As some of you may know the Walmarts in my town are pretty sucky for toy hunting. Unless you’re looking for Star Wars, Transformers or toys from whatever the Marvel or DC movie of the week is, they really don’t carry anything else worthwhile in the Boys Action aisles. In fact, in the last couple of years the Boys Action aisles have gone from three down to two and now it’s one and a half as one of them shares with Nerf and all three of the ones in the city where I live are the same way. So imagine my surprise today when I actually found Thundercats on the pegs. There were no 4-inch cats, but two flexed pegs of the 6-inchers, along with the newly released Cheetara. I happily grabbed up Lion-O, Panthro and Cheetara. Sadly no Tygra or Mumm-Ra. Today, we’ll kick it off with Lion-O.
So, yesterday I did a lot of unabashed gushing over Ban Dai’s Classic Lion-O figure. Lest you were afraid that my Thundercats love and nostalgia was motivating me into giving this Classic 8-inch figures a free pass, I’ll tell you right now that Tygra does not quite live up to the standards set by Lion-O. Let’s check him out.
It was a long struggle to finally get this figure. I had it pre-ordered, had to cancel the pre-order because I bought way too much other stuff that month. Re pre-ordered it at another site. Canceled that pre-order because the figures turned up at another site first. Had to pass on them at TRU because my order already shipped and now I finally have him. So, don’t take it lightly when I say that after finally getting this figure in hand, he was worth every spot of bother and frustration along the way. I’d like to think its rare that I completely lose my shit and gush like crazy over a figure, but put on your hip boots, folks, because it’s about to get deep in here. Lion-O is freaking awesome.
It took me a little longer than I thought, but I’ve finally completed my collection of the 4-inch Basic Thundercats figures. Now I can finally stop recriminating myself for cancelling my case pre-order just to get some of the figures a week earlier. Sure I paid more than I should have for Cheetara, but Panthro here was pretty easy to get at retail and now I’m all set. It seems only fitting that the last one to complete my collection should be Panthro, since he just turned up in the series recently.
We had a little mix up on the old FigureFan hard drive this morning and I lost the entire feature on Grune, so I was forced to do a quick re-edit on Deluxe Mumm-Ra, remove all the references to this feature, and kick that one out the door to stay on schedule yesterday. So let’s try this again. Today we’re looking at that dirty Thundercat traitor Grune the Warrior in the Deluxe class 4-inch figure assortment.
I’ve already taken a look at the shriveled up mummy version of Mumm-Ra in the Basic Assortment of Thundercats figures. Now it’s time to check out his buffed out mega-demon form from the Deluxe line. We haven’t actually seen Mumm-Ra’s powered up form in the new cartoon yet, so this figure is really the first taste of what the character is going to look like. I think that’s pretty cool.
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.
I still haven’t managed to get my hands on Panthro or Cheetara, so the Thunder Kittens will be the last two figures in the Thundercats Basic Assortment that I’ll be looking at this week. These figures are carded and sold individually, but because they’re pretty small and because they each come with a repaint of the same big accessory, I decided to check them out both at the same time.
The packaging still looks great, but these little kittens don’t fill out their cards all that well. We haven’t seen the kittens use skateboards in the new series yet, so I’m thinking the HUGE skateboard accessories might be there as a slight nod back to the old series (by the way, they were HOVERboards, Ban Dai) and to help fill out the huge bubbles. Then again, who’s to say the kittens aren’t going to be riding skateboards in the next episode and making me look like an ass? Either way, I’m amazed at how much I like the kittens as characters in the new series.
The figures on the other hand… Yeah. So, I’m really not crazy about how these figures turned out. The cupie doll proportions are all skewed to make them look cartoonishly young, but their big heads and tiny bodies make them look a lot younger than they do on the show. Granted, the 2011 kittens definitely look younger than they did on the original show, but they don’t look like this and it feels like Ban Dai wasn’t even trying to make them all that screen accurate. I’m also not happy with the way they handled the tails. They’re sculpted straight down to form a third leg. It’s the tail that actually has the peg hole to secure the figures to their boards. Blah! On he plus side, the body sculpts are pretty decent and the paintwork is immaculate. I’m inclined to like Wilykat’s figure a bit better than Wilykit, but both of them could have been a lot better.
The skate boards themselves aren’t bad accessories. They roll along well and you can pull out the sides to reveal guns and flip open the front to form a claw like thingy. Unfortunately, since the figures have almost no poseability, they look pretty ridiculous standing on top of these things in a ram-rod straight fashion. Each kitten also comes with their own unique accessory. Wilykat comes with these long claws and Wilykit comes with her ciruclar flute. Neither kitten’s accessories are all that great.
These figures even fall short in the articulation department. You only get three points on each figure: The heads turn and the arms rotate at the shoulders. They just aren’t very much fun.
It’s a shame Ban Dai went in the direction they did with the kittens, because I really dig them on the cartoon and I would have liked to get some decent figures based off of them. Maybe they’ll be better executed in the 6-inch scale? We’ll have to wait and see. I’m going to take an intermission from the Thundercats mania for the next couple of days to look at a few other figures that have landed on my doorstep. But the Thundercats will return later in the week as I start checking out some of the Deluxe Assortment figures and vehicles. Ho!
I’m continuing to push through the Basic Assortment of 4-inch Thundercats figures this weekend, and next up is Tygra. So far, he seems to be the character that changed the most in the transition from the classic to the new series. He’s now Lion-O’s more responsible, adopted brother and maybe a bit of a smug ass to boot, while still being fairly likeable. Let’s see how his figure turned out.
I’m still really digging the packaging on this line. Tygra comes packaged with his laser pistol in hand and his whip sweeping around the right side of the bubble. There’s some nice artwork of him on the card grimacing as he’s rushing into action.
Tygra’s about the same build as Lion-O but an entirely new sculpt. His head bears a strong resemblance to the classic character and he’s the spitting image of the character as he appears in the new series. He’s sculpted wearing full armor, with only his right arm and head left exposed. The sculpt nicely walks the line between being detailed and yet still looking simple enough to capture the animated character’s design. Tygra comes with a utility belt, which is removable, and I’m happy for it because I don’t think it looks all that great on him. It’s a nice bonus as it does have a holster for his gun, but I prefer to leave it off while displaying him.
As with Lion-O, the paintwork on this figure is almost immaculate. There’s one tiny paint zit just below Tygra’s left eye, but apart from that everything is crisp and clean, from his eyes and his tiger stripes right down to that gorgeous little Thundercat emblem on his chest. I wasn’t a big fan of his new green armor, but it’s grown on me a bit since the character models first debuted.
In addition to the belt, Tygra comes with his trademark whip and a laser pistol. The pistol is a nice addition, since Tygra was shown recovering it from one of the Lizard Men in the premier two-part episode and he’s been brandishing it ever since. It’s decently sculpted, some paint apps would have been nice, but that’s probably asking a lot for a 4-inch scale pistol. The whip is very simple and cast in bright blue rubbery plastic so it’s very flexible. Tygra can wield his weapons in either hand. Nice accessories. Nothing extravagant, but they get the job done.
The articulation here is almost identical to what we saw on Lion-O. He has a ball jointed neck. His arms have universal movement at the shoulders, hinged elbows and swivel cuts in the wrists. His legs feature universal movement at the hips, as well as hinged knees and ankles. The only difference? Tygra cannot swivel at the waist. Again, not the best articulation we’ve seen in this scale, but there’s no denying that Tygra is a highly poseable figure and loads of fun to play around with.
Like Lion-O, Tygra is a very well made, sturdy and great looking figure. He’s yet another example of why I should eat my reservations about Ban Dai getting the new Thundercats line. Sure, Mumm-Ra bottomed out in some areas, particularly articulation, but those were sacrifices made to preserve the character and so far the exceptions to the trend that these 4-inch figures are turning out great.