Well, this is awkward. A steed without his master. King Grayskull has been released twice in Masters of the Universe Classics – once as the original SDCC exclusive that started the whole line, and once as a regular figure because not many people could grab the original. I have neither, so Vikor will have to sub in.
One of the best episodes of the 2000s-era Masters of the Universe cartoon was The Power of Grayskull. It was essentially all one gigantic flashback teaching He-Man about his ancient ancestor, King Grayskull, who defeated Hordak at the cost of his own life eons in the past, and whose power inhabits castle that bears his name. It. Was. AWESOME. And just like his descendant, Grayskull rode a big green cat into battle. In his case, it was a lion the size of an elephant. HUGE! As was Grayskull. So can you guess which figure is getting the royal treatment this year in MOTUC?
BATTLE LION: HEROIC STEED OF KING GRAYSKULL
REAL NAME: GRANGER
During the Great Wars against King Hssss and the Invasion Forces of Hordak, King Grayskull rode into battle on top of his fierce mount Granger, a giant lygor prince from the Green Tiger Tribe. Gifted as a cub to young Grayskull for saving their home from an attack by renegade Gar pirates, Granger grew up with his master, loyally protecting Grayskull in times of peace and war. When evil threatens Eternia, Granger is enhanced by the Power of the Universe channeled through the Sword of He. As Battle Lion he wears enchanted armor that protects him against magical attacks. Battle Lion is the heroic steed of King Grayskull, loyally carrying his master into combat.
I can’t decide if I want to make a Hermoine joke, or an Are You Being Served? joke. Well, Granger isn’t the weirdest name around. So, that’s the lion for ya. And now we have him in this line! MOTUC has yearly “beast” oversized releases. This year’s happens to be Battle Lion. Obviously he ears some similarities to Battle Cat and Panthor, but is he distinct enough to warrant a release this late in the line? Well, it is nice to give Grayskull his mount after all this time, though it is a little late. And since I lack the appropriate companion figure, this review just might come from a different perspective than others. Let’s go!
Since this is my first time reviewing a “Beast,” I got to be pleasantly surprised by the packaging! It’s not a normal blister, nor is it Modulok’s box – Battle Lion comes in a big window box that gives me oh-so much nostalgia for the ’80s. It’s awesome and I love it!
Battle Lion is big! Okay, he’s the same size as Battle Cat, but you get my drift. He’s a big kitty cat, somewhat larger to scale than a normal lion, though not as tremendous as he was in the cartoon. Seriously, he was like an elephant in that show. But then, King Grayskull was a giant, too, though his toy is the same sie as everybody else. I guess that means it evens out?
Battle Lion’s got an impressive amount of detail, even for this line. Take a look at his ribs, for example – the awesome fur textures are one thing, but the small details like his musculature or ribs really seal the deal. The Horsemen know what they’re doing! And even moreso, look at his face. This is not a friendly kitten. You’ve caught him in mid-snarl, or perhaps a full-on roar, his face scrunched up in pure rage! Of course, his sabreteeth are about as sharp as bananas, but such is life.
Battle Lion reuses a lot from Battle Cat – really, it’s just his head and tail that are new. But that’s all right – somewhere some folks at Mattel (Scott?) let slip that the money saved by re-using cat parts is what allowed them to budget for Modulok. You know, with that in mind I would’ve been happy if they had just repainted a Barbie horse and awkwardly stuffed it in an envelope. Modulok may be the greatest thing that this toy line has produced. And besides, Battle Lion is perfectly fine as-is.
I can’t really think of any major complaints about his sculpt (well, those teeth), though not much really leaps out (but his face is nice). Wait, there you go. His face is awesome, his tusks are dull. His body looksgreat, though a lot is reused. He’s an intimidating beast, though, and I found myself liking him more than I had expected.
Battle Lion is green. He is green, green, green. He honestly shares most of his coloration with Battle Cat, though good ol’ Cringer had stripes and he does not. There are a few different shades on the boy – lighter colors on his front legs, some darker in his mane, and of course black for his paw pads, nose, and claws, and the appropriate colors in his mouth and eyes. Because his torso lacks a wash or anything similar, it honestly feels kind of flat. I’m sorry to say so, but that’s the case. He lacks sloppy paint, though, and that is a plus.
Battle Lion has a ball-jointed head and upper torso, ball-and-socket shoulders, elbows/front knees, wrists/ankles, and tail, hinged jaw, back knees, and back calves, and swivel shoulders/hips(haunches?). He also has a big sliding hinge in the base of his neck to allow him to look up or down.
I have to say, Battle Lion’s articulation is pretty good. Maybe some of his joints don’t feel like they have all the movement they could, but it manages – and in some cases, has extra to make up (like the neck). He can take the poses that matter, including various ways of mauling or pouncing his foes. Or rolling over for tummy rubs.
Battle Lion comes with his saddle, mask, and claw coverings. I’m gonna start with the nitpicks. His saddle straps across his belly, but it feels awkard and uneven – too far down his back, but the strap isn’t long enough to really push it forward. It also slides and tips easily, and might toss your rider. If your figure has a loincloth or skirt (poor Vikor), he or she will have trouble riding, though a lot of MOTUC toys are just fine. The shape seems kind of awkwrd at first, and I had mine on backwards for a while, but it will grow on you. What is surprising is how technological it is, since King Grayskull comes from what, a thousand years in the past? The shields are not removable.
Battle Lion’s mask is very much like Cringer’s, and fits over his face pretty nicely. There is a noticeable gap between its sabreteeth and his sabreteeth, though, and that might be distracting. But I really have no complaint.
His claw coverings are what they are. They fit and look fine, but seem to stick out a little more than the other accessories. They don’t really do anything special for me,though I do not dislike them. He honestly comes with all the accessories he needs, although I personally like to keep them off because his facial sculpt is just that good.
Battle Lion was $35 for subscribers, and more for non-subscribers. Also, Mattel seems to have upped their shipping costs. Battle Lion thus costs as much as Modulok, but without the same level of playability.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Battle Lion seems quite durable, though the plastic of his torso feels kind of stiff and hollow.
WHERE TO BUY:
Mattel had him and sold out, so try Big Bad Toy Store.
If Aslan got hit with a dose of gamma radiation, this is what he would turn into. Battle Lion is a big, intimidating, mean beast, though honestly I think that if you have this guy, it’s worth tracking down Grayskull first. Pretty much everything about the figure is solid, but he really does need his master. It’s a nice figure in my collection, but not $40 of nice without anybody to ride him. For what he is, he’s really good, he just isn’t a standalone figure.