The Bonham's auction puppets

sometime in early 2008, I picked up one of the free newspapers floating around at the time and my eye was caught by an item in the faits divers section, showing a lady holding what looked like Terry Curtis' Paul Travers puppet which had been auctioned off at Christies in 2003. A closer inspection of the photo's caption revealed that this was about another auction of Supermarionation memorabilia, this time at Bonhams' auction house. A quick trip to the Bonhams site yielded the following images and text, the latter being the lot notes and description.

Paul Travers puppet
the Paul Travers puppet
Captain Blue puppet
the Captain Blue puppet

Thunderbirds Are GO!: at left an original Captain Paul Travers puppet head mounted on an original Jeff Tracy Stage 1 body, with original hands, the puppet being fully working, the composition head featuring original hair and ears, with restoration replacement eyes, dressed in modern replica blue Zero X space pilots uniform and orange polo neck, including stand 50cm high.

This puppet is from the collection of Terry Curtis. It was made by Terry Curtis for the film and was modelled after Sean Connery. This item has real hair and rubber ears (to utilise headset).

Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons: at right an original Captain Blue puppet head and hands, painted composition, head featuring 'false teeth', having internal head mechanism (being without solenoid), with 'real' hair and eyebrows, eyes and hair being modern restoration reproduction, on replica body with modern costume, including stand 59cm high.

This puppet is from the collection of Terry Curtis. Terry Curtis was responsible for the sculpting of Captain Blue during the Captain Scarlet series and also created Ochre, Grey and Destiny Angel, characters from Thunderbird 6, Joe 90 and The Secret Service. This model is the only original version of the puppet to have 'false teeth'. This item has been re-wigged with mohair eyebrows and hair.

Incidentally, these illustrations also nicely illustrate the difference between the puppets used up to and including Thunderbirds and the socalled 'perfectly proportioned puppets' used for productions following Thunderbirds. The Paul Travers figure's head and hands are clearly not in proportion to its body, due to the fact that the head had to house the lip-sync solenoid used to move the puppet's lower lip during shooting. By the time of the Captain Scarlet series, however, the mechanism had been refined enough to be located in the puppet's chest cavity, thereby opening up the way for puppets with correct proportions as explained elsewhere on this site.

Intrigued by this find, I decided to search Bonham's site for more Anderson related lots. And, to my surprise and delight, a small number of other items turned up. What follows are the pictures and the accompanying lot notes.

Captain Black head

Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons: an original Captain Black puppet head, painted composition, with frowning expression, 'real' hair and eyebrows, internal mechanisms for mouth and eye movements, the interior of the magnetised, two-part head inscribed capt black frowner, 11cm (4¼in) high.

Following the success of the Thunderbirds series, Sylvia and Gerry Anderson produced the science fiction television series Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons, first shown in Britain between September 1967 and April 1968. It used scale models and Supermarionation puppetry.

Produced over 32 episodes, the premise of the series involved World Security Organisation SPECTRUM, defending the Earth from the invasion plans of the Mysterons. On a mission to Mars in 2068, Captain Black mistakenly destroyed a Mysteron City, leading them to declare war on Earth. The Mysterons then took control of Captain Black's mind, becoming Captain Scarlet's nemesis.

the professor from the JIF commercial

A Gerry Anderson puppet: 'Professor Jif', as used in a cinema/TV commercial, 1970s, head of fibreglass, articulated limbs of wood with rubber hands on wire armature, clothing glued to body, approximately 53½cm (21in) high.

This was made for a Jif Dessert Topping commercial which was first shown in UK cinemas as a trailer to the newly-released Star Wars, and subsequently on British TV. Anderson used some of his former production crew, including Barry Gray (Thunderbirds) for the music, Ed Bishop (aka Captain Blue) as a voice artist and Brian Johnson (Thunderbirds, Alien) for special effects. It is believed this was the last piece that Anderson produced using the 'Supermarionation' technique he developed in the 60s for his classic series. The puppet is complete and original, just as it appeared in the commercial.

Lady Penelope

Thunderbirds: a Lady Penelope puppet, comprising an original head with internal electrical mechanism revealed by removable back section, used in the 1960s TV series, matched to later body and clothing, complete with wires and puppeteer's controls, 51cm (20in) high.

Provenance: from the collection of Christine Glanville (1924-1999). One of Gerry Anderson's chief puppeteers and puppet-makers, she began working for him in 1956 and went on to work on almost all of the classic Anderson television series of the 1960s.

Please note: According to information from the vendor, the head was rescued from destruction by Christine Glanville at the end of filming in the 1960s. In rather poor condition, it was subsequently refurbished, externally and internally, by Christine and she then used the newly constructed puppet for demonstration purposes at conventions, for interviews and guest appearances on various TV shows worldwide. As the head has been repainted at some point since its creation in the 1960s, it is impossible to accurately identify its screen usage.

This puppet even presented Princess Anne with a miniature bouquet one year, at the Windsor Rose Show and the outfit Lady P. wears today was specially made for that occasion.

undercontrol Captain Scarlet extra head

Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons: a Guard puppet head from the original TV series, complete with wiring and mechanism with tape attached inscribed Guard 2 (String With Hat), complete with hair/eyebrows and colouring, magnetised removable section to back of head inscribed No.6, 21cm (8¼") long overall.

Supercar body width replica Zarin head

A rare Supercar puppet, comprising an original wooden body, chest marked 2 in pencil, with a studio-accurate replica head in GRP with working eyes and mouth and removable wig, 44.5cm (17½in) high.

Supercar was the first of Gerry Anderson's half-hour TV shows. Some 39 episodes were broadcast during 1961-62 and the term 'Supermarionation' was first coined. This puppet was originally sold at the Phillips' Sylvia Anderson/Mary Turner/John Read auction in 1995. Very few original items now survive from the show.

sketch for the SPV by Derek Meddings

An original design concept for the for the SPV, from Captain Scarlet, 1967, the pencil drawing inscribed 'Design for Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle' signed by Derek Meddings, the design is for the most important vehicle in the Gerry Anderson TV series of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, 8 x 12 inches.

The SPV was the all terrain vehicle that Spectrum used at the front line of fighting against the menace of the Mysterons, it is nuclear powered with an advance steering system where the occupants face backwards while driving. SIG!

sketch for Thunderbird 3 by Derek Meddings

An original concept painting of Thunderbird 3, from Thunderbirds 1965–6, with original titling of Rescue 3 on the rocket fuselage, being heightened with white gouache on paper, mounted on black art board, signed by Derek Meddings. 12 x 21½ inches.

Originally the Thunderbird vehicles were going to be called Rescue vehicles but Gerry Anderson and the marketing team behind the ATV series wanted something that would capture the imagination thus the title Thunderbirds becoming the title of the International Rescue craft.

sketch for a Stingray costume

An original concept drawing for Troy Tempest's uniform, Stingray 1964-5, drawing in felt pen, 16 x 20 inches.

Stingray was the third Supermarionation series developed by Gerry Anderson and featured special effects by Derek Meddings.

sketch for a carrier plane by Mike Trim

Thunderbirds: Carrier Aircraft (Wombat) from the episode Duchess Assignment, pencil on paper mounted on board, signed and inscribed by the artist, reverse with label also signed and inscribed, 20½ x 33cm (8 x 13in).

This is an original concept design illustration by Mike Trim for Gerry Anderson's sci-fi series. Trim joined A.P. Films in 1964 as a Special Effects Assistant and after about a year, Derek Meddings, the special effects supervisor, asked him to become storyboard artist on Thunderbirds. Mike then contributed designs for secondary craft, vehicles, and buildings and from Captain Scarlet onwards he produced designs for some of the major craft in the various series. Almost all of the designs offered in this sale are pictured in the book The Future Was Fab: The Art Of Mike Trim, Anthony Taylor with Mike Trim, Hermes Press, 2006.