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by yo go re

It's starting to look like the new Thundercats catoon won't survive past its first season, which is a real shame - it was thoroughly fun and wasn't afraid to play with the series' history.

Grune only wants one thing - power - and he'll stop at nothing to get it!

In the original series, Grune was an ex-Thundercat and general of Thundera's armies. He attempted a coup and was defeated by Jaga, who banished him into space. He landed on Third Earth and set himself up as a warlord, until he was captured and sealed in a tomb for centuries. By the time he was released, he was just a malevolent spirit. In the new cartoon, he's still a general, but he's also a real, live guy and not a ghost. He still betrays the Thundercats, but does so as a minion of Mumm-Ra, not on his own (though he's also ready to betray Mumm-Ra at the first opportunity).

Grune's trademark look is one giant sabertooth - he used to have two, but ripped one out by hand when he was pinned and needed a weapon. Bad. Ass. The figure's tooth is molded as a part of his head; if it was separate it would be a sharp, pointy hazard. Plus, he has a giant beard to contend with, so that makes a nice backdrop for the tooth as well.

When we first saw him (and were supposed to think he was a good guy), Grune's armor was designed as a reference to the '80s cartoon model. But that's not what this toy gives us, because when he changed sides, he got a new suit of clothes. His upper torso is fully armored, and there are plates on the fronts of his gloves and his shins. His arms are mostly uncovered (just straps around the biceps) and he's barefoot. Come to think of it, all the Thundercats are barefoot. Must be like when you put tape on a cat's feet and it drives them insane.

The figure stands 4½" tall, and his articulation is on par with the rest of the toys in this line: swivel neck (severely limited by the beard), swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel gloves, swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, swivel shins and hinged ankles. The internal mechanics of the joints are molded in dark brown plastic, so they look quite blatant in the figure. Of course, he has a Thunder Lynx magnet in his back, too.

Grune is a deluxe figure, retailing for $13 instead of $10. Rather than a chunky base or silly play features, like most of the Deluxes had, Grune gets an assortment of weapons. We start with a tremendously oversized bow and arrow, which I don't remember him ever using in the show. It's taller than he is, and the arrow (which, surprisingly, is actually the right size for him) is soft PVC and gets bent all to hell by the way it's held in the tray. There's a quiver to hold the arrow, and it can either stand on its own using the weird kickstand built into it, or can be attached to Grune's back via the magnet.

Secondly, and more importantly, is his war mace. It's actually a huge version of the Japanese kanabo, measuring 5⅝" long. In the show, it popped open and became a giant lightning gun. Using the Thunder Lynx magnet on Grune's back, you can make the toy extend the same way - though it won't shoot lightning. Some sacrifices obviously have to be made. It almost would have been better if the mechanism worked the other way, pulling the sections back together rather than spreading them apart. Why? Because the way it is now, you can't store it on his back in its collapsed state.

Grune is a good villain figure in a toyline that's really lacking them. After brisk sales at the outset, Thundercats cooled off fast, and nothing new was shown at this year's Toy Fair. This is also the only version of Grune - it's Deluxe or nothing. If that's the price we had to pay to get his giant club, so be it.

-- 06/02/12

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