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The Family Tree of Johnny Thunder



Not enough to warrant its own topic on BZPower, but still an interesting subject that I feel should be discussed. Especially in the most boring blog on BZPower.


First off, let us start by acknowledging that, outside of heavily story-oriented themes such as BIONICLE, LEGO has a very loose grip of canon that frequently contradicts itself and encourages each person to come up with his or her own personal interpretation, sometimes called MOCanon. With a canon as unreliable as LEGO's, one may ask, what's the point of analyzing it? To which Cave Johnson would reply, "Why not?"


So, let's begin this journey into LEGO's confusing canon with everybody's favorite fedora-wearing adventurer himself, Johnny Thunder! Arguably one of LEGO's most popular and memorable original characters, having transcended years of absence from toy store shelves combined with a license for Indiana Jones by keeping his memory alive through the likes of Laser Raiders, LEGO Universe, and most recently The LEGO Movie. Everyone who was a fan of LEGO in the late 1990s and early 2000s remembers him fondly, and thanks to The LEGO Movie, a whole new generation will be introduced to his legacy.


But did you know that Johnny Thunder has the largest genealogy of any original LEGO character?


Let's begin with his dear comrade, Dr. Charles Kilroy (also known as Charlies Lightning, Articus, and Titus, among other names). This brilliant yet absent-minded professor has been by Johnny Thunder's side since his first adventures in Egypt and now goes hunting for the famed Jeweled Triceratops on My LEGO Network. He is not only one of Johnny Thunder's closest friends, but he is in fact Johnny Thunder's uncle according to the January/February 1998 issue of LEGO Mania magazine.


Now, let us take a step back for a moment and consider this. Johnny Thunder is LEGO's answer to Indiana Jones, another famous fedora-wearing adventurer. In the third Indiana Jones film The Last Crusade, Indy is joined by his father Dr. Henry Jones, Sr. It is clear that Dr. Kilroy is LEGO's answer to Dr. Jones, and Kilroy being a close relative to Johnny supports this notion. Makes sense, right?


Hold onto your hats, because here's where things start taking a turn for the strange and unusual.


Johnny Thunder and the Adventurers were not the only products of the late 1990s. Enter the Time Cruisers in 1996, two years before the Adventurers hit store shelves. These sets follow the whimsy and wacky adventures of Dr. Cyber and his assistant Tim as they travel through time and meet the characters of other LEGO themes sharing the LEGO catalogue at the time. On the United States' side of the Atlantic, the Time Cruisers were a thing of the past by the time the Adventurers arrived... but not on the other side of the Atlantic.


The German LEGO magazine World Club Magazine published a series of comics following the adventures of Tim and his faithful monkey Ali (also known as Ingo in other sources such as LEGO Mania). While LEGO Mania left the Time Cruisers back in 1996, World Club Magazine continued to follow their adventures through to the end of the year 2000, after which World Club Magazine was revamped to closely resemble its western counterpart. Until that time, the Time Cruisers kept cruising through time... and as 1998 rolled around, take a few guesses which new LEGO theme was featured in the comics.


Extreme Team, of course!


As the story progresses, it is revealed that Extreme Team was sent by Dr. Cyber to find Tim in the Wild West because Dr. Cyber's brother was in need of help. Oh, wow, Dr. Cyber has a brother? What's his name? Professor Articus. Hey, wait, haven't we heard that name before? You can either scroll up to check a few paragraphs above, or you can look at the comic's next page and see for yourself.


Dr. Cyber is Dr. Kilroy's brother. And by extension, that makes him related to Johnny Thunder.


But wait, that's not all! While it's not explicitly stated in the comics themselves or in any other LEGO media (as far as I know), one of the creators behind the comic series, Kim Hagen, did a write-up of the comic's concept which confirmed that Tim is, in fact, Dr. Cyber's nephew. So, thanks to the World Club Magazine, Johnny Thunder is related to Dr. Cyber and Tim from Time Cruisers.


But we're not finished with Tim yet. Throughout the comic (and as mentioned in the write-up above), he is given the surname Timebuster. That name might not mean anything to you until you recall that there's a minifigure from the Town theme named Max Timebuster, featured prominently in commercials such as

, with his full name confirmed with this LEGO catalogue. "Timebuster" certainly cannot be a common last name, therefore it stands to reason that Max and Tim are thereby related... which would indicate that Max Timebuster is yet another one of Johnny Thunder's family members!


Okay, now we're finished with Time Cruisers. Let's move on to another theme... Dino.


When images of Dino's minifigures first arrived, I took a long look at this minifigure and noticed there was something familiar about him. He wore a loose khaki shirt with a belt strapped across his torso (starting at his left shoulder and extending down to his right hip) and a scarf around his neck. Although shaved, this minifigure has stubble resembling sideburns and a mustache, and his cocky expression with one raised eyebrow was unmistakeable. While his hatless head, shaved facial hair, and white shirt led me to doubt it was the Thunder himself, I could not help but wonder... was this minifigure another relative of Johnny Thunder?


Weeks later, the LEGO Dino website goes live and reveals that his name is, in fact, Josh Thunder. Later, the 2012 edition of The LEGO Book briefly mentions the Dino theme and confirms that he is a descendant of Johnny Thunder.


How many generations separate Johnny and Josh? It is not confirmed. Depending on your personal MOCanon (does the Adventurers theme take place in the 1930s or the 1990s?), Josh could be Johnny's son or grandson. But now it confirms that Johnny Thunder did have a son, whether that son is Josh himself or Josh's father.


Before we get into any further speculation, here's a quick recap of Johnny Thunder's family tree so far.

  • Charles Kilroy: uncle
  • Dr. Cyber: uncle's brother
  • Tim Timebuster: uncle's brother's nephew
  • Max Timebuster: unknown relation to uncle's brother's nephew
  • Josh Thunder: descendant

Just to give you a heads-up, what follows is entirely based on future LEGO products that are subject to change, so there will be some speculation involved that stretches a little further than "Max is related to Tim".


First, let us begin with a potential LEGO product that hasn't even been confirmed as a future LEGO product as of this writing: The Adventures of Steamrod, a CUUSOO project currently at 1,865 votes. By the way, you should all definitely go support that project because it's awesome, but enough about shameless plugs. What matters here is that this CUUSOO project is obviously one big homage to the Adventurers theme reimagined in a Steampunk setting.


Who is the main heroic character? Sir Jonathan Bolt. And despite the striking family resemblance, he is merely a distant relative of Johnny Thunder.


Why does this matter? Should the Adventures of Steamrod project receive another 8,135 votes, it could potentially see the light of day as a LEGO product if it passes review. And, depending on how much of the original concept is maintained in the final product, Sir Jonathan Bolt could very possibly become an official LEGO character, adding another member to Johnny Thunder's already surprisingly-extensive family tree.


But there is another reason why I bring up Sir Jonathan Bolt. Like Timebuster, I cannot imagine that Bolt is a particularly common surname. And there will be a character in the upcoming LEGO Ultra Agents theme who shares that surname: Curtis Bolt.


According to various sources, the minifigure currently identified as Curtis Bolt does not bear much of a resemblance to Johnny Thunder. However, I believe that this is based on incorrect preliminary information that is subject to change (remember when Brick Daddy was called the Brickfather in early material?), and I've got strong evidence to support my hypothesis. For you see, there is another minifigure currently identified as Solomon Blaze according to that same preliminary information.


But wait a second, Solomon Blaze is a character from last year's Galaxy Squad theme. It wouldn't be the first time in recent LEGO history that a minifigure from one theme shows up in another later theme (most notably, Brains from Power Miners later showed up in the Atlantis theme), so it's very possible that Solomon Blaze will return this year as a member of the Ultra Agents... but this guy looks nothing like him! Instead, he looks like... like... hold on.


Crooked mustache. Cocky expression. Raised eyebrow.


He looks like Johnny Thunder!


Just like Josh Thunder, "Solomon Blaze" looks like a relative of Johnny Thunder. In comparison, "Curtis Bolt" looks more like last year's Solomon Blaze; while their facial expressions aren't exactly the same, they're both young, clean-shaven, and have some sort of high-tech gadget over one eye. Thus, leads me to my hypothesis that the preliminary information identifying the two minifigures mixed them up: "Curtis Bolt" is actually Solomon Blaze and "Solomon Blaze" is actually Curtis Bolt. After all, wouldn't it make more sense that the character named Bolt bears a striking resemblance to Thunder?


Now, I know what you're thinking. Even if I'm right about the name mix-up, Curtis Bolt is a futuristic secret agent. Josh Thunder, at least, is a character in a spiritual successor to Johnny Thunder's Dino Island adventure, so that connection makes sense. What sort of connection would there be between Johnny Thunder and some secret agent?


Two words: James Bond.


... What does that have to do with anything?


Johnny Thunder is based on Indiana Jones. According to several sources, Indiana Jones is in fact based on James Bond. This is why Spielberg and Lucas cast Sean Connery in the role of Dr. Henry Jones, Sr., because that would mean that James Bond is literally Indiana Jones's father.


Back in 1998, LEGO created Dr. Kilroy as an answer to Henry Jones, Sr. If my hypothesis is correct, "Solomon Blaze" is not only actually named Curtis Bolt but also strongly implied to be another reference to Henry Jones, Sr. And if Sir Jonathan Bolt is canonized by CUUSOO, then the relationship between Johnny Thunder and Curtis Bolt would only be further supported.


So now, let's do another quick recap including these speculative members of Johnny Thunder's family:

  • Charles Kilroy: uncle
  • Dr. Cyber: uncle's brother
  • Tim Timebuster: uncle's brother's nephew
  • Max Timebuster: unknown relation to uncle's brother's nephew
  • Josh Thunder: descendant
  • Jonathan Bolt: distant relative
  • Curtis Bolt: unknown relation to distant relative

Johnny Thunder's family tree would include seven other members. Considering typical LEGO families, that's a surprisingly extensive list spanning five LEGO themes and one CUUSOO set.


That's all that we have for today. By now, I imagine you're quite bored with all this talk about genealogy and family trees and confusing ties between LEGO themes. In that case, this blog has served its purpose well. But now, at least you can walk away with more useless trivia about plastic Danish figures that will never help you in real life!


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