Yes, folks, I’m sort of cheating on this fine Anime Saturday morning. Obviously this day is set aside for figures based on proper anime, but today I’m bending the rules so I can finally look at this set based on the Thundercats cartoon, which at least counts as animation, and a tenuous hook on which to hang today’s Feature. I was so excited for this set when it was first revealed. I cursed it for being a convention exclusive, but I vowed I would pay whatever price was needed. In the end, I was able to get it off of the soon to be defunct Matty Collector site with little difficulty and since then it’s been sitting in the corner silently mocking me. I should be cherishing this Feature, but I’m more in a mind of just wanting to get it over with…
Of course, the reason for my onset of Thundercats induced depression is because the line may already be dead. With Matty Collector going under at the end of the year and transferring their licenses to indie toy company, Super7, it seems unlikely (albeit not impossible) that Thundercats Classics will survive the switch. That means that after two false starts from Bandai, the dream of getting a full set of Thundercats figures based on the classic cartoon may still be only just that… a dream. With that rousing introduction out of the way, I’m going to try as hard as I can to not let any of the behind-the-scenes politics to cloud my opinions on these Thunder Kittens.
The packaging for this set sure is nice. I don’t know whether it was ever really an SDCC exclusive, few things are these days, but the presentation sure points to it being something special. The set comes in an illustrated black shipper box with the Eye of Thundera logo and the figures’ names below it.
Inside, you get a fantastic looking window box that shows off the figures and their accessories beautifully. The back and side panels feature some rather pretty character art, and the whole thing unfolds into an illustrated display stage with The Cat’s Lair in the background. Getting the figures and all the accessories out can be a pain, thanks to those terrible plastic ties that all these companies seem to be using now. Also, you’ll want to be super careful opening up the stage, which serves as a storage for the hoverboard display stands. Ultimately, Matty went all out for the presentation here and I absolutely respect and appreciate that.
And here are WilyKit and WilyKat out of the package. The figures themselves are special for being really the first time we’re getting proper figures of the Thunder Kittens. I believe LJN originally released them as static PVC figurines. They later got better releases, but still felt a little wanting. Even the 2011 reboot figures were rather insubstantial in the 3 3/4-inch scale and not released at all into Bandai’s 6-inch scale. The sculpts on these kittens are pretty solid. They do a nice job capturing both the character portraits as well as the classic costumes. Kat features his two-tone brown belted tunic and buccaneer boots. Kit features her ragged-cut dress and spats. Both figures have places on their belts where you can peg in the coiled versions of their weapons. Overall, there’s a very nice balance here between detail and adhering to the simple animated look.
The articulation here is identical on both figures, and it’s safe to say these are the best articulated versions of the kittens we’ve yet to see. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. The ankles are hinged, the waists and wrists have swivels, and the necks are ball jointed. Hinges in the wrists would have been nice and the tunic and dress do inhibit the hip movement a bit, but otherwise I really have no complaints when it comes to the pose-ability here.
Unfortunately, the paint quality runs hot and cold. Most of the paint on these are fine, but there are some flubs that have no business being on a pair of $60 figures in this scale. Oddly enough these mostly appear on my Kat, while Kit has escaped largely unscathed. The biggest offender is on my Wilykat’s face, where there’s a large glob of paint on his left cheek just beside his nose. There’s also a lot of paint chipping on his right arm just below his wrist bracer. Some of the lines could also be sharper.
Each of the kittens come with some extra hands. These are all pretty standard with the exception of the one sculpted with an effects part for Kat’s smoke bombs. The sculpt and paint on this piece are fantastic, but if memory serves, the purpose was to throw these and have them burst into a smokescreen, so why would they already be smoking in his hand? Am I missing something?
You also get deployed versions of each kittens weapon. Kat comes with his whip and Kit comes with her pink lasso. It’s worth pointing out that on the back of the box, it mentions Wilykit having a hypnotic flute as one of her weapons. It’s not included with the figure, but then unless I’m mis-remembering the flute was something they introduced in the 2011 reboot. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve watched my original Thundercats DVDs, so I could be entirely off base on that one. Either way, it probably shouldn’t have been mentioned on the box.
The hoverboards are nice pieces, but the paint on these could have been better. Again, the issue seems to mostly affect Kat’s board and not Kit’s. Kat’s board just looks dirty on the top surface with all sorts of scratches and stray paint marks, and the edging lines aren’t really that sharp. Someone at the factory really had it out for WilyKat that day. If this set were a regular release that I had picked up through a regular retailer, I would have demanded an exchange for another one.
The clear stands secure pretty well to the bottoms of the boards and they hold them beautifully thanks to a pretty strong ball joint. Each stand features a sculpted Eye of Thundera. The figures attach to the boards via standard foot pegs and they look great riding them.
Finally, we have the stage, which folds out from the packaging. Even better, it can be folded back together so the figure can be returned to the packaging without any issues. I absolutely love when companies do this sort of thing and in this case it goes a long way to help justify the price point here. The artwork is beautiful and the figures look fantastic displayed on it. It’ll look fantastic at the back of a shelf with the kittens on the stage and whatever other figures we manage to get posed standing in front of it.
Also, if you’re wondering, the kittens scale pretty well with Bandai’s first pair of Thundercats Classics, Lion-O and Tygra.
If I set aside all the ill will I’m feeling toward Matty and their Thundercats Classics right now, this set really only suffers from some piss-poor paint QC, and I’m willing to concede that issue might be isolated to my particular set. If the paint on my Wilykit figure and board wasn’t such an issue, I’d be free to gush on about how much I adore these figures, the accessories, and the overall presentation. Even if we never do wind up with a complete set of Classics out of this line, it’s nice to finally have decent figures of the Thunder Kittens and knowing that I’ll at least have some of the core team to display them with. Indeed, I’m smitten enough with this set that I’m seriously considering rolling the dice on better paint and picking up a second one. And just because there aren’t enough Uncle Buck references in Thundercats action figure reviews…
“Hey Wilykat… Here’s a quarter. Go downtown and have a rat gnaw that thing off your face.”
I’m happy that fans are pleased with these but it boggles my mind why people would spend the dough on them when knowing that Mattel dropped the ball big time with the line. These guys are out before Lion-O and fans also know they won’t be getting a complete figure line. I would take my money and tell Mattel to cram it. I also have never like Thundercats, but if they did this with a line I care about, I wouldn’t even bother buying in.
I hear ya. There was a gap between the time these went on sale and the time Matty announced that they were shutting down. I’m sure that was intentional. I can’t say for sure if I would have passed or not had I known then what I know now. And yet, they still sold out in the end.