While I quite like all the designs of the new Thunderbirds Are Go craft to varying degrees, I was taken by the sleek look of the series’ ‘new kid on the block’ - the Thunderbird Shadow.
It was designed by Japanese anime creator and producer, Shoji Kawamori, who just happens to be a longtime fan of the original Thunderbirds puppet series.
When Vivid toys eventually brought out a version of the craft to add to their range of Thunderbirds Are Go toys I was frankly a little disappointed. It was a lot smaller than I would have liked, Its long pointed nose was blunted, presumably for the usual health & safety reasons, and the main body was bloated to accommodate the bits and pieces for the ‘action sounds’.
However, in spite of those shortcomings it still looked good to me from certain angles, and as I enjoy taking photos of my models and toys I thought it needed something to give it a more interesting look. As the Vivid Tracy Island didn't have a place for it I thought I’d make a little launch ramp just to big it up.
However, between you and me, once I started the project did begin to run away with me.
As the toy has no landing gear I couldn't really take photos of it parked at a model airfield or landed at some danger zone. I could hang it from a few wires and take snaps of it in flight but I wanted something with more interesting background detail. My initial idea was to just make the upper launch cradle by using bits and pieces lying around my workshop and use the Vivid Tracy Island as a backdrop.
I had to add an extra girder across the back of the cradle to balance the toy ( rather than the flat moulded section in the middle as seen on screen), as the toy just didn't sit right, and anyway my intention was always to do a general representation of what was on screen, rather than slavishly trying to recreate an exact replica.
I didn't even draw up a proper plan as it was a case of making it up as I went along. However, once the cradle was built, I felt it would benefit by adding the lower section, and for good measure, a circular base made of card to sit it on.
I did have to buy a bit of brass rail at this point from B&Q, as I didn't have anything lying around that looked similar.
Again, once I’d built the lower section I decided it still needed something extra, so I cut a square piece of 18mm MDF and painted lines on it giving it a similar look to what is seen on screen, although I did intentionally simplify it as everything was beginning to look a bit busy.
Even though I say so myself, I didn't think it was looking too bad at this stage, and really it didn't need anything else, but I was enjoying forming things around the little model, even though it’s size and obvious toy aspects really didn't justify it, I set to work building a cave wall backdrop and an extension to the Vivid Tracy Island toy using some spare bits of plywood and some old wall plaster.
I cut the plywood so it fitted against the base of the Tracy Island, and as a bit of extra detail I cobbled together a staircase using an old model railway layout bridge, and some assorted cylinders using bits of tubing. Finally after finishing painting the plaster, I fitted a few LED lights just for a little added realism.
All that was left was to take a few proper photos which I'll show you all in part 2