By: Bandai America
It’s no secret that I’m a Thundercats fan. I loved the series when I was a kid, loved it again when Toonami re-aired it when I was in high school, and I’m loving the new series. The mix of sword-and-sorcery and science fiction with the inclusion of anthropomorphic heroes just beats out Masters of the Universe every time for me. To be fair, I was probably on the late end of MOTU and only just at the proper age to start loving the ‘Cats.
I’ve been excited about the revamp since I first caught wind of it, but admittedly became a little worried when I heard Bandai had acquired the license. Visions of metal and black plastic joints did the Lambada in my head and I lost hope rather quickly.
If you’ve watched any of the video reviews, you can see that I’m singing a different tune of late when it comes to the action-y 4” line. With so many of my figures being in the 6 to 7” scale, I will naturally be a bit harder on this line. So, how’d they do?
Ummm…yeah. The packaging didn’t survive. I consider it a testament to how excited I was to get these figures. It’s pretty much the same as the 4” boxes, but a bit longer. Nothing special, and if you’ve bought an action figure in the last 20 years you know what to expect.
“YOU. ARE. A. TOY!!!” – Sheriff Woody
So the first thing you may notice in a lot of these pictures is that Lion-O is very toy-like. He’s got a lot of unpainted parts that give him a plasticky sheen and the pegs and discs in many of his joints are molded in black plastic. Truly, it is as I feared. And truly, I don’t give a damn.
Lion-O looks great, head to toe. Sure, his likeness is a bit soft and he’s probably a bit too muscular, but he certainly maintains his youthful look from the show as well as those sexy swimmer’s legs. I think what I like a lot about the Bandai Thundercats toys so far (Classics and Modern) is that they feel like the animation models of the characters. They’re simple enough in design, but they feel like you’re holding a piece of the cartoon. I don’t need washes and ornate little details when they’re not present in the show. That’ll be the subject of much debate I’m sure, as a lot of people think these are too toy-like. I agree, but in fairness they are toys.
There are only a few problems I really saw with the paint. One is that the armor straps behind his calves have been left unpainted. We’ve seen a bit of that in the 4” line, but I did think it would be remedied at the higher price point. Second, the armor on his right arm is a little haphazard around the edges. The last is that his right eye appears to be painted slightly out of the mold. This is not something you’d notice right away, mind. I had to look for problems and when you do that you’ll always find one. Overall, the paint’s not bad. The molded colors look great, too, with that metallic sparkly green armor looking especially nice.
Lion-O comes with a handful of accessories that are really just the same two accessories in different forms. First he comes with the Sword of Omens, which comes in dagger and sword forms, each with its own unique paint scheme on the Eye of Thundera. Secondly, he comes with the two different versions of the new Claw Shield. I’m not sure why they didn’t cut out the hole for the Eye of Thundera like the 4” toy, but it is a bit of a let-down.
In the original show, the Claw Shield appeared to be a furry hunting trophy that Snarf bejeweled while Lion-O was in stasis. This time around, it’s more technological/armor-like, with claws that extend when it’s in use. The battle claw fits nicely on his left wrist via a simple ball and socket system, but be careful as it is a very tight fit and you don’t want to put too much stress on the elbows. The dagger form of the Sword of Omens can be stored in either Claw Shield.
There’s a peg that hangs from his skirt that the Claw Shield can be attached to for storing the Sword of Omens like a sheathe. For whatever reason, Bandai decided that they still wanted Lion-O’s hand to fit in there even though he’d have no place for his fingers. For this reason, it sort of sticks out to the side a bit and can look bulky as a simple sheathe. On the show it’s shown to fit more flush against his hip when not in use. I don’t know if this was just a weird design decision or if Bandai knows something we don’t about why Lion-O might need that to be able to fit on his arm.
Could our budding hero be the future one-handed King of Thundera? The permanent owner of the Claw Shield, if you get my meaning? Or was Bandai just kinda dumb?
Only time will tell.
Has anybody seen ToyBiz around? They seem to have left their ARTICULATION at the door! Hyuk!
Seriously, it might not be perfect, but this guy’s got some serious mobility. In the neck we’ve got that same ball and socket joint coupled with the hinge joint at the base like Classic Lion-O, swivel-hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinge elbows, swivel forearms, hinged wrists, side-to-side chest rocker, ball and socket waist, swivel-hinge hips, swivel upper thighs, double-hinged knees, hinged ankles, and rockers in the feet.
Whew! Note that the hinge in the left wrist disappears when the claw arm is attached, but other than that the joints just work beautifully. The ball in his neck could work a lot better and the hinge at the base has a lot more downward motion than up, but it’s passable. The real stars of the show here are the ankle rockers, which have tremendous range and do wonders for his balance.
Both of these poses are held quite solidly thanks to those excellent rockers in the feet. I love rocker joints. One of the last straws for me in DCUC was the removal of this joint, which seemed to disappear quietly into oblivion. I have missed rockers of this quality for a very long time. They add a lot of personality to the figure and make it feel a lot less like just some toy. When the poses become more believable, the toy comes to life and really becomes that character. The life of a toy often hinges on that favorite point of articulation. For some it’s the difference of a great ball-jointed neck on your Predator, for some it’s double knees for Batman, for others the inclusion of ball hinged wrists on their MOTUCs would mean a world of difference. For me, on this toy, it’s the rockers. Everything feels so much more epic when he’s flat-footed in a wide stance, wielding the Sword of Omens for the first time in twenty-five years. When that one joint comes along it helps you to believe in the character of a toy and all the wonder and imagination that comes with it.
Ultimately, the figure just poses great. All the joints are tight and don’t feel to me like they’re going to get loose any time soon. Action poses, repose, and even the iconic “Thundercats Hooooooo” pose are attainable. The skirts really don’t get in the way of the legs. In fact, the only limitation outside of the neck is in the shoulders. If they could move a little further out, he’d be in excellent shape. And if anyone didn’t notice, his shoulder pad is removable and allows for slightly better range out of the right arm. I like to keep mine off; I liked the look of his costume in the first episode(s) much better than the armor he magically acquired later (I mean, it’s not Claudus’ armor. Where’d he get it?).
Questions for another time, I suppose.
The going rate for these is about $14.99 at most retailers. TRU I think has jacked them up to like 16.99 or 17.99. At 15 bucks, I like him. At 13 I would LOVE him, but that’s the state of things these days, I suppose.
For me, the quality of the joints and poseability far outweigh me nerdy needs for anything to be hyper-detailed. Make no mistake, the 4” Thundercats toys are incredibly well-made and will be perfectly suitable for all your vehicles and playsets. But if you’re a collector and really want that extra mile, with excellent joints and the mass to make your toys feel like they have presence, go with this figure. The joints give you a lot of flexibility to add personality to your King.
Plus, he just looks killer with Mumm-Ra.
Aesthetics: Adults: 8
Articulation: Adults: 9
Value: Adults: 8
Overall: Adults: 8.3
Lion-O here is fantastic, and can capture all those great poses from the show from battle action to grim resolve. The face is a little bland because it doesn’t have much emotion/personality to it, but the articulation really helps to balance him out. I wish I could capture better how versatile this guy is.
Lion-O is a great toy and will always have a place on my shelf. I love the character, dig the design, and the toy is good enough to have me wishing Bandai had announced something more at SDCC. Fun to play with, look at, and pose, he’s just a great toy. Fully recommended to Thundercats and action figure fans alike.
Thanks for reading and as always, it’s just a toy. Open the darned thing.