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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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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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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The Pink Panther by Bburago

Mike Pigott looks at a large model of the popular cartoon cat made by Italian company Bburago.


While the Pink Panther models made by Dinky of the UK are probably the most well known toy cars based on the character, there were a wide range of miniature vehicles featuring the famous colourful cat. The Pink Panther was extremely popular in Italy, and there were several toy vehicles featuring his likeness, including a large racing car made by Bburago.

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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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The Pink Panther by Dinky

Mike Pigott looks at Dinky Toys based on that popular cartoon cat, the Pink Panther.


The Pink Panther made his debut in the opening titles of the 1963 film The Pink Panther, and proved popular enough to be spun off into a series of animated shorts. These cartoons were later repackaged as a TV show which featured the Pink Panther riding in a very unusual custom car in the opening and closing credits. Dinky soon produced a model of this car in two versions, which were very different from standard Dinky models.

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Tom & Jerry by Corgi

Mike Pigott looks at the many models made by Corgi of the famous cartoon cat and mouse duo and their pals over the years.


The cat and mouse duo Tom & Jerry was created in 1939 by the now-legendary team of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. As domestic animals, they were unlikely subjects for a range of diecast vehicles, but they were modelled by Corgi on a number of occasions, spanning three decades.

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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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