Following on from his reviews of the 6″ modern line ThunderCats figures of Panthro and Cheetara, Devall is back to take a look at Lion-O!
Following on from his look at the wave one 6″ Panthro the other week, Devall is back with a look at the newly released wave two 6″ Cheetara! Cheetara and the other wave two toys from Bandai, should be in stores now!
Devall is back after a Christmas break, with his all new review of the Deluxe Vehicles from the Bandai ThunderCats toyline. Here he takes a look at the figures that come with the ThunderRacers and Lizard Cannon, as well as the action features of all three toys. For more great toy talk and information be sure to check out Toyworldorder.com!
Appearing right in the middle of ThunderCats‘ first season, “Between Brothers” always needed to be something special – an episode far-reaching in its scope, that touches on the most memorable elements of the series so far and moves some of the show’s primary storylines into a whole new dimension. This action-packed episode succeeds in achieving all these goals.
The main theme running through this episode is that of relationships. The first and most obvious of those relationships is the one between Lion-O and Tygra. With so much of their background left unexplored, this episode nevertheless showcases much of their sibling rivalry – their antipathy towards each other is brought to boiling point, and yet so is the bond between the two, showing that there is something at both extremes of their relationship, a rivalry, a jealousy, perhaps even at times a dislike, and yet beneath it all a bond that cannot be broken.
The second relationship to be explored is the one between Panthro and Grune. In its own way, this relationship is as complex as the one between Lion-O and Tygra – for, whilst Panthro and Grune are not brothers, they have nevertheless trodden many of the same paths and fought the same battles, and the hostility between the two is given a great deal of emotional depth thanks to this, adding weight also to Grune’s betrayal of the ThunderCats and Panthro in particular. The retelling of Panthro and Grune’s encounter with Spidera, as well as being a great nod to old-school ThunderCats fans (Spidera was, of course, the guest villain in the original series episode “Queen of 8 Legs”), also serves to shine a spotlight on the relationship between these two characters.
Third and final of the relationships focussed on in this episode is the one between Tygra and Cheetara, where in a moment of shock she choses Tygra over Lion-O. This is as jarring for the audience as it is for Lion-O himself, as it completely flies against the clues that have been shown throughout the series – which, in a perverse type of way, should make it less surprising than it is. It’s not difficult to predict that the love triangle between Lion-O, Tygra and Cheetara will run for many episodes to come, and one suspects there may yet be a twist in the tale.
This episode also benefits greatly from the return of all the series’ main villains that we’ve met so far – S-S-Slithe, Grune and especially Mumm-Ra all shine during their moments of screen time, and the transformation of Mumm-Ra into his ever-living form is a visual highlight in an episode full of stunning animation.
The action sequences in this episode work on a variety of different levels, providing both straight excitement when the ThunderCats are battling to protect the hut, to heightening the emotions between Lion-O and Tygra when the two are battling. Indeed, from a visual perspective this episode is nigh on impossible to find fault with, and it’s clear that a great deal of thought and effort went into making this episode one of the most striking of the series.
The first thirteen episodes of ThunderCats have not been without their flaws, but when taken as a collective they stand as a fine example of modern animated storytelling. This episode is the perfect encapsulation of everything that has been good about the series so far. A grand epic that sets the scene for more adventures to come, “Between Brothers” proves that the ThunderCats are back to stay.
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Once again Devall is back for another great review of the Bandai ThunderCats 2011 toyline! This time he takes a look at the deluxe 4″ Grune figure!
For all Devall’s toy reviews from the ThunderCats toyline, you can check them out here: Devall’s ThunderCats Toy Reviews
and for more great toy discussion and reviews, be sure to check out Toyworldorder.com!
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From the very earliest days when Warner Bros revealed that ThunderCats would be returning, a lot was made of the fact that this retelling of the mythos would feature a number of arcing storylines and character development. The first few episodes established this very successfully, whilst subsequent offerings have deviated from this somewhat; true, they have focussed on arguably the series’ main theme, that of Lion-O’s development and learning, but other character elements and story arcs have only been hinted at.
All this changes with “Into The Astral Plane”, a potentially game-changing episode that ups each and every stake in the series. Almost from the word go, the episode reveals a connection between Cheetara and Tygra, creating a link between the pair that tears the audience’s loyalty in two, forging a legitimate love triangle that can only end in heartache for either Lion-O or his brother.
The flashbacks in this episode not only provide welcome backstory for Cheetara and Tygra but also hint at the prospects for so much more – why did Cheetara have no clan? Why is there so much rivalry between Tygra and Lion-O? How did Tygra become part of Lion-O’s family? By making a start at answering questions about some of the ThunderCats’ histories, this leads on to ever more intriguing questions, hinting at great depth and helping to forge a bond between the audience and the characters.
There are other superb aspects of character writing contained with this episode as well. One of these is contained within the flashbacks, as we discover the extent of Cheetara’s personal bond with Jaga; however, even here the potential is laid for much more discovery as part of future flashbacks.
Additionally to this, each ThunderCat gets their own little character moment, from the Thunderkittens to Panthro, whose antipathy towards Grune again becomes a driving factor in some of this episode’s fine action scenes. And what fine scenes they are – with the strong focus on character development and backstory, it would be easy to think that this episode could be quite light on action, and yet this is not the case, with one of the episode’s most arresting moments being Tygra’s daredevil piloting of the Thundertank, which saves the day against Grune’s forces. The fact that Tygra’s actions are so successful is a storytelling masterstroke, as it sets up further tension between Tygra and Lion-O.
Add to this the intriguing storyline concerning the quest for the stone of power, with a nice little nod to the classic series by introducing the concept of the Astral Plane (the Astral World was, of course, home to Jaga in the original series), and this all adds up to a finely constructed episode.
Each episode of ThunderCats has its own merits and values, but this episode stands above most others for taking the key concepts of this re-imagined series and breathing fresh, new life into them. “Into The Astral Plane” is one of the most valuable chapters to date in the story of the ThunderCats.
One of the most unique elements of the new ThunderCats animated series is the far-reaching story arc that is present throughout. Whilst story arcs were present in the original series, this new take explores that concept further, with each and every episode adding a small piece to a much larger puzzle.
This is arguably the most meritorious aspect of “Sight Beyond Sight”, as the episode continues two of the series’ main themes – the ThunderCats’ quests for the stones of power, and (more subtly, but no less importantly) Lion-O’s development as a character, learning new life lessons as he grows into the king he needs to be in order to defeat Mumm-Ra.
The lesson that Lion-O learns in this episode is very cleverly presented – by failing to stop and look at the bigger picture, he creates a dangerous situation that only calm reasoning, not brute force, is able to quell. So from this perspective, this episode is a resounding success, providing Lion-O with much-needed character development and wisdom.
There are other factors where this episode scores as well. This episode presents a feast of pulse-pounding action sequences, allowing each of the adult ThunderCats to showcase their powers, weapons and abilities in a number of exciting scenes, showing that ThunderCats is one of the most visually stunning action-adventure shows around.
There are other nice touches to this episode – the first few minutes of the episode are based around a scene of the ThunderCats racing each other, which could be argued as “filler” or out-of-character with the rather desperate situation that the ThunderCats, last survivors of a fallen kingdom, find themselves in. And yet, somehow there is something endearingly human about this scene, showing the ThunderCats interacting and bonding with each other in times of leisure – and, of course the scene is also action-packed and beautifully animated.
If this episode has a failing, it is that, at times, it feels very slow-paced; whilst this might be in-keeping with the somewhat passive and almost lethargic nature of the elephants, nevertheless in places it risks losing the audience. The elephants themselves are also hard to develop an emotional attachment to – whilst they help Lion-O to discover new things about himself, and even provide some gentle development for the Thunderkittens, in contrast to some of the other guest stars of the series they are, at times, difficult to connect to, and as such it weakens the tension when their home is under threat. What could have been done to correct this is difficult to say, but it would be fair to say this this episode is one of the slowest-moving installments of the new ThunderCats series.
In conclusion, this episode works most effectively when viewed as part of a slow-burning story arc, a chapter in a large collection of adventures that the ThunderCats are embarking upon. In the absence of a really powerful villain, or more engaging guest stars, the episode nevertheless remains an important stepping stone in Lion-O’s emotional journey and a solid forerunner to even greater adventures.
Here’s Devall once again, this time finishing up his reviews of wave 1 of the regular 4″ ThunderCats figures from Bandai! Be sure to check out the review below, along with all of his reviews so far on the forums here: Devall’s ThunderCats Toy Reviews
Also be sure to check out Toyworldorder.com for even more reviews and cool toy related stuff!