Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Masters of the Universe Classics: Year by Year - 2011

Glad to have you back! Want to take a look at the Masters of the Universe Classics released in 2011? Of course you do! This is your sorta thing, isn't it? You're freaky like that. I get it. Come on in, lemme show you around.

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.

2010 was just as much of a hit as 2009, with no hint of slowing down. This meant that 2011 was ready and willing to continue to throw more figures in our faces, slow-mo style, while we laughed and threw the pile of figures in the air like it was money gained and not money spent.

And woooo boy was it money spent, because 2011 brought us not only large beasts (like last year), but a freakin' vehicle! They were playing a serious game here! The game was "Keep Away" with our wallets.

And nothing shows you're serious like starting off 2011 with another concept! We knew Mattel meant business with an obscure only-if-you're-a-crazy-fan figure like Vikor. If you have no idea who he is, then you're probably at least saying "Damn, look at that awesome Conan figure!", and you'd be inadvertently explaining why this figure was so popular. You don't need to know where he comes from to be amazed by it. It's just a fine figure! An awesome figure! 

Vikor is the early concept for He-Man, back when the toyline was just being pitched. They obviously wanted a Conan vibe, and that shines through like the sun shinning through glass. You can't avoid seeing Conan in this figure. Thankfully, it wasn't close enough to infringe upon the rights to Conan. Vikor is phenomenal, and you should definitely seek him out, even if the price is a little exorbitant. He's well worth a bit of a markup.

Vikor comes with an axe, sword (which stores in a loop on the back of his belt) and a shield. The chains on his wrists are real metal!

January wasn't through with us, not by a long shot! Not only did we get an awesome concept figure, but we also got a Classics first: An army building pack! These are the Eternian Palace Guards, a two pack of guards with various armor parts, weapons, and heads. I bought two packs so I could make one of each guard, and I imagine many did the same (if they didn't buy a ton more than that). Each head came with an optional face guard so, if you bought more than two sets, you could cover the faces that you use over again (so it doesn't look like you've got a bunch of clones). It was a brilliantly put together set, and I still love the idea.

You can customize them by adding or removing armor, changing out the chest plates (like with Battle Armor He-Man), and swapping weapons and heads. It is a spectacular set, and highly recommended, though orange and green armored soldiers is probably a little odd unless you're a MotU fan. They may not break outside of their intended toyline, but they are a MUST if you're a MotU fan.

January was a doozy, so it stands to reason that February would dial it back a notch. Unless you're a huge fan of Bow, that is. And that is reasonable to assume! Bow's only figure before this was from the vintage She-Ra toyline, and he didn't look much like his cartoon counterpart. This Bow came with parts to make both - a head with a mustache, like the cartoon, and a clean shaven head (shown above), like the toy. There was also an optional round red piece for his chest, because....uh...I'm not sure. I think it was because Mattel assumed there might be some people who wouldn't want the heart on his chest? 'Cause that's girly, I guess? I dunno, I think the heart looks cool, and I'm pretty sure a lot of folks agree. Also, it's Bow's thing, so why change it?

Than again, many consider his mustache to be his thing, and I like the vintage toy clean shaven head better, so what do I know?

Bow comes with a bow (minus the bow string), an arrow, and a small harp. If you're a fan of Bow, you're not gona get better than this. If you're not, I can understand if this figure doesn't wow you, but he is pretty cool regardless.

February's second slot was this monster, a Shadow Beast. These are a little obscure, but memorable to fans of both the classic toon and the 2002 toon. Shadow Beasts are just that - beasts that live in shadows. The degree to which they live in shadows is dependent on what show they're in. Either way: It's a big gorilla-ish monster with a spiked club. 

It's not one of my favorites, but I can't seem to decide if I want to get rid of it or not. It's certainly a fine figure! A good, basic beast for any fantasy collection. It just doesn't wow me, I guess. It still does it's job as a large beast, and if it strikes your fancy, I can't find any reason to avoid it. With any luck, it's "eh, okay" factor might make it cheaper on the after market. Who knows!

Now we're talking obscure! 2011's subscription exclusive figure (shipped in February) was none other than He-Man's Preternia Disguise! Yeah, that one! The famous one!

...okay nobody knows what this is save for the diehards. This is how He-Man appeared in the final vintage mini-comic; disguised so that no one would recognize him when he traveled into the past. It is certainly the most underwhelming subscription exclusive for the whole Classics line, but one that at least some people were asking for....so here we are.

That's not to say that the whole package wasn't interesting: He at came with a Cosmic Key! Possibly obscure, for those who haven't seen the live action He-Man movie, but I think that one might have made rounds to a lot of fans over the years (love it or hate it). The Key is sadly half-movie and half-toy, with the design and colors based on the movie and the bottom of it sporting a big 'ol handle, like the toy version. I would have preferred a movie version, minus the handle and plus a leather strap, but HEY...I'm not complaining. It's the Cosmic Key, and I'm super happy to have it!

Preternia Disguise He-Man comes with a Power Sword, the Cosmic Key, and a large rifle (not pictured, but I did pass it on to another figure in 2011, so we'll see it further down).

Moving on to March, with King Hsss! He was an impressive figure back in the day; the vintage figure had removable "skin" that revealed a giant snake underneath, with snake arms (and maybe more snakes underneath, who knows). Mattel wanted to keep the Classics buck as unchanged as possible, so they worked in a removable torso, that can be replaced with the snake torso.

King Hsss didn't work out perfectly, however. The snake torso is slightly underwhelming in terms of sculpt (though the bendy snake arms are fantastic) and the removable torso gimmick made it so that the crotch piece was hard plastic, making his legs move forward only an inch or so before getting stopped at the top of the hip area. Regardless, I can't help liking the figure, based on the design and that freakin' awesome head sculpt with the cocky smirk. If there was going to be a figure with limited hip movement, King Hsss was a good one to choose, since he looks so imposing just standing there. I kind of want to rate him lower than most, for the limitations, but he looks way too cool to toss in a corner and act like he's a lost cause. If you like King Hsss, I doubt you'll be disappointed. Plus, they made a better snake torso later on, but it might be hard to come by...we'll see it in a later post.

King Hsss comes with a shield, snake staff, and a snake torso.

March's second figure was Battle Armor Skeletor, which was fitting, since Battle Armor He-Man came out the year before. Gotta have the set! BA Skelly was a landmark for reasons beyond the fact that he's popular, though: He's the first example of Mattel listening to the fans. Originally he was just going to be like regular Skeletor with a purple Power Sword and the tasseled belt. The fans asked if he could be closer to the original toy; with fully purple boots and a black normal belt (minus tassels). On top of that, they also requested a purple axe, just to spice things up. Mattel acquiesced to the requests!

At the time, I had hoped the axe would be like Skeletor's magic axe, from the old toon, so I customized the basic purple He-Man axe with a crystal ball from a weapons pak. Otherwise, what you see is what you get! BA Skeleor came comes with a purple He-Man axe, and three armor plates (clean, cut, and double cut). He's just as cool as BA He-Man, and who knows how sought-after he is, so he may be expensive. If you get a shot at him with a decent price, take it!

April showers blew in like a storm, and that storm kicked up a tornado in the form of Sy-Klone, the tornado robot! Guy. Robot guy. Who knows what he is. 

The vintage Sy-Klone has a spinning gimmick where you turn a wheel on his belt and his torso spun around (it was pretty neat). Classic Sy-Klone, as you'd expect...doesn't do that. But it's okay! It's still a cool design, and he comes with his vintage shield and a 2002 back ring that can fold down over him, or come off and be used as a giant blade. Also there's the lenticular chest radar! Isn't that exciting? It detects...space...stuff.

Okay, so he's ridiculous and doesn't make any sense, but do you care? Doesn't he look awesome? Sure he does! You agree with me! Sy-Klone may also be cheap on the after market, or, I hope so. If he is, go buy him. Sy-Klone rocks. Just trust me.

April's second slot went to another beast: Panthor, Skeletor's purple kitty. The vintage version of Panthor was just Battle Cat in purple with fuzzy flocking. Classics Panthor uses Battle Cat's body and saddle, but sports a brand new angry head sculpt and a unique horned helmet designed just for this figure.

Panthor is just as good as Battle Cat, but better, since he comes with that brand new helmet. Granted, I've heard some folks were unhappy with how the helmet looks, but I love the idea. Panthor is worth it no matter how you feel! Awesome figure all around. 

The month of May: Time to visit She-Ra town again! This time we have a high-ranking Horde captain, Catra. This was a big-time fan-want, specifically this red version from the She-Ra toon. Catra was actually the main villain of the She-Ra toyline, where she was dressed in pink, silver, and black. She was redesigned and placed as a member of the Horde, for the toon, and because of that, she became most recognized in this form.

Catra wasn't shown to use weapons in the toon (so far that I know), so the Classics figure came with a selection of Catra's toy accessories. Her comb was redesigned into a whip/swordbreaker, her shield was directly from the first vintage toy, and her sword was from a vintage Catra variant. On top of that, they gave her two different masks: Her red toon mask, and a silver mask matching the vintage toy's. She's the total Catra experience, unless you want a toy-themed look. They never visited her again, so this is your only Catra. On the plus side: She's pretty awesome! Maybe not one of the best, but certainly more than excellent if you're a Catra fan.

June means Father's Day, and what better time is there for the Faceless One, Evil-Lyn's father? Contrary to his name, he does seem to have some sort of face, but that doesn't mean you can't call him Faceless One. Just means you could call him Semi-Faceless One, if you want.

The Faceless One is from the 2002 series, and he's a sad, sad man. He is Evil-Lyn's father, and we know how Evil-Lyn turned out (Evil. She turned out evil). He's also the leader of a destroyed land called Zalesia, which was destroyed because he had some sorta truce with the Snake Men saying he couldn't father any kids. *ahem* He uh...he did. He fathered Evil-Lyn. Once that happened, he was turned into his faceless form, and charged with protecting the Havok Staff and the Ram Stone. You may recognize the Havok Staff as Skeletor's staff, so that's one task down, and the 2002 series saw Skeletor stealing the Ram Stone as well, so that's one more task down. 

The Faceless One: Massive Failure, on all counts! Does any of that matter? No! Look at this awesome evil wizard toy! Seriously, just ignore what he's supposed to be and enjoy the design. It works well, and he amazingly still moves nicely even with the giant cape and armor. It may seem like an odd one to suggest to everyone, but I feel like he not only covers an interesting niche in MotU history, but also breaks away from that by just looking like a cool wizard. Try 'em out if you get a chance!

June's second figure is another interesting anomaly in the MotU universe. This is Teela, if you can believe it. You see, back when MotU was starting, DC was given the rights to do a comic (before the classic toon). They were given some designs, but someone forgot to add Teela's design. DC artists took it upon themselves to design Teela, basing her outfit on He-Man's. So here's a very barbarian Teela, called Battleground Teela, for Classics.

She's got a goofy story for Classics, but that doesn't matter. This is a cool barbarian lady toy, and she's totally worth hunting down for that fact alone. She's so different from Teela that she stands out as her own character! Make her whatever you want! 

Battleground Teela comes with wide-blade sword and a cool sci-fi laser pistol.

Hey, here's a simple one! July's figure was Clawful, from the vintage line. The vintage figure had a snapping claw, and so does this Classics version. It's a simple feature, but a fun one! 

I don't suppose Clawful is a must-have, but I had him when I was a kid, so he's nostalgic. Personally, I think he looks pretty cool outside the nostalgia. You be the judge. He's a good figure, if you like him, but be aware that his big claw will always snap closed, so you can't pose him with it open.

Clawful comes with a green mace (with a new shell pommel) and a big red crustacean shield.

August again, and time for SDCC exclusives. For 2011, we got Queen Marlena, Prince Adam's mom. She came with two different outfits: The one above is her standard Queen gear that was shown in the 80's toon.

The second suit is sort of a new design based on the fact that - *GASP* - Queen Marlena is actually an astronaut from Earth! She crashed landed on Eterna, met King Randor, and figured that if you were gona be stranded on an alien planet, you might as well make the most of it. Why not marry a King and live the good life?

Marlena came with a royal staff, sword (repainted from Battle Ground Teela) and a dress, for her Queenly look. She also came with a space suit, helmet, pistol (with holster), and a rifle (the rifle is a design taken straight from the live action He-Man movie) for her astronaut look. Her final accessory was little Cringer, which I photographed with Prince Adam in the 2010 post. To me, she's an awesome idea and two great figures, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't favor 50's Sci-Fi Space Marlena. She breaks out of her role very well, and if you like astronaut figures and find her on the cheap, then I'd pick her up.

August's second SDCC exclusive was shared with Toys R Us, in the form of a DC vs two pack with Battle Armor Faker and Bizarro. Battle Armor Faker never had a vintage figure; he was just created as a cool idea for Classics.

What you'll see above is my own modification with the battle damaged Faker head from New Adventures Skeletor - he normally comes with a basic undamaged Faker head.

Battle Armor Faker comes with an orange version of Skeletor's Battle Armor, with the same battle damage plates you can swap out. He also came with his basic orange Power Sword, but I swapped that out for the orange shield and axe from a later weapons pak. This one is probably hard to come by, but a must-have for Faker fans.

Whew, August is always full of figures! Not only did you get the SDCC exclusives, but also the basic monthy figures. August's basic figure was none other than Man-E-Faces; one of the stand-out best figures in the whole line.

The recipe for a great Classics figure is recreating all the little details, improving them, and then somehow managing to make the original action feature work without sacrificing anything else. Man-E-Faces does ALL of this. He's an awesome Classics figure that has the exact same feature as the vintage toy: the purple thing on his head turns his faces around! That's not all! Classics Man-E-Faces pushed it one further and makes the whole headgear part removable, so you can swap on another set of faces! Not only does he get all his classics faces, but Skeletor, He-Man, and Orko!

Man-E-Faces is a must-have for everyone who loves toys, and a go-buy-it-right-now for MotU fans. He's everything that Classics could have been, if each figure had worked out like this.

August also had a large beast slot to fill (ugh, my poor wallet, at the time). This was Tytus's nemesis, the giant Megator. Where Tytus was just a big dude, Megator was a big MONSTER. Somehow that makes all the difference, for me. Tytus was kinda boring with an uninteresting weapon, and Megator stands out as a monstrous beast with a cool weapon and an alternate head!

Like Tytus, Megator was part of the very end of the vintage MotU line, so he's one of the rarest vintage figures. Thankfully, if you really wanted one because of the look (and not the rarity) you can get this MUCH better version. Not only is he cool looking and works for just about any other toyline, but he also has a brand new "zombie" head, for MotU Classic's own filecard story. This zombie head was a new creation - just for fun - and one of those little reasons why Classics was so cool. There were always little surprises!

Megator is worth your time, if you have any love for fantasy figures. He'll stand out anywhere, with MotU or Mythic Legions or Boss Fight's Vitruvian HACKS. He may not be "buy at any cost" kind of cool, but he's still much better than you would expect.

OKAY...let's drag ourselves out of the expensive August and crawl into September, with Leech. This was an interesting vintage figure with a suction-cup mouth. The Classics version dropped the suction mouth for a more realistic mouth, based on the vintage head.

I had the vintage Leech, back in the day, and he was a favorite because I could stick him to windows (I would usually stick him to the back seat car window in hopes of freaking people out). Somehow, the lack his main feature doesn't bother me, and Leech stands out as a decent recreation of a weirdo monster guy. Eh, you know what? He's more than decent - he's pretty cool! All the details have been recreated, and he even has some shiny paint in certain areas to make him look slimy
. If you like Leech, he's certainly worth it. He even breaks away as a neat monster figure, though I wouldn't go out of my way to spend big bucks on him.

Leech comes with his Horde Crossbow and a big red net with suction cups on the ends (not pictured).

September's second figure was Hurricane Hordak. The vintage figure had weapons you could place on a gimmick arm, when you rolled your thumb across a dial on his back, the weapons would spin. Classics Hurricane Hordak doesn't do that.

Hurricane Hordak was a bit of an anomaly. He recreated the vintage figure, but did some things you'd think Classics would avoid.

1.) He, for some reason, has a non-moving dial on his back, which was there to make his weapons spin on the vintage figure. If it had been made to look like spikes on the back of his armor, that would be one thing, but it just looks like the vestigial gimmick that it is.

2.) They went with vac-metal for the armor, which the vintage figure had, but not many vintage figures that used vac-metal have survived with the vac-metal intact, since vac-metal has a penchant for flaking off over time. This made his armor hard and annoying to remove (if you wanted to swap around, like with everyone else) and I'm always worried about messing him up.

....and yet, still, I find myself drawn to him. The vac-metal has stood the test of time so far, and I opted to stop swapping him around for fun and just leave his armor on. Somehow he manages to be a cool variant, and probably worth it if you had some nostalgia for the original. He may not be amazing, but he's far from a "stay away" kind of figure. Hurricane Hordak works out pretty well, beyond his mild annoyances.

Hurricane Hordak comes with his *ahem* "Whirling Thunder Balls", a bat blade, and some sort of blender attachment for making smoothies. When the weapons are removed, his arm stump makes for a neat cannon arm. He can also swap weapons with Trap-Jaw and Roboto.

October for the win again, two years in a row (would be three, if Scare Glow had made it to October in 2009)! Last year I got a big time favorite, Roboto, for my birth month. In 2011 I got Flipshot (or Icarius, his European name) for October. He was a big favorite when I was a kid, but I broke him and lost most of his items.

Flipshot is from the New Adventures of He-Man, the 90's show that didn't do so hot. I wasn't able to catch the show very often back then, but I LOVED the toys, and Flipshot was particularly cool looking. The Classics figure recreates all the details (and was even designed by the guy who designed the vintage Flipshot) and adds a separate un-helmeted head (instead of the vintage removable helmet). The un-helmeted head is quite clearly Val Kilmer, for some reason (probably has to do with Top Gun), but I'm not complaining. Flipshot is awesome for MotU fans and toy fans alike. Highly recommended.

Flipshot comes with his missile-shield, flight pack (with little removable non-firing missiles that I took out), and an alternate head. I felt like he needed something more than a couple missiles, so I added Preternia Disguise He-Man's large rifle and a little energy knife I built out of Spymonkey Glyos compatible weapon parts.

November's figure was Snout Spout, and boy was he destined for some sort of disaster. Everyone was sure Mattel wouldn't let him shoot water like the vintage figure, so it was all about how they would do Snout Spout's trunk. Bendy seemed the way to go, but sadly Mattel opted for a soft spongy material for the trunk, rather than the rubbery plastic from the bendy snake arms on King Hsss. This meant that bending the trunk would crack and wear down the paint...making the bendy feature ill-advised for use.

Later on, a 2002 head pack would be released, and Snout Spout was thankfully one of the heads included. They removed all bendy ability from the 2002 trunk, making it rigid, but WOW does it look awesome! I would have preferred they make the trunk ball jointed, but this still works fine. Overall, I wouldn't say you should stay away from him. If you get him packaged and don't bend his trunk, he'll be fine, and he still looks awesome. If you want the 2002 head though, you'll have to track it down or track down the whole head pack.

Snout Spout comes with his fireman's axe (that has a c-clamp at the end for holding his nose), and a "Jaws of Life" kind of cutting tool from the 2002 design.

November's beast slot was taken by Swift Wind, She-Ra's horse from the 80's toon. This horse had the ability to be Adora's normal horse, Spirit, or She-Ra's flying unicorn Swift Wind (granted, if Swift Wind wanted to be Spirit, he had to have huge holes in his shoulders where the wings went).

I can't really count this one as a must-have like Battle Cat, but mostly because it doesn't work out quite as flawlessly as Battle Cat. It's a fine horse figure, but for some reason, getting an articulated horse toy to stand realistically is way harder than getting an articulated tiger toy to stand realistically. This one is probably best hanging from your ceiling in a display, since the hips have no side to side movement, so if the legs are slightly warped (like they are), you have a hell of a time standing Swift Wind.

It is a great looking Swift Wind, though! If you're a huge She-Ra fan, you won't be disappointed, but I can't say it's amazing enough for anyone else to seek out.

November also had a second figure (they really liked to stretch our wallets) with Bubble Power She-Ra. This was a sort of She-Ra re-do as well as She-Ra's first variant from the vintage line. Bubble Power She-Ra is just She-Ra underneath, but with more toy designs on the boots and wrist guards. If you have the first She-Ra, you can create a much cooler basic She-Ra between the two of them...sadly though, it's hard to have a great She-Ra with only one of them.

Still, if you're only going to get one, I'd still get this one. She's just nuts, with the crazy bubble "wand" (the machine-gun looking bubbler in the third pic) and the vintage toy mask (it's made to work like a frame for her face, but you can still turn it around and use it as a mask).

Bubble Power She-Ra comes with her crystal Power Sword (designed off of the vintage toy sword), shield, removable armor, bubble gatling gun, and crazy crown/mask thing. She sadly does not come with the basic She-Ra head in the last pic.

December came long and Mattel decided to end the year like it had started: With a concept figure! This is Vikor's nemesis, Demo-Man, the concept for Skeletor. The concept started out as a sort of mix between Beast Man and Skeletor, with a mean scimitar (sporting a T-Rex head on the pommel) and a big spiked flail. He looked like nuclear rotting death, and I love love LOVE the concept and design. This is one of my all-time favorites from Classics, and you deserve to have this in your collection, MotU fan or no.

Demo-Man comes with his scimitar, flail, a skull in a horned helmet (from his concept art; the skull can also fit on the neck ball joint of any figure, not pictured), and a new head for Skeletor based on the way he was drawn in the mini-comics.

The new head almost completely transforms your basic Skeletor into a new figure. The sculpt is creepy in all the right ways, and jumps right off the old mini-comics.

The mini-comic Skeletor head can also be found in Super 7's Ultimate Skeletor release, otherwise you've got to hunt down Demo-Man. And you should. You should hunt down Demo-Man right now.

December's second figure was Evil-Lyn, in 2002 colors, or "Battleground" Evil-Lyn. This was just a repaint of vintage Evil-Lyn, using 2002 Evil-Lyn's color palate. Some people were disappointed that this wasn't a full-on 2002 Evil-Lyn (since her costume is different) and I would have liked one as well....but this figure is really awesome.

It's hard to complain about this total package! Not only is the color scheme fantastic, but she comes with a new cape, un-helmeted head, and an alternate glow-in-the-dark staff head! To top that off, they went for an open "spellcasting" left hand, to really bring this one home. She's so different from the vintage colored Evil-Lyn that both are highly recommended...though I may side toward this one a little more than the first - and I love the first! This one just goes the extra mile and knocks it out of the park. A must have for MotU fans.

Evil-Lyn comes with a knife, staff (with a translucent purple crystal top and a glow-in-the-dark one), two heads, and a cape.

Rounding out December (and draining our wallets yet again) was another milestone for Classics: A full vintage vehicle recreation: The Wind Raider.

The Wind Raider was the epitome of deluxe: It sported all the features of the original, plus opening panels on the engines, control sticks, and painted and sculpted details that were previously just stickers. You could fire off the front anchor, reel it back in with the skull on top, and move the wings up and down. There were also wheels on the bottom for ridin' dirty, and it came complete with a big, wide-based articulated stand, for flying poses.

I'm not normally big on vehicles, but if you have the room for them and are a big MotU fan, you will not be disappointed by the Wind Raider. It is classy all the way through, and has a real "fancy collector's toy" feel without feeling like you're gona break it. Absolutely fantastic vehicle.

And that's it for the third year of Masters of the Universe Classics! It was a bit of a strange year for mild fans, with a bunch of concepts and obscure references, but also a great year with the likes of Man-E-Faces as a shining beacon from the vintage line, and a figure that I'm sure anyone would remember. Throw in Sy-Klone, Snout Spout, and King Hsss and you can see them clearly doing a healthy smattering of classic vintage and obscure concepts, with a dash of new ideas like the Palace Guard army builders. Classics continued to power through, strong as He-Man!

Join me next time, for 2012, the year that the world was supposed to end or something. Jump on over to see if we survived!