Monday, September 12, 2011

Thundercats. Ho.

Unlike He-Man, which I never had any interest in as a kid, Thundercats was something I actually watched for a while. I don't remember ever being obsessed with the show, but I have some fond associations. And, having just re-watched the first episode, it seems to hold up all right. Sure, it has some stupid parts, but the animation was pretty solid, and the designs were cool.

Of course, the new reboot on Cartoon Network blows it out of the water. The writing's better, the animation is improved, the characters are more interesting, and the designs.... actually, I think I prefer the old designs, overall.

And that brings us to the Thundercats Classic eight inch Lion-O, from Bandai. Well, actually I'm getting ahead of myself. It really brings us to the Times Square Toys R Us in late August, where I first saw these in package for $24 each.

I'd been waiting for these to show up for a while, and here they were. Dozens of them, in fact, filling the pegs, along with just as many Tygras (the other figure in this very small wave). I decided at once to hold off on Tygra - if I find one cheap closer to Christmas, I'll pick him up; otherwise, I can live without him - but I was torn on Lion-O.

See, this was also the first day that Toys R Us had the DC Universe Classics Mad Love set in stock, and I knew I couldn't justify getting both. They had one or two of the Mad Love packs left and countless Lion-O's. Besides, I wanted the Mad Love set more than I wanted this, so my decision was made.

It didn't take me long to start regretting not getting Lion-O at the same time. Expensive or not, I really wanted one. So, a day or two later, I stopped in after work.

They were sold out. Every one of them: gone. I've checked back a few times since, but it's always the same: Tygra remains, but I haven't seen a single Lion-O since they appeared.

Since I certainly wasn't willing to dish out what these are going for on Ebay (don't even ask), I more or less accepted I'd lost my opportunity.

That's when they showed up on Figure of the Day for a mere $20 and free shipping. You know, I'm really starting to love that site. I ordered it at once, and here we are.

The toy fascinates me, in part because it's so different than most of what I have. Bandai's toys are no less advanced than Mattel's or Hasbro's, but it's like they're the result of a completely different evolutionary path. Rather than developing improved paint ops, Bandai seems to have focused on mastering using colored plastics. It makes for an end result that looks plasticy and toyish, but still cool. Rather than disguise its nature, it flaunts the fact it's a toy. I'm not sure I prefer this over the attempts at realism we've gotten from Mattel and Hasbro, but I'm happy there are some options.

The sculpt is very strong, evoking the original show, and the different plastics create some nice contrast. In particular, I love the look of his belt buckle. The figure's real strength, however, lies in its articulation and balance. While I have a few nitpicks (particularly around the head, which can't seem to hold an upward or downward gaze), there aren't many missed opportunities here.

I love that this pose is possible. By spacing the gauntlet fingers to match the closed right fist, Lion-O can hold the Sword of Omens two-handed. Brilliant.

As an added bonus, this also happens to be about the same spacing you generally get on six-inch figures' necks and heads, making this possible as well:

That's Lion-O having a disagreement with the Riddler. And, thanks to his balance and sturdy joints, he can hold that pose without assistance. Jesus - I have trouble getting some figures to stand up on their own. You know what? How about another shot?

The figure comes with a few accessories, the best of which being the extended Sword of Omens (yes, probably the single most phallic object in any 80's animated cartoon). In addition to the full-sized Sword of Omens, he also has a smaller version which fits into his gauntlet. He also has a pair of extra hands, in case you want to display him without the sword and glove. I'm grateful for the option, though I can't imagine many collectors will be using them.

Lion-O also has a sort of removable sash hanging at his side. It ends in a ball joint, which his glove can snap into. It's a cool feature, though - again - I can't imagine many people wanting to display this without wearing the sword and glove.

So. Great toy, good accessories, and - honestly - a decent price, all things considered. If a six inch figure is actually worth $18, isn't an eight worth $20 or even $25? If you can find these in stock, I highly recommend grabbing one.

It's awkward, but he can pull off this pose.

I think Lion-O is going to mug Mumm-Ra.

1 comment:

  1. I plan on getting one of these at some point but will pass on Tigra i think.