The quantum Thundercats phenomenon

By - December 22, 2009

In the 1980’s, Rankin/Bass stumbled onto cartoon gold when they created… Thundercats!


Yes, Thundercats, A cartoon about a team of animal-themed people fighting badguys in an other-worldly, sci-fi setting! Also a popular comic book and toy line, Thundercats was a major force in the 1980’s little kid demographic. And it’s no wonder, I mean, friggin’ look at those guys! That’s one awesome team of Saturday morning heroes! So how many characters make up a good team? Well, you have:

Lion-O, the strong-chinned leader

Tygra, a skilled dude

Panthro, a brawny tech dude

Cheetara, a hot chick

Wilykit and Wilykat, two little brat kids

Snarf, a cat lizard pet thing

Jaga, an old ghost dude/mentor

and they fought against the monstrous Mumm-Ra, a crazy mummy dude.

thundercatsAnd here’s the friggin’ awesome intro:

Oh yeah, that’s a sweet cartoon all right. They got everything just right, the character designs, the team dynamic, the villains. Everything. A fun and exciting cartoon, beautifully animated by the team that would go on to form Studio Ghibli, Thundercats is one of those truly awesome Saturday morning shows that will forever be remembered by the rugged survivors of the 1980’s Saturday morning onslaught. However, Rankin/Bass was not content to simply continue with the awesomeness that was Thundercats, and decided to spread their influence by creating another cartoon… Silverhawks!

SH_logoA cartoon about a team of animal-themed people fighting badguys in an other-worldly, sci-fi setting! Starring:

Quicksilver, The strong-chinned leader

Bluegrass, A skilled dude

Steelwill, A brawny tech dude

Steelheart, A hot chick

The Copper Kid, A creepy metal mime/kid thing

Tally Hawk, A metal bird pet thing

Commander Stargazer, an old cop dude/mentor

and they fought against the monstrous Mon-Star, a crazy alien dude.


And here’s the well animated intro:

Ok…. not as good as Thundercats, but still not bad either. Silverhawks still has quite a few fans that remember it fondly. And why not? It’s a great looking… comfortably familiar show. Rankin/Bass was still going strong, so they wanted to expand their animated Saturday morning chokehold even further… with… Tigersharks.


A cartoon about a team of animal-themed people. Fighting badguys. In an other-worldly, sci-fi setting. Starring:

Mako, the strong-chinned leader

Dolph, a skilled dude

Lorca, a brawny tech dude

Octavia, a hot chick

Bronc and Angel, two little brat kids

Gupp, a seal dog pet thing

Walro, an old whale dude/mentor

and they fought against the monstrous T-Ray, a crazy manta dude.


And here’s the nicely animated… strangely familiar intro embedded in the wikipedia article:

It was at this point that I suppose someone came up to the folks at Rankin/Bass and said “My God! ENOUGH! You can’t… just… keep… making…the same CARTOON!” Before promptly running, screaming and naked, through the building. Only Thundercats would have a major lasting legacy, but Silverhawks and Tigersharks are still out there, burned into the psyches of many an 80’s Saturday Morning survivor. Although the Rankin/Bass creations of Silverhawks and Tigersharks are simply shameless ripoffs of their own cartoon, Thundercats will forever be enshrined in the history books as one of the legendarily awesome 80’s cartoons.



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