With Cartoon Network launching a new version of the series this weekend, I thought it might be a good time to reflect back on the original ThunderCats, which ran in syndication from 1985-1990. It was the first series produced by Rankin-Bass for syndication since the 60's, and the first ongoing series since 1973, after ABC had cancelled the last 3 series the studio had produced for the network (Kid Power, The Osmonds, & The Jackson 5ive).
ThunderCats was set on "Third Earth", where Lion-O and his team had settled after leaving their homeworld, Thundera. Everyone has their favorite characters, including sexy Cheetara, and the ThunderKittens, WilyKat and his sister, WilyKit. Here is the opening everyone remembers:
DC Comics' WildStorm imprint produced a series of miniseries that brought the Cats back into the public eye, and also allowed for the characters to age some, particularly WilyKit (who now rivaled Cheetara as eye candy for the boys) and WilyKat. There was also a crossover with another TV icon, Battle of the Planets, which saw Keyop fall in love with WilyKit, as memory serves. Those books may have been part of the impetus that led to the new TV series, but it's safe to say the Cats have had a following rivaling that of fellow 80's icons The Transformers and GI Joe, who've also been revived in recent years. The new series, then, has a lot to live up to, and we'll see the results soon enough.