Kit.No.500

20160611_141035-00120160611_14111920160611_14024920160611_14015220160611_140436JapThunderFrontJapThunderRearThis 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..!

Skybird…

DSC_3272DSC_3245DSC_3246DSC_3247DSC_3251DSC_3252DSC_3253DSC_3257THE 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…

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…

Movie Mecha…

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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.

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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.

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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 –

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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!)

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Includes Own Fenestron…

MHW1MHW2MHW3MHW4MHW5MHW6MHW7MHW8From 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…

MTC 1984…

MTC1-002To 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 –MTC2MTC3MTC4From 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…

Thunder Down Under…

AUS_Thunder1AUS_Thunder6AUS_Thunder5AUS_Thunder4AUS_Thunder3AUS_Thunder2In 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..!!

Patch Of The Month…

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;

BT_Real_PatchSince 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;

bluethunderlogopatchUntil 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;

DSC_2586Not 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;

BT_Cap1DSC_2583DSC_2588THUNDER-01-600x340As 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..!!

The Book Of J-Bad…

Badham_BookOne of the mission prerogatives for ‘THE SPECIAL’ Is to keep Thunderfans appraised of all relevant news and merchandise both vintage and current.

What a pleasure, then, to discover that one of Hollywood’s most prolific Auteurs has put pen to paper to share his wisdom and experiences with the rest of us.  Why should we care?  Because the author is none other than Blue Thunder director John Badham.

JBMore an anecdotal ‘How to’ rather than a straightforward autobiography, the new book ‘Badham on Directing’ may well prove to be an indispensable user guide for aspiring filmmakers.

Exerpted below are passages from a recent interview by cult website Topless Robot, where interestingly, Brit-born Badham is keen to cite Blue Thunder as the adult-oriented opening to his signature ’80’s Techno-trilogy –

LYT: I wanted to ask you a question about technology in general, since you’ve made two sort of iconic movies: Short Circuit and WarGames, that both ultimately come to the conclusion that technology that we create to destroy will ultimately become benevolent. Was that a coincidental theme that you just happened to like the stories and that was the theme there, or was that something you really think about a lot?

JB: Yeah, I would actually add into that and make a little trilogy, adding in Blue Thunder, because Blue Thunder deals with a lot of stuff that we’re looking at right now very hard – government’s intrusion into our lives and how much intrusion is okay. Blue Thunder was released before the year 1984; that was an iconic year because of George Orwell’s novel all about government intrusion, looking into the future. All three of these films deal with the dangers of technology and how it can go off-track, sometimes in a very funny way, as in Short Circuit, or in scary ways, as in the other films. We’ve always been worried about how computers can go wrong, but what we’re seeing mostly is either computers going wrong mechanically, or because of elaborate hacking designed for pretty malevolent criminal purposes.

bluedirectorLYT: When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of the Blue Thunder TV series, which I think lasted an entire season.

JB: Right, right; just one season.

LYT: I don’t think any of those themes really made it into the show, did they? How did you feel about the show, in general?

JB: I was not a fan of the show. I had a lot of troubles with it. I think they just were looking to make an entertainment, and it was kind of, not a clone, but a copy of The A-Team. It became that pretty quickly. As I told them when they talked to me first about it, I said “I know you’re not going to be able to fly that helicopter very much – it’s bloody expensive! And on a TV show budget, I don’t think that’s really in the cards.” Sure enough, after 3 or 4 or 5 episodes, they put people down on the ground in a big van, running around that way, doing something more affordable, and forgetting about any themes of invasion of privacy, or anything like that. It just became another cop show.

Full interview can be found here.  Book is now available from Amazon.com and will be released towards the end of the month on Amazon.co.uk.  Review in future post…