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Lion-O, Panthro, Mumm-Ra and Jaga

Thundercats Minimates
by yo go re

Fleeing their dying homeworld, the Thundercats have settled on Third Earth, a strange planet populated by fantastic creatures. Lion-O, the Lord of the Thundercats, will need the wisdom of his departed teacher Jaga, as well as the strength of his comrade Panthro, to keep his people safe. Especially since the evil sorceror Mumm-Ra has his sights on Lion-O's Sword of Omens, which contains the powerful Eye of Thundera. Thundercats, ho!

Since the beginning, all Minimates have had one thing in common: they were licenses that Art Asylum (or DST) had paid for. But now, for the first time ever, they've been contracted to create Minimates for someone else. Icon Heroes has the Thundercats license, and they mainly use it for statues; wanting something more, they asked AA to design Minimates for them, and the first set was available at SDCC this year.

We start with the lord of the Thundercats, Lion-O. In the original series, he was put into suspended animation as a child, but a malfunction in the machine allowed his body to continue aging - but since he was asleep the whole time, he still had the brain of a child. You know, just the exact quality you want in a leader.

Minimate Lion-O is looking pretty good. Well, other than his giant clown hair, which looks like giant clown hair. His chest and back are painted with costume details, but the sides only get the blue and orange apps, nothing more detailed than that. Similarly, only the fronts of his legs have the black paint apps to suggest anatomy. His belt is a new piece, but there's something wrong with the paint: the Thundercat symbol that was there wiped away easily, as though it had never dried. Not cool.

Lion-O gets a second head with a variant expression. While the normal head is calm and reserved, the replacement looks angry. At least, he has his mouth hanging open and his eyebrows knit, which could very well just be the "Thundercats, HOOOOOOO!" pose. He's not angry, he's shouting! Whatever the intention, there's a lot more detail on this one.

In addition to the head, the hair and the belt, Lion-O comes with exactly the accessories you'd want him to have: the Claw Shield and two versions of the Sword of Omens (long and short). The Claw works like any other Minimate glove, in that it just plugs into the wrist hole when you remove the hand on that side. There's a small hole on the back that allows you to hang the Claw from Lion-O's belt when it's not being worn, and the short Sword of Omens can be stored (loosely) inside.

We move on to Panthro, the team's token black guy. Even though he's blue. Where most kids' cartoons would have a character be strong or smart, Panthro was both: he personally built every piece of technology the Thundercats used - including their big-ass castle/fortress! - but was also strong enough to catch a mutant's mace mid-swing, and crush it with one hand.

The Minimate is definitely cool. His baggy boots are just painted on, but they went so far as to even paint the tied laces hanging down the back of his legs. He has a silver bracelet on his right wrist, and a blue band painted above his left elbow. His spiky harness is a new sculpt that slides onto the torso - and if you take the time to work it off over the shoulder bumps, you'll find that his chest and back are both fully detailed, even where you'll likely never see them.

Panthro's head is new. Not his face, his head. It's actually molded with his large, pointed ears - since he's bald, there wouldn't be any hair piece to attach them to. Amusingly, while he doesn't have a nose (in finest Minimate tradition), the patches of color on his face line up in such a way that they create the exact shape of the nose that isn't there, you see?

The figure comes with his nunchucks, and how is it that a Minimate can get the weapons right, but Bandai can't? The arms are red and blue, and there's a real metal chain connecting them. It's quite surprising, really.

This set includes the Thundercats' main villain, Mumm-Ra. It's always nice to get both sides of a conflict in one set, isn't it? This figure gives us the villain in his frail "decayed form," rather than the beefed-up monster he becomes. He's just a little mummy in a big red robe, which means he'll be the same size as the monstrous Mumm-Ra whenever they get around to releasing him.

The robe is done in two pieces, to no real benefit: theoretically it was done so you can still turn his head and have him looking side to side, but the hood doesn't really turn; the sculpted bandages hanging down the front prevent that from happening. The paint apps that create the mummy's wrappings are very detailed, but they're only done on the front of the body, since the back will usually be hidden. That's fine, but it's annoying on the arms, where the apps are on the outsides - that means you can always see half-blank patches unless he's got his arms jammed against his sides.

The face is wonderfully creepy! His inexplicably blue face is framed by detailed bandages, and his large, red eyes have heavy black wrinkles around them, to suggest that they're set deep in his eye sockets. His mouth is open slightly, showing his cracked teeth, and the paint apps also give him large cheekbones. This is nice work!

Mumm-Ra includes one accessory, and it's a throwback to the '80s toy. He gets a gnarled wooden staff with a dragon head or some other demonic visage. The eyes, mouth and horns are red, while the rest is black. It's a cool piece, and a neat inclusion - gotta love nods back to the history of the brand. It's much thicker than the Minimate hand can hold easily, though, so his hand will splay out if you give it to him for too long.

The fourth figure shows that Icon Heroes is dedicated to keeping these figures going for as long as possible. As you know, if a line puts all its main characters out too quickly, there's nothing left in the tank for later series. So rather than going for a second villain or something, this set gives us Jaga.

Jaga isn't exactly a minor character, but neither is he a member of the main cast. He was Lion-O's mentor, and he was also dead - so basically, he was Obi-Wan Kenobi, right down to being a blue ghost in most of his scenes. The Minimate is a semi-opaque blue, with solid paint for the costume details. He gets two new braclets, a fancy hat, and a cape with a Thundercats logo clasp - fortunately, unlike Lion-O's, his didn't wipe off.

The hat fits very tightly on his head - it's almost impossible to remove. On the plus side, there's not really any reason to remove it. It was never really clear what kind of cat Jaga was supposed to be. From his name, you can assume he was a jaguar, but he doesn't have any spots... at least, not any anywhere you can see them.

Jaga doesn't have any accessories, but we're not done yet. The set includes a fifth character: Snarf. He stands only 1¼" tall and has no articulation, but he's designed to match the Minimate aesthetic. His face is printed on a smooth cylinder, his feet are blocky, and his arms and legs are sculpted to look like they have the usual Minimate articulation. They don't, they just look like it. Usually fake joints are annoying, but in this case we can accept them, since the figure is so small.

The introduction of the Thundercats to the Minimate style is very exciting - and if it so happens that this is the only pack of them we ever get, it'll be a decent assortment (certainly a better assortment than Bandai gave us in either the 6" or 8" scales), but the signs point toward more in the works, so let's hope that eventually we get the entire team of heroes, plus some more villains for them to fight.

-- 08/23/12

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