Thundercats: Classic 6-inch Lion-O by Ban Dai

So, let’s deal with the elephant in the room. After releasing only two Classic Thundercats figures in the 8-inch scale, Ban Dai decided to go back to the drawing board and start over with a 6-inch line. I don’t have any inside information as to why they would do this, particularly since the 8-inch Lion was easily my favorite figure released in 2011, but it might have had something to do with the fact that a lot of collectors were bitching that the 8-inch format was an oddball scale and you couldn’t swing a cyber-cat around most toy forums without hearing the lament that they didn’t fit into scale with the Masters of the Universe Classics line.

Honestly, I don’t care so much about the scale, or even having to buy Lion-O a second time. If starting over in 6-inch is what we need to do for Ban Dai to get us all the Classic Thundercats and hopefully the Mutants too, then I’m fine with that. If they go ahead and release some more in the 8-inch scale, I’m fine with that too. What I’m kind of pissed about is the idea that Ban Dai’s Thundercats figures need to conform to the scale of Mattel’s MOTUC line, as if the later has become some holy industry standard and must be obeyed. Look, I make no bones about the fact that I love the MOTUC line and I’ve certainly bought my share of the figures. But last time I checked, Thundercats was the line that’s actually being sold in stores and MOTUC is the one hiding out through a particularly crappy online-only retail service. My point is that Ban Dai doesn’t owe any homage to MOTUC when devising the scale of their Thundercats figures. But if bending to the will of a bunch of He-Man collector fanboys is what we need to do to get Classics Thundercats figures, then so be it. Just bring them on. Ok, rant over, let’s look at the figure…
It may be a whole new scale, but Ban Dai didn’t mess with the design of the packages. Lion-O comes in a sort of box-card hybrid that looks almost exactly like the one his 8-inch cousin came in. Its even almost exactly the same size too.  I’m fine with this packaging, particularly because it is so collector friendly, and it does a fine job of showing off the figure and accessories you’re getting. The figure comes nestled in a tray with a nice colorful cardboard backdrop that can easily be slid out the bottom and easily returned.
In a lot of ways 6-inch Lion-O is just a scaled down version of the 8-inch figure. He seemed rather small to me when I first got him out of the package, but that’s probably because despite being scaled down to the MOTUC size, he’s still not all bulked up and ‘roided out like the MOTUC figures are. As a result even after all the fuss, Lion-O here still isn’t going to look at home standing next to He-Man. So take that, bitches! But as far as the body is concerned, you’ll see very few differences between this guy and his slightly larger predecessor. Its still an amazingly cool, and delightfully toyish, looking sculpt with the same excellent paintwork, sans painted ankle joints. The only major difference is that this smaller Lion-O has some rather unsightly exposed screw heads on the back of the figure, which did not show on the larger one.
Plenty of cyber-ink has been spilled over Lion-O’s new head sculpt and the fact that he’s sculpted into a perpetual angry scream. I certainly don’t like it anywhere near as much as the 8-inch head sculpt, but honestly its grown on me to the point where I don’t dislike it. I’ve also heard some gripes about the windblown look to his hair, but I find it to be a nice homage to the way his hair looked on the vintage LJN figure.
6-inch Lion-O features almost the exact same articulation as the 8-inch version. 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, have double-hinged knees, and hinged ankles. Lion-O also features a ball joint in his waist and another ab joint just below his chest. The only real difference that I see is smaller Lion-O seems to be missing that extra up-down hinge in the neck and simply features a ball joint there. Still, not too shabby in the poseability department.
Surprise! 6-inch Lion-O also comes with the same accessories as larger Lion-O. You get the same swappable hands, The Sword of Omens in large and small versions, the Claw Shield, and that awsomely clever little hook that can attach it to his waist. The swords are both very nicely sculpted, but this larger Sword of Omens is a lot more bendy than the 8-inch Lion’s sword. Once again, the smaller Sword of Omens can be stored in the Claw Shield.
So if you have 8-inch Lion-O do you need 6-inch? Well, that depends on whether you’re banking on getting a whole set. While Ban Dai claims they will continue to support the 8-inch line, I don’t see this happening. I’ll be happy to eat my words if I’m wrong, but I just don’t see it happening. This new 6-inch scale is the one that will likely see the release of the complete Thundercats and hopefully many more figures. Plus, Mumm-Ra is already available and that’s cooler than Tygra. Make no mistake, the 8-inch Lion-O is a superior figure in every way and still stands as my favorite figure released by anyone in 2011, but this smaller Lion-O is pretty sweet too. I’m not at all bitter at having to buy a second, as I’m willing to purchase every Classic Thundercats toy that Ban Dai puts out just to support the line and see it go as far as possible.
Tomorrow… Mumm-Ra!!!

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