ThunderCats.Org caught up with Brian Flynn from Super7 midway through the ThunderTank’s preorder to discuss the progress of this massive project, updates on the past preorders, and everything in between.
TC.org: Hello again Brian! It’s always a pleasure to talk to you about everything ThunderCats-related. We’re halfway through the preorder for the ThunderTank and it seemed like a good time to catch up. ThunderCats has been on everybody’s lips since the announcement and reveal of the ThunderTank. Did you expect this type of reaction?
BF: Hey! It’s definitely been more than we expected. It’s really an ongoing sort of thing. As Super7 gets bigger, more people become aware of what we’re doing, and the more product we release the more people get to know us. They’re coalescing at the same time. Wave 3 ULTIMATES! is about to get done and it seems like everybody is excited about it. I mean, with the restock over at Big Bad Toy Store and Entertainment Earth, they thought it would last them months, but it lasted them hours!
TC.org: Apart from the ThunderTank being announced, Super7 has also been releasing other ULTIMATES! products, including the Booster Pack being shipped out and as you’ve mentioned, the reissues of select Wave 1 and Wave 2 figures. Let’s talk about the Booster Pack first. While its name clearly indicates a boost and enhancement to the initial release, was there ever a thought of simply calling it a Replacement Pack?
BF: Well, I mean, since it came with the extra head, the title works right? It just sounds better. Would you rather have it called “wrong shorts pack”? *laughs*
TC.org: Oh no, definitely not! You know of course that the second question is relating to that bonus Panthro head. Can we expect similar heads for all other ThunderCats? You know of course that means Lynx-O should have glowing ears, and Snarf and Snarfer can’t be left out from the equation.
BF: Yes, we were actually talking about it today and how we would put it all together, as the heads are all being made at different factories. I’m gonna forget about Snarf! *teases* But yes, we have talked about the kittens and all, so we’ll see.
TC.org: Oh goodie! Something to look foward to. Before we get to the ThunderTank, can you tell us more about the reissues. It was erroneously listed as a variant at the start by Big Bad Toy Store, but corrected later as just a second version of the originals. You mentioned minor changes. What are these exactly?
BF: We want people to be able to collect these figures, we don’t want to make it a horrible experience. So we decided let’s make these three figures available to the fans. At the same time we don’t have to make everything available again to save you 5 bucks here and there. It’s a very thin line. The only changes really are the correct color shorts on Panthro and the logo on the Sword of Omens that comes with Lion-O, which has been slightly updated. That’s basically it.
TC.org: Obviously Mumm-Ra will be an exact replica right? Will he be shipped at the exact same time at Lion-O and Panthro, or will he be ready earlier when Wave 2 is out?
BF: Yes, he will be an exact copy. We’re hoping we can manufacture them at the same time. For example, the packaging for Wave 2 has already been done. I think the way its setup up on our site is that you can’t combine Mumm-Ra with Lion-O and Panthro as they’ll be shipping at slightly different times.
TC.org: Talking about Wave 2, Big Bad Toy Store has moved their release date on their end to Q4. Has there been another delay?
BF: We know Wave 2 has been delayed quite a bit. But I think that they’ve just moved it to Q4 on their side because of the previous changes, and when you get it before then you will be glad. I don’t think it will be that late though. It should be some time in the summer.
TC.org: Now that Chinese New Year has come to an end, production should resume any day now on all fronts. What is the status of Wave 3 and 4, and has there been any negative effects from COVID-19 as discussed before in terms of factories restarting?
BF: The offices came back to work just last week. We don’t know yet to what capacity the factories themselves are right now but we’ll get update here and there. But 3 is coming along great. You’ll see soon.
TC.org: Another new kid on the block is the release of ThunderCats ReAction Wave 2. These are gorgeous and even more impressive now that we finally have production photos of the figures. Which one is your favorite from Wave 2?
BF: It has to be Snowman. His a big snow man, who wouldn’t like him? And Monkian. I can see these two hanging out. Not really though, because they’re enemies!
TC.org: You know I always jump the gun, so will we see some LJN variants for your upcoming Stay-at-home-ic-Con?
BF: I don’t think we have a ThunderCats exclusive for our Stay-at-home-ic-Con this year. Maybe something later in the year?
TC.org: Can you perhaps tease as to when you’re planning to release the next wave of ReAction figures, i.e. Wave 3? Will it also be six?
BF: We’ve only just released Wave 2 ReAction and you already want Wave 3? *laughs* I can confirm it will be six figures, yes, and we’ve already begun work on Wave 3. As to when they’re coming out, I can’t say yet.
TC.org: Let’s get to the Tank next. Will we be seeing any updates on how its progressing in the same way you shared the info about the MOTUC Snake Mountain?
BF: Most definitely. It’s going really well. It’s one of those things, half of the people basically order it the first 24 hours, and the other half at the tail end. But it’s doing great – I’m not worried about it. I do believe we’re doing just fine. Even though there are more people buying it from other places with different payment plans, our own numbers are ahead of where we expected it to be.
TC.org: Did you see an increase in sales once Lion-O and Panthro came back up for preorder? That was a bold and clever move that fans were clamoring for!!
BF: Yes, we’ve seen a distinct daily bump.
TC.org: The box art has been a very popular point of discussion. Let’s talk about it quickly. Who is the artist?
BF: I can’t remember… no, but seriously, his name is Jason Edmiston.
TC.org: Can you tell us what Tygra is pointing at? It looks like Mumm-Ra and the mutants have missed the bus with the ThunderCats charging past them and firing at something in front of them. Only Pumyra seems to have noticed them…
BF: I bet Jason can tell you. The whole idea is based on the original box art where the perspective is all goofy. That was our intention.
TC.org: Pumyra’s inclusion had some fans rather upset. It was a clever way of including this “lesser known” character and also feature her new weapon that was introduced by Mattel. What do you have to say about the absence of the rest of the core team?
BF: It’s like, why don’t you have every character that’s been in the cartoon on the box? In some ways, Jason knows what he wants, so we kinda let him do what he wants to.
TC.org: Something that has been pointed out is that the chairs are colored brown in the artwork, and that matches the original prototype. But the final photographs has them blue? What color will they be, and will the box art be updated to match that?
BF: Yea we’ll make that change, they’re supposed to be that bluish grey color.
TC.org: We recently had a long chat with Joe Amaro and Nate Baertsch just after the ThunderTank went up for preorder, to give collectors a bit of a deep dive into the thought process of its creation. Obviously the team over at Super7 were the ones who started it all. Were you all satisfied with how your vision came to life?
BF: It’s never just one person, it’s been a big group effort. But yes, we were. We’re still making little tweaks here and there like the lines on the back part of the flaps, just little things, and little improvements really. It’s not like “Ok we’ve put it up for preorder and now we’re done with it and that’s it”, it’s a thing that we still work on.
TC.org: This is a mammoth thing to produce, and Sideshow has a feature where you can actually see the size in relation to any surface you have at home to display it on. Do you think people are going to be surprised when they finally hold this beast in their hands like with Snake Mountain?
BF: Oh yes, it is going to be much bigger AND much heavier than people anticipate it to be.
TC.org: Can you confirm what material the treads will be? Some kind of durable rubber that won’t break down after time? Will it come with an extra set?
BF: I have to see where it’s going, I think it’s a soft PU (Polyurethane). Obviously you don’t want it to tear. So there are several things we look at, the pros and cons. But it is going to look and feel real. We haven’t planned on including an extra set. We want this to last you like 30 years or so, so if the treads start breaking down them, the extra set would also break down.
TC.org: Will this new ThunderTank need some assembling when we get it? And would we have Snarf giving us some Ikea-like instructions this time round?
BF: I don’t think so. You usually only do that when you need to shave off space in a box. That’s not necessary in this case. We’ll have some kind of “instruction sheet” with it.
TC.org: Talking about Snarf, he has been the number one request on everybody’s lips to be paired with the Tank. Did you consider including a figure with it?
BF: Has it really? *laughs* To be honest, that was not something that we even thought about. We were focused on making the best Tank possible, not anything else like extra figures or so.
TC.org: Can you give any indication as to whether Snarf will appear on his own or as a 2-pack with Snarfer or maybe a Young Lion-O?
BF: All I can say is that everybody will be able to get a Snarf at some point in the future. *voice like in a commercial* “One day you too can own a Snarf!”
TC.org: TMNT Wave 2 delivered late last year, but instead of Wave 5 going up immediately afterwards, it is still to come up for preorder. Is this because of the ThunderTank going live after TMNT Wave 2? It does seem like there is a lot of crossover with collectors who are into both brands.
BF: Yes there certainly is. I think TMNT Wave 5 will go up round the end of March, start of April? I’d have to check. But we do try and pace it out evenly as we talked about it before, trying to slow it all down. Wave 3 of TMNT is also ahead of schedule so those will be out soon too.
TC.org: In terms of variants, Mattel had plans to release LJN versions of some of the figures and we recently debuted the art of Grune in his LJN color-scheme. Is this also something you’re looking at in the future for ULTIMATES!?
BF: We know that there is a huge demand for this and the nostalgia of the colors that came from the toys. We have got some plans on when we could do something like this and when they’ll come out. But we’re pacing it along. We’re all well aware that collectors are asking for the vintage Lion-O color scheme. But in the meantime there are still a lot of other characters to get to first.
TC.org: In your 7 Days of Super7 at the start of February you finally confirmed SilverHawks ULTIMATES!. When can we expect the first preorder to go live? Will it be another batch of 4 figures too?
BF: Yes, it will be another batch of 4 figures, and it will probably come after ThunderCats ULTIMATES! Wave 5.
TC.org: You already know collectors want TigerSharks. Are you actively pursuing this license too?
BF: We’ve got ThunderCats now, and with SilverHawks coming we’ll see how that goes. Are we actively pursuing it? I can’t say we are or that we’re not. We’ll get there.
TC.org: September is a very special month for Super7. You’re turning 20!! Can we expect any ThunderCats ULTIMATES! related exclusives then?
BF: *thinks* I don’t know really at this point. We’re still formulating plans, we go back and forth on this. We obviously start out thinking big and talk about all the things we want to do, but then we discuss how we’re going to do it and then things change.
TC.org: Let’s quickly talk about Wave 5. Everybody is assuming that Bengali and Vultureman is to be included. This leaves you open for two wildcards. If Vultureman presents the mutants, and Bengali the ThunderCats, would you say that figure 3 or 4 could be part of another faction like the Lunataks, Berserkers, or perhaps another previously unproduced character?
BF: No comment. Let’s get the ThunderTank done and then I can share some of the secrets with you.
TC.org: That’s something to look forward to! You mentioned that Waves 2 through 4 will be released within months of one another. How will this affect Wave 6 going forward? Will there still be a 4 month gap between Wave 5 and 6?
BF: That’s the plan to have it released every 4 months. But it’s often a case of the best laid plans of mice and men. Things never go the way you want them to go. Wave 5 is not that far off. So 6 should be about 4 months after that.
TC.org: In closing, you already have a host of other popular licenses that we also can’t wait to collect, but in terms of ThunderCats, it has really taken on a whole new life hasn’t it?
BF: In general we’ve seen the demand for ThunderCats really spike! It is out of control!! The number of people is three to four times more now than what it was when we had the first wave up. The goal was never for collectors to not be able to get the figures. We made exactly what was ordered back then. But with this increased demand why wouldn’t we reissue Lion-O and Panthro and Mumm-Ra? It’s a great time to be a ThunderCats fan now.
For purchase links for the ThunderTank, visit www.linktr.ee/thundercatsorg.