The Legend Begins: A Thunderbirds Diorama

Take a look at this beautifully detailed diorama by Andrew Clements entitled, ‘The Legend Begins.’ By making use of kit pieces and miniature vehicles, some of which appear in original Thunderbirds special effects shots, Clements has imaginatively constructed a striking physical representation of how Thunderbird 1 and Thunderbird 2 might have been constructed. He has been kind enough to share images of his creation and given us a little bit more information about the thought process behind it. Here is his report:

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In the year 2055, following the tragic death of his wife, billionaire and former astronaut, Jeff Tracy, took his five sons to an uncharted tropical island. They spent ten years setting up the secret headquarters of International Rescue, an organisation dedicated to saving lives, wherever they may be in distress. The fantastic machines have come to be known by one name: Thunderbirds. But what happened before the Thunderbirds were go?


Dateline? 2064. Location? A hidden aircraft construction hangar housed within the walls of a huge natural cavern, built under a blanket of top security by forty of Jeff Tracy’s most trusted associates. The facility houses some of the most advanced manned and automated assembly equipment in the world. The aim? To construct two highly specialised aircraft capable of operating under near impossible extremes of speed, altitude and temperature.


Rescue 1: A small reconnaissance rocket capable of speeds in excess of 15,000 miles per hour, designed to provide first response rescue and triage until the arrival of the main rescue equipment.

Rescue 2: A huge flying transporter capable of carrying payloads of 100 tonnes at 2,000 miles per hour to disaster scene on the planet.

The whole project started after spying my old Imai super-size Thunderbird 2 in the loft one day. I’d bought it on eBay years ago and having no experience at model making, I’d botched the paint job completely and added all those silly extras like giant wheels and missiles that a lot of the Japanese model kits seem to have. So it had been sitting around in a pretty sorry state for so long that I decided “to heck with this, I’m going to make you into something useful”.


Inspired by Chris Thompson’s Building the Behemoth and Andrew Skilleter’s artwork in The Complete Thunderbirds Story, I decided to show Thunderbird 2 under construction. This way, I could repaint the whole thing grey/silver and hack bits of it off…huzzah!


First thing I did was take off the decals, saw off the tip of the nose and take off one of the engines. I also cut out the cockpit windows (a real pain to do). I removed the pod as I figured it would be assembled separately (though later added it back in as it looked better). After a few coats of grey and sourcing some screen accurate Matchbox vehicles to populate the hangar, I set to work building a display base. I wanted it to be fairly large to enable long shots of the model and hangar walls, but I think I probably overdid it a little and was left with a lot of extra space. So I decided to add in my equally badly painted Thunderbird 1 model and ran from there.


A lot of the gantries and little pieces are taken from the frankly awful Dalek Factory building set. I knew I’d never build it again, so the pieces got repurposed for their new home. I didn’t have a set plan for how to add detail to the hangar, so I improvised, adding in everything from kit sprues to coffee packet rails. A little more paint, including floor outlines for Rescue 1 and 2 and it was all done!


Thank you to Andrew Clements for sharing this inventive project with us. Do you have any cool Gerry Anderson related projects you’d like to share with us? Get in touch via the contact page or on Facebook.

3 thoughts on “The Legend Begins: A Thunderbirds Diorama

  1. I have been such a big fan of Gerry Anderson’s work since I was a small boy watching many of his series as reruns . Supercar, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet,UFO space 1999 were created with such detail and imagination that the world of Gerry Anderson was innovative and inspirational .


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