Thunderbirds is a British mid-1960s television show devised by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and made by AP Films using a form of puppetry dubbed "Supermarionation".

The series followed the adventures of International Rescue, an organisation created to help those in grave danger using technically advanced equipment and machinery.

Thunderbirds logoThe series focused on the head of the organisation, ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy, and his five sons who piloted the "Thunderbird" machines. A popular show, the series is still shown today and has inspired a number of subsequent television programmes and films. Several companies, including Matchbox and Dinky Toys were licensed to produce die-cast metal and plastic toys based on the Thunderbird vehicles. They proved hugely popular and were one of the best selling merchandising lines of the decade. Original Thunderbirds toys are now expensive and highly sought after collectors' items.

Many toys were made by Matchbox in the 1990s to coincide with a revival of the TV series, including a Tracy Island playset and also the new movie, though they were generally marketed outside the US and in Canada. The Tracy Island set was particularly popular in the UK, being the best selling toy at Christmas and was in such high demand on the year of its release that the BBC children's television show Blue Peter instructed viewers in constructing their own version from household materials. Remarkably, the free 'fact sheet' that detailed this process also became so sought-after that it too became difficult to obtain.

Toy company Bandai produced toys to coincide with the release of the 2004 live action movie in the UK. As of 2007, Japanese companies such as Aoshima, Konami and Takara were still producing new Thunderbirds toys based on the original series vehicles, including Takara's very expensive Thunderbird 2 model with lights and working motorised legs which lift the fuselage, exposing the cargo pod.

Thunderbirds value and price guide

What's your 'Matchbox Thunderbirds' worth? Here are some recently sold items (USA):

Picture Title Date sold Price
Rare Matchbox 75a Ford Thunderbird Bpw 05/2019 $355.47
7 Matchbox Sets 41700 Corvettes 11920 04/2019 $242.50
Matchbox Figures Complete Set Of 7 06/2019 $235.13
Matchbox Lesney Ford Thunderbird 75 A4 04/2019 $214.50
Matchbox Lesney Moko 75 Thunderbird Rare 05/2019 $202.50
See all sold items for more prices

Thunderbirds forum (5 comments)

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John - May 30, 2019

I have a 1968 Whitman Thunderbirds 100 piece puzzle with all the pieces and the box in fair condition. Would like to sell it, but I would like to know where the best place would be to get the most for it. I was going to post it on ebay, but don't know what to start bidding at or where to post links to get the most exposure.
►reply: There are quite a lot of Thunderbirds puzzles for sale on eBay UK ranging from 8 GBP to 15 GBP.

Sue - February 2, 2019

I have original thunderbirds cine films and laurel and hardy cine fims
►reply: Very nice! Probably super-8mm movies. I also have a few. If you want to sell them, eBay is the best place.

Norman - March 31, 2015

I am trying to sell a Supermarionation replica collection Thunderbird 2 . limited edition no 063 of 800, with certificate of authenticity signed Gerry Anderson . Iconic Replicas LTD. Where can i sell this, and any idea of value ? its mint contition only being out the box to look at it..
►reply: I'm afraid I can't help you with that, but did you check this website: Replica Gerry Anderson Puppets, maybe you can find more info there.

Terry - February 5, 2013

I have thunderbird 1 and 3 in mint condition and also t/bird 2 with container vehicle lady p's car all in very good conditon could you please give me an estimate of value. Many thanks.
►reply: I am not an expert unfortunately on Thunderbirds toys. Maybe this article on Thunderbirds collectables can help you determine the value.

Dave - November 28, 2010

I have a thunderbird 4 plastic yellow toy dated 1962 it is about 2 inches long I was wondering if you could tell me any more about it or how mutch its worth
►reply: Depends on state (wear, tear, etc.) and how complete it is, because I think it's part of the Thunderbird 2, sold as 'Thunderbird 2 and 4' at the time. Est. value around 10-20 GBP.