During the 1960s, Gerry Anderson was a very, very busy man, but only really so after his series "Thunderbirds" proved to be somewhat considerably more successful than imagined.
Due to this sudden surprise success, with its mix of sci-fi, action and adventure, along with some spectacular (even to this day) miniature special feffects, after the TV series itself had finished, it got a series of movie spin offs, which was very unusual and almost unheard of at the time.
Thunderbirds are GO! (1966)
Riding on the coat tails of the successful airing of the first series, the first theatrical Thunderbirds movie came just in time for christmas 1966 (a decision that in no way was made in order to sell toys....), "Thunderbirds are GO!" tells the story of the attempt to successfully land a manned mission on Mars. However, this being a sci-fi action film, it don't go according to plan, and after a bit of interference from International Rescues nemesis, the Evil Hood, the "Zero-X" mission ends in absolute disaster.
2 years later, and a second mission takes place, this time however the people in charge of the space exploration agency decide to have International Rescue act as security guards (erm, yeah, makes sense....) in order to ensure this launch goes smoothly, which it does, eventually, with the mission being successful up until the point that the astronauts discover some ridiculous aliens living on Mars and run away screaming and return to Earth, where their landing promptly turns to shit but International rescue is on hand to help save the day etc...The End...
This film didn't do very well at the box office, which to be fair, isn't surprising due to the fact that although the episode is a respectable 93 minutes in length, it really does feel like they took a standard 47 minute unused TV episode script and tacked in some "filler" to pad it out...a fact which becomes dead obvious when the side story about Alan Tracy fantasising over Lady Penelope begins being "developed", which interestingly enough features a cameo appearance by "Cliff Richard jr".
All in all though, "Thunderbirds are GO!" is disappointing, it really needed to concentrate more on the goings on of the Zero-X mission and less on Alan Tracys wank fantasies.That said though, two years later, Thunderbirds got another theatrical outing...
Thunderbird 6 (1968)
Intended to be a "summer blockbuster", Thunderbird 6 turned up in mid July 1968, and unlike the previous attempt at making a film version of the popular TV series, this film actually tried to keep in the spirit of adventure of the original show, as opposed to trying to make the film series a more hard sci fi with some bizarre character development stuff tacked on.
Thunderbird 6s plot revolves around Skyship One, the latest creation to come out of the mind of "Brains". Skyship One is a massive airship powered by a nuclear reactor and kept aloft by using advanced anti gravity engines, which at first was laughed at but once built it proves to be a very stable and magnificent ship.
Unfortunately, Skyship Ones maiden voyage is far from glamourous as the Evil Hood has hatched a diabolical plan to use it as a distraction to lure International rescue out so he can hijack their vehicles and do horrible things with them like sell their designs to DIRTY COMMUNISTS!111!!!1!, or something.
The "Thunderbird 6" that the film is named after turns out to be not some new and ultra modern rescue vehicle, but an old DeHavilland Tiger Moth biplane, which is used in the films climax to save the day.
Again, this film performed poorly at the box office, and thus until the renewed interest in the Thunderbirds TV series that occurred during the early/mid 1990s, along with some 1970s/80s compilation "movies", Thunderbirds faded into memory, with its next cinematic outing not being until the release of the god awful 2004 effort which might as well have been called "Spy Kids: Rescue Adventure!".