Fanderson visited Britain’s largest toy trade show today to take a look at Vivid’s exciting new toy range to tie in with Thunderbirds Are Go!
In a sign of the huge interest and secrecy that continues to surround the series, Vivid’s Thunderbirds line was only on display in a separate sealed off room within the company’s main stand.
The star product was undoubtedly the Interactive Tracy Island Playset. The set boasts ‘smart technology’ that enables it to ‘know’ which craft is launching, and play appropriate sound and light effects. But one of the most impressive features of the product is the semi-automated launch sequences. This was demonstrated with Thunderbird 3, and it was fascinating to see the craft being moved up through the roundhouse under its own steam. The set also comes with a wrist controller that activates ‘mission sounds’ from John up in the space station.
Apart from the roundhouse, all the iconic elements have been preserved and updated – there are still collapsible palm trees and Thunderbird 1 still rises out of the swimming pool. In fact, the launch sequences for Thunderbirds 1 and 2 were being shown in the same room on a large 4K(ish?) screen. The combination of CGI and live action model sets was fascinating to watch and had an exciting, slightly surreal video game quality to it. It’s hard to see the series, and the toys, failing to appeal to children this Christmas. The Tracy Island retails at £79.99.
The Thunderbird craft toys that fit with the Tracy Island all come with realistic thruster sound effects and extendable features. Thunderbird 1 has retractable wings and a rotatable thruster to ensure a safe landing. Thunderbird 3 comes with extending legs used for attaching to things when drilling, which are released by a trigger under the craft. There are also realistic engine sounds when the middle shaft is rotated. As you would expect, Thunderbird 2 comes with a mini-Thunderbird 4, and features a drop-down landing pod, retractable landing gear and TB2 engine sounds. Thunderbird 2 will retail at £14.99, while TBs 1 and 3 will retail at £9.99. There will be a ’value’ Vehicle Super Set containing all four craft (TB1, TB2, TB3 and TB4) (RRP £29.99).
Perhaps the most exciting toy for older fans was the larger-scale TB2 Playset which included folding wings, drop-down entry doors, retractable landing gear (controlled by the wings) and realistic engine sounds. Apparently it also contains an intelligent IC trigger which knows when TB4 is or isn’t in the drop down central pod. As you can see, the TB2 cockpit accommodates 2 x 1.5” action figures. The Thunderbird 4 craft included in the set also comes with a separate escape pod and opening rear air lock and lower pod door. This one is sure to be top of some people’s lists! (RRP £39.99)
The Tracy brothers action figures were also on show. Measuring 3.75” inches in height, they feature nine points of articulation,and come with their own character accessories and removable helmets. There will also be a Hood action figure…but that was being kept under wraps now. The 6 action figures will retail at £7.99.
Finally, a very fetching blue Thunderbirds uniform will launch later in the year. The unform featured themed graphics and raised sculpting, and is expected to cost £19.99
Clearly the Thunderbirds ‘franchise’ continues to be in the very best of hands at Vivid. The company’s long and faithful association with the series was highlighted by the presence of their original Tracy Island toy at the show. The new Tracy Island is bigger, bolder and bristles with lights, sound effects and mechanical features.
We expect many 50 year old fans to be buying these ‘for their children’ next Christmas.