The new sets for the Thunderbirds episodes have been created using airpop
Cult sixties television series, Thunderbirds, has had a modern-day revival thanks to the use of airpop material to create the new film sets.
Thanks to the success of an Internet campaign that raised the necessary funding, in late 2015 three new episodes of the programme were made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the sci-fi show.
In order to recreate the programme exactly as it looked in the sixties, airpop – formerly known as expanded polystyrene – was used to enable the creative designers to ‘carve out’ a range of backgrounds and sets.
The material was transformed into the frozen walls of an ice cave that the villain of the story uses for his nefarious purposes and even used to create the Himalayas as a backdrop to a scene where the Thunderbirds encounter dangerous blizzards of blinding snow.
“It has been extremely useful and time-saving to have ice cave walls that can be very easily picked up and shifted around. In ten minutes a torture chamber can be transformed into an icy prison or mysterious corridor,” commented Andrew T. Smith, Associate Producer of the new episodes.
“Chunks of EPS that were left over after the ice walls and mountains had been carved were then grated down – using cheese graters – to make snow that was then blown into shot by a desk fan. Rather low-tech but it looks great on screen!”
The airpop used in the new series was hand-modelled, hot-wired or electric sawed to create the many scenes required in the adventures. Then the material was finished using paint and surfacing techniques to create a reality and believability, which helps Thunderbirds come alive for the viewer.
“airpop can be transformed into virtually limitless scenes for the stage, film and art world,” explained Chairman of the British Plastics Federations EPS Group, David Emes.
“Whilst most airpop is used in construction and insulation it is increasingly seen as a solution for stage and set designers across the world where the only limit is the creativity of the designer.”
The new episodes of Thunderbirds are set to be released on DVD and issued in the first instance to those individuals that pledged money to the online campaign. It’s not yet known whether the episodes will be televised.
Those wishing to see the airpop sets can do so between March 12 and 27 when the studio in Slough where filming took place is open to the public. The entry fee is £22.