Bandai SDCC Exclusive Classic ThunderCats LION-O
A great figure, but not exactly purr-fect...
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The re-launch of all things 80's continues with ThunderCats, a popular animated property that is seeing new life as a brand new cartoon series, as well a toy line - both classic and new - produced by Bandai. To celebrate this 80's revival, Toys"R"Us and Entertainment Earth provided fans with an early toy release at San Diego Comic-Con: a "Fancy-Cat" version of the lead feline hero, Lion-O. For $40, collectors were able to get a more heavily painted Lion-O with "metallic" accessories and armor. Not really knowing what the "plain" version would look like, I jumped at opportunity to purchase this Lion-O and thankfully landed on my feet. While a great figure, it's not exactly purr-fect.
So far in the ThunderCats Classics line-up, Lion-O and Tygra have been announced and will retail about $19.99 each on standard card and bubbles. The exclusive, however, comes in a very plain black box with the ThunderCats logo and character name on the front. Inside is a cardboard piece with a bubble separating figure from accessories. It's a pretty disappointing set-up for such a high premium. At least give us the artwork and descriptions that were provided for the standard releases. If you're careful removing Lion-O, it is possible to return him to the bubble and cardboard, only to be stuffed inside a box and never seen again.
For the sculpting on Lion-O, the toy makers at Bandai have given us an impressive likeness of the character. However, he is standing a tad too tall for my tastes, being in an 8-inch scale. There will be no co-mingling with Masters of the Universe action figures. At least Lion-O's size really shows off his detail and is a solid representation of the cartoon character.
The paint is what makes this the SDCC exclusive, well, exclusive, but I can't say that it's worth double the asking price. You do get a wash with some extra strokes that highlight the sculpt but they don't necessarily add to it. To put it nicely, it's a bit of a lazy person's paint job. Details on armor would not have highlight marks outlining the muscles. Nor would your muscles have big muddy lines to make them look bigger. Another example is that Bandai could have spent some extra time painting the hinges on Lion-O's heels - hinges that don't match the shade of his boots. In the grand scheme of things, it's not bad enough to skip out on the figure but it is somewhat disappointing.
While Lion-O doesn't sport any breakthrough articulation, what he does feature is very well executed - adding up to at least thirty useful joints on my count. Important to highlight are the feet joints that allow him to stand firmly with both paws planted flat on the ground and also wrist joints for better swordsmanship. If wearing the Claw Shield gauntlet, wrist articulation is virtually eliminated on the left hand.
The accessories included with the SDCC release are slightly different than what you'll get when you buy the retail version, and to be perfectly honest, it is this very reason why I chose to buy the SDCC exclusive. First is the Sword of Omens, coming in both dagger and sword form. These weapons are produced in a reflective chrome material that gives it a metallic look. The basic figure release contains standard plastic looking sword and dagger. Also included is the Claw Shield gauntlet that can be swapped out with the removable left hand. The Claw Shield does have some extra detail since it's the exclusive but not much more. The dagger is able to be stored within the gauntlet, which is also given the option to hang at Lion-O's side.
The bonus accessory for the SDCC release is a purple sword stand, though there's no metallic deco. Not a great accessory and somewhat unnecessary.
All in all, despite the large scale and odd paint choices, Bandai has succeeded in delivering a fantastic ThunderCats action figure that fans will really enjoy. The exclusive is twice the price of a standard issue figure so you'll have to ask yourself if the metallic Sword of Omens is worth it or not. While I prefer the standard issue Lion-O, there's no getting around how great the metallic sword is, and for that, I do enjoy it. It's not worth the price but I certainly do not regret it either.
Review and Photography by David Yeh
Action Figure Purchased by Reviewer