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Thundercats Classic
by yo go re

Okay, who are you, and what have you done with the real Mattel?

Lord of the Thundercats, Lion-O is a cunning leader known for his great strength and agility. He wields power with the magical heirship of his forefathers, the Sword of Omens, which allows him to see faraway lands and to contact the Thundercats when there is impending danger. Lion-O is also able to avoid perilous situations from the guidance received from Jaga who advises him spiritually. Although Lion-O is ruler, he is a child in a man's body, constantly challenged to grow in moral strength through the Code of Thundera - Justice, Truth, Honor, and Loyalty, and Lion-O always succeeds.

It was only a few years ago when Warner Bros. tried rebooting Thundercats. The cartoon was good, but only lasted one season. The new toys were crummy, because Bandai. The "Classics" toys couldn't decide on a single scale, releasing both 8" and 6" versions of Lion-O. And now thanks to Mattel, we add a 7" version to the collection.

This is the vintage Lion-O design you know and love, not the modern. You've got the blue chest armor with the exposed abs, the big blue belt with a red Thundercats symbol in the center, and blue boots with white trim. His arms and legs are bare, meaning he dresses pretty much the same way as Huntress.

The Thundercats toys are meant to go along with MotU Classics, so Lion-O has the same sort of thick, puffy look the Four Horsemen gave He-Man and his cronies - a wide torso, arms so big he can't put them down at his sides, all of it. As we've said before, the more figures there are in a certain scale or style, the better, so this Lion-O at least has some friends (even if they're from a different planet).

One noteable difference between this figure and the others is the coloration. Previous iterations of the Lord of Thundercats have had orange skin, while this one is more like the cartoon - he's tan, with lighter patches around his mouth and up his forearms. His eyes seem overly large, but that may simply be to offset his spiky eyebrows.

Lion-O's articulation is slightly better than MotU Classics, but still not very good. He has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, hinged torso, swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, swivel boots, and swivel/hinge ankles that have an actual rock to them, rather than the halfassed attempt the Masters of the Universe got. So the ankles are a step up from what we're used to, but it's still not nearly as good as either of the Bandai figures. At least the interiors of his joints are done in the right colors. Still, don't expect him to re-create the cartoon poses too well.

The figure's accessories include the Sword of Omens and the Claw Shield - in fact, the accessories include multiple versions of each! We begin with the sword, in both compact and extended versions. The dagger-sized blade is painted with the Eye of Thundera (a gold eye slit on a red background), while the full-sized one gets the T-cats' sigil. If you don't mind his arm being at a weird angle, you can do a pretty decent job of getting the sword up in front of his face for sight beyond sight.

One version of the Claw Shield has a balljoint that plugs into the figure's left wrist after you remove his hand, and also features a slot where the contracted sword can be stored. The other is molded with the sword already in it, and has a tab that allows it to peg onto the toy's waist. Both of them are sculpted to look thick and furry, with a lot more detail than the cartoon or other toys ever had. They have gray claws and black and gold knuckles. The set includes two extra left hands, both of which are molded in gripping poses, so what's the point?

The packaging is lovely! Instead of a plain mailer box, the outer box is black with logos on the front and top, a drawing of Lion-O on the right side and the Cats Lair on the left. The actual box inside is black with a red insert behind the figure, and the bubble is molded with the shape of the Sword of Omens, and Lion-O is looking through it. A different drawing of Lion-O graces one side, with the Thundercats logo on the other. The back has a full-color image, plus the bio text quoted up above. This is a very stylish presentation. Plus, since the box is just taped shut (we recommend opening the bottom, not the top), it's recloseable!

After years of releasing totally mediocre (and sometimes quite shoddy) MotU Classics, Mattel took a couple baby steps forward with Lion-O. Minor articulation improvements in the wrists and ankles may not sound like much, but they put the Thunderian one up on the Eternians (and probably wouldn't have existed if Mattel really had gotten the license back in 2002). Plus perfect accessories and beautiful packaging? This is a great release! It's a lot nicer than the two Bandai made, and other than Marvel Legends-style articulation, the only thing that could have made it better would be interchangeable faces, like a Japanese toy.

-- 11/12/16

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