Released in 1992, The Matchbox Tracy Island was considered a holy grail even back then. It was initially released as a mail-in from Kelloggs' cereal and demand outstripped supply. Infact, it got so bad, that Kelloggs were unable to supply customers with their Thunderbirds stuff and had sent a letter explaining that they'd get their merchandise when they had a shipment. It was eventually released to the public and became the most sought after toy for the Christmas period, so much so there was a black market for them and even reports of trucks being raided for these, though these are unconfirmed.
Looking at the front of the box, there's a large image of Tracy Island. It has some nice action shots of the individual IR craft leaving their respective hangars with quotes taken directly from the sound chip, which we will get to later
The back of the box shows the toy in action. It's bright, colourful and shows the action features of the Cliff Door and Pool. It appears to be based on a prototype paint job, as the island is more green than the actual toy.
Inside the box, we have our instruction manual, which is double sided. It shows explains how the island snaps together and the second side shows where to put the few decals and replacing the battery, pretty standard stuff.
The island comes in 3 pieces. The large island piece, the pool and main house and finally the round house. The Pool House and Round House just slide over their respective grooves in the island. It's large, measuring about 18 inches from end to end.
So, lets take a look at each of the hangars and the special features:
The Pool House and Thunderbird 1
The Pool House is where Thunderbird 1 resides. To slide the pool back to reveal Thunderbird 1, simply turn the diving board counter clockwise. You'll reveal a pit where you can store Thunderbird 1, Turning the diving board back clockwise closes up the pool and completes the disguise.
The Cliff House and Thunderbird 2
Thunderbird 2 is hidden behind the Cliff House door. Pushing back on the door not only lifts it like a garage door, but also drops the palm trees. Be careful with the palm trees, they are very fragile, it's not uncommon to find used examples with them snapped off or bent out of shape. Taking Thunderbird 2 down the runway to the end, where there are grooves where the underside wheels sit. There's a little lever on the right hand palm trees, lifting that will lift the launch ramp.
The Round House and Thunderbird 3
The Round House is on the far side of the island is where Thunderbird 3 is hidden until it's needed. No real gimmicks this time and it's different to the TV series as the TB 3 model sticks out through the hole and is indeed visible. If the Round House looks familiar, then you are correct. One of the Round House models was used to create Thunderbird 5
Yes, you heard that correct. The Playset does indeed have sound effects. They come from a little box and speaker inside the Thunderbird 2 hanger. It's 4 buttons and they are as follows:
They have tried to emulate the voices of Shane Rimmer, David Holliday, Matt Zimmerman and Peter Dynley respectively. They are not bad sound-a-likes.
This set can go for various prices on the internet. The average seems to be about £60-100 for a high end condition one with the pieces intact and working, with a good condition box. There are ones that are cheaper, if you are willing to accept playwear on it and likely broken palm trees.