This will always be a bit of a "work in progress" as new information emerges about the development of the Black Panther range. Note that for each year I've only listed the snares shown on the website, in an available price list or catalogue, or ones shown to have been released during the year.
There's a limit on how accurate I can be with range change dates, especially in the late 90s/early 2000s, as there are so few catalogues and the Wayback Machine only has periodic snapshots available. If you see any major errors or ommisions, please let me know.
Brass was introduced as a shell material for the first time. Still Pre-Black Panther, the Orion branding for the snare range was dropped in favour of the more familiar titles of "Maple Deluxe", "Brass Master" etc across the range. There's no differentiation in quality evident from the catalogue - all the snares seemed to be created equal.
This is basically Year Zero for Black Panthers, with Mapex throwing the kitchen sink at the new range; there are 40 models in every conceivable size and shell construction. Their advertising was straight to point on the colours available though, with them paraphrasing Henry Ford's line, "You can have any colour as long as it's black."
Forget "The Year of the Horse" - this should really be called "The Year of the Unicorn". It's the time when the two legendary (and hernia inducing!) Solid Bronze models show up as part of the Precious Metal range. It's also the year three new hammered ranges appear - Steel, Brass and Phosphor Bronze.
This is where the range finally settles down and all the top end snares are brought under the Black Panther umbrella, with Premium Series / Precious Metal / Hammered / Deep Forest sub-branding. The catalogue specifically mentions the drums being made in China for the first time and the badges from this time on say "Made in China"
The Natural Maple (Wax Natural) series joins the Black Panther range. Also there's the addition of the 13"x3.5" Steel, 14"x6.5" Deep Forest Walnut (Chrome Hardware), the 13"x5.5" Premium Brass (Chrome Hardware), and the first of the three special stainless steel editions to be released in consecutive years - the Babylonian.
After three years the Black Panther family gets quite a big refresh, with the introduction of several new lines and changes to the available shell sizes and finish of some existing ones. The Seamless Solid Steel appears for the first time, the Blonde Birdseye Maple for the only time, and the third of the stainless steel special editions arrives - the Kung Fu.