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Battle Lion

Masters of the Universe Classics
by yo go re

Despite a much shorter run, the 2002 MotU cartoon was much better than its 1980s forebear. One of the best episodes was "The Power of Grayskull," which took us into Eternia's distant past and introduced everyone's suspiciously similar ancestors - including Battle Cat.

During the Great Wars against King Hssss and the Invasion Forces of Hordak, King Grayskull rode into battle on top of his fierce mount Granger, a giant lygor prince from the Green Tiger Tribe. Gifted as a cub to a young Grayskull for saving their home from an attack by renegade Gar pirates, Granger grew up with his master, loyally protecting Grayskull in times of peace and war. When evil threatens Eternia, Granger is enhanced by the Power of the Universe channeled through the Sword of He. As Battle Lion he wears enchanted armor that protects him against magical attacks. Battle Lion is the heroic steed of King Grayskull, loyally carrying his master into combat.

Battle Lion is made from the same mold as Battle Cat, just as Poe predicted. Our Poe, not Edgar Allen; that little drunk didn't predict anything. [Ahem --ed.] 90% of the sculpt is identical to the Battle Cat release, which is nice: the Four Horsemen really did a great job sculpting this massive feline, and since the MotU Classics line is built around re-use, it's not like we'd have expected them to make a second one. The back legs are muscular, the front legs are furry, and in between you can make out his ribs - no fat on this cat! He has short black claws and black pads on the bottoms of his paws, but really, you'd expect his claws to be longer, if he's in the midst of battle.

The new parts of the sculpt are the tail (which now has a leonine tuft of fur on the end), and the head. Of course the head. They weren't just going to throw a rubber mane behind the existing tiger head, were they? No! That would be ridiculous. Although...

If you compare the sculpt of Granger's face to that of Cringer, you'll notice that they are, in fact, quite identical. Not the entire head, just the face: the snout/muzzle, the wrinkles above the nose, the angle of the eyebrows, and even the individual lines of fur on the folded-back ears are shared between both cats. Clearly the Horsemen just began with their original Battle Cat sculpt and added what needed to be added (the mane, longer fangs, a different jaw, etc.). Of course, there's a reason for that.

Battle Lion was introduced in the 2002 series, so he was an ancestor of that Battle Cat, and he wore that Battle Cat's armor. So it wouldn't have been right if this toy wasn't also wearing that armor, as goofy and technological as it was. Seriously: in the '80s, Battle Cat was a tiger with a saddle; in the '00s, he was a tiger with the upper half of a jet ski. It made sense for the line, but the original was still better. But that's what Battle Lion wore, so that's what Battle Lion is wearing.

This is an outstanding update of the modern armor. The excessive technological detailing has been scaled back, sort of reverse-engineering what this armor would have looked like in the '80s (if the '02 version had been an update of one from the '80s). Make sense? All the tiny little seams and plates are gone, replaced by large, smooth surfaces, but for the most part the shapes are all the same: shielding discs over the shoulder, a hump with three spikes on the front, flares protecting the rider's knees, and a seat with pads over the hips. Really, the only thing missing is the "saddle horn" bump on the back of the seat. There's still a control panel in front of the rider, but with a small bump on the center where the '02 figure had the large button that activated the action featue. We even get the claw armor, though on this figure, they don't fall off.

So, as we said, Battle Lion's face is the same sculpt as Battle Cat's. The reason for this is simple: it means the red mask from this toy can be put on that one. In fact, all the armor can transfer over. If you want a Mo2K-style Classics Battle Cat (for some unfathomable reason), you can finally have one. The armor fits on Cringer just as well as it fits this toy, because all the pertinent areas of the body are identical molds. Well played, guys; well played.

Sadly, that road doesn't run both ways: Battle Lion's mane means he can't wear Battle Cat's cool helmet.

To truly be a Mo2K Battle Lion, this toy would have to be about three times larger than it is now. He was an utter giant. King Grayskull - who was larger than average humans - barely came up to Battle Lion's face, and that's when BL was laying down. If there are ever MotU Minimates, this will be in scale, but until then, you'll just have to pretend. Still, he and King Grayskull make an awesome pair, and add nicely to your Mo2K collection.

-- 02/23/15

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