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Slithe, Monkian, Jackalman and Vultureman

Thundercats Minimates
by yo go re

The Mutants of Plun-Darr were responsible for the destruction of Thundera, the homeworld of the Thundercats. Hoping to finish the job, they pursued the fleeing survivors to Third Earth, where they quickly fell under the control of the ancient sorcerer Mumm-Ra. Known mutants include the lizard-man Slithe, their leader; Monkian, the scout; the cowardly Jackalman; and Vultureman, the Mutants' mechanic and the inventor of the robotic Wolfrat.

We begin with Slithe. Or "S-S-Slithe" if you're a really big nerd, but that's a pain in the butt to type. Slithe was only the mutants' leader because he was bossy and none of the others seemed to have enough ambition, not because of any intrinsic display of leadership skills.

Because the character has a severely hunched posture, the normal Minimate body wouldn't suit Slithe. To bulk him up and give him the proper shape, he gets an all-new chest cap that's clearly meant for him and him alone. It's chest, shoulders, armor and tail all in one, and it's huge. The spikes on his back are raised, and the dark spots on his skin are sculpted in. He's also sculpted with his little skirt and suspenders, his knees are painted, and he gets the "slipper" feet with a toe indent.

Along with the new body comes a new head, since there's no way a normal head would have fit on his neck. The head is sort of a half-cylinder with the face painted on the curvy side. His headgear and ears are a separate piece that squeezes onto the head to complete the look - are they really foreseeing more uses for this sideways half-head sometime in the future?

The set comes with weapons for everybody, but no indication of whose is whose. The process of elimination tells us that Slithe gets the spiked silver mace. The plastic it's made from is a little "flexy," so getting it in his hand was a tough time at first.

So, how is it that Monkian gets a real(ish) name when his buddies are just "Jackalman" and "Vultureman?" Was there some other cartoon that was using "Monkeyman" for one of its characters already? Were they afraid it would be offensive? Yes, Monkian is a better name than Monkeyman, but it's still a question worth asking.

Monkian isn't as inhuman as Slithe, so in his case most of the Minimate body is still showing. His chest and legs have a lot of anatomical detail painted on, and there are bands painted on his arms. He's wearing a new loincloth to hide his shame, and gets a fur piece that sits over his shoulders (since he was always so furry). The straps on his legs are painted all the way around, but you can barely see it, because the black outlines are only on the front. That's weird.

As if the fur shawl weren't enough, Monkian gets a new piece that combines hair, beard and helmet all in one. His face, what you can see of it through all the hair, is painted well, with a lighter muzzle set against his tan face. They really should have faked a nose, like they did on Panthro, and the chin strap for his helmet ends up looking more like a brown stripe in his beard than a piece of leather.

Monkian's accessories were the easiest to assign: first, there's a brown shield with a gold monkey face on it. In the cartoon, it could spit cannonballs or something from its mouth, but clearly the toy can't do that. It's okay, we'll live. His second weapon is a morning star, just like the old toy had. For some reason, it's got a length of (sculpted) chain, a knotted leather strand, and then a little more chain. What is up with that design? The spike on the head are remarkably sharp; I hurt myself a bit when I touched them.

In the recent Thundercats reboot, Kaynar (the Jackalman equivalent) was a psycho killer kept heavily shackled in his prison because when he wasn't, he killed 11 of his fellow inmates. In the original cartoon, Jackalman was the first to run away from a fight. So yes, the update was better.

Jackalman gets the most new pieces of any figure in this set. He has fur underwear (not the same Monkian had), golden bands around his shins, a fancy armor plate strapped to his left arm, and a harness holding on a silver shoulder pad (and also providing fur for his right shoulder. There's also a silver band around his right wrist, but that's just painted on, not a new piece. As with the others, his chest and legs are surprisingly detailed. It might have been nice to have some claws painted on his feet, but that's about it.

Of course, Jackalman gets a new piece to cover his head, as well. It's got large tufts of fur on the cheeks, tall ears and a little cowlick sticking up off the back. They've really done their best to duplicate Jackalman's face on the standard Minimate head, but at the end of the day, the head is flat and the character had a long snout: rather incompatible.

For the weapon, we turned to Icon Heroes' own Jackalman statue: that gave him a large wooden club, and so we've given the Minimate the large wooden club as well pay no attention to the fact that the statue also had an alternate arm with a silver mace). It's knotty and has a spike growing out the front, and so looks like it could really do some damage. True to form, it was hard to get into the hand the first time.

The fourth figure is Vultureman, who wasn't one of the mutants when the show started. At the outset, it was just Slithe, Monkian and Jackalman, and then several episodes into the show Vultureman showed up and everybody acted like he'd been there all along. Most of his time on the show was spent acting as the Starscream, trying to wrest control of the group from Slithe.

Vultureman gets a new skirt, since he doesn't wear fur like the others do, and since he was always drawn with claw-like feet, the figure gets the two-toed Nightcrawler feet. He does use the same shoulder-fur that Monkian had, but in his case it's meant to represent feathers. While the design of his chest is unique, the paint masks on his legs are the same as Jackalman's.

His head is entirely new, though. While maintaining the look of the usual Minimate noggin, it's a unique mold with a full beak and a bulbous lump at the back of the neck. The eyes are sculpted, not just painted on, so we're left with a figure that looks like it belongs with the rest, but still stands out from them.

As the mutants' resident inventor, it was clear that Vultureman would get the gun. It looks quite a bit like Han Solo's broom handle Mauser, which may be intentional - Star Wars was clearly strong in the creators' minds when it came time to craft Thundercats. The good guys are advised by a blue ghost, for cryin' out loud!

Just like the first set came with Snarf as a bonus, this set comes with Wolfrat. No, not Andy Dwyer's band - that's Mouserat. Wolfrat is a robot built by Vultureman to infiltrate the Cats Lair. It's stocked with lots of weapons, including, apparently, Pym Particles: it sprays shrinking gas at the Thundercats. The Wolfrat looks very much like its animated counterpart, but you could imagine it being assembled like other Minimate dogs. It's metallic purple, has radar dishes for ears, and no articulation. It's 2⅛" long and 1⅜" tall.

The first Thundercats Minimates set was an SDCC exclusive, and this one was available at New York Comic-Con, so it seems that Icon Heroes has a real plan in mind for how they're going to release these sets. There's at least one more on deck, featuring the rest of the Thundercats team, but we wouldn't be sad to see this line survive beyond that.

And while they're at it, a 2½" or 3" Transformed Mumm-Ra would be nifty, as well.

-- 12/19/12


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