FEARLESS PHOTOG (2012)
A while back I reviewed a brand new Masters of the Universe character named Castle Grayskull Man. He was released last year under the 30th anniversary banner alongside 5 other brand new MOTU characters who may be regarded as classics one day. There were highlights in the 30th anniversary line, such as Castle Grayskull Man and Draego-Man and low points such as Sir Laser Lot and Cy-Chop (whom I can’t link to because I didn’t bother buying them). In the middle of the pack fell two mediocre figures, Mighty Spector and Fearless Photog. Spector was only alright because he looked like a Deadpool knock-off and Deadpool is a cool looking character. However he doesn’t belong on Eternia. He-Man’s home planet is inhabited by a wide array of strange looking people from robots to sea creatures but a super hero in spandex still looks way out of place. Photog on the other hand is so bizarre looking that he actually looks like he belongs on Eternia. Where else would you find a guy with a camcorder for a head? But weird doesn’t necessarily mean good. If I were to judge this figure on the look alone I probably would not have purchased him.
But Fearless Photog has a cool backstory which elevates this figure above it’s odd appearance. Like Castle Grayskull Man, Fearless Photog was actually designed by a fan. But while the two fan figures were released in the same year, Photog was actually designed more than 25 years earlier. Now I must confess to not remembering any of this firsthand, I’m simply regurgitating what I’ve read on other sites but I can’t review this figure without telling this tale. Mattel held a design-a-figure contest way back in 1986. 5 finalists were chosen from the entries. The 5 potential winning designs were shown by way of concept art in an issue of MOTU magazine. Fans could then vote for one of the finalists to be made into an actual figure. Some 12 year old kid named Nathan Bitner who had designed the camera headed Fearless Photo was the chosen winner. Mattel gave him a $100,000 scholarship, sent him on a vacation, and promised him that a fully posable plastic representation of his character design would soon be available for purchase around the world.
Unfortunately kids were already losing interest in Masters of the Universe by this time and they toy line was losing market share. Mattel decided to pull the plug on the brand before honoring their promise to produce a Fearless Photog figure. I’m sure that kid must have been devastated. $100,000 is nice and all but having an action figure based on your original design would be priceless. I was one of the kids who had moved on from He-Man so I didn’t even know that this contest had gone on until years later. I think I first heard about it in an issue of ToyFare magazine. A wonderful magazine, which I miss greatly, that educated me on all kinds of abandoned concepts and things that could have been, had my favorite 80s toy lines continued on. Fearless Photog was one of those neat-o oddities that I read about long after the fact.
As the MOTU Classics line grew, the designers expanded on the core concept by adding characters not just from the beloved 80s toy line but also from the fan-favorite 2002 line, and the much maligned “New Adventures of He-Man”. They included She-Ra characters, characters from the cartoons whom had never been made into figures before, and even brand new characters. Even toys that only the most hard core fans would “get” like Mo-Lar the Eternian dentist and Wonder-Bread He-Man made it into the line. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that somebody thought to include the long abandoned Fearless Photog in the Classics line but my hat is off to them anyway.
What a surprise and a thrill it must have been for Nathan to find out that after 26 years his creation was finally being produced. I read an interview he did on the subject and he seemed very pleased that it was finally happening. I know I’d be super stoked if I was him. And for that reason I had to buy the wonky looking figure that is Fearless Photog. I’d want everybody to buy my figure, no matter how lame he was.
As mentioned earlier Photog has a camcorder for a head. It has a telescoping feature and a clear plastic lens at the end. It’s painted a nice metallic blue-silver. His body is a lot like Mighty Spector’s in that it seems more super-hero than barbarian. There’s no wooly shorts or fur trimmed boots to be found on this guy, just blue and yellow spandex. It’s kind of an odd choice but given that he’s one of the more technology based characters I guess it would be weird if he had a bare chest and a sword. His belt is made up of film reels which looks neat I guess. On his chest is a lenticular sticker of a man running. The blurb on the packaging says that Fearless Photog can absorb his enemy’s energy and then show their defeat on his chest…whatever that means. Lastly he has an old school movie camera as a weapon. I guess he loads it with the film reel projectiles from his belt and launches them at bad guys. His shield is supposed to be some sort of camera lens. This whole thing really doesn’t make much sense to me. It’s fairly obvious that a kid came up with the concept but that’s part of the characters charm. And thank god fans didn’t vote for Netta. So while I find the character to be pretty lame looking he gets some bonus points since it was designed by a kid whom I will forever be envious of. 6 out of 10.