Over the course of the past 7 days, we have been showing you a number of new ThunderCats products for Bandai's Spring 2012 line-up. Products such as new 6" Classic and Modern figures, new 4" basic figures, deluxe figures and 4" scale vehicles. We had a chance to talk with Bandai's ThunderCats Marketing Brand Manager Amanda Burns about these products and a few more additions to the line, and we are providing you with a first look.
Before we get to the interview, let's look at the new product debuts (You can check out more images of these new products below in our IMAGE GALLERY).
First up is the Tiger Flyer with 4” Tygus figure. Tygus and his flyer first appeared in episode 7 of the new series titled "Legacy". Appearing in a flashback scene, Captain Tygus was part of Mumm-Ra's assault and was sent to a red alien world to retrieve the powerful gemstone known as the War Stone.
As with all the ThunderCats vehicles, the Tiger Flyer uses the ThunderLynx system. By using the Tygus figure with it, you can activate a LED light-up feature causing the eyes on the vehicle to glow red. This one will have a SRP of $14.99.
Next up is the debut of two new role-play items, a Lion-O Claw Shield which is part of the Deluxe role-play line and Panthro's Nunchuks which is part of the basic role-play line.
The Claw Shield includes lights and sounds and has a place to hold your Sword of Omens. This item has a SRP of $19.99.
Panthro's Nunchuks feature foam claws for safe, action-packed role play fun and will have a SRP of $9.99.
Look for all three of these items as well as the other Spring 2012 items to start showing up at retail by the end of this year or early in 2012.
Now that you have gotten a look at the Spring 2012 line-up, check out our interview below with Amanda Burns for more details about the line and many of the new products we've shown you.
TNI: Tygus is an interesting choice of character to make as a figure this early on in the line, being he only appeared in one episode during a flashback scene from the ThunderCats ancient past. Why the decision to do Tygus now as opposed to doing characters that perhaps have more of a impact on the ThunderCats lives today and show up in the show more often? Is this perhaps an indication that we might not have seen the last of Tygus somehow?
Amanda: We want to build out the world of the Thundera and Tygus and his Tiger Flyer vehicle gives us a great opportunity to feature both. We want to build out the world of Thundera, and that includes modes of transportation not just characters. Plus we work closely with Warner Bros. to insure that what you see in the toy line is something you see in the show.
TNI: Does the Tiger Flyer interact with any of the other vehicles or playsets that have currently been released or will be released, similar to how the Thunderbikes connect to the ThunderTank?
Amanda: The Tiger Flyer is a stand-alone vehicle, and you can play or display it with the rest of the vehicles and playsets within the ThunderCats toyline.
TNI: Will we start seeing Target stores carry these products in their stores in 2012?
Amanda:Target.com currently has some ThunderCats products listed on their website. 2012 should see some of the ThunderCats toy line on Target shelves.
TNI: On the new classic 6" Mumm-Ra figure that was recently shown, will he come with a sword and why the decision not to give him ab articulation?
Amanda: Mumm-Ra twists at the waist for posability. To include the ab articulation, we would have had to slim down his waist and he’d loose part of the “bulk” that makes him Mumm-Ra The Ever Living. The 6” Mumm-Ra will not come with a sword.
TNI: Will the new 6" line have any kind of unique vintage packaging, or will it come on cardbacks similar to what we have seen with the modern 6" line?
Amanda: The 6” Classic Figure line will come in the same packaging look the 8” figures were packaged in. That classic packaging look will be used for all our classic themed products.
TNI: It was said the 8" Classic line was not totally dead. Last year, it was mentioned Cheetara was the next up for the Classic 8" treatment and she would have some kind of features that made it appear as if she was running really fast. Can you confirm any of this and will we likely see the 8" figures at stores as an exclusive or perhaps as a convention exclusive?
Amanda: The successful Classic 8” Figure line will be evolving. We plan to release the 8” figure scale in a limited edition capacity in 2012 in support of those who have been with the line from the start. The details for distribution and for Cheetara and her possible windblown hair are still being ironed out.
TNI: With the new Classic Lion-O 6" figure, is there any chance you will include an alternate head similar to the headsculpt used on the 8" version or maybe a variant figure?
Amanda: At this time, the new 6” Lion-O will not be made with a closed mouth. We may consider a closed mouth version for the future so stay tuned.
TNI: There has been mention that if or when a Wily Kit and Wily Kat 6" figure is made, it will be done as a 2-pack. Does this go for both Modern and Classic versions of the characters and also has there been any thought of how you will get a 6" scale Snarf for both modern and classic line released? He's obviously too small to be released on his own, but as a key member of the team he definitely would be sorely missed if not done in plastic form.
Amanda: It is likely the classic Wily Kit and Wily Kat would be done in a 2-pack to match the new show version. We have discussed how to get Snarf in the line again and would probably come with another figure and not on his own, just due to his size.
TNI: How big is the new 4" scale Claudus figure compared to say Mumm-Ra Transformed or the previously released Panthro figure?
Amanda: From the very start of planning the toy line, we wanted to create figures that were all in scale with each other. When you have characters such as the WilyTwins being small and Mumm-Ra who towers over everyone, it just made sense. So Claudus being a tall character is on the same size scale as Mumm-Ra and Panthro, due to his height in the show.
TNI: When you make a ThunderCats toy, you obviously have two different demographics you are trying to cater to: young children who are being introduced to ThunderCats for the first time and adult collectors. How hard is it to balance wants and needs of those two demographics, and how key is it to the success of the line that you keep both sides happy?
Amanda: When you’re trying to introduce a whole new generation to ThunderCats and appeal to Dad’s who grew up watching the show, it’s a delicate balance. With that being said, we have balanced the toyline to cater to our core kids with our 4” figure and vehicle line and the fans who grew up with it in the 80s with our 6” and 8” figures.
TNI: How does the process of choosing which characters and vehicles get made and when work? Is this something Bandai decides and gets approval from WB, or is it something WB decides? To ask another way, how involved is WB with this toyline and how much creative freedom is Bandai given with it?
Amanda: Choosing which characters and vehicles to create in a line is a collaborative effort between Bandai and Warner Bros. We want to make sure that what kids see on TV they can find on shelf. We work a year or more in advance of the toys actually being shipped. We read the scripts to find out what characters, vehicles and weapons are featured most, when do they appear are they good guys or villains and what do they look like. Once we have our selections of what we want the line to be, it does go through Warner Bros. for approval. Some times they give us suggestions to move a character back or bump up someone who we had later in the line. We are constantly working with them to make sure we put out the best ThunderCats product.
TNI: It has become tradition for many companies to have a presence at the big conventions such as SDCC and NYCC these days. I know Bandai had a small presence with ThunderCats at the Warner Bros. booth last year during SDCC, but we were wondering if there are any plans for Bandai to grow that presence in 2012, perhaps with their own booth?
Amanda: We are considering a number of options to grow our presence at SDCC.
So there you have it. Thanks to Amanda Burns for taking the time to answer our questions and be sure to let us know below how you feel Bandai has been handling the ThunderCats line so far. Also check out more images of the upcoming Spring 2012 products below in our GALLERY.
OH, and don't forget to catch another new episode of the hit ThunderCats animated series this Friday (11/25) 8:30/7:30c on Cartoon Network. The episode is called “Between Brothers” and see's Tygra and Lion-O enter the Astral Plane to retrieve the Warstone, but encounter Mumm-Ra in the process. Meanwhile Grune and Panthro have their final duel and Cheetara finally chooses her beau. Check out these new preview clips for the episode: