BOOK REVIEW: Haynes Thunderbirds Tech Manual

Mama Fisi
Mama Fisi's picture

I never really watched "The Thunderbirds" when I was a kid (I know, cry "Heretic!") They kind of creeped me out, and the puppetry wasn't good enough to hold my attention (I was more into stop-motion animation even back then.)

But The Husband is a big fan (must be because he shares a name with one of the Tracy boys.) So for Christmas this year, after perusing his Amazon wish list, and tactfully ignoring all the lingerie he'd picked out, I selected a few books that I figured he'd enjoy. One of them is the "Haynes International Rescue Thunderbirds Agent's Technical Manual."

Written as though Tracy Island is an actual place, it covers all of the vehicles appearing in the series, including Lady Penelope's armored pink Rolls Royce FAB-1 and her yacht. It even gives biographical sketches of all the main characters.

I'll be honest, I wasn't a Thunderbirds fan before, but the level of creativity and attention to detail that went into making this guidebook is breathtaking. Each of the main vehicles has intricately drawn cutaway diagrams with all the fiddly little bits that techie fans adore--it even shows you where the heads are on that yacht. You find out that Kansas farmboy-turned-astronaut-turned-entrepreneur Jeff Tracy was driven to create International Rescue after the tragic--and avoidable--death of his wife. You discover the almae mater of the four Tracy boys, and that Tin Tin is an expert skier. You even get homey behind-the-scenes photographs of the crew relaxing in their spacious and tastefully-decorated home.

Written by Sam Denham and illustrated by Graham Bleathman, this book is a love-letter to the late Gerry Anderson's imaginative series, and was fully authorized and licensed by ITV Studios. By Page 8 you're already fully suspending your disbelief, and by page 12 you're thanking Jeff Tracy for his foresight and dedication in creating such a worth-while organization as International Rescue.

Anybody who likes the Thunderbirds, or cool gadgets, or detailed schematic drawings, or just has a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and appreciation for an awful lot of hard work, will enjoy this book. I asked The Husband whether the TV series ever explained the way the vehicles worked, and he said pretty much no, so the author is to be given great credit for taking on the challenging task of not only figuring out how these things could actually work, but then explaining it in easy-to-comprehend language that sounds entirely plausible. He even manages to "update" some of the devices to more realistically simulate the future history of the year 2066. It's jolly good fun!

I got this book through Amazon, but I'm sure there are other outlets carrying it, so I'm not spamming by telling you that, just making things easier.