This here is another figure from the Masters of the Universe Classics line. Mattel tells me that this guy’s name is Vikor. The package describes him as the He-Man of the north. The brave warrior who was tasked with holding the power sword for a short period after King Grayskull’s death, until the rightful heir was able to rise up and wield the power for himself. It’s a neat concept and I think I would’ve been into it had I owned this figure as a kid. Only this is not a re-make of a classic 80s action figure like most in the MOTU Classics line, this is an original character appearing for the first time in plastic form. The people at Mattel have done a great job mining the depths of the MOTU property so as not to just rehash the past. They’re producing figures from the early animation and mini-comics that never got the toy treatment ever before. Vikor and his enemy Demo-Man are actually based of old concept art from the earliest days of MOTU when the idea was just coming together. Mattel wanted to produce a new boys action figure line but they didn’t quite know what they wanted yet.
Early concept sketches show characters that were influenced by sci-fi, military, and fantasy genres. The toy line ultimately ended up a bizarre mash-up of science fiction and fantasy. Those concept drawings showed how creators originally envisioned the hero and lead villain of the franchise to look. The villain was a muscular beast with a whip, a long beard and skeletal facial features who eventually became Skeletor. The hero was a muscle bound Viking with long dark hair, a furry loin cloth and a horned helmet. That concept, now named Vikor for this release, eventually morphed into the blonde beefcake that is He-Man.
Now while I do appreciate Mattel coming up with a little backstory that allows fans to work this new character based on nothing but a concept sketch into their He-Man universe, I know his true origins. They can deny it all they like but this here is a goddamn Conan the Barbarian figure. Back when the original Conan movie starring Arnie was released in 1982 Mattel had acquired the rights to make action figures based on the film. Strangely those figures never came to be but very shortly afterwards Mattel unveiled their brand new “original” creation, He-man and the Masters of the Universe starring a furry loin cloth wearing tough guy battling all manner of creatures in the mystical land of Eternia. Totally different from the furry loin clothed muscleman Conan who battled all manner of mythological beasts in the land of Hyboria. Totally different. Needless to say a lawsuit followed but He-Man won out which I’m glad to say because no matter what his possibly shady origins are, He-Man has grown into an awesome franchise all its own. He-Man figures brought me great joy as a kid and continue to today when figures like Vikor show up in the mail each month.
Conan on the other hand has not fared so well in the action figure department. There have only been a few (McFarlane did some decent ones) even though the character has existed in stories since the 1930s. I first discovered him when I was quite young through the Arnold movies and the Marvel comic book. The movies seemed pretty epic to me at the time even if they sometimes seem a little silly now. The comic though was where they character really shined. I never collected the book but my older cousin Greg was really into it and I read some of his. I owned (still do) 1 issue of the Conan magazine which was a black and white publication released by Marvel but not subject to the comics code authority that the comics were. The magazines were bloodier and sexier and featured what I always imagined to be the “real” Conan. Mind you I’ve never read any of the original stories and from what I hear the comic representation and the famous Frank Frazetta paintings that everybody associates with the character depict the barbarian quite differently than originally described by creator Robert E. Howard. All that aside, Conan is one of the great characters of fiction that I grew up with an appreciation for, like Zorro, the Lone Ranger, Tarzan, Flash Gordon and others, even though I was never entrenched in their history like I was with more modern heroes like Spider-Man or Snake-Eyes. And so, even if it’s not official, I’m pretty stoked to have such a cool Conan figure in my collection.
Now just a couple of quick points about the toy itself. The figure is quite nice and although he re-uses a lot of He-Man’s parts he does not seem like just another clone. The dark hair and eyes go a long way at distinguishing this guy from He-Man. Plus his whole body is molded in a darker plastic making him appear as though he came from somewhere other than Eternia. All of his accessories are spot on and work great whether you consider this to be Vikor or Conan. He has a sheild, a nicely sculpted fur cape and two bladed weapons. One of his weapons can be sheathed in his belt when not in use. My only real gripe is that his helmet doesn’t come off. That would be boss as I prefer my Conan sans chapeau. 7 out of 10.