WELCOMES YOU TO 2018!
In the very same week where, 33 years ago, BLUE THUNDER made its debut on Prime-Time TV, the best website online resource for the helicopter in all media makes its comeback with an all-new look and plenty of new content –
While posts were fewer than anticipated in 2017, the site pages (SPECIAL BASE) have been regularly updated – there you will find constant additions to the gallery and a revised page on the elusive Casio AA-85 Digital Watch as worn by Roy Scheider in the 1983 movie. The collection has also continued to expand with the addition of some original artefacts from the TV show that will be showcased soon..!
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all the fans who have been in touch and left comments since the site began, your contributions continue to be incredibly valuable and often lead to great things, a great example of which is below courtesy of Thomas Dozier. Please enjoy the feature on his incredible one-of-a-kind Helmet project and standby for more to come…!
“Gentlemen, this is your Harrison Fire Control Helmet. This baby…is the heart of your system.”
“This was built from the same model HGU Series Dual Visor Flight Helmet used as the actual prop in the movie. I added the rear control box that, in fiction, is supposed to be part of the Heads-Up Display (HUD) system. There is a VCR type jack in the back along with a removable cable so it could be displayed it with or without it.
The boom mic was quite the adventure. After months of searching I realised there are no three section boom mics and the filmmakers custom made them for the film. Both the Blue Thunder helmet as well as the regular flight helmets in the film have these custom made boom mics. The first two sections are original vintage parts that match the film’s helmet exactly, and then like the prop makers, I had to scratch build the front section. I was able to locate the exact vintage microphone as was used in the film.
The helmet has a new old stock original chin strap, not the new lesser quality ones, as well as a new old stock vintage leather roll also. It also features new old stock earphones. Both the earphones and boom mic work so this is an actual working flight helmet.
The color is a dead-on match which I was worried about as it’s not a common blue. Needless to say it does not have any targeting features…”
This latest addition to the vault of THE SPECIAL represents the end of a 20+ year pursuit to secure this most rare of true vintage Blue Thunder collectables.
Kit No 500 would appear to be the Big Brother(!) of the mini kit from South Korea showcased on the site previously, where thanks to followers of the site we understand the number relates to price (Korean Won) rather than an indication of scale.
This boxed, complete example has survived remarkably well given its fragility with all parts and sticker sheet contained within a clear plastic envelope. Presented in a bright, full colour box with instructions printed on the rear in Korean, the kit itself is inexplicably molded in dark green with a clear canopy and bizarre metallic silver sticker sheet.
At approx 7″ long, the main fuselage is well-detailed with accurate modifications and the interior exhibits remarkable detail for the scale. As the sticker sheet is simplistic and somewhat inaccurate It would probably detract from the finish were it to be used but as an overall package, this far-east 80’s throwback is as good as it gets…
Catch you later..!
THE SPECIAL is proud to present the end result of a diligent decades-long 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 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…
…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…
Though it is yet to be added to the extensive collection of THE SPECIAL, this first of many Blue Thunder merchandise/kit reviews takes precedent due to the discovery of this impressive Youtube video (top) showcasing an amazing buildup.
Part of the ‘Movie Mecha’ series (including tellycopter rival Airwolf) introduced at the 49th All Japan Model Hobby Show 2009 by Aoshima, this 1/48th scale replica of the Movie version of the helicopter (see original sale sheet/promo 3rd pic) is notable for being released in two versions – the first basic kit in a white box with painted art (below) and a special variant with metal gatling gun, also benefitting from a more attractive blue box with a still from the river chase sequence.
While the kit itself may be disappointingly small in comparison to, say, the vintage Monogram 1/32nd release, it compensates by being arguably be the most accurate tooling of the screen used prop to date – with details such as the video box cables, correct interior with fire extinguisher, oversize monitor at Observer’s station and inclusion of pilot figure. The decal sheet (below) has the correct registration marking and even includes the ‘Big Brother’ tape case –
With its versatile stand and base made for in-flight display, kit builder Chandler2001tokyo went one better and added working rotors, running lights and twitching gatling gun, with switches neatly mounted in the base for the complete Thunder experience in miniature (top). Still available as of this writing on auction sites, go here to see another fantastic finish/review from Germany and here to see the creation of an award-winning example (featuring a doomed barbeque shack diorama!)
From the troubled debut of ‘The Special’ in R/C Kit form by American RC in 1983 (go here) we time-hop three decades later to 2011 for its present day return.
Seemingly not as refined (nor detailed) as its movie-prop quality ancestor, the review above by Denis Stretton of the SmartModel.com 700 Blue Thunder Attack Helicopter is nonetheless an exhaustive account of the new tooling and heralds a welcome return to the R/C world.
Should you be interested in initiating your own scale Project THOR, however, research shows some of the availability info in this excellent edition of UK Magazine Model Helicopter World has already dated. The Hong Kong site from which the kit was originally marketed seems to have changed location but the UK stockist still lists the fuselage as a pre-order item.
Though the exterior features on the casting would require considerable modification to make screen-accurate (should one wish to make it so) the complex interior/cockpit is an easier proposition thanks to this excellent add-on kit that can incorporate LED’s. With no shortage of Barbie’s Ken dolls on the market, the option of completing it with a pilot Simone Jr. style remains open. Regardless, as YouTube videos of finished projects give testimony to, its still a thrill to see the The Special airborne in any form…
To secure the license for what was, at the time, the most expensive show on TV must have incited much excitable palm rubbing from the execs at MultiToys Corp.
Announced amongst what could only be described as an eclectic line of action figures, playsets and dolls (from the Bugmen of Insecta to The Love Boat) and showcased as hastily produced mockups (some represented only by artwork) the MTC 1984 catalog is a glorious rare-as-you-like piece of nostalgia and insight into the toy industry.
Of particular interest, however, were the company’s ambitious plans for ABC’s Blue Thunder, where you may be both surprised to learn the extent of the line and saddened by how little of it actually made production –From the top we see the whole main cast of the Blue Thunder TV show represented as articulated 4″ scale figures (even correctly scaling Bubba and Ski) intended for interaction with the Blue thunder Helicopter, Rolling Thunder van and Blue Thunder Jeep. Only the Blue Thunder Helicopter would survive the cull and be sold complete with what is described as an ‘Astro Division’ pilot (even in this scale easily identifiable as Roy Scheider) as, sadly, the other figures & vehicles were never made.
The items on the following page, however, were also successfully marketed with the Flying Blue Thunder (featuring great box art) and battery operated Blue Thunder Giant Helicopter eventually becoming the most rare and sought-after toys associated with the subject. Coming in at a whopping 28″ long with sound effects and lights, this toy (though hardly the most accurate rendition of the helicopter) in its complete form commands an appropriate sum to obtain today if you can find one at all.
Conversely, the 18″ Blue Thunder Helicopter has become somewhat of a cult toy classic over the years, (appearing in TV’s Toy Hunter, etc.) and still appears (albeit more infrequently) on auction sites for reasonable prices (note the artwork for the box on catalog cover, top pic). As it forms part of my collection a full pictorial review here on THE SPECIAL will be a subject of a future post, but for now, enjoy indulging yourself in what could’ve been…
In what must be the most unique ‘abandoned project’ opportunity of a lifetime, an unknown Australian seller is offering this partially converted Gazelle Helicopter should anybody want to complete its transformation into Blue Thunder.
Fabricated from wood and metal with a motor to turn the blades, this static display houses a kerosene heater to simulate engine heat/vapour from exhaust and even a speaker system to simulate the unique Gazelle shriek.
The exterior metalwork and wooden/fiberglass modifications are of considerable standard (even if the interior falls short in the accuracy stakes) and clearly the chopper was well on its way to being finished before the builder, (obviously a huge BT fan – he even has Frank Murphy’s ’79 Trans Am garaged up! second & third pic down) for whatever reason, withdrew.
Despite its appearance on auction sites the project apparently and inexplicably remains unsold. Should anybody be interested in starting a similar project in future however, I have it on good authority the tooling for the original ‘copter still exists in storage and all that would be needed to recreate an accurate full-scale replica of The Special would be a donor Gazelle and a suitably stratospheric budget. Theoretically speaking, Blue Thunder could fly again.
How do we know all this? Watch for future posts..!!
The revised continuity of the Blue Thunder TV Series meant that the Astro Division established in the movie was eclipsed by a generic government agency named APEX (through which the Blue Thunder Unit would continue operations while still based at Police Headquarters.) and headed by Captain Braddock.
Where there’s a unit there’s a patch and both airborne and ground crew were bestowed with this simple yet iconic design featuring the helicopter at sunrise for the duration of the show;
Since the show was cancelled there has only been one reproduction made available for fans and it leaves much to be desired in the accuracy stakes to say the very least but for decades its all we had;
Until the timely arrival of popular baseball cap vendors Lucky Seven, whose contemporary updated take on the series patch design is much more detailed and betters the original to a considerable degree;
Not only that, but the site offers entirely customisable caps from a multitude of cult TV series and Movies with a colour & crest, making the Blue Thunder version both an obvious choice and instant hit. From the Lucky Seven Blog;
As the only Blue Thunder apparel to be released in at least 20+ years, this cap is long overdue so its gratifying the final product (pics from my collection above) is of such good quality (despite the curious combination of artwork pulled from the MultiToys Blue Thunder toy box and still of Organic Die-cast model used to advertise it.). As Lucky Seven seems to be the go-to site for celebrities this cap has already seen TV airtime atop the head of chef Jamie Oliver. Sadly the patch is not available separately so my ambition of customising a Blue Thunder jacket remains a pipe dream for now. Meantime, order your cap today..!!