Of all the 1980s licensed properties, two stuck out as sore thumbs when it came to not getting a relaunch. Indiana Jones, as it appealed to older boys and adults, sort of made sense. The lack of new ThunderCats was baffling, especially since the show's logo has been incredibly popular as a t-shirt design since the 1990s. Voltron got a couple of relaunches. We saw another E.T. line. Heck, we had many attempts with G.I. Joe and even He-Man. So what took Lion-O so long? I still don't know, but the property ended up in the hands of the Warner Bros. and is now a new anime-inspired reboot aimed at kids, and the toys are made by the people who brought you Power Rangers. And it seems to be working.
Unlike a lot of the toys I buy, Lion-O feels like a real plaything. You can see the pins in his shoulders, his proportions are a smidgen off, reminding me a lot of the 2002 reboot of G.I. Joe. His hands are bigger, his shoulders are large, and it feels like he might be pretty durable. His hips have a great range of movement, so you can swivel them and the armor has enough give so he can sit cross-legged if you're so inclined... well, OK, he can't. Blame the knee joints not having enough range, but you do get knee joints, ankles, and well-disguises wrists. The only joint I'd say this figure is missing would be biceps, because he can't hold a sword with both hands in his current form.
The sculpt is simple and cartoony, which is appropriate and basically what I'd want from a current TV show aimed at kids. The anime influences are readily apparent, particularly in the head, plus the eye deco is particularly sharp. It's simple, and the accessories are also fairly simple. The Sword of Omens comes in small and fully aroused forms, with the smaller one fitting into his claw, more or less. The problem here is that both swords are bent a little funny, and while usually my techniques of boiling water can fix misshape accessories, here, not so much. The deco on the swords is simple with some red paint, a little more color (be it silver or black) would bring out more detail. Still he can hold his weapons, and that's really what matters.
I keep forgetting to give credit to BanDai as a company, because they're one of very few who can make toys that are toys still. Hasbro and Mattel as essentially full-on collector brands, with most action figures being created to adhere to the expectations from most toy collectors. BanDai doesn't care. (Neither does Playamtes usually.) This is a plaything, with swivel wrists, swords, and some other features that are unlocked when you play with the vehicles. The snooty toy consumer in me wants to rag on the big firsts, but the toy junkie in my knows the truth: this is an excellent plaything. This is a real toy, and it seems like it might hold up over the years as a fun thing some kids might play with. If you think you admire toys as toys, this should be on your shopping list. If not, well, there's a lot of other stuff out there. I admire the construction here.
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