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.
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 Scarlet, Stingray and Joe 90.
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.
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.
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 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.”
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!
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.
Images courtesy BIG Chief Studios/ Lee Sullivan. Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds © ITV