Stingray main models

Marc J. Frattasio

stingray was in several respects very different from its two immediate ancestors, Fireball XL5 and Supercar. Lew Grade of itc directed the Andersons to produce their programs primarily for the American market. Supercar and Fireball XL5 had both been filmed in black & white, as was the standard at that time. However, as Fireball XL5 was wrapped up, it became apparent that color television was eventually going to become the standard in America. Therefore, Grade ordered the Andersons to produce their next television series in color. Thus, Stingray was filmed in color.

The use of color film brought many challenges to the apf crew. For example, Derek Meddings and his special effects team had to learn how colors interact with color film. Believe it or not, colors often do not appear to the human eye and the camera in the exact same way. Reds in particular are supposed to be very troublesome. Certain shades of red can actually appear brown on color film. Legend has it that all the Stingray puppet sets had to be repainted after the first few takes because the colors looked awful on film! Eventually, a set of standard colors was decided upon and this resolved the color problem.

Color film also forced changes in how miniature models were built and finished as well. Black & white film captures objects in various shades of gray only. It was much easier for the apf model makers to hide flaws and shoddy workmanship in a black & white environment than it was under full living color. Thus, the models used in Stingray had to built to a much higher standard of detail than anything used before. In general, the models used in Stingray were much more realistic than those used in Supercar and Fireball XL5. They made more use of model kit parts and tended to be less haphazardly designed. The more realistic models used in Stingray paved the way for the even more impressive works introduced in Thunderbirds and in later Supermarionation television programs and cinema films.

Let's take a look at the models of Stingray:

Many model kit versions of Stingray craft were produced over the years in the United States, England, and Japan. For example, Midori in Japan produced several plastic kits of the Stingray submarine and a Titanican mechanical fish during the 1960s and 1970s. Many of these Japanese kits were sold in North America under the Paramount label. In recent years, Arri of Japan reissued the old Midori 'Big Stingray' submarine kit, Japanese garage kit companies like Wave produced extremely accurate resin and vinyl Stingray submarine kits, and Comet Miniatures of England produced several different metal, vacuform plastic, and resin Stingray kits. For more information on past and present Stingray model kits or other merchandising, check out Gordon O'Byrne's Stingray Memorabilia Museum or Dennis Nicholson's Anderson collectibles site.

The continued availability of many of the exact same plastic model kits used by the APF model makers under Derek Meddings make it possible for the talented hobby kit builder to produce truly accurate replicas of many of the miniatures seen in Stingray. A few examples that come to mind are the Airfix 'Bloodhound' surface to air missile/wasp underwater interceptors, the Revell Bell X-5 research aircraft/X20's submarine, and the Revell B-58 'Hustler' supersonic bomber/wasp Spearhead jet. Take another look at the models of Stingray, read all the linked subordinate pages, take notes whenever I mention that ordinary model kits were used to make particular Stingray miniatures, and then take that list with you to your local model shop.

It is unfortunate, but short of having access to Stingray episodes on videotape or laser disk, digging up decent photographic reference materials can be very difficult. Even the old TV21 comics offered very little in the way of meaningful photographs of anything from Stingray other than the Stingray submarine and Titan's mechanical fish. Probably the best photographic reference is 'Stingray' by Dave Rogers (ISBN 1 85283 191 X) which was published by Boxtree Books in 1992. The full text of this book was reprinted in Boxtree's compilation, 'The Supermarionation Classics', a year or two later. Another book which had a few Stingray miniature photographs in it was 'The Gerry Anderson Stingray Files' by John Peel which was published by Psi Fi Movie Press in 1986. Other Stingray model photographs can be found in various Japanese photographic reference books on Supermarionation which have been published over the years. These English language technical references to Supermarionation may be useful to the Stingray modeler too.

This page published originally at the Supermarionation sfx WebSite
text ©1996 Marc J. Frattasio; not for reproduction for profit without his express permission