The Masters of the Universe Classics toy line is slated to wrap up by the end of the year. I’ll be sad to see it go because it provided me with so many great figures over the past seven years but at the same time it’ll be nice to have one less expense each month. Also on the plus side is that the toy line came to a natural end. It really sucks when something you love, whether its a TV show, a movie series, a comic book, or a toy line, gets cancelled before it’s run its course. A prime example would be the 2002 Masters of the Universe reboot. Both the cartoon and toy line got cancelled abruptly so story lines went unresolved and figures of key characters never got made (including Sssqueeze). When the MOTU Classics line first started in 2008 the goal was to produce updated versions of all the vintage figures. I never thought they’d get there but by the end of 2015 all of the vintage MOTU characters will be accounted for along with the majority of the Princess of Power characters and a healthy dose of New Adventures characters too. On top of that we also got Classics figures based on the old cartoon, the 2002 cartoon, the comics, concept art, and completely original characters. I think Classics will go down in history as one of the best toy lines of all time. It’s a shame so few kids know about it.
One of the reasons that this collector aimed line has survived as long as it has is due to the clever reuse of parts. Many of the figures share torsos and limbs which reduces tooling costs. This recycling of parts is likely the main reason why some of the most oddly shaped vintage toys were not tackled sooner; they cost too much to produce. But in an effort to achieve their original goal of getting all the vintage toys remade by years end Mattel has pulled out all the stops for these final months. Case in point, this past June they give us Multi-Bot, the six-legged two-headed android who is 100% brand new parts AND the Snake Man with the constrictor arms: Sssqueeze.
The first three Snake Men were added to the MOTU mythology in 1986, four years into the vintage toy line, as a new faction of villains. They were King Hiss, Rattlor, and Tongue Lasher. Two more followed in 1987; Snake Face and Sssqueeze. The only vintage Snake Man I owned as a kid was King Hiss but I would’ve loved to have all of them. Tongue Lasher and Sssqueeze were especially desirable because of their cool play features. Tongue Lasher had a long tongue that flicked in and out and Sssqueeze had long wiry snake arms. The snake arms were slightly ridiculous looking but very unique even in a line as diverse as MOTU.
Tooling costs aside, I’d bet figuring out to to make those snake arms work on a Classics figure deterred Mattel from updating Sssqueeze sooner. Almost none of the play features from the vintage toy line were carried over into the Classics figures. Instead, features were approximated with additional parts. For example: Instead of Mekaneck’s neck actually extending when you twisted his waist like it did on the vintage toy, an extra neck piece was added to the Classics figure to replicate the elongated neck, and instead of Mantenna’s eyes bugging out with the push of a button like they did on the vintage toy, swappable protruding eyes were included with the Classics version. So you couldn’t help but wonder how Mattel would apply this method of approximation to Sssqueeze. Would they package him with a second set of arms or arm extending pieces like they did with Extendar?
As it turns out Mattel decided to faithfully replicate the vintage play feature and give the Classics Sssqueeze fully posable wire arms. The constrictor arms look great and are very posable. The fact that Mattel was able to make the feature work so well while maintaining the collector-level sculpting makes me wish that they had tried a little harder to work some of the other play features into Classics figures. Adding pieces to Mekaneck’s neck works okay and it looks good enough for display purposes but those old-school functional play features just made the vintage toys so much fun.
Sssqueeze features quite a few new parts and they all look fantastic. The look is very true to the original figure. His whole body is covered in scales and his armour has some cool little details too. The colours look very nice as well. The almost florescent green skin really pops and I love how it looks against the multi-coloured armour. Mattel could’ve cheaped out on painting the armour and I doubt anyone would have noticed but they didn’t. The grey boots have silver highlights and the orange wrist bands have shimmery metallic highlights.
The head sculpt is excellent but, just as with the original, Sssqueeze looks more like an alligator than a snake. Thats fine with me though as it adds more diversity to the Snake Men. For accessories he came with a twisty purple snake staff just as the original did but I forgot to take any pictures of him with it. I also forgot to include Snake Face in the group shot below. I must’ve been half asleep when taking these pics.
(UPDATE: I wrote this on Wednesday but am just getting it posted on Sunday. Over the weekend it was announced at the San Diego Comic Con that Masters of the Universe Classics will continue on into 2016. They revealed some great looking figures so I guess my wallet will continue to suffer.)