Thunderbirds models

Cars

Marc J. Frattasio

here are just a few of the many automobiles featured in Thunderbirds. Many 1/24 scale car kits by AMT, Monogram, and Revell plus Matchbox and Corgi diecasts were used in Thunderbirds. I have never been very interested in automobiles and have difficulty telling one 1960s make and model from another. If anyone out there can identify any of the car kits shown below, please let me know and I'll update this page with the information.

fab1

FAB1
Fab1 is Lady Penelope's customized Rolls Royce. A number of different sized fab1 models were made for use in Thunderbirds, including a puppet scaled model which was over five feet long. Here is one of the 1/24 scale models. It probably had a wooden or fiberglass body, vacuformed plastic canopy, chrome plated metal trim and wheels, and rubber tires from a plastic car kit. The Parker and Penelope figures were sculpted from plasticine clay.

Red convertible

Red Convertible
Scott Tracy drove this red convertible in City of Fire and no doubt the same model car was used in any number of other Thunderbirds episodes. It appears to have been an unmodified 1/24 scale plastic automobile kit. 1/24 scale was the standard scale used for ground vehicles of all kinds in Thunderbirds.

Airport police cars

Police Cars
These airport police cars were featured in Trapped in the Sky and other episodes of Thunderbirds. They appear to have been made from slightly modified 1/24 scale plastic automobile kits. Extensions made from a section of another kit's roof were placed over the car's trunks to present the appearance of station wagons. These police cars had flashing model railroad grain of wheat light bulbs mounted on their roofs.

City of Fire cars

City of Fire Cars
Here are two cars from City of Fire which were no doubt also used in any number of other Thunderbirds episodes. Both cars appear to have been made from unmodified 1/24 scale plastic automobile kits, a Buick Riviera hard top and Ford Thunderbird convertible. The driver figures were made from plasticine clay.

Alan Tracy's racing car

Alan Tracy's Racing Car
This is Alan Tracy's racing car from Move and You're Dead. This model appears to have been a wooden body mounted on 1/24 scale plastic car kit wheels with a tail fin taken from a plastic model aircraft kit. The Alan Tracy driver figure was made from plasticine clay. Imai included a small kit of this racing car in one of their Thunderbird 2 pod vehicle sets.

Police car

Police Car
This police car was featured in Martian Invasion and was no doubt used in any number of other Thunderbirds episodes. This appears to have been made from an unmodified 1960s era 1/24 scale Dodge Polara or Plymouth Belvedere car kit.

NYC traffic jam

Traffic Jam
This traffic jam was caused by the collapse of the Empire State Building in Terror in New York City. These appear to be Matchbox or Corgi die cast toy cars. Die cast toy cars were often used in large expansive sets such as airports, cityscapes, etc., to give a greater appearance of scale.

Taxi

Desert Taxi
This old desert taxi was featured in Desperate Intruder and it appears to have been yet another modified 1/24 scale car kit. The desert sand which this model car is being pulled across is none other than Fuller's Earth, an extremely fine powder which is often used as a filler material for certain types of plastics.

Model T Ford

Model T
This Model T Ford and sports car were featured in The Imposters. Both vehicles appear to have been unmodified plastic car kits. Note the clouds of dust rising behind the cars. Model cars used in Thunderbirds were often fitted with a downward pointing Jetex pyrotechnic motor. When ignited, the Jetex motor would disturb a fine layer of Fuller's Earth laid down on the rolling road or roadway set, causing an apparent cloud of road dust or exhaust.

Ford Thunderbird

Ford Thunderbird
This car was featured in City of Fire. This car is a slightly modified Ford Thunderbird. Note how the rear wheel wells have been cut back to alter the car's profile. Note also the huge number of other 1/24 scale plastic model cars in this underground parking garage set!
[Exactly because of that prohibitively large number, I believe Meddings would have chosen for a socalled 'forced perspective' set – a wellknown special effects technique he has been known to have used on other occasions – where the foreground scale, i.e. the first three rows or so, would have been 1/24, the middle part would have used Corgi or Dinky Toys and the background would have been filled with Matchbox cars; obviously, the garage set would have been scaled accordingly. When the different parts are lined up correctly from the camera's POV, the illusion of a receding perspective cannot be distinguished from the real thing. — JLN2nd]
This page published originally at the Supermarionation sfx WebSite
text ©1996 Marc J. Frattasio; not for reproduction for profit without his express permission