14 January 2013
The finest TV shows and collectables of Gerry Anderson ...
Although not necessarily considered a classic by most Gerry Anderson fans, it’s worth mentioning Terrahawks because, not only was it Anderson’s last TV series to feature puppets, it is also one of my favourites. Made between 1983 and ’86, Terrahawks was set in the year 2020 and followed the adventures of the Terrahawks, a taskforce responsible for protecting Earth from invasion by a group of evil aliens and androids led by a weird witch-like alien called Zelda.
Unlike Anderson’s other series, such Thunderbirds and Fireball XL5, Terrahawks didn’t use the famous Supermarionation and instead used a new method dubbed Supermacronation. This is because the show used latex puppets to animate the characters, rather than strings – it’s thought this would lower the cost of producing each episode, when compared to the more expensive Supermarionation technique.
However, like the majority of Anderson’s shows, Terrahawks did feature a wonderfully eccentric cast (such as Kate Kestrel who, as well as saving Earth from Zelda, was an international pop star with bright pink hair) and a mix of fantastic bird-like vehicles. Like many other Anderson shows, the Terrahawks were accompanied by amusing sidekicks. In this case they were robots called the Zeroids who would torment the mechanophobic leader of the Terrahawks Dr. ‘Tiger’ Ninestein.
Unfortunately, perhaps due to the fact it was aired much later than the likes of Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, the collectable market for Terrahawks toys has yet to mature but, in my opinion, the models by Bandai are some of the best examples of toys based on a Gerry Anderson show. As such, hopefully in about 20 years we’ll be talking about record-breaking results for Terrahawks collectables at auction.
Of course because Terrahawks was made during the ‘80s, action figures were a necessity and each of the lead characters had their own replica. Although they’re not particularly exciting, the Zeroids are actually quite fun, as show here with Space Sergeant 101. They could pop off their stands and then roll around – or normally roll under the sofa never to be found again.
Along with the figures, Bandai made a range of very nice miniature diecast/plastic replicas. Models like the wind-up Battletank weren’t particularly great but the Hawkwing, which split into two sections, is rather lovely.
However, the best collectables inspired by Terrahawks are the superb Action Models from Bandai. These deluxe models were much bigger than those previously mentioned and came with lots of moving parts and projectiles. For example the Terrahawk Action Model measures six inches long and comes with two missile launchers, pivoting wings and retractable landing ‘claws’.