When it came to naming the characters of the Masters of the Universe toy line I don’t know if those responsible at Mattel should be scolded for their laziness or heralded for their genius. A bee man named Buzz Off, an evil crab man named Clawful, a skunk man named Stinkor. These sound more like they were conceived by children from the short bus as opposed to marketing executives. And yet these names, along with less clever but just as simple names like Mer-Man and Beast-Man have become classics and to guys like me who been fans of these characters for so long, they don’t even sound silly any more. But there is one character whose name still incites snickers. How can you not crack a smile when you’re introduced to a strongman named Fisto.
The original Fisto had a metal gauntlet on his right hand that when pulled back would spring forward to knock any opponent on their ass. He was wearing little furry shorts as many of the Masters were and he had purple and silver battle armor. With his brown beard and slicked back hair he reminded me a bit of my dad when he was younger. He seemed rather dapper and well groomed with an epic old timey ‘stache. Doug owned Fisto when we were kids and he probably still has him.
I didn’t get my first Fisto until the MOTU revival of 2002. I absolutely fell in love with the dynamic new character designs. I think almost everything they did in those days was an improvement over the originals. I was extremely disappointed when the 2002 cartoon show and toy line ended prematurely. I really wanted a complete set of MOTU figures based on those designs but sadly that never came to be. As far as Fisto goes, he’s one of the few 2002 redesigns that I’m on the fence about whether it was superior to the original design. I really like the new look but it changes the personality of the character a bit too much for me. The original looked clean and proper, like a knight almost. The 2002 version is much more reminiscent of a big burly Viking.
The 2002 figure is obviously Fisto but his name was changed on the packaging to “Battle Fist”. I don’t know if this was done because Mattel lost the rights to the name or to avoid giggles but regardless he’ll always be Fisto to me. In his appearances on the 2002 animated series he was still known as Fisto, not Battle Fist which honestly sounds just as funny. In the updated cartoon they supplied him with an intriguing new origin story. He was the disgraced brother of Man-at-Arms and was thought long dead. They even hinted that Fisto and the Sorceress were Teela’s birth parents.
This figure, while a departure from the original is still pretty awesome. His metal gauntlet is now extremely oversized and clearly intended to be a mechanical enhancement as opposed to just a fancy glove. Instead of the pull back and release action feature of the original, this one has a button that when clicked extends the fist forward a couple inches. His hair and beard are longer and shaggier than before and he has a new metal tiara type deal on his head. He’s still got the purple and silver color scheme on his armor though there’s more detail in the sculpt now. He’s rocking some wickedly massive fur boots which is probably my favorite change made to the character. All of the 2002 era figures were designed to rest in a slight action pose instead of a static upright stance. Usually I don’t like pre-posed figures but the MOTU poses are subtle and the slight hunch given to Fisto adds even more personality to a toy that’s already oozing with character.
I do like this updated look but I was glad to see that the Fisto figure recently released in the MOTU Classics line was modeled after the original version instead. I think this version nailed the Viking like look of the 2000 era Fisto but I’ve never owned the original ‘clean’ Fisto and now’s my chance. The Classics version sold out uber-fast when it was released on MattyCollector.com a couple months ago and I missed out on him but I’m sure I’ll snag him eventually. In the coming months there’s also a Jitsu figure being released in the classics line which I’m really looking forward too. When Fitso first came out Jitsu was released as his evil rival, a nasty Asian dude with a golden karate chop glove. I never owned the 80s original or the 2000 era Jitsu so he will be a most welcome addition to my classics collection. It will be nice to finally be able to display these arch rivals fisting each other. Er….. 7 out of 10.