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!!!

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

As some of you may know the Walmarts in my town are pretty sucky for toy hunting. Unless you’re looking for Star Wars, Transformers or toys from whatever the Marvel or DC movie of the week is, they really don’t carry anything else worthwhile in the Boys Action aisles. In fact, in the last couple of years the Boys Action aisles have gone from three down to two and now it’s one and a half as one of them shares with Nerf and all three of the ones in the city where I live are the same way. So imagine my surprise today when I actually found Thundercats on the pegs. There were no 4-inch cats, but two flexed pegs of the 6-inchers, along with the newly released Cheetara. I happily grabbed up Lion-O, Panthro and Cheetara. Sadly no Tygra or Mumm-Ra. Today, we’ll kick it off with Lion-O.

The packaging is pretty utilitarian in design, but it certainly gets the job done. Y ou get a huge bubble with just a bit of the cardback peeking up on the top with the neo Thundercats logo. Lion is carded in a fairly neutral stance, but holding the extended Sword of Omens and with his accesories around him. There’s a nice printed insert with some pretty cool character art and some stickers in tri-lingual nonsense. The back panel shows the figure as well as some of the other Thundercats toys available. These aren’t collector friendly packages like Ban Dai’s 8-inch Classics Thundercats, but that’s ok, I don’t mind shredding a package to get at my toys.
Once I got this guy out of the package in in my hands, I knew that I loved him. That’s not to say he doesn’t have some issues, so let me get those out of the way first. The face sculpt is very soft, especially when compared to Panthro. It might have something to do with the flesh colored plastic BD used, I’m not sure. It still looks good, it still looks exactly like Lion-O from the modern cartoon, but at first, I kept thinking I wished it was crisper and more defined. The rest of the sculpt is really good, albeit simplified to keep that animated style of the character design.
Secondly, yeah those unpainted pegs in the joints. The only one that really bothers me are the ones on his flesh colored wrists, and one of those isn’t even a problem since I have him wearing the Claw Shield while on display, but they are a bit of an eyesore, especially since the rest of the figure’s paintwork is really first rate. I love the contrast between the glossy blue on the armor and the matte finish on the silver shoulder pauldron. The paintwork on the face is clean and the Eye of Thunderra on his belt is crisp and beautiful. Ok, the straps on the back of his leg armor aren’t painted, but I didn’t even really notice that at first.
Lion-O sports 18-points of articulation, making him a difficult figure to put down. Like my 8-inch Classics Lion-O, he’s just so darn fun to play around with. You get a ball jointed neck; Arms with ball joints in the shoulders, double-hinged elbows, hinged wrists, and swivels in the biceps and forearms; His legs feature ball joints in the hips, swivels in the thighs, double-hinged knees, hinged ankles, and his ankles even have rocker joints to keep his feet flat when assuming a wide stance. Lion-O also has a ball jointed waist, and while it looks like he has a ball joint in the chest, mine doesn’t seem to want to move at all. The level of poseability here approaches what I come to expect in a higher end import, not a 6-inch American mass market release figure. My only concern here is that the joints feel like they may loosen up pretty quick. Especially when I can’t stop playing with him.
Lion-O comes with all the necessary accessories. You get two versions of The Sword of Omens, both extended and dorment. You get two versions of the Claw Shield, one with the claws out, and one with them retracted. The swords are fantastically done, and I’m particularly impressed that the extended sword, while obviously soft for safety purposes is perfectly straight and not prone to warping. The Eye of Thunderra is maticulously painted on the hilt of the extended version and closed on the dorment version. Both Claw Shields can be used to sheathe the dorment sword and can be worn by popping off Lion-O’s left hand and popping the Claw on in its place. He also has a plastic strap hanging off his belt so he can wear it as a sheathe. I couldn’t ask for anything more in the accessories department.
It’s unfortunate that popular opinion seems to characterize this figure by two of its faults, a soft face sculpt and unpainted peg joints, because everything else about him is amazing. I am absolutely thrilled to finally own this figure and he definitely ranks up there as one of my favorite recent purchases, and I’ve been buying a hell of a lot of toys lately. I suppose you could argue that that BD is sort of marketing these 6-inchers at the collectors grade end of the spectrum, and he certainly doesn’t appoach the glory of the 8-inch Classics Lion-O, but he is still a fantastic toy that still looks just fine displayed on the shelf. I’ll also note that it’s cool how the awkwardly large Snarf that came with the Thundertank is actually perfectly scaled for these 6-inch figures. He retails for anywhere between $15-17, which I honestly think is a decent price point for all that you get. And now, I’m going to go play with him some more!

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.

Thundercats: ThunderRacer Vehicles with Lion-O and Tygra by Ban Dai

No doubt, the coolest thing about the 4-inch line of Thundercats figures is the potential for vehicles, and so far Ban Dai has been delivering. I’ve already looked at the Thundertank and now it’s time to check out two of the Deluxe scale vehicles: The ThunderRacers. Besides offering up some great vehicle action for your figures, these kitty bikes are also designed to combine with the Thundertank to make it a more formidable fighting machine. Let’s check them out…

The Racers are each packaged and sold separately, one with Lion-O and one with Tygra. I’ve decided to look at them together, since they are basically the same toy, only each one comes with a different figure and weapon pod. The packaging is pretty large and hefty for a toy in this price class. You get a HUGE bubble on a cardback that is flush with the bubble making the packaging look like a straight up box. The figure and vehicle are displayed really well and the back panel of the card has photos showing the gimmicks and other toys in the line. All in all, I think this is some great presentation. But the best thing about the packaging? Nothing is tied down. Just tear it open and everything pops out really easy.

The vehicles themselves are basically Thundercat Lightcycles. They have a wheel in front and back and a big canopy that lifts open to allow access to the cockpit where the figure sits. There’s no real detail inside the cockpit, apart from a pair of control sticks that the figures can grab. There seems to be spot intended for a sticker where the controls would be, but it doesn’t come with any stickers. The seat is sculpted with the socket to plug the figures’ ThunderLynx into and the vehicles will work with the regular carded versions of Lion-O and Tygra too. I’m pretty sure Cheetara would fit as well. The sculpt is solid, and I like the blue speckled paint used for the cat heads, but some extra paint apps or stickers for the outside would have helped a lot. Admittedly, there isn’t a whole lot of substance to the Racers themselves, but they do look great and are fun to play around with.

Each Racer comes with one weapon pod, which can be plugged into either side of the vehicle and works in conjunction with the figures’ ThunderLynx. Lion-O’s comes with a drill that shoots like a missile and Tygra’s has an LED that lights up like its firing a laser. The weapons are activated by pressing a fire button near the canopy, but will only work if a figure is plugged into the ThunderLynx port. The weapons themselves are not all that special, but I do like the customization ability, where you can even plug both weapons into a single bike.

The Lion-O and Tygra figures are a little perplexing to me. I expected them to be simple space holders much like the unarticulated figures Spin Master put in with their Tron vehicles. As it turns out, these are actually great looking figures and loads of fun. On the downside, they aren’t as detailed or as articulated as the single carded versions of these characters, nor do they come with any accessories. They’re also just a smidge smaller than the carded figures, but still passable in the same scale. Even if you get these versions first, you’re still going to want to pick up the regular releases at which point these figures become rather redundant. Each pack-in figure has the same body sculpt and basic outfit, but the arms and legs have unique paintwork. The head sculpts are every bit as good as the regular carded releases in terms of sculpt and paintwork. Articulation consists of seven points: The heads rotate, the arms rotate at the shoulders, the legs rotate at the hips and have hinged elbows. So, the articulation is not bad, but nowhere near as good as the regular versions.

The ThunderRacers plug into the Thundertank in the same way as the little drone bikes that came with it. They add a lot of bulk to the tank and triple its occupancy. I absolutely love the look of this combined mode, although the Thundertanks paws can’t go down all the way with the Racers attached, so be prepared to fold out the claws and put them in attack mode. Also, the combined mode is pretty unstable because of the added weight on the sides. It holds together great if you leave the tank on a flat surface, but if you go to pick it up, you have to be pretty careful in order to keep it form falling apart. The ThunderRacers work with the same launching gimmick as the drone bikes too.

The ThunderRacers retail for fifteen bucks each, which on its own seems like a decent price, but the sense of value really skyrockets when compared to the Deluxe 4-inch figures at the same price point. The vehicles and figures are plenty of fun on their own, but I think the real draw here for most collectors will be to be able to complete the buffed out Thundertank. Again, I really like the figures, and I suppose its good to have extra figures to display in the tank, but as I said earlier, they’re really redundant and I may wind up just giving them to my Nephew.