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Tygra, Cheetara, Wilykit and Wilykat

Thundercats Minimates
by yo go re

Stranded on Third Earth following the destruction of their planet, the Thunderians did their best to make this strange world their new home. Super-fast warrior Cheetara, brilliant scientist Tygra and youngsters Wilykit and Wilykat each played their part in rebuilding their civilization, although they needed the help of the robotic Ro-Bear Berbil Bill to construct their majestic headquarters, the Cat's Lair.

Brilliant scientist? Really? I thought that was Panthro's gig. [No, Panthro is more of a mechanical engineer; Tygra is the brains of the group --ed.] Based on nothing more than hazy memories from childhood, Tygra's role was to be the team's designated buttmonkey; if anybody needed to get poisoned, kidnapped, brainwashed or just generally put in peril to advance the plot, it was going to be our man T!

Tygra's favorite color must be blue, because he's wearing at least four different shades of it. His jumper has two tones, his arms and legs are lighter, and then the bands around his sleeves and leggings are darker. His hands and toes are beige: he never wore full boots like the rest of the team, instead leaving his claws exposed. He's based on a tiger, obviously, so his arms and chest are orange with black stripes. He gets a newly molded piece that fits over his shoulder to create the pauldron or whatever it was he always wore there.

For whatever reason, Tygra has hair like Wolverine, which by Jeph Loeb's logic means Tygra is part wolf. This hair isn't reused from any of the Minimate Wolverines - it just looks that way. The face is painted very well, with a stern look and a nose that's faked by clever use of colors. The stripes in his hair are crisp.

Tygra comes with his trademark weapon, a bola whip. What's a bola whip? It's a whip with three red balls on the end. And somehow it allows him to turn invisible. In the cartoon, the whip could contract so that it was just the balls on the end of a stick (which sounds like that thing on a pawn shop sign). This toy can actually do that, because it's made in three parts: balls, whip and handle. You can pull them apart and plug them together sans whip.

Next we have Cheetara, the team girl. It was the '80s; female characters weren't allowed to have personality traits. So she was basically just relegated to acting like a mother to the group - ie, being a wet blanket when they got rowdy, and nuturing them when they needed it. Also she could run fast and had psychic powers that nearly killed her when she tried to use them. Equality!

Her color palette of choice is orange. Well, orangish-tan. That's the color of her unitard, bracer and boots, while her legs and left arm are a lighter shade, closer to yellow. The black paint detailing is good, particularly on the spots that cover her right arm and shoulders, but it's weird that the outlines don't continue all the way around her legs, instead just being present on the fronts.

Appropriately, her face is mostly detail-free - we just get her lips, eyes, and the darker spots around them, because anything else would make her look either masculine or elderly, and nobody wants that. Her hair is a really nice approximation of the cartoon design, sweeping back away from her face like she's running at high speed.

She comes with her staff, a 2" long golden rod that she can hold in both hands. In the cartoon the staff could expand or contract to any length, and to simulate that, the set includes a second smaller stick. This one has a peg coming off the side so it can plug into her new bracer for storage - and all this time we thought she was stowing her stick somewhere naughty!

The back of the card misidentifies the Thunderkittens: Wilykit is the girl, not the boy. The two of them were pretty interchangeable, personality-wise, but that doesn't mean they can trade names willy-nilly. She's wearing a blue off-the-shoulder dress with a large pink panel on the skirt, and has a brown belt with silver capsules. She has pink and blue leggings with cutouts for her toes, just like Tygra - except they remembered to paint on her heels where they forgot his.

Wilykit's face is just as blemish-free as Cheetara's - so how can we tell she's meant to be younger? Because her lips are the same color as the rest of her face, rather than being bright red. Her hair swirls up into a single Dairy Queen dollop, and has a single black stripe running right along the center. What kind of cat is she supposed to be, anyway?

Both kittens come with a coiled length of rope and a spaceboard (their hovering surfboards). Kit also comes with a second pink rope, this one more of a lasso than a coil. That's an unusual choice, but there's really no faulting it - it's straight off her model sheet.

Wilykat is the final full figure in this set, and he's wearing his typical brown smock. The skirt is a new piece, molded with lots of pouches on the belt and even a small bit of rope. Man, these kids love rope! Oh wait, they're kittens: it's string! Now I get it. His boots have crossed laces like Roman sandals, and there are brown wristbands painted on. The light color of his hands should continue farther up his arms, but it still looks fine.

Since Wilykat and Wilykit are kids, it gives us occasion to once again point out how nice it would be if Minimates had a "child" body OH WAIT THEY TOTALLY DO NOW! Seriously, it's easy to miss because the Thunderkittens' hair is so big, but they're smaller than the other figures. How do they manage this amazing feat? The forearms and lower legs are new, shorter pieces. The hands and feet are part of the molds and thus not articulated, but who cares? Minimate child body! Exciting!

Wilykat's hair is even more Wolveriney than Tygra's was - mainly thanks to his giant sideburns. His hair is white in front, orange on top, and has two black stripes. The color contrast on his face is stronger than his sister's, so it's easy to make out his features: the big eyes, the pointy eyebrows, and the rugged lips that make him look male.

In addition to the spaceboard and rope (his is brown, while Wilykit's was pink), Wilykat has a weird... thing. It looks like the tip of Tygra's whip with a grey lump trailing off the back. It may take you a minute to realize this is supposed to represent the smoke bombs the kids often used. That's smoke! It's cast in translucent grey, and can sort of be held in his hand.

Just as with the previous two sets, this one is rounded out by a fifth unarticulated minifigure. This one is Ro-Bear Bill, the Wicket of Thundercats' Ewok stand-ins, the Berbils. Ro-Bear Berbil Bill is a little guy, not even 1½" tall, and though he doesn't move, he's detailed very well. The brown fur is shaggy, and the silver metal has nice detailing. His face is merely painted on, but he comes with an accessory: a tiny knife! For murder!

The first Thundercats Minimates set was an SDCC exclusive, and the second was available at New York Comic-Con, but this one was first available on the Action Figure Xpress website - in fact, thanks to a well-timed sale, you could get it for free with the purchase of any in-stock set of Minimates. Hopefully that doesn't mean there isn't enough interest in these sets, because there's at least one more on deck with pre-death Jaga, young Lion-O, transformed Mumm-Ra, Mu-Mutt and Grune. These are good Minimates, especially with the introduction of new, smaller molds. And this set completes the good guys! At least until Bengali, Pumyra and Lynx-O come along.

-- 03/13/13

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