Battle of the Battle Cats! Toy vs Toy, Cat vs Cat, MATTEL vs MATTEL
With three big cats finding a permanent home in my Mancave, it’s time to see which of these kitties have claws, who takes the biggest cat naps, and who has the loudest battle roar, and gets the ultimate Paws of Approval.
With no time to lose, which cat will fall flat, who will rise to be a king among armored kings, cat among cats and reign supreme? Let’s find out…
BATTLE CAT MOTU ORIGINS (2020)
First up is Origins Battle Cat, a sensibly priced toy that was widely available at retail and is a nice nod to the look of the vintage 80’s Battle-cat with some added articulation.
Old school Battle-cat being a repurpose of the Tarzan / Big Jim cat sculpt he had zero articulation. This modern version features leg, tail and head articulation, with most of it being simple and functional, but sadly they did cheap out by not giving him any ankle joints. On the plus side, the cost of the toy was kept fairly low and Origins Battle Cat was great value in todays over priced toy market.
With mask on and mask off Battle-Cat/Cringer is a looker. A lovely sculpt that could use some more paint, but what is there is functional and fairly nice. For a vintage style recreation it works, and keeping the basic proportions means he is also compatible with vintage MOTU figs if you want to use him for that purpose.
Up close and clawful, Origins Battle-Cat has a decent head sculpt with prominent eyes, nose, teeth and jowels. There are more finer details in the fur, that you can’t really see too well as they are plain unpainted plastic.
His neck articulation gives him a bit more expression, and it’s a shame about the lack of ankles as it severly limits the poses he can pull off and hinders the use of the joints he does have.
The toy is fairly lightweight, retailed at a more than fair price in a vintage style box. In or out of box Origins Cat is a lovely display piece, and above all functional toy that kids can actually play with, without fear of it breaking due to its robust construction.
The saddle and mask are removable, but removing the saddle it would be advisable to heat up the plastic/rubber first to avoid stretching or damaging it. His box art was sensational with gorgeous new art in the vintage style on the front and rear of the box.
BATTLE LION MOTU CLASSICS (2014)
Next is Battle Lion from the MOTU Classics line. Classics was a subscription based line aimed at credit card wielding adults that people paid for up front, at a time when MATTEL had all but given up on its flagship generation defining property, refusing to put its biggest brand into stores, believing it would not sell in big box stores.
The Battle Lion character first appeared in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002) cartoon episode “The Power of Grayskull” as the steed of King Grayskull and is a fun addition to the MOTU lore.
I don’t own anything from the Classics line except this fine feline. I picked it up last year on ebay at a reasonable price, being much more affordable than the Classics Panthor and Battle-Cat. The stand out features on this version of the sculpt are the new Lion head and different saddle/mask parts.
Battle Lion’s articulation is excellent with full ankles, knees, hips, neck and mid torso/spine vertical and horizontal flexion. The only downside is he weighs about two bricks, and feels like a big block of resin, so some of the poses he will sag under his own weight eventually.
For the most part Battle Lion poses well in most standard positions, and leans towards a bit more realistic cat like proportions and posture. Unlike human legs that bend forwards only, cats rear legs have an additional backwards bend above the ankle, and it’s good to see that realistic anatomy recreated here in Battle Lion, rather than doing a solid non-moving leg.
Battle Lion with mask off, and on. I definitely prefer the mask off as the head sculpt is sublime, and while the mask itself alone as a piece is very nice, it doesn’t fit well and aesthetically is at odds with the shape and proportions of Battle Lions head and big mane. It would suit a Tiger just fine but not a Lion.
Here is the battle mask on a Godzilla figure, just to get a better look at it.
The mask suits a narrow face (like say… oh… Battle Cat) rather than a heavily maned Lion. The sculpt of the Battle Lion face and mane is abso-fab-a-dob-ulously-gorgeous, and the battle mask kicks all of the necessary asses required.
But putting the two together just does not work, they are at odds with each other. I put it with accessories inside my Origins castle by the weapon rack or whatever, as I don’t want such a lovely piece to go to waste sitting in a tub.
For the articulation, Battle Lion can spread those legs a fair distance. He is a VERY weighty figure, and holds his weight in a neutral stance fine, but in posed positions is prone to collapsing under his own weight. The joints are good quality he is just excessively heavy, like a block of resin heavy, rather than lighter weight plastics etc. The weight distribution is neither equal nor smooth, causing issues.
As I don’t have any Classics or Masterverse figures, Origins Adam and Super 7 Panthro will be on cat riding duties for this article.
Origins Adam is obviously not scaled for Battle Lion, however Battle Lion was even bigger than Battle Cat (in fiction) so it still kind of works if you want it to.
Super 7 Panthro is a proper 7″ scaled figure and goes so nicely that I’ve actually left him on Battle Lion after finishing the photos last week. Unfortunately the saddle is not great on BL, with most figures (of any scale) falling off of his back with the slightest bump, or at times no bump at all.
Battle Lion has the worst saddle of the three cats in this article, however it does look nice with cool spikes, armored bits and a good finish on it. Functionally – it just doesn’t work.
Do Battle Lions grippers meet with the Paws of Approval Committee? For this eternal conundrum, I turned to resident Cat Expert, Pedro aka Catty McNopants, our housecat Sleepologist who recommends as many Cat Naps a day as purrrrr-sible, and showing off your hind quarters at every opportunity.
Pedro’s Paw’s of Approval rating gives Battle Lion a 9/10 and 6/10 for Origins Battle Cat as while he also has the same underpaws, they lack the colorful flourish and style of Battle Lion.
Battle Lion’s box unfortunately features no art work on the front or rear, making it a real downer. He does feature nicely in the window display for collectors that want to keep him in there, as this was a direct market item it also shipped inside a plain protective outer cardboard box the same way other MOTU club classics and Super 7 figures do.
CRINGER MOTU MASTERVERSE (2021)
Next is Masterverse Cringer / Battle Cat. This toy mixes the giant size and articulation of Battle Lion, with the look inspired by the original Battle Cat and modern Netflix cartoon. His articulation and price point were fairly good, and his stand out feature is that he has Cringers lovely cartoon face, and not a generic Big Jim tiger face.
Cringer comes with a mask and excellent snug fitting saddle. The mask is very stylized and the first thing I did was put it away as I find it aesthetically unpleasing. The mask has really weird exaggerated proportions that make it a bit ugly in my book.
I bought this big cat to be Cringer in my collection for the excellent face sculpt. I had two of the Origins cat, one mask on – one mask off but swapped out the double on my shelf for Masterverse Battle Cat.
The eyes, eyebrows and mouth have nice expressive features. His jowls are highlighted in a lighter shade. The musculature is outstanding, even more realistic than Battle Lion, and I would bet that whomever sculpted this critter clearly used the MOTU Classics Collector Club Battle Cat/Lion body and articulation as the inspiration, with the overall improvements being the better balance.
Cringers mouth opens, his mouth and teeth having depth and color. This really feels like a premium toy where the sculptor went to town and was not cut off at the knees in the budget/tooling department. It was easily my favorite toy of 2021.
Sans saddle, Masterverse Battle Cat has a lovely deco, green fur marked all over, and his Tiger stripes. I have used a promo image here as I don’t want to take the saddle off of my Battle-Cat. His articulation and overall look is very impressive, and the no mask Cringer face is what really sold me on this figure and makes it stand apart from all other releases.
Cringer has basically the same articulation as Battle Lion, but his weight is distributed much better (he’s lighter in a good way – but not cheap) and because of that light cat weight, can hold a pose much better without toppling or sagging.
Cringer scales with the 7″ Masterverse line. Here he is with an Origins Adam and some helmeted doofus who was on my desk at the time and happened to be 7″ scale.
Masterverse Cringer/Battle-Cat really is a stand out toy, and overall great value being only a bit more than Origins Battle-Cat, and easily half the price or less of collector club Battle Lion (then or now).
The front of the Masterverse box features no art, while the rear features some nice art, but cropped unfortunately in a way that we don’t get to see fair amount of it. The Origins box had Battle-Cat leaping at Skeletor, was better framed and more dynamic, by comparison this image seems a bit odd for having Battle-Cat leaping at seemingly empty space.
Each of these three cats holds a place in my collection and will not be going anywhere. That said, what is the best and worst of these three toys?
Well, Origins Battle Cat has the limited articulation and could use a bit more paint. The box art is excellent and and at budget price is the best value as a genuine toy, that can be enjoyed by adults or played with by kids today without breaking in five minutes.
Battle Lion is an excellent piece. It’s a lovely lion for adult collectors, suited to static poses if you have the patience for it, or looks fine kept in its window display box. Like most direct market product, it was expensive on release, and has only gone up since then on the aftermarket. It has a fantastic sculpt, but the worst value for money, and is really only for dedicated collectors with money to spare when other options are available.
Lastly, Masterverse Battle Cat has great articulation, nice sculpt, bit of a boring box but overall holds the best mix of size (to scale with 7″ Masterverse/Revelations figures, or MOTU Classics), articulation and sculpt for me. It’s my favorite of the three cats, but I do love all three of them for each has their own purpose and strengths. You really can’t got wrong with any of these big green beautiful cats.
Battle Cats Dance Off! Cue the beat
CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGED “WHERE’S PANTHOR?” BIT
Panthor is chillin with the rowdy ruff boys. As nice as he is, being a straight Origins repaint of Battle-Cat, he chose to do other things, turning his nose up at the idea of being compared to a wimpy green cat. You try getting a giant purple panther to sit still for a photo.
- Masterverse Battle Cat rear box image courtesy of TFW2005 Forum member Emirate Xaaron, thank you!