Thundercats: Thundertank with Snarf by Ban Dai

I’ll preface this look at the new Thundertank with a few points. First off, I preordered this thing on a certain site waaaay back when it was first revealed earlier this year, along with everything else being offered up in the line. Unfortunately, the toys seemed to hit every other online retailer first, to the point where I just cancelled all of my preorders with the site and wound up buying them online from TRU. Now the figures didn’t go up for sale until a few days later, and Cheetara and Panthro never seemed to make it online at all. So, I’m looking at the Thundertank today while still waiting for the rest of the figures to arrive, and I still need to hunt down Cheetara and Panthro. Thank god I preordered, eh? I was tempted to wait until the figures arrived later in the week to look at the Thundertank, but then I decided I would be coming back to it eventually when I got the two attachable bikes, and besides, it comes with the Snarf figure and that’s good enough for me.

The box is pure old school, which is kind of refreshing. There’s no window or gimmicky flap or Try Me hole or anything like that, it’s just a solid box with an art rendering of the Thundertank kicking ass on the front and photos of the toy and figures on the back panel. I’m sure it wasn’t Ban Dai’s intention, but the box just feels vintage to me. It also reveals that the magnetic gimmick for this line is called ThunderLynx! Huh, I actually didn’t know that. I can’t say as I’m happy about the tri-lingual writing on the package, but whatever. The toy comes secured on an inner tray in all its component pieces. It doesn’t take long to slap it together, though, and once assembled, the Thundertank can still fit back into the box for storage, which is always nice. Oh yeah, when you open it make sure you have a phillips head screwdriver and a pair of AAA batteries handy.

And there she is… a Thundertank for a new generation. Now, the vehicle has yet to appear in the cartoon, so it’s impossible to compare it to what the on screen counterpart will look like, but it does look plenty cool. I’ve seen the design plenty of times online, but finally holding it hand, I’ve got to say I like it even better. While it’s probably not much bigger than the vintage Thundertank, it’s much bigger in relation to the figures and thus much better proportioned. I really like the blue and gray deco and the red eyes. There are no stickers to be applied, but the sculpt has plenty of detail to make up for it. Let’s take a look at the gimmicks…

The tank has two articulated front paws with fold out claws. They’re designed so they can stay in a raised position, which is pretty darn cool if you want to display it in attack mode. Each side of the front of the tank also has a drone cycle that can be launched by pushing buttons that are concealed under flaps in the back. Launching the bikes also plays the sound effect of the cycle speeding away. The cycles look great attached to the tank, but I’m not sure what purpose they really serve when launched. They don’t have weapons and they don’t seem to be designed for the figures to ride. I get the idea that they’re just space holders meant to be replaced by the Deluxe bikes, so I’ll have to wait until those toys come in and revisit the Thundertank then.

The cockpit hatch opens to reveal a semi-detailed cockpit. Placing a figure into the seat activates the ThunderLynx gimmick, which is a sound effect and the phrase, “Thundertank activated!” I thought you needed to actually plug the figure in to get the sound, but you really just need to pass it in front of the magnet. The cockpit hatch is the only part of the toy that doesn’t feel as solid as it should. It’s fairly easy to pull off, so whatever you do, don’t try picking up the toy by the hatch! It seems like it should be roomy enough to fit any of the figures, although I’m a little worried about Panthro fitting. He’s a bulky figure, and it would be a shame if he couldn’t drive the Thundertank, since he built it in the original cartoon. There’s also a button behind the cockpit that activates the tanks engine sounds and causes the eyes to flash red. The Thundertank also has a trunk! Yep, you can fold down a panel on the back to reveal a storage compartment for accessories.

And then there’s Snarf. I’m in the obvious minority of Thundercats fans who actually liked Snarf in the original series, so I was a little leary about the new Snarf not talking. All in all, I like him and I’m really fond of his new design. The figure is more like a PVC piece than an actual figure. His legs do have swivels, but they really aren’t useful. He’s really just meant to sit up and look cute, and he does that very well. The sculpt is very good and faithful to the cartoon version and the paint is exceptionally clean.

What? No complaints? Yeah, a few. First off, I would have liked it if the back opened up like the vintage one so you could pile on some more figures. As it stands, the Thundertank can only carry the driver, and maybe one of the Thunder Kittens stuffed in the trunk. Granted, if you upgrade your Thundertank to include the two Deluxe bikes it will triple the carrying capacity, but now you’re talking double the price. Either way, with four main Thundercats, one of them is going to wind up walking. The ThunderLynx gimmick is cool and all, but I expected different figures to activate different sounds, and that’s not the case. No matter what figure you put in the tank it will always say the same thing. And you really don’t even need a special magnet to set it off, you can just press the button on the figure clip.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this is the first experience I’ve had with any toys made by Ban Dai.

I must admit, I was pretty disappointed when I heard that they got the license for the Thundercats over Mattel. Now I’m prepared to eat that opinion, because this toy turned out great. From design to overall quality it’s a slam dunk. At a retail price of around thirty bucks, it feels like an ok deal, what with the electronics and all. It certainly feels a little bit more substantial then some of the Star Wars ships that Hasbro has out now for $25.

Now, I’ve just got a few more days to wait until the 4-inch figures start rolling in.