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Popy was a Japanese toy manufacturer owned by Bandai. It was founded in 1971.

Popinika toys, which were based on vehicles from lines Popy had licensed (which included Thunderbirds), released for sale in 1974, a range of six die-cast models based on the Thunderbirds craft, including the Mole (called a "Jet Mogura" in Japan). Sold in boxes with colourful artwork the craft themselves didn't quit match a true likeness, having incorrect livery. The company repackaged and re-issued in 1979, with production finally ending in 1984 with the release of a Thunderbird big base.

Despite there poor likeness to the original Thunderbird craft, these die-cast models fetch a high price when offered for sale. The toy in mint condition, in its original box, can fetch as much as £600 at auction.

Thunderbird 1Edit

Spring-loaded wings released via a press button. Red plastic nose cone fired via another press button. Spare nose cone included.

Thunderbird 1 (1974 Release)Edit

Popy TB 1 1974

1974 box

  • No: 73101
  • Release date: 1974
  • Length: 188mm

Thunderbird 1 (1979 Release)Edit

  • No: 7733
  • Release date: 1979

Notes: the differences to the 1979 release was the blue was a lighter colour and no red strips on the wings. The box was a totally redesigned.

Thunderbird 2Edit

Three different Thunderbird 2s were released between 1974 and 1984.

Thunderbird 2 (1974 Release)Edit

TB2 1974 box

Die-cast metal, metallic green metal body with plastic green pod which includes a 28mm yellow plastic Thunderbird 4. Legs fold up and the pod has four small metal wheels.

  • No: 7733
  • Release date: 1974
  • Length: 106mm

Thunderbird 2 (1979 Release)Edit

TB2 1979 box
  • No: 73107
  • Release date: 1979
  • Length: 147mm

Notes: The 1979 issue has no IR logo above the "2", now positioned on the sides and windows are black, not white. The small (30mm) Thunderbird 4 and 34mm Mole are chrome. The top section of the craft has a spring-loaded roof hatch (see photos) which can be opened to reveal a pop-up missile launcher, which fires two yellow plastic missiles. Also includes red plastic folding legs.

Thunderbird 2 (1984 Release)Edit

Tb2 1984
  • No: 73107 PC-09
  • Release date: 1984
  • Length: 106mm

Notes: More of a true likeness, logos and extra colours removed.

Thunderbird 2 Deluxe VersionEdit

  • No: 73108
  • Release date: 1984
  • Length: ? (large)

Notes: Telescopic chrome legs with small wheels attached. Pod can be lowered to eject a Thunderbird 4 or a Mole via spring-loaded mechanism. The side section can be slid out to reveal two IR characters.

Thunderbird 3Edit

Die-cast metal with plastic parts. By turning the chromed centre fin section it will release the spring-loaded plastic nose cone.

Thunderbird 3 (1974 Release)Edit

TB3 1974 box
  • No: 7735
  • Release date: 1974
  • Length: 112mm
TB3 1974 (a)

Thunderbird 3 (1979 Release)Edit

TB3 1979 box (a)
  • No: 73103
  • Release date: 1979
  • Length: 112mm

Notes: No logo, and arms now in white plastic.

TB3 1979

Thunderbird 4Edit

Die-cast metal with plastic parts, also has small metal wheels. Twisting the rear exhaust nozzles, reveals a chromed engine under a blue-tinted canopy.

Thunderbird 4 (1974 Release)Edit

TB4 1974 box
  • No: 7736
  • Release date: 1974
  • Length: 104mm

Notes: Yellow version.

TB4 1974

Thunderbird 4 (1979 Release)Edit

TB4 1979 box
  • No: 3104
  • Release date: 1979
  • Length: 104mm

Notes: Orange version.

Thunderbird 5Edit

Die-cast metal with plastic parts and detachable aerials. Transparent plastic canopy with chromed interior.

Thunderbird 5 (1974 Release)Edit

TB5 1974 box
  • No: 7737
  • Release date: 1974
  • Length: 104mm

Notes: Yellow front sections

Thunderbird 5 (1979 Release)Edit

TB5 1979 box
  • No: 73105
  • Release date: 1979
  • Length: 104mm

Notes: Green front sections.

Thunderbird Jet Mogura (The Mole)Edit

Die-cast metal and plastic parts. The drill section can be turned manually from the rear section, and moves independently on four metal wheels. Metal wheels are also hidden beneath the fixed track on the tractor section. A slide-out chromed ramp at the front allows the Mole to leave the tractor vehicle.

The Mole (1974 Release) Edit

Popy mole 1974 (b)
  • No: 7738
  • Release date: 1977
  • Length: 99mm

The Mole (1980 Release)Edit

Popy mole 1980
  • No: 3106
  • Release date: 1980
  • Length: 99mm

Note: The only difference from the 1974 issues was the box.

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