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Thundercats - Classic Lion-O
Bandai

Lion-O Thundercats action figure by Bandai


Like He-man, the original Thundercats didn't do much for me. I was in full chick chasing mode back then, and cartoons were not at the top of my list. Even when I did catch the occasional episode (hey, I was still a nerd), the style and writing didn't do much for me.

The new Thundercats show has been a pleasant surprise, however. I'm enjoying the show with my son, and I think the writing is well above average. It took a couple episodes to really get rolling, but it's hitting its stride.

Bandai is doing action figures for the new show in several different scales, as well as vehicles and playsets. But for fans of the original show, they have put out a couple 8" 'collector' figures as well. They started this with the Lion-O they released at San Diego Comic-Con (and which you can still get at Toys R Us online store). They've now released another Lion-O (fewer accessories) and a Tygra in the classic style to stores. You should be able to pick these up at your Toys R Us down the street for $20 each.
Lion-O Thundercats action figure by Bandai
Lion-O Thundercats action figure by Bandai
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Lion-O Thundercats action figure by Bandai
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Lion-O Thundercats action figure by Bandai
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Lion-O Thundercats action figure by Bandai
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Lion-O Thundercats action figure by Bandai
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Lion-O Thundercats action figure by Bandai
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Lion-O Thundercats action figure by Bandai
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Packaging - ***1/2
The boxes are unique in their collector friendly nature - that's something you don't get a lot at the local store. Cut the tape on the bottom, slide the card out, and there's just a couple plastic bands holding him in place. You still have to destroy these bands, but they are so small - and so unnecessary to keep the figure in place - that you could put him back later if you so desire.

Sculpting - ****
This is a large figure, even for the advertised scale. They claim it's an 8" figure, but it's closer to 8 1/2", with plenty of solid weight to add to the impressive of bulk. If you were hoping this classic Lion-O would fit in with your new MOTUC figures, prepare for some disappointment. I included a photo with He-Man and the new Marvel Select Red Skull for comparison.

The classic Lion-O look is captured well, including his funky action hair. There's enough sharpness to the details - like the eyes, or lips - that they stand out, but it's also done in a style that works well with the basic cartoon design.

There's a few details that I think needed to be added, like the glove edges. Here they're only painted on, never a plus in my book.

Paint - **
The sculpt looks great - but the paint is not up to the same level. Perhaps the funky shiny high gloss look is on purpose, and they were going for something specific. But what ever it is they were trying to do, it ain't working for me.

This glossy finish is on everything, from hair to skin to outfit. It really cheapens up what would otherwise have been a fantastic figure.

There's one more exception to the fantastic, and it has to do with this category as well. For some reason, they went with pegs and discs in the ankles that are flesh colored, not blue. This is a mighty big bungle, especially considering the price point. For $20, I expect an action figure with a bit better quality control than this.

And finally, the keen of eye will notice a slight different in skin tone on various body parts. It's more obvious in photos, but even in hand you can see that the different plastics absorbed the paint in different ways, creating slightly different colors.

Articulation - ****
There's plenty of articulation on this figure, more than a similar MOTUC toy. The joints also work extremely well, allowing for a ton of poses.

The neck has a joint below the jaw line at in the torso, allowing the head to twist as well as tilt back and forth. It's not quite a perfect ball joint, since the side to side tilt action isn't great, but it's still better than the usual cut joint. 

There's also ball jointed hips and shoulders with a swivel joint on the lower appendage. Pin elbows, knees, and ankles all work well (double pin knees, actually), and there's ball wrists, cut waist, and an ab crunch to round things out.

I had no trouble getting the figure to stand in all kinds of action poses, and the joints are tight and sturdy, keeping him in most poses long term. The range of movement on most of the joints is well above average, and I'm quite impressed with the overall quality of the articulation.

Accessories - ***
There are two weapons and two hands, all of which work well.

The long sword and short dagger have the  emblems on the handle, and they fit nicely in one of the sculpted hands. They are made from a rather soft plastic though, prone to wilting over time.

The dagger also fits neatly in the claw left hand, also called a 'shield' on the package. After taking the photo with the dagger in place, I was able to get it to fit a little better (see the group photo for the proper fit). It looks great in this unique sheath, even better than in his hand.

The claw left hand and slightly open right hand he comes wearing in the package can be swapped out for two hands that are better suited for wielding weapons. The swapping works pretty easily, and I didn't have any fear of breaking the wrist posts.

There's also a strap on the left hip of his uniform that pops out of a small hole. Not being a big fan of the old school character, I have to admit to having no idea what it's for, but I'm assuming there's some purpose.

EDIT: Some helpful readers have pointed out that the strap can be attached inside the glove to hold it in place on his hip when he's not wearing it. Makes sense to me!

Fun Factor - ***1/2
While there might be some issues with the paint and colors for me, the exceptional articulation, decent accessories, and large size make for a great action figure with plenty of play potential.

Value - **
At $20, this is a pretty expensive figure. While the MOTUC figures are running that price, and are slightly smaller, they are also an online figure, not something you can pick up at the local Toys R Us. A mass market figure at that price point is still a bit much for me to swallow, especially one with obviouis quality issues.

Things to Watch Out For -
Not a thing!

Overall - ***
Like Lady Gaga, this figure is hanging on the edge of glory. Great sculpt, great articulation, decent set of accessories, excellent play value - the only downside is the paint. If you don't mind the high gloss look, you'll be happier than me. But it's hard for anyone to overlook the goofy pegs and discs in the feet.

Still, I'm hoping we see these improve, especially if we get a another series of the classic characters. Bandai has a good start here, and what we've seen so far gives me hope.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ****
Paint - **
Articulation - ****
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - ****
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
Best bet to find this guy is Toys R Us, although we should start seeing him at other stores as well.

Related Links -
Check out my reviews of the modern Tygra in the smaller scale, plus the Icon Heroes statue of this same Lion-O character.

Discussion:
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Lion-O Thundercats action figure by Bandai


This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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