World; 1993; paperback; ISBN: 1850282439)
    "Gerry Anderson: Supermarionation" by John Peel (Pioneer Books; 1 October 1991; paperback; ISBN: 9991224904)
    "Thunderbirds Are Go" by John Marriott (Boxtree Publishing; 31 January 1992; paperback; ISBN: 1852831642)
    "The Gerry Anderson Memorabilia Guide" by Dennis Way Nicholson (Cooee Concepts Pty. Ltd.; 1994; paperback; ISBN: ??)
    "Gerry Anderson, The Authorized Biography" by Simon Archer & Stan Nicholls
    "Lady Penelope's Secrets" by "Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward"/Carlton Books (Carlton Books; 14 March 2001; hardcover; ISBN: 1842222287)
    "The Ultimate Thunderbirds Pop-Up Facts Book" by G. Marks (Boxtree Publishing; 1993; hardcover; ISBN ??)
    "The Complete Book Of Thunderbirds" by Chris Bentley
    "The Complete Gerry Anderson: The Authorised Episode Guide" by Chris Bentley (Reynolds and Hearn Ltd.; softcover; ISBN: 1903111412)

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