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Thundercats Ultimates
by yo go re

After Mattel threw their hands up on their Thundercats Classic line, Super7 eventually got the license. Thanks to their pre-existing relationship with Mattel, they started by re-releasing a bunch of the existing figures with new accessories. Series 2 introduced some new characters... but it still hasn't shipped, so our first actual new offering is Series 3's Slithe.

Slithe is the leader of the Reptilian Mutants from the planet Plun-Darr. Once a field cook in the army of General Ratar-O, Slithe cheated his way into power and followed the last of the Thunderians to Third-Earth in the hope of capturing the Eye of Thundera for himself. Trapped and forced to serve the powerful Mumm-Ra, he continues to plague the Thundercats from his base in Castle Plun-Darr.

Slithe is responsible for little baby yo's first awareness of an animation studio's recognizable style (cf. realizing Roger Klotz and the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee have the same voice, and thus there's a specific human who's doing that voice for them). Thundercats was created by Rankin/​Bass (yes, they of the stop-motion Christmas specials), and Slithe is designed and animated almost exactly like the orcs goblins in the Rankin/Bass adaptations of Jirt Tolkien's Hobbit and Return of the King. Seeing those goblins and realizing how much they looked like Slithe (or vice-versa, considering the release dates), it clicked for me that there had to be a reason for that. Because wholesale plagiarism wouldn't be allowed, right?

There was a figure of Slithe (or "S-S-Slithe," as the packaging called him) in the vintage line, but there were definite differences between that toy and the cartoon appearance. Perhaps the most noteable is the toy didn't wear a little leather headband thing like the animation model had. And like this Super7 release has as well.

The posture is different, too. Slithe has always had a sort of hunched-over stance, with his back coming up higher than his head does, but the 1985 toy never went as far as the cartoon. No need to worry about that today! The head sits about as high as the shoulders, but then there's another inch of torso above that - and that's even before we take the spines on his back into consideration! You could imagine someone wearing this as a costume, similar to the way the Pacific Rim monsters were designed, but it's definitely a distinctly inhuman look. Surprisingly, this goes even further with the hunch than the original show did!

Slithe's green skin has a scaly texture, while the blue areas around his mouth and down his throat, chest, and the underside of his tail is smoother - still with small wrinkles, but not the pebbly texture the rest of him has. The darker spots on his shoulders and tail are sculpted on: they're not just outlines, but actual raised areas that are perfectly smooth, helping set them apart from the rest of him. He wears a furry loincloth with a yellow cloth belt and tan leather suspenders that meet in the center of his chest, where there's a bull's head decoration. There's a studded bracelet on his left wrist, and a thin double-band on th right bicep.

Super7 is keeping the level of articulation that Mattel started, so this is the most poseable Slithe there's ever been (the original had hips, neck, and action-feature shoulders). He moves at the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, waist, wrists, elbows, shoulders, head, and tail, with most of those being the trusty swivel/hinge combination; the thighs and tail are simply swivels, the waist is a balljoint, and the head is a double-balljoint "barbell." The hinges in the wrists feel a little loose, but that could just because the ones in the rest of the arm feel so tight. Since his clothes are totally separate from the body, they don't completely move with it as you pose him, instead allowing the figure to shift beneath them. Since the tail only swivels, it can get in the way if you want to do anything highly drastic with the legs, but you can work around that.

To tempt those of us who already bought Mattel's Thundercats Classic figures to double-dip on the Thundercats Ultimates, Super7 included way more accessories. Not enough for me to justify the price, but it's good to see they're not scaling back just becuase the characters are new. LJN's 1985 Slithe came with a single axe; Super7's 2021 Slithe has two axes and a spiked morningstar, plus alternate hands (loose or gripping) and an extra head, featuring his mouth open - since he was the leader of the Evil Mutants and did most of the talking for the group, that's a fine inclusion!

Neither of the axes is the same Jackalman came with, despite the claim that that accessory was meant for Slithe - one is a direct update of the '85 piece (the gnarled one with the deeply nicked blade), and the other is simpler. If the morningstar seems familiar, maybe it's the one Panthro catches (and crushes!) one-handed in the first episode. No, Slithe wasn't the one swinging it, but it's a pretty iconic moment, and he did use one at times throughout the series. The handle on the "clean" axe is thin enough that it wants to slide freely through Slithe's fingers, unless he's holding it in both hands.

It's weird to be getting Series 3 before Series 2, but as Slithe is the first "new" toy Super7 has released, it's awesome to see how they're living up to the legacy. I know there were some complaints about their MotU Classics continuation, but Slithe is an awesome-looking figure that plays well with what we already had.

-- 11/18/21

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