Thundercats: Classic Lion-O 8-inch Collector Figure by Ban Dai

It was a long struggle to finally get this figure. I had it pre-ordered, had to cancel the pre-order because I bought way too much other stuff that month. Re pre-ordered it at another site. Canceled that pre-order because the figures turned up at another site first. Had to pass on them at TRU because my order already shipped and now I finally have him. So, don’t take it lightly when I say that after finally getting this figure in hand, he was worth every spot of bother and frustration along the way. I’d like to think its rare that I completely lose my shit and gush like crazy over a figure, but put on your hip boots, folks, because it’s about to get deep in here. Lion-O is freaking awesome.

At first glance, I liked the packaging, but didn’t love it. I think I was just expecting something a bit more vintage looking. Instead you get something like a small window box with an extended card on the back to make it peg friendly. The familiar Thundercats logo is on the top and there’s very little about the package that blocks your view of the figure inside. Ban Dai obviously wanted to let these toys speak for themselves. And I think it was a good call. The back panel shows off the figure and some of the other Thundercats toys, both new and classic, and the package still features that annoying tri-lingual writing. Ultimately, the packaging won me over because with a quick snip of some tape on the bottom flap, it proves to be totally collector friendly, and I can keep my figures and their extra accessories displayed in the package when I’m not fiddling about with them. Cool!
Once out of the package, Lion-O is glorious. Let me try to do my best here, because words are failing me. If you’re expecting a collector grade figure, you will likely be disappointed. There’s stuff here that the snooty collector type will want to scoff at. Lion-O feels like a toy, and I’m not meaning that as a slight, in fact, quite the contrary. He has that great shiny plastic look and feel that makes the nostalgia just pour out of him. It’s like Ban Dai somehow managed to preserve the essence of the vintage toy aspect of the old LJN Lion-O figure and yet completely update it with super articulation and better proportions. Usually when I get a new figure that I love, I can’t wait to display him on the shelf. With Lion-O here, it’s like I want to take him around the house and fight battles with him. He’s just that much fun.
The head sculpt might as well be perfect, because I can’t find anything to even nit pick about it. It captures the character beautifully and still features that great windblown sculpt to his hair that the vintage toy had. The rest of his iconic outfit is wonderfully reproduced here and the sculpting on his muscles balances just the right amount of detail between realism and cartoon. I’m particularly thrilled with the way the Claw Shield came out. It has a great metallic gold sheen with the bright red crystals in the knuckles, and includes a slot to sheath the smaller Sword of Omens. Lion-O even has a removable strap hanging off his hip that can be used to secure the Claw Shield when he’s not wearing it.
Lion-O’s paintwork is solid, and here’s a great example of less being more. Thankfully, Ban Dai didn’t do something silly like use an ugly wash on his muscles or anything like that. [Oh wait, they did and then charged double for it in San Diego! -FF] The paintwork on his face is immaculate as is the Thundercats logo on his belt. I’m also happy to report that the discs and pins in his shoulder joints are cast in flesh colored plastic, so you don’t get the unsightly black joints that we see in the new series figures. On the downside, the pins in his ankles are also cast in flesh colored plastic. But that’s one of those reasons I pointed out that he’s more toy than collectible.
Ok, let’s talk articulation, because the package boasts 18 points. The head is ball jointed, but the neck is also hinged where it meets the shoulder to give him more of an up and down motion to his head. The arms feature ball joints in the shoulders, hinged elbows, swivels in the biceps, and ball jointed wrists. His legs are ball jointed at the hips, feature swivels in the thighs and just above the boots, feature double hinged knees, and hinged ankles. Lion-O also has a ball joint in his waist and another ab joint just below his chest. There’s few poses you can’t get this guy into!
Accessories include a long Sword of Omens, a short Sword of Omens, and the Claw Shield. Ok, here’s where you made out better if you picked up the SDCC version. Not that there’s anything wrong with this figure’s accessories, but I can’t deny that the vac-metalized swords of the SDCC Exclusive look so much better. Still, the sculpting on the swords is quite nice and they aren’t as rubbery as I was afraid they were going to be. You also get an extra pair of hands. The left one replaces the Claw Shield and the right one is designed to better grip the Sword of Omens. Why you would want the less grippy right hand is beyond me. But hey… free hand!
Lion-O runs anywhere from between $17.99 and $20. Considering he probably has about the same collector appeal as Mattel’s MOTU Classics figures, I think this is a great price. It’s probably even more so, since you can theoretically buy him at a retail store, rather than have to go online and pay an extra ten bucks to have him shipped. It’s certainly worth saying that right now Lion-O here is one of my favorite figures in my entire, not so humble, collection. Having this toy in hand, I’m actually shamed to think that I was disappointed when Ban Dai got the license to do Classic Thundercats figures. Clearly they knew what they were doing all along. Next time we’ll check out Tygra, but let me say here and now that if Ban Dai doesn’t at the very least release all the Thundercats in this format, I’m going to go apeshit. But the thought that we might also get the Mutants and Mumm-Ra has got me really excited. Oh yeah, we also now know that Ban Dai has the rights to the Silverhawks license and have even established a bit of a tie-in with the new cartoon series. 8-inch Classic Silverhawk figures? Probably not, but just saying, is all.

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