Wednesday, 10 February 2016

THUNDERBIRDS ZERO-X MODEL BY MASTERMODELS

To celebrate posting pics of Kevin's completed Zero-X scratchbuild I thought I'd re-post the Mastermodels Zero-X stuff we've carried over the years and put them all in one place.

PHOTOGRAPHS

With kind permission from Andrew Barr of Mastermodels I am mega pleased to be able to post their fantastic photographs of  the Zero X model under construction for Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds in the 1960's.


You can also read Mastermodel's own case study about their work for Gerry including amazing colour footage of this Joe 90's Mac Car model being built. Click. Note the Zero-X on the table [who is that girl?]


STUDIO MODEL


The model above and below is not the ZX26 model by Mastermodels. According to Wikipedia "AP Films commissioned Slough-based company Mastermodels for two* scale filming miniatures of Zero-X. The bigger of the pair, which was built at a cost of £2,500, measured 7 feet (2.1 m) in length and weighed 50 pounds (23 kg)." *see point number 2 below


CORRESPONDENCE WITH MASTERMODELS

Sometimes I get a surprise in my email bag. Here's a New Year one. In 2011 I wrote to Mastermodels and this month I got a reply, 4 years later! My original email is below with the response below that. Enjoy! Pictures to follow!

From: Woodsy

Sent: 19 June 2011 23:25

To: Sales

Subject: Request

Dear Master Models,

I have just been enjoying browsing your fabulous site. I am a huge fan of Century 21 films, shows and vehicles and in particular those vehicles that made it to the toy manufacturers. A case in point is the wonderful Zero-X, which I see on your site.

I wondered if I could ask a favour and ask if I might post your Zero-X pictures on my own blog dedicated to Gerry Anderson toys and models? Naturally I would credit them to you and post a link to your site. I have readers allover the world and it would take the fabulous pictures to a different audience. My site is http://projectswordtoys.blogspot.com/

Looking at your Zero-X pictures a few questions spring to mind:

1. Were the models made directly from Derek Meddings' designs, which I think I can just see on the wall behind

2. Why was the number 26 on the tailfins? Did you make 26 models?

3. In Derek Medding's book he says that £2,500 was paid for the Zero-X model [in 1965 or 6?]. Was that to yourselves?

4. Did you know that the vehicle was made into a fabulous toy in 1967 by Century 21 as part of the Project SWORD range? Did you have any involvement in Project SWORD or the toy side? Did you ever know any of the box artists who illustrated the C21 toy boxes by any chance?

I have found this clip on the British Pathe news archive of a man making Thunderbird 2 in 1968. Is this Master Models?


Thank you in advance,
Best Wishes,
Woodsy

__________________________________________________


From: Andrew Barr
Sent: Friday, January 16, 2015 6:02 PM
Subject: RE: Request - Zero X Photos

Hello

I have just been doing some clearing out of old e mails on my lap top and I came across
your e mail below from June 2011 !!

I apologise that this was never answered until now.

I can confirm that we would be happy for you to publish the zero x pictures from our site on your blog.

Our site has been re-designed and the link to Zero X photos is here...



To answer your questions...

1) Yes. Although I think there were a team of creative people at A P Films / Century 21 at that time doing drawings.

2) I have no idea why 26 is on the tail fins. We made 1 x large model and a couple of smaller ones.

3) Yes. This would have been paid to either the original Mastermodels or to AGM. Both companies that my Father owned and managed.

4) I did not know until I looked at your blog that Zero-X was made into a toy.

...and yes the Pathe News clip is filmed at AGM Ltd (Aeronautical & General Modelmakers Ltd). AGM is our parent company.

Best Regards

Andrew

Apologies again for the wait you had to endure before getting a reply.

Andrew Barr
Managing Director


BRITISH PATHE FILM 2

Whilst doing further research into Mastermodels I came across a longer silent film at British Pathe. It appears to be out-takes and cuts from the footage posted previously on the blog. It includes a short section featuring the Zero X on a workbench as seen in this blurry screengrab, around the six minute mark.

It also features more Joe 90 Macs car and lots of bi-plane and jet model making. All in all quite fascinating. I have let Andrew Barr of Mastermodels know too. 

Click here to watch the video on British Pathe's website.


BRITISH PATHE FILM 1

A couple of years ago I found some footage of a model making firm on British Pathe's online archive. Could it be Master Models, who made the Zero-X for Derek Meddings? Certainly they can be seen working on Mac's Car at the end of the clip!

The Pathe notes describes the firm being located in Hounslow, which I can see on Google Maps is just 13 miles from Slough Trading Estate, home of Century 21. But the final proof comes when you compare stills of the chap working on Mac's Car from Master Model's own online archive with those of British Pathe. Despite one being colour and the other monochrome, they are quite clearly the same chap!

Compare them for yourselves [can't show copyrighted material here but you can split your screen to compare the two stills]:

2. British Pathe still

[be patient, wait for clip 2.03 - 2 minutes 3 seconds - to appear at the bottom]

So, without further ado, watch original footage of Master Models in 1968, makers of Joe's 90's Car, various Thunderbirds craft and Zero-X for one Derek Meddings!


And the icing on the cake, you can see all the famous model vehicles in one shot on Master Models site, including Zero-X, here! 


Wonder who the modellers are? Did they go on to even greater things?

ZX26 MODEL

A reader posed a question in the comments section regarding a mystery Zero-X photograph, where the tail fin of the plane is marked ZX26:


 "Does anyone know the origin of this photo and the unusual decals of 'ZX26'?. It has been suggested these were the original markings put on by Space Models before it went to Century 21 Productions for modification before filming but no-one seems 100% sure... "


Looking at the Master Models [Space Models] website I found vintage photographs of a model Zero-X made by them for Century 21 Ltd for the 1966 movie Thunderbirds Are Go. The model is marked ZX26, which suggests it is the same one as in the "mystery" photograph.

The links to Master Models pictures are as follows [check out ALL their pictures - well worth it!]:


http://www.mastermodels.co.uk/Gallery_One/Pages/Television.html#10 Zero-X tail fin, no markings visible, B/W


http://www.mastermodels.co.uk/Gallery_One/Pages/Film.html#5 Zero-X full view, no markings visible, colour


http://www.mastermodels.co.uk/Gallery_One/Pages/Film.html#26 Zero-X rear view, "26" visible on tail fin, B/W


http://www.mastermodels.co.uk/Gallery_One/Pages/Film.html#27 Zero-X side view, "ZX26" and "26" visible on three wing fins, colour


http://www.mastermodels.co.uk/Gallery_One/Pages/Film.html#28 Zero-X rear view, "ZX26" and "26" visible, B/W

"ZX" is obviously Zero-X but I have no idea what "26" refers to. Anyone know?

SPACE MODELS OF FELTHAM, MASTERMODELS OF HOUNSLOW AND AGM

Mastermodels and Space Models are often mentioned synonymously when discussing outsourced modelmaking for Derek Meddings. 

My previous post on Mastermodels jogged my memory and I recalled looking into them to see if they were one or indeed two different companies. There is certainly mention  of them both on many of the long-established Anderson sites like Fanderson [re. Doppelganger Mini Mokes], Blakes 7 site [Eagle] and in various books etc. 

Space Models are often cited as Space Models of Feltham and Feltham [erstwhile home of the Concorde] is but 3.5 miles from Master Models in Hounslow, both around the half hour mark away from Century 21 as was when based in Slough.

I wrote to what I thought a likely candidate for Space Models of Feltham exactly 3 years ago and asked Nick Phelps, Managaing Director "I am assuming that your campany is the same Space Models of Feltham, who worked on many of Gerry Anderson's fabulous shows" to which Nick confirmed that yes, they were indeed the same. 

Nick suggested that I contact him again regarding a member of staff on annual leave, who might be able to expand on the Anderson link but despite my further email, I heard nothing further. Space Models is now part of a lager group called Curvature.

There is also mention of another model making company called A&G, AGM or Aeronautical and General on various Fora like Fanderson and Space 1999 Eagle Transporter. 

Listening to the British Pathe clip audio again, they do indeed refer to the company as AGM and NOT Mastermodels. But the same people appear on Mastermodels own archive photographs. Were AGM forerunners of Master Models? * see Andrew Barr's comment above, point 4.


RANDOM OX'S AND EPITAPH

Zero X grabs the attention. Simple. Thunderbirds Are Go and Project SWORD. What's not to like? When I was re-united with the Century 21 toy version circa 1996, which I purchased from TV Toy Zone Mail Order for £60, it was missing its heat shield as explained by the seller. Resigned to never having one, I was amazed to find this one in a bag of junk I bought off a Scalextric dealer about a year later! Glenn Field Result!


So how best to display a heat shield? Well, you could always try to get hold of this Ajamodels Mobile Gantry model kit, which, judging by how little their is on the net about it I would say its discontinued. I've never seen one so I don't know the scale. The crenellated base reminds me of the Glico Tracy Island base. Anyone got this gantry?


Some very fortunate Anderfans are lucky enough to own actual parts of the real models used in the filming of Thunderbirds Are Go. The image below is of the remaining bits of Zero-X undercarriage, which is understood to be the last of the original once it had been blown up for the end of the Thunderbirds are Go movie. Jim Lewis informed me that it had been bought at auction some time ago.

Picture: Steve Zodiac

The model Zero-X crash-landed in the 1966 movie Thunderbirds Are Go. You can see the aftermath in an excellent still here on the excellent German THUNDERBIRDS AND FRIENDS site.

And remember this original but derelict Zero-X MEV prop that was bought on Ebay last year for £20,000?


Well, it's been immaculately restored to its former glory! Kevin D kindly forwarded me a link to the new owner's, The Prop Gallery's website detailing the amazing restoration by none other than Mastermodels, who worked on the original Zero X in the movie! Now that's what I call a good ending!

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