Aoshima Thunderbirds Mini - The Mole

KIT #: 008393
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Box 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.

The Mole is a high-speed, manned 30 ton tunnelling machine capable of boring through even the hardest rock to rescue individuals trapped underground. A serial number of "56156" can be seen on the top rear port side of the Mole. Due to an inbuilt thermal-imaging system in its drill bit, the Mole can be operated with acute precision to ensure that buried individuals are not endangered from rockfalls caused by drill movement despite the fact that the drill screw rotates in the wrong direction. The Mole is carried to rescue sites on its trolley, then tilts to commence drilling. Caterpillar tracks on both sides enable it to return to the surface. The vehicle is often carried in Pod 5, and is notable for being one of the few pod vehicles to appear in multiple episodes; it also appears in the closing credit sequence with the five main Thunderbirds machines and FAB1. It appears in "Pit of Peril", "City of Fire" and "The Duchess Assignment", and is glimpsed in the pod vehicle bay in "Cry Wolf". It is generally regarded as one of the most popular machines of them all and barring Thunderbird 4, has had more replicas made than any other pod vehicle.


This is the second of Aoshima's 'mini' series of kits that Dragon USA sent in for review. It has much in common with the initial item previewed in that the kit is not at all parts intensive and is just one step above a snap kit. By that, I mean that you have to glue it together.

Like the previous offering, this is not aimed at the 'serious' modeler (whomever that might be) as the parts are in a bright yellow and grey, obviously to alleviate the tedium of painting the bits. The drill itself is chrome plated and there is a metal axle included. All of the large parts have the part number embossed on the inside. The four wheels do have some rather large ejector notches in them that the fastidious will need to fill and sand. Of course, these peer from the tracks so not much of them will be seen.  No figure is included with this one so there is no way for me to guess at the scale.

The upper drill section is separate from the chassis so there is some play value provided for those that want it. It would be neat if the Mole frame would tilt forward, but that is not in the cards unless the modeler wants to do some scratch building. Though the box art shows it ready to penetrate the earth, I'm not sure how it would get into such a position unless it slithers off the framework. Not having seen the show, to me that is pure conjecture.

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 Mole's main body is a bright yellow with the transport mechanism in a black or dark grey.  The decal sheet contains all the various stripes and such to make for a rather convincing replica.


This is another nostalgia kit for fans of the Thunderbirds. However, it is pretty neat in its own right and will make into a neat sci-fi kit for your shelves.


November 2013

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