Bandai Co., Ltd. has acquired worldwide licensing rights for the upcoming Universal Studios live action film based on Gerry Anderson's 1960s supermarionation TV series Thunderbirds.  The new film starring Bill Paxton and Sir Ben Kingsley is being directed by Jonathan Frakes, and is slated for release on August 6, 2004.  As the master toy licensee for the film, Bandai Co. Ltd. will develop articulated action figures, playsets, dioramas, roleplay gadgets, and vehicles as well as candy items, die cast toys, block toys, and prize toys.  Bandai America (Bandai Co. Ltd's American subsidiary) will market only the toy vehicles and playsets; collectors and retailers who wish to obtain any of the other items will have to depend on non-US sources for supply.


Thanks to exposure on American TV (most recently on Tech TV, see 'Thunderbirds on Tech TV'), Gerry Anderson's original Thunderbirds have developed something of a cult following here in the States.  It should be interesting to see how American fans react to the live action Thunderbirds film, which will open in what could be a very late summer for 'genre' films (Blade 3 and Man-Thing are also currently slated to debut in August, 2004).  Cards Inc. will produce a line of collectibles (including trading cards) based on the live action film (see 'Cards Inc. Nabs Thunderbirds License').