THUNDER PUNCH HE-MAN (2012)
I’m a big fan of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe but out of the many different Masters, He-Man was my least favorite as a kid. As a muscle bound barbarian warrior he had the potential to be a total badass like Conan. But his pageboy haircut and wimpy Prince Adam alter ego brought him down a few too many pegs in my book. When I played with my MOTU toys as a kid it was always Stratos and Buzz Off that saved the day with He-Man tagging along for the ride. Even though He-Man was my least favorite MOTU figure he was still an essential part of the collection. I can’t imagine not having him. As dull as he was when compared to other Eternian heroes like Moss Man and Ram Man, He-Man made for a good straight man; he was relatable to the audience and he helped to ground things in reality. I had the very first He-Man figure which was released way back in 1982. I still have him but sadly he’s lost all of his accessories and his hand was mangled by my baby brother.
After the toy line’s debut He-Man was released in a number of different costumes in the years that followed. This gave kids who were jumping on the MOTU bandwagon late a chance to own the title character. I always thought the second version was pretty cool with his battle damage armor but not cool enough to warrant wasting a precious slot of my Christmas list. I’d choose a new character over an established character in a new outfit any day. One of the later versions of He-Man that came out was Thunder Punch He-Man. What made his punches so thunderous were the caps in his backpack that popped when he punched. I vaguely remember when that figure came out in 1986. I didn’t pay much attention to the later He-Man releases because, as I said, he wasn’t my favorite character. Had there been a Thunder Punch Mer-Man then I would’ve been all over it.
He-Man finally got cool, in my mind, in 2002. The relaunched MOTU toy line and cartoon of the early 2000s were awesome. He-Man finally had a respectable haircut and even Prince Adam was somehow cooler despite being reduced to a scrawny teenager. Sadly this era of MOTU was short lived.
The MOTU Classics line began in late 2008. The Classics figures were not available in stores. Instead, Mattel would release one new figure a month available exclusively through their website. Initially I wasn’t sold on the Classics figures. I was content with my 2002 era figures so I ignored the Classics. Obviously Mattel started the Classics line with the most popular characters like He-Man, Skeletor and Beast Man. By the time I finally conceded that the Classics figures were awesome in 2010 most of the key characters had already passed me by. I ended up buying some on the secondary market at outrageous prices and some I still don’t have; Man-at-Arms being the most essential character still missing from my Classics collection. For the past few years I’ve been diligent in buying the figures monthly from Mattel’s online store.
One of the Classics figures I purchased a while back was “The Goddess” which is a variation of the better known Sorceress. The Goddess appeared in the mini-comics that came with the original figures in the 80s. In the first mini comic the Goddess bestowed He-Man with his iconic sword, axe, shield, and chest armour. The Goddess figure came packaged with those items as a nod to that story. My MOTU Classics collection had grown to a pretty good size by the time Thunder Punch He-Man was offered as the monthly figure in April 2012 but i was still lacking a He-Man. Even though I would’ve preferred a He-Man in his traditional gray outfit, the release of Thunder Punch was my first opportunity to own a Classics He-Man at a reasonable price. What worked out nicely was that Thunder Punch’s red and gold outfit could be easily swapped out for those extra accessories that came with the Goddess, resulting in a Classics He-Man in his original gear. I figured that as soon as Thunder Punch arrived in the mail I would make the switch.
Well Thunder Punch He-Man has been here quite a while now and I haven’t yet bothered to put him in his classic outfit. Mostly due to laziness but also because I like the look of Thunder Punch He-Man more than I thought I would. The base figure is the exact same as the first Classics He-Man that was released in 2008. The only real difference is some slight paint variations such as his belt and wrist guards are now red to tie them to his Thunder Punch armour. The figure has a great sculpt and even though he’s back to having a page boy haircut like he did in the 80s I like it because it’s a faithful homage to the original. I have no complaints about the base figure.
Even though this version doesn’t actually pop caps like the original they do a good at making it look like he could. His backpack flips open and has a spinning cap popper inside. The armor is molded in red plastic with metallic gold highlights. His shield is also metallic gold and has a spot where you can store caps and his Power Sword just like on the original. His Power Sword is cast in translucent yellow plastic in another faithful homage to the ’86 figure. If I had already owned a Classics He-Man when this figure was released I likely would have passed on it. It’s hardly an essential figure in that scenario but if you need a He-Man then this is a fine one to have. 8 out of 10.