In 1992 the BBC relaunched Thunderbirds which would bring the 1960s classic puppet show to a new generation. Myself and many others loved it so much that we wanted to recreate the exciting adventures in our own bedrooms.
The demand for Thunderbirds toys was huge and in the lead up to Christmas ’92 a set of the Thunderbirds aircraft were launched along with a Tracy Island playset, International Rescue’s secret headquarters, and became the must-have toys of the year.
I was lucky enough to be given a set of the Thunderbirds that Christmas and after running around my nan’s house with Thunderbird 2 all day, I managed to lose Thunderbird 4 as it was the smallest. This really was a mission for the Tracy family and Brains to solve.
I threw a temper tantrum and caused all the adults enjoying their Christmas Day to scurry around searching high and low for the yellow submarine. After crying so much I fell asleep, and woke an hour later to find it wrapped up in my jumper and Thunderbirds were go once again.
This was nothing compared to the tears that parents across the land were faced with if they failed to track down a Tracy Island playset. They became very sought after and sold out quickly. But instead of Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon or John coming to rescue, the nation was saved by an unlikely heroine in the shape of Anthea Turner.
Turner was presenting Blue Peter at the time and set about her biggest “make” of all time, creating an identical version of the island out of household items and papier mache. Whereas in theory this sounds awful as Tracy Island had allsorts of gadgets such as retractable swimming pools and launch pads, she did a damn good job of it:
You could hear the collective sighs of relief after the show, but then more problems arrived. Demand was so high for the factsheet that it became rare itself, and the BBC even released a video that had the instructions on it. Plant pot sales across the land shot up like Thunderbird 1 itself and the crisis was averted.
My folks didn’t bother knowing that within five minutes Thunderbird 3 would have crash landed on the island and made a huge crater in the papier mache rock face such was my love of destruction, but thanks to Anthea and her endless supply of toilet rolls Christmas Day was saved. F.A.B. indeed.