the Thunderbirds logo

cigar bands

in its day, Thunderbirds could lay claim to being supported by the largest merchandising effort since Disney's. As has been pointed out in other pages on this site, the number of items related to the series was nearly inexhaustible. Small wonder then that, at some point, some bright soul at AP Films (Merchandising) came up with the idea of linking Thunderbirds to the pleasures of smoking. Even in those days, children were not in the habit of setting fire to a tasty cheroot but their fathers, uncles and grandfathers certainly were (and, come to think of it, so was Gerry). Hence Thunderbirds cigar bands. So here is what is probably one of the more outlandish items of Thunderbirds merchandising.

As far as I have been able to trace, four series saw the light of day, consisting of bands with different small photographs of characters and machines from the series. The first two were manufactured in 1968 by the Dutch Karel I cigar factories as the HG [half–groot — half size] and KF [klein–formaat — small size] series; apparently Karel I had a limited set of publicity stills to work with since the images of both series largely overlap. The third originated in Belgium and was issued in 2000 by the Morrita cigar factory. They issued their set of pictures on bands in four different colours: white, yellow, red and green.

And then there's Melior. According to Gerard van Eijk's cigar bands site, traders could order bands straight from the factory. These bands were never intended to be wrapped around cigars and went directly from printer to trader and Melior is such a 'fake' brand. Their set, issued in 1994, consisted of 10 bands in 5 different colours and 2 different shades and were adorned with b/w pictures. These depicted Jeff and his sons, Lady Penelope, Thunderbird 1 and, quite surprisingly, two supporting characters from different episodes.

images sourced from the Catawiki and eBay websites