The Thunderbirds boardgame to the rescue in a post-Pandemic world!


Pit of Peril is probably the Thunderbirds episode for me. The Sidewinder is the best machine in the series (aside from my favorite Thunderbird 2). As a kid everything about that episode seemed spectacular. Why is the US military in the jungle with an AT-AT? How did they get those magnetic recovery vehicles?

Similar to your hypothetical children, my parents allowed us to watch this as an alternative to more violent TV programs (and this was the 90s!). I think we still have it on VHS somewhere.


The hate for nerdyman wargames is strong in this one!


There’s a big weekly board game meetup group near me at a local brewery. It’s usually a fun enough time but it pains me that half the time the only games people want to play are Catan and Pandemic.

I would rather play (original rules) Monopoly than ever touch Catan again, and Pandemic is so obsolete it hurts. With 5 people it’s downright painful.


The tendency towards only playing hoary old chestnuts like those two, or lightweight and often abstract games that play under an hour is why a few years ago I mostly stopped making the effort to go to the gaming party across town that was my main spot for boardgaming up until that point. It’s not that they’re bad games (except when they are), but it’s just very different from what I actually want from tabletop gaming, and taking two bus transfers and over an hour one way to get over to play, I dunno, Qwirkle or Ingenious or something just doesn’t seem like a great plan when I can get people over to my place and get in a nice rousing session of Gloomhaven or Darkest Night or The Gallerist or something instead.


Yeah, seeing Catan all the time at board game night is like showing up to bad movie night and all they ever show is Rocky Horror. Why is anyone still watching Rocky Horror in a post Birdemic or The Room world?

It’s the eternal dilemma with board game meetup groups. Either it’s super casual (oh boy, Cards Against Humanity and Apples to Apples all night every night) or a hardcore group that only ever plays the driest of dry euros. Do we want to see who can construct the most efficient 16th century German postal route inThurn Und Taxis? Or how about who can construct the most efficient 18th century German coal barge route in Ruhrschifffahrt? Those Germans know how to party!

The other popular group choice is a genre I’ve completely sworn off: social deduction games: Werewolf, Mafia, Secret Hitler, The Resistance, Two Rooms & a Boom. “Social strong-arming: the game” as I like to call them. They’re mostly just people getting mad at you for not voting their way. There’s usually someone who’s figured it out early and at that point you either let them play the game for you or you’re the traitor and voted out.

People keep saying it’s about reading people, but in that case it’s like you’re playing half hour long hands of poker without any money involved.

The only ones I like are when there’s an actual game involved beyond figuring out who the traitor is, like Battlestar Galactica.


Comedy is always based in truth, and this is both. GOLD.


Those games are great with people you know, where the social foundations have already been laid and the gameplay builds on those foundations. But with randos at a meetup? Or even casual acquaintances you might know from a gathering or two? Ugh. Kill me now.



What? When I watch Rocky Horror it’s definitely not bad movie night. What the hell is wrong with you?

In boardgame terms it’s more akin to playing an old Avalon Hill or SPI game that hasn’t aged so well. Like Voyage of the Pandora or something like that.


Yup. The worst instance was a party where I casually knew the host and everyone else I had just met for the first time. Everyone wanted to play one of the Jackbox party games where it asks a personal question, shows the answers, and you have to guess who gave which answer. Which total stranger answered “yes” to having a naked picture of themselves on the internet? Boy this sure is fun…

Although even when I played Mafia at parties full of people I know it wasn’t a fun experience. Get killed off the very first round. Okay…now what? You’re now out of the game that the entire rest of the party is still playing and will be playing for the next hour. Fun?


There it is, Thunderbird 2. The big green fucker. The robot frog. The machine that must have had some influence on me taking arduous and unfulfilling jobs in logistics when I could have been doing bar work.

Thanks, Gerry.


Glad to see Space 1999 and UFO referenced. UFO is my favourite Anderson, largely due to it being scheduled as a kids show. It was Anderson’s first attempt at adult television, so featured themes like betrayal, adultery and murder. His model work had reached its technical peak so meshed well with the live action. When people talk of being blown away by first seeing Star Wars as children, I empathise with them by remembering my 5 year old self gawping at this vivid world of Bodysnatchers, vulnerable pilots and a lunar base run by purple-haired space vixens.



Doesn’t FAB mean Fire All Boosters? Apparently, no one knows what it means, even Anderson.

Gerry Anderson was all for this shit.

Captain Scarlet’s go to phrase was SIG (Spectrum is Green).

Mine is CIY (Custard is Yellow). I use it all the time and people think me crazy.


As a kid I built the Fireflash and the elevator cars out of Lego. I used the springs from all of the pens in the house as the hydraulics for the cars. Mom was not amused to find out that none of the clicky pens worked.


Tom, I can’t believe you had the die-cast Thunderbird 2 and somehow didn’t know what it was! That toy was great, except for the fact that it had a Thunderbird 4 inside of it.

Thunderbird 4 is a total waste of container space. I was always much more excited when they picked up the container with the sci-fi bulldozer or the sci-fi drill. A yellow submarine? pfft.

I’m only 32, and so wasn’t around for Thunderbirds’ heydey in the 60s, but the show was re-run constantly until the 90s, so practically every in the UK knows what it is. I loved watching the show and its near-future miniatures, and it definitely had a lasting effect. e.g. About 5 years ago I designed and made a prototype (of a prototype…) of a computer game called “Rescue Force”. It was basically Desert Strike meets Thunderbirds, and I reckon it’d be a fantastic game. Plus: no killing!

As for the tangent on local game groups: I go to one each Wednesday in Aylesbury and am quite luck that there’s a wide variety of games on offer. e.g. last week I played Agra for the second time. I remember seeing someone playing the Thunderbirds game sometime last year, as it had just arrived from Kickstarter? I dismissed it as I assumed it was a cash in on the new (and terrible) CGI cartoons and movie*, and it had those stupid looking heads. But after your review I really want to play it. Makes me wish I’d bought it when it was on sale in Novemeber.

*Edit: Actually, the movie wasn’t CGI but some horrible live action thing sporting a Busted soundtrack and directed by William Riker Jonathan Frakes.

edit2: ps yeah, the car is called FAB 1. I had a matchbox model of that.

pps: you guys ever read Ministry Of Space by Warren Ellis? That’s definitely Thunderbirds inspired.


Thanks for the Thunderbirds primer, Tom! What a strange, cool thing.

“a rare prominent wom[a]n working behind the scenes”


This thread prompted me to change my avatar, which as we all know is pretty much the single most important thing on the internets…so thank you.


You would pick the single weirdest Thunderbird. By the way, in the modern cartoon Thunderbirds, they made Brains into a guy from India because because cultural diversity/inclusivity is more important than historical accuracy, plus it would be problematic to have a character who stutters for “comedic” effect in a modern cartoon. I don’t necessarily disagree with the decision, but it feels even weirder than Brains already was.

-Tom, TinTin 4 Ever


Brains weird!!! Well…ok…he was pretty weird but…Brains is awesome…c’mon…just look at those huge blue glasses, Brains predicted 80’s fashion, light years ahead of anyone.

Also…“Modern cartoon Thunderbirds” is just blasphemy, so nothing would surprise me.


Kudos! to Tom for pixelating some parts of that Pandemic board shown on the front page review of Thunderbirds. We’re playing Pandemic Legacy S1 right now and just encountered some cool new mechanics. Got to love your devotion to spoiler-free content.


Oh, shoot, I thought that was the basic game, but you’re right, it’s Legacy with some pixelated spoiler bits. I just got it from a Google search, so I can’t take credit for the pixelating. Lemme go see if I can find an image of just vanilla Pandemic.