Thunderbirds are go! They live on in Microsoft Office, ready to serve as a retro look in your Word documents or PowerPoint slides.
The passing of Gerry Anderson was sad news. Mr Anderson enthralled millions of kids (and more than a few adults) with his groundbreaking shows like Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, UFO and, of course, Thunderbirds.
As Office users, that got us thinking about the fonts and colors used on Thunderbirds. The sort of information you might use to liven up a document or presentation. There are equivalent fonts supplied with Office that can give you the Thunderbirds look quite easily.
We’re talking about the ‘real’ Thunderbirds here- the UK made TV show from the mid-1960’s – not the 2004 film – about which the less said the better. And yes, after this article, we will try get out more <g>.
Thunderbird Title Font
The title font is similar to Playbill that’s been included with Office for a long time.
Change the font color to Red and add the Small Caps effect. Then switch to text effects on the Font dialog and tweak the shadow settings:
All that gives you a good approximation of the main title (see above).
The shadow color is sometimes a mid-grey or even pale yellow depending on the situation.
A closer match is the free font ‘Anderson Thunderbirds are go’ available here.
There are different fonts used on the side of the Thunderbird machines themselves. There’s a discussion here . The original model makers may have painted on the lettering and not used any standard font at all. It’s more likely they used Letraset sheets, perhaps with variations. So there may not be any consistent font used or a font with an exact equivalent in the digital world.
Other possibilities are ‘Grotesque MT condensed’ from Monotype and has a price tag. GrotesqueMT-Condensed is available for free download. ‘Futura Bold’ may also be used for the number 1 to 5. Futura Bold is a font from Linotype and costs about US$25-29. There are ‘knock offs’ like Futura-Bold available.
The forum post also suggests that the Mekanik font is used however that was only created in 1988. So it could not have been used by the model makers unless they also had a time machine.
The nearest equivalent font that’s supplied with Office is Arial Black.
If you want to stick with in-built Office fonts use Playbill for the title and Arial Black for the lettering on the side of the machines.
There’s no consistent color on the machines. One thing that set Gerry Anderson’s models apart from others of the same vintage is their ‘used’ look. Instead of being all shiny and gleaming, the machines looked as if they’d been used for some time. That means there’s no single color that exactly matches. We’ve selected some approximations based on some color samples from TV show video stills.
Thunderbird 1 – try #70855C or Red: 112 Green:133 Blue:92
For the iconic Thunderbird 2 use #747D2A or Red:116 Green: 125 Blue: 42
Thunderbird 3 is a mixed bag, it can appear red or orange. In the episode ‘Sun Probe’ it changes from orange to red between two adjoining shots at about 44:27 into the show. Our consensus is #BD4D27 or Red: 189 Green:77 Blue:39
Thunderbird 4 is a dirty underwater craft but underneath the grime seems to be #AC6D38 Red:172 Green:109 Blue 56 . Some models are canary yellow, but on the TV the colors are darker for the most part.
BTW: check out this amazing effort at making a Thunderbird 2 model from scratch. The fine detail is extraordinary – look at the photos near the bottom of the page.
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