Since MOTU Classics started in late 2008, each figure has been released to a varying degree of anticipation and excitement. In 2009, I’m not sure who was the most anticipated. Skeletor came early in the line, when figures could last into a second week, so it can’t be him. I guess maybe Hordak. He’s among the most popular of the class of 2009 and his sellout time was among the quickest for last year. But this year, there’s no debate. Without knowing what the last four Club Eternia figures are for this year, without knowing what the last quarterly or large-scale figure will be, I’m calling it now. None will have been as anticipated as Battle Cat.
And if you were lucky enough to get past the half-dozen hurdles that Digital River threw at us last Tuesday, you know that Battle Cat lives up to the hype. Usually, I’d save that for the end of the review, but everyone knows it already, so I don’t think you’ll leave now just because I’ve given my final opinion before the end. Besides, we’ve got plenty of pictures – more than normal – we were just having too much fun with the camera.
If you don’t understand the popularity about Battle Cat, well, there are a few reasons for it. One, he’s conceivably the second-most important character in all of MOTU. If you dismiss him as He-Man’s pet or ride, you’re mistaken. In the long tradition of Lone Range and Silver or Superman and Krypto, Battle Cat and He-Man were best buds. Their friendship starts when a young Adam saves Cringer from certain death and then adopts him. When Adam becomes He-Man, Cringer becomes Battle Cat. In the original series, Battle Cat could speak which made their friendship easy to showcase. In the MYP series, it was a little more difficult to show since Battle Cat couldn’t talk, but the show usually took the time to show He-Man treating Battle Cat as an equal or being particularly upset when Battle Cat gets hurt. Still, there’s no doubt that Battle Cat is more pivotal to the mythos than nearly any other characters besides He-Man. He was a must have for just about anyone collecting the line. He’s the Battle Cat that He-Man always deserved.
Battle Cat is, of course, an all-new sculpt. The Four Horsemen have done their usual level of exemplary work here. On the figure itself, Battle Cat has detailed fur from head to toe including lengthy buildups in all the right places. And if you’re into that sort of thing, the paws have sculpted detail on the bottom.
One other neat thing about the construction of the figure is the upper teeth/mandible. This could have been a week point for the figure if made with the regular materials, but instead it’s done in a soft plastic. It’s added seamlessly – the sharp line between the lips and gums is simply made real by this arrangement. Looking inside the mouth, articulation aside, you’d never be able to visually tell it was a separate piece. That’s quality engineering.
The centerpiece of most MOTU figures is usually the head and Battle Cat is no exception. The head sculpt is so good (minus a visible mold line) that it’s almost a crime to put the helmet on him. Whiskers weren’t possible, of course, but you hardly notice. If tigers were green, they’d look just like what the Four Horsemen sculpted.
Battle Cat includes two pieces of armor: the helmet and the saddle. Both are faithful recreations of the original. Looking at the vintage figure, I was surprised to find that some of the details I thought the 4H added were originally there just unpainted. So then, the Four Horsemen did an excellent job of bringing that armor into the 21st century without having to change it much at all. Some bolts and a leather texture to the saddle area were added for realism, but that’s how it should be. One new addition is two straps towards the front of the armor to hold the Power Sword. They’re neat, but I don’t know if I will use them. For some of the pics, you’ll see that I’ve placed the axe in one. I gotta admit, it looks cool.
The paintwork on Battle Cat wasn’t as perfect as I wanted it to be. What’s irritating is that the hard apps are done well and some easy apps are sloppy. First, the stripes on the figure itself are excellent. I looked over the entire figure and could only find one place where the stripes were marred and it’s safely under the saddle and out-of-sight. The paintwork on the face is similarly excellent (minus a small black mark on his cheek).
On the armor, every bolt is perfect, the inner areas of the armor plates have clean lines against the ridges, and the saddle is painted well. But the spike on the forehead of the armor and the two spikes at the shoulders all have the paint chipped off the tips already. The tips are a weak spot, so I would understand if I looked at the figure down the road and realized that I had chipped the paint off over the years. But it’s disappointing to have it come out of the package that way. For $30, I sort of expect flawless. The peak of the saddle also sports a fourth paint chip too.
The articulation is as impressive as the sculpt. There’s so much going on here that I decided it best to just make a visual checklist in the scale graphic above. I’m very happy with most of it too. The legs are probably the area where the artic really shines. I know it’s a silly shot over there on the right, but I thought it was cool that he can touch all his paws together.
There’s tons of fun articulation besides the legs though. The tail is ball-jointed and can go just about any way you want to really finish off a pose. Similarly, the ab-crunch has been done as a large ball-joint and has excellent range. It can’t do as much with the saddle on as off, but it’s pretty expressive. Finally, the jaw is hinged so you can have your Battle Cat snarling or roaring – and it looks good both ways.
That brings us to the head and neck. There’s some great articulation here, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want more. For up and down movement, the head can move subtlety at the top of the neck while the hinge at the bottom gives Battle Cat the ability to put his head really far down and slightly up. The ball-joint at the top of the neck also lets the head rotate and look side-to-side slightly. Side-to-side action is where I wish there were more though. Maybe it was just too complicated to add it, I’d understand with how much is already going on, but I would like if Battle Cat could look hard left or hard right. Still, it hardly takes away from an otherwise excellent piece.
I won’t count the armor pieces as accessories, so, technically, Battle Cat goes without in this department. I don’t really care though. As I’ve said before, if this were truly a collector’s line there is probably something he could come with. But, in our current situation, we could probably only get another power sword or something similar. That isn’t really going to make much of a difference. Battle Cat’s good to go as is.
Overall, this is a great toy. I don’t know how you couldn’t love it. I know there are a lot of fans out there still waiting to pick one up and that sucks. But I can tell them that when they do get him, he’ll be worth it.
Anyway, I know there are a million opinions under the sun, but I just can’t fathom anyone opening up this Battle Cat and not being impressed. Even if I didn’t have a connection to the character, the size, sculpt, articulation, and most of the paint, are so far above par that it’s ridiculous. It seems silly to pick a best of for the year in February, but if any other toy this year out-impresses Battle Cat, we’re in for one hell of a good year.