We caught up with Brian Flynn to find out what is in store for ThunderCats fans in 2021 from Super7, talked about the new Big Bad Toy Store “Evil Glow” Mumm-Ra exclusive, the second waves of ULTIMATES! and ReAction, and much more.
TC.org: Hello Brian! How have you been? It feels like ages since last we spoke. What’s news on your end?
BF: Hey! It’s more like three ages, right? It’s been crazy! Interestingly enough, while it may not have been in the news that much, the lockdown in China has been impacting factories, too, and slowing things down. With the upcoming Chinese New Year, factories are worried about how this will affect them and if the workers who travel in to work at the factories will return. We’ll have to wait and see how this affects production following the Chinese New Year.
TC.org: That’s the reality in 2021, sadly, but we’re still hopeful that this year promises to be a big year for ThunderCats.
BF: It will be! You’ll see.
TC.org: We thought following your recent Wave 2 letter that we’d catch up with everything ThunderCats-related. Let’s start with the brand new BBTS exclusive you revealed in November. Where and how did this figure come about?
BF: Obviously we talked about it quite a long time ago, since we plan things far ahead. Big Bad Toy Store is one of our key partners, especially with international customers, as they have far better options in terms of shipping abroad. They were super excited about our ThunderCats ULTIMATES! line and wanted to do their own version. Since we’re not doing conventions, etc., where we drop something like that, we thought of partnering with them. They wanted to do a GITD figure, and we suggested Mumm-Ra. Why not?
TC.org: Was this figure the actual Holiday Figure we spoke about that got “canceled”? Or was this an entirely different release?
BF: This was an entirely different figure, so not the Holiday Figure we spoke about.
TC.org: From what we’ve seen, this figure has been praised for its strong glow, paint effects and superb packaging. Something different is that this “Evil Glow” version sports a darker cloak. Was this intentional?
BF: Yes it was. We wanted to make sure there was a difference between the one that you have and the new one you got. If you own the original ULTIMATES! figure, you don’t necessarily need this one, and that’s cool. But we know that some collectors like it when there are minor differences that it makes it a must-have for them.
TC.org: Talking about differences, the original promo shots had him with white eyes, but the final product has red which is more associated with the character. Was this a last-minute change?
BF: I think once we saw the first samples with the white eyes, we didn’t really like it. It was originally going to be painted just black with the outlines and then glow through, but it didn’t register with that paint or work as well as we had hoped. So we chose to change it, and it ended up looking much better.
TC.org: Will we be getting a Holiday Figure this year, or perhaps any other exclusives? You know we’re always very hungry for more ThunderCats!
BF: There’s more coming for sure. But no comment… yet.
TC.org: New York Toy Fair was postponed to May but then canceled. If the same happens to SDCC, would you repeat your Stay-at-home-ic-con?
BF: Yes we will. We’re expecting SDCC to be canceled this year, too. While the vaccine is not yet widely available, it may also be that people are not yet comfortable to travel to be in such huge crowds. It may be too early for that this year.
TC.org: Are you considering doing a Stay-at-home-Toy-a-Fair this year? It could be a great platform to show off what you has planned for the future—maybe tease Wave 5 the same way you teased Wave 3 last year?
BF: We’ll be doing something around that time. Seven days of Super7 reveals. I’m not saying anything about Wave 5, but we’ve got something to show people.
TC.org: Let’s talk about Wave 2. The obvious question on everybody’s lips is what the causes are for the delay. Did you get placed “at the back of the queue again” in terms of production?
BF: As you know Wave 2 is still at the old factory. It is going at a slow-as-molasses speed and obviously not at the speed we would want. That’s why we took the initiative to move Wave 3 to our own factory.
TC.org: These test shots are looking really good, and it’s great to see them scaled correctly, especially Pumyra who finally stands at the right height. Regarding Pumyra, we spoke about her possibly having the chest swivel like Cheetara, but it appears that this is not the case in the end. Did it not work out aesthetically?
BF: It all comes back to the same issues with Wave 2. It has taken far longer than we have hoped it would. If we had to make a change on that specifically, it would have taken another 90 days for it to reach this point again, and we can’t afford that delay on this wave.
TC.org: Let’s put some worried fans at ease about Tygra’s right arm. While the test shot has both arms mirrored, they are technically not the same. This will be corrected prior to production, right?
BF: We know they’re completely wrong and we had that commented on and fixed before we published the photos. In hindsight, we probably should’ve added a comment to that email about Wave 2 addressing that. But it has been fixed.
TC.org: One big highlight we noticed is that this wave doesn’t have visible joint pins. Thank you for ensuring that this is done correctly. Can we assume that from here on out all figures will be matching?
BF: Yes, there will not be any visible pins in the future figures.
TC.org: Super7’s last email gave a breakdown of the next steps in production. Can we expect follow up e-mails on each of these steps? It’s great having a window into the process.
BF: Yes, as soon as we get them we will share it. We hope to have the paint samples of this wave out in March.
TC.org: What would you say the timing will be between the samples being painted, and the production and shipping of these guys?
BF: The virus is the unknown factor at the moment, and it may mess up the factories completely. Generally speaking it takes 30 days from test shots to dial in the plastic and the deco, and then the production takes 30 days. It spends four weeks on the boat but lately there’s an added two weeks at port to consider as well, and then we’ll start shipping. My hope is that after Chinese New Year, they’ll be in production in April, on the boat in May and then shipping out to customers in June.
TC.org: Can you give us an update on the production of Wave 3? You mentioned that it will be released pretty close to Wave 2. Is it possible that Wave 3 may even be completed before Wave 2?
BF: It’s very possible that Wave 3 may be delivered before Wave 2 because of it being produced at a different factory. We’re in a very good spot with Waves 3 and 4 at the moment. We’ll be showing test shots of Wave 3 hopefully in the next week or so. Wave 4 is right behind it. That wave was started just right behind Wave 3. I believe we will see paints samples of Wave 3 in March already and then we’ll start on the production.
TC.org: Wave 5 is next up for preorder…
BF: Is it? Who said so?
TC.org: Technically it should be going up for preorder once the next wave is shipped, right?
BF: Maybe. Maybe not. If you are referring to the next wave of four figures, yes, Wave 5 will go on preorder once the next wave of figures is shipped, whether that is Wave 3 or 2. We won’t put up another preorder for figures until you have another wave in hand. We ideally don’t want you to be more than two waves out at a time.
TC.org: Will we still get the three planned waves to preorder this year?
BF: I’d have to look at the exact timing because of the schedule changing and with other stuff going on. We’ve got things planned to Wave 9 already, character-wise. Wave 6 is scripted out and Wave 5 is sculpting now.
TC.org: Your big MOTU Classics project Snake Mountain has now found its home in many collections around the globe. It is truly a masterpiece. You’ve always said you wanted get that out of the way before talking about other big projects. So, no more hiding behind the mountain. What’s next in this scale? Vehicles? Playsets?
BF: We’ll we’ve got something planned. Something big. It is bigger than a figure, mind you. We might be talking about it soon, too…
TC.org: Would you release the next big project the same way as before, with a set target you have to reach?
BF: Yes, for sure. But, that said, based on the last project, I’m sure that this will be a given.
TC.org: Turning from big projects to tiny ones, let’s discuss the ThunderCats ReAction figures. You announced Wave 2 last year but also surprised us with LJN-inspired figures. What is the latest on Wave 2? Is it still coming at the end of March?
BF: Isn’t it out yet? *Chuckles and pulls out calendar* Wave 2 ReAction should be coming out in February. Maybe the last week of the month or early March.
TC.org: Can we expect more LJN-colored versions in this line?
BF: Yes, for sure. We’ve got a couple more that are very obvious.
TC.org: Back to ULTIMATES! Can you give us an update on the replacement parts for Wave 1. What’s the latest on these?
BF: They’re supposed to be landing the beginning of this coming week at the port, so another 7 days to come out from there, and another 2 weeks before it gets shipped out to you. We’ll even do video on how to replace the pants on Panthro!
TC.org: It’s been a year since Wave 2’s reveal, and poor WilyKat who stood off-camera is still nowhere to be seen! Are you planning on selling the ThunderKittens individually or as a set? And can you tell us whether they’d be part of a normal wave or sold separately as an exclusive?
BF: It’s not announced yet when they’d happen or how, but you’ll eventually get them. We’ll get there, not just yet.
TC.org: You’ve mentioned previously that, in order to make a lesser-known character like Stinger from the vintage LJN toy line, you might have to prove to WB that it is indeed part of the canon. What about characters and fan creations, in particular the old comics and recent fan creations by artists such as Joe Amaro? Lynxana always pops up as a fan favorite, but Leoperra and Professor Growlinski stand out from the UK Comics, too, as fan creations that were illustrated and featured in a publication. Are characters like this even remotely possible down the line?
BF: As long as we can get there, yeah, sure. An interesting fact is that the Skelcons from MOTU are from the UK books, so it depends on how far down the pecking order we get to make these lesser-known characters, plus the fact that we’re only making four at time will take longer to get there.
TC.org: In our last interview I promised not to ask you about Wave 5. Time’s up! Can you give us a hint—will we get another previously unreleased figure in Wave 5?
BF: There are some things you’ll be excited about. Some cool unexpected things in the next wave. That’s all I’m saying.
TC.org: Last question. Super7 suddenly started selling Silverhawks products! Do you have the license to produce ULTIMATES! for this property? Is Tigersharks an option, too? We need the ThunderForce to be a reality!
BF: Well, we haven’t said anything about Silverhawks yet. If you go searching for it on our website I’m sure you’ll find these items. But I would think that if we had a specific license, it would makes sense that we’d have the license to make toys, too, right? We’re still in in the midst of ThunderCats, and we’ve just started talking about Silverhawks, so no comment yet on Tigersharks. They’re basically ThunderCats in the water and Silverhawks are ThunderCats in the sky. Would you rather have a ThunderCats Lynxana made now, or would you like Tigersharks instead?