What was it about Eighties cartoons that meant they all had such brilliant theme songs? Thundercats is no exception, with it’s pop-rock musics and highly repetitive lyrics (Thunder-thunder-thunder-thunder-cats!) I can still remember it clearly today.
The cartoon itself was about a group of humanoid cats that were the last surviviors of the planet Thundera. Having escaped Thundera before it was destroyed by the evil (of course) mutants of Plun-Darr, the Thundercats end up on a planet known as Third Earth after many years in stasis.
Only seven Thundercat survivors make it to Third Earth, these being Lion-O, Tygra, Panthro, Cheetara, WilyKit, WilyKat and Snarf. Lion-O was a child when he started his journey, and I believe he was a kind of prince of Thundera, as he was entrusted with the magical Sword of Omens which contained the Eye of Thundera, a gem stone that gave the Thundercats great power. Poor old Lion-O though, he missed out on his teenage years, as he was a child when he was put into stasis, but something went wrong and when he awoke he had slowly aged to become a young man.
The Sword of Omens was a useful tool for Lion-O, not just because it was good for stabbing at things, but because it could transform into a massive broadsword, and Lion-O could look from the Eye of Thundera to give him “sight, beyond sight“. This power allowed Lion-O to see what was going on in other places, and help guide him in making the right decisions to be true leader of the Thundercats.
As with most cartoon ensembles the rest of the Thundercats were all specialists in some field or another. Tygra was a scientist with the ability to cast fake illusions into peoples minds. Panthro was the mechanic and pilot, and posessed great strength, whilst Cheetara, as her name might suggest, has great speed and also suffers from future visions which leave her feeling exhausted.
WilyKit and WilyKat are twin sister and brother, and were initially older than Lion-O when they left Thundera. They get into all sorts of mischief, seeing as how they’re kids and all. Finally there was Snarf, who for some reason was far more like a cat than a human. He was originally a sort of nanny to Lion-O, but despite being smaller than the others and not really a fighter, he was in fact surprisingly wise, if only the others would listen to him.
All would be well for the Thundercats if it wasn’t for the fact that Third Earth was also inhabited by the evil (of course) Mumm-Ra. Mumm-Ra shuffled around most of the time as a typical Egyptian style mummy would, wrapped in bandages and living in a pyramid, but on saying his magic incantation…
…he transformed into Mumm-Ra, the ever-living, a being of supreme power with many abilities including being able to fly, disguise himself as whoever he wished, throwing fireballs, you name it, he could probably do it. Mumm-Ra’s only weakness was that on seeing his own reflection he would be sent scuttling back to his sarcophagus to regenerate.
Since Mumm-Ra would have been far too powerful a foe if he could always be in his “ever-living” form, he employed a bunch of henchmen to do his dirty work for him. It just so happened these henchmen were the afore-mentioned mutants of Plun-Darr, who saw this as a chance to get to the Sword of Omens, not realising of course that Mumm-Ra was after the exact same thing.
Thundercats was incredibly popular when it first aired in the mid eighties, and the inevitable action figures, comic books and lunchboxes followed. More recently there has been talk of a Thundercats CGI movie, although this now appears to have been shelved. But who needs a new version when the original was so action packed! Just go and watch those instead, as the cartoon is now available on DVD for you to watch all over again!