Made For 2016..!

‘THE SPECIAL’  belatedly welcomes you to 2016!!

During the site’s hiatus I have been busy compiling new material and scanning plenty of articles, images and photographing vintage pieces from the archive all to be presented here!  These will include;

* An all new image gallery featuring everything from press stills to vintage ads and review cuttings –

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* Pictorial reviews of the 1983 Monogram model kit and its variations, the Organic Die-Cast Model and the MultiToys Corp. Playset among others –


* A page devoted to the Casio AA-85 wristwatch prop, featuring pics and the original instruction manual –

AA-852Photo Credit: Kung-Fusion

* The long-promised Blue Thunder TV Series Companion will also make its debut this year

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But first, please read this fantastic new article by Senior Entertainment writer Mike Ryan for Upprox about just why Blue Thunder is – somewhat unnervingly – more relevant now than ever…

“Pull up, Pull up..!”


THE SPECIAL is honoured to present this unique account shared by the son of one of the unsung heroes of Blue Thunder and a significant contributor to its nail-biting aerial authenticity.

Veteran Helicopter pilot Karl Wickman (above) performed a number of stunts on the show, flying everything from the camera ship to the Police Jetrangers to doubling Malcolm McDowell for the climactic dogfight between Murphy and Colonel Cochrane.

Karl’s son Kurt contacted THE SPECIAL with his incredible recollections having spent time on the set with his father.  With photographs culled from the Gary Mason archive and screencaps from the Special Edition re-release of the film on DVD, this courageous and gifted pilot can finally be given the recognition and credit he deserves for making the stunt flying in this 1983 film the standard by which all others are judged over thirty years later. Kurt takes the story from here –

“Blue Thunder was a joy to watch being shot, my dad had multiple flight duties on this picture, he flew the police helicopter (tail no. N250CA) this was one of the two Bell jet rangers that Jim had I his company Cinema Air, the other was a maroon Long Ranger, (N230CA) which usually was used as the camera ship. He also flew the Hughes 500C with Malcolm McDowell, whom, by the way, was terrified of flying – 


During the rehearsal of one of the chase scenes, through and around LA, the turbine wheel separated in the 500.  Its very surreal seeing puffs of smoke coming from the exhaust and it (the 500) immediately pitch forward and straight down. It looked like it had the glide slope angle of a set of keys! The camera followed him down as far as he could articulate because it was shooting from the top of a building with 2 – 3 foot high false wall so it didn’t catch the landing, and even if it had, the camera man put his hand over the lens as if he didn’t want to see the end results.  This is captured on tape and was later given to my dad.

He also flew the police helicopter that chased Blue Thunder. During the sequence that has the story ship evading the police and trying to (and succeeding) lead the police into a bridge spot, just prior to the collision, there are two quick shots of the front of the helicopter and it’s occupants, the gentleman with the cyclic occupying the left side is my pop (below)

PDVD_058  He worked closely with Ross, Jim, and Frank (Holgate), when he flew for Cinema Air Corp. back in the 80’s. My dad was later asked to fly the story ship in the up and coming series, and did so until it was cancelled…”


Karl under the direction of John Badham and on the far right as second unit director Jim Gavin discuss the battle above the streets of LA with John Badham and (second pic) far right again joined by Ross Reynolds (left) doubling Roy Scheider (note the olive jacket with bloodstained sleeve)

PDVD_108karl, (left) in Astro Division flightsuit, relaxing between takes at Parker Center with colleagues Ross Reynolds and Frank Holgate…


DSC_3272DSC_3245DSC_3246DSC_3247DSC_3251DSC_3252DSC_3253DSC_3257THE SPECIAL is proud to present the end result of a diligent 15 year search – the super-rare diecast Blue Thunder helicopter from UK company Toyway.

Approx 6″ long and released as part of the ‘Sky Birds’ collector series, this unlicensed replica (mounted anonymously on a backing card with Apache artwork) is one of two versions made (the other an unlikely US Coastguard red).

Apart from the unwelcome fourth rotor blade and stubby cannon (presumably to meet safety standards) this tooling is reasonably accurate for the scale, with plenty of detail captured in the plastic parts (canopy/tail) and even featuring the correct decals.

This mint example found mounted on card with only partially opened blister (top pic) was snapped up by THE SPECIAL only moments after it became available and is now a vital part of the ongoing collection…

The R/C Scrapbook…

RCHVol4-1RCHVol1-3aRCHVol1-4bRCHVol1-1RCHVol1-3bRCHVol1-4aEnjoy these random snippets from various vintage Radio Control helicopter magazines rescued from the Google ether.

The article by Diane Cameron-Tough is particularly interesting as it claims Hollywood remote flying supremo John Simone Jr. (third pic) performed the famous climatic loop over forty times before making a suitable take.  Between this and often flying blind through miniature street sets its a minor miracle any of his four handmade models survived the shoot to this day.

Not so lucky, however, were the original molds of the scale chopper which were destroyed before the mass market replica’s (5th & 6th pics) could be produced, forever depriving enthusiasts of what would now be considered a genuine replica prop…

Shared Wings…


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This latest addition to the collection of THE SPECIAL is this metal US Airforce Wings pin as worn by Roy Scheider as Frank Murphy.  Although many variations of this pin exist (having been in circulation since WWII) this one (officially branded as the USAF Pilot’s badge) does seem to be a 100% match to the type used in the production (see pics below)

Murphy's_LawMurphy's_Law1As was the case with many of the movie’s props and costumes, this pin was also migrated to to the TV Series where it would adorn James Farentino’s flightsuit as Frank Chaney (shown below on location with the backup helicopter). With nothing going to waste from the movie’s wardrobe dept. Scheider’s Astro Division uniform (above) was also redressed with Blue Thunder patches for use by Dana Carvey’s JAFO…


Kit. No. 100…

DSC_3130DSC_3131DSC_3133DSC_3137BT_Kit1BT_Kit2‘THE SPECIAL’ is pleased to add this latest vintage rarity to the collection – surely the smallest model kit of the helicopter ever produced to date.

Measuring in at a mere 9cm long, this vending-machine style toy is no bigger than a deck of cards.  Made in Korea and packaged in a fantastic colour box featuring a still from the movie and simple set of instructions on the back this package is complete and in mint condition for its age.

The kit itself possesses an extraordinary amount of detail and accuracy for the scale with very clean sharp lines.  Should anybody know who the manufacturer is or have any further info on this kit feel free to add a comment below.

Meantime, ignore all this current Movie remake nonsense and head over to the ‘TV CONVERSIONS’ tab on the left for all-new content about the further appearances of the one and ONLY original Airbuster…

“When Terror Rains Down…”

BT_TV_Box_CoverBT_TV_Box_RearBT_TV_DiscsBT_TV_InsertBT_TV_Disc3BT_TV_Discs_Insert…Blue Thunder Will Always Follow.”

The source of reference for the upcoming digital companion as well as a finely packaged collection in its own right, The Complete Blue Thunder Series finally saw official release on DVD in 2006.

Not re-run as of 1993 in the US (and shown intermittently throughout the 90’s on BRAVO in the UK) this boxset from Sony Pictures released in semi-conjunction with the Blue Thunder Movie Special Edition DVD consigned the VHS releases of limited (only four from eleven) episodes to history while bringing the series to a new format fit for future generations.

Superbly presented on three discs with great packaging art (sporting a more contemporary logo) the short-lived series is collected in its entirety in standard definition but nonetheless looking better than ever.  While a set of extras are sorely lacking (new interviews with cast & crew alongside a ‘Making of’ special would’ve been a welcome treat) there is still 529 minutes of amazing ’80’s airborne action to be revisited and enjoyed…

The Companion…

THE SPECIAL welcomes you to 2015!!

This year will be a major one for the blog with much more material and imagery coming on a regular basis to make the site the ONLY place to come for all things Thunder.  PLEASE keep your contributions coming in and let me know what you think of the posts in the comments bar.  Also look out for regular updates to the SPECIAL BASE section as more exciting information about the original Airbuster is steadily uncovered..!!

BT_Epilog_Cover-001BT_Epilog2BT_Epilog3BT_Epilog4BT_Epilog5BT_Epilog6EL4 JAN91Billed as ‘The television magazine of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Adventure,’ The EPI-LOG journal/fanzine was the only way to get your cult TV fix in the pre-internet years.  A simple review format in black & white, (usually accompanied by nicely reproduced press kit stills) these no-frills episode guides were the best reference for your favourite TV show.

First published among the pages of Issue #4 in 1991 under a cover featuring its main competitor (bottom pic), and reprinted in the more appropriately titled Special #8 in 1993, the full archive of the Blue Thunder TV series could be found complete with title, guest stars and original airdates along with its brief synopses, reproduced in full above.

Coming soon in 2015, THE SPECIAL will expand on the information here with The Blue Thunder Companion, a thorough critique of all 11 episodes serialised in post form to be collected and made a permanent fixture in the sidebar when complete.  These reviews will feature screencaps and all manner of trivia in an attempt to make the definitive series reference.  Look out for the updates..!

Miniature Heroes…

HollywoodAuction44May14-152011Curiously listed as ‘unsold’ as of May 2011, the fate of both these incredible lots from the catalogue page above remains a mystery.  Genre-defining relics of Movie/Television history, these two (three if you count the miniature Hughes offered with Special One) museum-quality handmade miniatures are surely deserved of a private collection or public exhibition.

BT_RCWhile it is uncertain which scenes this particular RC was used from the several built for the production, due to its pristine state one must assume this was either preserved well or subject to restoration as few other surviving examples fared so well (see here and here) having crash landed in car parks, etc. during shooting.

Luckily the previous owner had taken this great set of stills below to show off the awesome details found on this RC prior to offering it at auction.  While I wish I could credit the photographer these shots have been languishing on my hard drive so long I no longer have details.  Suffice to say should he or anybody else wish to contact me about this model please feel free as it would be great to know its current state and whereabouts…


The Unknown Stuntmen…


These rare behind-the-scenes pics have been haunting the hard drive of THE SPECIAL for years so it is with some satisfaction they can finally be shared.  While apologies must be made for the poor size/resolution I hope you enjoy this brief insight and tribute to the stunt players and brave/crazy cameramen of this film and maybe even help identify some?

While I’m fairly certain the gentleman immediate right in the top pic is the late Jim Gavin the pilot on the left in the shades (featuring prominently on the set wearing Roy Schieder’s bloodied jacket in Gary Mason’s incredible album) and the other two men’s identities remain unknown…