Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hummer vs Thunder Tank

Few vehicles (real or fictional) kick ass. Let's take the over-bearing Hummer, for example; its about the size of teenage African elephant, wheels the width of tree trunks, and a back seat that you could film a hip-hop music video in. That's a big car. But sadly, it doesn't kick ass. The ThunderTank (or Thunder Tank) does.

The Thunder Tank was the kind of vehicle that you could run over people with and then blow up their dead carcasses with. Using missiles. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the Thunder Tank could eat a Hummer for breakfast and shit out little Toyota Echoes for good measure.

This menacing machine was built by the well-loved ThunderCats mechanic and all-round handyman, Panthro, by utilizing salvaged parts of the wrecked spaceship used to transport our band of heroes to Third Earth (referring to the second episode of the original 80s cartoon series). Throughout the cartoon's mythology, we saw the Thunder Tank maintain and use a range of ass-kicking arsenal to tackle each situation that befell the ThunderCats. The Tank's gadgetry ranged from a drill, working claws for scaling walls, a crushing mouth, missiles, underwater capabilities and further defense systems. A Gatling laser gun has also been included into the cabin of the Tank's rear compartment (against flying machines).

Scanning back through episodes of the original 80s show, the Thunder Tank can be seen as transporting all the ThunderCats in its rear cabin, with Cheetara running alongside. Predicaments have also occurred in instances where the Tank has run out of precious Thundrillium. And yet, the Tank (and Panthro) was always there to save the day.

Great 80s cartoons were almost always followed by great lines of toys. The ThunderCats line, produced by LJN, released 3 main series of figures, with many side action figure with a total of 37 different figures. To accompany this range of memorable character figures were vehicles to match, which included 2 playsets, 6 vehicles, 6 accessories & 2 monsters. Of these, the most famous pieces were the Thunder Tank and the Cat's Lair.

The Thunder Tank play-vehicle featured front seating enough for one figure (usually Panthro) with the ability to accommodate one more character in the Gatling gun during the Tank's attack mode. Attack mode was amazingly cartoon-like (meaning to say, it was true to the show's depiction) with the pounce-ready pose known and seen from the series - gaping mouth and raise claws revealing guns underneath. 

It is unfortunate that we rarely see the detail and the sheer thought that went into this play-vehicle in today's sets. A true shame. 

The Thunder Tank has now become a real collectible only for the dearest of fans with the perfect balance of Thunder-craziness and money to obtain. It is probably wrong to say few vehicles kick more ass than the Thunder Tank; in fact, it may be more correct to say few things even kick more ass than the goddamn Thunder Tank.