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By Jarrod• 10 Mar 2016
As a kid, I was obsessed with Thunderbirds (and its stable-mates Stingray, Joe 90, Captain Scarlet, and Terrahawks) - despite not even being born during the show’s original run. It says something about the quality and longevity of a series that children were watching it 20 years or more after it was made.
Thunderbirds, and Gerry Anderson’s other Supermarionation productions, inspired a generation of filmmakers - among them Weta Workshop’s Richard Taylor, who is such a fan of the series that he’s amassed a considerable Thunderbirds-related collection. It’s fitting, therefore, that Weta Workshop is heavily involved with the Pukeko Pictures reboot of Thunderbirds, ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’.
This new show replaces the puppets of the original with computer animated characters - but to retain some of that old-school feel, the sets, backgrounds, and most importantly the vehicles are all practical effects - detailed miniature models, painstakingly created by Weta Workshop’s artists. It’s these models (along with some highlights from Richard Taylor’s collection) that form the centrepiece of Weta Workshop’s new attraction, named for the series it celebrates.
The Thunderbirds Are Go behind the scenes experience begins at Weta Cave, where you’re herded onto a bus for a short ride to the Thunderbirds soundstage. Here, you’re taken through a series of exhibits showing you how the show was made, from conception to construction - then get a hands-on look at real sets and models from the show (including the not-yet-broadcast second season). Highlights include hangars for various Thunderbirds craft; Lady Penelope’s mansion; and Tracy Island itself.
You’ll also get an inside look at how some effects from the show were created, as well as into model-making techniques. Just as with the original show, Weta Workshop are endlessly inventive when it comes to reusing, recycling and repurposing existing objects in new and often surprising ways (look out for the numerous ways they manage to use a lemon squeezer, for example).
Whether you’re a fan of the 1960s version, or the modern reboot, you’ll find the Thunderbirds Are Go behind the scenes experience well worth your time.