BEAST MAN (2008)
Once I decided to review a Masters of the Universe (MOTU) Classics figure today my first impulse was to review one of my most recent purchases. I bought 3 figures in July: Flogg, Karatti, and Clamp Champ. I looked at the 3 of them and pondered for a while which one I should write about. Then it dawned on me that I didn’t want to write about any of them. Not to knock any of those toys, they’re all quite nice, but they’re hardly A-listers in the world of MOTU. As I sat there scanning over my MOTU collection I realized that I still have a ton of iconic characters that I haven’t gotten around to reviewing yet. It’s crazy to think that I’ve written 650 toy reviews and somehow managed to pass over characters like Trap Jaw, Stratos, and Teela. So today I’ve decided to go back and review a truly classic MOTU character: Beast Man.
After He-Man and Skeletor I’d say the most recognizable character from the property is Beast Man. My personal favorite MOTU character, Mer-Man, isn’t far behind him but between the two I have to give the edge to Beast Man. Back in 1982 Beast Man was one of only four toys released in the initial assortment of figures along with He-Man, Skeletor, and Man-at-Arms. My brother Doug and I split that first wave of toys as we did most things. I got He-Man and Man-at-Arms and Doug got Skeletor and Beast Man (and his own Man-at-Arms too). Each vintage figure came packaged with a mini comic book and I can remember reading the first issue that came with my He-Man, and featured Beast Man, over and over again. I liked Beast Man from the get go. He was a different type of villain than Skeletor and Mer-Man, he was a physically imposing brute and in some ways he seemed more capable. I viewed him as the Destro to Skeletor’s Cobra Commander. Like most of the Evil Warriors Beast Man was played for laughs in the cartoon but in the mini comics he was a serious threat and that’s how we used him at playtime.
I still think the 1982 figure holds up pretty well. It has a very expressive and mean-looking face. It had a furrowed brow and a toothy sneer that showcased some sizable fangs. His design was very ape-like but not so much so that you would ever mistake him for a red gorilla. He was as much a man as he was a beast so I suppose “Beast Man” was a very apt name. He had spiked armor on his arms and a large collared chest piece which contributed to me associating him with Destro. I was never sure if the blue patterns on his face were natural markings or war paint but they looked cool either way. It was a great toy and I’m pretty sure Doug still has it.
I didn’t get my first Beast Man figure until 20 years later when MOTU was relaunched in 2002 with a new cartoon and corresponding toy line. Beast Man’s 2002 look made him even more imposing and savage. He towered over other characters in the cartoon and he walked with a hunch. All of the great design elements of the original were still there only now they were magnified. I loved my 2002 Beast Man figure.
In fact I loved all of my 2002 era MOTU figures so much that I was originally quite resistant to the Classics line. I saw the new line of figures that more closely resembled the 80s toys as a step backwards. Other than a promotional King Grayskull figure which launched the line, Beast Man was the second Classics figure produced after only He-Man. Beast Man got made even before Skeletor! I didn’t purchase Classics Beast Man upon his initial release. I was sure the Classics line was nothing more than a nostalgic flash-in-the-pan which would quickly fade away. But after a year of solid releases passed I realized the line was gonna be around for a while. The first Classics figure I bought was Hordak which I got second-hand from Monster’s Comic Lounge. Once I saw the quality of the Classics figures with my own eyes I was hooked. I made it a mission to hunt down all of the figures I had missed.
Luckily I scored this Beast Man when Mattel made it available again on their website during a Black Friday sale so I didn’t have to pay a crazy amount for him on the secondary market. These Classics figures are only available for a limited time on Mattel’s collector-driven website (mattycollector.com) and, usually, when they’re gone they’re gone. Once a figure sells out the prices can sky rocket on ebay.
Classics Beast Man is pretty damn great. I feel that he’s the epitome of what the Classics line is all about. It takes everything you loved about the old toy, the 2002 toy, the comics, the cartoons, and mashes it together to create the definitive version of the character. Somehow the Four Horseman (the sculptors who design these toys) are able to take the version of the character you always saw in your head and present it to you in plastic. The sculpt is absolutely killer, the paint job is top notch, the articulation is good, and the whip accessory is exactly what he needs. My only complaint is that these older Classics figures tend to have loose ankle joints. My Beast Man is a little loosey goosey but as long as I don’t bump into the bookshelf he stays standing on his own just fine. 9 out of 10.