Monday, 23 September 2013

Gerry Anderson Returns....?

I was a huge fan of LEGO as a child, but it was a passion that existed in symbiosis with other obsessions rather than in isolation. While I'd joyfully build the LEGO sets that I was bought, they were quickly broken up and reformed into other models, and those models were more often than not inspired by my favourite TV shows and films. I'd go so far as to say that without a few key sources of inspiration, my love of LEGO would not have grown as it did, and my life might have turned out very differently. And when it comes to sources of childhood inspiration, the TV shows and films of Gerry Anderson stand head and shoulders above everything else.

Gerry Anderson.
Gerry was a producer, writer and director of TV and film, and he had a passion for science fiction. While some people may not be familiar with his name, there surely can't be many who aren't familiar with at least one of his creations. Principal in my affections was (and indeed still is) Thunderbirds, although other gems such as Captain Scarlet, Stingray and Joe 90 are also near and dear to my heart. Hot on the heels of these Supermarionation masterpieces came Space 1999, another massive favourite of mine which triggered a whole new wave of obsession and LEGO inspiration in my youth, and UFO. More recently, my son and I have been throughly enjoying the CGI remake of Captain Scarlet, gratefully watched on DVD rather than in frustrating bite-size chunks thanks to its crass butchery at the hands of UK broadcaster ITV on its initial release. We'll quickly gloss over the 2004 Thunderbirds live action film at this point - Gerry apparently hated it, and from my perspective Sophia Myles' Lady Penelope character was just about the only good thing about it, although at least my youngster enjoyed it... ("Much to learn you have, my young Padawan")

Further evidence of my Anderson-inspired youth, and still (just about) intact....
I am of course far from the only person whose obsession with Gerry Anderson's TV shows has endured into adulthood, nor am I alone in having frequently taken inspiration from his amazing creations when building LEGO models. There are some seriously talented Anderson-inspired LEGO builders out there, a number of whom are fellow members of UK LEGO User Group the Brickish Association; I've featured some of their work on these pages before, and I make no apology for doing so again in the context of this post. Commander-in-Chief of those builders has to be Gary Davis, better known online as Bricks for Brains. His creations have graced many a LEGO show, with my favourite probably being his model of Thunderbird 2 (below - click to enlarge), complete with its complement of Elevator Cars. I've even made some tentative steps to try and reverse engineer the model and build one myself, such is my affection for it; despite the sheer majesty of the thing, it's my understanding that Gary feels that it can be significantly improved upon and he may yet do so one day. Now that I'd like to see....

Gary's huge model of Thunderbird 3 (above) also caused quite a stir when it first appeared last year, and his Angel Interceptor (below - click to enlarge) from the original Captain Scarlet TV series is another of my personal favourites. You can see a few more LEGO models inspired by the likes of UFO and Stingray in my review of last year's Great Western LEGO Show here, and if you want further proof of Gerry Anderson's power to inspire the LEGO community then do a Flickr search for, for example, "LEGO Thunderbirds", sit back and enjoy....

Gerry Anderson sadly lost his fight with Alzheimers Disease last year, and we lost a genuine visionary. My sadness at his passing was I suspect intensified by my affection for so much of his work and the realisation that we might never see its like again. A couple of weeks back, however, I was made aware of an initiative to try and bring a new Gerry Anderson project to life, first as a series of books, and then potentially as a TV series. During the final few years of his life, Gerry was working on a new project called Gemini Force 1, which follows the story of "a secret organisation involved in rescues and averting disasters and terrorist events" - a veritable Thunderbirds for the 21st Century, by the sounds of it....

Gerry died before he could finish the story, but his son Jamie is spearheading a Kickstarter campaign to try and finish the work that his father started. Jamie has engaged renowned Sci-Fi writer M. G. Harris to complete the first Gemini Force 1 book if the campaign reaches its financial target, and depending on how much additional money is raised, it's hoped that it'll also be possible to commission designers Andrew Probert (designer of iconic craft for the likes of Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica) and Dominic Lavery (New Captain Scarlet, James Bond, Event Horizon) to design the GF1 vehicles. Beyond that, Jamie's hoping to kickstart (ho ho) development of a GF1 TV series and/or film.

I've backed the Kickstarter campaign, and if you'd also like to help make Gemini Force 1 a reality then you can read more about the project and pledge your support here. With the 50th anniversary of Thunderbirds next year, it would be a perfectly-timed and most fitting tribute to the man who made it all possible. And if Gemini Force 1 does see the light of day, maybe today's youngsters, including my own little boy, will have a whole new Anderson-inspired world of adventure of their own to reminisce about when they get to my age.... Let's hope so !

*UPDATE* I'm delighted to report that the Gemini Force 1 Kickstarter campaign has reached its initial financial goal with time to spare ! Pledges are still being taken with a view to reaching some of the stretch goals described above, however, so if you haven't pledged yet then you still have a couple of days to get on board. 


  1. Anonymous25/9/13

    Supported! Thanks for the info Dave!

  2. Good stuff - less than £4K to go now !