A Sense of Scale

PantherAs most Gerry Anderson shows are set in far-off futures, showcasing incredible feats of engineering – it is no secret that in the worlds of 2065 and beyond the designers thought “BIG”. Cars the size of tanks, aircraft the size of cruise-liners, self contained cities in single buildings, and that’s just for starters.

One of the biggest issues in pulling these things off as believable special effects is that more often than not the vehicles have to be shot completely separately from the human characters. With none, or at best primitive, means of compositing (mainly back projection) you would very rarely get to see the characters  properly interact with their vehicles (beyond small plastic or plasticine figures).

Because editing in the Century 21 TV shows was generally of high quality this never really posed much of a problem, with the camera jumping easily from FX to puppet/live action sets. The only problem was that it rarely gave the audience a sense of how utterly huge these machines were and how awe-inspiring they would be if they actually existed.

After all, it’s hard to think that the Sidewinder is the size of an 8 storey building and Zero X is nearly the length of two football pitches.

Putting it into Perspective.

For the fun of it – last year I decided to make a chart featuring many of the craft from Gerry Anderson productions, showcasing them in scale with each other. In total there were about 75 craft on show, from Zeroids to Cloud-Base. the chart’s massive so feel free to download it and take a look and see if you can name them all. Needless to say, quite a lot didn’t make the chart but it gives you a nice cross section across all the shows.

Download the full A1 chart here!

TB Article Thumbnail


I used various references when designing this sprawling thing, for instance employing existing literature such as the Thunderbirds Haynes manual, screen grabs and matching the size of doorways or people. Bear in mind that this is very much my interpretation; these are fictional craft and they could radically change in size depending on what model was being used.

For another example, check out this video I made back in 2010 when my friend and I stole an SPV.

We actually measured out the SPV in the petrol station for accuracy (and garnered a lot of weird looks from the staff) .

SPV template [original]


Between this thing and Mac’s Jet Car, roads are much larger in the 2060s…


Written by
Chris Thompson

A freelance Artist and Film-maker based on a not so secret island in the East Atlantic. Grew up up on the Anderson series reruns in the 90s and have always strived to create works that are as interesting and exciting.

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