The Thundercats hold a very special place in many fans' hearts -- particularly those of a pre-pubescent age during the mid-1980s. Thundercats was a cartoon that ran for three seasons from 1985-1988. It focused on a group of catlike humanoids called, well, The Thundercats, who escaped their dying planet of Thundera to settle on Third Earth (which is OUR Earth, just way in the future. We live in "First Earth"). There they fight a really pissed-off mummy who overproduces saliva named Mumm-Ra and generally have wonderful adventures and learn lessons and do lots of backflips.
Since it was the 1980s, a toy line naturally followed. Produced by LJN, it was quite successful and produced three distinct lines of figures. We feel it is our patriotic duty to rank these for you, and we felt that it was important to multimedia the hell out of it, so if you prefer to watch a video ranking the top 20, we present that to you below, OR if you enjoy reading (which we hope you do), we've got the complete list below.
Captain Shiner looks like a giant Plantar's Wart in spandex which, by itself, is quite appealing, but compared to some of the other figures in the line it just doesn't stand up.
Oy, look at these teeth. They’re way too big for his mouth and seem like they’re just pasted on. Overall, this figure is boring.
Grune The Destroyer
Grüne was a Thundercat gone rogue who had a massive overbite and favored headbands. Mostly it was the look of the character that gets the ranking. The silver chest plate was cool, but chipped off really easily.
It was nice that they actually gave Snarf a figure. Small sidekicks from 80s cartoons weren’t often that lucky. It’s a very cool figure with great detail and articulation. Snarf’s just annoying as hell.
Ma Mutt is Mumm-Ra's dog, who I always thought of as female because the name made me think of Ma Barker. Anyway, you can pose the legs and head, and it comes with some chains, so it's cool. But overall, this dog looks like it needs to EAT. Mummy Mumm-Ra is also on some low carb diet, so it fits (side note - are there any fat mummies?).
Shockingly, the action feature here involved the tongue. Press a lever (its tail) and its' tongue rolled out to capture an enemy. I debated about putting Tongue-a-saurus on this list because he seems more like a playset in a figure. But the smallest kid in my neighborhood could pick him up on his own (my determination for what defines a playset vs. a figure) so here he is.
Monkian looked way better in the cartoon than his figure ever did. It just looks…incomplete. Sort of like they forgot to paint the bottom half of him and he’s just wearing a fur stoll. His facial detail and helmet are cool, though.
A lot of people really like Bengali, and think the figure is striking. I can see their point, but he always looked like a Tygra repaint that was the product of a Smurf and a zebra mating after an acid trip.
Lynx-O is blind, which on '80s TV also meant that he is wise. It was neck and beck between Bengali and Lynx-O for this spot, but we went with Lynx because he’s more distinctive, harder to find and his rinky dink shield is sort of charming.
Figures with plastic fur can look either very stupid, or very cool, and Jackalman fits the latter category. He’s got vibrant yellow coloring, including a leopard print bracelet that seems like it comes from a Judith Krantz novel.
Figures with wheels in their stomachs were a very distinctive phemonenon from 1986-1988 (see Dragstor). Ram Bam, who is the equivalent of Fat Bastard from Austin Powers, had a string in the back that, when one pulled it a few times, would turn his wheel stomach and you could send him FLYING. This figure MOVED.
Berbil Bert was on of the RoBear Berbils, which were robot bears. They were basically Thundercats trying to capitalize on the Ewoks, but using robots because it was the late 80s and it was a thing. Also, his name is Bert. Anyway, his blue hue is cool, no?
If you are going to have a robot bear, it should look like a robot, dammit! And Berbil Bill does, and is cute.
Top ONLY because of the flower in her hair TO LET YOU KNOW SHE IS A GIRL.
The details of Vultureman’s scales are very cool, even though it looks like cold, uncooked chicken. He sort of looks a little like if Toucan Sam took steroids and got waxed, right?
We’re putting Hachiman on here because his sword is called the Thundercutter, he has a removable helmet and the positioning of his hands lets you put his sword in his hand so it looks like he’s stabbing himself in the stomach.
Cruncher is big and clunky and looks like he’s going to give someone a bear hug...which is exactly what the figure does – it grips another figure and then leans back to body slam it. The feature would break after repeated use, otherwise this would be higher on the list.
Say that five times fast. This was a mail order figure, or if you were fancy, it came with the Tomb Fortress playset. This figure can only move its arms, and it looks like a cross between the Evil Witch from Snow White and a burn victim, but having it was awesome because you could play out the before and after transformation with Mumm-Ra.
Speaking of which. This figure should probably be higher in the list, given Mumm-Ra’s importance in the overall Thundercats mythology, but the actual toy is big, clunky and lacks playable articulation. Mumm-Ra DID take '80s action features to a new level with this weird looking ring that, if you stuck it in Mumm-Ra’s back, made his eyes light up, but since you had to keep the ring pressed against his bac,k it just made it super awkward. Points for the removable helmet, which sort of looks like Siouxsie Sioux’s hair.
Just to be clear we are NOT giving this ranking based on that budget, non-moveable, PVC type figure that came with Tygra because we are still waiting for our apology. Fortunately, LJN did do right by all of us by creating a more articulated version, which came with cool little hover boards.
She's only higher because she has better hair.
The Snowman of Hook Mountain
What a name for a figure, right? It’s rare to see a monkey in a snow suit, even in the 80s, but he makes it on the list because one of the only points of articulation for the figure is his neckless face, which you can swing all the way around so it looks like his head is on upside down.
Safari Joe was an intergalactic big game hunter who sort of looked like Bryan Cranston as Walter White and spoke with an Australian accent, proving that everyone in the mid 80s was obsessed with the land down under. He came with a cool gun, Heat Miser type eyebrows and an ascot, proving he’s the Larry Hagman of action figures.
Captain Cracker sounds like Captain Crunch’s insane cousin, but the figure had a peg leg so that’s really all that’s needed to justify his place on the list.
First of all, respect must be given for Pumyra as one of the few lady action figures of the 1980s and because she’s the girl Thundercat everyone forgets about. Pumyra comes with a sling that’s totally useless, has a neck so thin I’m not sure how her head is supported and has make up that makes her look like the punk lady that crashes Wyatt’s house in Weird Science. It is for these reasons Pumyra is on our list.
Top Spinner, who resembles Ernest Borgnine’s distant cousin, is really, really wide and has a mace and spins around when you press a lever in his back. Endless hours of entertainment, right there.
Panthro has terrible posture, but he’s a bruiser so that’s okay. The figure looks great but is taken to a next level by the fact that he has freakin nunchucks! Side note: Doesn’t Panthro sort of sound like Morgan Freeman (as observed by this scene where he fat shames Snarf)?
The Stinger never actually appeared in the cartoon, but it's a rule that any toy line made between 1982 and 1989 had a figure that was an insect, so there you go. Stinger is actually sort of terrifying given his human arms and insect legs, but he looks insanely cool. His wings flap when you squeeze the trigger in the tail. If you have a Stinger figure, and he’s still got the wings, you can probably pay your rent for the month.
Ratar-O is a figure with a really vibrant and unique look. He came with two small sai (swords) that, combined with his action feature of his arms moving up and down, made him look like he was power walking with knives. His tail was poseable, which was totally novel in the 80s, and his moustache clearly inspired hipsters everywhere.
Hammerhand was the leader of the Bezerkers, who are cyborg pirates - a combination only born from market research about what kids want to play with. Hammerhand rules because he has a giant, well, hand that can grip things. He also looks like Dr. Teeth. Those blue tubes in his back would always pop out, which was incredibly annoying, but the fist makes up for it.
The Driller was extremely rare, with only a limited amount of figures released in North America. Seriously, how cool looking is this figure? He can stand on his own – a plus for a character without legs – and actually “drills” when you squeeze a button in his back. If you taped his bottom bits together, it actually formed a drill, which is useful for home repair and/or murder.
Ah Lion-O, and his permanently windswept hair. His orange claw glove that could fit over his hand was not just decorative. Lion-O's claws were actually sharp and the fact no kid scratched his eyes out is remarkable.
I could never remember Mongor’s name when I was a kid, just that it started with “M-o” and there was a “g” and an “r” in it. Because of this I called him “Morgan Fairchild” and it just stuck. Anyway, he’s awesome, looking like a satyr from someone’s drug-fueled D&D campaign and wielding a nasty scythe that’s the coolest weapon this side of the Sword of Omens.
Jaga is a fantastic figure. He just looks great – nice coloring, excellent detail, a cool helmet you can remove and an actual, real cloth cape which, for 80s action figures, was a status symbol, mostly because it indicated the figure probably had at least a millisecond of human contact in its assembly. Thing is, Jaga was DANGEROUS. Like Lion-O, his fingers were actually sort of sharp and I once cut myself on him. In retrospect, I should have sued LJN because maybe I'd be rich.
Tygra has a very regal quality. Looking at him, you realize your posture sort of sucks and you want to stand straighter. He came with a sweet whip, which is one of the greatest action figure accessories of all time. We challenge you to think of a cooler one. Seriously, tell us in the comments.
Astral Moat Monster
Look at this thing. First off, the figure’s name is “Astral Moat Monster” which alone deserves a prize. It’s big, poseable and weird looking. An action figure lover’s dream. And, it came in a box instead of on a card, which every '80s kid knows says the toy in question means business.
This is an outstanding figure. It’s big and imposing, with incredible detail. Also, if you threw it at someone, it would really hurt. Trust us. Fun fact – the character’s name on the packaging is S-s-slithe, with the extra “s” for effect or to torture anyone with a lisp.
First of all, remember how in the first episode of Thundercats Cheetara (and everyone else) was totally naked? Anyway, Cheetara is a pretty basic figure: Her legs only move at the hip and her arms are positioned oddly, so that she can hold her staff but she just ends up looking like a tightrope walker. She’s got a terrible Carol Brady haircut and can only stand unassisted by slightly leaning to the front, making her look drunk. But she’s Cheetara and she’s frickin’ awesome so that’s why she’s #1.