As expected with any popular children’s television show, there’s always a flurry of associated merchandise in tow. Whether it’s a comic, toys, action figures, clothes or anything else to catch the eyes of the programme’s younger viewers and trigger that all-important pester power you can guarantee that kids will want it and parents will do everything in their power to steer well clear of it in the stores. And then there are people like us who are drawn to it like a moth to a flame…!
Cue the first wave of toys that were released to coincide with ITVs reboot of the Gerry Anderson classic Thunderbirds. As well as all of the expected products linking in with Thunderbirds Are Go, the most sought after was the range of action figures, ships and the ever dependable Tracy Island. Looking at the ships specifically, these were released in three different forms – smaller die-cast vehicles with display stands approximately 3″ long, larger ships about the size of a typical deluxe action figure (featuring electronics and voice chips) and a couple of large scale craft.
I hadn’t been able to pick any up for several reasons until recently but I finally decided to take the plunge and picked up the Thunderbird 1 craft from the series…
The first thing you notice about this is the packaging and I have to be honest and say that it’s extremely eye-catching. It works very well and not only looks good on display boxed but the artwork conveys plenty of information without being cramped. There’s plenty of subtle detail (I love the Tracy Island artwork placed behind the ship) and it just oozes charm and style.
But I didn’t want to keep this toy a prisoner! It needed to be freed so it could be displayed properly. Fortunately, with the exception of two small rubber ties, all the packaging is recyclable so Thunderbird 1 was let loose! The toy stands at about 6″ tall and for its size is superbly detailed. What these photos don’t convey particularly well is the texturing on the large blue cyclinder at the base of the ship. It’s only a small point, but it shows that some effort has been put into the design of it.
Equally, when you look on the underside of the toy, you can see additional paint and mould detailing for where the cockpit is for the pilot, Scott Tracy. Again, while this may just be a minor thing to many, it’s nice to see this attention to detail on what is really meant to be a child’s toy.
Looking further underneath you can see a removable battery cover. Carefully moulded and painted to blend in as best as possible with the rest of the toy, this is for the sound effects chip integrated into it. There are several sounds playable, each in rotation by repeatedly pressing the button on the front of the ship. The first is the sound of the engines from Thunderbird 1 and the other three are short voice clips featuring the actual voice of Scott Tracy, Rasmus Hardiker.
The icing on the cake for the toy itself are the wings. They are retractable and the positions can be altered by rotating the base so they can be in either the launch or flight position. For us adult collectors it gives us more choice for display purposes but for kids it adds even more play value having the launch position with accompanying sounds effects, followed by flight wings and even more sound to go with that. Now what more could you ask for?
One final thing, and I have to applaud the manufacturer Vivid Toy Group for this, is that the top of the ship (the red cone segment) is actually fabricated from hard rubber rather than plastic. This may not seem that significant but it’s a major improvement to the toy on a safety level and as a collector it has absolutely no bearing on the quality of the finished toy.
I was really impressed with this toy – far more than I expected to be – and since it was purchased it’s been sitting on my computer desk next to its die-cast counterpart. My only regret is that I didn’t buy it sooner. A great toy for Thunderbirds fans.