Comic Connections: New Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds figures on way from BIG Chief Studios

BIG Chief Studios Captain Scarlet art in progress work by Lee Sullivan
BIG Chief Studios Captain Scarlet art in progress work by Lee Sullivan

Coming soon from replica figure makers BIG Chief Studios is a range of high-end collectables based on the classic series Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and other series created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson… and the box art they’ve created has several comic connections worth mentioning, not least that it’s the work of Doctor Who and Thunderbirds artist Lee Sullivan.

Based in the UK, BIG Chief Studios Ltd. specialises in the design, development and manufacture of gift, collectable and toy products. They have a huge range of figures already, including Doctor Who, James Bond, Star Wars and superhero collectables – and you only have to check their web site to see just how impressive their work is.

BIG Chief Studios - Scott Tracy - Thunderbirds Teaser 1
Scott Tracy
BIG Chief Studios - Virgil Tracy - Thunderbirds Teaser 1
Virgil Tracy

Licensed via ITV Ventures Limited, the first Anderson-related 1:6 Scale Character Replica Figures to be released – announced last year – include Thunderbirds Tracy brothers (Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John), along with International Rescue’s most formidable agents Lady Penelope and Parker.

Initial offerings will focus on fan-favourite (and the most commercially successful) Thunderbirds, expanding the range with characters from a number of Gerry Anderson’s other popular shows including Captain ScarletStingray and Joe 90.

BIG Chief Studios - Gordon Tracy - Thunderbirds Teaser 1
Gordon Tracy

Thunderbirds is still going strong following a reignited interested from its 50th anniversary and has over 70 licensees globally, awareness of the “classic” show boosted by the modern Thunderbirds Are Go series.

It’s hardly surprising Captain Scarlet is next on the release list, with the show that pitted a secret organisation against the alien, revenge-fuelled Mysterons celebrating its own 50th anniversary this year.

In addition to the replica figures BIG Chief will also release a range of Cross-section Vehicle Replicas, offering fans a unique opportunity to collect a range of models with special removable panels that reveal the inner workings, engines and cockpits of the classic vehicles.

Big Chief Studios Eagle Transporter - Special Edition
Sold out -a Space: 1999 gem.

A Special Édition release of their Space:1999 Eagle Transporter, exhaustively researched for accuracy and featuring spring-loaded landing foot pads, pilot figures and all decals needed to fully decorate the ship, offered in March, has already sold out.

TV21 Issue 162 Cover - "Deathfall"

Box Art Homages TV21, classic merchandise 

The box art for the range is by Lee Sullivan, who tells us that in part the Captain Scarlet illustrations are inspired by iconic work by Mike Noble that featured in the 1960s comic TV21.

Mike Noble's pencil's for the Captain Scarlet box art
Mike Noble’s pencil’s for the Captain Scarlet box art

“Mike gave me permission to use some of his Scarlet poses, including ‘Deathfall’  (the cover of TV21 Isssue 162), Lee tells us.

“He also supplied pencils for the solo Scarlet picture, which I then worked up to digital paintings. Mike has had some health issues this year which hopefully will soon be resolved, but is still cheerful and pleased for his work to be remembered so fondly.”

Captain Scarlet by Mike Noble, inked and coloured by Lee Sullivan
Captain Scarlet by Mike Noble, inked and coloured by Lee Sullivan

From Mike’s pencils, Lee first created an interim version where he inked and coloured the pencils in comic-strip style.

“In the end it was decided to go the painted style route, and I used what skills I have to try to get the retro look BIG Chief were after, with heavy nods towards the Ron Embleton paintings that form the end credits of the show.”

I wanted something more akin to the cover of retro Christmas annuals,” BIG Chief Studios Mark Andrews tells us. “A beautiful painted image to evoke memories of yesteryear!

BIG Chief Studios Captain Scarlet figure on display earlier this year
BIG Chief Studios Captain Scarlet figure on display earlier this year

Some of the art will be available as posters, as incentives to order direct from BIG Chief Studios.

“As you can imagine, I’m fairly thrilled to be involved – not to mention get a co-credit with Mike,” says Lee.

As for Lee’s solo art on the Thunderbirds figure boxes he’s completed Virgil and Scott Tracy so far.

“The Captain Scarlet work is meant to evoke the box art of the old 1960s Pedigree Scarlet doll, although if you take a look it’s not really anything like it,” Lee notes. “The Thunderbirds stuff is just me and my retro style, but it is inspired by the Japanese Thunderbirds kit artworks, all the movie posters I’ve ever seen, the usual stuff.
“I did the aborted Eaglemoss TV21 strips partwork covers, which is how I got back into painted cover art, albeit digitally.”
The Scott Tracy figure - and early artwork by Lee - on display
The Scott Tracy figure – and early artwork by Lee – on display
 BIG Chief expect to be offering the first of these Gerry Anderson-related product releases direct to consumers via their dedicated website from mind May 2017, and through select hobby and specialist retailers, including the Official Gerry Anderson Store.

• BIG Chief Studios: www.bigchiefstudios.co.uk | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

To order the BIG Chief Studios Gerry Anderson Thunderbirds figures visit this page on their web site

You can also order the Thunderbirds figures from the Official Gerry Anderson store

Images courtesy BIG Chief Studios/ Lee Sullivan. Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds © ITV

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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