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  Thunderbirds 2086
1983 | ITC Entertainment Inc.
Thunderbirds 2086 video collection

International Rescue make the shift from the puppet world to animation, but how does this Japanese incarnation compare to the far better known wooden original?

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Created by British TV producer Gerry Anderson Thunderbirds first appeared on TV screens in 1965. Each week the International Rescue team, consisting of five brothers and led by their father Jeff Tracey, would use there specialist Thunderbird vehicles, numbered 1-5, to save helpless people from life threatening situations and natural disasters. What made this show different from other action orientated TV of the time were the stars - they were wooden puppets. The show proved to be very popular with TV audiences in it's homeland and across the globe particularly in Japan. In the late 70's the show's creator met there with Banjiro Uemura, head of the Tohoku Shinsha animation studio to discuss a possible Japanese animated TV series of Thunderbirds. Extensive plans were drawn up but MBS, the station backing the proposal had the project cancelled citing a lack of public interest in Sci-Fi at the time.

Several years later in 1982 Uemura reused ideas from the planned Thunderbirds animation to create Scientific Rescue Team Tecnovoyager (Kagaku Kyujotai Tecnovoyager). Set in the distant future of 2066 it followed the adventures of the International Rescue Organisation headed by former astronaught Gerard Simpson, making use of their 17 different, combinable, rescue vehicles to save people from the dangers of the future. The multinational crew featured young Captain Raiji Hidaka, Eric Jones, token black guy Sammy Edkins Jnr, token girl Catherine Heywood and dependable father figure Gran Hanson. Gerard's troublesome but well-meaning son Paul also made a regular appearance so the younger kids had someone to relate to.

Despite having some impressive anime talent behind the scenes including Macross director Noburo Ishiguro as a writer and director and famed composer Kentaro Haneda, who would go on to create the popular score for Macross as well as Bargain Bin classics Frankenstein, and Space Warriors, Tecnovoyager was not a success with only 18 of the 24 episodes reaching TV screens.

Local disinterest didn't spell the end for Tecnovoyager though as Banjiro Uemura also happened to be head of the Japanese branch of ITC the company which owned the international copyright to Thunderbirds. The series was sold on to the company's American branch and in 1983 Thunderbirds 2086 hit U.S. TV screens.

The characters had under gone slight name adjustments; the leader was now all American Dylan Beyda assisted by Jonathan Jordan Jnr, Kallan James, the Texan Jesse Rigel and Gran Hansen. Other alterations included Computer Animation added to the episodes and opening credits along with the removal of the Japanese lyrics from the theme music and a slight tweak to the episode running order.

The Japanese pronunciation of the letter "V" as "B" also meant that the initials on the sides of the rescue crafts were "TB", as in TecnoBoyager or now in this case "Thunderbird". All 24 episodes were shown and it eventually reached other world markets, including Britain and Europe (it gained it's biggest following in Italy) in 1986. Thunderbirds 2086 was a moderate success but not overly popular. The closest it got to merchandising was a 60 page Annual by Granddreams and several VHS releases.

It seemed that these Thunderbirds were just to far removed from the Tracey Brothers had started in the 1960's.

Grand Dreams Thunderbirds 2086
The UK Granddreams Annual

Episode #16: "Nightmare"

Inside Thunderbird HQ Commander Simpsons nephew Skipper and Dylan's Brother Danny are attempting to contact their friend Barbara on the Nitroid Colony using a Futuristic C.B. radio. Why they don't just use Skype is beyond me, maybe they like the retro electronics. They are finally successful and She tells the two all about a 'Space Virus' which has been spreading around the Bio-Engineering Colony. Her sister Corrine hasn't been seen in days since she met a mysterious new boy. Suddenly the call is disconnected. Instead of their friend they only receive dated catchphrases. Danny vows to rush to her aid like a 'Space Knight'!

An ominous voice over from a man calling himself 'Star Crusher' reveals his evil plan to change the people of the Nitroid Colony into his own, loyal, zombie army which he will use to invade Earth and, presumably, take over the galaxy.

The Thunderbird pilots return from a night flight during which they picked up a lot of strange signals. These signals have been recorded on a Blackbox and Gran is interested to find out what they are. The others are less interested and head off for a spot of dinner and then some 'Cosmic Boogie'. At the restaurant Dylan realises he's not got his wallet and heads back to HQ to check his locker. He finds Jesse at Thuderbird 10's hanger. Jesse explains that the silent alarm has been triggered, he suspects an intruder has got in. The two head into the shadows and find two silhouettes cutting the restraining bolts to the ship. They take the thieves by surprise and find them to be Skipper and Danny. Confronted, the kids spill the beans explaining that they tried taking Shuttle bus to Barbara, who happens to be a daughter of the head research scientist of the Colony, but were told that there was a Level Red quarantine in place. With no other option they decided to 'borrow' one of the Thunderbird vehicles. Dylan manages to talk Jesse into not reporting the incident to Commander Simpson, at least for a few hours, enough time for him and the kids to check out the situation on the Bio-Engineering colony. The Captain suspects this disturbance could all be the work of the evil Shadow Axis. As they leave the suspicious Commander puts a 'Laser Trace' on Thunderbird 10.

In no time Thunderbird 10 is docked on the Nitroid Colony. They are met by three shifty acting security guards, one with the voice of Bert Raccoon. They tell them that the Barbara and the whole Digby family left the Colony days ago but Danny's not so trusting as he spoke to her a few hours ago. Bert goes to check if she stayed behind but really he's informing Star Crusher on the situation. The Shadow Axis leader tells him to keep the visitors busy. While touring the main atrium Barbara comes to meet Danny and the gang but she speaks with an odd, robotic, tone which Danny doesn't like. The kids manage to easily catch out this imposter and with their cover blown the three guards attack. Dylan makes short work of them but Star Crusher has more in store for them and the whole Colony.

On Earth the Blackbox reveals the signals to have been made by the Shadow Axis which is enough proof for Commander Simpson to send the remaining Thunderbird team. Even though only a few hours have past since Dylan and the others left, Thunderbird 2 launches in clear daylight. On Nitroid Danny locates the Digby house and finds Barbara hiding inside. She tells him of a terrible plague that is turning the ordinary people of the Colony into Cyborg slaves. Danny carries her to the hospital. At the Hospital Dylan chases a man believed to be Star Crusher who was seen searching the ward. Once in his custody the man turns out to be Floyd Furzby, the suspicious man who had recently befriended Corrine. Barbara reveals that this man has been feeding the Zombie-fying solution into the anti virus vaccine. The only way to reverse the effects to is feed the anti anti virus into the main computer, but it's been securely locked. But no door to stop the Thunderbirds and the recently arrived Gran, Kallan, Jonathan and Kallan make short work of situation and soon everything is quickly wrapped up. Star Crusher vows to return.

Episode #17: "Cloudburst"

Meteors destroy the satellites which control the South Pacific's weather. Skipper's parents arrive to take him on a visit of Babbaloo island. Yes, it is in the South Pacific. Commander Simpson informs the Thunderbird team of the Satellite's destruction and that a storm has been detected heading for populated Poot and Babaloo islands. The Thunderbirds launch and head off to help.

The Rain is really coming down as Skipper and his family reach Babaloo Island and meet up with young Elise and her mother. They decide to visit the Central Mall until the rain stops completely unaware that a huge tidal wave is just moments away. The winds pick up. Boats are tossed around and wooden barns are blown over and giant waves wreck the break water. Skipper's group gets separated from the evacuees by the wind and rain and he leads them to a cave to shelter until International Rescue arrives. The worst tidal wave is just 30 minutes away.

Thunderbird 2 is the first to arrive dropping evacuation pods for those still on the street to escape in. Thunderbird 4 follows arriving on the shore where support teams carry people aboard. The biggest wave is just moments away. Dylan take Thunderbird 7 out to look for Wayne Simpson and the others. He finds them sheltering in the cave and not a moment too soon as the water level is rapidly rising.

Finally the Weather Satellite is repaired and the storm is over. No one is dead but the Island has been seriously devastated and it will be a long time before the mess is cleared up and the inhabitants can return. The IR team head to Thunderbird 6 to over see the Satellite restoration. And then the story ends.

Missing videos Missing videos

Thunderbirds 2086 Opening
The full intro sequence along with the introduction.

Thunderbirds (2086) are GO!
The longest of the stock- launches.
Think the music sounds like Frankenstein?

Fair dubbing
Good score
Dull stories
Seriously lacking in action
  LOTS of padding
  Average character designs
  Flat animation
  Just too much talking

The biggest problem I have with Thunderbirds 2086 is that very little happens. Take episode 17 for instance; it's practically 23 mins of cartoon waves crashing about intersperced with the Thunderbirds crew planning their next move. In short it's like watching one of those real life sea rescue shows but as a cartoon where you know no one will die and nothing will go wrong.

The other main issue is the incredibly slim storylines that barely stretch even when bulked out with extra long stock shots of the Thunderbirds launching. Again, episode 17 amounted to little more than; storm warning, Skipper leaves, storm hits, Thunderbirds launch, 15 mins of people being rescued, end. And the endings themselves are really abrupt.
The dull animation does nothing to lift things. Personally I found Thunderbirds 2086 to be slow moving, underplotted and dull to look at.

The dull animation does nothing to lift things. The episodes that don't involve natural disasters are the best as there is actual conflict (rather than a man vs nature rescue mission) and it's much more involving to watch the team battle a physical enemy than lifting X number of nameless, faceless background characters to safety.

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