The Masters of the Universe toy line was awesome right out of the gate. The original 1982 wave of figures contained heroes like He-Man, Man-At-Arms, and Stratos and villains like Skeletor, Mer-Man, and Beast Man. The 1983 wave brought us Man-E-Faces and Trap Jaw. 1984’s wave 3 gave us Buzz-Off and Clawful. Mattel was pumping out excellent new characters every year to join the ranks of He-Man’s Masters and Skeletor’s Evil Warriors. A surprise came in 1985 when an entirely new team of baddies, who were completely independent of Skeletor, was released. Hordak and his evil Horde opened up all kinds of new play scenarios. Most of the big boy’s toy brands of the 80s had 2 clearly defined teams of good guys and bad guys. Adding a third party really shook things up. Would He-Man and Skeletor be forced to team-up to battle this new threat to Eternia? Maybe. Mattel did it again in 1986 by adding King Hiss and his Snake Men. I can’t think of any other toy line that had that many rival factions.
The Horde, of which Mantenna was a member, were marketed to boys as MOTU figures but they didn’t appear in the MOYU cartoon. They were the primary villains in the MOTU spin-off cartoon, She-Ra: Princess of Power. The animated Mantenna was a scrawny dork who was bullied by Hordak. The original 1985 toy didn’t look much like his animated counterpart at all. You can check out my review of the original here. It wasn’t his bumbling cartoon portrayal that endeared this character to me, it was his hella weird action figure. Instead of being scrawny, the Mantenna figure was one of the beefiest toys in the original line. His four skinny spider-like legs were sculpted as two legs doubled up which gave the appearance of him having very thick legs. They face on the toy was downright frightening with the weird creepy mouth, tusks, and big veiny ears. Not to mention the bulging blood shot eyes which popped from their sockets. I don’t know if I would describe him as cool looking exactly but he was unique looking and that was good enough for me. Upon his release in ’85 Mantenna became a fast favorite of mine.
When the MOTU cartoon was revived in 2002 I loved the new character designs and I loved the new figures sculpted by the Four Horsemen. I couldn’t wait to get re-imagined versions of all my old favorites. In the first season He-Man fought Skeletor. In the second season he mostly fought the Snake Men. In the third he was slated to fight the Horde but unfortunately the series was cancelled after season 2 and the corresponding Horde figures never got released. A statue based on the Horsemen’s 2002 design was released, which was awesome, but was almost like salt in the wound. I wanted a new Mantenna toy.
Well 28 years later I finally got one. Mantenna was released as a part of the MOTU Classics line this past October. I’ve been anticipating this figure since the Classics line started in 2008 and when there were rumblings of the line coming to an end last year I feared that I ‘d never see him. Luckily the line survived long enough for Mattel to release him and he does not disappoint. This figure is amazing.
I’m very impressed that Mattel put the money into this figure that was required to do Mantenna justice. Many of the Classics figures are made up of existing parts but Mantenna’s 4 legged abdomen required all new tooling. The results look great. He can be posed in a ton of ways. I like displaying him with a wide spider stance but you can push his legs together to kind of replicate the look of the original toy. All four legs have multiple points of articulation and have a good degree of posability. His torso looks great too and also uses some nice new pieces. He’s not as buff as the original toy but not as scrawny as the animated look. As Goldilocks might say, this figure is just right.
The head sculpt is really impressive. It’s based mostly on the designs from the 2002 redesign as opposed to the original toy which I think was a good call. His ears are like bat wings with lots of sculpted veins. His eyes are bulging yellow orbs with beady little pupils, and his mouth looks like it could do some real damage. Where the original had, I don’t know, exposed nerve endings around his maw, this version has sharp teeth and protruding tusks. He came packaged with his Horde crossbow, which all members of the Horde carry, and he also has a second set of eyes.
The original toy’s eyes bugged out when you flicked a switch on his back which was pretty cool. The Classics figures don’t have play features like the originals but Mattel always does a good job at replicating those features. Mantenna’s mouth can be popped off which allows you to take his eyes out. You can then plug in his bugged out eyes which have some nice veiny details sculpted onto their roots. He looks cool displayed either way.