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by yo go re

A leonid prince avenging his murdered father with the help of some other animals? Walt Disney's gonna sue somebody!

Lion-O wields the Sword of Omens and leads the ThunderCats to victory against Mumm-Ra, the ultimate villain.

In the old cartoon, Lion-O had the mind of a child in the body of an adult. Not due to his parents being too closely related to one another or anything, but because of the stasis pod he was in. The new show doesn't follow suit, casting him as a teenager from the start (according to the creators, he's 17). So you still get the same character arc - young inexperienced leader finds his own strengths and earns the respect of his people - but without the weirdness of a full grown man having the impulses and intellect of a 12-year-old. The new cartoon is better already!

Lion-O's sculpt is simple, but it's accurate to the cartoon - the animation designs are smooth, so the sculpt isn't overly detailed. His pointy anime hair has the most detail, followed by the armor and then the anatomy. There are tufts of fur on the back of his legs and on his left shoulder, and the "skirt" portion of his armor is a separate piece attached at the belt.

Like all the characters in the new show, modern Lion-O's costume is a reference to the original. He wears the same kind of breastplate, for instance; it's just that he's wearing a lot more to go with it. His pants and undershirt are dark blue, while the armored bits are either silver or metallic blue. My figure seems to have missed a paint app: half the silver detailing on his chest is missing. The left half, in fact. There are a few other spots that aren't painted, but those are due to cost-cutting, not mistakes. Fixing the silver will be easy, but it's still something weird. You have to wonder what happened to keep that side of the figure from getting properly deco'ed.

Additionally, the interiors of the figure's joints are molded in black plastic, so they stand out blatantly against the tan of his arms and legs. He has hinged ankles and knees, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, a swivel waist, balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged elbows and swivels in the forearms. The wrist joints are pretty clever: the joints are hidden beneath the edge of the beige area on his hands; so not only can you not see where he moves, but the edge between the colors is clearly defined.

Lion-O comes with three accessories: a full-sized Sword of Omens, a short-form Sword of Omens, and his Claw Shield. The glove is slightly oversized for the figure, but it's soft PVC designed to fit over the arm, so the choice was either to make it too big or make the hand too small. The short version of the sword sheathes in the glove, even when he's wearing it - there's even a hole in the back so the Eye of Thundera can peek out. The swords are, naturally, made from soft pvc and thus get bent out of shape easily, but that's nothing unusual.

This is the third Lion-O we've reviewed in a single year; I'm not sure we've ever done that with any other character. This figure isn't remarkably impressive or anything - the articulation is a step above adequate and on mine at least there's a glaring paint error - but it's a sturdy toy based on a really awesome cartoon, and it's a measure of how spoiled toy fans are that we'd be unhappy with something as simple as that.

-- 12/03/11

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