BATTLE SOUND HE-MAN (gold) (2002)
I’ve been reviewing a lot of new figures lately so today I’ve decided to take a step back and look at an oldie. Now this may not look like an oldie to you and you’re not wrong necessarily, it just depends on what you consider old. This is not a vintage 80s Masters of the Universe figure, this figure heralds from the brand’s revival toy line that came 20 years later. But this figure, and the others that were released with it back in 2002 to coincide with the launch of a new MOTU animated series are more than a decade old now themselves and I gotta tell ya, that makes me feel old.
I loved the 2002 MOTU cartoon and I loved the corresponding toys. I own the complete series on DVD and it holds up very well. I can actually sit through an entire episode without cringing which is more than I can say for the 80s version. The 2002 toy line retained everything I loved about the brand from my childhood but amped it up to suit my more mature needs as a collector. The figures were dynamic with many diverse body types. I liked the variety in their physiques, no longer was everyone in Eternia a hulking muscle-man. The stylized re-designs of the characters were great. I’ve always been a fan of the creatures in the series and characters like Whiplash, Stinkor and Clawful really benefitted from the re-designs. Great monsters aside, the greatest re-design of a character probably came in the form of He-Man himself.
When I was a kid I liked He-Man just fine. He seemed like a nice guy and all but he hardly seemed like the guy I wanted to lead my Masters of the Universe into battle. It didn’t help that my baby brother mangled my vintage He-Man’s hand all to hell. In my personal Eternia it was usually Buzz-Off or Stratos that saved the day while the mangled meat-head with the page-boy haircut was injured and out of commission. Maybe if I they had made a He-Man figure that looked like Dolph Lundgren I would’ve respected the character more.
Well in 2002 Mattel finally gave me a He-Man I could respect. In the old cartoons He-Man managed to come across as both the strongest man on the planet and kind of a wimp at the same time. In 2002 He-Man was just plain tough. He still smiled and joked with his friends but when it came time to kick-ass he was all business. And while his alter–ego, Prince Adam, was still kind of wimpy it at least made sense now because Adam was a scrawny teen who went through a physical transformation to become He-Man. In the old cartoons Adam was still a muscle bound brute who just happened to wear pink tights and go out of his way to avoid confrontation. And best thing about this new He-Man was that he didn’t have the unfortunate page-boy haircut anymore. His hair was shaggy and anime inspired. The whole look of the series was anime inspired and it shows in the toys.
Rather than being rounded and squatty like the 80s figures, the 2002 figures were angular with hard edges. Their proportions were more realistic and they just looked cooler. The first He-Man figure released in 2002 was an updated version of the classic look with the criss-crossing gray straps on his chest harness. That was quickly followed by this one called Battle Sounds He-Man, also released in 2002. Over the next couple of years before the re-vamped toy line fizzled out He-Man was released in a number of different outfits, from Jungle to Arctic, to Samurai. I passed on all of them as they were a little silly and redundant in my mind. The classic looking figure and this one were all that I needed.
When I first saw this figure it reminded me of the second He-Man figure released in the vintage line, Battle Armor He-Man. While this wasn’t an exact translation of that look it was similar with the full torso metallic armor. In my mind those are the only two looks that count when it comes to He-Man. I loved the battle armored versions of He-Man and Skeletor when I was a kid, with their adjustable battle damage. It was one of the coolest action features in a line full of cool action features. So when this figure came out I was stoked to get what I saw as an updated version of that look. Though the chest piece has no battle damage it does have a vac-metal paint job which gives it a nice sheen. The legs and arms are the same as those on the initial 2002 offering. The weapons are the same as well but they’re great weapons: A battle axe, a shield and his power sword, and they’re all incredibly detailed with multiple paint applications, a rarity when it comes to accessories. The other areas where this figures differs from the standard release is in the armored plating on the loin cloth, the furry shoulder harness, and in the head sculpt. This is an entirely new head . It’s a little small but I do like the metallic tiara they’ve given him. I don’t know what purpose those things serve but they seem to be a common accessory in lands of swords and sorcery.
The last thing I need to mention about this figure is the reason for his name, Battle Sounds He-Man talks! He doesn’t say much mind you, only one phrase but it’s the only phrase that you need a He-Man figure to say really. When you press the small button on his side he shouts “I have the power!” followed by the “shling” sound of his blade. It’s done by the series voice-actor or at the very least a fine impersonator. It’s a pretty awesome little add-on which seals the deal that this is a must have figure. I’m not usually wooed by sound making figures but this one is cool. 7 out of 10.