While 2010 was great for the release of numerous fan-friendly lines, 2011 saw the announcement (and release) of some truly insane stuff like the surprise Mezco Toyz Lion-O large action figure. At the time there weren't a lot of known plans for the relaunch, so this was one of the first items available for order and it was damned impressive, too! Standing about 14-inches tall (20-inches if you measure to the top of his sword, which you shouldn't) this is an excellent display piece or decoration, particularly for the asking price. Made of what feels like rotocast plastic, it's lightweight, durable, and looks pretty great too.
As a collector familiar with the ThunderCats range but not wanting to invest in an entire collection, I thought one solid Lion-O toy ought to do it for now-- and this one works for me. The articulation isn't quite as vast as the smaller BanDai figures, but it's all very well-hidden and that essentially makes this a cheap high-quality low-dollar statue. There are 8 joints on him, including the neck, shoulders, wrists, waist, and boots. The head can be easily popped off should you get an alternate head (a different sculpt was sold as a Comic-Con 2011 exclusive), and the Claw Shield actually is an alternate left hand-- one with three fingers rather than four-- and some impressive detailing. I don't think it's a stretch to say the Mezco Toyz Claw Shield is superior to the original LJN figures at their best, with dark browns, painted claws, and other detailing bringing it to life. The left hand is, by default, a fist while the right is sculpted to hold a sword.
His shorter sword cannot be stored in the claw, but it does have the red and yellow design on the side and the uniquely sculpted handle, which changes position and appearance for the "larger sword." In the show, I mean, the toy doesn't change, you just get two different weapons. He has no problems holding the blade proudly but he can't be posed to see with Sight Beyond Sight due to the figure's design. (Perhaps if Mezco does a third run?) The big figure is more of a collectible than a toy, but that's OK-- I want something big and impressive, and this is it.
Mezco has a fantastic design team and they created Lion-O to be fairly detailed-- not too cartoony, but not too realistic. The face deco matches the show, with subtle shades of paint on the face setting off the eyes and mouth from the rest of the head fairly well. The toy understates the facial coloring and emphasizes the eyes a bit, plus the thicker lines around the eyes for the eyelashes do a great job of more closely matching the stills from the show. His torso has a little fur on it, while his arms aren't quite hairless-- there is a subtle hint of fur in the sculpt, though. His trademark "ThunderCats" belt buckle is present in lack and red, just like the t-shirts you see on kids at the mall who don't know what this is, plus he has bright blue boots with a silver lining on top.
For its price, this is an exquisite piece for the money-- BanDai's 8-inch line has more articulation and is truer to the old toys, but at $20 they simply aren't big. This is big. I'd like to hope Mezco does this with other licenses, I'd love to see classic versions of He-Man, Skeletor, Peter Venkman, Scrooge McDuck*, Garry Shandling, Cobra Commander, or any of my other TV heroes in this scale. Mezco has already confirmed Mumm-Ra will follow this release, and I sincerely hope they do a lot more just like it. (Although maybe not with ThunderCats-- I can only fit so many of these on my home entertainment center.) If you like the look of it, get it-- but assume it's a statue with some articulated elements. Sure his arms and head moves, but it's not like he can be posed to fight as well as his smaller cousins. This is a piece for the collector that knows he doesn't want everything... just something good and impressive.
* ...especially Scrooge McDuck. And Samus Aran, while we're at it.
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