As a boy growing up in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s, Gerry Anderson’s puppet-based TV shows were part of my staple television diet. Shows like Stingray with its high-tech submarine, Joe 90 with its child spy and rotating orange-peel mind-altering machine, and Captain Scarlet, of which my memories are far less clear. But chief among them all was Thunderbirds, which featured the adventures of the five brothers of the secretive high-tech organisation International Rescue, whose mission was to engage in rescue operations where no-one else could reach.
Thunderbirds is excellently suited to being modelled in Lego. It features a lot of large and advanced vehicles with all sorts of clunky, complex mechanical sequences. It has a fairly rosy, child-friendly approach to the future – the 2065 of Thunderbirds is no dystopia – and most of all, its various vehicles are mostly brightly-coloured, and thus well-suited to being recreated in bricks.
The Mole is one of the most iconic of International Rescue’s various brightly-coloured vehicles. Who could forget that canary-yellow burrowing machine that was apparently propelled by rockets because it was too cool for wheels?
So I decided to have a go at making one in Lego.
The object of this exercise was not so much super-realism in a massive replica, but something approaching what might be done if an actual Lego set might be produced as part of a Thunderbirds theme.
Accordingly, I’ve tried to make this a play-with-able model. The Mole itself opens up to reveal a seat for a minifigure. It sits on the tracked cradle, which raises and lowers to launch the tunnelling machine into the ground. The drill bit rotates. You’d want some sort of sticker or pre-printed control layout for the inside of the half-cylinder if it were a real set, but this is as close as I can get to what might be done.
And it’s fairly faithful to the original. I’m pleased with it.