Every once in awhile, Mattel throws me a curve. When future subscriptions were pared down to essentials, I was… concerned. I’m one of those weird collectors that tend to like the fringes more than the essentials. My favorite characters are b-list on a good day. Now, truth be told, I still am waiting on a “big” name to cross off my fringe list – Calix or Red Beast, notably – but Mattel surprised me when they announced Battle Lion.
Looking back, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that he was included. Take Battle Cat, give him a lion’s mane, a new tail, and some armor and *boom* Battle Lion. That’s too easy for a buck toy line to resist. Looking back, I laugh that I thought a big pink cat (Clawdeen) was more likely than this guy.*
* – Before I get any hate mail for picking on a big pink cat, I’d sooo buy Clawdeen.
Now, while I’m going to be happy any time anything MO2K drips out of Classics, I have to say I’m not totally sold on the idea behind Battle Lion. I love Preternia. Heck, I love the name. I love the glistening white Castle. I love King Grayskull as an ancestor of Adam that he channels to become He-Man. I imagine this great scene when He-Man has to travel back in time, undisguised, to not too long after Grayskull passed. He encounters Veena fighting for her life, she notices the silhouette, the shape, and she hopes for second, but realizes it can’t be. The pair fights together and stop whatever time scheme Skeletor has devised, but that’s just the plot. The important thing is she learns from that meeting just how powerful and important her husband’s legacy will become. The whole idea is just a powerful setup with lots of potential. I love it.
But my guy, He-Man? See, he’s already got a big green cat. Maybe it would just seem wrong to see He-Man’s post-created ancestor, looking mostly just like him, riding around on a giant polar bear or, He-forbid, a horse. But this is a dangerous road. Does King Grayskull have a brunette-bearded, benevolent father? Is he friends with a guy that uses his head as a battering ram? Or a guy covered in moss… oh, wait. Moss Man was there. Well, at least the villains… are different… yeah… dangerous road, indeed.
It’s cute, it is. And King Grayskull’s having a big green cat could just be considered one more piece of He-quipment, though that does a disservice to the character itself, should it get some. The present being echoes of the past, that’s cool. If the past were to be made to similar to the current events in a story though, it would lose some uniqueness. Preternia suffers from that too, but I’m getting off track (like normal). Maybe Battle Lion isn’t part of that or not, that’s up to you. At least we can agree he looks cool.
Much as the Battle Lion in the MO2K exists due to Battle Cat, so too does this toy. We’ve got a new head, a new tail, and the armor bits on BC’s buck. That’s how you make a Battle Lion. In his original appearance, Battle Lion was much more massive and that probably helped to distinguish him from Battle Cat. As we know though, the massiveness of things in MO2K is not buck-friendly and was quickly eschewed to keep costs down. I don’t mind that. Clawful, Whiplash, etc., they’re all fine as is. And I don’t really mind it here, but putting Grayskull on Battle Lion doesn’t look quite right because he was so HUGE in the cartoon (which is funny because tigers are bigger than lions, but whatevs).
The good thing is that the new pieces are nice. The tail is a tail, but the new head and lion mane look great. It gives back some of the lost mass to be sure. I wish I’d snagged a packaged picture because, in this package, he looked huge! It’s all in the mane, which does block some of the forward leg articulation, but I don’t care. It’s the one part that’s massive. It looks great masked or unmasked. Continue to Page 2…