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Leading the Charge: ThunderCats’ Lion-O Action Figure Review

The ThunderCats have made there way back into pop culture’s consciousness as of late. Fueled by the new animated series, the Cats have also started infiltrating the toy aisles thanks to the folks over at Bandai. While these new figures have been more readily available online than at brick and mortar stores, we managed to snag this 6″ Lion-O at our local K-Mart before the ravenous fans stripped the shelves bare like a horde of Lizardmen. Let the review commence!

Normally this is the section where we’d print the bio from the back of the packaging. No such luck with this guy. While the backs of the blister cards show larger images of the character, it’s pretty much covered with cross-sell images of the other figures in the line, along with cautions and warnings in three different languages. So, here’s our bio for Lion-O:

Lion-O is the leader of the ThunderCats. He whines a lot and is stubborn. However, his kickass Sword of Omens and Claw Shield more than make up for it.

That work?

The sculpt for Lion-O closely follows his look in from the animated series. It is very streamlined without any excessive details, for good or bad. All of the pieces are there, from his styled mane to his single Mad Max-like shoulder pad, and what more could we ask for? The sculpt itself is simpler than what we’ve become accustomed to from other lines we collect, but sometimes simple is good and these ThunderCats are still light-years ahead of Bandai’s Power Ranger offerings thanks to the animated reference material. The only true problem we have with the sculpt of Lion-O comes in the form of all the exposed screws in his back. We grew up with the single shinging screw in the center of our G.I. Joe’s backs, but Lion-O goes for broke with 7 exposed screws across his back and thighs. It’s probably a necessity in order to hold a figure with his wide range of articulation together, but would have benefited from some type of capping to the screws for aesthetic purposes.

The paintwork on the Lion-O figure is simple, but effective. The color scheme is appropriate and the linework for the most part is clean. there is no slop, but there are a couple of instances where more paint could have been applied. The straps on the back of his legs, the sides of his bicep armor, and the tops of his shin pieces would have benefited from paint apps, for sure.Along with the exposed screws, the glossy paint and miscolored hinges firmly keep this figure looking like a “toy”. Granted, we’re fully aware that Lion-O is an action figure, but we like our imaginations to be stoked! Bandai makes toys that kids can enjoy as well, so this figure is painted more for play than display. The hinge eyes are black throughout the toy and make it VERY noticeable. If these had been molded in the appropriate color, of were just hit with a dab of paint, it would have made a world of difference and sent this figure from great to spectacular.

The articulation is where this figure (and the rest of the 6″ ThunderCats line) really shines! The king of the Cats features a ball-joint neck, hinged lower neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel forearms, hinged wrists, hinged torso, ball-joint waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge rocker ankles. the all move smoothly…oh, so smoothly and there is absolutely no trouble with looseness. Also, thanks to the light weight of the figure, he can be crouched or stood in almost any position and hold it without the need of a figure stand. The ease with which he can be posed really makes this a fun toy. We can’t remember the last time we’ve had a figure that we just couldn’t help but keep picking up to play with like we have found ourselves doing with Lion-O. That says a LOT.

Lion-O comes with some very character-specific accessories. The Claw Shield and Sword of Omens are both represented twice– one set in their dormant form, and the other in their battle-ready looks. The sword’s smaller form fits snugly in both versions of the Claw Shield. The unworn shield can also be attached to lion-O’s hip like a holster. This is a very, very cool feature that really shows attention to detail when it comes to the ThunderCats and their looks. The larger Sword of Omens fits into Lion-O’s grasp and is a great length. However, both swords are made from very, very soft plastic which is prone to bending even before being removed from the packaging. We imagine this is due to safety standards and kids not needing their eyes poked out by mystical weapons, but what can we say? We’re selfish when it comes to toys and wish the Swords were made of stouter plastic like the SDCC Classic Lion-O we reviewed recently. Anyway, the Claw Shield can also be worn by Lion-O by simply removing his left forearm and placing the Claw Shield onto the exposed peg.

Thanks to our utter love and fascination with the new cartoon, we were easily won over by the new line of figures. While the 4″ figures are cool, these 6 inchers are where it’s at! Even with the drawback of the exposed screws and miscolored hinges, Lion-O now rules our shelf as lord of the ThunderCats! Like we said previously, this is simply a fun toy and that makes him worth the purchase, without question. Be sure to keep an eye out for these toys at retail and online, cause they tend to disappear quickly. For all your ThunderCats news, hit up Bandai’s official website to get your fix. The new ThunderCats animated series from Warner Bros. Animation airs Fridays at 8:30 eastern time, exclusively on Cartoon Network!

Stay tuned to MTV Geek! for all your Bandai and ThunderCats coverage!

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