Last year, the Disney Store surprised everyone by releasing figures based on The Incredibles that were indisputably better than the mass-market Hasbro versions. Now they're at it again, showing some love for the residents of Narnia.
The land of Narnia is locked in an eternal winter
overseen by the White Witch. But there are signs that the great lion, son of the distant Emperor- Over-Sea, is soon to return. The snow is melting. Aslan is on the move.
To think that you could create a toy line of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe without The Lion is just silly. He's in the title, after all. Hasbro's got a version in its sad little line, but he's undersized, under-articulated and plagued by a goofy action feature. This is the king of beasts! And maybe even the king of kings! He deserves much, much better. And hey, here it is!
Disney Store's Aslan is truly a sexy beast. While the mass-market version is more of a cub, this figure is a regal 5 1/2" tall. What, that doesn't sound very impressive? He's a lion! He walks on all fours! Of course he's somewhat shorter than most figures. To make up for it, he's 8" long from nose to toes, so rest assured that he is quite massive.
The sculpt is excellent.
It's easy to fake a dragon or a a guy made entirely of stone - something we've never seen. However, when a trip to the zoo or five seconds on Google can put us face-to-face with a real live lion, the sculptors can't play fast and loose with the details. Aslan really looks like a true lion. His huge, flowing mane is detailed as well as the hair on any average figure, and he's got a fine detailing of thin lines covering the rest of his body as fur. The appropriate musculature is all there, and his ears just poke out of the mane. Aslan's face is slightly longer than you might expect, but that's as it is in the film.
Seemingly taking a cue from Marvel Legends, the Disney Store Narnia figures have no action features, opting instead for pure, playable articulation. What's superarticulation mean on a giant cat? Tail, hips, knees, heel/ankles, toes, stomach, shoulders, elbows, wrists, four more toe joints, neck, head and jaw. Yes, Aslan's mouth opens, to expose his nicely detailed teeth; he's not a tame lion, after all.
It may seem odd that the toes on his front feet are split into two joints, but that the ones on the rear aren't. It works, though, since there are four moving toes on each front foot, while the rears only have three. In the style of McFarlane Toys' Zeus figure,
Aslan's mane is made from a few separate pieces to both allow movement and keep things looking seamless. The head is on a large balljoint, while the neck is just a hinged pin. The mane trails down his chest, where the stomach joint, shaped to follow the line of the lion's ribs, meets yet another continuation of mane. Nice!
The paint is mostly good, though there are a few minor mistakes. The body is a nice golden tan, fading to white on the toes and muzzle. Aslan's mane is a darker brown, though this color doesn't always extend far enough into the overlapped sections of the multi-mane, and his ears aren't painted tan. The interior of his mouth is a nice pink, and his eyes are golden.
Just as with the match-up between the two companies' Incredibles toys, the only area in which Hasbro has the edge over the Disney Store is price. Aslan will set you back almost $10, but that's only about a dollar or two more than the mass-market versions. Just remember, you get what you pay for: a crappy little lion with an action feature that ruins the articulation or a huge, superposeable lion with supremely better paint? That's worth the extra buck.
This has been quite the toy year for Liam Neeson: SOTA gave us Darkman, Mattel did Ducard, I'm sure Hasbro made at least one Qui Gon Jinn of some form or another sometime in the past 12 months... and who could forget the Kinsey blow-up dolls? Kidding, kidding! Still, from all of them, this Aslan might be the best. It's amazing the way the Disney Store, working in conjunction with unknown manufacterers, can consistently show up the industry's biggest company.
What's your favorite Liam Neeson toy? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.