Yesterday a new package from Matty Collector arrived on my doorstep. Mattycollector.com is the Mattel online store that produces online exclusive figures of characters from their most popular properties such as Masters of the Universe, Voltron, and Ghostbusters. These toys are geared towards the collectors market as opposed to kids but ironically I think that the toys I buy from mattycollector are the ones that would most appeal to kids. I absolutely love these MOTU Classics figures. They’re big, durable, bright, fun, nostalgic and imaginative. They definitely make for the most eye catching display in my man cave. My brother Doug tells me that his 4 year old Alex is really getting into He-Man these days and so Doug has been working at getting him a complete collection of the vintage figures. Now that Alex is so well versed in the property I’m kind of excited/terrified for the next time he pays me a visit. I wonder what he’ll think of these modern versions of the old toys that he’s been playing with. Will he like these ones better? Would I have preferred these new ones when I was his age? I dunno, the old ones definitely have their charm but damn these new ones are cool. Durable as the Classics figures may be I’d have to pull the “crappy uncle” routine and forbid him to play with them. He can play with my 2002 versions if he wants. I’m not a monster.
One of the great things about the Classics line is that it covers all past incarnations of Masters of the Universe. Most of the figures are based on figures released during the 80s but some are based on the crappy “New Adventures of He-Man” of the 90s, some are based on the mini-comics that were included with the vintage figures, some are based on unused concept art, and some are completely new characters made in the spirit of the originals. The new characters have been hit and miss. One of my favorite new releases was the Palace Guards 2-pack. That set consisted of two guards wearing the Man-at-Arms styled armor worn by all the guards in the cartoon. These guys were always seen standing around in the background and it was really cool to be able to add a couple of no-name soldiers like this to the collection. They even came with a variety of heads, helmets and weapons so you could have multiple combinations of guards if you decided to buy more than one set. It’s a great set.
Well another figure 2-pack arrived in my matty shipment yesterday. This one is also a troop-builder pack consisting of nameless soldiers intended to pad the ranks of your Eternian armies. The army getting padded this time though is the army of snake-men led by King Hiss. If you ask anybody who He-Man’s enemy is they’ll say Skeletor and his henchmen consisting of Mer-Man, and Beastman etc. Skeletor was absolutely He-Man’s most memorable foe but the Masters of the Universe faced down a number of serious threats over the years. There was Hordak who led his evil Horde consisting of Leech and Mantenna, and then there was King Hiss and his army of Snake Men. The Snake Men were introduced late in the original incarnation of He-Man and we didn’t get to see them live up to their full potential. In the 2002 reboot the entire third season of the show focused on the rising threat of the snake men and Skeletor and his minions were relegated to background roles.
The Snake men had their fair share of name characters such as the King Hiss, Rattlor, Kobra Kahn, Tongue Lasher, Snake Face, and Squeeze but they were always billed as being a massive army. The cartoon featured hundreds of nameless snake men at King Hiss’s command and this 2 pack gives you a chance to play out their slithery siege of Castle Greyskull. The set contains a yellow snake man and an orange snake man. The colors are actually quite similar. Now you might be wondering why they’d go with yellow and orange instead of more obvious snake colors like green or black. Well the snake army already has plenty of green in King Hiss and Kobra Kahn. A black snake man would be pretty sweet but I think perhaps would go against the bright and colorful aesthetic established by previous releases. The reason the two snake men are so close in color is because of the swappable heads. Like the Palace guards set the Snake men set contains 4 different heads, 2 yellow and 2 orange, 1 of each with a closed mouth and 1 with an open mouth. The heads are all very unique looking and ideally I’d like to own 2 of these sets so that I could display 4 different snake men. The fact that you can get away with displaying the yellow heads on the orange body and vice-versa because the colors are so similar allows for even further customization. I prefer the closed mouths on both figures and think I will display them that way.
The orange body is covered in rigid scales of various sizes which are painted in two different shades of orange. The variety of colors and textures is very subtle and effective. He’s got full chest armor which I think makes him look rather barrel chested and heroic. He’s got a furry loin cloth and ninja turtle-esque two-toed feet.
The yellow body is smooth and free of scales though there are some boney ridges on the arms and legs. He too has a very subtle paint wash which gives the character’s muscles added definition. He’s sporting a half chest plate and shoulder guard and shorts. He’s got three-toed clawed feet with shin guards. The Eternian Palace Guard figures had identical bodies which was cool because it gave them a unified look but I’m really impressed with how different these two snake men are from one another. They are clearly individual characters and yet they have enough similarities to seem like they’re part of a unified army. Both have snake men logos on their chest which are not the exact same but close enough so that you know these guys are teammates. The set included a spear, a sword, a mace and a shield so both snake men can head into battle fully armed. Mattel knocked it out of the park with this set, great stuff. 9 out of 10.