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First Look: ‘Thunderbirds’ CGI Remake

Fifty years after the original debuted, we’ve got our first look at the new CG reboot of the British marionette series Thunderbirds.

The Tracy brothers from behind:

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

…and from the front:

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Produced by ITV Studios, and New Zealand-based Pukeko Pictures, in collaboration with Weta Workshop (Avatar, The Lord of the Rings), Thunderbirds are Go! [working title] mixes computer-animated characters with live-action model sets.

The new series will air on UK’s CITV Channel beginning this year, and at least two seasons, totalling 52 half-hour episodes, have already been commissioned. Other broadcasters that have picked up the show include TVNZ (New Zealand), Nine Network (Australia), Noga (Israel), and MBC (pan-Arab). No word yet on a commitment from a U.S. broadcaster.

Series director is David Scott (LEGO Star Wars), with Theo Baynton (The WotWots) as episodic director. Head writer is Rob Hoegee (Storm Hawks, Teen Titans), who also wrote the Niko and the Sword of Light pilot.

A character-less teaser was also released last month:

  • Googamp32

    Well… It might be a bit better than that 2004 movie… Maybe.

  • Mike

    Dear god I hope they look better in motion.

  • KW

    I feel like I want to hate the character designs, but I don’t and i’m not sure why.

  • Chad Townsend

    as an older fan its sort of a let down that it’s not like the Gerry Anderson stuff. Newer fans will probably dig it though. As a kid I am guilty of loving the Anime Thunderbirds 2086. So i’m gonna try and be open to this.

  • anonymous

    Why do they look like a boyband?

  • Who cares

    Looks like they’re staying close to the source material by not moving the characters out of the Uncanny Valley. Fans of the original should be pleased…

  • OOf.

    “Uncanny Valley is GO!”

  • Chicken McPhee

    Those aren’t very appealing designs. But then I never found Thunderbirds appealing.

    • Agreed.

    • mazi

      the old version was appealing (to some) because of the whole craft approach of using puppets. if the show were animated in the old days, it probably would have failed.

      this version looks like a cheap cash-in that you will find for $3 on DVD next to the cash register at the supermarket.

  • Warren

    What’s the idea here? Making them look as artificial as possible in order to match the slightly iffy marionettes in the original show? I’m not sure I get that, considering the majority of the target audience has never even caught a glimpse of the original Thunderbirds. Strange.

  • tonguestubble

    Nice that they have tried to give the faces individual characteristics (one of them is clearly a member of One Direction…), but they look pretty dead-eyed and grotesque overall. Maybe they could have pushed the angular thing a bit more, similar to the Nickelodeon TMNT models? Middle of the Mo-Foing Road so far.

  • Gail

    Yep, looks about as plastic as I had anticipated.

  • JoshActionReplay

    Dear God, I don’t know whether to claim that the characters look THIS plastic intentionally or that they did that poor a job on the models.

  • James VanDam

    The uncanny Valley seems strong in this one.

  • Tom

    I miss my old Thunderbirds. And Captain Scarlet.

  • ReindeerFlotilla

    If they wanted to update the show, they should replace Scott Tracy, the Thunderbird 1 pilot, with a girl (Tin-tin?). Women can take higher G loads than men and weigh less – something important when you’re piloting a hypersonic sub orbital VTOL aircraft that needs to get someplace ASAP. Not to mention uniquely satisfying PC diversity while also adding realism.

  • Noname

    Ken from Toy Story 3 looks more appealing. And he’s supposed to look plastic!

  • Royce

    I’m with everyone else. This looks like they’re *intentionally* supposed to look like marionettes, the eyes especially. OTOH It can’t possibly be worse than either the live action movie or “Thunderbirds Are Go!”

  • Bob

    “Produced by Pukeko” -> that name is accurate

  • StephaneDumas

    Interesting to note then David Graham, who voiced Parker in the original series, will provide again the voice of Parker for the new series from what I read on IMDB.

    Also, the date where the original Thunderbirds is set (2026 vs 2065) had made lots
    of discussion with the fans
    . Personnally, I chose 2065, just to wish some crossovers with other Gerry Anderson series set in the 2060s (Fireball XL5, Stingray, Captain Scarlet). ;-)

    • Donald Benson

      Back in the day, the “Century 21” comic magazine posited the various Anderson shows existing in the same universe and even offered some crossover stories.

  • Adzl33t

    Uggh whats wrong their faces? and seriously a team of bunch White boys for a modern cartoon.

    • Ryan

      Well, they ARE brothers, and if THAT got changed folk would have even MORE to complain about.

  • PattyOC

    Won’t be the same without supermarionation.
    Half the fun was being slightly creeped out by the weird, stilted movements of the puppets.

  • I spy with my one little eye an uncanny valley Bechdel failure.

  • ObeyMyBrain

    oooh the guys crossing their arms have very short upper arms.

  • HaBla

    Let’s get to what’s really important, will close-ups of hands be live action? If not, what’s the freaking point?

  • Animator606432

    Even as a kid I can’t imagine them even wanting to see that. I showed my 6 year old brother lamb chop and he freaking loved it. The medium doesn’t matter if none of the charm and whimsy is there. This remake looks to have taken all of the low budget charm and originality the original had. Sure, they could have done animation back then, but they chose puppets.

  • Accipiter
  • Jonboy

    Who cares! Give us some Danger Mouse news!!

  • Paul Jones

    At least it’s not the horrible live action film Frakes made. As I recall, Number One made number two and tanked his career.