British Action Adventure Marionette Theatre, and the sartorial choices it inspires
I was first introduced to the Thunderbirds by a six year old British boy in Newfoundland. He and his mother were visiting Peter Blodgett, legendary jazz banjo player, ex-RISD teacher, and noted crank, in Peter’s house at the top of Cape Nedwick in Trinity harbor (local pronunciation: “da nuddick”.) Peter’s the one who gave me the highly hip gold metal-flake helmet that’s currently in use on the Ultimate Water Gun. Anyway, the boy had a steel lunch box covered with pictures of steely-jawed marionettes wearing fast-food hats and beauty-queen sashes. They all were piloting blocky rescue craft out of an anglophile art director’s wet dream, and the effect was only enhanced by the young boy’s commentary on the show: (imagine a thick, thick, London accent in a piping declarative): “Thunderbird One goes into sp—y—ce, doesn’t it!”
Okay, so the sixties show was Highly Cool, and the lesson hasn’t been lost on twenty-first century show producers, who seem to be attempting to resurrect it, Power Rangers-style. Viz. the Burger King promotion advertised on their official site. Despite the Haim Saban effect, though, the show retains plenty of cachet. Kate tells me that Christies just sold some Thunderbirds marionettes for one bazillion dollars recently.
So here’s the reason I’m mentioning this: in a search for seventies-style Hepco and Becker panniers on the internet, I stumble across Davida Helmets, who make scooter-style “pudding basin” helmets and sixties-style “Jet” helmets that are clearly what the Thunderbirds would wear into sp—y—ce. I think that clique rules might forbid me from wearing a Brit-bike head kit (Jet helmet, Spanish octopus goggles) on a German bike, but, damn it, this is too good to pass up.
I’m gonna see if I can drag Kieran and Jeremy to check out the helmets on east 56th street today. I suspect that the Jet will make my 7 5/8″ XXL head look like a ripe, round melon. But there’s always the James Bond option.