With so much ‘Thunderbirds’ books and merchandise out at the moment as a result of the new CGI series, it’s likely this book, ‘Gerry Anderson Collectables’ by Rob Burman might get overlooked. Undoubtedly, if you were brought up in the 1960s, like me, then you will have owned much of the merchandise within this book. Not all, mind you, but certainly some of the prized items via my parents then or later before the prices went up when I could buy them myself. There’s also a little regret of missing some simply because they weren’t distributed in quantity in my town and sold out when they were.
The biggest selling point are the many photographs from the Vectis Auctions website, with some samples shown here, and the prices some of them have sold at which might help you gauge the worth of anything you might own. This is a handy source and hardly surprising as some of the early items are hard to get, let alone see in pristine condition with their boxes. None of us back then had any thought to their value and just wanted to play with them. It was interesting seeing the Lyon’s Maid giveaway Fireball XL-5 model kit because I missed out on that one. Oddly, I do own their Lyon’s Maid giveaway Stingray model kit that my Dad put together and not mentioned but likewise the Smith’s Crisps plastic clip models are also missing. You have to be have been there to remember such things, let alone own them.
Don’t expect this to be a history of the Anderson series as well. Burman doesn’t even mention ‘Twizzle’ and ‘Torchy’ creator Roberta Leigh. However, he does give a bit of history of the merchandise manufacturers like Pelham Puppets and J.R. Rosenthal, the later becoming Century 21 Toys.
Looking at the ‘Four Feather Falls Annual’ cover, there was a sharp reminder how the illustrators stayed so close to not only the series likenesses but also their shapes which made them look a little more cartoony. Oddly, this is the only annual shown here and only got in because there is so little ‘Four Feather Falls’ merchandise.
Seeing the Budgie ‘Supercar’ where Burman says parts dropped off and the front aerial is bent shows the other side of what happened. Although I didn’t have this particular toy, the bent aerial happened largely because there was nothing inside the box to stop it slapping against the interior. Plastics in those days weren’t so sturdy although the nose serial was made of soft plastic so it wouldn’t snap. I had the much larger Plaston Supercar at the time and it was less a problem of losing parts but the canopy cracking first.
Very occasionally Burman does make a mistake. For ‘Secret Service’, Father Unwin was a priest before he came a secret agent. The reason why Dinky painted their Thunderbird 2, UFO Interceptor, SHADO Mobile and ‘Space: 1999’ Eagle in blue and green was more to do with a surplus of paint than keeping with the series colours. A bad choice but it didn’t stop them selling. Makes you wonder why the SPV didn’t have a green version, though.
Don’t expect this book to be comprehensive. I already mentioned the absence of annuals but add to this the records, cereal toys, sweet cigarette and chewing gum cards but also there are other memory triggers for those of the time I remember if you just focus on the toys. ‘Joe 90’s attaché case is missing, for instance, and I don’t think the gun examples from the series are from the case. I suspect, to some extent, there was a need to keep the book to 96 pages when it could easily double that. It would be interesting to see a follow-up book showing more of the latter toys that have come out and foreign merchandise like that from Japan which have an on-going industry.
Although I suspect the Anderson series collectors will buy purely because it’s a book on the subject and there aren’t that many, this book does cover a lot of toys that I haven’t seen elsewhere which is always a good thing, making it worthwhile to add to your collection and a walk down memory lane.
(pub: Amberley Books. 96 page illustrated medium softcover. Pricel £14.99 (UK), $22.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-4456-4872-9)
check out website: www.amberley-books.com