So here we are, Sunday 18th and all is well at Moonbase. Blue's been in the woods, we've been to Tesco (yak!) and I'm reclining with coffee on the Telly Room settee. I've just watched an episode of Thunderbirds on You Tube in readiness for the next installment in my look at box art origins. Next under the microscope is the Century 21's sleek and powerful PROBE FORCE No.2 as pictured below. Like the other 'teams' in the SWORD Fleet, the Task Force Re-Entry's and the Scouts, the origins of the Probe Forces have remained murky and elusive. However I would like to put forward a theory about the origin of both the box art AND toy design of said Probe Force 2.
Here we have the SUN PROBE (below) from the 1965 Thunderbirds TV episode of the same name. Look at the bulbous rear engine housing. It's a lot like that of the Probe Force 2. Even the name is similar!
Here's is the sequence from which it came during the launch in the TV episode (part 1 You Tube)
And the same launch shot flipped on it's side shows how similar it looks to the toy (and box art) if you stripped off the PF2's wings in my very poor attempt pictured below.
And probably the most convincing similarity are the two side rockets on the ship's neck, which are clearly visible in the shot of the SUN PROBE below. Okay the shape has been changed on the SWORD toy and box art but they are pretty close. In the actual TV episode (immediately at the start of Part 2 on You Tube) there is a shot of an illustration of the Sun Probe behind one Professor Heinz Bodman. If such an illustration already existed at Century 21 it may well have been recycled in 1966/67 when SWORD was being developed and sold. Pure speculation on my part naturally!
The last part of my Sun Probe thesis is the rogues gallery below, in which I have grouped together the nose-cones of the Sun Probe and PF2, along with 2 other rockets to show how similar they are.
From left to right: Sun Probe (TV), Thunderbird 3 (TV), Probe Force 2, Tarheel Nova
Finally, an interesting post-it on the Probe Force storyboard is the re-use of the Century 21 box art on other toys. Below is a bagged Pop Rocket discovered by WOTAN and previously blogged.
You can clearly see in this close-up of the header card how the Century 21 PF2 box art has simply been lifted wholesale and placed on the left of this scnene.
The comparison shot below makes the Pop Rocket 'lift' easy to see, albeit at a different angle and on a blue background. Sadly none of the actual toys look like the PF2!
All pictures from the Woodsy collection and You Tube.