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by yo go re

Were the creators of the Thundercats trying to send a political message when they made the black guy a panther?

Panthro is as tough as they come, whether driving the ThunderTank or fighting with his weapon of choice - nunchucks!

"Tough" indeed, but not just that. Anybody can be tough - every group needs its big strong guy, but Panthro is more than just his muscles. Yes, he can probably lift any three other team members by himself, but he's also the brains of the Thundercats. They live in a world where technology is considered a myth, but he drives and maintains a complicated motor vehicle when everybody else is riding pack animals. He's got the touch; he's got the power.

Bandai's Thundercats toys are divided into 4" and 6" lines - Panthro's among the first releases in both, but we've chosen to collect the smaller figures, because that was the only way to get Cheetara. Panthro stands just a bit below 4½" tall, and moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, gloves, hips, thighs, knees, boots and ankles.

The sculpt is quite good, but the proportions are slightly off: his hands are about 25% too big for his body. Now, granted, the new cartoon has stylized, anime-influenced designs, but the cartoon hands aren't as inflated as the toy's. His various scars are all sculpted in, rather than merely being painted, so points for that! They've made an effort to re-create the spikes on his costume, though safety regulations mean the "spikes" are more like "rounded bumps." Well, half safety regulations, half a physical need to get the pieces out of the molds.

There are a few problems with the paint, including the fact that the spikes on his back and on his feet are the same brown as his clothes, rather than the silver they should be. And while his scars are painted - even the one on chest - his cloudy right eye (he's got a touch of glaucoma) is absent, instead being painted to match his healthy left eye.

Panthro gets two versions of his trademark weapon, the nunchucks. There's the set he's seen holding in the package, with the two separate sticks connected by a chain, and a second set folded up for storage. The chain connecting the "in-use" set is a single, solid piece of molded plastic, but since it's separate from the sticks we get swivel joints at both ends, and thus some limited poseability. The stowed set plugs into the back of his belt, and the molded chain hangs slack in case you were confused about which way to face it. Both versions of the accessory are molded from silver plastic and are unpainted - which is disappointing, since we know they should appropriately be red and blue. They were in the '80s, and they are in the modern version.

The new series did a great job of teasing us with Panthro - especially since he was dead before the first episode began. It's a character we knew from the original show, and who had been drawn into the promo art, but the creators threw a curveball by not actually making him part of the cast. How... disarming! It's a great design, though, and even with the oversized hands and a few minor complaints about the paint, we can declare this toy to be good enough.

-- 11/27/11

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