Thunderbirds Are Go Packaging
We were engaged by ITV Studios to develop the licensed product packaging program for Thunderbirds Are Go, the newly retooled animated series – a combination of CG and live-action sets produced by Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop – based on the characters, crafts and storyline from the 1960s Supermarionation TV series, Thunderbirds.
Our design solution for the packaging program leverages meaningful color as it relates to the 5 Tracy brothers – Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John – and their respective craft. The package design architecture incorporates CG illustrations of the lead characters on a background of vertical striping in a color palette that visually aligns with each Tracy brother’s boldly-colored utility belt. The overall background is a gritty blue metal texture that derives from the textures and markings found within the craft styling. The product field is based on the design of the Tracy brothers’ user interface technology superimposed over imagery of Tracy Island. The color story continues as individual products are highlighted through inserts featuring character- and craft-specific colors.
Updating a Classic Brand Through Meaningful Color.
So much of what we know and love about the classic Thunderbirds is still the same, yet everything has changed visually to appeal to a new, young audience of International Rescue fans. The use of hand-made models and miniature sets pays homage to the original series. But gone are the large-headed marionette puppets in 1960s-styled military uniforms. The new look Tracy brothers are properly proportioned, sport slick, new, hi-tech uniforms and take advantage of CG animation. But how did we distinguish the packaging program for this new iteration of the classic Thunderbirds brand from all others that came before it? By combining the brand’s most powerful, new visual attributes with one of the brand’s most ownable and inherent assets.
Although Thunderbirds Are Go prides itself on its wholesome appeal and lack of senseless violence, there’s a degree of realism in this new interpretation that didn’t exist in previous iterations. You can sense the scale and power of each Tracy brother’s craft, which, like the Tracy brothers themselves, are now CG rendered and animated. Their surface textures aren’t pristine and plastic. They show signs of wear and have a gritty, industrial appeal. Burn marks and carbon stains are evident on the riveted sheet metal. We leveraged these authentic, gritty textures in the blue background that appears on all Thunderbirds Are Go packaging formats.
As we immerse ourselves in a brand and mine for ownable visual assets, we try to uncover a color or color palette to which the brand can stake claim. With the original premise, storyline, key characters and their respective craft still in tact, we didn’t have to look far to realize that Thunderbirds Are Go owns something quite unique. It doesn’t own a single color, nor does it simply own a color palette. It owns meaningful color that tells a powerful brand story. Each Tracy brother wears a different boldly-colored utility belt that crosses his chest diagonally (an update to the sash on their previous uniforms) and aligns with the color of his respective craft. We utilized this alignment as the primary design architecture for the packaging program and all other in-store consumer touch points.