ThunderCats at UK Retail
Written by Neil (Blackiecats)
Thundercats toys sold in the UK…
Within the UK, Thundercats toys were sold in a number of stores including Woolworths, Argos, Toymaster, Hamleys and Harrods to name but a few. The line was around a year behind the US, as the UK got series 1 in 1986, series 2 in 1987 and finally series 3 in 1988. However, perhaps due to the fact that the cartoon series was still airing into the early 90’s on BBC1, Thundercats toys were still on the shelves as late as 1992. In most cases the pricing for the toys were as follows:
Regular figures = £3.95-£3.99
Companions = £2.49-£2.99
Small vehicles (Skycutter, Hovercat etc.) = £6.95-£6.99
Thundertank and Fist Pounder = £14.95-£14.99
Light up Sword of Omens = £3.95-£4.95
I have never seen the two play sets, Astral Moat Monster, Tongue-A-Sauras, Berserkers or Ram-Pagers for sale in the UK and I don’t have any written information on their pricing at this time. If that changes, I will of course update this page.
UK released figures can still be found attached to their original cards and unopened on sites like Ebay. Sometimes you will find examples with the price sticker still attached to the top right hand corner of the card. The stickers can also be found on boxed Thundercats toys as well, such as the Thundertank and Skycutter.
Below are price stickers taken from cards and boxes that were sold in UK Woolworths stores. So if you see cards and boxes with these exact stickers on, you will know exactly where they were sold at retail!
|£2.49 sticker from a Wilykat card||£2.99 sticker from a Snarf card||£3.99 sticker from a Tygra card|
|£6.99 sticker from a Hovercat box||£14.95 sticker from a Thundertank box|
Thundercats toys in Catalogues
Not only did stores sell Thundercats toys, but home shopping catalogues did as well, such as Kays and Littlewoods. Unfortunately we don’t have any scans from these catalogues yet, but we will hopefully one day have some images from those vintage catalogues to show on this page.
Thundercats toys at Argos
Although strictly speaking it wasn’t an home shopping catalogue, the catalogue shop Argos (now known as the UK’s no.1 toy retailer) also sold the Thundercats toys.
1986 Argos Catalogue
The Thundercats toys debuted in the autumn/winter catalogue of 1986 and the page featured Lion-O and Mumm-Ra action figures, the Thundertank, Skycutter and Nosediver vehicles along with the child size light up Sword of Omens toy. Please click the scans below of the pages taken from the 1986 Argos autumn/winter catalogue. Note that the description for the Lion-O action figure can be seen on the second page (it’s item 10).
|Image above taken from the 1986 autumn/winter Argos catalogue||Image above taken from the 1986 autumn/winter Argos catalogue|
UK 8-back Cards
From what I remember (though I was very young at the time) on the toys 1986 debut, I think we only got the Lion-O and Mumm-Ra action figures and I believe these were the only Thundercats figures ever released in the UK on 8-back cards. I believe the rest of series 1 as well as the 6 new figures from series 2 appeared months later in 1987 on 14-back cards. However I could be wrong, so if I get information on 8-back UK releases of other series 1 figures I will update this page accordingly. However my thoughts on this do fit with the fact that Argos clearly only sold Lion-O and Mumm-Ra in 1986. Please click the image below of an 8-back Rainbow Toys Lion-O:
Special Thanks to traceandtrev Ebay store for allowing us to use the above image of the Rainbow Toys 8-back Lion-O.
1987 Argos Catalogue
Following on from the Argos 1986 catalogue, Thundercats figures continued in the 1987 spring/summer and autumn/winter Catalogues with a couple of additions. Unfortunately I do not have a scan of the Thundercats page from the spring/summer catalogue yet, but below you can find a scan from the autumn/winter catalogue!
|Image above taken from the 1987 autumn/winter Argos catalogue|
Just like the 1986 catalogue, very strangely the only regular figures available were still just Lion-O and Mumm-Ra. Though the Hammerhand figure was added from the Berserkers sub series of figures. With the vehicles, the Fist Pounder, Thunderclaw and Hovercat were now for sale in Argos. A thing to note here is that the Thundertank and Sword of Omens toy had both gone up in price by 50 pence. The page also featured misc items of a Satchel and VHS cassette containing 2 episodes from the cartoon series. The videos description in the catalogue was for the VCI (Video Collection International) release Thundercats Volume 4. However the catalogue image pictured the cover for Thundercats Volume 3 instead!
Well I can confirm that a copy of Thundercats Volume 4 was issued, if you had ordered this video from Argos because my copy of Volume 4 actually has the Argos catalogue number sticker on it! See image below:
I have no idea whether or not the Volume 3 VHS was also sold at Argos. I’m assuming the Volume 3 being pictured was simply just an error by Argos by the time the catalogue went into print.
1988 Argos Catalogue
1988 was the year when the Thundercats toys literally exploded in the UK, as is evident from the looking at the autumn/winter Argos catalogue of that year. Unfortunately I do not have a scan of the Thundercats page(s) from the spring/summer 1988 catalogue yet, but below you can find scans from the 1988 autumn/winter catalogue!
|Image above taken from the 1988 autumn/winter Argos catalogue||Image above taken from the 1988 autumn/winter Argos catalogue|
The 1988 catalogue seems to be the first one to feature figures other than the leaders. Aside from Lion-O, Mumm-Ra and Hammerhand, this catalogue also features Ssslithe, Grune the Destroyer, Tygra, Snowman of Hook Mountain and the Berserkers Cruncher and Top Spinner. Strangely Ram Bam is absent.
My feeling here is that if a figure was out of stock, eg Tygra, Argos would ask you if you wanted an alternate figure from that assortment (Panthro, Cheetara for example) I have no idea how the UK assortments worked as I don’t have the Rainbow Toys Dealer catalogue to hand, but it certainly is strange that only 6 out of the 22 regular figures are advertised here, considering Rainbow Toys almost likely sold them within assortments. If they sold them in the same assortments as LJN in the USA, then they should have gotten at least one of each figure released. However like I said, Rainbow Toys assortments might have been a lot different.
Another edition to Argos this year was the Mumm-Ra’s Tomb playset. Personally, I had never seen this playset or the Cats Lair for sale in the UK when I was a kid. However it was obviously released seeing as it’s featured here. The Mumm-Ra’s Tomb playset was priced at £31.95. Other Thundercats toys featured were the child sized Sword of Omens, Thundertank, Hovercat and Thunderclaw, but this time the Mutant vehicles (Fist Pounder, Sky Cutter and Nosediver) were absent from this catalogue.
The 1988 autumn/winter catalogue was the final Argos catalogue Thundercats toys appeared in. I can confirm that they did not appear in the spring/summer 1989 catalogue or any Argos catalogue thereafter.
Thundercats toys return in 1998! (a scalpers dream?)
The last time (I personally) saw Thundercats toys for sale in UK retail stores was winter 1992, when Woolworths were selling the figures they had left. It has recently come to my attention that during 1998, the UK retailer £Stretcher imported left over LJN toy stock from the USA. This stock comprised mainly of series 3 figures such as Jaga, Lynx-o and Bengali. £Stretcher sold these figures for just £1.99 each! I’m sure you’d agree that price is a collectors dream come true. Sadly for the collector it seems dealers snapped up most of the stock clearing out £Stretcher stores of all the Thundercats figures they had. These particular figures popped up at regular intervals on Ebay.co.uk a couple of years back. I noticed a certain seller, sell multiples of Jaga, Bengali and Lynx-o for as much as £100 each! Back then, like a lot of other Ebay bidders I had no idea about these originating from £Stretcher for just £1.99 each.
When you pick up a series 2 or 3 carded figure, if the card back has not been tampered with, it’s quite easy to recognize if it was sold in a £Stretcher store. It will have a age warning sticker on the back of the card and in most cases state the figure needs a battery, even if the figure in question isn’t Lion-O or Mumm-Ra! Check out the US v.s. UK cards page for further details. Pictured below are a Jaga card back with the age sticker and battery text (this was one of those £Stetcher imported cards) and a £Stretcher price sticker taken from a carded Hachiman that also originated from £Stretcher store.
|Image above is of a LJN imported Jaga card that includes the
text ‘Requires one AAA alkaline battery’ at bottom of card
|Image above shows a £stretcher price sticker
clearly stating the price as being just £1.99!
f you have questions regarding the Argos catalogues or have any additional information to add to this topic, feel free to contact blackiecats.