How much can change in 12 months… only last year was I scrawling through websites trying to find pictures of the all-new Thunderbirds Are Go toys. 52 weeks down the line and I’ve had the enormous pleasure of attending the 2016 London toy Fair at the Kensington Olympia on Sunday January 24th in person, getting up close with all the forthcoming toys and merchandise hitting retailers this year.
Let’s start with Vivid Toys & Games. Before we delve into this, I was told by the Vivid reps that the majority of the new releases are coming out in June of this year and that all the product on show here is all they currently have planned. So before you ask “Is there going to be a Supersize Thunderbird 1?” or “When can I get a figure of Parker” the answer quite simply (for now) is there are no other releases planned. That is not to say there wont be, Vivid are absolutely dedicated to Thunderbirds Are Go with a serious passion (especially given the historic relationship they’ve has had with Thunderbirds) but a lot of it depends on the success of this wave of products - so get buying!
This years stand (like last year) was completely enclosed with tight security -given how important the Thunderbirds brand is to the No.1 toy manufacturer in Britain. Now the show has completed it’s first run on television, there was great anticipation to see what products Vivid could come up with next to keep fans satisfied.
The wonderful reps at Vivid were very candid about forthcoming products, and were genuine fans of the show. We discussed the series finale, the popularity of the toy line, the success of Kayo and her importance to the series, which is reflected in the first item up for discussion.
Kayo Kyrano Action Figure
I’m so pleased to see that Vivid have finally released Kayo. The figure comes with detachable helmet and looks impressive next to the Tracy Brothers. She deserves her place in the toy line and I only hope girls take to the range as much as boys have.
Covert Operations Figures
All the Tracy brothers and Kayo get the dark treatment with this range of action figures that are a variant of the previous releases, each coming with the same accessories as before - only now the uniform is black and grey. Whether this is purely a toy line or a hint to content from Season 2 remains to be seen.
At this stage there are no plans for Lady Penelope, Parker, Colonel Casey or Sherbet to be released as figures - that doesn’t mean they won’t.
Also on display was a Thunderbird 1 Combo Pack featuring the vehicle alongside a Scott Tracy action figure - identical to the standard release. An alternative way to build your Thunderbirds Are Go collection.
Finally. Despite Vivid eventually releasing (albeit briefly) a classic Thunderbird 5 during the 00′s revival, you will finally be able to have a toy of every Thunderbird vehicle to complete your collection.
5 looks great, it has sounds (as per the other vehicles) and has a retractable space elevator.
It doesn’t appear able to dock with Thunderbird 3 (which was a given when you look at the tips of the arms for 3) but I was so pleased to see the prototype - given that apparently the demand isn’t that high for it, but it’s coming (honest) and looks brilliant! Personal favourite.
Vehicle Super Set 2.0
Yup - you guessed right, along with the recent releases of Fab 1 and Thunderbird S you can purchase Thunderbird 5 all together in a second wave Super Set. Nothing more to say here.
Many of you will of seen sketches of the Pod Builder leaked from Japan - interestingly the Vivid rep informed me that this release is not the same as the Japan release, the most notable difference being the Japan one will not feature sounds.
This release does though, you’re able to construct 5 different pod vehicles and there’s sounds for each - which I was able to hear, and sound great.
Games & Puzzles
An electronic board game is on the way featuring lights and sound and miniature Thunderbird craft.
4 puzzles are also coming (one of which comes with 3D glasses) and a Game & Puzzle bundle will also be available.
Most of you will have already seen (and purchased) the die-cast releases. They look exactly the same as the Tomica releases by Takara Tomy in Japan but in jazzy packaging. Thunderbird 1, 2 & 3 also come in a collectors set - that’s the only one planned for now.
Supersize Thunderbird 3
The hero toy for 2016 is a real treat for fans - Supersize Thunderbird 3. It comes with 30 sounds, cockpit access with miniature Alan & Kayo figures (the same size as Supersize Thunderbird 2′s Virgil & Gordon so you can pop Alan into the third seat in Thunderbird 2!), drill nose cone that actually turns, retractable grasping arms (with the proper feet - yes it will stand upside down and hold it’s own weight!) and get this - smoketech!
There are 4 different launch modes for the vehicle, so you can set it to launch as Alan, Alan & Kayo, etc. By setting the lift off mode you’ll hear the countdown and then smoke will emit from the base of the craft along with flashing red lights at the base. As you tilt the craft it will play different sounds, and in drill mode (upside down) it’ll also know to play different sounds again so whatever way you move it the soundtech reacts.
It’s substantially larger than Supersize Thunderbird 2, has a lot more features and (although a prototype) the detail is incredible. I have no hesitation in saying that if the final product ends up as close to this prototype - it’s quite simply the best Thunderbirds toy ever produced. Absolutely. Brilliant.
Vivid also had on display the current range including Tracy Island, Supersize Thunderbird 2, the 6 original action figures, Brains & Max, the Thunderbird vehicles along with Fab 1 and the children’s costume. The monitor in the center of the display also showed footage from a Thunderbirds Are Go gaming app. This is apparently the game coming from Miniclip which launches in the spring and the footage looked like a lot of fun.
Vivid were extremely hospitable to me, and I’d like to thank all the reps for their time and efforts during my visit. They love the show - and it shows!
Of course Vivid aren’t the only licensee for Thunderbirds Are Go. Here’s a selection of the other products coming out later this year.
Already available are 3 standard backpack releases of varying size (so children of every age have an option) and then two special releases shaped like Thunderbird craft are coming in February.
Thunderbird 2 and 4 are beautifully designed, with 3 pockets on top of the main storage pocket and lots of symbols and detail. Very high quality and look just awesome. Posh Paws showed a lot of enthusiasm and passion for Thunderbirds Are Go, and I only hope they get to make more products in the future.
A radio control inflatable Thunderbird 2. No i’m afraid it doesn’t fly, but looked pretty snazzy. it comes with a white controller with the International Rescue logo in black and stays true to the design and detail of the craft as it appears in the programme. No release date for this.
Thunderbirds Are Go versions of Super Pinball, Air Hockey and the Pop Up Game - all of which remain the same as has been released within other franchise licences.
There was only prototype packaging on show so I wasn’t able to see finished products for any of these - lovingly designed and retain the programme branding as per all other products. These will hit stores later in the year.
Pogo Stick? Dart Board? Snakes and Ladders? If you love your tie-in products… well… there you go. Again, branded as per. Novelty products if your so inclined, also hitting stores later in the year.
A bike, luggage trolly bag (designed as Thunderbird 2), scooter, light-up scooter, helmet and 3 skateboards - some of which is already available.
The helmet and Thunderbird 2 luggage bag were particularly striking whilst the scooter with flashing LED’s did look like a bit of fun.
That’s your lot for Thunderbirds Are Go - but there was also some Classic Thunderbirds merchandise on show too!
Tactic Games had on display their Classic Thunderbirds Trivia Game and Chess Set - they’ve confirmed they have no plans for further product.
Tobar are releasing these rather cute wooden flexi figures of Scott, Virgil, Brains and Parker along with paper construction versions of Thunderbird 1, 2 and Fab 1. They also had the Classic Thunderbirds paper masks on show which have been available for quite some time.
Corgi’s long announced 50th Anniversary range was on display - rereleased versions of Thunderbird 2, 4 and Fab 1 with newly created versions of Thunderbird 1 and 3. Due in April, I have to say these are disappointing. Whilst they are a huge improvement on the Matchbox releases of the 90′s (which were aimed at children as toys despite them being die-cast) the detailing let’s them down.
These are aimed directly at the collector, and asking fans to part with £19.99 for something that isn’t scaled correctly, lacks the correct detail and uses incorrect fonts is (in my eyes) simply not good enough. Such a shame. With a little tinkering these could be so much better. It pains me to say this. Disappointed. If Vivid can release highly detailed and show accurate plastic toys better than Corgi can produce die-cast collectables then there is most definitely a problem there. Even the packaging is questionable over what Matchbox produced twenty odd years ago. If you fancy do fancy these, they’ll be out in April.
Ending on a more positive note I actually missed these at the Toy Fair, but Titans Merchandise had on show their forthcoming Classic Thunderbird 1 & 2 which look fun - much alike the Thunderbird 2 that came with the Westco alarm clock! No release date for these yet.
…and that’s your lot! Special thanks to all the licence representatives who gave up their time to chat Thunderbirds with me - it was an absolute blast! So much product to look forward to so save your pennies. If you have any questions about anything in this blog post, feel free to comment below.
So until the next Toy Fair… F.A.B! R.A.D! T.T.F.N!