Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Opinion: ThunderCats-No?

A reboot/imagining/make of the 80s classic ThunderCats appeared on Cartoon Network and in toy stores thanks to Bandai at the end of the summer in the US. There was a bit of uproar from fans in the UK since Bandai UK imposed an import ban and the toys only arrived here in December. In all 13 episodes of the show aired, finishing at the end of November in the US and at the end of the Christmas holidays on Channel 5 in the UK (who showed the entire series over two weeks).

In the UK we've only had the first wave of figures, while in the US the second wave hit in January.

And that's it.

Toyfair in New York showed no new figures. None at all. Since this is the event where retailers see the new products that are going to be available from manufacturers in the coming year Bandai showing nothing beyond that was already available in stores is a little alarming.

In the past week it has been announced that Cartoon Network will definitely be showing more episodes, but failed to mention when.

The question is, when it does return will children care? Is it likely children will still care about a series they haven't watched in 6 months, or will they have moved onto other things?

I've watched the first 13 and while there was definite promise, I think the writers failed to imprint the characters on viewers as well as they might - the villains especially. Mumm-Ra appeared now and again, and had some vague shape of characterisation, but other than that... The writers seemed intent on having an arc plot, which is great but since they decided to spread out the ongoing plot it didn't have time to really cement itself into viewers minds before it was taken off the air. Criticise the original series all you like, but it very quickly established the main heroes and villains and then gradually added new elements later.

I don't know what it says that the episode I enjoyed by far the most was Berbils. An episode which was the most, in tone, like the original series than any of the others. It wasn't just me who thought this either - both my boys loved this episode far more than the others.

The toys were okay, but hardly brilliant. The Thunder Lynx feaure wasn't great and having a giant magnet in the back of the figures made them look a bit rubbish. The 8" Classics line was cancelled after just two figures, to be replaced with a 6" one. Again 2 figures have been released in this size with no announcements yet of further ones.

The line appears to be in deep trouble. Things will only become clear when the cartoon starts up again on Cartoon Network, but my sad prediction is that ThunderCats will not live to see the end of the year. To all intents and purposes it looks horribly like it's already dead. For something which arrived with much fanfare last summer this is a big disappointment and I can't really see where it all went wrong.

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