Thunderbird 1

This is a vinyl and white metal kit, and there's a lot of work needed. There are a few minor errors to fix, but also some moulding problems - I was involved in a 3-day engineering project including resin and casting just to get the thing symmetrical! The literature also shows at least 5 different marking options, including the black hoops round the neck and different TB markings on the fins - so it'll be hard to do something wrong! With a good paint job, rub-down decals and a decent set, the kit is a fine sight.

There were many models made for the "Thunderbirds" movies and t.v. series, each with different scales, markings and colour schemes. The left hand one is based on the studio models used in the feature length movies "Thunderbirds Are Go" and "Thunderbird 6". Engine detail and front and rear portions of the fuselage are hand built from resin. The primary colours are Warning Red, French Mid Blue (95%) with Moss Green (5%) and Aluminium. The paint, rub-down and painted lettering are sealed with several coats of gloss laquer, with a matt coat on top. Weathering consists of Engine Green and Charcoal, and a dusting of green and brown chalk dust over the matt coat. Video footage and studio model display stills were used to replicate weathering patterns and overall colour tone.

The right hand option is from the first series, and it's also shown in it's protective carry case, as the fins are very fragile. Note the 15cm ruler for scale.

Kit bashing is the name of the game here, as none of this base is off-the-shelf. Here is a list of the bits I used: a Sherman tank, a Panzer tank (or two), a frigate, and a heap of girder section. For kit bashing, the discerning modeller instinctively heads for.......the discount bin!!

After the Thunderbird (not much in making it - just a lot of filling and sanding), the first job is to make the launch platform. This is pretty much essential as the Thunderbird is quite fragile: the fins will be knocked off easily. The launch platform is the easiest place to store it, as the rocket nozzle on the base can be made a nice tight fit in the central hole.

Next, find a plastics stockist who will sell you plastic sheet. I buy styrene sheet in 1m x 1.5m sheets for £10: if you buy the A4 sheets from model shops it'll cost about 14 times more!
My plastic sheet is cut to form the basic shape for the base - a box to house the ramp and a platform for launch and detailing

Here's the base with the detailing added. Now, the next complete shot shows a slightly different base - some of the fine detail points are different. These were made for two customers, and there's now way that both are going to be exactly alike.

There are no internal lights in the original models, so a lit base is added here to give an eye-catching appearance. To get the scale effects right, small, high intensity light sources are required. The light must also have a blue-green dominance, so that the correct colour balance is achieved. White l.e.d.'s have exactly these properties, and are very long lasting and have a low power consumption, giving about 14 hours continuous use from a pair of alkaline "C" sized cells. Thunderbird 1 can be lifted off the launch trolley, and seats within 8 small guides for stability.




The base is a semi-scaled replica of the Thunderbird 1 lower launch bay, embedded within Tracy Island. A full scale replica would have been nearly 3 times bigger, mostly because of the ramp slope. Details such as the inspection gantries, etc., have been scaled disproportionatly to fit available space. The stone effect finish is cast onto a loose-weave rigid plastic mesh epoxied onto the plastic box shell. Additional stone effect material is cast inside the back wall to balance the diorama, which would otherwise be front-heavy and unsteady. The battery holder is in the bottom of the diorama.

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A slightly larger set variation.... note the illuminated control tower at the upper right hand corner of the back wall.

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