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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Matchbox Matchcaps

Mike Pigott looks at this colourful 1990s range of diecast cars from Matchbox which included a number of collectible ‘POG’ discs in each pack.During the 1990s, one of the big collecting crazes was POGs, collectible discs that could be swapped or played with competitively. To capitalise on this massive craze, Matchbox produced a line of miniature cars in vivid colours which included four discs in every pack.

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Siku Ships

Mike Pigott looks at the semi-waterline ship models in 1/1400 scale made by Siku of Germany.

In 2013, the long-established German company Siku introduced a range of cruise liners to its popular diecast line. These model ships were somewhat unorthodox, being of a semi-waterline design and made to the unusual scale of 1/1400, but were interesting replicas of modern liners not previously modelled.

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Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in diecast

Mike Pigott examines the model vehicles based on the adventures of video game heroine Lara Croft.Lara LR1One of the all-time favourite video game franchises has been the Tomb Raider series, following the exploits of sexy archaeologist and adventurer Lara Croft. The first version, developed by Core Design and released by Eidos Interactive in 1996, allowed players to control the actions of the shapely British treasure hunter as she travelled the globe searching for ancient artefacts. Tomb Raider proved such a hit with PC and PlayStation gamers that it spawned seven sequel videogames, and was spun off into comic books and feature films…and these led to diecast toys!

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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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Harry Potter by Tomica

Mike Pigott returns to the world of magic with a look at the Harry Potter models produced by Japanese company Tomica.


The long-running Tomica range of model cars has been produced by Tomy of Japan since 1970. This high-quality range is similar in size to Matchbox or Hot Wheels, but is generally made to a much higher standard. In recent years, Tomica has begun producing a wide range of character models, ranging from juvenile franchises such as Disney and Hello Kitty, through to more dynamic properties such as Star Wars, Marvel Super Heroes and DC Comics. Tomica seems to have a separate licensing agreement for its models, which are mainly sold in the far East, and generally do not overlap with franchises for the same characters held by Mattel or Corgi. One of the more exciting character ranges produced by Tomica is based on Harry Potter, the incredibly popular boy wizard created by J. K. Rowling.

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