The Terrahawks Auction - Behind The Scenes Photo Special
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'My Kingdom for a ZEAF …or any other item in the auction'

It has always been a sad fact that the wonderful models, puppets, costumes, and props built for the various Gerry Anderson shows were never saved in some sort of national museum for all to see and enjoy. Whilst we spend years gazing in wonder at the marvellous vehicles, and treasure our toys so carefully, it is always a shock to think that the original items may have simply been thrown into a rubbish bin outside the studios where they were so expertly crafted.

Very few of the thousands of props built in the past have survived to this day and those that do are now usually are in the hands of fans who see them as valuable commodities to be saved and cared for, and even sold at ever increasing prices! Of course in such a situation many people often claim to have original pieces for sale that clearly aren’t at all.
Ebay is often a source for original studio props and also such fantasy claims, and in August 2020 I noticed that a prop telephone from the television series 'Terrahawks' was for sale with the craziest claim I had ever heard, that they had ‘many of the puppets, models and props from Terrahawks’ and would be selling them soon!

As a long-time 'Terrahawks' fan I was acutely aware that hardly anything had seemed to survive from this series and the idea that someone had it all was too staggering a statement to simply ignore, so I immediately contacted the seller for further information. The Ebay seller was called Garry Warren and he had recently been selling a great many old Gerry Anderson and Doctor Who collectables. He was a very pleasant chap and he began casually listing items that were just lying about in boxes but to me sounded like priceless crown jewels. There was the big Battlehawk, Treehawk, Space Tank, Hawkwing (both large and small), Hawklet, MEV, Helijet, Zeroid 55, Tiger Ninestein, Kate Kestrel, Mary Falconer, Yuri, and Yungstar....and more!

He explained that all these items had come from a chap who had worked at the studio, the recently deceased Julian Bell, who was described as a driver and handyman but had a credit on Space Police as ‘Friendly Alien’ (S.I.G. magazine 19). The story was that he had been given the job of clearing the temporary storage unit at Bray Studios and had kept the items instead of throwing them into a skip.

(Of note model maker/collector Phil Rae has often told the story of how he had his eye on these items and after phoning Gerry and Bob Bell was told that he could come down and take all he wanted. After hiring a van he arrived at the studio to find the storeroom already emptied! It seems we now know that he was beaten to the act by Julian.)

It seems that Julian was a bit of a hoarder who had filled his home, and some other family members loft spaces, with his various collections. He had apparently worked for many years at HMV and had bought multiple copies of many singles and LPs that were all stored in pristine un-played condition. After he died his family wanted the house to be cleared quickly in order to sell it, and that’s when Garry was called in to do it as the records were expected to be quite valuable. Amongst all the piles of items were some ‘toy spaceships’ that they had initially thought to be homemade, but were then recognised as possibly being actual items from the studio, but not before Richard III’s crown from ‘My Kingdom for a ZEAF’ was thrown in the bin because they thought it was an old child’s hat from McDonalds!
In fact it was a fairly close call that the entire contents of the house were not actually thrown into a skip as many Terrahawk items were in old containers in the loft and the Zeriod was thought to be just a weird old accessory in the toilet!

Garry then sent further lists of what had been found and I was happy to hear that he also had the ZEAF, which was one of my favourite models from the series. Unfortunately there really aren’t enough publicity photographs of this craft available to allow people to build decent replica models, the biggest problem being the bottom of the craft that is rarely glimpsed and usually in shadow. Garry very graciously took a series of photographs of the model before it was sent off to auction and I was therefore able to share those on my Facebook/website to the delight of other interested Terrahawk modellers.
Whilst Garry knew what many of the main models and puppets were he was not an expert on the 'Terrahawks' series and a number of the items had yet to be identified, so I offered to help and began giving advice and information on the series, going through my DVD collection and spotting the various pieces, then reporting on which episodes a particular prop had actually appeared in.
When the collection was sent off to auction I didn’t expect to hear anymore, but I was then contacted by Alastair McCrea, of Ewbank’s auctioneers in Surrey. He also wanted to use me as a source of information as Garry had passed on my details, and by coincidence they had already visited the Terrahawks resource section of my ‘David Sisson Models’ website to research details on the series.

I was then passed on to Ivan Macquisten who was handling their publicity and was interviewed as part of the preparation for a general press release. I was also asked to later check over the final draft for anything that I thought might be inaccurate, one thing that caught my eye then was that they were describing the sale as ‘The Greatest’ auction of Gerry Anderson props ever and I did point out that there had actually been previous big auctions of props from more classic television series than 'Terrahawks'. One of those was the 1990s Philips Auction of puppets from Sylvia Anderson, Mary Turner and John Read which many fans would consider to be the real high point of Anderson auctions, so that statement was adjusted to this being ‘one of the greatest’ sales ever. Another slight slip was saying there were fans all over the world especially in Japan, and I did point out that there has been a British based fan club in existence for nearly 40 years called Fanderson!

I have to say that I originally thought that I was only providing background information for their own use, so I was surprised when they quoted me so often and I was described as ‘a Gerry Anderson Expert’ in many newspapers! LOL.

Of course the various newspapers did edit the press release down to fit their own individual needs and in one paper I was only quoted as saying ‘Space filled up quickly’, which was a long sentence edited down to an utterly meaningless few words!

At this point I became aware that not all of the collection had been sent to the auction house, and in fact a few bits had actually been sold already. Luckily some were in my vicinity and the buyer happily invited me to see them for which I was very grateful. The props in question included Treehawk, the rear section of Battlehawk with the opening cargo door (from ‘Close Call’), an Alpha Probe and the big model of the Delta re-entry glider seen in ‘From Here to Infinity’.
Above; Also there to view the items was Terrahawks model maker Steven Woodcock, who came face to face with the Delta satellite recovery model he built, and hadn't seen again for nearly 40-years. He proudly posed with it again to recreate an old photograph of himself holding it at the studio in his younger days.

Below is the small-scale version with the captured Alpha Probe.

As the auction date got closer many fans eagerly waited for publication of the official list of items that would be offered for sale. Unfortunately the pandemic and government imposed lockdown restrictions meant that going to the auction house to view the actual props would not be allowed to take place, and the whole auction would be an online internet experience only!

This would certainly be a drawback, and a missed opportunity for many to have a once in a lifetime chance to view so many rare Gerry Anderson props together in one place before they were dispersed to new owners. It also meant that you were bidding on items without truly knowing what they looked like ‘in the flesh’, how big or heavy they really were, and being able to fully see the condition of each item before handing over your cash. For many people buying on the internet is quite normal these days, but for a more old-fashioned person like myself I always prefer to go into a shop and actually touch things before I buy. Luckily due to my involvement with the auctioneers, and to tie in with more publicity, I was invited for a days visit to see and photograph most of the collection. Talk about Christmas come early!

On the day I was greeted by Alastair McCrea (pic above) and introduced to Andrew Ewbank (below) who would be running the auction on the day. A photographer arrived later to take pictures of me holding Battlehawk outside in the car park (see a previous pic above), and I was one of several people to be interviewed by a reporter and film crew. For the rest of the day it was like being a kid in a candy store, just staring at all the models and puppets and taking around 500 photos, which I think was a mistake as I should have taken a thousand!
Above we have a Zeroid that would have been seen right next to the fully-functional hero Zeroid props (that were very expensive so there were only two of them). This one has the same outer metal shell but is plastic in the central area rather than having the heavy machined brass discs used on the hero models.

Below; large scale ship hull sections

The 1980s rubber puppets have sadly not aged as well as their 1960s fibreglass counterparts
Below; puppets and props from 'Space Police' were also on sale
The problem of being surrounded by such a big and varied collection was that I didn’t really know what to look at, or photograph, first. As a model maker I was mostly interested in the model vehicles and specifically taking the opportunity to get good photographs, and a few key measurements, of the models that I was currently building or wanted to build replicas of in future.
The ZEAF was my priority and so I spent a good half hour measuring it and getting pictures of the areas that you can never view on screen. I really liked this model and didn’t want to put it down, and just kept on wondering how much I would pay for it on auction day, but knowing in my heart that I probably couldn’t afford it!
One of the best things about Terrahawks was the quality of the models and they didn’t disappoint me upon seeing them up close, the detail was excellent and I was surprised by how big some of the vehicles were. The guest models like Hawklet, Helijet, MEV, and Space Tank were a much bigger scale than the main hero craft models!
Space Tank was a stunning model, so much so that shortly after getting home I had to start building a copy!
One big surprise was that they had a small Hawkwing model for sale, because I knew that the ‘real’ small Hawkwing had been owned by a few different private collectors over the years, which meant that the one in the auction just couldn’t be real especially as it turned out to be a painted Bandai toy! However Steven Begg (Terrahawks SFX director) confirmed that they did indeed use a painted toy in an episode, and whilst watching the DVDs later I actually spotted it in several episodes, such as ‘First Strike’ and ‘Runaway’.
One strange thing about the big Bandai Hawkwing is that the detail on the top of the Wing section is different to the actual models in the show. I had considered this to be a mistake by the toy company but it turns out that the toy was made whilst the series was in early production and they built it to the original prototype design, which I think looks far more futuristic than the design they ended up with in the show.
The upper hull of a large size Battletank. This vehicle only appears onscreen in the episode 'A Christmas Miracle'. The missing chassis was probably reused on Groundhawk and the MEV.
Below; Hawklet, a surprisingly large model to represent a very small spacecraft
The MEV featured several times in later episodes, here it has landing feet but it also used
the same tank chassis as Battletank in a couple of episodes.
A few weeks before the auction a full list of the items for sale was published on the Ewbank’s website, and like many people around the world I eagerly examined the various lots and made a list of all the props that I wanted to buy, or at least bid on.

My initial list included the damaged Cube from one of my favourite episodes ‘Gunfight at Oaky’s Corral’, the Rhino spaceship, the large close-up detailed docking bay hull sections, Space Tank, Captain Goat, a Spacehawk sign, photo collections, some wings from the small Battlehawk, and of course my favourite model the ZEAF!

After creating my fantasy list I then spent many days considering the reality of actually trying to buy these things, the extra costs involved and how any multiple purchases would dilute my very limited buying potential, when I knew for a fact that on the big day there would be people bidding who had far more money than I did.

Of course the price that you bid wasn’t all that you had to pay, because if you won then you also had to pay an additional 25% auction commission and 5% Tax on top of that. So as a simple guide if you won something for a 1000 then you would actually need to pay 1300, which you definitely had to keep in mind during the bidding process.

Below; The big-scale Hawkwing model

So I applied some common sense rules to my list, like buy something ‘nice’ that isn’t similar to something you already own. Don’t buy anything too big or heavy to fit in the house, or be able to take to model displays. Don’t buy anything I can actually build a copy of myself, and don’t try to buy anything really expensive because you will just loose! That all meant that my entire list went into the bin and only one new surprising item suddenly shone out to grab my attention.

The online auction took place on the 30th November 2020 and was a new experience for me, but it turned out to be a simple process. After registering your details you get permission to bid live, and that was something you could do simply by tapping the ‘Bid’ button, which was something that I certainly didn’t want to touch by mistake on the day!

Above; an enlarged arm used to show the working 'TIM' computer wrist device
Below; the large-scale Terrahawk miniature
The auction was quite an interesting and at times exciting event, especially when it started and the first item Captain Ochre’s head, from the original 1960s series of Captain Scarlet, skyrocketed up to a final surprising 19,000 winning bid (24,700 total), that was way beyond everyone’s expectations.

The Terrahawk items also reached surprising heights and I watched the damaged Cube go for 1,300 (1690 total), which was a fair way above the 600 I had planned to bid on it, and of course any ideas of owning the ZEAF disappeared when it sold for 3200 (4160 total).

Big-scale XK20 helijet that usually brings 'Johnson' to visit the Hawknest
Sadly I had already given up on buying anything from 'Terrahawks', and so I sat there watching everything sell for over five long hours until we got to the 'Space Police' section at the end of the auction.
'Space Police' was just a single pilot episode made in the mid 1980s, sadly it did not manage to become a series but did eventually lead to the creation of 'Space Precinct' in the 1990s. Its certainly not a top favourite of mine but there were quite a few really nice puppets, costumes and models from this film up for sale and I was hoping that most of the buyers had either spent their money or fallen asleep by this point (LOL).
Small-scale Battletank that drops from the Battlehawk.
Lot 5210 was the flying Police Car and so after hours of waiting I finally started pressing that ‘Bid’ button repeatedly, even continuing to do so in my excitement when the screen was already telling me that I was actually winning – so I was trying to outbid myself! Doh!
So after four months of excitedly salivating over the 'Terrahawks' props I completely failed in my quest to buy any of them, and instead ended up buying a model from 'Space Police'. That certainly was unexpected!

But being able to visit the auctioneers and see and photograph the Terrahawk collection was a day to long remember. It also re-energised my 'Terrahawks' model making and I am now happily renovating my old Treehawk, and building Hawkwing, the Space Tank, a Zeroid, a small squadron of ZEAFs and a new Spacehawk! 10/10

My thanks to Alastair McCrea, Andrew Ewbank, David Adami, and Richard Ashton.

'Terrahawks' is copyright by Christopher Burr
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'Terrahawks' is a Gerry Anderson and Christopher Burr Production.

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