From The Brighton Toy and Model Index
Gerry Anderson

Thunderbirds, logo.jpg


1964 - 1966
| Supercar | Fireball XL5 | Stingray | Thunderbirds | Captain Scarlet | Joe 90 | UFO | Space 1999‎ |

Thunderbirds (1964-1966) was a much-loved children's TV series produced by Gerry Anderson and Century 21.

Thunderbirds used marionettes for its human characters, but the real stars of the show were the imaginatively designed futuristic sets and vehicles.


The premise of the show was that the wealthy Tracey family secretly ran an organisation called International Rescue from their island base. The island featured hidden underground silos from which the various rescue craft would emerge as required. Emergencies often featured futuristic industrial complexes or craft in trouble, which would need complicated rescue procedures. To add some variety to the plots, a villain known as The Claw was also intent on stealing the Thunderbirds technology, and would sometimes deliberately cause disasters to force the Thunderbirds craft to be called to the scene.

Main craft

  • Thunderbird 1 was a chunky high-speed rocket able to get to the scene of an accident before the other craft.
  • Thunderbird 2 was a squat heavy-lifting cargo craft, featuring a detachable central pod that could be deposited on the ground, and which could carry a range of different useful specialist vehicles and equipment. A range of pre-prepared pods were available in Thunderbird 2’s silo, so that the craft could be launched quickly with whichever set of equipment was most useful for the current rescue mission. It was more useful than Thunderbird 1, but slower.
  • Thunderbird 3 was a red space rocket
  • Thunderbird 4 was a small yellow single-occupant mini-submarine equipped with grips and a laser, that would be carried to its location by Thunderbird 2 in a dedicated pod
  • Thunderbird 5 was a space station and manned communications satellite, which would monitor world communications for distress calls. The station was serviced by Thunderbird 3.

A range of more specialised vehicles carried in the pods (such as the Mole tunnelling craft) didn’t have assigned numbers. Another notable vehicle was the machinegun-equipped pink six-wheeler Rolls-Royce driven by Thunderbirds associate Lady Penelope.


The success of the Thunderbirds 1960s TV series led to two feature films, Thunderbirds are Go (1966) and Thunderbird 6 (1968). The franchise was revived with a live-action feature film in 2004 (Thunderbirds), and a new TV series based on computer-generated images (CGI), Thunderbirds Are Go (2015).

Notable models

Meccano Ltd launched a small range of Thunderbirds vehicles in 1966 as Dinky Toys, starting with Lady Penelope's car. The Dinky Thunderbird 2 (complete with detachable pod containing a small plastic Thunderbird 4), had high play value , and quickly became a playground favourite alongside Corgi's Batmobile and the Corgi James Bond Aston Martin.

The success of the two series of Thunderbirds led to the series being shown again and again on Saturday mornings, and in the 1990s Matchbox produced a model of Tracey Island, and a presentation of smaller-scale Thunderbirds vehicles that could be stowed in it.

External links


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