Good Times was a quintessentially ’70s-era sitcom about the Evans, a struggling black family living in the projects of Chicago. The show spawned the catchphrase “dy-no-mite,” which rivaled “whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” for quotability. In season 4, matriarch Florida Evans, portrayed by Esther Rolle, loses her husband. In reality, John Amos, the actor who portrayed James Evans Sr., had grown tired of the thematic shift of the show towards “dynomite,” and was released, so, naturally, in-show necessity meant he was killed off.
One of the most poignant moments of the show is a quiet moment where, after the funeral and subsequent family gathering, we see Florida alone in the kitchen, trying to go about her business the best she can. There has been no time to stop, no time to grieve. She’s had to be strong for her children, but the cracks are beginning to surface, and in an exceptionally strong performance, Florida stops midway through carting a punch bowl across the kitchen, smashes it to the ground and unleashes the most frustrated, heartbreaking lamentation of loss in the repetition of three simple words: “Damn, damn, damn.”
It says everything. It encapsulates the entirety of the grieving process and the knowledge that everything you thought your future would be has now shifted.
You can find the clip on Youtube, and even without context, it’s an effective and powerful scene.
“Damn damn damn” has entered into the cultural lexicon as an extreme manifestation of annoyance at a situation beyond your control, evolving beyond its effective and affecting beginnings.
So what was my reaction when I heard that Super7 would not be going forward with Thundercats?
You guessed it.
“Damn, damn, damn.”
If you have not heard, it has officially been announced by Brian Flynn of Super7 that WB has chosen not to extend the license to Thundercats to Super7. At this point, Super7 was, to borrow a phrase from another property, our only hope. Mattel, in one of the most baffling moves ever made by a toy company, acquired the rights, produced a handful of figures, and then shrugged and said “We’re done.” With Super7 taking over Masters of the Universe, and with the Thundercats having been made in the same general style of MOTUC with the Four Horsemen behind the brand, it seemed as though if we had any hope of continuing the figures, it would be through Super7.
Now I do want to make it clear that this is a situation out of Super7’s hands. All signs pointed toward them being willing to continue on with Thundercats. But a license-holder’s prerogative obviously comes first, and if WB decided that they were done, then no amount of sweet talking was going to change their minds. Bottom lines are bottom lines. At some point the number-crunchers decided that it would not be fiscally viable to continue producing toys at this time.
Now, this does not at all mean that at some point down the line yet another attempt at a Thundercats line will not make it out. But it could be a drastic change. Heavily stylized, heavily redesigned, “kiddified,” or whatever. It is probably a given that IF the Thundercats are made again, they will not fit in with what we have.
What do we have?
An incomplete line.
Bandai managed two figures at 8 inches and two at 6 before their scale miscalculation ended the line. Mattel essentially waded in with planned obsolescence, debuting the line at the same time as the only source for that line, Mattycollector, was closing doors. It’s hard to gain momentum when the future of a line is that uncertain. Many people — quite possibly the majority — found it hard to dedicate themselves to a line that had absolutely no guarantees as to finishing out even the main Thundercats, let alone the main antagonists and any tertiary figures.
Me? I was optimistic. I was kind of sitting here in my throne made of hope and thinking that the people passing on the initial offerings were going to regret it once Super7’s brand new Thundercats line started rolling out, even if it took until 2018 to happen.
Now, I have absolutely no regrets about the figures I bought. I have an incomplete group of Thundercats, a sad, lonely pair of villains, and that’s it. They are fine figures, and they make the loss of what could have been all the more frustrating.
No, I have no regrets. What I do have is a bit of fatigue. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am tired. I’m not broken, but I am pretty damn tired of lines of Thundercats that refuse to work. I’m not getting my hopes up for a Thundercats line again. And I know — oh I absolutely know — that if another lineup of the classic-styled Thundercats is made, that I will be on board, and I will get what comes out IF it’s a fully articulated, quality line. Yes I will. Even if it’s completely different in style and I end up buying a new Lion-O for the (counts on fingers) fourth time, I will be on board. But the next time around I will not be thinking “This will be different” or “I can’t wait for Lunataks” or making wish lists in my head that include Snarf and Snarfer. This has killed my optimism. I will buy them on a figure by figure basis and I will enjoy them if they’re quality figures but I will wait until after I have literally every character before I get my hopes up that this time around we’ll get them all. And even then I’ll side-eye what I have in case it decides to disappear.
The biggest bummer is what this means for other properties that I’d love updated toys from. If something like Thundercats — a property I consider “’80s A-list” along with Joes, Transformers, and MOTU — can’t make it work then what does it say about Silverhawks? What about the slightly lower-tier properties? I’m not sure why I’m surprised, as it seems Hasbro doesn’t want to take a chance on 6-inch Joes. An inability to get a viable Thundercats line doesn’t make one very optimistic about Silverhawks or M.A.S.K.
Yes, the ’80s loved their acronyms.
So as of this moment, the universe has called time of death on the Thundercats line, and it’s up to the future to decide just what shape the Thundercats will take next. Whatever it is, it will be brand new, and will not add to what I already have, which is simultaneously an excellent group of toys and a frustrating experiment. The only way for this line to continue on as is would be the willingness of the WB, the willingness of the Four Horsemen, and an avenue such as Kickstarter. Are there enough fans for Thundercats to somehow be crowd-funded? I don’t know. It’s impossible to know, and the fans could be too burnt to care anymore.
Damn, damn, damn.