Following Super7’s announcement of ThunderCats Ultimates Wave 2 just before the New Year, and the opening of preorders on January 6th, ThunderCats.org spoke with Brian Flynn about the latest developments in the line.
TC.org: Well done on another successful launch of ThunderCats Ultimates, Brian! How does it feel to be back in the saddle and talking ThunderCats again after the first wave’s preorder closed?
BF: It’s great being back. Everybody was so excited about Wave 1 and now with Wave 2 we are even more excited to continue. I mean, we’ve got Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living coming out. Who wouldn’t be excited? This figure is going to be huge!
TC.org: Yes, judging from the images he is massive! It’s clear that you wanted to do the figure justice by having him be to scale with the other figures. Was it an easy decision to make knowing that it would mean a price increase?
BF: Well, we went back and forth with the design of the figure and deciding on how big he was going to be. It is not just the height of the figure that is affected when we make him this size, but also the rest of him. His chest needs to be scaled accordingly, and everything else. Lion-O in comparison had to have his head reach Mumm-Ra’s shoulder. So this figure is huge. The figure’s bandages and wrappings around his arms are all individual pieces that create a unique look for this figure. His packaging will also be in scale, so if I had to guess it will be much more like the Stridor packaging that we did for Masters of the Universe a while back.
TC.org: How do you choose the figures for each wave? Is there a set ratio of two good and two bad guys? Or do you have to include a female in each wave?
BF: We aim to keep it at having two good guys and two villains with each wave. It doesn’t necessarily have to be one female per wave, but we like to keep it at two good and two bad.
TC.org: Was it always the plan to have Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living so early in the line?
BF: Yes. I mean, it’s Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living! He is the bad guy to have!
TC.org: His loyal companion Ma-Mutt is an added bonus, just like the vintage LJN releases. What points of articulation will he have and will he be in scale?
BF: This figure is also a huge figure, and he will have articulation at the head and the legs. I can’t say exactly how big he is, but he has a long body as well and he is definitely in scale.
TC.org: Tell us about the fabric cape. It matches your mummy version’s extra soft goods cape. Why did you choose this over plastic and will a plastic option be available down the line?
BF: We discussed this a lot. Having the soft goods cape ended up being the best option for this figure. If you consider that when Mumm-Ra’s arms are stretched out it is roughly 15 inches wide, so this cape is going to be huge. The cape will be fully posable with wires that can bend. If we were to have a plastic cape, the tooling alone on that would have made the cape the most expensive piece in the entire Ultimates line. It isn’t necessarily that the plastic cape’s weight would have affected the balance of the figure, but it would’ve just been this big flat thing.
TC.org: The Mighty Gyroscope Regulator is another accessory from later in the season. Since Jagara is the caretaker of the Mighty Gyroscope on New Thundera, can we expect to see her as a figure too?
BF: I don’t want to sound like I’m beating a dead horse, but you know with Masters we got pretty deep with character selection. I mean that went on for a decade! We’d love to make as many characters as we possibly can.
TC.org: Moving on, Grune is another exciting and highly anticipated release. Did you feel pressured to include him early on because of a previous prototype being shown?
BF: Well, no, I won’t say that there was any pressure on having him shown. But come on, it’s Grune we’re talking about. This is such a special figure because of what we’re doing with it.
TC.org: Yes, it is exciting! He comes with two heads and another ThunderCats torso. First off, thank you for this. It has been a wish of many fans to have this included. How will this second torso work?
BF: We talked about this a lot. Will we have him come as two separate figures in the line or will we try and incorporate both into this figure. With the chest armor it’s quite the thing because you have to be able to remove the shoulder pads and then have the armor fit in under the belt. We don’t think it will have the moveable ab crunch because of this.
TC.org: His colors differ in the cartoon and in some instances his armor is darker. How do you decide which color to go with?
BF: When we work on figures we discuss what would work best and look best for the figure. The thing is when it comes to colors and how they appear on screen they don’t always match that what is the actual figure.
TC.org: That’s right. Photos sometimes don’t compare or do justice to the figures in hand.
BF: It is often difficult to see what the real color is that’s used on a figure, and color is in itself deceiving on photographs because of lighting and backgrounds. Like with Mumm-Ra, he appears much bluer in the photos than what he really is. We’ll still look at toning him down, but we work on how he appears in the cartoon, so the two different Mumm-Ra versions will match their skin tones like how they appeared in the cartoon.
TC.org: Talking about colors, Grune’s LJN counterpart had a completely different color scheme. Would you consider releasing a variant of Grune in those colors as an exclusive?
BF: *Cough* Sorry what? I don’t know what you’re talking about. *Cough*
TC.org: Gotcha! Moving on. Pumyra is back again, boasting a second growling head and all of her previous accessories. What makes her different this time round?
BF: We’ve been fixing her scale and working on her general appearance. We hear the comments on the face but what needs to be understood is that these are not the final produced pieces and that they’re just prototypes. The ears for example may not appear to be in the right place in the pictures. The prototypes for example don’t show all the moving parts like a waste swivel and such. So you may not always see things like that in the prototypes but they’re there. Concerns in Tygra are also addressed, like the appearance of the muscles, we’ve fixed that already. So we’re always working on things.
TC.org: In the promo clips, WilyKat is spotted beside Pumyra, and his accessories are shown as well. Tell us more.
BF: Well the photographer isn’t a toy collector and because we were working on WilyKat he was there with the others. The photographer just moved things around on the table and he was moved out of the shot into the background, a bit out of focus.
TC.org: From the video you can also clearly see that his spaceboard is shaped differently. Can you elaborate on whether these will also come with stands and pegs for the kittens to stand on?
BF: It’s perhaps a bit too early to talk about this now with us only being busy with Wave 2. But I can say this—we’re working on giving you guys whatever it is that you expect from them. But it’s maybe a bit of good marketing for the next wave right?
TC.org: Tygra has been the most talked about figure of the new wave. Having two heavy hitters so early on in the line is fantastic. Was it a difficult decision to choose Tygra over Cheetara for Wave 2?
BF: Not at all. We’re still working on Cheetara and she’s not ready yet. But why not have Tygra there? Who else is going to fight Grune?
TC.org: The Tygra prototype shown is a different shade of blue. On the day of sale you gave us a new color-corrected version that fans have appreciated.
BF: The moment the pictures came out people were going like “Hey, that’s not the right color.” There were many digital mock-ups from fans that were posted during that time. So we listened and updated Tygra.
TC.org: Do you have any updates on the Wave 1 figures that you would like to share?
BF: Yes, as a matter of fact. We’re about to post pictures of Wave 1’s progress. We’re currently looking at the paint, as well as the packaging mock-ups. They have unpainted figures in them so fans are going to love it when they’re shown. All of our new lines are going well and the figures are still on track when it comes to production.
TC.org: Can we expect another commercial like with Wave 1 for these Wave 2 figures?
BF: You mean that little animated clip Kyle did? No, not this time round.
TC.org: Can you comment on whether we should be expecting an SDCC exclusive or two for ThunderCats Ultimates?
BF: There won’t be a Comic Con exclusive this year. You have to remember that by then only Wave 1 will have been delivered, so it’s a bit early to have another exclusive at the same time. But that doesn’t mean we won’t have something coming later in the year. So you can save your $45 for SDCC.
TC.org: We’re only left with Jaga’s prototype that has been seen before and the kittens, which is basically three figures that we have visuals for. Does it make it exciting to know that from here on out every reveal of future waves will be brand new for fans?
BF: I guess I have to ask you that question. Are you excited? I mean I know what we’re making, so I’m very excited to give you these guys. We’re here to make your ThunderCats dreams come true.
TC.org: Which figure are you most excited for releasing?
BF: It has to be Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living.
TC.org: Do you have a personal favorite ThunderCat or villain?
BF: Mumm-Ra. Not the old guy, but the big Ever-Living one. I know we always root for the good guys, but it’s the bad guys that we really like more.
TC.org: Can we get a tease for Wave 3 coming in April? It doesn’t have to be a name. It can just be a key word. Anything will do!
BF: * Laughs* We’ve only just launched Wave 2 and everybody’s asking what’s next?! What I can say is that the 3 ¾ figures should be coming out in May / June.
TC.org: Should we be expecting a character that fans have never seen in toy form sooner or later, like a Lunatak, Mandora or Snarfer?
BF: Well, LJN made a little plastic Snarf didn’t they? But there hasn’t been a real one yet. All I can say is we’ll be making Snarf for sure. And yes, I guess I can say you can expect others…
TC.org: Will you showcase any new Ultimates or teases at Toy Fair in February?
BF: We’ll only be showing the new Wave 2 figures at Toy Fair, we won’t be showing Wave 3 as it is still a bit too early for that.
TC.org: Final question. Your mighty Snake Mountain is nearing the final stages of production and should be out in summer sometime this year. Has this process given you the confidence to tackle other large playsets like Cats’ Lair or vehicles like the ThunderTank in the future? Creating something like this is a different ballgame altogether from making figures, right?
BF: Yes, definitely. Snake Mountain should be out in May or June this year. I can reveal that we are discussing the next big item that we’ll be making after Snake Mountain. I’m not going to say what it is, whether it’s a Lair or a Tank, but we’ll talk about it after Snake Mountain has gone out. Because this process is usually a year in the making to get it out to you guys, it takes a while to get everything ready. So by the time we talk about it, there’s been months of work that’s gone into it.