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Hear The Roar: The Unofficial And Unauthorised Guide To The Hit 1980s Series, Thundercats by David Crichton

01/06/2012. Contributed by Neale Monks

Buy Hear The Roar: The Unofficial And Unauthorised Guide To The Hit 1980s Series, Thundercats in the USA - or Buy Hear The Roar: The Unofficial And Unauthorised Guide To The Hit 1980s Series, Thundercats in the UK

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pub: Telos. 502 page illustrated indexed small enlarged paperback. Price: GBP16.99 (UK), $33.95 (US), $33.95 (CAN). $31.95 (AUS). ISBN: 978-1-84583-038-0.

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The 'ThunderCats' cartoons of the 1980s were one of a number of twenty minute animated shows that tied together adventures on screen with all sorts of spin-off merchandising. While some of these shows have sunk without trace, 'ThunderCats' has retained a certain degree of popularity, but not nearly as much as, say, the 'Transformers'. But with a new series of cartoons released in 2011, it's probably about as good a time as any to look back at the original show, which is where 'Hear The Roar!' comes in.

The first couple hundred pages cover the conception and production of the show and provide all sorts of background details, from story formulas to soundtrack music. The next couple hundred pages describe the episodes season-by-season and then provide detailed accounts of all the characters, both major and minor, in terms of off-screen development and on-screen biography. This section is the most accessible for casual fans and the episode reviews in particular offer up a wealth of interesting facts.

The next thirty pages or so covers merchandising, a key part of the 'ThunderCats' story. Collectors will find this section especially fascinating thanks to details such as who sculpted particular figures and what accessories they originally came with. Finally, the rest of the book looks into the much less successful follow-up series, 'SilverHawks', and describes the 'ThunderCats' fan community in rather breathless, if affectionate, terms.

Given the sheer thickness of the book and the enormous depth of detail provided, 'Hear The Roar!' is clearly a good-value book that will be much appreciated by fans of the 'ThunderCats' series. The writing quality is solid and readable and David Crichton has done an amazing job in terms of research, including the interviews with show creators and producers. To describe this book as 'meticulous' would be an understatement. If the book has flaws, though, they're more to do with the production of the book than its content. To be fair, unofficial genre books of this type are often put together as inexpensively as possible and invariably lack screen-caps or any other sort of copyrightable images from the shows they're about, so the fact 'Hear The Roar!' is essentially plain text from start to finish isn't a big surprise. There are some nice behind-the-scenes photos published in the middle of the book though, as well as some rather small photos of the action figures. But the lack of an index of even a contents page is more of a problem as 'Hear The Roar!' is a long book with vast amounts of material. It's a minor point, but for such a small format book (roughly 20 by 15 cm) the binding isn't the best and careless usage shows up pretty quickly in the form of curled pages and creased spines.

It probably goes without saying that fans of the show will love this book. There's little for them to object to here, especially at the remarkably good price of £16.99. More casual fans of 80s animation will find less to hold their attention though. Without a larger format, a contents page, illustrations or screen-caps the 'coffee table' quality simply isn't there and this isn't an accessible book to dip into on a whim.

Neale Monks

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