DINKY 106 THUNDERBIRD 2 (1974-1980):
UPDATED: 9th OCTOBER 2018
Dinky replaced its very popular 101 Thunderbird 2 with an re-designed version. It was slightly larger and had sturdier legs but was coloured blue unlike the 101 which was green. Instead of keeping the same catalogue number it was presumably deemed sufficiently different to justify a new number 106. Opinion is divided as to whether it was a better or worse model than its predecessor.
Why a blue colour? In the authorised biography of Gerry Anderson (Simon Archer/Marcus Hearn) Gerry was visiting the Dinky factory and was surprised to see hundreds of blue 106’s rolling off the production line. When he asked the MD why blue, the answer was that they had done market research that showed that children did not like green toys. The Thunderbirds TV Series production had ended in 1966 and so its also probable that the colour match with the original TV prop was not important to the kids that bought the model.
During the 6 year production run, the model was released in a number of variants finally emerging with a white plastic underside as Dinky Toys headed towards closure.
DINKY 106 THUNDERBIRD 2
The first 106 was produced in metallic blue with yellow legs, this information based on the 1975 catalogue illustration, and was all metal.
Thunderbird 2 came with a detachable pod containing a plastic Thunderbird 4. The pod door was black.
THUNDERBIRDS TV SERIES:
Considered to be Gerry and Sylvia Andersons’ most popular and commercially successful series, Thunderbirds was a British science-fiction television series filmed by their production company AP Films (APF).
It was produced between 1964 and 1966 using a form of electronic marionette puppetry (dubbed “Supermarionation”) combined with scale model special effects sequences. Two series were filmed, comprising a total of thirty-two 50-minute episodes and additionally two feature films were made.
The TV series was set in the mid-2060s and followed the exploits of International Rescue (IR), a life-saving organisation equipped with technologically-advanced land, sea, air and space rescue craft; these were headed by a fleet of five vehicles named the Thunderbirds and launched from IR’s secret base in the Pacific Ocean. The main characters were ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy, the founder of IR, and his five adult sons, who piloted the Thunderbird machines.
TV PROP v DINKY MODEL:
The first all blue version also came with red legs
The second variant had a black plastic base with either yellow or red legs.
The black base with yellow legs version. Some version of the plastic bottom based variants left the factory without the tail engine intake stickers.
The third and final variant had a white plastic base. This model usually had red legs but a reliable NZ collector has provided pictures of this variant with yellow legs. If anyone else has this variant please let me know as this is the first one I’ve seen. The rear thruster inserts were yellow/red. Very little, if any, chrome finishes were being made at this stage of Dinky’s existence. Some models were sold without the stripy engine intake stickers on the rear wing.
The 106 had two pod door colours, red or black. These can obviously be interchanged but from research its likely that the all metal blue base version came with only black doored pods. The black base version with yellow legs always had a black door pod and the red legged version could have a black or red pod door. The white base version could have either a red or black door.
All the 106 Thunderbird 2’s.
DINKY 101 v 106 THUNDERBIRD 2:
The key difference, apart from the colour, between the 101 Thunderbird and the redesigned 106 version was the size. The 101 was 143mm long and the 106 was 153mm.
106: The legs were sturdier and could be red or yellow. The pod was larger although Thunderbird 4 was the same size as the one provided with 101. A larger centre lug was added to the pod door to ease opening and the rear of the main body had a small metal catch to help the pod stay in place rather than rely only on friction.
There is a rare yellow and black all plastic prototype version. Not a prototype for the original 106 Thunderbird 2 model but a cost saving experiment which never went into full production and only a handful of these were ever made. Note also both yellow and red legs were used. The plastic base was kept for the later versions of this model.
The 106 T2 was released initially in a blue then yellow bubble pack. The final box was the window hanging type. The all-blue and blue and black models used the bubble packs
Around 1978 the window hanging box was introduced. The blue black and the blue white models used these boxes.
An USA export box also exists, shown here on a Dinky display stand from the late 1970’s.