Thundercats: Mega-Scale Panthro by Mezco

Ban Dai’s attempt to rekindle the magic of Thundecats may have fizzled out, but thankfully we still have Mezco working to complete the team in epic statue/figure form. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t pick up Panthro until after Cheetara was confirmed. I adore these statues and while Lion-O and Mumm-Ra could hold their own alone on my shelf, I didn’t want to have Panthro be the odd man out if Mezco decided that enough was enough. Of course, by not supporting the line and buying Panthro on release it would have served me right if Mezco abandoned the line because not enough people bought Panthro. But I have since remedied that by pre-ordering Cheetara and I’ll gladly do the same for every new statue Mezco reveals for this line now that it’s hit critical mass. Anyway, he arrived on my stoop a couple of days back, so let’s see if he’s cool enough to hang with the others.

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An epic figure requires epic packaging, and that’s certainly what we have here. Panthro comes in a big, heavy window box with the same overall color and feel as Lion-O’s box. One side panel has the gorgeous Thundercats logo running down the side and the other panel has a shot of all the cats in action. It’s a different piece of artwork than what was used for Lion-O’s as it has Panthro wrapping around to the front. The box is totally collector friendly; you just need to clip Panthro’s tie wraps to get him out. You will, however, want to take better care than I did removing his baggied nun-chucks, because the tape will tear the illustration on the back of the tray. I’ve always been a fan of the classic Thundercats artwork and these boxes are fabulous tributes to that colorful animated style. It’s bright, colorful and gorgeous and I will likely keep these boxes for as long as I own the figures.

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While the package says “action figure,” you may want to take that term with a grain of salt. The whole statue-vs-figure debate rears its ugly head again! Yes, he has some articulation, which we’ll get to in a bit, but enough of this guy is static for me to question the term action figure, so I’m fine just going with figure. It’s semantics, I know. As for his size… Well, Mezco calls these things Mega-Scale for a reason. They are big. They’re not as big as NECA’s 1/4 scale figures, but you’re still getting an impressively large piece that clocks in at around 14-inches tall.

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As with Mezco’s other Mega-Scale figures, Panthro is rotocast, so the sculpt leans a little to the soft side, but even so, I have no complaints about it. Granted, the bulk of the sculpt here is found in Panthro’s muscle definition. The spikes on his harness are stout and durable and he sports his trademark split-toe ninja style boots. He comes out of the box with one hand sculpted to hold his chucks and the other with his palm held out, but we’ll come back to that in a few ticks. Panthro gets by without a whole lot of detailed paintwork, as his color pallet is mostly just purple and lighter purple. Mezco went light on the paint wash, which I think is a good thing as it’s just enough to bring out the details in his muscles. The paint on the sculpted Thundercats emblem is quite good, but I’m thinking that maybe some high gloss finish would have made it pop more. The biggest opportunity for improvement on my figure is the bit of bleeding around the base of his harness spikes, but even that isn’t so bad.

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Mezco captured Panthro’s portrait quite well. He’s definitely in kick-ass mode, with just a bit of a scowl, but they didn’t overdo it with the ferocity in his expression, so if I choose to pose him with his chucks at rest, the expression will work well enough for me. The paint on the eyes is super crisp, but mine has a little bit of odd paint marks around his lips and the tip of his nose. I’m not sure if this is just a wash that’s gone wrong, but eventually I will try to clean it up a bit with a magic eraser.

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Ok, here comes articulation. Panthro has ten points, as follows: A ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, swivel cuts in the wrists, swivel cuts at the top of his boots, and swivel cuts in his ankles. He also has a swivel in his waist. The four swivels in his legs are mainly to tweak him so he can stand depending on what you do with his arms and waist. With the neck, shoulder, and wrist joints, you can certainly get a few different display options, but the biggest choice in displaying him actually comes from one of his extra pieces.

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None of the official photos I saw of this guy showed him holding his chucks in both hands. I was hoping and hoping that he would come with a swappable left hand, and I was very happy to see that he does. Heck, it even says so right on the box. While I like the idea of holding his chucks in one hand, the fact that they use a real chain between them means that one is always just going to be dangling, unless you want to get creative and maybe run one of the twisty ties through the chain to give it a dynamic swinging look. Nope, my Panthro will always be displayed grabbing his chucks in both hand and ready to smack down some mutants, and I’m really glad Mezco gave us the option.

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I always dug Panthro in the original cartoon, because he wasn’t a stereotypical character. He was both a big burly fighter, but he had the smarts to invent and work on all of the Thundercats tech. He’s exactly the kind of cat-of-all-trades that you want in your corner if you find yourself marooned on a hostile planet. Mezco’s figure certainly does the character justice. He isn’t as packed with extras like Lion-O, nor does he have any flashy mixed media like Mumm-Ra, but Panthro comes with everything he needs. And most importantly, he looks great standing next to Lion-O and once we get a few more cats, this is going to be one seriously epic display. At $35, this guy is a whole lot of figure at a ridiculously reasonable price point.

And now… the long wait until Summer for Cheetara to be released.

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FigureFan’s Disappointments of 2012, Part 2

Thought yesterday was depressing? Oh no. Don’t pass out on me. Not yet… Here’s the last five.

Thundercats: 6-inch Classic Lion-O by Ban Dai… Make no mistake, I don’t think this is a bad figure. It certainly has issues, like unpainted joints and an unfortunate head sculpt, but it’s still a solid figure. So why does it appear here? Because it was completely unnecessary. The 8-inch Lion-O was probably my favorite figure of 2011, and there was no reason for Ban Dai to backpedal on it. Nonetheless, Ban Dai got hammered by fans for making the figure in the oddball 8-inch scale and then when they relented and re-released the figure in a more standard 6-inch scale, collectors railed against them for starting over. I’m not saying Ban Dai didn’t mishandle a few things with the Thundercats license (that Tower of Omens was a piece of shit!) but overall I like what they delivered and I was sorry to see the line not work out. This Lion-O figure represented the beginning of the end for the revival of Classic Thundercats and while I still bought it to support the line, just looking at it makes me sad.

Transformers Generations: Fall of Cybertron Jazz by Hasbro… Poor Jazz represents everything that is wrong with Transformers these days. He’s too small, too simple, has too few paint apps, and he’s too expensive. Compare him with the Deluxe toys from War for Cybertron and he just comes up wanting in every possible way. While some figures in the line have escaped these cutbacks, Jazz personifies the struggle that Hasbro and other toy companies are having producing quality product against the rising costs of plastic and production.

Mass Effect 3: Miranda by Big Fish… I know what you’re thinking… Thane was way worse than Miranda. True, but I wasn’t looking forward to Thane, hence he wasn’t really a disappointment. Miranda, on the other hand was a major disappointment. Plus, her left arm fell off. As shitty a figure as Thane was, at least he didn’t break while being removed from the package. This line certainly had its ups and downs, and it’s a shame that Miranda had to be one of the downs.

Young Justice 4-inch Series, Wave 3… Ok, let me clarify. Sportsmaster was in Wave 3 and he was a solid figure, so what I’m really talking about here are those three shitty stealth repaints that I had to buy to finish my Hall of Justice. I’ve honestly bitched about this sorry situation enough in the individual features, culminating in my need to go onto Ebay to get Stealth Kid Flash. Because it wasn’t bad enough Mattel made us buy these, they also made it impossible to find the last figure in the wave. This situation, my friends, is customer appreciation at its finest.

DC Universe Classics: Orange Lantern Lex Luthor… What is it with Mattel making me buy shitty figures to complete Collect & Connect constructs? They’re evil marketing geniuses that’s what. I hated this figure so much that I actually considered paying more to get just the C&C part off of Ebay so I wouldn’t have to admit to having purchased the figure. He’s pure garbage, and while he might appeal to collectors with a translucent plastic fetish, all he does for me is make me mad when I see him peeking out from the back of my Lantern shelf.

And there’s the light at the end of the tunnel and we have emerged into 2013. We’re done with canned recycled retrospective feature week and tomorrow I’ll be back with the first new feature of the year.

FigureFan’s Favorites 2012, Part 2

Second verse, same as the first. And again in no particular order…

Thundercats: Mega-Scale Mumm-Ra by Mezco… I had such high hopes for the Thundercats in 2011. Some of it paid off. I got some decent figures and the 8-inch Classic Lion-O proved to be my favorite figure from that year. But 2012 saw the prospects of a continued line die a slow death. In the end, I had to live vicariously through Mezco and the hopes they might keep the Classic Thunderkitty goodness going with their Mega-Scale statues. In 2012 we got Mumm-Ra and Panthro. I still haven’t opened my Panthro yet, but Mumm-Ra proved to be another outstanding effort in this line. I love this big guy, and I think he was one of the best values of the year.

Marvel Universe: Cable by Hasbro… I’m sorry to say it, but overall Marvel Universe has been disappointing me lately. Maybe the Marvel Legends figures are just pushing their smaller cousins out of my field of interest. It’s also possible that I’m just evolving beyond the 3 3/4” scale. GI Joe and Star Wars were the only lines that really tied me to it, and I don’t collect a lot of those anymore. Maybe the new 3 ¾” Doctor Who figures will bring me back. Either way, the MU figures this year have been competent enough, but not spectacular. The exception to that, however, was Cable, a figure executed so well that he barely feels like an MU figure at all.

Green Lantern Classics: Collect & Connect Stel by Mattel… I came into 2012 with a lot of Green Lantern fatigue from that shitty movie and the carpet bombing of marketing that followed it. But that didn’t stop the franchise from producing one of my favorite figures this year. Sure, Stel is a C&C figure, but he’s amazing in every way. The sculpt, the coloring, the articulation… he’s got it all. I never had much affinity for the character, but he certainly made for some excellent action figure fodder and Mattel went above and beyond.

Marvel Legends: Punisher by Hasbro… It may be because Frank Castle has been absent from my collection for so long, but this figure really hit the spot for me. It captures all there is about the character, he comes with all sorts of great weapons, and I just can’t stop playing around with him. One of the greatest compliments I can pay an action figure is to keep it standing on my desk, rather than regulate it to the shelves in the other room, and Punisher has been on my desk ever since I opened him up. It seems like I can’t go more than an hour without reaching over and picking him up.

Hot Toys’ Captain America: The First Avenger… 2012 was the year I finally broke down and bought some Hot Toys figures and Cap was my first. I was really apprehensive about blowing the money as I am generally not a 1:6 scale collector and I was a little afraid that the figure would be lost on me. Nonetheless, from the moment I had the package in hand, I knew there were no regrets. Cap’s outfit in this movie is my favorite design and I just had to have it in this epic format. While I doubt I will ever go all out into collecting Hot Toys in a hardcore manner, I can certainly see myself grabbing two or three a year.

And that’s all the good stuff… tomorrow we’ll start the one-two punch to the gonads that make up my biggest disappointments of 2012… Hang tight, ya’ll are already halfway through this wonderful week of shitty filler articles!

Thundercats: 6-inch Series: Tygra by Ban Dai

Looking back at the Thundercats re-launch makes me a sad kitty. I thought the new series was excellent, although I drifted away from it because of the gaps in the release of new episodes. I loved the toys, and I know I was largely a minority on that point, but I thought the 6-inch figures were great, even if they did have unpainted joints, and I thought the 4-inch figures were loads of fun. I did everything I could to support the line at retail, but it seemed like it was doomed to slip away from the very beginning. Of course, the problem with a re-launch is when it fizzles out, like Thundercats did, it’ll likely be a while before anyone else touches it. And considering how long it took for Thundercats to get its second chance at bat, it may be a very long time indeed.

Well, we’re revisiting this dead line today because I finally picked up the last of the 6-inch releases. [I just realized I never did look at the 6-inch Mumm-Ra either, but we’ll come back to him some other week. –FF] As is often the case when a line dies, the last releases are hard to find, and for a while Tygra was going for insane monies on the secondary market. I finally found him for a fairly reasonable price on Amazon, so let’s check out the last of the Thundercats team in this scale.

Once again we see that if you are a mint-on-card collector, you don’t want to buy from Amazon because they don’t give a shit when their packing your toys. This time, the figure was jammed into a box that was too small, so the card flap was bent all the way over. I know, I don’t really care, I tear these things open most of the time, so if I’m getting free second day shipping, I’m willing to deal with a mangled package in most cases. As with the other 6-inch figures, Tygra comes in a huge bubble on a fitted card. I always thought this was attractive and serviceable packaging, although I was never fond of the tri-lingual stuff. The bubble uses a personalized insert with Tygra’s character art and a sticker that boasts 18-points of articulation. The back of the card shows a photo of the figure along with some of the other figures that are available.

I was not a big fan of the character Tygra in the new series, but after only a few moments in my hand, I was sure that his is one of my favorite figures in the 6-inch line. For starters, the head sculpt is excellent. It doesn’t have any of the soft sculpt problems that Lion-O or Cheetara has. Tygra’s face is very well defined and the paintwork is outstanding.  The body and armor are also very well sculpted. There are parts of the armor that look like they could be detached, even though they’re actually sculpted as part of the figure. The armor is all cast in a nice deep matte green plastic, while the painted tiger stripes on Tygra’s exposed fur skin are expertly applied. I would have liked a bit more gloss on the Thundercats emblem, but at least it looks nice and crisp. The silver belt is a separate piece and detachable, but it is fitted so well to the figure that it looks and feels like it’s a part of him. The silver belt includes a functional holster and some sculpted canisters running across the front.

The joints are still unpainted. It seems less unsightly with Tygra because of his armor, but this was never a big sticking point with me. The exposed screws on the back are rather conspicuous, but again, it doesn’t do anything to ruin the figure for me.

As the package suggests, Tygra has 18 points of articulation. You get a ball jointed neck. The arms have ball joints and swivels in the shoulders, double hinged elbows, and ball joints in the wrists. The legs ball jointed at the hips, double hinged in the knees, and hinged at the ankles. He is also ball jointed at the waist, and it feels like he’s got another joint going on under that chest armor. Hmm… I count 20 points, but more is better so I’m not complaining.

Tygra comes with two accessories. You get his whip and the laser pistol he took off one of the mutants. The whip is just a long piece of bendy blue rubbery plastic with two tails at the end. It certainly serves its purpose and you can work it into different cool poses, as it has just the right amount of flexibility. The gun is a cast in silver plastic, nicely sculptd and fits great in the figure’s right hand so that the trigger finger can go through the trigger guard.

Tygra turned up on Amazon for $24.99 and I jumped at him. Yeah, that’s about $8-10 more than he would have been at retail, but I’m not going to gripe about it. He’s a really cool figure and definitely one of the best, if not the best, figures in this short lived modern 6-inch line. It really makes me sad to know that we won’t be getting the Thunderkittens in this scale, nor Jaga or Grune or any of the mutants. I think Bandai did an alright job with these figures (much better than I originally anticipated) and quite frankly I think collectors were just too hard on them. As mentioned earlier, I still have the 6-inch scale Mumm-Ra sitting around here somewhere, so at some point in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be revisiting this line just one more time to check him out.

Thundercats: 4-inch Cheetara by Ban Dai

So, Cheetara has been a tough Thundercat figure to get. Apparently she was shortpacked in a lot of the cases, and yet let’s face it, every fanboy wants her. I ultimately hit Teh Bay for my Cheetara figure, and while I certainly paid over retail for her, I didn’t get beaten up all that bad. Either way, I certainly didn’t want to wait any longer to add her to my collection. Was she worth it? Let’s find out…

After looking at the Deluxe figure packages, it’s cool to come back to the simplicity of the Basic figures’ cards. I really do love the way these figures look on the card, and if I ever do start finding these figures at a local brick-and-mortar retailer, I very well might buy a second set to keep carded and hang on the wall. Cheetara looks great standing in her bubble with her quarterstaff beside her.
As far as the sculpt is concerned, Cheetara is among the best of the line. There are some minor proportion issues, like I think Ban Dai shrunk her breasts a bit and enlarged her feet, but minor quibbles aside, this is one great looking figure and definitely faithful to her animated counterpart. She even has her bangles sculpted on her wrists and ankles. The head sculpt is particularly good and I love her the likeness of her face. On the downside, Cheetara is the first figure in the 4-inch line that is adversely effected by the ThunderLynx gimmick. Her long hair is sculpted around the magnet box on her back. Not only does this look kind of awkward, but it means that she has absolutely zero neck articulation. Boo!
The paintwork on my figure is damn near immaculate. The figure has a nice glossy finish everywhere excapt on her face and hair. The paint apps on her face rae perfect, right down to her eyes and lips. There’s no slop or bleeding to be found anywhere. Seriously, Hasbro, take a look at the paint on this little 4-inch figure and try to see what you’re doing wrong. The only downside to the paint is that once again the pins and hinges in the joints aren’t painted.
Cheetara’s articulation is surprisingly different from Lion-O or Tygra. I’ve already mentioned that her head is immobile, and yeah that’s a pretty big downer. She also lacks any articulation in the torso, which is also disappointing. What does she have? Her arms feature universal movement in the shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps. Her legs have swivels in the hips and thighs, and hinged elbows. You can still get plenty of great poses out of this gal, but a lot of the articulation just doesn’t seem as natural and intuitive as in Lion-O or Tygra.

Cheetara isn’t heavy on the accessories. She comes with her quarterstaff and that’s it. The staff is a simple, flexible brown rod.
So how much did I end up ponying up for Cheetara? With shipping she set me back just under twenty bucks. Yeah, it’s a premium for a 4-inch figure, but I really wanted to make sure I had her in my collection and since none of the stores in my area are carrying the Thundercats figures, I didn’t see any chance to get her for much cheaper anytime soon. Problem is, now I’ll probably have to pony up another Andy Jackson for Panthro. But at least than my 4-inch collection will be complete.

Thundercats: Mega-Scale Mumm-Ra by Mezco

Holy, hell… looky here. Something new to look at. I came home from work today to find a massive box sitting on my stoop and knew right away that it had to be Mezco’s new Mega-Scale Thundercats figure. Its just a bit ironic that when Mezco introduced its Mega-Scale Lion-O last year, I saw it as an oddity. Afterall, Ban Dai had just secured the license to do Thundercats toys and I naturally assumed that most of my Thundercats goodness would be coming from them. Now, here we are, Ban Dai has all but abandoned the line. Our Classics Thundercats are incomplete, and I’m now counting on Mezco to deliver a full set of classic kitties in this Mega-Scale line. If you haven’t checked out my feature on Mezco’s Lion-O figure, feel free to do so. I was blown away by that release, and so I expected great things from Mumm-Ra. Let’s see how he turned out.

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The package is HUGE and gorgeous. It doesn’t stand out quite as much as the bright red box used for Lion-O, but it is appropriately black to reflect the evil that is Mumm-Ra. You’ll also note the addition of the word “Classic” so as not to confuse these with the 2011 versions based on the new series. One side panel has the Thundercats logo running down it and the other shows off some of the Mutants. Oh, Mezco, I can only hope you keep doing these and deliver on the Mutants as well! The back panel shows off a photo of the figure and the front has a window to show the figure itself. Mint in Sealed Box collectors may be disappointed to learn that you really cannot get the full effect of this figure unless you take him out, because some assembly is required. To be specific, he’s packaged with his feet off, because when they’re on he’d be too big to fit in the same size box as Lion-O. His cape is stored behind the tray and must be attached to the figure, and he comes with three rolls of bandages taped to the back of the tray. More on that later. Suffice it to say, the in-package presentation here is fantastic and he can be returned to the box for safe keeping, which is a good thing, because as much as I love him, I really don’t have the room right now to keep him on display.
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So, as mentioned, once this big guy is out of the box you need to do a little set up work. Mumm-Ra’s feet are attached just like Lion-O’s removable hand/claw shield is, and you can easily pop them off to get him back in the box. The placement of the bandages are completely up to you. I wrapped one around each arm, and than use the center around his chest and waist. They’re very stringy to make them look ragged, but you can always snip them to give them a cleaner look.
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The sculpt here is pretty fantastic. He has the same great musculature as the Lion-O figure, gnarled claws and feet, and lots of detail on his fur spats. The head, however, produces the real awe factor. Mumm-Ra used to scare the shit out of me when I was a kid, and this figure’s head sculpt captures exactly why. He’s gloriously hideous, with piercing red eyes, and a toothy mouth open in a combination scream and creepy smile. Even now as I write this I keep glancing off to the side at him and wish he would quit staring at me. Look at those damn eyes. They’re painted with glossy red and they literally look like they’re full of blood. The helmet is perfect, right down to the curved snakes and the flared nasal guard. I also absolutely love that Mezco went with actual cloth streamers for the back of the helmet. You can drape some of them over the front of his shoulders for a really great look. His skirt is sculpted as part of the figure. The metallic gold paint is really nice too.
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Ah, but we’re not done yet. The soft goods cape is sewn onto the tray, and takes a bit of care and a pair of clippers to get it off. It then attaches to the peg on the back of Mumm-Ra’s neck and on the spikes on each of his arm cuffs. I had to enlarge the center hole a little bit with a pair of scissors, but once on it stays on pretty well and can easily be taken off to return him to the box.
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And articulation leads us back to the whole Action Figure Vs Statue debate. From the waist down, Mumm-Ra only has two points of articulation, and those are the swivels from where his feet attach. And in all practicality, these aren’t very useful because he’s designed to stand with his feet positioned in a very specific way. From the waist up, he does a little better. He swivels at the waist, and he has ball joints in his neck and his shoulders. His wrists also have swivel cuts. You can get some slight variations of poses out of him, but he’s clearly designed to stand with arms straight out to best show off his cape and bandages and scare the living shit out of you if you forget he’s standing in the corner and turn on the light. Yeah, that might have actually happened.
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Besides being an absolutely fantastic figure, Mumm-Ra impresses even more by the price point. I thought Mega-Scale Lion-O was a steal at $35 and I expected Mezco to raise the price on Mumm-Ra, now that they had hooked collectors with Lion-O. You know how dealers always give the first taste for free. Nevertheless, I picked up Mumm-Ra for the same ridiculously cheap $35. The sculpt is every bit as impressive as their first figure and the decision to deliver a mixed-media figure was nothing less than brilliant. The fabric cape, streamers, and bandages really pushes this figure completely over the top. I’ve already pre-ordered my Panthro, and I sincerely home Mezco keeps going with this line, and at the very least delivers a Tygra and Cheetara. All I know is, I’ll keep buying every one they decide to put out.

Thundercats: 4-inch Series: Claudus by Ban Dai

It’s been years since the Walmarts in my area have opened up the books and allowed in a new non “movie-of-the-month” toyline into their action figure aisles. And yet here they are… Thundercats. So during my last excursion for alcohol groceries, I picked up one of the newer releases in the 4-inch line. Yep, its Lion-O’s dead father, King Claudus. Why’d he get a figure? Well, he did come back for a flashback episode, and honestly I’m about five episodes behind so maybe he was in the show again? Either way, I was pretty glad to see Ban Dai gave him the figure treatment, so let’s check him out.

There’s the modern Thundercats packaging. I love almost everything about these cards. The slightly modernized logo is awesome as is the fact that they actually personalize the cards with character artwork, rather than just go cheap and use a generic card with a printed insert under the bubble. Claudus is a big dude and he fills out his bubble quite nicely and there’s a small insert that reminds you about this line’s forgettable and overall poorly implemented action gimmick: The ThunderLynx. So what’s not to like about the packaging? The tri-lingual cards. I hate that shit.
Thus far, the 4-inch line has turned out some really great representations of their animated counterparts and Claudus here is no exception. The head sculpt is pretty awesome, complete with his insanely thick mane of hair and beard. The various layers of his outfit and shoulder armor are all sculpted too and sports just the right amount of detail to retain the animated look. His cape is soft, rubbery plastic that covers his ThunderLinx port, which is cool since I try to pretend those don’t exist anyway. I also really dig the way each figure in this line features a different build and body style. As already mentioned, Claudus is a pretty big and beefy dude that even makes Grune look like a tad wimpy by comparison.
Claudus features a respectable amount of articulation, and I was happy to see that his rubbery cape and skirt doesn’t really inhibit any of it. You get ball joints in the neck, shoulders and hips. He has hinged knees and elbows, and he has swivels in his wrists. He doesn’t have any articulation in his torso or ankles.

You don’t get a lot of accessories with Claudus. In fact all you get is the Sword of Omens and its the same one that came with the Basic 4-inch Lion-O figure. Honestly, I can’t think of anything else he should have come with, so I’m not going to complain. Plus, if you happened to lose Lion-O’s sword now you have a backup!
Claudus ran me $7.99 at Walmart and while he doesn’t quite measure up in terms of poseability and accessories, he’s still a pretty cool addition to this line of figures. He’s probably not a “must own” figure, but I’m trying to support this line as best I can, so he was a definite buy for me. Besides which, he’s friggin Lion-O’s dad and that right there means I had to have him in my collection.

Thundercats: Classic 6-inch Mumm-Ra by Ban Dai

No offense to Tygra, but this is probably what the first pairing of figures should have looked like in the 8-inch line: The chief good guy and the chief baddie. In fact, as long as Ban Dai is commited to producing all the Thundercats in this scale, I think it would be cool if each wave included a Thundercat and a Mutant or some other bad guy. But then I’m getting ahead of myself. Hello, all, and welcome to today’s feature: 6-inch Mumm-Ra, The Ever Living!!!

Yuppers, the package is the same as Lion-O and basically a shrunk down version of the ones used for the 8-inch Classics. Mumm-Ra is displayed nicely in the package, although you don’t get the full effect since his bandages are all crumpled up at the top. The side panels feature some nice art with Mumm-Ra’s ugly mug and damn was he ugly. Jeesus. Once again, this packaging is very collector friendly, although I don’t suspect I could ever get his bandages back in just right without going insane.
And there he is. Ban Dai did a great job bringing Mumm-Ra’s 80’s animated goodness to action figure form, although in fairness he isn’t an overly complex character design. He’s mostly all greyish-blue skin and muscles. The head sculpt is quite good and they really managed to capture that hideous visage that really creeped me the fuck out back when I was a kid. No kidding, when he turned to Mumm-Ra and started screaming like a banshee on crack, I used to get pretty disturbed. His ceremonial helmet is nicely detailed and the streamers coming off the back are sculpted as if they’re blowing all over the place. If you never saw the classic Thundercats, Mumm-Ra always looked as if he had a high powered fan blowing straight at him from off screen. Apart from his headdress, he’s got a skirt and some lower leg armor, all nicely done.
And then there’s those bandages. Ban Dai got really creative here and included two sets of bendy bandages that plug into his back to simulate the look of them whipping all over the place when he makes his change. Whatever you do, don’t lose the instruction sheet in the package as it shows you how to fit them on just right. There’s a little bit of room for a custom look here, but honestly, these things were meant to go on a certain way and it isn’t all that easy to figure it out without seeing pictures. Oddly enough, there are no pictures of the figure wearing the bandages on the back of the package. Mumm-Ra also comes with an extra pair of hands, which are pretty unnecessary as far as I’m concerned.
As for articulation, Mumm-Ra has decent poseability, but he’s nowhere near as agile as his nemesis, the Lord of the Thundercats. His neck is ball jointed, but there’s limited movement apart from going side to side. His arms feature ball joints in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, swivels in the bicep and ball jointed wrists. His legs are also ball jointed in the hips, but his skirt limits a lot of the upper leg articulation. You also get hinges in the knees and ankles. Mumm-Ra is ball jointed at the waist, but he lacks the extra joint in the upper torso.
And that’s all I’ve got to say about Mumm-Ra. He retails for around fifteen bucks, which seems about right to me. Ban Dai seems to have really great distribution with this line, as I’ve seen these guys on the pegs all over the place. I really do wish we got Mumm-Ra in the 8-inch scale, only because I think the larger version would have displayed better next to the 6-inch Lion-O. While the LJN figures were roughly the same size, Mumm-Ra always seemed bigger in the cartoon. That having been said, I think Ban Dai did a great job with him. The more restrained level of articulation is likely to irk some, but we already saw a drop between 8-inch Lion-O and Tygra, so I don’t think its the fault of the smaller scale. He’s a great figure, but I can’t say I’m not disappointed he didn’t come with a little Ma-Mutt.

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: Cheetara by Ban Dai

As promised, I’m back with a look at the last of the three 6-inch Thundercats I picked up this week. Cheetara’s the newest release of the bunch and while I thought she was going to be really tough to find, just like her 4-inch counterpart, I stumbled upon a whopping three of them hanging on the peg at once. While Panthro and Lion-O are more or less just larger versions of their 4-inch cousins, Cheetara comes with a major, and much needed, overhaul in the articulation department. Let’s see what we’ve got.

And there’s the packaging. Once again, the printed insert has some nice character art to give the package some individuality. Unfortunately, Cheetara’s package is also a filthy liar with the whole”18 points” of articulation nonsense, but we’ll get to that later. Cheetara is carded with a bit more of an action pose than the other figures, and holding her staff. There’s a wee bit of warpage to her knee joints when she comes out of the package, but they seem to straighten out pretty well.
I’m really happy with Cheetara’s sculpt. It’s pretty close to what we saw in the smaller 4-inch version. BD did a great job with her long hair and this time you don’t have a ThunderLynx magnet sticking out of her back and through her hair. Her face sculpt is a bit soft, like Lion-O’s, but her being a female it works a lot better on this figure. In fact, it’s more of an asset than a liability. I think they amped up her boobs a bit over the 4-inch figure too, but let’s face it, she’s pretty well endowed in the cartoon. She’s also got the bangles sculpted onto her ankles and wrists. All in all, BD did a fine job capturing her animated counterpart in figure form.
The paintwork on this figure is pretty tight. Yes, we still have those unpainted joints, and honestly they’re pretty obnoxious here against the yellowish flesh(fur?)tones of her shoulders, elbows, and knees. They don’t ruin the figure for me, but you can’t help but notice them. I’m particularly happy with the little spots on her shoulders and hair, as well as the pink coloring around her eyes and on her lips. Nice.
Ok, so let’s deal with the articulation. The 4-inch Cheetara was a major departure from the articulation on the rest of the figures and as such somewhat disappointing. 6-inch Cheetara is so much better, but she is still lacking a few of the points that 6-inch Lion-O and Panthro have. The head is still ball jointed, although her hair really does create problems there. I’ll still concede that the joint is there. Her arms feature the same pin and hinge ball joints as the other figures and swivel wrists, but her elbows are only single hinged and she’s missing the swivel cut in the bicep. Her legs feature the same ball joints in the hips and swivels in the thighs, but her knees are only single hinged. Her ankles are hinged and still have the rocker joints. She doesn’t have the swivel in the waist, but her torso does swivel just under her chest. Her articulation is pretty good, but it’s not quite up to par with the others, and I don’t come up with the 18 separate points claimed by the packaging.
Cheetara comes with just one accessory, but it’s exactly what we needed to get with her: The iconic staff. There’s not much to say about it, it’s brown and has some wood graining sculpted into it. So, the accessory count here isn’t all that impressive, but I can’t really think of what else she would come with, so no complaints here. I suppose BD could have included a smaller version that clipped onto her somewhere, but honestly, I don’t feel that I needed it.
If it sounds like I’m a little down on Cheetara, I certainly don’t mean to be. She really is a nice figure. Obviously the extra articulation would have been nice, particularly the swivels in the biceps and I would have really liked the extra hinges in the knees. It’s just kind of odd that the super agile acrobat of the litter has less articulation than the hulking tank, Panthro. Still, she’s very poseable and she looks absolutely fantastic.