Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Masters of the Universe Classics: Year by Year - 2008 to 2009
This may seem redundant, seeing as how I started this blog to showcase all my Masters of the Universe Classics pictures, but I seem to find myself slowing down in terms of full-on reviews. That's not to say that'll I'll stop, but I felt like Instagram gave me a reason to run down each figure in a few shots (or less). Since I photographed ALL of them, why don't we do some year by year short reviews for each figure?
Before we begin, you can still see this whole collection (out of order, mind you) on my Alexx MotU tag on Instagram. You'll find little story bits and light reviews on most of the photos, but here we'll just focus on shorthand figure reviews.
We begin near the end of 2008, when nothing but a King Grayskull figure had been released as an SDCC exclusive (I never got him), giving us a taste of the brand new Masters of the Universe Classics body. At the time, we weren't sure if this would be a full series or not, and behind the scenes at Mattel, they were still determining if these figures would be in two-packs or whether or not they would even be popular enough to get past a few characters.
I think we can safely say they were popular enough.
In December of 2008, He-Man and Beast Man arrived on my doorstep. Well, okay, it wasn't my doorstep, it was my mother-in-law's. I was supposed to be working on some paper for a college class, and MAN, that didn't happen! I tore these two open and was messing with them for most of the day, with the night spent working on the paper and these two sitting on the computer desk, taunting me.
He-Man came with everything he needed: Axe, Power Sword, shield, and one half-Power Sword to connect to Skeletor's (at the time, a future figure that we were hoping to see soon!). His weapons tightly clipped into his hands without a hitch and his articulation was excellent, with only a few problems with loose ankles and maybe some restrictions in the hips by the loincloth. You could pop his head and armor off easily, for swapping, and he was just a BLAST to pose and play with!
He-Man still stands the test of time as an excellent figure. The head sculpt may seem a little soft, compared to the later head sculpt that was closer to the toy's head, but I still feel like it got the job done. Different releases of this same figure showed different amounts of red around the eyes (sometimes to his detriment), and later still, Super 7 released an "Ultimate" version, which is the one to get, for new collectors just jumping into this series. The "Ultimate" version came with every alternate piece that had been released with other figures, like two alternate heads and two styles of the Power Sword.
Beast Man shipped with He-Man and, at the time, I can't deny that I was disappointed to not be getting Skeletor yet. I never had a special fondness for Beast Man, but that doesn't mean the figure wasn't excellent all the same. He came out similarly to the vintage figure, with an open right hand and a weapon-holding left hand, and he carried his trademark whip (this time in soft plastic, rather than a real rope, like the vintage toy). His articulation was on par with He-Man's, and the details were such that they even sculpted the little spiked knuckle on his left hand (yes, that was on the vintage figure as well)!
Beast Man is worth your time, but he hasn't been released often, so I'm not sure if he's hard to track down. Oh, and you're not seeing things: His armor isn't normally mustard yellow. He normally comes with red armor, but I had lost that a long time ago on my vintage figure, and replaced it with the vintage weapons pak yellow armor. When the Classic Weapons Pak came out, I quickly tossed the red armor aside to display my Beast Man like my vintage version.
Cut to January of 2009 and my baby had arrived: Skeletor, Overlord of Evil! While Beast Man and He-Man followed closely to their vintage toy counterparts, Skeletor met the vintage toy and back-of-the-package art half way, to create a great looking hybrid. He came with his Havok Staff and purple Power Sword, along with a half-Power Sword to connect with He-Man's half, just like the vintage figures.
I had been eagerly awaiting him, and for the most part, he didn't disappoint. There were a few tiny hiccups, at the time: For one, his left hand was more open, allowing him to hold the top of his staff better, but not tightly. That left him with only one hand for holding things, which annoyed me at the time. For two, his staff was just SO TALL. Even now I'm still not terribly happy with how tall it is, and I cut down an extra staff to around the height of the vintage staff.
Later on, Mattel would re-release Skeletor with two holding-hands, so he could finally hold both Power Swords. Similarly to He-Man, Super 7 also released an "Ultimate" edition of Skeletor, which contained all the extra heads and weapons that had been released with other figures before (including a cape from Keldor and a purple version of the mini-comic styled Power Sword, which had been seen nowhere else up until that point).
Classics Skeletor has changed a lot through the years, from the hands to the wildly changing skull paint (from too much green, to too much yellow, or too-much-too-little paint wash as well). As with He-Man, your best bet is to hunt down Super 7's Ultimate version - and I highly suggest you do! Skeletor was everything I had hoped for, at the time, and he continued to evolve with new head sculpts. He is very much worth your money.
February of '09 cleared Stratos for landing, and he...well, I've never been a fan. He was already sort of underwhelming, and the Classics figure actually took away his ability to hold things - something his vintage figure was able to do. His one saving grace, back in the day, was that I could at least give him a weapon! This one just had two open hands. That's not to say that he's a bad figure! He's just as good as Beast Man (who shares most of his body).
If you're a fan of Stratos, then look no further. If you're not a fan of Stratos, then there's still not a lot to him. He's been released a few times, plus with minor color changes in a DC vs two pack. I doubt tracking him down for a decent price will be hard.
March brought us the New York City Comic Con, and its Mattel exclusive: FAKER! Yes, I'm going to bad-mouth Stratos for being boring above, and then talk about how awesome a blue He-Man repaint is directly below.
This figure went on sale before Mattel began the subscription, so the early days were wrought with worry based on whether or not you would be able to get an order in before everyone else. On top of that, you had to be free at the time of the sale to get the best chance! Thankfully, I was able to access a computer during some free time at college, and managed to snag one of my all-time favorite MotU characters - even with the college's terrible internet.
Faker was everything that I had hoped: A blue and orange He-Man repaint wearing Skeletor's armor - PLUS - an awesome recreation of his mechanical chest sticker; this time painted on. He came with his orange Power Sword and a half-Power Sword...and that's it. That was all he needed!
Faker became an instant favorite, though he was sadly marred by a loose bicep joint. This bothered me enough to buy him again when he was re-released, so I had the magic of multiple Faker bots at Skeletor's disposal. This number increased later with a Battle Armor Faker and Super 7's Ultimate version, which, once again, is THE one to get! Not only is it the best version of Classics Faker, but it also comes with two unique items not found anywhere else: A Faker repaint of the classic toy He-Man head, and an orange version of the mini-comic styled Power Sword. If you're a Faker fan, you owe it to yourself to pick up Super 7's Ultimate version. Somehow.
This is a bit of a twofer, based on how I photographed Mer-Man: April showers brought Mer-Flowers, and boy did Mer-Man bloom! This is one that deviated quite a bit from the mostly-unpainted vintage toy - but still paid homage to it! Like Skeletor, Mer-Man was a mix of the vintage toy and the cardback artwork. In the artwork, Mer-Man had a completely different head:
As shown here, with the mini-comic colored Mer-Man that came packaged with Aquaman in the DC vs two pack. The basic Classics Mer-Man came with both the vintage toy head AND the cardback head, along with his vintage "Corn Sword" and the trident Mer-Man came with in the 2002 series. You couldn't get a more complete package!
I had been displaying my basic Mer-Man with the cardback head, but when the DC vs two pack version came around, I switched my basic one to the vintage head, so I could have both. Personally, I think both are worth it, but if you just want one Mer-Man, why not go for the complete package that is the first Classics version? You can't go wrong with a super-friendly head and a super-scared-out-of-his-mind head!
The hits just kept coming, and May brought Zodac to my door. He was an old favorite, and one of the earliest MotU figures I can remember as being "mine", and not shared with my brother. My mom had brought home a small bag of MotU figures for my brother and I, and told us to divide them between us: Zodac was the only choice I can remember.
There's isn't much to him, however! I've never been sure about how Zodac holds up to collectors without the nostalgia goggles I wear for him. Personally, I think the 50's pulp sci-fi space man thing can reach all toy fans, but who's to say?
Zodac comes with a ray gun (that fires a wicked beam of plasma, on the back of the card art) and his odd bullet-holding harness, that has an extra sort of jetpack detail added on the back, from the 2002 version. His figure holds up as well as the others, and I feel like he's still worth a look. He's either going to be an instant hit, or an instant "what is he supposed to be?" Don't get be wrong - everyone has always been "what is he supposed to be?" about Zodac, but over the years, that has become endearing. If you come across him for a decent price, I say give him a chance and see for yourself.
June clouded over in darkness as the leader of the Evil Horde himself came along and stunned everyone with the first look at how Mattel would do full chest armor: With a belly shirt! The belly armor was fiercely debated at the time, though I honestly never took part in much of the debate. I thought the armor worked fine, and Hordak still looks great after eight years. The reason behind the belly armor was to allow the chest joint to move, so as not to take away an articulation point. I felt like it worked out well, though they would later extend armor parts to cover the whole belly anyway.
Hordak is mostly a recreation of his vintage figure, with his crossbow (in steel black this time, and with a handle rather than a wrist clip) and a bat shield, though it became more of a little bat demon buddy that rested on his wrist. He also came with a staff based on the staff he carried in the 2002 series. Hordak still stands as the best way to get a vintage styled Hordak, if that's your thing (I understand if you're more of a fan of his cartoon look). If you had vintage Hordak and loved him, then this is your toy! Assuming the belly armor doesn't bother you.
Amidst the fireworks of July blasted Man-At-Arms, who turned out to just be testing his Fireworks Machine, until Orko messed it up and Skeletor got ahold of it.
Man-At-Arms was a cool figure, in the vintage line. He sported a lot more armor than the rest - and I lost it all. So while I remember the figure fondly, I mostly remember what was left of him. This meant that I was SUPER excited to not only get him back, but with added details and extra weapons!
Man-At-Arms not only came with his classic armor and mace, but a new back part to his armor that could store all his weapons - two of which were from the Castle Grayskull weapons rack and the vintage Weapons Pak! Man-At-Arms was and still is an excellent release. At the time, the sword and pistol were a BIG deal (and they're still awesome), but since then the sword and pistol have been released a couple times in a few different colors. Still, this Man-At-Arms is a nice way to get those items and have a place to store them.
Not pictured is also Man-At-Arms' secret accessory: A newly sculpted "Mechanical Power Sword" (the way the Power Sword looked in the 2002 series)! It is still my favorite sculpt for that sword (even over the 2002 toy version) and it only makes Classics Man-At-Arms that much more awesome. If you can somehow manage to find him for a decent price (and I sadly doubt it) then do not hesitate to pick him up.
Before July was out, San Diego Comic Con came around and brought us one more figure in the form of an exclusive: He-Ro, the unproduced! He was originally supposed to be the hero of the next He-Man series, after the vintage line died off, but the figure never got past a prototype shown in catalogs. This figure recreates all the details from that prototype with all the fancy Classics fixins! As an added "bonus", He-Ro had some chase variants in the form of different colored gems in his staff.
Green, red, and purple. I got the green one, which I believe was the most common. The figure is surprisingly cool, for being all gold and somehow having an even more ridiculous name than He-Man (I suppose it is at least not as redundant). He even comes with a translucent, sparkly Power Sword, and who can resist that? I'm not sure what he goes for nowadays - I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't that expensive, since he's fairly unknown to most of the audience - but he's a great figure and he's not a bad pick-up at random, if you like the super-mythical-hero look. Maybe not so worth it at top-dollar aftermarket price.
August came long, and already only ten figure into the series we get one of THE best out them all: Tri-Klops.
It wasn't hard to get a winner out of this one! The vintage toy was already awesome with a turning eye wheel for a head and spot on his back to hold his sword (no one else got a weapon sheath!), so all they had to do was recreate those details and crank the rest up to eleven!
Tri-Klops came with his awesome sword, a little spy drone (in reference to the 2002 series), some non-removable knives (as a neat little added detail), and a glow-in-the-dark Warrior Ring (that I've lost somehow and it annoys me to no end). There's also a hidden detail that is hard to get a look at: If you manage to lift the eye wheel (which I don't recommend, since it's tough to do and it's not built to come off) you can see that his eyes are covered by some black caps with wires that wrap around and attach to the helmet!
Long story short: Buy Tri-Klops at all costs. Nearly. Maybe don't go crazy with it, but Mattel never re-released him, so he's probably gona be expensive, and he's totally worth it.
September brought our second little twist - the first being Faker, because honestly, I don't think he was all that popular back in the day (and I had originally assumed he wouldn't be made for awhile). Webstor wasn't much different! I had him back in the day, but I didn't think he made a big enough splash in the popularity pool to get him a figure within the first year of Classics.
I was wrong! Along came a Webstor in much the same way the original did, sans the mechanism that allowed the vintage figure to "climb" his grappling line. Classics Webstor has the rope backpack with the grappling hook attached, but the rope just pulls up and down with no action feature. Honestly, I didn't mind, and I still don't find myself minding much. The figure looks awesome, and does everything I had hoped it would in terms of design.
Webstor comes with his backpack and grappling hook (all one piece), some new spider legs attached to the backpack (non-removable, and a reference to the 2002 series) and his orange Grayskull rifle that - admittedly - is a little small for my tastes. The rifle was a big larger compared to the vintage figures, and this one seems almost the same size as vintage one, which, considering the Classics figures are bigger, makes the rifle kinda small.
Doesn't matter! Great figure, though not really knock-your-socks-off-go-buy-it-now great.
Since we were just talking about knock-your-socks-off-go-buy-it-now great: Here was October's offering! Right in time for my birthday, it was Teela! This was monumental, because I had always wanted Teela, but never got the vintage one, and this figure was AMAZING. She had everything that the vintage figure had: Snake staff, snake armor, and shield. Then, she also had her 2002 sword, and an extra helmeted head to allow the snake armor to fit!
What you see above is my eventual customization of Teela, with a pistol strapped to her thigh, the Goddess' spear, and a sheath for her sword.
Mind you: She didn't really need all the customization, but she's a favorite, so I kept upgrading her. Teela was unlucky enough to not get a re-release, which shot her aftermarket prices out past Pluto, making her out of reach for most folks for a long time. That changed with Super 7's Ultimate edition...and it is possibly back to beyond Pluto, now that the preorders are long since done. There's a good chance you're still gona have a problem getting Teela, but you must try. She's the best, man.
Beyond Teela, October also brought us our first "bonus" figure (since the toyline had been doing so well). If this guy confuses you, then understand that Zodac was changed to Zodak, for the 2002 series. He got a total overhaul, to the point where they may as well be different characters.
So that's what they did! This is Zodak, and he's based on the 2002 remake of Zodac. He had glowing tattoos in the series, so they made them actually glow on the figure:
And the staff he comes with is designed as, well...Zodac's guns on a stick. Which is awesome! Mattel wrote a bio that separated Zodac and Zodak and voila! Two different guys.
Much later, they released an alternate head for Zodak to match his appearance in the 2002 series, but it was packaged with chase figure (Strobo), so it was hard to come by.
I can't call Zodak a must have, but I really like him, and he's one of my underrated favorites. I mean, he's all repainted preexisting parts, but they come together so well!
I'm writing this post for the benefit of those who haven't seen my blog before and want a nice look into Masters of the Universe Classics in one place. Still, I'm sure I've got a lot of regular readers here as well, and for you folks, I'll do what you're probably expecting here:
OoooOOOOOAAAAAHHH MY GOD SCARE GLOW IS AWESOME HE'S THE BEST BUY HIM BUY HIM AT ALL COSTS HE'S A GLOW IN THE DARK WRESTLER MAN WITH BONES INACCURATELY PAINTED ON HIS BODY HE'S AMAZING LOOK AT HIM JUST LOOK AT HIM COME ON MAN----------
So, for the rest of you: November brought Scare Glow (he had been intended for October, but things got moved around) and he is possibly my all time favorite MotU figure (It's hard to say; Faker is pretty awesome too). Scare Glow is another one of those easy repaints, where he got a new head, cape, and a paint job - that was it! I'm not sure if he was ever popular back in the day, but I find it hard to believe he wasn't. How can you dislike this guy?
Especially now! Not only is this a great recreation of the vintage Scare Glow, but he got a new backstory and an awesome little container attached to his wrist that holds the Key to Grayskull - for real! There's a little key inside the container; and how about that tiny Grayskull on top of the container? There's just so much to love about Scare Glow!
Now good luck finding him at a decent price...I'm sorry. I can't help myself here, he's the best! He's just the best in such a way that cannot be obtained easily anymore.
Bring us home, December! Capping off the first year of Classics is King Randor, the dude who honestly needed something to spice him up. I never had the vintage figure, but he was kinda bland with just a Grayskull spear, a crown, and a new cape slapped on Jitsu's armor.
The new accessories really do the trick! He's got a staff and sword from the 2002 series, and modified armor to be more "King" than "Jitsu's armor." Granted, I would have liked the more visually interesting 2002 Randor design, but then I wouldn't have gotten MAN KING, and nobody wants that.
Later on they'd release a second Randor based on an even goofier design, and he came with the classic gold spear of the vintage figure. So there's that.
Alright, let's not beat around the bush: Randor is just okay, and far from the best of the 2008-09 batch. If for nothing else, get him for the head, because it really is a magnificent beard. If you really loved the vintage Randor, well then they knocked this one out of the park! It was just a small park.
B-B-B-BONUS! You thought December went out on King Randor? Nope! It went out on The Goddess, the best idea that totally flopped a few years later.
This is just a repaint of Teela in translucent green plastic, but for all you folks that grew up with the old mini comics, this is The Goddess, or the Green Goddess, which is...complicated.
Sadly, the construction of the figure is also complicated. What starts out as a brilliant idea and could have ended as one of my favorite figures, ends instead as a broken toy without any legs. There was some sorta factory mess up with the plastic used for her hips, and nearly everyone's Goddess' legs broke off, including mine. She looks great and is an awesome idea, but they never made another one, so we're all stuck with our broken Goddesses.
Not a great ending for the year, but man, WHAT A YEAR! Most of Classics would be spent slowly releasing the big guns so that the line could stretch out the excitement, but the first year was the test year. This was the year that had to GRAB you, and GRAB you it did! The greats were handled with care, the unsung heroes like Faker and Scare Glow got to shine way earlier than anyone thought, and new ideas like Zodak really showed what Classics could be all about. If the series had ended with 2009, I would have been disappointed, but also would have been left with little else to ask for. I got Skeletor, Faker, Scare Glow, and Tri-Klops. That is a huge portion of my all time favorites all in one year! It was a fantastic way to start.
So that's the end of 2008 and all of 2009! Join me for Masters of the Universe Classics' second year: 2010, after the click!