Aoshima Thunderbirds Mini TB-4

KIT #: 008386
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Seems to be about 1/48 scale


Thunderbirds is a 1960s British science-fiction television series, created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, made by their production company AP Films, and distributed by ITC Entertainment. Filmed between 1964 and 1966, it was produced using a mixed method of marionette puppetry and scale-model special effects termed "Supermarionation". It debuted on British television on various ATV franchises in 1965.

Succeeding the previous Supermarionation productionsFour Feather Falls,Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray, Thunderbirds is set in the 21st century; it follows the exploits of International Rescue, a secret organisation established to save people in mortal danger with the aid of technologically advanced land, sea, air and space vehicles and equipment, launched from a hidden island base in the South Pacific Ocean. The main puppet characters are multi-millionaire, retired astronaut Jeff Tracy (the founder of International Rescue) and his five sons, who pilot the machines of the Thunderbirds fleet.

Periodically repeated since its original 196566 broadcast, Thunderbirds has influenced numerous TV programmes, films and other media, entailed worldwide merchandising campaigns, and has been followed by three feature-length films and a stage play adaptation. It is generally considered the most successful and most popular series to have been created by the Andersons or produced by AP Films. A re-make series, Thunderbirds Are Go!, will be broadcast in 2015 on CITV, 50 years after the original.

Thunderbird 4, the subject of this kit, is a small utility submarine for underwater rescue, Thunderbird 4 is carried aboard Thunderbird 2, nearly always in Pod 4, although it was once transported in Pod 6 ("Attack of the Alligators"). In the episode "Terror in New York City", Gordon launches the craft by emergency procedure, from Thunderbird 2's hangar and sliding along the island runway, with the runway's overhang automatically dropping into the sea as Thunderbird 4 approaches it. However, the submarine's slow speed renders it impractical for Thunderbird 4 to travel on its own; when Thunderbird 2 was temporarily out of action and Thunderbird 4 required, Jeff Tracy contacted the navy vessel Sentinel - the fastest ship in the fleet and unintentionally responsible for incapacitating Thunderbird 2 in the first place - to give Thunderbird 4 a lift to the danger zone. Thunderbird 4 is 9 m long and 3 m wide, this makes it the smallest of the Thunderbirds vehicles, but not the smallest of the pod vehicles. It is fitted with an adjustable searchlight which can be raised or lowered to reveal a variety of rescue instruments, such as cutting lasers, electromagnets, demolition rockets and battering rams, which can be extended from the nose section. Thunderbird 4 is piloted by aquanaut Gordon Tracy.


When I saw that Aoshima was releasing a number of kits for this series, I hoped that Dragon USA would send some in for review. While they missed my psychic requests for the larger kits, they did send in a couple of their 'mini' kits. I have to preface this by telling you that I only recalled the big drill and the space ship. This one slipped outside my radar completely and not having been a major fan of the show, I only hope this is the submersible. Having wheels has me pause for thought, but here we go.

First off, this is not aimed at the 'serious' modeler (whomever that might be) as the parts are in a bright yellow and there are not a ton of them. The kit comes with clear bits and a pair of metal axles. One is for the front wheel and the other for the two rear wheels. There are ejector marks on the wheels that you'll have to remove and some of the other bits have these pesky things as well. For an interior, you get a seat onto which a figure is placed. It was by comparing this figure with some others I have that led me to thing this was about 1/48 scale.

The forward light gizmo attaches to a u shaped bracket that is trpped between the fuselage halves. Before doing that, there are intakes of some sort that need to go there. A front section then fits to the fuselage as well as two afterburner cans to the back. Well, at least that is what they look like to me. There is a roof intake (with fin) and two side intakes. In the front piece are various bits on rods that are the demolition rods, cutting lasers and other rescue bits.

Instructions are nicely done with the usual Gunze paint references. Though not a snap kit, it is very much designed like one with large placement areas and big alignment sections. The vehicle is an overall canary yellow, not the school bus yellow of the plastic. The decal sheet contains all the various stripes and such to make for a rather convincing replica.


This is another nostalgia kit as I doubt if most readers have ever seen an episode of The Thunderbirds. However, it is pretty neat in its own right and will make into a neat sci-fi kit for your shelves.


October 2013

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