Category Archives: Master’s of the Universe

DITZTROYER (2013)

MOTUC-Ditz fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

One thing I really like about the Masters of the Universe Classics toyline is that it covers all corners of the MOTU mythology.  It’s not simply a rehashing of the vintage 80s figures.  The Classics line also includes figures inspired by the 80s cartoon, the new Adventures toyline of the 90s, the 2002 cartoon series and toyline, the 80s mini-comics, and the She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon and toyline.  The Classics line has also introduced brand new characters into the mythology like Draego Man.  One of the coolest things Mattel has done is produce figures based on old concept art from the earliest days of the brand.  For example, in 2011 they produced figures based on the original design sketches for He-Man and Skeletor.  Those toys were given the names Vikor and Demo-Man and provided with new backstories to integrate them into the established continuity as unique characters.  In May 2013 Mattel did a similar thing with the release of the Fighting Foe Men 3-pack.MOTUC-Ditc box

“Fighting Foe Men” was  the original name assigned to Mattel’s barbarian/science-fiction toy line when it was still in the development stage before they settled on “Masters of the Universe”.  I think it’s a cool nod to the history of the brand that the name was resurrected for this set. The first wave of MOTU figures was released in 1982 and new waves were released annually until 1988.  If Ditztroyer doesn’t look familiar to you it’s because he’s not a remake of one of those vintage figures; but he’s not a brand new character either.

From 1968 to 1984 Mattel owned a model company called Monogram. Monogram produced model kits of cars, airplanes, and other vehicles beginning in the 1950s and it continued to do so for years after its relationship with Mattel ended.  While still owned by Mattel, Monogram produced 3 model kits based on vehicles from the MOTU universe; the Attak Trak, the Talon Fighter, and the Roton.  The boxes of those model kits featured painted artwork of the vehicles in action.  For some reason the pilots of the vehicles in the artwork were not known characters like He-Man and Skeletor.  Instead, never before seen mystery men were placed behind the wheels.MOTUC-Ditz card art

I never owned any of those model kits as a kid.  Truthfully, I didn’t even know they existed and I wouldn’t have cared even if I did know.  I was never into building models.  I would much rather have had the actual toy versions of those vehicles produced by Mattel (but I didn’t own those either).  However, if I did own the model kits and had seen the mystery men featured on the box art I probably would have wanted action figures of those characters.  Somewhere out there, MOTU fans much more hardcore than I, did remember those characters and did want action figures of them.  In 2013 Mattel and the Four Horsemen (the designers behind the Classics line) gave them what they wanted.MOTUC-Ditz art

This Ditztroyer figure is based on the character seen on the box of the Roton model kit.  All of the pilots seen on the boxes are somewhat obscured by the cockpits of the vehicles but the Roton pilot is the one you get the best look at.  He’s a blue skinned guy with a blue cape and hood, green gloves, green shin guards or boots, a green belt, and an orange chest and shorts.

MOTUC-Ditz face

 

 

 

The Horsemen have done a fantastic job of producing a figure that matches the box art.  The only design element of the action figure that don’t perfectly match up with character seen in the artwork is the lack of the crocodile skin texture on the gloves and shin guards.  The furry loin cloth may not be a perfect match either but its difficult to tell.

In the painting the character doesn’t have any sort of emblem on his chest nor does he have any accessories.  The Horsemen made a really neat decision to give each Foe Man an emblem and a weapon that represents the vehicle they piloted.  Ditztroyer has a black emblem that features the large eyes and jagged underbite of the Roton and for a weapon he has a long black staff with spinning red blades which is very reminiscent of the Roton itself (the staff’s blades don’t actually spin unfortunately).  Another cool thing about this figure is that the cape has a sleeve in it where the staff can be stored when not in use.MOTUC-Ditz horde

The newly crafted bio on the Foe Men’s packaging states that they started out as a group of renegade pirates but later swore allegiance to Hordak and joined his Evil Horde. Thusly each Foe Man comes with a Horde symbol that can be worn in place of the vehicle specific emblem.  It’s a pretty cool little detail that provides some additional play value.  No other toy line makes me wish I was a kid again like  MOTU Classics.  I would’ve loved to play out Diztroyer’s storyline.

As for the name, each Foe Man was given a name to homage a member of the Four Horsemen team.  Ditztroyer is named after a guy named Shane Ditzworth.  I’m not a fan of the name but whatever.

I really like this figure.  It’s by far my favorite of the 3 Foe Men.  The design is great, the colors are great, and the accessories are great.  His joints are solid and he has plenty of articulation.  My only gripes are:

MOTUC-Ditz back1. His name sucks

2. I think all 3 of the Fighting Foe Men look like good guys.  They seem miscast as villains.  Ditztroyer reminds me of Dr. Manhattan and the Vision, both heroic characters.

3. He has nipples.  I didn’t notice until I took his larger Roton emblem off to replace it with the Horde symbol but this dude is apparently bare chested. That doesn’t make any sense to me.  I’ll just keep on pretending that he’s a blue guy with a very tight orange shirt on.

8 out of 10.

 

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NETOSSA (2013)

MOTUC-Netossa fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

One of the greatest cartoons of all time was He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (MOTU). I will always prefer robot and monster characters to human characters and one of the best things about MOTU was that all the bad guys were monsters and so were half of the good guys. The spin-off show about He-Man’s sister, She-Ra, was also a good show but inferior for a few reasons. One of those reasons would be the lack of monsters and robots on the good guy side.

She-Ra’s villains, the Horde, were arguably just as cool, if not cooler, than He-Man’s villains. Mantenna and Leech were some of my favorite vintage MOTU toys even though they were technically She-Ra characters.  Hasbro chose to include the monstrous Horde figures in their 1985 MOTU assortment which was already a well-established boy’s brand by that time. They marketed She-Ra and the other members of the Great Rebellion as a separate toy line geared towards girls called Princess of Power (POP). Neither my brother Doug nor I ever owned any POP figures; but neither did my sister. She was much more into Barbie and Jem and the Holograms.  So I wonder if perhaps Mattel would have been better off just including the girl figures in the MOTU line as well.MOTUC-Netossa back

They say that girl figures in boy’s toy lines don’t sell. That may be true in some cases but that wasn’t the case with me; some of my favorite G.I. Joe toys were girls (Zarana, Jinx, Lady Jaye, etc.). Had Hasbro opted to include the She-Ra figures as part of the MOTU line as they did with the Horde maybe I would have collected a few of them. But because they were so clearly geared towards little girls I steered clear of them. The She-Ra figures all had rooted hair and they came with combs and frilly skirts so they were as much dolls as they were action figures.

I’m glad that the POP characters were included under the umbrella of the MOTU Classics toy line which began in 2008. Especially since the members of the Great Rebellion were completely shut out of the 90s and early 2000s MOTU toy revivals.  The Classics line has given fans like myself our first opportunity in nearly 30 years to buy most of the She-Ra characters.  The Classics versions have done away with the rooted hair and frilly skirts.  The psuedo-doll features have been set aside and what we’re left with is some really nice looking action figures that blend in seamlessly with He-Man and his crew.MOTUC-Netossa face

I was super stoked to add She-Ra to my collection in 2010 and I was also very happy to add Bow (the one male POP character) in 2011 and Glimmer (She-Ra’s best pal) in 2014. However, as the MOTU Classics line went on year after year, and after most of the cool monstrous characters had already been released, the line became a little too She-Ra-centric for my tastes. It seemed we were getting a new princess figure every other month last year. I added Castaspella the spell casting girl, Entrapa the girl with the magical hair, Mermista the mermaid, and Flutterina the butterfly girl to my collection in 2014. I was so fed up with buying girlie figures that I put my foot down and passed on a handful of them including Double Trouble the spy girl, Spinnerella the ribbon girl, and Sweet Bee the bumblebee girl.MOTUC-Netossa cartoon

Most of the girl toys I opted out of purchasing were nice looking figures but it’s been many years since I’ve watched the She-Ra cartoon so I don’t even remember most of them.  At nearly $50 a pop (when you factor in the shipping to Canada) they simply weren’t worth it to me. It was a rare instance where frugal Mike won out over completest toy collector Mike.

This past November Mattycollector.com had their annual Cyber Monday sale where a bunch of previously released figures are made available again at discounted prices and with free shipping.  I figured that was my chance to scoop up a few of the POP and lackluster MOTU figures that  I’d passed on over the past year or two.  I ended up getting 2 MOTU figure, Geldor and Dekker, and 2 POP figures, Octavia and Netossa.  I was pretty happy to nab them at $20 a piece instead of the usual $27 plus shipping.  However, when they finally arrived in the mail the other day, after a lengthy delay to to strikes at the ports in L.A.,  I got saddled with a $60 customs charge.  The fine people at the Canada Boarder Services Agency decided to overvalue the contents of my shipment by 400%.  So that sucked.MOTUC-Netossa vintage

Overcharge aside, some of the figures ended up being better than I expected so I was pleased about that.  Netossa was not a character I was looking forward to but she ended up my favourite of the four.

Netossa is pronounced “Ne-TOSS-a” by the way, not “NET-ossa” as I had been saying.  I only realized my error when I looked up her animated appearance from the old POP cartoon on youtube.  I did that because I have zero recollection of this character and I wanted to familiarize myself a little before writing this review.  Apparently the character only appeared 4 times out of the 93 episodes so there wasn’t a whole lot to learn.  She’s an expert marksman and she’s good with a net.  Thats what I learned.MOTUC-Netossa accessories

 

The figure itself is very nicely sculpted an painted.  I’m sure she shares a few parts with other figures but a lot of her components are brand new.  Her bodice, skirt, and headpiece are all great looking pieces.  The headpiece looks like something a Valkyrie would wear.  The coolest part of her costume is her signature net cape.  The original 1987 toy had a real cloth cape where as this one has a soft plastic cape that looks and feels like a fly swatter.  It doesn’t really work as a net that she can use to capture her enemies but it looks great as a cape.  Her face sculpt is quite beautiful and the hair is simple yet really cool.  It looks kind of like a lion’s mane.

For accessories all she came with is a shield which is kind of dumb.  I get that her “net” is her weapon but they should have given her a sword or trident or something.  Luckily I have accumulated a ton of extra MOTU accessories so I’m sure I’ll be able to find her something.

I love the combination of blues, whites, and silvers in her outfit.  It looks particularly good against her dark skin tone.  I have very few action figures of black women in my collection (Storm from X-Men and Michonne from Walking Dead are the only 2 that come to mind) so Netossa is a very welcome addition.  9 out of 10MOTUC-Netossa group

 

 

TONGUE LASHER (2014)

MOTUC-Tongue fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

November 2014’s Masters of the Universe Classics offering on matty collector.com was Tongue Lasher, the second to last Snake Man yet to be released in the modern line. The final Snake Man from the vintage line, Squeeze, is set to be released later this year. I really liked the idea of the Snake Men when I was a kid but my overall interest in MOTU was waning by the time they were introduced. The He-Man cartoon was off the air by that point so it was harder to stay invested in the brand. The only Snake Man toy I owned as a kid was their leader, King Hiss. The Snake Men were created as a third evil faction for He-Man and the Masters to battle, besides Skeletor and the Evil Horde, however one man does not a faction make so my King Hiss simply joined Skeletor’s team of Evil Warriors in my MOTU universe.MOTUC-Tongue back

A few years ago I   acquired the vintage 1986 Tongue Lasher from an online seller. I was buying some G.I. Joe stuff from a guy who happened to have one lone MOTU figure in his inventory. I’m not in the habit of buying vintage He-Man figures but I always liked the look of Tongue Lasher so I added him to my haul. Sadly I sold off my old King Hiss years ago so my vintage Snake Man army remains a one man show.

While the Snake Men never got a chance to shine in the 80s cartoon, an entire season was devoted to them in the 2002 animated series. I loved the 200X show and the associated figures. Since the Snake Men were so integral to the third season I thought I would finally have the chance to build a respectable snake army but unfortunately the 200X cartoon and toy line were abruptly cancelled before all the Snake Men were released. A 200X Tongue Lasher figure never saw the light of day.  The only Snake Man I managed to acquire from the 200X line was Kobra Khan, the first figure I ever reviewed on this blog. So my early 2000 era Snake Man army is also a solo act.MOTUC-Tongue compare

The current MOTU Classics toyline, which launched in 2008, has finally afforded me the opportunity to compile a Snake Man army that can stand on its own as a legitimate threat to He-Man and the Masters. First I got King Hiss, then Rattlor, then a couple of nameless snake soldiers, then Snake Face, and now I have Tongue Lasher. With Squeeze in the pipeline my snake army will soon be complete.

The original 80s Tongue Lasher was a bit odd in that he had very amphibian like features. The other snakes were scaly and had claws while Lasher was smooth skinned and had rounded fingers. Even his play feature, an extending tongue, was very frog-like.

MOTUC-Tongue torso

The character received a snakey make-over for the 200X animated series. He was substantially bulked up and given the scaly skin and clawed fingers of his brethren. It was a decent look but I prefer his originally froggy appearance.

Fortunately the Four Horsemen (the designers/sculptors who work on this line) based their “Classics” Tongue Lasher design on his vintage look. All of the amphibian elements of the original are present. He’s got smooth skin and rounded fingers with bulb-ish ends like you see on climbing frogs.  The squat neck with the chin rolls is also very frog-like. Overall the sculpt is great and very true to the original figure.  The only significant change that I can see is that he now has clawed toes.MOTUC-Tongue lashed

All of the vintage figures had built-in play features like spinning punches or extending limbs. The original Tongue Lasher had a wheel on his back and when you rolled it with your finger his tongue would stick out. The more you rolled the wheel the further the tongue would go. The tongue was made of paper-thin Mylar. It didn’t make for a very realistic looking tongue but the flexible material allowed the tongue to easily roll up and be stored in the torso when not displayed. MOTU Classics figures don’t have functional play features but the Horsemen always do their best to replicate the actions of the old figures. In Tongue Lasher’s case he came packaged with two swappable heads; one with a closed mouth and one with a wide-open mouth and a massive tongue. The sculpted tongue looks much better than the Mylar one because it has girth and sculpted detail but it is a shame that we’ve lost the ability to decide how much his tongue should protrude from his mouth. Both heads look good but I’ll be displaying mine with the closed mouth.

For accessories Tongue Lasher has the standard snake staff that all Snake Men come with and he also has a dragon-fly shaped cross-bow. Even the weapon evokes images of marshland more fit for a frog than a snake.

Lastly I should point out the great paint work on this figure. I love the color choices. He’s bright and bold and a must-have for any Masters of the Universe Classics collection. 9 out of 10.

MOTUC-Tongue group

ZODAC & BEAST MAN minis (2014)

MOTU-Zodac mini BeastmanMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE MINIS

Another pack of Masters of the Universe minis arrived in the mail the other day. This is the fifth of six 2-packs to be released this year. My build-a-playset mini Castle Grayskull is nearly complete now. This pack included the bottom half of the left turret leaving only the upper half absent; it will be included in December’s final 2014 mini-pack. But as neat as the castle component is it’s merely an added bonus. The real stars of the set are the two mini figures, Zodac and Beast Man.MOTU-Beastman mini full

Beast Man is the evil warrior of the set. He will join the ranks of previously released baddies Skeletor, Scareglow, Mer-Man, and Faker. Beast Man is one of the main MOTU villains. He’s been around since the very first wave of figures. I recently wrote all about him in my review of the 2008 “Classics” Beast Man. I’m a big fan of this character and this mini figure does not disappoint. All the key Beast Man elements are accounted for from the furry collar to the face paint.MOTU-Beastman mini compare

He came with 2 accessories, his whip and a flail. What’s odd, however, is that he only has one closed fist able to hold accessories. The other hand is sculpted open which is great for bitch-slapping He-Man but not so good for holding weapons. This is the first mini to have a sculpted open hand so I’m unsure what the thought process was behind it, especially considering he came packaged with 2 weapons. His inability to hold all of his weapons at once aside, this is a great little figure.

MOTU-Zodac fullThe pack’s hero is Zodac who is joining fellow mini Masters: He-Man, Stratos, Moss Man, and Man-at-Arms. Zodac is one of the most mysterious MOTU characters. My brother Doug had the original figure when we were kids and I believe it was his favorite of all the heroic characters. His helmet made him look futuristic, like he’d be a technology guy, but he was portrayed as a kind of know-it-all mystic in the cartoons.  He didn’t appear in media tie ins regularly so it was tough to learn more about him.   Some interesting design features of the original toy were a hairy chest and 3-toed creature feet.  All that strangeness is partly what made him so interesting. Zodac went through a drastic transformation in the 200X MOTU series. The updated version was African American with glowing blue tattoos all over his body. He had normal feet and had discovered waxing.  Plus his helmet was removable so his entire face could be seen for the first time. The 200X figure was the first version of the character I owned and I really liked how black Zodac (who was later established as a separate character named Zodak) was portrayed in the 200X animated series so I’m a little torn as to which version I like more. This mini version is based on the vintage hairy white guy with the weird toes. It’s my first version of the original Zodac because he’s one of the few characters I missed out on from the Classics line.MOTU-Zodac mini back

Zodac also comes with 2 weapons, a laser gun which came with the 1982 original, and a staff thing that came with the 200X version. The staff splits apart so it can fit into his closed fists.  Zodiac’s look really lends itself to the stylized angular design of these mini figures. I think he may be my favourite mini to date.  This is definitely my favourite mini 2-pack to date because both characters are awesome. 9 out of 10.MOTU-Zodac mini castle

MAN-AT-ARMS & FAKER minis (2014)

MOTU-Faker mini pairMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE MINIS

When my first set of Masters of the Universe (MOTU) minis arrived in the mail back in March I promptly reviewed them.  The cute little things really won me over and I intended to quickly review the 2nd set once it arrived.  A new set only comes out every second month so I figured it would be pretty easy for me to stay on top of the reviews. Well somehow 3 sets of minis have been released since that first shipment (with a fifth set will be arriving in a couple of weeks) and I haven’t gotten around to reviewing a single one of them. Where does the time go?

MOTU-Faker mini full

 

I wasn’t originally sure if I’d collect all of these little guys. Sure they’re cute but they’re pretty darn expensive ($15+ per figure when you factor in the shipping! Eek) and more importantly, I don’t really NEED them. If these were the only MOTU figures available then I would NEED them but because the Classics line already does an excellent job of getting me my monthly He-Man fix these mini figures are nothing but incidentals to my true MOTU collection. But I’m a sucker and so I keep buying them. If the inaugural set of minis had included He-Man and Skeletor, as one would’ve expected, I probably wouldn’t have bought it and could have maybe avoided this whole can of worms. But because Mattel paired He-Man with my favorite MOTU character Mer-Man in that first set I couldn’t help but buy it and thus get hooked on these stupid little things.

The second set included Moss-Man and Skeletor, the third Scareglow and Stratos, and this fourth set contains Man-At-Arms and Faker. The fifth set will bring me Zodak and Beast Man. In my opinion, this fourth release is these least exciting of all the sets. I was never a big fan of He-Man’s evil android doppelganger Faker and Man-At-Arms is just a dude with a mustache and a half-suit of armor. He’s still a cool character, and a vital one, but he’s pretty boring when compared to the other Masters and Evil Warriors. I would’ve much preferred to see a Buzz-Off & Mantenna 2-pack for example.

MOTU-Faker mini duel

While Man-at-Arms and Faker may not be my favorite MOTU characters they’re by no means bad characters. I don’t think there’s a single “bad” character in the series. And these 2 figures are excellent versions of these characters.

Man-at-Arms is one of the core characters that I’m missing from the Classics line so this little guy is actually my only modern Duncan figure (Duncan’s his real name). I hope to eventually acquire a Classics version but if I don’t then I guess I’ll have to display this figure as my primary Man-at-Arms. I’ll just pretend that Skeletor cast an irreversible shrink spell on him. The sculpt is great with loads of little details. He’s got his big burly signature mustache and an angry scowl on his face and fur-lined armor full of wires and rivets. For accessories he has his trusty vintage-era club as well as the detachable blue arm cannon from the 200X version. Like all of these figures he’s top heavy but he’s posed in such a way that he stands on his own just fine. I’m painfully aware of how tough it can be to get action figures to stay standing and I’m blown away by how sturdy these mini figures are.MOTU-Man mini full

For He-Man’s evil clone Mattel could have taken the easy way out and just re-painted the already released He-Man figure but they didn’t, they sculpted a whole new figure for Faker. This is a great little figure with loads of personality. As with the mini-He-Man I think I like this version of Faker better than any previous versions. I’m not sure why but He-Man and Faker work really well in this stylized format. Faker includes an orange power sword and battle axe.

MOTU-Faker mini castleThis set included a crucial piece of the build-a-playset Castle Grayskull, the Jaw Bridge, which can be opened and closed. My mini castle has grown from a pile of stray pieces into a legitimate fortress which is nearing completion. It’s gonna look great once it’s finished.

 

 

 

It’s hard to recommend these figures when you consider the price but if, like me, you’re ordering figures from mattycollector.com on the 15th of every month anyway you might as well throw these guys in your virtual shopping cart as well. They’re cool and adorable. 8 out of 10.

BEAST MAN (2008)

MOTUC-Beast man fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

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.MOTUC-Beast Man backMOTUC-Beast man  face

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.MOTUC-Beast Man comic

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.MOTUC-beast man toon

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.motuc-beast-man-1982

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.MOTUC-Beast man compare

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.

MOTUC-Beast man face off

 

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.

MOTUC-Beast Man ride

EXTENDAR (2014)

MOTUC-Extendor fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

The latest Masters of the Universe Classics figures arrived with my mail yesterday. It takes about a month for the figures I order on the 15th of every month from mattycollector.com to arrive; one of the many joys of being Canadian. This month’s shipment included the “heroic master of extension”, Extendar, as well as the latest MOTU minis 2-pack featuring Stratos and Scareglow. The minis are adorable but I was most excited about receiving Extendar (yes, I know how dirty this all sounds. Let’s please be mature about this).MOTUC-Extendor back

The original Extendar was released late in the vintage MOTU line (1986). Neither Doug nor I owned him because we were all about G.I. Joe and Transformers by that time. Extendar was kind of a robot/knight hybrid with extending limbs. I know it sounds weird but no more so than any of the other oddities from the MOTU toy line.

When the Classics version of Extendar was announced I was pretty excited about ordering him because he was an underused vintage character who didn’t even get an updated figure in 2002 like most other MOTU characters. The Classics version would be my first chance to own an Extendar figure. I don’t have much of a nostalgic connection to the character but he seems like an essential addition to the heroic Masters anyway.

MOTUC-Extendor tallLike all MOTUC figures there’s a small bio on the back of Extendar’s blister card. It says that he was a famous athlete named Doodon who, along with his friend Theydon, was captured by Hordak who conducted a bunch of experiments on them. After being transformed into Extendar Doodon eventually escaped and joined up with He-Man. Theydon was transformed into Dragstor who went on to become a full-fledged member of Hordak’s evil Horde. We haven’t yet got a Classics version of Dragstor but his inclusion in Extendar’s backstory makes me think that he’s coming soon. Dragstor was another late release vintage figure that was ignored in the 200X series that I’d be thrilled to have in the Classics style.

The shared history of Extendar and Dragstor adds an interesting dimension to the characters which I would have loved to explore as a kid. The blister card write-up leaves me curious as to what Extendar looked like before the experiments. Was he a human or a robot? If he was an athlete why the hell did Hordak dress him up like a knight? So many questions.

1986 original

1986 original

 

This figure does a great job of recreating the look of the original. All of the stand-out features are accounted for from the pearly white armor and  the extension limbs to the insane six-pack. How many sit-ups do you have to do to get abs like that?

Paint apps are minimal but the figure looks good and remains true to the original design. Extendar has a very sharp-looking pearl white base color with gold and silver highlights and a red belt. He has a large shield on the front of his breast plate that obscures his face and gives him a medieval appearance. The face shield is made of soft rubber and can be manipulated easily but I do kind of wish it was completely removable. To get rid of it you’d have to take off all of his full chest armor. But don’t fret about not being able to see his face, that’s what his extension powers are for.

MOTUC-Extendor faceThe vintage figure had extending legs, arms, torso and neck that were extended by simply pulling them, very similar to Mekaneck’s action feature. But the Classics figures don’t have built-in action features like their vintage counterparts. Instead the 4 Horsemen (the design team) have found clever ways to replicate the various play features using swappable parts as we saw with Mecaneck and Rattlor’s necks and Mantenna’s eyeballs. Extendar came packaged with 5 silver rectangular bars with sculpted circuitry patterns. You can pop off his head, hands, and boots then add the silver bars to “extend” him. The final bar can be added at his waist. You can display him with as many or as few of the extensions as you want. At his most extended he’s quite tall. I didn’t think the effect would make such a big difference when I first saw how small the bars were but when they’re all in use Extendar becomes significantly taller.

Besides the extend-bars Extendar also came with a jousting lance and a triangular red shield. Even the red shield can be folded outwards to extend in size. It’s based on the vintage figure’s shield and it’s pretty neat but I forgot to take pictures of it. Oops.MOTUC-Extendor horse

I really dig this guy’s face sculpt. He’s kind of spooky looking. It’s not the type of face you expect to find on a heroic figure. Its painted metallic gold, has a stern angular expression and solid black eyes. He’s like the love child of Destro and C-3PO.

This is a cool figure that looks great as a display piece but would also be super fun for a kid to play with. Every time I get a new MOTUC figure I think of what a shame it is that most kids don’t even know these great toys exist. 8 out of 10.MOTUC-Extendor compare

BATTLE LION (2014)

MOTUC-Battle lion fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

I’ve loved the Masters of the Universe brand from the first moment I laid eyes on it. It was like the fantasy of Clash of the Titans mixed with the science fiction of Star Wars. It had mermen and cyborgs in flying spaceships doing battling with bee-people and robots riding dinosaur skeletons; how could you not love it? The weak link of the brand, in my opinion, was always the star of the series, He-Man. The barbarian with the bad haircut simply couldn’t compete with his wacky array of allies and enemies. One thing that He-Man did have going for him was that he rode around on an armored green tiger named Battle Cat. Like Urkel on a Harley there was no denying that He-Man was a dork with a cool ride.MOTUC-Battle lion stand

The original Battle Cat was far more than just a four-legged means of transportation; he was a full on character in his own right. He spoke, fought in battles, and was essentially treated as just another one of the Masters. Like He-Man had his wimpy alter-ego Prince Adam, Battle Cat spent his days as the cowardly Cringer. The difference between the two was that Prince Adam only pretended to be a wimp whereas Cringer really was a scaredy cat in his day-to-day life. It took a zap from He-Man’s power sword to transform Cringer into Battle Cat both physically and mentally. As Battle Cat he wore crimson armor that made him look like something that belonged in a gladiator arena.

In the 2002 relaunch of the MOTU animated series and toy line Battle Cat’s ability to speak was scrapped and he acted more as a pet than a companion. Yet the overall design of the character, a green tiger with orange stripes, remained basically the same. He still wore red armor but the 2002 armor design was more technology based and less gladiatorial. MOTUC-Battle lion group

I was a fan of the 80s cartoon as a kid but I find it didn’t hold up over time. The 2002 series however holds up very well with its top notch animation and complex storylines. The 2002 series added many new elements to the MOTU mythos including the tale of He-Man’s greatest ancestor King Grayskull. Grayskull looked very similar to He-Man only he was bulkier and his hair was longer. He only appeared in one episode of the series but it was an impactful one. He made such an impression on fans that he was actually the first character ever to be constructed in the Classics format way back in 2008.

If the idea behind telling Greyskull’s origin story in the episode “The Power of Greyskull” was to portray He-Man’s predecessor as a larger-than-life hero whose shoes even He-Man felt he could not fill, than mission accomplished. And while his massive size and his epic victories over the Snake Men and Hordak had a lot to do with it, it was his mount that sealed the deal. What’s more bada** than riding a green tiger? Riding a giant green f**king lion that’s what. Battle Lion was shown to be a hulking beast who wore armor very similar to Battle Cat. He was hella cool looking but I never expected to get an action figure oh him. It was a pleasant surprise when I found out that he was going to be included in the 2014 Classics line-up.MOTUC-Battle lion toon

I should’ve known that a Battle Lion figure would be released considering it looks like it was a relatively easy thing to do. His body is the exact same as Battle Cats, minus the orange stripes. The only new pieces that needed to be sculpted were the head and the armor. The head is totally awesome and unique and goes a long way in separating this figure from the other beasts that were made using this exact body (Battle Cat, Panthor, Griffin). The mane is huge and flowing with a ton of detail. The face has a scowl that could easily unnerve Skeletor and there’s a nice texture to the sculpted fur. The jaw is hinged so his mouth can be opened and closed though the movement is hindered by his massive saber-teeth.

The armor is technological yet simple and looks pretty true to what we saw in the animation. One thing that’s kind of cool about the armor is that it fits on Classics Battle Cat. The Classics Battle Cat figure came with the 80s Gladiator style armor, but now you can dress him up in his 2002 techno-look if you prefer. MOTUC-Battle lion face

My only gripe in regards to Battle Lion would be that I think this figure would be way cooler if it was bigger. He was shown in the cartoon to be a truly massive beast that would likely dwarf Battle Cat. Having them the exact same size kind of diminishes Battle Lion’s impact. That being said, had they made him bigger it would have required all new tooling and then he probably would’ve cost twice as much. As it is, I can put up with his smaller stature if it means I have a few more bucks in my wallet.

This is a very cool toy and I’m stoked to finally have a mount for my King Greyskull figure. I wish I was 8 years old again so I could go tear around in the backyard with this thing. 8 out of 10.MOTUC-Battle lion compare

HYDRON (2014)

MOTUC-Hydron fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

My March purchases from Matty Collector.com arrived in the mail the other day. The new figure being offered last month was Hydron. Never heard of him? Me neither. This guy first saw the light of day during the New Adventures of He-Man years. In between the original MOTU stuff that I grew up with in the early 1980s and the super cool MOTU revival of the 2000s came the New Adventures. Oh 1990s, you gave us some great music but you failed us in the cartoon and toys department.

The New Adventures of He-Man was a continuation/reboot of the original series. It featured He-Man and Skeletor with new designs and new associates battling it out in outer space. I can’t say with certainty that it sucked because I never watched it but it looked like it sucked. Most of the toy lines and cartoons I loved as a kid morphed into crap in the 90s. Instead of Evil Warriors like Mer-Man and Beastman, Skeletor had a team of Space Mutants like Optikk and Slushhead. And instead of Masters of the Universe like Stratos and Moss Man, He-Man hung out with Galactic Warriors like Icarus and Hydron. The rebooted show and toy line didn’t last very long and I was too old to care by then so I have zero attachment to any of the Space Mutants or Galactic Heroes. MOTUC-Hydron helmet

Even though the He-Man of the 1990s wasn’t my cup of tea I’m glad to see that particular era is covered by the Masters of the Universe Classics line. The Classics line gives us toys of characters from every corner of the MOTU mythology; from the old cartoon, the new cartoon, the mini-comics, unproduced prototypes, concept art, the live action movie, and yes, even the lame New Adventures. I’ve passed on a few of the New Adventures figures such as Karatti and Icarus, but I have purchased a couple that struck me as kinda cool looking such as Optikk and Slushhead.

Hydron would have been a figure I’d have passed on had he been the only figure available in March. I know nothing about him, have no nostalgic connection to him, and I generally don’t care much for the straight-up human characters. However, Mattel also made Fang Man available again in March. Fang Man is a character who appeared in one episode of the old Filmmation cartoon and I wanted his figure the first time it was released last year but it sold out too quickly. Since I was gonna be paying shipping charges on my 2nd chance Fang Man anyway I figured I might as well go ahead and throw Hydron into my “cart” as well. MOTUC-Hydron back

I don’t think there’s been a single figure released in the Classics line that I don’t like. Some are definitely better than others but each brings something to the table. The main thing that deters me from buying certain characters is the price. I would love to have a complete collection someday which is why I pick up characters like Hydron here when the opportunity to save a few bucks presents itself. MOTUC-Hydron face

Now that I have him in hand I actually quite like Hydron, in part, because he’s so ridiculous. The bio on the back of the card describes him as a space sea commander so his design, obviously, teeters somewhere between deep sea diver and astronaut. A deep sea diving astronaut is a dumb idea and that’s what makes it great. These off-the-wall characters and ideas is what makes the Masters of the Universe such a fun line. Having a crab man and a skeleton battle a bee man and a robot with swords and lasers on a world where they ride tigers and spaceships makes no sense whatsoever and thats why it’s f**king awesome. If this Hydron figure had existed when I was a kid I probably would’ve had a ton of fun with him. He could’ve done battle with Mer-Man in the bathtub.MOTUC-Hydron weapon

Like all MOTUC figures, Hydron is big, colorful, and durable. It seems a really crime that these figures aren’t readily available in stores where kids could see them. I can totally see my nephews having a blast with this flipper wearing spaceman. His clear helmet has a cool sleek design and is removable. The red breathing apparatus on his face is unfortunately molded in place though. Hydron came with one accessory; a really stupid looking trident/gun thing. It’s true to the original toy’s weapon but I wish Mattel had given him something cooler this time around.

The more I look at this figure the more I like him. I think he’ll fit in just fine amongst Man-E-Faces and Ram Man on my MOTU Classics shelf. 7 out of 10.MOTUC-Hydron merman

MER-MAN & HE-MAN minis (2014)

MOTU-mini merman fightMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE MINIS

The folks at Mattel have gotten crafty. In my Modulok review I mentioned how, as the line winds down, fewer of the monthly figures are essential purchases. Most of the main characters have already been released and as much as I’d like to have a complete set I simply can’t justify spending $25 on shipping to order a mediocre She-Ra supporting character that costs $27. Each figure ends up costing me over $50 and that’s far too much for a C-list character. However, when a C-lister comes out in the same month as an A-list character that I am willing to shell out the cash for, I usually end up buying the C-lister as well since the combined shipping lessens the financial impact.MOTU-mini merman full

Well beginning this past February Mattel began releasing a monthly two-pack of mini figures along with their regular 6” figure offering. The first set they released included a mini Mer-Man and a mini Battle Armor He-Man. Now I wasn’t completely sold on them when I first saw them online. Was this really something I wanted to collect? If the first set had been He-Man and Skeletor I probably would have passed. But because Mer-Man is my absolute favorite MOTU character I couldn’t resist. So along with Modulok I ordered this 2-pack of minis.MOTU-mini heman full

Once I got them in hand I thought they were pretty awesome. The sculpting is really nice and they’ve got a very stylized look to them that looks familiar but that I can’t quite place. They’re articulated at the neck, waist, and arms and I was surprised to discover that their weapons can be removed from their hands. Mer-Man comes with his sword and trident and He-Man comes with his power sword and shield. Their bodies are cutely disproportionate with bulking upper halves and tiny little legs. I like the look but it doesn’t lend itself to easily displayed figures. They seem to need the support of their arms/weapons to stay upright. 

The colors are very vibrant and there are multiple paint applications. They both look great. I’m genuinely surprised to say that I think I prefer the He-Man from this pairing. There’s something about the half scowl on his face and the squinting eyes that I just love. I will definitely pick up more of these guys. And this is where the craftiness comes in… MOTU-mini merman brawl

Each set of mini figures includes a piece of a buildable mini Castle Grayskull. This first set came with the most vital part, the castle’s stoney skull visage. By including a piece of the castle with each set fans are forced to buy every single one if they want to build a complete castle. And if there are lots of fans like me out there, that locks us into buying at least the mini figure set from MattyCollector.com on the 15th of every month for the next 8 months (there are currently 8 mini figure sets planned). And if we’re buying the mini figure set anyway then we might as well buy whatever lackluster 6” character they’re shilling us as well.  My wallet weeps.

These figures are by no means essential to your Masters of the Universe Classics collection but if you’re a fan of cutesy versions of your favorite properties then these are pretty nice little figures. 7 out of 10.

The Mer-family

The Mer-family