Earlier this week fellow Orger Sebastiaan caught up with Super7’s Brian Flynn to talk about the newly revealed SilverHawks Wave 1 preorder, and also chat about ThunderCats, TigerSharks and everything in between.
TC.org: Hello Brian! It’s only been a few months since we last caught up with everything ThunderCats. This time we’re broadening our horizons and heading into space! Congrats on launching the first preorder for SilverHawks Ultimates. You must be excited to start the next chapter in that three-property trifecta we call the ThunderForce, right?
BF: Hi and thanks! You know, I’m trying my best to make as much happen as possible, but I’m glad we’ve got SilverHawks going at last.
TC.org: We’ve known for a few months already that SilverHawks were coming. It’s summer and things are slowly getting back to normal. Did this time of year always seem like the right time to take to the skies with this preorder?
BF: Ha—good choice of words! But seriously, it was just finally ready to go. It took a little longer than we hoped, but this was obviously the worst kept secret ever.
TC.org: We’ll kick off with the most asked question first.
BF: Aaah, I know what you’re going to ask.
TC.org: Nope, not that one. *laughs* The question is, can we continue to hope that TigerSharks will join this universe one day?
BF: Hmmm… Maybe one day. Every license is its own different challenge. That’s all I’m going to say about it now.
TC.org: That’s not a no then. Great! That may not have been the most asked question relating to SilverHawks, though, so here it comes. You’ve discussed this before on many different platforms, but would you mind explaining why vac metal doesn’t work on this type of figure?
BF: It does and doesn’t. There are a whole lot of things to take into consideration. The biggest one of them is that vac metal is plating—it goes on top of the plastic, so it is an added layer. You can vac metal ABS, not PVC. Or rather, theoretically you can, but only small pieces. The figure’s interior structure must be rigid—that’s why all our joints won’t work—and it will only have a small amount of flexibly. Vac metal won’t allow the articulation we need, and with things popping in and out, it simply won’t work. Like I said, it adds another layer to the PVC and then things won’t fit, it won’t have the flexibility we require. If we wanted to make vac metal, then something like the torso of a figure would be two separate pieces that would come together. It’s a different thing all together, and we wouldn’t be able to make the joints we have in our figures.
TC.org: While the name “SilverHawks” implies a metallic look, your aim is to bring cartoon replicas of the brand into collectors’ homes. That means skipping whatever the vintage Kenner toys were entirely. How hard was it to balance the cartoon versus the toy expectation?
BF: The reality is that the show was only on briefly, and fans of the brand have more memories of the toy than the show. Their nostalgia is colored with the toys itself and not so much the show. When you say SilverHawks, you immediately think of the vac metal toys, not how they looked on the show. Lots of kids from back in the day will tell you they had a Boba Fett that fired a missile, while we know they didn’t. We’re making figures that are animation accurate; a look that the Kenner toys could have had, but didn’t. I’m not saying that they weren’t great—I mean, they were epic—but they weren’t even remotely close to what you saw on screen. Buzz-Saw was green and not remotely close. It was a great toy, make no mistake, but it wasn’t as you saw it on screen. That’s the distinction really. We’re trying to make animation accurate SilverHawks.
TC.org: Variants is part of the game. Would consider to “giving in” to fan demand and delivering a more metallic version of Quicksilver and his allies in the future, similar to the Silver Surfer figure that was released that boasted a shiny look?
BF: We might get there one day, but right now, we’re focusing on delivering figures that are a close resemblance to how they appeared on screen. We’re currently still spending a lot of time on paint, and these figures you see have more of a matte finish, but we’re working on it having a pearlized metallic look or sheen, but something that still matching what was on screen and not a glossy figure. We’re also looking at a paint similar to what cars are painted with, that metallic paint finish that shifts from blue to silver or from red to purple when you look at it. I’m not making any promises on that, though, but we’re looking at the best options for these figures. They’re SilverHawks, not Chrome-Hawks, right?
TC.org: Super7 revealed the Wave 1 figures in a very clever video just days before the actual reveal. Whose idea was that (can we buy them a beer?), and can we hope to see similar teases in the future?
BF: I think six different people could take credit for it. It’s always a group effort on our end, so I won’t know who exactly the person was who said it, but I’m sure we’ll do something similar again in the future.
TC.org: Quicksilver is the Lion-O of SilverHawks, so it was important to get him out first. You’ve loaded him with unique accessories. Tell us about what the decision-making process was like. You had 65 episodes to choose from. Did somebody sit down and watch the entire series and say, “Hey, this is important to include here.”?
BF: For us, the most important thing was to try and figure out the wings. The moment they collapse, etc.—we were trying to figure that out. We didn’t want to do fabric, so we came up with the fixed flying arms setup, then also we had to include the shield for the face, shoulder blasts and Tally-Hawk. We might add another head too. We had a smiling head, but that just looked wrong. We really just wanted you to be able to pose him in his transformed version where they’re starting to fly, and also to have him posed with Tally-Hawk on his arm.
TC.org: Like Lion-O, there was a doppelganger of sorts for Quicksilver in the show called Darkbird. While Lion-O has the red disguised version of Mumm-Ra to fight with, Darkbird is actually a clone created by Hardware for Mon*Star’s evil purposes of stealing the cash on Dollare. Did you consider adding Darkbird’s head as another accessory for this release or do you maybe have other plans for this villainous creep?
BF: Ha-ha! We’ve been down that road already. No, we won’t give him the Darkbird head. He is a lightly more silvery figure than Quicksilver, not the bluish silver. Will we get him? I can’t say yes or no, but that head will look wrong with this color body.
TC.org: Tally-Hawk, like the other bird companions the Wave 1 figures come with, appears to have some articulation. Can you confirm if all of them will have head articulation?
BF: Yeah, they should.
TC.org: What is interesting in this wave is that both Tally-Hawk and Rayzor have a perched and flying version, while Shredator and Sky-Shadow only have flying version. Are the heroes just lucky to get two versions of their companions, or was this deliberate?
BF: We’ve gone back and forth on this a bunch. The two heroes have two different versions because it was important to us to have someone like Quicksilver hold out his arm for Tall-Hawk to sit on. The other two I think may have swappable wings. I think.
TC.org: Can we assume that everyone who had a bird companion will have them in the Ultimates line?
TC.org: Talking about bird companions, this is slightly off-course, but just touching on the topic—the Captain Cracker figure you recently revealed had both the open wings and perched version of Polly in the picture. Does he come with two different versions of Polly or just one interchangeable winged version?
BF: I think he will have interchangeable like we said before. You’ve got to remember I’m living in the future instead, thinking about 2023 now, while the production team finishes what’s going on now.
TC.org: Back to SilverHawks. Everybody’s been wondering how you will incorporate the wings of the SilverHawks into the figures, and the design for Quicksilver and Steelheart’s wings is just epic. You’re giving us an extra set of arms with the wings sculpted into the design. What was this process like to figure out how to best give us their flying capability? Were there ever any other options?
BF: We looked at a lot of different options, how we could do it and so on, like with Sorceress and other characters. We were really trying to find the look that was going to be the best. You know, in the cartoon, when they go into flying, they look like they’re all one level, and they would all look the same. When you look at the wings, they don’t come out from behind the arms, they actually come out from the forearms. That’s why we came back to having this fixed wing setup.
TC.org: Moving on to the Cheetara of the SilverHawks, Steelheart! That was a very bold move to include her so early on. Or was it strategic? Tell us more about your decision, and don’t say she was included because it was cool.
BF: It’s because she was cool. That’s really it. I don’t know, we didn’t even think about it that hard, or have a big strategy and so on, deciding who to include. But for us, this was the obvious choice to make on who’d be the best two. We weren’t going, like, “Maybe we should do Bluegrass instead.” It was always Steelheart.
TC.org: She has three heads! One is the masked version, the second looks more cartoony while the third is a very serious face. This seems to mirror what you’ve done with ThunderCats Ultimates. Can we expect more additional heads in the future that have more serious expressions?
BF: Uhm, I think that that face still looks on model. I know you say the more “cartoony” face, but they’re meant to be cartoon-like. We don’t want to give her a hyper agro restyle, so we’ll still keep it close to the show.
TC.org: Both Steelheart and Quicksilver have similar blast effects as part of their accessories. Tell us how and where these will attach to their bodies.
BF: I believe you can see it a bit more obvious on Steelheart—there’s a little square on the shoulders where they pop in.
TC.org: We’re seeing the bust articulation with Steelheart, which we’ve seen in the prototype for Cheetara and the figures for MOTU Club Grayskull, Sorceress and Teela. Now we’re seeing something similar with Quicksilver. This is a first for Super7 to deliver this type of chest articulation in a male figure. Is it unique to SilverHawks or can we expect to see it in other future figures too from other brands?
BF: That particular articulation really just fits his costume design and the way his muscle turns were done, but for other figures we’re still going to be using the traditional ab crunch. Mon*Star has this articulation, too.
TC.org: What else is new in terms of articulation with the SilverHawks figures? Will we still receive the standard articulation we’ve seen in TMNT and ThunderCats Ultimates figures?
BF: Do you mean to ask about double-jointed knees and elbows?
TC.org: Oh no, we’ve covered that before. It’s more relating to the new chest articulation; things like new swivels here and there that’s different from what we’ve gotten before.
BF: Well, it is still the single-jointed knees and elbows. If you remove too much plastic and see too much of the mechanics, it loses the look of the character. We want it to look as much like the character when you display it on your shelf.
TC.org: You’ve introduced soft goods with some of your other lines. Did you consider the jumpsuits worn by the SilverHawks in some episodes as worthy of inclusion, or did that lean more into the world of Barbie where you dress figures instead?
BF: From where we’re starting, we have enough for the moment, accessory-wise. It is something we can come back to later, but it is, like you said, a fine line between what is really cool and what is a bit Barbie.
TC.org: The stand out villain of this wave is probably not the 11-inch Mon*Star figure, but Buzz-Saw, purely because you’ve given him his first official release in the correct cartoon colors! Bold move Brian! But very long overdue. Tell us about this decision to not go green.
BF: It was very simple. It just had to match the cartoon. He should be gold.
TC.org: Okay, so you’ve got the mold now. Can we hope you store it somewhere and give us a green Kenner version somewhere down the line?
BF: If enough people really get excited about it, we could consider it. But for now we wanted to make it as accurate as possible. As a whole, everyone has been extremely positive about the line, with no negative feedback about why isn’t he green. Apart from the one third that asks for the chrome look that is tied with an emotional remembrance of the figures, all feedback has been spot on and how great they look.
TC.org: Will Buzz-Saw’s blades spin, and can they be removed? He has a very interesting setup when it comes to articulation. Hats off to the Four Horsemen again for delivering impressive articulation on what many thought was going to be restrictive.
BF: They will spin yes, but they won’t be removable. You can see that one of the blades on the heads has the sharp razors while the other looks like it is spinning. He is still big boxy robot who is huge, but he can articulate well.
TC.org: He is one of the bigger figures of the wave, reminiscent of Bebop and Rocksteady from TMNT. Did you have fun finally being able to deliver figures to scale? This is something that the vintage lines hardly got right back in the day. I mean, just look at Mon*Star!
BF: Yes, he is stupid big! He is even bigger than Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living. I think the hardest part was if people would be willing to pay for something like that. We know $55 is already a lot, so do you make an $85 sized figure? Or scale it down, but then it doesn’t look right? Mon*Star is so massive. When you scale a figure up it also increases its width and girth proportionally. There is a lot of mass on this guy.
TC.org: We’re getting Mon*Star’s armored version first. Are you keeping his regular version back for Wave 2, or perhaps later in the line, and can we get confirmation that we will get that version?
BF: At some point, of course.
TC.org: In the images revealing the figure on your website, you clearly show how his various accessories will fit. There is a tremendous amount of options to display this bad guy with. How would you display him, and why?
BF: I would put the blasters out of the elbows and heels, then use the head where you plug in the star in the eye socket. I know he comes with the star that he can hold too, but that’s how I’d do it.
TC.org: Yup, me too! Let’s talk more Mon*Star and the “accessory” he is not coming with. Is it too early to talk about his ride Sky-Runner as a possible vehicle/beast in the future? That too would probably be very big, right?
BF: We’re only four days into this preorder. Come on, please let’s get through this one first.
TC.org: You know me. Got to ask! Another Mon*Star question—did you consider incorporating the action feature of the Kenner toys in a character like Mon*Star, or at least have his normal head accompany him in this release?
BF: Well, the thing with that is that his normal head comes with a different outfit, and he is such a cool character as is, that was kind of it. We did not want to diminish it by adding the regular head.
TC.org: If you were to do a regular head to go with this body, will it be a scenario similar to Pumm-Ra from the ThunderCats Ultimates line which has a larger sized head to scale correctly?
BF: We haven’t really gotten into all of that yet.
TC.org: Understood. Moving along, the box art was also revealed with the figures. These match your Ultimates look. Is this the final box art, and can we expect a similar familiar SilverHawks piece of art to be displayed on the back of the outer box very much like ThunderCats?
BF: Yeah, it’s in the family, so we’re keeping it alike. Mon*Star may have a much larger box, but it is still the same, just a different size box. Regarding the artwork on the back, I can’t remember, but it looks good. I approved it a while back. Got to remember, I’m living in the future now!
TC.org: Some fans have noticed that the logo used on the box art isn’t the original cartoon version of the logo, but a slightly modernized one. ThunderCats fans had the same query before, and you managed to gain access to that original logo and use it in the box art and line marketing in the end. Is this a similar situation?
BF: Yeah. We have a lot of the style guide sheets to work from, but we may not have access to that original logo. It’s more of a question of who has it, really. Most of the stuff didn’t exist digitally back then. We have the style guide as reference of course.
TC.org: So, can we put it out there that whoever has the original SilverHawks logo stored somewhere safely to get in touch with us?
BF: Yeah, let them contact you, and then you can put us in touch and we’ll make a deal.
TC.org: That’s great, Brian. So, if you have that logo and you’re reading this, drop me a line! Speaking of writing, who will be writing the bios for these figures?
BF: It will be the same team who’s doing the other bios for us.
TC.org: Do you have any exclusives planned for SilverHawks in the future, like the glow-in-the-dark version of Mumm-Ra from ThunderCats? If so, when can we expect to see it?
BF: *Laughs* Let’s refer back to my previous answer. Let me get through this first and then we can talk about it again.
TC.org: Please tell us that you’re going to do previously unreleased characters like Melodia. You’ve already shown us that it can be done with ThunderCats. Is SilverHawks going to be a deep dive, too, in terms of character selection?
BF: I’d love it to be. I’m not saying it negatively. It just all depends on how excited the fan base is and how deep they’d want us to go. There’s no reason not to. I mean, we have a couple of good ones for Wave 5 of ThunderCats Ultimates right now…
TC.org: Will we be seeing ReAction figures for SilverHawks, and could they be vac metal?
BF: It’s very possible. We’ve discussed it already. We started with Ultimates first, which is usually the opposite of what we’re doing. Will they be vac metal? More than likely, yes. It’s far easier to make these vac metal, because they have a different joinery. Just look at the [Metropolis] Maria ReAction figure we’ve made.
TC.org: You’ve successfully expanded the ThunderCats universe by introducing fans to another Rankin/Bass cartoon that some fans consider part of the same world. Did you ever think about making SilverHawks before gaining the ThunderCats license? Or was it ThunderCats that also introduced you to Limbo?
BF: No, we wanted to do ThunderCats first, and when we got to that, then we moved on to SilverHawks. And hopefully we’ll get to TigerSharks too.
TC.org: In your press release, you listed SilverHawks LLC and their website https://partlymetalpartlyreal.com as the owners of the brand. Is this property not affiliated with WB? Was it an easier attempt to license this brand because of it?
BF: Warner Bros had a distribution agreement for the content only. It wasn’t necessary easier because it was not WB that we had to get license approval from. It was actually harder to try and find out who owned it.
TC.org: Recently you commented that ThunderCats Wave 3 will be shipping from the factory early next month (July) and that Wave 2 will follow suit in early August. You must be very excited to finally deliver these figures in the coming months, right?
BF: Oh yeah, so much! It is going to be raining Ultimates from July through to October. There’s so much stuff coming. TMNT Wave 3 is next; it has been on the water for a while, so I’m expecting it to come out in the next couple of weeks. I really can’t wait.
TC.org: What can we expect in terms of the shipping of these figures once they hit the water? What is the latest on how long these could take from the harbor to the warehouse?
BF: There’s no telling right now. Before all of this we assumed it would take four weeks on the water, but now it can take six to nine weeks. You never know. Then once it is in port, a regular timetable would have it released in four to five days, but if it gets flagged then there’s a two-week delay. Just today I read an article about a possible dock strike coming, so there are a million variables that affect this. Shipping across the world is jacked up. It’s not going to slow down until the second quarter of 2022, it seems. Prices for shipping are three times what they were, and they’re taking two to three times longer, too. It’s crazy how everything has dominoed. That’s the hardest part. But then, depending on where you bought them, the shipping process itself is also very different. Some have their product shipped together from overseas, which causes delays on that end. Others like European distributors find it cheaper to fly them out from China instead of having it go around the world by boat. It is worth it to them.
TC.org: Typically European fans have been received Super7 figures first. Would you let the distributors release these once they arrive or wait until it is shipped from your end to local customers in the US?
BF: If we’re being super mean, we can say no, but we don’t want them to wait when they’re flying them in to have it sit in a warehouse for six weeks, so you may see figures arriving in European hands sooner.
TC.org: That means that we may see photos of in-hand figures while they’re still on the water, right? Would you share any photos of the finished product before then?
BF: As soon as they have the first pack out figures sent to us, you bet I will take a picture and parade it around like it was my firstborn!
TC.org: That’s very exciting to hear. Thanks, Brian. Let’s head back to the future. To say ThunderCats fans are passionate is an understatement. We’ve heard the jokes about the line not being delivered until 2025, and with every new license you’ve announced, the same “Where is Wave 2 that I ordered two years ago” question gets asked. But every new license revealed doesn’t affect the actual production of other waves, right? They join the production queue once it’s time for them to be made.
BF: For the most part, yes. None of these new licenses touch the Wave 2 and Wave 3 production. We know it’s been like 18 months for Wave 2, and when we moved Wave 3 to our factory where TMNT is made, things for that wave looked better delivery-wise. Right now Wave 4 is set to leave the factory in October already! There are still superficial things that happen at the factories for slight delays, though. But nothing drastic.
TC.org: Collectors seem to forget that there was (and still is) a worldwide pandemic that affected the release schedule of these waves. But the reality is that it is a legit excuse that affected the line and many other toylines this past year. Wave 2 itself has been plagued by more than just the pandemic. What is the situation at present in terms of production?
BF: Wave 2 is in production, it is almost done. It’s leaving the factory in August like we said. It takes two to three months for painting and assembly.
TC.org: Wave 5 is probably gathering dust in the vaults by now. Can we expect it to make its grand appearance when Wave 3 starts to ship to customers, or only afterwards?
BF: I think when Wave 3 starts to ship out to customers you’ll see Wave 5 go up for preorder.
TC.org: Let’s catch up on the ThunderTank. How is it proceeding, and has there been any further changes made to it that we would find interesting?
BF: We’re hoping to have test shots to share at the end of month or the beginning of July. We’ve been working through the engineering and stuff, so we’re cruising along quite well.
TC.org: We’re not going to forget the little guys here…
BF: You mean…
TC.org: No, not the ThunderKittens! Even smaller. We’re talking about Wave 3 of the ReAction line. Will we be getting more of those?
BF: Yes, you will. Probably in the next six months. I don’t remember anymore!
TC.org: That’s something to look forward to! Another thing to look forward to is the online version of SDCC is coming next month. It sounds like you’re going to go big with what appears to be your newly announced GI Joe license. Will there be other ThunderCats or SilverHawks surprises, or should we wait for your big 20th birthday bash in September to see anything else that relates to these lines?
BF: GI Joe is its own little thing on July 15, because SDCC is a little later. If you’re asking about exclusives, right now there’s one specific ThunderCats figure coming in the next 6 months. It will probably also be a preorder, purely because of how the demand has grown. We really do want everyone to get their hands on one.
TC.org: Excellent news! Let’s end it with a full circle question about SilverHawks. When you talked about TMNT and ThunderCats back at PowerCon two years ago, you already revealed what was then the original plan for those lines. You’ve hinted at SilverHawks being around for years to come. Will we be seeing at least two or three waves per year for SilverHawks Ultimates?
BF: I would hope so. Sure, things have changed, and we’ve stretched out the original plans a bit more, but yes, we want to make more SilverHawks.
TC.org: Any last words?
BF: Thanks to everyone who has preorder SilverHawks so far. I’m sorry it doesn’t have vac metal, but these figures have turned out amazing and will be faithful to the cartoon.
TC.org: I won’t ask about Snarf this time.
BF: Hmmm, he is coming. You’ll see.