ThunderCats Classics: Panthro by Mattel

Well folks, I’ve put this off long enough. It’s time to open my very last figure in Matty’s ill-fated ThunderCats series. I was saving this review for after Toy Fair because I was really hoping that Super7 would have some good news for us, but obviously that wasn’t the case. I didn’t hear anybody ask them about the license, and they sure weren’t volunteering any information. I’m going to be an eternal optimist and take that as a sign of hope. If negotiations were still underway, they may have been limited in what they could discuss, whereas if all bets were off, I’m hoping they just would have come out and told us that, rather than keep us hanging in a state of misplaced hope. Anyway, let’s look at Panthro…

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As always, the figure comes in an illustrated black mailer box. Inside that is this fantastic window box, which shows the figure off beautifully. There’s a trap door on the bottom so you can easily pull out the tray. The back panel has colorful character art and a bio. This package is a little less collector friendly than the others, because one of Panthro’s accessories is behind a bubble on the tray backing, but with a little patience and a blade, you can still get it off without hurting anything. I’m holding onto these packages for now, but who knows if Super7 will keep this package design if they ever do secure the rights.

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Out of the package, we can quickly see that Panthro sucks and is yet another example of why I’m glad this line died. Well, that’s what I want to say, but I can’t, because in all honesty he’s excellent and quite possibly the best figure in this little collection. Granted, from the neck down there’s not a lot of original sculpted detail, but what’s here is totally faithful to the character design. Plus, they did make the effort to put in little touches like the ring just above his left elbow, the cuff on his right wrist, and the ties on the back of his lower leggings. I also love the proportions on this figure, the buck is just perfect.

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Panthro’s harness tabs together at the back and looks great on him. One of the spikes behind the left shoulder is a little bent from being in the package, but it’s nothing that I’m going to get worked up about. There’s some nice texturing on the belt and the Eye of Thunderra is crisp. The rest of the coloring here is also spot on! If I had to gripe about something it would be that the plastic looks a little rough in some areas. There’s some mold flashing here and there and some visible seams.

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I’ve got absolutely no quibbles with the head sculpt. While I could argue that the portraits on some of these figures have been just a smidge off here and there, Panthro’s hits the mark perfectly. From his broad nose and pointy ears, this is the Panthro I grew up with and really admired. He was strong, an agile fighter, and a wiz with technology and mechanics. A veritable Cat of all Trades.

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Panthro comes with a bevy of accessories, the least interesting of which is an extra right hand with a tighter grip, which seems unnecessary, but why argue over an extra accessory, eh? His nun-chucks are fantastic and connect with a real chain. They feature the adorable little cat claws sculpted into the ends and he can hold them really well.

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He also comes with a pair of nun-chucks that recreates a spinning effect. You plug the blue spinney effect part into the extra red chuk and it looks pretty good. I’m tempted to say I’d rather have had a pair that he could clip on the back of his belt, but this is still pretty damn neat. And we’re not done yet, because he comes with two more little goodies.

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The Key of Thunderra! It was an artifact so important that they named an episode after it. It was a thoughtful item to include with Panthro, since he was the one that found it in that episode. No, it doesn’t do much, but he can hold it in his hand and say, “Look what I found! Let’s use it to get Lion-O out of that damn book!”

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Panthro also comes with the Thundrometer, which he used to locate Thundrillium, the fuel for his precious Thundertank. I like this accessory a lot and he looks great holding it.

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Panthro is about as perfect a figure as I can imagine. He looks great, he has all the right accessories, and he is loads of fun to play with. And of course, he represents the final installment in this line unless it gets a stay of execution from Super7. I really like what they’re doing with the new Masters of the Universe Classics figures, but I’m not a big fan of their “you can pre-order every figure in the wave or none at all” business model. On the other hand, I’m jonesing for more ThunderCats so badly, that I’d probably be perfectly fine with that strategy should the licensing ever work out. In fact, there’s really no characters that I can think of that I wouldn’t happily buy in figure form. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to be content with these my complete set of 2011 ThunderCats from Bandai.

ThunderCats Classics: Pumyra by Mattel

Cheetara is dead! She was killed alongside Tygra when the two ‘Cats stole a Sky Cutter to escape Mutant custody and it was shot down causing them to burn to death in the wreckage. You could smell the burning cat hair all the way to the Berbil Village. The humanity! But after a long period of mourning, Pymyra stepped up to take Cheetara’s place. This is the sort of sick and twisted canon I have to come up with in my head to justify why certain characters are missing from my ThunderCats team, because Matty screwed us all over. So let’s check out Pumyra, also known as NOT-EFFING-CHEETARA!

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The packaging comes in a black mailer box with some minimalist artwork, serving as only a teaser of what lies within. I’ve said my piece about this packaging, but it stands repeating. It’s gorgeous, it’s collector friendly, it feels premium, and it sickens me that I won’t have dozens of these lined up on my shelf. In fact my only gripe here is that the character art on the back is pretty bad. Pumyra looks less like a ThunderCat and more like something Buffy would poke with a wooden stake.

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Fortunately, the figure fares somewhat better than the box art. Overall, she’s a pretty solid recreation of her counterpart on the Classic cartoon. Her outfit consists of that same slinky brown dress with the sides cut out. It’s funny how I distinctly remember that seeming really risque for a kid’s cartoon back then, meanwhile Cheetara’s cat-boobs were practically busting out all the time. The dress is sculpted directly onto the buck, instead of layered onto it. This feels a little cheaper than what Mattel often did with the female MOTUC characters, but in the end it looks fine. They did a particularly nice job with the ThunderCat emblem on her chest. She also has a sculpted pouch on the right side of her skirt and a belt that can be removed by un-tabbing it where the tails hang down. Also, I’m pretty sure the belt is supposed to also be her weapon, buy I’ll come back to that. The ensemble is rounded out by a pair of boots and a ribbed shoulder pad… ribbed for her pleasure… and protection… of her shoulder.

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The portrait here is where my admiration for this figure begins to waver. There’s something about it, and it’s hard to put my finger on exactly what that is. I think it’s the shape of her face. It’s possibly too elongated and the contours are exaggerated. I’m not sure, but something feels off. I do, however, like the way they painted her eyes. It’s very distinctive and the paintwork is pretty clean. Also distinctive is Pumyra’s coif, which is pretty well sculpted, albeit with the white paint application being rather heavy handed. I’m not prepared to write this portrait off as a total miss, but to me it’s just not nearly as good as the Lion-O or Jackalman.

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The articulation here doesn’t hold any surprises. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips with swivels set right up at the hip joint. The knees are hinged, and the ankles feature both hinges and rockers. She has a swivel in the waist and her neck is ball jointed. As usual, the skirt impedes the range of motion in the hips.

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For accessories, Pumyra comes with her projectile-tossing whipcord, which again… I think it’s supposed to be her belt. In any event, I’m going with that and removing the belt when I display her with the whipcord readied. This is a pretty cool weapon with some sculpted and painted projectiles in loaded up and ready to launch.

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She also comes with a throwing star, which is a pretty basic piece and not terribly remarkable. To handle these weapons, Pumyra comes with a total of four hands, one pair of which is designed to hold the weapons in either hand. She also has a right fist and a left hand with her fingers reaching out.

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And then you get this thing. It’s like a big amulet on a stand or a wand of some kind. Seriously, what is it? I have no idea. I have a feeling it’s there to mock me for not knowing my Season 2 ThunderCats stories better. And yet, I know many of the First Season stories by heart. Go figure…

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Pumyra is the first figure in this line that I feel isn’t a home run. She’s not fantastic, she’s not terrible, she’s a solid OK. And I swear to Jaga that I’m not just saying that because she isn’t Cheetara. Not to be a devil’s advocate, but it made sense from a business standpoint for Matty to not give up all the core ‘Cats in the first sub, but once the whole thing collapsed after just the one year, it backfired on us fans when we have Pumyra and not Cheetara in our collections. Do I sound bitter? Good, because I still am.

ThunderCats Classics: Jackalman by Mattel

Hurray! It’s time for another depressing look into Matty’s still-born ThunderCats Classics action figure line. The second figure in this very short-lived line is none other than Jackalman, and that’s great, because why spend the slots getting us an entire team of ThunderCats when Matty can give us little bits and pieces of an incomplete line? Why not just kick me in the dick with a steel toed boot while you’re at it, you assholes! Anyway, in addition to being cut short, these figures have also been arriving really late. Jackalman is October’s release and mine only just arrived a few days ago.

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Here’s a look at the packaging, which is mostly the same as we saw with Lion-O. You get a black mailer box, this time with Mumm-Ra’s logo on the front and some nice monochrome art on the side panels. Inside, the figure comes in a colorful window box with a trap door in the bottom to slide out the tray. You get a great look at the figure from the front and the back panel has some rather colorful and unconventional character art, as well as a blurb about the character. In a nutshell, the presentation here is absolutely superb and it’s totally collector friendly. Jackalman has the dubious distinction of being the first and very likely the last of The Evil Mutants to be released in this line, unless of course Super7 can work licensing miracles. Yeah, that isn’t going to happen.

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And that’s a crying shame because this figure is fantastic! Jackalman makes use of a fair bit of the MOTUC Beastman buck. I never thought it would work as well as it does here. And yet, Jackalman feels even less like an MOTUC-styled figure to me than Lion-O did. Part of the illusion of newness comes from the clever way Matty layered the neck and additional shoulder fur onto the buck by sculpting it as part of the left shoulder armor and chest straps. Jackalman is still wearing a belt and furry diaper, but these are both new sculpts and are very distinctive. The minimalist detail on the shoulder armor really lends itself to an animated look, and I dig the leopard print armor plate strapped to his forearm.

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The coloring on this figure is nice and vibrant. The orange-brown fur is pretty close to Beastman’s coloring, but I think this figure still manages to carry a unique look without feeling like a glorified custom. I will concede that the paint could have been cleaner in some areas. For example, there’s a little chipping to the gray borders on his ankle cuffs and the white paint on my figure’s right fang is sloppy. I’d say that the paint QC is in step with the recent MOTUC figures I’ve been getting, which is to say not terrible, but not as good as it was in the earlier days of the line either.

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If there’s any one thing that really sells this figure for me, it’s the head sculpt. They’ve really managed to capture the personality of this particular Mutant in the portrait. It’s so good that it just reinforces what a damn shame it is that we’ll never get to see them take a stab at Vultureman, Monkian, or Ssslithe.

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The articulation here is very similar to the MOTUC line. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, and hinges in the elbows. The legs have rotating hinges and swivels in the hips and hinges in the knees. There’s a swivel in the waist and an ab crunch hinge in the chest. The neck is ball jointed. The improvements include hinges and some rather generous lateral rockers in the ankles and the wrists are on rotating hinges. Jackalman comes with an extra set of hands that offer a little more versatility with the accessories, but I found them to be unnecessary.

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Speaking of accessories, Jackalman comes with two weapons. First off, we have this pretty cool club with a spike in it. It’s a wickedly gnarled sculpt with a lot of personality for a simple club.

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Even better, you get this amazing axe. It’s a two-handed pole weapon with a wood grain pattern sculpted into the shaft. I love the crude, hammered look to the axe head.

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While the paint could have been a little tighter on my figure, I still think Jackalman is a fantastic release and yet another example of how great this line could be if it were ever allowed to go the distance. At the same time, I can’t help but feel a little resentful that with so few different figures being made, one of them is Jackalman. Yes, I realize that the releases were planned out before the line was shit-canned. And yes, it’s bad form to blame Jackalman for not being Cheetara, Tygra, or even Ssslithe. But it’s hard not to think that way.

ThunderCats Classics: Lion-O by Mattel

After a slight delay and having his entire toy line collapse out from under him, Matty’s Lion-O finally arrived at my doorstep last week. Of course, he was unceremoniously preceded by the SDCC Thunder Kittens, which I looked at a few weeks back, right around the same time Matty announced they were closing up shop. Since then Super7, who inherited Matty’s Masters license, exhibited at the New York Comic Con with lots of Masters of the Universe Classics teasers, but not a peep about Thundercats. Yes, I think I’m finally prepared to concede this line is dead after this year, but I’m going to try not to focus on that in this feature and just look at this figure for what it is. I will, however, make some comparisons to the Bandai figures from several years back.

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The packaging and presentation here is quite nice. There’s a black mailer box with the Thundercats logo and the Eye of Thundera on the front and some additional art on the side panels.

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Inside the mailer box you get this really slick looking window box. And yes, that’s a cat hair stuck to the bubble of the package. Is that meta or irony? I’m really not sure. Anyway, the figure is presented against a bright red backdrop and the artwork on the bottom shows Lion-O gazing into the Sword of Omens with the blade extending upward in the form of molded detail in the window. On the bottom, there’s a flap that opens to allow you to pull the tray out. The back of the package features some very colorful artwork and a blurb about Lion-O himself. I’m totally blown away by the presentation here. It’s just fantastic and totally collector friendly. I don’t keep a lot of my toys’ packaging, but this one I sure as hell will be hanging onto. Let’s get the Lord of the Thundercats out of the package and check him out…

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The idea here was to recreate the Thundercats in the Masters Classics style and while I was dubious at first, I have to say it works brilliantly. This is certainly the Lion-O that I know and love and I didn’t already know that he was developed with the Masters Classics in mind, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed until I picked him up and played with him and felt a lot of the similarities. I think the buff proportions look great on him and his outfit is executed beautifully. The detail on the exposed mid-riff area maybe looks a little off. It’s a little too much like it was chiseled out of plastic, but it’s not something that really hurts the overall look of the figure for me. The detailing on the belt is great and the shade of blue they used for his vest and boots is perfect. The paint on my figure is very sharp.

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In the cartoon, Lion-O used the Claw Shield as a sheath for the Sword of Omens when it was in its dagger form. To simulate that, you get the Claw Shield with the Sword of Omens hilt sculpted in it and the whole thing pegs onto his belt. Now, on the one hand, Bandai was able to give us a Claw Shield with a removable Sword of Omens on each of their Classics Lion-O’s. On the other hand, Matty’s version of the Shield looks so much better than what Bandai gave us. Here, we get actual sculpted fur, as well as painted knuckles and claws, whereas the Bandai version of this piece was just smooth gold plastic. I’m not saying that Matty couldn’t have still made it work with a removable sword, but I still prefer what we got here, based on the aesthetics alone.

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I find that I’m still mulling over the head sculpt. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but at the same time it feels a little off. There might be a wee too much Masters styling in there. I think it leans a bit toward being an interpretation of Lion-O than an attempt at recreating the animated character. I suppose you could argue the same thing about MOTUC He-Man, even the Filmation one, versus the figure. I think Bandai was on the right track with their larger Lion-O figure, but at the same time, the sculpt was way too soft. Here, you get much more defined features. In the end, I guess this is leaning toward more like what a realistic Lion-O might look like and I’m OK with that. Lion-O’s hair must be pretty tough to do in a 3D representation like an action figure, but I think they did a fine job with it.

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The articulation is exactly what I’ve come to expect from the Masters Classics line and that has it’s good and bad points. The MOTUC articulation is great when compared to the vintage figures, but it’s feeling a little dated to me now. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, hinged at the knees, and have swivels at the hips. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge in the torso, and the neck is ball jointed. The points are all there, and the hinges in the wrists are a nice bonus, but the range of motion is stifled by the muscle sculpt. Bandai’s figures had mostly the same points, but a better range of motion. On the other hand, this figure feels a lot more solid and better built.

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In addition to the Claw Shield that pegs to the belt, Lion-O comes with another one that he can wear simply by popping off his left hand and popping the Shield onto it. And while I nitpicked the belt version having the sword sculpted in as part of it, the wearable Shield can indeed hold the small version of the Sword of Omens that comes with the figure. This Claw has all the same great sculpting paint as the other one.

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The small Sword of Omens is a nicely sculpted little piece with some great paintwork as well. The hilt is left matte silver while the blade itself is painted with metallic silver paint. The paint used for the closed Eye of Thundera is also sharp and clean.

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And naturally, you get the Sword of Omens in all it’s… um, fully erect glory. This is a great little recreation of the majestic weapon, right down to the detail in the curled crossguard and a tiny Eye of Thundera painted every bit as neatly as the larger one on his belt buckle. Again, the hilt is left matte silver plastic while the blade is painted with a metallic shade to make it really pop. The plastic used here is a lot stouter than the stuff Bandai used for theirs, leading to a lot less warping and bending. Lion-O also comes with an extra left hand with a looser grip that makes it easier to hold the sword in both hands. But the big question is… can he be posed consulting the sword’s Sight Beyond Sight?

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Yes, he can!

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When Bandai’s Lion-O’s came out, I thought they were decent figures. The original, larger version was my favorite of the two and there’s still a lot I love about that release. I was interested to see if Matty’s version would replace him and after spending some time with this figure, I have to say that he has. Blending Thundercats with Masters Classics was an interesting experiment and it’s almost surprising to me how well it played out in the end. Lion-O is a great looking figure and I’m finding it pretty hard to put him down since he landed on my desk sometime last week. And yes, here’s where I throw in what a shame it is that a figure this good is part of a line that will yet again be cut short. Actually, at this point it’s not so much a shame as it is a cruel joke the universe seems to be playing on us poor Thundercats collectors.