|First appearance||"Trapped in the Sky"|
|Last appearance||Thunderbirds (2004 film)|
|Created by||Gerry and Sylvia Anderson|
|Portrayed by||Vanessa Hudgens (2004)|
|Voiced by||Christine Finn (1960s)|
|Occupation||Assistant scientist and engineer|
Onaha (mother; 2004 only)
|Significant other(s)||Alan Tracy|
|Relatives||The Hood (half-uncle)|
Tin-Tin Kyrano is a fictional character introduced the mid-1960s British Supermarionation television series Thunderbirds. In the original TV series and its film sequels, the voice of the Tin-Tin puppet was provided by actress Christine Finn.
Sylvia Anderson, Thunderbirds co-producer and character co-creator, writes that Tin-Tin was conceived mainly to "redress the balance" of the "male-dominated" primary puppet cast. The character's name was derived from the Malaysian term for "sweet". The Supermarionation puppet was sculpted by Christine Glanville. Anderson regrets that the back-stories that she had devised for Tin-Tin and her father mostly progressed no further than the script, and that the pair's on-screen visibility was limited, in her view, to a series of cameo appearances.
Born on 20 June 2043, Tin-Tin is the daughter of Kyrano – an old friend of, and manservant to, International Rescue founder Jeff Tracy. She joins the organisation shortly after it starts operations, having inadvertently become involved in IR's first mission when the maiden flight of Fireflash, in which she is travelling from London to Tokyo, is sabotaged by her villainous half-uncle The Hood ("Trapped in the Sky"). Her further education, specialising in mathematics and engineering, was fully paid for by Jeff in gratitude for her father's service to him ("Trapped in the Sky").
Tin-Tin performs a variety of roles on Tracy Island, IR's base of operations. They range from a secretary to Jeff ("Terror in New York City"), to a laboratory assistant to the scientist and engineer Brains ("City of Fire", "Danger At Ocean Deep") to active participation in missions, most notably the rescue of the Sun Probe spaceship ("Sun Probe"). She is also known to accompany Lady Penelope on espionage missions ("The Cham-Cham") and is a qualified pilot. Tin-Tin is romantically involved with Alan Tracy, although their relationship is briefly strained when Tin-Tin's ex-boyfriend, Eddie Houseman, visits the island ("End of the Road").
In the 2004 live-action film, Thunderbirds, in which Tin-Tin plays a significant role, the character is portrayed by Vanessa Hudgens. In addition to being younger than in the TV series, Tin-Tin is no longer Malaysian but depicted as being of Indian descent. Her mother, Onaha, also lives on Tracy Island. She possesses telekinesis and mind control powers similar to those of her half-uncle, the Hood (and, similarly, weakens momentarily as a side-effect of their use).
Broadcasts of TV series in Japan typically include subtitles introducing the names of characters when they first appear on-screen. Thunderbirds episode introduce Tin-Tin as "Min-Min". Since there is no character for "ti" in Japanese, "chi" is usually substituted; however, chin-chin is a Japanese colloquialism for the male phallus.
Sylvia Anderson remembers the character as being "mostly house-bound" and less of an adventurer than Lady Penelope, although she "had her followers" and was a "decorative sidekick to her macho boss". Commentators are divided on the subject of Tin-Tin's significance to the narrative of Thunderbirds. Jack Hagerty and Jon C. Rogers argue that prior to her sizeable role in Thunderbird 6, and despite her status as a series regular, the character is "usually nothing more than window-dressing, with her actual contributions being a bit vague". David Ryan of the website DVD Verdict characterises Tin-Tin as "part hanger-around-the-house, part local-squeeze-for-Alan's-pleasure, and 99 percent useless".
Stephen La Rivière, author of the book Filmed in Supermarionation, is less critical, asserting that over the course of the series, the character shifted "from being the submissive hired help to a more assertive, independent role"; he concedes, however, that this development was overshadowed by the outings of Lady Penelope. Science-fiction writer John Peel offers a similar assessment, criticising the character's first appearance in the series opener, "Trapped in the Sky" ("a helpless-female-to-be-rescued role"), but praising her higher and more active profile in "Sun Probe" and "The Cham-Cham" (during the latter of which she "really comes into her own", emerging as Penelope's "sidekick"). Peel argues that, in contrast with other Anderson series, Thunderbirds gives its minority of female characters considerably more opportunities to prove their bravery and worth. Daniel O'Brien describes Tin-Tin, as well as Penelope and the third female regular, Grandma Tracy, as "intelligent" and "independent-minded", praising Thunderbirds for its progressive attitude to characterisation.
Cultural historian Nicholas J. Cull, on the subject of the rejection of ethno-national stereotyping, cites as an example Tin-Tin's Malaysian nationality, combined with her status as a "positive, non-white character"; this contrasts directly with her relative, the Hood, whose evil is intrinsic to his Oriental appearance and manner. Glenn Erickson of DVD Talk presents an opposing view, arguing that stereotypes are common but "handled with some sensitivity – all except for Tin-Tin, a literal China doll". Kate Hunt of the University of Glasgow, author of a study of the series' presentation of tobacco smoking, observes that in marked contrast with prolific smokers such as Penelope, Tin-Tin is "incongruously" and "inconsistently" seen with a cigarette in only one episode ("The End of the Road"). She writes that the character occupies a socially-ambiguous position within her home environment, appearing variously as "adopted daughter, secretary, and occasional member of the International Rescue team".
Vanessa Hudgens' live-action portrayal of the character has also polarised opinion. DVD Verdict's Dennis Prince comments that the re-imagined, younger Tin-Tin is "full of spunk and plenty of girl-power attitude (which never becomes truly obnoxious, mind you)", and a "rather thinly stretched adaptation" of the original. James Gray of the website The Digital Fix considers the character not "too bad, although she does spend the entire time smiling her head off, even in scenes where it really isn't that appropriate". Alex Hewison, commenting for the same website, is dismissive, judging the character a victim of gender tokenism and "superfluity" as regards her "hyper-chaste love subplot" with Alan (Brady Corbet). Erickson writes positively of the decision to have Tin-Tin inherit the Hood's "inscrutable Oriental wizardry", use of which is indicated on-screen by her eyes becoming "cat-like, vertical slits – a nice touch". Critics have written of perceived similarities between the live-action Tin-Tin and the fictional characters Carmen Cortez (of the Spy Kids film series) and Hermione Granger (of the Harry Potter novel and film series).
- Anderson, Sylvia (1991). Yes, M'Lady. London: Smith Gryphon. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-856850-11-7.
- Archer, Simon (2004) . Gerry Anderson's FAB Facts: Behind the Scenes of TV's Famous Adventures in the 21st Century. London: HarperCollins. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-00-638247-8.
- Bentley 2005, p. 60.
- Bentley 2005, p. 15.
- Anderson, Sylvia (2007). Sylvia Anderson: My Fab Years!. Neshannock, Pennsylvania: Hermes Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-932563-91-7.
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