The psychedelic 60s was a Technicolor kaleidoscope of change. Beatlemania and Dalekmania were hip... Matt Mason and Moon McDare took the kids into Space.
It was a decade of growing equality which saw a shift in the production and marketing of toy dolls. Equal opportunity had arrived for boys with a variety of exciting action dolls.
The decade heralded the arrival of a motley assortment of articulated astronauts, soldiers, divers, cowboys and spies appearing our toy shops. Those pioneering boys action dolls were often inspired by the movies and TV, the main purveyors of popular culture at that time.
Fairylite (formerly, Graham Bros), had already pulled strings for the licensing rights of earlier Supermarionation toys. They'd given us a super cool Supercar, a fantastic plastic Fireball XL5, and a beautifully detailed friction motor Jet mobile with Steve Zodiac.
Fairylite also won the license for an exciting new range of 11.5 inch tall, Action-Thunderbirds movable character dolls.
Unlike Hasbro's GI Joe, Fairylite's cost effective Action-Thunderbirds lacked robust physiques and good articulation. Their hollow-blown plastic bodies, could only move at the hips, shoulders and neck.
But what Jeff and his boys lacked in battle scared grit, they made up for with good quality character head-sculpts, neat uniforms and accessories.
Today, these toys are wonderfully simple, old school, and give a gentle nostalgic charm, reflective of those cosy childhood days... quite similar to Gilbert's James Bond 007 and The Man from UNCLE dolls.
But to the 60s kid, upbeat with the spirit and imagination of the era, Fairylite's Thunderbirds promised a high explosive world of action and adventure.
Each of the eight male figures came in a colourful, generic, product box. The only distinguishing feature making a box specific to a doll was the characters name being stamped on the bottom lid.
I'm not convinced this was necessary. The box had a clear plastic window, showing the 60s kid which one of his heroes was strapped inside ready for blast-off.
After all, what self-respecting kid of that era didn't know the characters off by heart! Back then Thunderbirds were as FAB to kids as the Fab Four were cool to teenagers.
In a decade of equality, girls weren't to be left out of the adventure. Fairylite also produced the elegant Lady Penelope and Tin Tin, along with various costumes and variants.
I wont delve into their chic world here, as Jim Lewis has already spotlighted them on the Moonbase catwalk in his wonderfully written and illustrated 2010 article, 'Two Fab Ladies'.
An unusual variation of Jeff Tracy was also exists, but like Penelope and Tin Tin, isn't illustrated on the generic box.
However, he's clearly displayed amongst the boxed set at http://megocorp.xooit.fr/t519-THUNDERBIRDS.htm.
I found a close-up showing this variant wearing military style uniform at the Thunderbirds Vintage Toys website.
Mysteriously, that mesmerizing master of mayhem, The Hood, is conspicuous by the absence. Slipped through the International Rescue net once again... or perhaps the victim of restricted licensing rights or budget ?
These days Jeff and his boys are tricky to track down. But that's a big part of the enjoyment of collecting... trying to find those cherished old toys with their familiar friendly faces.
They link us to our past somewhere back there in the 1960s, when the future was in the 21st Century and the toys were just fab.