Thundercats: 4-inch Lion-O by Ban Dai

If you read my look at the Thundertank then you know I’ve already recounted the tortured trials of pre-orders, failures, and victories that surrounded my efforts to get the new Thundercats figures. When the dust had settled, I wound up with five out of the seven Basic Assortment figures, right now I’m missing only Cheetara and Panthro, and two of the Deluxe Assortment figures. Today we’re going to start checking these guys out with a look at the leading cat himself, Lion-O.

Our first look at the new Thundercats packaging and I’m really digging it. The card is fairly compact with the Thundercats logo across the top. It’s so nice to see that logo on a cardback again, especially since just about every other 80s action figure property has gotten more than their due over the past three decades. The card features some nice artwork of Lion-O in the upper corner, and as we’ll see in upcoming features, the cards have character-specific art, so Lion-O’s mug isn’t on every card. The bubble is fairly roomy and shows off the figure and his accessories very nicely. The back panel has a shot of the figure and some of the other toys and figures in the line. There’s a one sentence bio-type thingy on the back, but its so short and meaningless that it might as well not be there at all. And yes, the cards are tri-lingual, which sucks. Or maybe it doesn’t. The packaging is nice enough that I could see myself buying extras to keep MOC, IF only they weren’t tri-lingual. So in the long run it saved me some money. Ok, let’s tear this pussy open and check him out.

Out of the package, Lion-O is one fun and great looking little figure. The sculpt is fairly simple, as you would expect from a figure based on an animated design and it captures Lion-O’s on screen counterpart to a tee. The shoulder armor is made of soft plastic, but it does restrict Lion-O’s head movement a bit. It’s pegged into his shoulder, and it’s not meant to be removed. I’m going to wait until I get a second Lion-O before I try to forcibly excise it. It’s the one aspect of Lion-O’s new design that I don’t like all that much. The hip armor is cast in very soft plastic, so as not to impede the hip articulation at all. As part of this line’s ThunderLynx gimmick, Lion-O does feature a square hump on his back that contains the magnet. It’s not that unsightly, although as a Basic Assortment figure, it doesn’t do anything unless you have some of the Deluxe bases or vehicles for him to interact with.

Lion-O is painted with a mixed matte and glossy finish, although most of the figure has a nice glossy toyish sheen, which I find very appealing for animated figures. The paintwork is excellent: Very clean, sharp and crisp, especially on the eyes, overall face, and the Thundercats emblem on his belt. It’s a shame that the pins and hinges in the joints in the arms aren’t painted, but rather left black. If this were one of the larger, collector grade figures, I would be a lot more critical of this oversight, but on these little 4-inchers, I can be more forgiving, because the figure really does still look great. Just compare the overall paint quality on this guy to some of the travesties we’ve been seeing out of Hasbro lately in the same scale.

Lion-O sports some very good articulation for a 4-inch figure. He has a ball jointed neck. His arms feature universal movement in the shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels near the wrists. His legs have universal movement in the hips, as well as hinged knees and ankles. He can also swivel at the waist. Granted, it’s not the most points of articulation we’ve seen in a 4-inch figure. Hasbro has these guys beat with their modern GI Joe and Marvel Universal bodies, but Lion-O’s articulation is a lot more sturdy, solid, and certainly no less playable. Lion-O is an extremely well built figure that should survive the rigors of play pretty well. I suppose my only real gripe with Lion-O’s articulation is you just can’t quite get him to look into the crossguard of the Sword of Omens for a little Sight Beyond Sight action.

And speaking of the Sword of Omens, you get three accessories with Lion-O. There’s the Sword of Omens in both it’s short, dorment stage and it’s long awakened version, and you get the Claw Shield. The Claw Shield is a pretty simple sculpt. It’s cast in gold matte plastic and fits on snugly over Lion-O’s left hand. You can also sheathe the small Sword of Omens in it and Lion-O can wear both accessories on his arm. The extended Sword of Omens is also a very simple sculpt, and unfortunately cast in very soft rubbery plastic. It’s tough to get the blade completely straight, which is somewhat disappointing for such an iconic accessory.

As a Basic Assortment figure, Lion-O retails at $7.99, which is pretty friggin great if you ask me. Ban Dai has put out a great looking and high quality figure with a good range of accessories, while still managing to put him out at $1 or $2 less than most other figures hanging on the pegs in this scale. His design is different enough from the original series that he may not immediately appeal to diehard fans of the old cartoon, but if you dig the new cartoon (and I think it’s fantastic), this figure should be right up your ally.

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