Old LJN ThunderCats Articles transcribed in 1999...
…an LJN Gem (1985-1987)
© Tomart’s Action Figure Digest pg.(22-24)
LJN always produced great action figures. Their percentage of hit lines to total number produced was one of the best batting averages in the industry until a couple of major mistakes did them in. They were one of the first companies to do fine texture detailing and extensive multicolored paint masking, which later played an important role in the smash hit Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line.
ThunderCats was a tremendously successful offering. The nearly complete sell-thru of all but more costly Berserkers makes packaged collectible examples difficult to find. Loose figures are still plentiful at flea markets ten years after they were sold at retail.
ThunderCats copied a page from Mattel’s Masters of the Universe book in that the Lorimar Telepictures animated TV series was based on the toy line. Lorimar syndicated the program with LJN commercials in place open slots for local stations to sell. To encourage prime scheduling and perhaps an extra showing in another time slot, Lorimar/LJN offered cash spiffs back to TV stations based on toy sales in the market.
This raised the ire of “child welfare” groups which were already up to their arms about what seemed to them to be half hour toy commercials. Expensive legal action was brought, and new rules were propagated to make it difficult for toy companies to produce their own shows. Now that producers and/or creators license the rights to toy companies, very little has changed…except now toys must cost more to cover all the licensing costs involved.
Each episode somehow evolved around the central theme of Evil Mutants trying to destroy the ThunderCats, obtain the Sword of Omens, and control Third Earth. Lion-O leads a community of cat-like characters against Mumm-Ra, an ancient mummy with the power to become young again and command superhuman strength. PVC “Companions” were tried with several major characters, and were added to the re-release of others. Articulated versions were later offered in the “Companions” series, which was apparently short lived because these are the most difficult to find in any form.
Toys From TV
Article by Nancy Krulik “Hot Dog” mg 43
Sometimes toys come from places other than a toy company or an outside designer. Sometimes toy ideas come from a TV show! That’s how the Thundercats became toys.
Andy Pappalardo works for LJN toys, the company that makes Thundercats. He told HOT DOG all about how Thundercats toys started. “The original idea for Thundercats came from the cartoon show,” Andy said. “Every year, there’s a convention where cartoon producers show their new cartoons. It used to be for TV station owners only. Now, more and more toy manufacturers are coming to the convention.”
When the people from LJN saw the Thundercats cartoon show, they knew Thundercats toys would be a hit. “Thundercats has all the right qualities. It has all the things kids love. It’s full of action. It pits good against evil. Every show has a strong moral at the end, but the morals aren’t preachy.”
So LJN made a deal with the show’s producers. They bough the rights to make Thundercats toys. Lots of other toys came from cartoon shows. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe were from a cartoon before being made into toys. So were the warriors of Robotech! Toy ideas can come from just about anywhere. So keep on thinking up new ideas for toys. Someday, you may be a toymaker yourself!
“Hot Dog” © 1986 by Scholastic Books, Inc.