Bigg City Port set with lighting equipment

TUGS - Behind the Scenes Footage HD

TUGS - Behind the Scenes Footage HD

Tugs is a short lived but remarkable show in live-action animation.

  • It took over a year to make thirteen episodes for the series.
  • While the show was being produced, huge wooden paintings of Ten Cents and Zip stood at the entrance of Shepperton Studios.
  • Each crew member of the production team had a Star Tug & Marine jumper.
  • The Star Fleet are loosely based off the tugs of San Francisco, and the Z-Stacks are based off the Moran Fleet of New York City.
  • The Walt Disney cartoon, Little Toot, served as an inspiration for the series.
  • The boats used specially-constructed wheeled trolley chassis clamped to the hulls for added weight and realism. The chassis were planned to be remote controlled, but the added weight from the mechanisms in the tugs' wheelhouses proved to be too heavy.
  • Transparent string was used to pulled the characters along by hand through the water.
  • Ten Cents' model is 20 inches long, and his hull was the basis for Zip and Zug.
  • Hercules's model is 36 inches long.
  • Izzy Gomez was 4 feet long.
  • Top Hat was the only character to have a wheelhouse which could move up and down.
  • Only one ocean liner model was made, frequently modified with different liveries and stacks depending on which shipping line she was portraying. It measures out be 12 feet long. The other ocean liner with two red stacks which could sometimes be seen in the background was a 2D wooden fake.
  • The entire series was filmed on the Clearwater Periscope Lens System with a variable speed 35mm Mitchel motion picture camera, running at 36 FPS, 48 FPS, or 98 FPS depending on the scene.
  • The studio crew members wore fishing waders whilst being in an aquatic set.
  • The superstructures were made of perspex and plastic, and the funnels were made of brass so they didn't melt when smoke was flowing through them.
  • Smoke was generated by a fog generator and pumped by an air compressor through a tube which was connected to the models with a down-weighted garden hose.
  • Most of the eye movements were controlled by David Mitton and Chris Tulloch.
  • A second season for the series was planned to introduce more tugboats and have more episodes take place up river.
  • The tank was designed to function like a swimming pool with a filter to keep the water clean, but with vegetable dye to give it more of a harbour like appearance and to hide the underwater mechanics.
  • The tank measured out 45 feet by 25 feet with a depth of 14 inches.
  • David Mitton reportedly tried to keep fish in the tank, which quickly died from the toxic waters.
  • Each central character had between one or two dozen interchangeable face masks.
  • The models were built at a scale of one third of an inch to the foot (1:13), however some of the larger boats had to be 'adjusted' in scale.
  • Each tug cost between £6,000 - £8,000 to build ($10,000 - $13,000 in US dollars).
  • It took two men to control the trolleys, smoke, steam, eyes, etc. for each tug.
  • The series was filmed in a renovated boiler house at Shepperton Studios.
  • Robert Cardona went to the United States in March 1990 to set up a deal with American distributors. Plans were made to re dub the series with New Jersey, Mid West, and Bronx accents. To date, this dub has never surfaced on the internet if it even exists.
  • Several character face masks were auctioned off on eBay in mid-2012.
  • Several models of the tugboat characters were confirmed to still exist in December 2012. As of January 2013, nineteen of the models are being preserved by The Star Tugs Company and are being funded to be refurbished (twenty-one characters) and is currently touring with some selected models in the UK.
  • A variety of spare face-masks, prop moulds and parts are still owned by crew members, and kept in safe storage.
  • The remotes that were used to control the eyes from Tugs were the same type remotes that were used to control the models on Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends.
  • According to Shaun Prendergast, voice-over sessions were usually done with actors being alone in the booth, but occasionally scheduled clashes resulted in the actors providing voices in the same session.
  • The voice actors were freelance and never credited. Shaun Prendergast admitted in an interview with The Star Tugs Company, he was unaware he wasn't credited for his roles.
  • Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell recorded the music for TUGS using a Prophet 2000 sampler and a Roland Jupiter 6 synthesizer. A live recorded acoustic piano and saxophone were used for the opening and ending themes.