Captain Scarlet

cars

Marc J. Frattasio

Car View Car

Car #1
The civilian car seen here parked on the London Car-View tower in the very first episode (untitled but generally known as The Mysterons) is typical of the miniature automobiles used in Captain Scarlet.
The Captain Scarlet television series featured frequent car chases and other street scenes with automobiles. Typically, the miniature cars used were modified AMT, Revell, or Monogram 1/25th scale plastic car kits. A variety of makes and models were used, all typical American sedans and wagons.
The automobile kits were for the most part built right from the box and filmed in essentially 'stock' condition. Some cosmetic modifications were occasionally made, however, most of changes made to these cars were very subtle and are hard to discern on TV. Although the series was set in the year 2067, a century beyond the production date, most of the cars seen in Captain Scarlet appear to be little removed from the 1960s!
For filming purposes, the model cars were often fitted with a Jetex pyrotechnic motor on the bottom which disturbed a thin layer of Fuller's Earth placed on the model roadway to simulate exhaust or road dust. The model cars were often fitted with a foam rubber suspension system and some of them were fitted with a special device which forced the front down to simulate the visual effect of high speed braking.

Police Car

Police Car
Here is a London Police Department patrol car passing in front of a highly detailed automobile parking garage model as seen in Big Ben Strikes Again. This miniature police car is, once again, a very slightly modified 1/25th scale automobile kit.
This model was modified for filming with battery operated headlamps and flashing blue roof lights. The lights used to illuminate model cars such as this one were generally model railroad type grain of wheat lamps.

Two Cars Passing

Two Cars
Here are two 1/25th scale kit based miniature cars passing at an intersection in Big Ben Strikes Again.
Note that the near model car has been slightly modified with a new bubble canopy but the far car appears to be a stock kit. The Century 21 studios built a large number of model cars for Captain Scarlet which were available as required for filming.

Military Staff Car

Military Staff Car
Here is a World Army military staff car parked outside the Supreme Headquarters Earth Forces (SHEF) building in New York City as seen in Point 783.
This appears to be another slightly modified 1/25th scale model car kit. If you look very closely at the front of the model car, you can just barely see the vertical pin used to 'drive' the car through a slot in the center of the miniature roadway. Such cars were operated by a technician from beneath the miniature roadway.

SHEF Half-Track

SHEF Half-Track
Here is an SHEF half-track staff car as seen in Point 783. This model is extremely interesting as it is one of the most severely modified model car kits used in Captain Scarlet.
What we have here, is a plastic model car kit body attached to the tracks and mechanism from a Japanese battery operated 'MS-58 Missile Tank' or 'M-1 Tank' toy. These then-inexpensive and simple plastic and metal toys were used as the basis for a variety of miniature ground vehicles in Captain Scarlet. Indeed, the tracks from this toy were even used on the rear of one of the larger sized Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle models.

Captain Black's Car

Captain Black's car
Here is yet another slightly modified 1/25th scale model car kit as used by Captain Black in The Place of the Angels.
This model car was modified with illuminated headlamps made from small battery operated grain of wheat lamps. The apparatus used to illuminate these miniature automobiles was completely self contained.

Convertible

Convertable
Here is a miniature convertible made from a 1/25th scale model car kit as seen in The Place of the Angels.
Convertible automobiles presented certain advantages to the Century 21 production team. Often, puppet sized mockups of the driver's compartment were used for close ups of the puppet characters driving their cars. These puppet sized mockups had to closely match the appearance of the model cars seen in long shots. Convertible cars do not have roofs. Thus, the puppet driver or passenger's wires could pass through to the puppeteer's bridge without the need for holes, sunroofs, or any other such gimmicks!

Another Convertible Car

Convertible Car
Here is yet another kind of convertible car from The Place of the Angels which was made from a 1/25th scale automobile kit.
The thick plastic windscreens and windows supplied with these model car kits were often replaced by the studio model makers with new parts cut from thin transparent acetate sheet. The new acetate transparencies were more realistic than the original plastic parts.
Many of the model cars made for Captain Scarlet which survived the crash scenes, explosions, and the various other rigors of filming were later reused in Joe90.

Yellow Car

Yellow Car
Here is another model car kit based miniature automobile as seen in The Place of the Angels.
Note the sunroof just above the plasticine driver's head. Sunroofs such as this were often incorporated into miniature cars so that the puppet sized car mockup could have an opening in the roof through which to pass the puppet's strings.

Cars and Gas Station

Gas Station
This scene is included here to show the incredible level of detail incorporated into the miniature sets in which these model cars were usually filmed.
Both car models are of course based upon 1/25th scale kits. The trees are made from colored lichen and small natural twigs. The model gas station is made from balsa wood, artist's board, and acetate sheet.

Captain Black's Convertible

Black's Convertable
Here is yet another kit based convertible car seen in Captain Scarlet.
When model cars like this were used in crash scenes, they were sometimes fitted with new front ends which were made from thin pewter sheet. The pewter front end would crumple realistically in the simulated crash just like full scale sheet metal.

Pick Up Truck

Pick Up Truck
This panoramic scene from Spectrum Strikes Back shows a rare pick up truck model. The green model appears to have been cut-down from a normal sedan type automobile kit.
This particular shot is what is called a 'forced perspective' shot. The model cars are not all that far away from the much larger scale wooden railing. The combination of the large scale railing, the small scale background miniatures, and the high camera angle make it seem as if there is more perspective in this shot than there really is.

WAF Staff Car

WAS Staff Car
Here is a World Airforce staff car as seen in Treble Cross.
Once again, this is yet another slightly modified 1/25th scale model car kit. I am completely useless in terms of being able to recognize automobiles from the 1950s and 1960s. If anyone out there can identify any of the cars on this page, please let me know and I will make sure the information gets put up here so that everyone can see it.
This page published originally at the Supermarionation sfx WebSite
text ©1996 Marc J. Frattasio; not for reproduction for profit without his express permission