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Thundercats Classic
by yo go re

This had better not be the end.

Panthro is one of the toughest warriors of the Thundercats and relies on his physical strength as much as he does on his mastery of martial arts. During combat, he uses a pair of chained Fighting Sticks that open into cat paws. These nunchuck-like weapons spray various chemical compounds that he uses against enemies. Panthro also builds all of the vehicles used by the Thundercats on Third Earth, including the Thundertank, the HoverCat and more. He is the mechanic, the engineer and the pilot for the Thundercats.

Wow, look at that! After making fun of Mattel's awful copywriting last time, they've delivered something much more professional. That's right, it's all on us. Yes, even though Panthro had already been produced and was, in fact, already en route to subscribers when we wrote it, we dropped such an epic burn that Mattel had no choice but to break into every post office around the country and surreptitiously replace the old packaging with this new, superior version. You're welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Toy Collector; we're happy to have been unquestionably responsible for making the world a better place (we just wish we could have done it sooner).

Even beyond the broad nose and the deep timbre of his voice, it was easy to identify Panthro as the black Thundercat (even before you look at his original character design) - while all the other characters were various shades of orange or yellow, here's a guy who was blue. Warm colors vs. cool colors marking him as an "other." Although, for that matter, why was he blue and not black? I mean, Disney didn't make Bagheera blue in The Jungle Book, and that was in 1967; Rankin/Bass should have been able to manage it in the '80s.

According to the official model sheet for the series, Panthro is meant to be quite a bit shorter than Lion-O, standing only as tall as the his king's eyes. This toy is just a bit over 6½", so he does end up the same general height as Lion-O, which is probably the right choice; would you want a Panthro who's Wolverine short? They may be the same size, but if they share any molds, it's limited to the shoulders, right bicep, left forearm, and thighs. While Panthro's spiky chest harness is a separate piece worn over the torso, the asymmetrical bands on his arms are sculpted elements. Same goes for his boots, which look more like soft cloth tied around his knees and ankles than like something thick and protective - guess that's a nod to his martial arts background.

Panthro's articulation is right up there with the best figures in this line. He has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, hinged torso, swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles that have an actual side-to-side rock to them. He's lacking the shin swivels, because of the way his boots are designed, but the fact that his harness is separate means he can still bend and flex his torso. The right leg on my figure is longer than the left: I don't know if the hip isn't inserted all the way or if it's just a wonky design, but you won't notice it unless he's just standing straight up.

His "fighting sticks" are, as described, just a cat-themed set of nunchucks. The original had a black plastic chain, making them functional, while the modern version has upgraded to metal. Taking a cue from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (both Minimate and NECA versions), he also comes with a solid plastic "swinging" version. The circular bit is attached to the cardboard insert, not the tray the figure is in, so at first I didn't see it - I thought the extra red handle just meant that Mattel had graduated from pointless, indistinguishable alternate hands to pointless, indistinguishable alternate accessories. (Yes, Panthro has an extra left hand. No, it doesn't look at all different from the normal left hand.)

Like Pumyra, Panthro comes with a piece of the Treasure of Thundera - his is the Key of Thundera, which allows the user to enter the Book of Omens. He also has a Thundrillium Detector, which looks like a garage door opener, but acts like a Geiger counter for the metal that powers all the Thundercats' stuff. (Though if they really wanted to throw fans a bone, they'd have included a samoflange.)

No one knows, yet, what the future will hold for the future of Thundercats Classic. For the record, Mattel has not said that it's cancelled, just that it's "more difficult" to do this with Super7 the way they're doing MotU. But even if this is the untimely end, it's still the best modern Thundercats line we've gotten: two main heroes, one secondary hero, two sidekicks, the main villain and one of his major lackeys. That's exponentially better than either of Bandai's efforts! We give Mattel a lot of crap for the things they do badly, but Panthro and the rest of the Thundercats are something they did well.

-- 01/01/17

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