Fireball XL5FunSpace: 1999StingrayThunderbirds

“Wow!” Our favourite Anderson-related Christmas gifts!

You don’t need to have been an Anderson fan for long to start accumulating a merchandise collection, and Christmas brings the opportunity for family, friends – or even yourself – to add new and exciting items to that collection! If you’ve been an Anderson fan since childhood then your memories of favourite Anderson-related Christmas gifts are likely to be extremely nostalgic – and below, four members of the Anderson Entertainment team share their picks for the best Anderson Christmas gift they ever received!

Andrew Clements

I’d been gripped by Thunderbirds fever ever since the early 90s BBC re-runs and by the time Christmas rolled around in 1993, I was already acquainted with its forerunner Stingray, thanks to a Channel 5 VHS release. Proudly wearing my Thunderbirds pyjamas on Christmas morning, I sat in awe of the shiny new Matchbox Marineville Playset, Titan and Commander Shore action figures and Stingray and Terrorfish twin-pack. It was the coolest thing ever! A working ocean door, security barrier, hydromic missile gantries and, best of all, a control tower that descended into the underground emplacement just like in the series!

After patiently waiting for Dad to finish applying all the stickers (no mean feat), I played with it all day long, sending Stingray back and forth through the ocean door and teaming the WASP up with a hilariously mis-scaled bubble bath container shaped like Thunderbird 4 that I’d got that year too.I vividly remember being more than a little put-out when I was told that we were all going to go and visit the neighbours, as I was in the midst of a thrilling sea battle against a terrifying giant squid (aka one of Mum’s winter gloves).

I still have it and am happy to report it’s almost fully complete, bar the pair of tiny street lamps at either side of the control tower. One of these days I must source some replacements. Actually, I’m going to get it out right now – anything can happen in the next half hour!

Ben Page

Twas the night before Christmas and in the upstairs room,
not a Ben Page was stirring, he had a premonition of doom
The stockings were hung by the chimney it’s true,
But the absence of Anderson made Ben Page feel blue.
The young Anderfan was nestled deep in his bed
With visions of Alpha dancing in his head.
But the box set was expensive, and filled with DVDs.
Would his parents in America be able to find these?
Come Christmas morning O what Deep Joy
To find Space:1999 for that little boy.
There was Martin and Barbara and good old Nick Tate
Plus Eagles galore! Wow, it was great.
So come this Christmas, in the Spirit of cheer
Share an Anderson present that’ll be loved all year!

Chris Dale

As wonderful as it was to receive an assortment of Matchbox Thunderbirds toys in Christmas 1992 (for some reason I seem to recall saying of Thunderbird 2 “what a beauty!” over and over) my pick for favourite Anderson-related Christmas present would certainly have to go to a VHS tape; volume 4 of Fireball XL5 from ITC Home Video, containing the episodes Space Pirates, Convict in Space, Space Pen, and Last of the Zanadus.

Of course, in the mid-1990s Fireball XL5 was not airing anywhere on British television but I was however aware of the series thanks to the Thunderbirds comic reprinting XL5 strips from the pages of TV Century 21. Having enjoyed those strip stories, and having seen mentions of VHS releases of Anderson shows that weren’t currently being shown on television, my parents obviously decided to take a chance on buying a tape of the series for me. I also seem to remember they weren’t sure if I’d like the show considering it was in black and white – but I don’t think that even registered with me on first viewing! The characters, the settings and the stories were all so instantly appealing that I fell in love with the show, and another XL5 tape came my way for my birthday! (Volume 6, if you’re wondering.)

Although the tape is long since gone I do wish I still had it. I no longer have a VCR but that tape represented a wonderful moment in my burgeoning Anderson fandom; a doorway to a wider Anderson universe, and one that (thanks to a trailer for other Anderson series carried by ITC Home Video) pointed me in the direction of plenty of shows that I had yet to see but already knew I’d love.

Jamie Anderson

My top Gerry Anderson Christmas gift was a bit of a cheat because I don’t think I actually received this on 25th December… it was either just before or just after Christmas in around 1993. I attended a convention with Dad and we stayed in a hotel for the duration. I had some Christmas money to spend and used it to buy a few Doctor Who items, which you can see in the picture below.

But most crucially, I was gifted a fantastic Thunderbird 2 toy that had been sent from Japan. It was huge, beautiful, and came with a range of pod vehicles including elevator cards, the Mole and of course Thunderbird 4. It’s probably one of the best toys I ever owned, and as you can see from the picture, my happy face shows how pleased I was with it.  I have many happy memories of playing with this toy and kept it for at least 15 years. It was so satisfying to put the pod vehicles into the pod, and use a lever to raise the internal ramp which would send the pod vehicles rolling out – deployed and ready for rescue. It remained one of my favourites. Many Japanese toys are brilliant, and this was a great example of how good a Thunderbird 2 model can be. It’s possible that someone out there remembers exactly when and where this was based on my awful Christmas jumper and the hotel in the picture. But whenever it was, this Thunderbird 2 toy was my absolute favourite gift ever!

Some lovely memories of Anderson Christmas gifts there, and we’re sure that you have plenty of your own to share – so why not add them in the comments below!

Written by
Chris Dale

Writer, editor & voice actor on Big Finish's Doctor Who, Terrahawks, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet audio ranges. Host of the Randomiser on the Gerry Anderson Podcast.

Leave a comment

Prepare for life on Moonbase Alpha

UFO: The Complete Comic Collection

Related Articles

Captain ScarletMerch NewsNewsPodcastSpace: 1999Thunderbirds

This week in Gerry Anderson news!

All my subjects, your orders; read the Gerry Anderson news roundup! This...


Thunderbirds Thursday: Introducing the Thunderbirds

Whenever and wherever disaster strikes, International Rescue can be counted on to...

ArticleCaptain ScarletFeatureFireball XL5NewsStingrayThunderbirds

Know Your Anderson Acronyms, Part 2

Anderson acronyms are go, once again! Following on from our previous explanatory...

Captain ScarletMerch NewsSpace: 1999StingrayTerrahawksThunderbirds

This week in Gerry Anderson news!

Attention all Anderfans! I, your Mighty Leader, summon the Gerry Anderson news...