Thundercats succeeded in the world of pop culture much better than some of the other cartoons of the late 1980’s. The humanoid cat people were the creation of Tobin “Ted” Wolf and ran on Television from 1985 to 1989. The Thundercats also known as Thunderians must leave their dying planet Thundera and escape. Battle with mutants of Plun-Darr destroys most of the Thunderians starship fleet forcing them to venture from their original destination to Third Earth to survive. Led by Lion-O – along with Tygra, Cheetara, Panthro, and the others the Thundercats form a bond with the natives of Third Earth to construct the “Cat’s Lair” their new headquarters and home base. Not long after arriving to their new home they are tracked down by the mutants who join forces with Mumm-ra, a demonic mummified sorcerer to vanquish the Thundercats and acquire the Eye of Thundera to lord over Third earth.
The toy line for Thundercats was pretty large for the day considering the show only ran for four years LJN was at the forefront in producing toys for this line. There were 37 figures created over 3 main series that were produced. Both good and evil characters from the whole cast were made even characters who were only in a few shows. Collectors really hunt for mint condition figures from the last series: Jaga, Ben Gali, Pumyra, and Lynx-o. LJN used extreme detailing in the sculpting and almost every figure had “Battle-Mattic” action. The 3 most sought items from the action figure line are the Cat’s Lair, Astral Moat Monster, & Tongue-A-Saurus. Mint figures can sell on the internet for thousands of dollars and currently someone online is selling Mumm-Ra’s tomb fortress brand new in the original box for $5000.
Many other cool toys were created for this line. Sword of omen, an electric racing car set, puzzles, stickers to name a few. Thundercats partnered with Burger king in the U.S.A with cups and a pencil topper. Their likeness was licensed to produce lunchboxes, a cassette tape holder, duffle bags, view-master reels, alarm clocks, clothing, to name a few more. And we have seen both Marvel and DC comics branch off and tell us about many more adventures we never saw in the cartoons.
Thundercats has become so popular over the years that other companies around the world have jumped on board to produce toys. Both Bandeirite & Glasslite made toys for the Brazil Market. Play full takes care of the Argentina market, Unitoys in Venezuela & Macplay takes charge in Mexico
A resurgence in America of Thundercats has grown during the last 10 years. A new cartoon series developed by Warner Bros. Animation was released in 2011 by the Cartoon Network this 2nd series differed greatly from the original Thundercats. Also just recently announced by Cartoon Network a 3rd series called “ThunderCats Roar” to be released late in 2019. If that’s not enough Netflix, Michael Bay and Ryan Reynolds are interested in bringing a live action version of the Thundercats to the big screen.
To keep up with this demand for new content we find once again toy companies jumping on the back of these cats and producing very cool updated toys. Funko toy company currently is producing Thundercats POP figures, PEZ dispensers, and savage world versions to name a few. Mattel released some very cool figures in 2016. Bandai took care of handling some of the toys in 2011 for the 2nd series. Mezco also has been strong in the market producing figures.
For the ultimate Thundercats collector who has money to burn – you can purchase high end statues of your favorite characters. Companies such as “Hard Hero” “Icon Hero’s and “Sideshow Collectibles” give us some of the most accurate detailed versions you will ever see.
Technology has kept up with the times creating more realistic and in some cases better versions then we grew up on – but on the flip side in some ways the original action figures we grew up on are much better than some of the crap that is now being released and being sold. My humble opinion if your going to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on new Thundercat merchandise you may want to take a step back I time to the 80’s and look at some of the original cool Thundercats toys and maybe purchase something from the past.
It will be interesting once the 3rd series is released later this year and if an actual live action version is made for the cinema’ – what kind of tie-in toys and merchandise will we be seeing hit the department store shelves’ and on-line stores?