No doubt, the coolest thing about the 4-inch line of Thundercats figures is the potential for vehicles, and so far Ban Dai has been delivering. I’ve already looked at the Thundertank and now it’s time to check out two of the Deluxe scale vehicles: The ThunderRacers. Besides offering up some great vehicle action for your figures, these kitty bikes are also designed to combine with the Thundertank to make it a more formidable fighting machine. Let’s check them out…
The Racers are each packaged and sold separately, one with Lion-O and one with Tygra. I’ve decided to look at them together, since they are basically the same toy, only each one comes with a different figure and weapon pod. The packaging is pretty large and hefty for a toy in this price class. You get a HUGE bubble on a cardback that is flush with the bubble making the packaging look like a straight up box. The figure and vehicle are displayed really well and the back panel of the card has photos showing the gimmicks and other toys in the line. All in all, I think this is some great presentation. But the best thing about the packaging? Nothing is tied down. Just tear it open and everything pops out really easy.
The vehicles themselves are basically Thundercat Lightcycles. They have a wheel in front and back and a big canopy that lifts open to allow access to the cockpit where the figure sits. There’s no real detail inside the cockpit, apart from a pair of control sticks that the figures can grab. There seems to be spot intended for a sticker where the controls would be, but it doesn’t come with any stickers. The seat is sculpted with the socket to plug the figures’ ThunderLynx into and the vehicles will work with the regular carded versions of Lion-O and Tygra too. I’m pretty sure Cheetara would fit as well. The sculpt is solid, and I like the blue speckled paint used for the cat heads, but some extra paint apps or stickers for the outside would have helped a lot. Admittedly, there isn’t a whole lot of substance to the Racers themselves, but they do look great and are fun to play around with.
Each Racer comes with one weapon pod, which can be plugged into either side of the vehicle and works in conjunction with the figures’ ThunderLynx. Lion-O’s comes with a drill that shoots like a missile and Tygra’s has an LED that lights up like its firing a laser. The weapons are activated by pressing a fire button near the canopy, but will only work if a figure is plugged into the ThunderLynx port. The weapons themselves are not all that special, but I do like the customization ability, where you can even plug both weapons into a single bike.
The Lion-O and Tygra figures are a little perplexing to me. I expected them to be simple space holders much like the unarticulated figures Spin Master put in with their Tron vehicles. As it turns out, these are actually great looking figures and loads of fun. On the downside, they aren’t as detailed or as articulated as the single carded versions of these characters, nor do they come with any accessories. They’re also just a smidge smaller than the carded figures, but still passable in the same scale. Even if you get these versions first, you’re still going to want to pick up the regular releases at which point these figures become rather redundant. Each pack-in figure has the same body sculpt and basic outfit, but the arms and legs have unique paintwork. The head sculpts are every bit as good as the regular carded releases in terms of sculpt and paintwork. Articulation consists of seven points: The heads rotate, the arms rotate at the shoulders, the legs rotate at the hips and have hinged elbows. So, the articulation is not bad, but nowhere near as good as the regular versions.
The ThunderRacers plug into the Thundertank in the same way as the little drone bikes that came with it. They add a lot of bulk to the tank and triple its occupancy. I absolutely love the look of this combined mode, although the Thundertanks paws can’t go down all the way with the Racers attached, so be prepared to fold out the claws and put them in attack mode. Also, the combined mode is pretty unstable because of the added weight on the sides. It holds together great if you leave the tank on a flat surface, but if you go to pick it up, you have to be pretty careful in order to keep it form falling apart. The ThunderRacers work with the same launching gimmick as the drone bikes too.
The ThunderRacers retail for fifteen bucks each, which on its own seems like a decent price, but the sense of value really skyrockets when compared to the Deluxe 4-inch figures at the same price point. The vehicles and figures are plenty of fun on their own, but I think the real draw here for most collectors will be to be able to complete the buffed out Thundertank. Again, I really like the figures, and I suppose its good to have extra figures to display in the tank, but as I said earlier, they’re really redundant and I may wind up just giving them to my Nephew.