Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Thundercats ThunderTank 2011

Full disclosure. I have only one tattoo and will always have only one tattoo. I got it in honor of having met my wife, a couple of months after we were engaged. I was 34 at the time. I wanted to wait until I had a reason to get one, and could come up with a design I liked. I finally ended up with the Thundercats logo, done in a broken rock/chrome style. It covers most of the outside of my shoulder, so it's not exactly tiny. I'm telling you this to let you know that I have more than a passing fondness for the 80s show and toyline, Thundercats. That disclosure takes us to today's review, the ThunderTank.

This is not the ThunderTank from the 1980s. No, this vehicle was released by Bandai in 2011 when they launched their modern, 4" Thundercats toy line. There were high hopes when it was first announced. A cartoon would appear to support it, vehicles were planned along with multiple vehicles, and heck.. they would even have a non-offensive action feature where magnets in their back activate special features. There was just one problem.
The toys sucked and no one watched the cartoon.There were bizarre design decisions made throughout the line, questionable quality control issues, and even lacking redesigns of many of the features. There were some genius moves made, but they were typically balanced out by really, really bad decisions. To relaunch a property on store shelves, you have to really bring your "A" game, and Bandai failed utterly.
What is heartbreaking is that this ThunderTank is amazeballs.If the entire line had worked in this level of thought and quality, I can't imagine that it would have failed the way the line did. I found this ThunderTank during a random walk through Big Lots with my wife. I saw the box, saw the price tag of $5, and threw it in the cart. Typically, she doesn't give me much trouble for five dollars or less. I kid. She's fantastically supportive of my hobby and I try to find figures that we both can appreciate. Having had plenty of experience with the ThunderCats line (a friend got me the Tower of Omens for $10 and it was.. look, I'm probably not ever going to even bother reviewing it if that says anything) I wasn't really expecting much. Still, the tank originally sold for $30 and it was being offered for $5, so who am I to turn it down.
Care for an example of really odd decision making? Packaged in with this incredibly awesome machine is an incredibly lame figure, Snarf. The comedic relief of the Thundercats. The mentally challenged character that does nothing smart. Put simply, the idiot. Now, I'm not opposed to them making a Snarf figure. I juts don't think Snarf is known for driving around the ThunderTank. He's mainly known for grooming himself and saying his own name a lot. I, personally, wouldn't trust him with a massive weapon such as this.
Character pack-ins are a long-held tradition for action vehicles. G.I. Joe released a lot of great characters to go along with theirs. Some of them were repaints, but all of them were - uhm - human. You know, capable of actually driving that vehicle.
Good news, though!! The ThunderTank has a trunk. When you crack it open, it's more than large enough to stuff Snarf in there and pretend he doesn't even exist. There you go, problem solved. Buy another figure that they are offering on clearance for like three dollars, throw him in the driver's seat, and you're a winner! Also, pretty sure any GI Joe would fit in the cockpit as well, if you just want to take over the entire thing.
As for the rest of the tank, I think I pretty well covered that it's totally amazeballs. It has several features that are nice. One, it has lights and sounds if you press the fin in the center of the back end. It just the one sound, but the eyes look pretty awesome when they light up. Second, the paws above the front wheels rise up and down, and the claws can be retracted or pulled out. Third, the pods on either side of the claws can launch if you press buttons hidden in the back, and they really, really launch. It's impressive. Apparently, there were pods that were sold as part of the line that characters could be placed in, and were compatible with the ThunderTank. I don't think I'm going to go out of my way to look for that, but it's still a pretty cool feature. Sadly, I suspect the cost of that one good decision from Bandai was three other bad ones.
The only real downside is that the side pods can come off fairly easily. They aren't really stuck in incredibly well, so sometimes instead of launching forward they'll just plop off to the side if you pick it up with them. Just grab from the base and there should be no troubles. Also, if they do fall off, they are very easy to put back on.
I don't know how widely this will be available at Big Lots by the time this review goes up. I know that it can be found on Amazon with Prime shipping for around $15. At $15, I still say that it's totally worth it. If you want a kick ass vehicle that can be used with most of the 3.75" or 4" toy lines, this is definitely a great, inexpensive way to go. Sadly, it's also a very disappointing look at what could have been with this toy line. Regardless of its reflection on the line as a whole, believe me - you want this ThunderTank.





LEon on December 25, 2013 at 8:11 AM said...

I was quite sad that the new Thundercats only have one season and they totally stop that series...

Wes Grogan on December 25, 2013 at 2:09 PM said...

I really did have high hopes for the show and the toy line. There are never any guarantees, but it seems like it was really going to ramp up in the second season.

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