Thundarr the Barbarian
The year - 1994. The place - Earth. The event - a runaway planet flies between the earth and the moon. The result - really high tides plus the end of civilization as we know it. Cue the REM song 'It's the End of the World As We Know It' and party like it was 1994. The down side - lots of people died and much of the world was ravaged. The good news - they died before Episode 1 and 2 could really tick them off.
Of course this didn't really happen on our earth, but it did on millions of television sets in the late 1977 when 'Thundarr the Barbarian' premiered. The premise was that after the aforementioned planet kept earth from having a nice day, society rebuilt itself in a somewhat different image. The show then flashed forward 2000 years to find a strange new world full of swords, sorcery and super-science. It was also filled with Thundarr, his buddy Ookla the Mok, and Ariel, the resident sorceress. Beyond the backstory for the show, the premise was relatively simple. The three heroes would travel the land, get in adventures and fight for what they felt was right, toppling injustice and evil along the way.
Ruby-Spears Entertainment spawned Thundarr, which came across as a futuristic comic book. This was due in no small part to the creators of the show and characters. Comics Legends Alex Toth and Jack 'King' Kirby were on board early, and Alex designed the three main characters for the show with the King designing characters and vehicles for the show. The world was created by Dave High and the first writer brought in was noted comics writer Steve Gerber (creator of Howard the Duck). Clearly, the show had great genes!
The show ran for five years on ABC before it was moved over to NBC. The ratings for the show were still good though NBC was interested in the show simply to broadcast re-runs. They figured that they could keep people watching without spending more money on new shows, and it ran on NBC for a year and half. The saddest part was that no new shows were made after it left ABC. Yay capitalism!
Toynami is now the torch-bearer for Thundarr (and his other pals from Hanna-Barbera) and they are following up to their set of Thundarr I-Men with an action figure line. The series includes the three main characters of Thundarr, Ariel and Ookla to kick things off. There is also a summer convention exclusive version of Thundarr with a glow-in-the-dark Sun Sword that you could pick up if you had the chance to go to either the 2003 San Diego Comic-Con or Wizard World Chicago.
The scale of the figures is built around the popular six-inch format, and Thundarr and friends can be displayed with other lines of similar scale. All three figures are over six inches, but they grow them tall in the far future! They can also be displayed with much smaller figures to simulate the never produced and totally made-up 'Giant Thundarr and Friends Adventure Half-Hour'.
Click on a picture below to see more pictures of that action figure.
What do you call a buff guy with bad English? Some might call him the next governor of California, but in this case we'll call him Thundarr. Thundarr doesn't have a foreign accent, he's just not the brightest guy around, but he makes up for it with a fabulous exercise program! The good news for the ladies out there is that he wears a fur loincloth and vest, and some furry boots. This makes this character the perfect vehicle for a movie, starring Hugh Jackman as Thundarr. Why? Did we mention the loincloth and vest? The bad news? The guy cannot get a tan, even when just wearing a loincloth, vest and furry boots.
Thundarr at first seems like a mindless brute, but he does have a good heart and a mind. And he carries a magical sword to hit you with if you make fun of him. And not just any sword, but the fabulous Sun Sword! The Sun Sword is sort of a low tech version of a light saber, and the hilt of the sword issues the magical blade at Thundarr's command. The blade is gone when not in use, for easy storage on Thundarr's wristband, and without the power of VelcroŽ!
There are actually two figures of Thundarr, though they are essentially identical. The difference is that the convention exclusive version has a glow-in-the-dark blade for the Sun Sword and the retail version has a transparent blade with a translucent 'flame' in it. Naturally, Thundarr includes his fabulous Sun Sword and the attention to detail for it is impressive. The blade is removable and the hilt can magically attach to Thundarr's left wrist (they say magic, we say magnetism). He also has a rubbery loincloth and vest over the figure to give it the right look and to help mask the articulation. The only thing he needs is his tooth necklace (included) to help pick up the chicks, and he's ready for battle!
If the fantasy movies have taught us anything, behind every adventure hero there is a hot chick to motivate him and give us all yet another unattainable woman. For Thundarr this comes in the form of Ariel, who's as smart and powerful as she is attractive. Ariel is the brains of the group and she's also a sorceress, trained in the mystic arts. Tack onto that the fact that she's a Princess, wears thigh-high boots with heels and you have the total package.
She might seem perfect, but there is a catch. Her stepfather is Sabian, and evil wizard also known as an incredible cheapskate. If you were to actually get far enough in to marry Ariel, you'd be treated to a wedding by the local Justice of the Peace, and a reception at Sizzler. Mmmm-mmmm! That and a nasty curse or two.
Ariel's articulated less than the guys, and that's to preserve her feminine curves. Her strength isn't in her poses (though we here she's pretty limber), but in her magic. She's got two manifestations of spells, and both can be attached to her hands. The ball of force comes apart in halves, and can re-join around a hand for display, while the spiral magic has a part that comes off so it can attach to a hand. It can be used to block attacks and hypnotize household pets, so use it sparingly. The biggest problem with Ariel is the lack of any directions on attaching her magic, as it can be a little confusing.
Usually you have a mix of brains and brawn, but with this trio you have an excess of brawn. And the brawniest guy is Ookla, Thundarr's pal and resident Mok. The first question you may ask is 'what's a Mok?', and the answer is simple. A Mok is half-Man, half-something else, and he's all stinky if you leave him out in the rain all night. However, he is loyal, trustworthy and will work for Scooby snacks.
Ookla isn't loquacious or eloquent, be he is a terror in battle. His powerful Mok-muscles can tear apart phone books and his sharp teeth and leave marks. Big ones. He's also an ace with a bow and he has his own special horse to ride, sort of a cross between a horse and a Mok. That would make his mount one-half horse, one-quarter man and one-quarter something (for those keeping score at home). His mount stinks when wet, but only half as much as he does.
A note about Ookla's coloring: the coloring difference between Ookla's torso and his arms and legs is exaggerated on the gallery page, this seems to be an artifact of digital photography.
Ookla's is big and bad, and he's got the most accessories of the bunch. He carries a bow and arrow, and the arrow pegs into the bow while the bow has a peg that fits into his left hand. The bowstring is elastic, so you can actually shoot the arrow. Just don't put anyone's eye out! One of the coolest things for Ookla is an extra set of hands. One set is open handed (posed for using the bow) while the other is a pair of fists, and the hands are interchangeable. Both pairs can twists and bend and it takes a fair amount of force to get the hands off, so when you pull his finger - pull hard!
Whodunit is the name of this game, so let's a take a look at the guilty parties involved with Thundarr! George Sohn was the project director (and the head of Toynami), and with long-time friend Scott Tipton (quality control and design concept) enlisted some outside help to create Thundarr in living 3-D! Shin Tanabe sculpted the figures, and the mold tech and paint design was created by Daisuke Fukuda (both of whom filled the same roles for the Herculoids figures). The package design and illustrations were done by Nitai Kearney.
The characters themselves are courtesy of a future disaster, though some of the voice actors might be familiar. Nellie Bellflower voice Ariel, and she was also Eowyn in the animated Return of the King. Henry Corden was Ookla, and he has along history of voice work, with many parts that actually have words you can understand! The barbarian himself was played by the late Robert Ridgely, who might be more recognizable as Colonel James from Boogie Nights. Yep, Thundarr is a pimp and you'll never think of the fabulous sun sword the same again!