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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Marvel Comics Vehicles by Tomica

Mike Pigott’s takes a look at some dynamic Marvel Comics vehicles made by Tomica of Japan.

Over the years, there have been a lot of model vehicles based on Marvel Comics characters…although not many good ones. One of the reasons for this is because not many of the heroes actually drive cars, so it’s not easy making models of vehicles that don’t exist. So Batman from rival DC Comics has always been dominant in the diecast world, as he has a Batmobile – or rather, lots of different Batmobiles and other Bat-vehicles, from his various comic books, films and TV series.

Generally, characters who can fly, shoot webs, or possess powered exo-skeletons rarely need cars. There have been a lot of Marvel character vehicles produced since the 1970s, but very few have been authentic. Corgi made several fun Spider-Man vehicles during the ‘70s, despite the fact that Spidey never drove a car. Corgi’s other Marvel hero models were just unrelated, regular Corgi Toys with character figures and decals added.

More recently, companies such as Hot Wheels and Johnny Lightning have produced large numbers of licensed Marvel products, but these were just stock-standard car and truck castings with character designs and logos tampo-printed on them. Majorette and Hot Wheels have both produced Marvel ranges that were caricatures of super-heroes; they were cartoony vehicles with the colours and characteristics of Marvel heroes and villains. But again they bore no resemblance to anything from the comic books or films. So it was interesting to see Japanese company Tomica produce a small range of Marvel characters which were significantly different that previous offerings.

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Jurassic World by Jada

Mike Pigott continues his series on the Jurassic Park franchise as we look at Jada’s small range of models based on the 2015 film Jurassic World.Jeep WranglerJurassic World, the fourth instalment in the Jurassic Park series of films, was released in 2015, 22 years after the original movie. As with the previous episodes, there were diecast toys produced to tie in with the film, although this time the license was given to two different companies. Matchbox produced a large selection of 1/64-ish vehicles which had very little to do with anything actually seen in the film. A small range of larger scale models was made by American company Jada Toys, which were (mostly) more authentic to the film.

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Evel Knievel by Johnny Lightning

Mike Pigott looks at the small range of diecast models produced by Johnny Lightning based on legendary motorcycle stuntman Evel Knievel.

Skycycle X-2

While the Evel Knievel stunt bikes and diecast miniatures produced by Ideal Toys in the 1970s remain the most well-known toys based on the famous stuntman, they weren’t the only ones. In 1998, American company Playing Mantis produced a new wave of Evel Knievel toys, including a small range of line diecast vehicles in its Johnny Lightning range.

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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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Evel Knievel Diecast Miniatures by Ideal Toys

Mike Pigott looks at this legendary range of diecast models made by Ideal Toys in the 1970s, based on the King of the Stuntmen: Evel Knievel.StratocycleLegendary stuntman Evel Knievel was one of the most famous figures of the 1970s, and Ideal’s range of toys based on his exploits are among the most widely sought-after collectibles of the era. However, while the Evel Knievel action figures and powered motorcycles are widely remembered today, a related range of diecast vehicles from Ideal Toys is perhaps not as well-known, despite being excellent miniatures. Ideal produced a range of 13 different Evel-related vehicles, some of which are scarce and valuable today.

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Batman by Tomica

Mike Pigott looks at the models based on Batman feature films made by the famous Japanese manufacturer Tomica.Camouflage and black 4th BatmobilesTomica is a long-running range of Hot Wheels-sized model cars made by Takara-Tomy of Japan. Tomica first produced a range of five Batman vehicles in 2012, and later added a number of Bat-vehicles to its ‘Dream Tomica’ line of fictitious cars. As with other Japanese manufacturers, Tomica only did models of Batmobiles seen in feature films, and did not bother with vehicles from TV or comic books.

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Small Soldiers by Hasbro

Mike Pigott looks at a little-known series of diecast vehicles based on the popular film Small Soldiers from 1998.59 (3)Small Soldiers may seem an unlikely movie to spawn a line of diecast vehicles, given that it was about a group of action figures gone bad. However, Hasbro, the makers of the action figures, also produced a small diecast range.

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Jurassic Park III by Hasbro

Mike Pigott returns to Jurassic Park, as he looks at the models made by Hasbro to tie in with the third film in the series, Jurassic Park III.

Capture TransportThe third instalment in the Jurassic Park franchise was Jurassic Park III, released in 2001, this time directed by Joe Johnston and based on an original screenplay. It involved the return of Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill), who is engaged by wealthy couple Paul and Amanda Kirby (William H. Macy and Tea Leone) to give them a personal aerial tour to see the dinosaurs of Isla Sorna. Unfortunately, Grant is duped; the Kirbys are not rich tourists and intend to land on the island to search for their teenage son who was lost there after a paragliding mishap. The plane is wrecked, and Grant has to lead the party through the dinosaur-overrun island. Although they find the boy, several of the party are killed by a particularly nasty sail-backed predator called Spinosaurus.

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