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Terry Curtis puppets for auction

Sworders fine art auctioneers are offering two puppets by Century 21 puppet sculptor Terry Curtis as part of their upcoming Out of the Ordinary sale on 15th February 2022.

Curtis joined AP Films in Slough in 1964 as an assistant in the Art Department. A short period into his tenure, a position opened within the team of John Blundell and John Brown, the art directors of Thunderbirds. Curtis began making characters for the background, which mainly involved sculpting and painting plasticine. It wasn’t until 1966 and the first film, Thunderbirds Are Go, that he got the opportunity to work on the main cast, which included Captain Paul Travers and Hank Marvin of The Shadows.

Following the success of the film, Curtis was tasked with creating several members of the cast for the series that followed – Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons. For this series, Curtis devised and created several members of the key cast, including Captain Blue, Ochre, and Grey. Curtis remained with Century 21  until the early 70s, working on the second Thunderbirds film, Thunderbirds 6, and the final Supermarionation production of Gerry Anderson’s The Secret Service.

Lot 279 is Captain Grey. A modern Supermarionation puppet sculpted by Terry Curtis, from Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson in 1967 for ITV, modelled in a Spectrum uniform, holding the signature Captain Scarlet pistol, mounted on a wooden base with a brass plaque, labelled with a microchip of authenticity. 63cm high. Guide price £6,000-8,000.

Before being invited by Captain Scarlet to join Spectrum, Captain Grey was an officer of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol, and his looks and character were loosely based on Sean Connery’s portrayal of James Bond. Although a modern sculpture, this puppet has been made according to the same methods and standards as the original 1960s puppets. Curtis has made several modern reproductions; however, he is adamant that each is as faithful to their original counterparts as possible, from using period paints and resins to such minute detailing as sourcing individual Lightning Zip fastenings from old sewing boxes. Likewise, the internal mechanics remain true to the original designs, making each puppet a masterpiece of both puppeteering and engineering. The one difference is that each modern reproduction is microchipped to provide an invisible signature of authenticity by Curtis.

Lot 280 is ‘The Atlantian’. A Supermarionation puppet made by Terry Curtis for a production by Gerry Anderson meant to succeed The Secret Service in 1969/1970. 61cm high. Guide price £8,000-10,000.

‘The Atlantian’ was made by Curtis for a show intended to succeed The Secret Service in 1970. An outlined script had been in production by Des Saunders, the senior producer of both Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds, since 1966. It was meant to feature a family living in Atlantis, with the power to teleport to Earth, helping people in distress. The script was taken to Gerry Anderson; however, it was ultimately abandoned in favour of the live action show UFO. With the show never making it into production, the puppet remained in its case with Curtis, making a brief appearance on the Antiques Roadshow around the turn of the millennium.