ZERO-X by Aoshima

Mike Pigott looks at another one Gerry Anderson’s TV-21 models… a spectacular model of the interplanetary spacecraft seen in the feature film Thunderbirds Are Go!, produced by Aoshima of Japan.

The 1966 film Thunderbirds Are Go was a feature-length spin-off from the popular TV series Thunderbirds. However, the real star of the movie was not one of the Tracy brothers or a Thunderbird craft, but an interplanetary spaceship with the code-name Zero-X.

Many years later, in 2006, Japanese hobby company Aoshima released an incredible diecast model of Zero-X that could perform most of the functions of the ‘real’ craft!

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Thunderbirds by Corgi

Mike Pigott looks at Corgi’s models from 2003 and 2016 that were based on Gerry Anderson’s classic Thunderbirds series.During the 1960s, Corgi Toys was the leader in TV-related diecast vehicles. In 1965 Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds was the top-rating children’s TV show, and Corgi was so confident of obtaining the franchise that a working prototype of FAB-1 was developed even before a contract was signed. In a surprise move, the Thunderbirds franchise was awarded to rival Dinky Toys of Liverpool, a company that had no history of licensed products. It wasn’t until 2003 when Corgi finally acquired the Thunderbirds license, with two models produced that year and a further two after quite a long gap, in 2016.

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Swissair Lockheed Orion by NZG

Mike Pigott focuses on the only aircraft model made by German company NZG, a vintage Lockheed Orion.

The German model manufacturer NZG is known today mainly for models of construction equipment and heavy trucks, but over the years has produced a wide range of different types of vehicles. NZG, like its compatriot company Conrad, are specialists at producing commissioned models for the original equipment manufacturers. These companies have become the ‘go-to’ manufacturers for industries which require promotional or commemorative models of products to give to prospective clients or sell as souvenirs. While NZG is mostly associated today with big trucks, cranes and plant machinery, since the company was founded in the 1970s, a wide range of different miniatures have been produced. These have included promotional car models for Porsche and Mercedes-Benz dealers, buses, fire engines, vintage vehicles, and very specialist items, such as diesel engines. Possibly the most surprising model was made by NZG in 1980 – a model of a classic aircraft.

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Thunderbirds Are Go by Tomica

Mike Pigott looks at Tomica’s models based on the new CGI-animated Thunderbirds Are Go TV show.

Thunderbird 2

Since it first premiered in 1965, Thunderbirds has remained one of the most popular children’s shows of all time. The adventures of the Tracy family, with their philanthropic International Rescue operation has proved a hit not just in its home market of the UK, but all around the world – and particularly in Japan. Thunderbirds was cancelled in 1966 due to distribution problems in the important USA market, but continued to remain popular in re-runs, most notably when it was replayed in the UK in 1991. There has been more than one attempt to revive Thunderbirds, although in different formats from the original live action ‘Supermarionation’ style which used marionettes and miniature model vehicles. A big-budget American made film from 2003 did not prove to be a financial success, possibly because it deviated from the original too heavily. In 2015, a new computer-generated animated TV show called Thunderbirds are Go made its debut.

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Classic Thunderbirds by Tomica

Mike Pigott looks at a recent range commemorating the 50th anniversary of the classic Thunderbirds series.Thunderbird 2 (A).Believe it or not, the classic children’s sci-fi series Thunderbirds celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015. Thunderbirds was the most popular and successful of Gerry Anderson’s productions, and still remains extremely entertaining when viewed today. A new re-booted version made with CGI animation is currently airing on TV. There were also three new episodes made in the original Supermarionation style; these used the soundtracks from old vinyl EP records with new visuals, and were released direct to DVD. And Japanese company Tomica produced a brand new range of diecast models based on the classic series.

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Thunderbirds by Bandai

Mike Pigott looks at a littleknown range of Thunderbirds models produced by Bandai of Japan in the 1990s. 

K_The Bandai models were packaged in attractive boxes with Japanese and English textWhile there are a number of well-known models based on Gerry Anderson’s legendary TV show Thunderbirds by manufacturers such as Dinky, Matchbox and Corgi, there are also some great models that were not as familiar. One range that largely fell under the radar of collectors in the West is a series made by Bandai in the 1990s that included large models of Thunderbirds 1, 2 and 4, plus the Mole and several other vehicles.


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Corgi Juniors Military Models

Mike Pigott looks at the different military themed models that appeared in the Corgi Juniors range in the 1970s and beyond.

Q_The full range of Corgi Junior military vehicles from the 1970s

Diecast models of military vehicles seem to come and go. They were very popular during the 1950s, right up until the late 1960s. Then they appeared to vanish from the market completely for several years. The Matchbox 1-75 range was loaded with Army and Air Force vehicles up until about 1968, and then they all disappeared for several years. In 1974, military vehicles came back into vogue again. Corgi introduced a large range of tanks in its big Corgi Toys line, and Matchbox introduced the flashy – but less realistic – Battle Kings. Miniature vehicle ranges also began to introduce army vehicles into their lines in 1974, including Corgi Juniors and Matchbox 1-75 series. Hot Wheels also produced a number of U.S. Army vehicles from 1975.

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The Golden Compass by Corgi

Mike Pigott looks at this unusual range from Corgi, which was based on the 2007 fantasy film.

CarriageWhile there have been a lot of diecast models based on science fiction movies, ones based on fantasy films are quite rare. The 2007 film The Golden Compass featured some stunning looking fantasy vehicles, and these were soon modelled by Corgi. Despite being of excellent quality, they did not sell well, possibly due to the disappointing performance of the film at the box office.

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Thunderbirds Mini-Metals by Aoshima

Mike Pigott examines this little-known but high quality range of diecast Thunderbirds miniatures made by Japanese company Aoshima.

g_thunderbird 5, shown on its display stand, was the first ever accurate model of the satellite

Thunderbirds has always been a popular subject for Japanese toy and hobby manufacturers. From the 1960s through to the present day, there have been a wide range of toys, models and kits based on the franchise, with significantly more produced than in the show’s home market of the UK. In 2003, long-established Japanese hobby company produced a range of six miniature Thunderbirds models, which included all five Thunderbird craft and the Mole.

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Captain Scarlet by Corgi

Mike Pigott looks at Corgi’s models based on Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, with vehicles from the original 1960s series as well as the new CGI re-boot.

SPV by Corgi

Over the years a number of manufacturers have produced models of the fabulous vehicles from Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Probably the best known models are the large diecast models made by Dinky in the 1960s, although other companies have also made replicas, including Eidai Grip, Vivid Imaginations, Bandai and Product Enterprise. In 2006, Corgi Classics obtained the license to Captain Scarlet and produced three models based on the classic TV series, plus a further three based on the brand new CGI re-make of the series.

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