Thursday, June 28, 2018
Masters of the Universe Classics: Year by Year - 2015
Whoa, 2015? You mean Masters of the Universe Classics was still going at that point? It sure was! Things were a little rocky going into it, but Classics persevered. Come on in and check it out! Water's fine.
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.
2014 had some problems. Strange design choices were the biggest, but there was also the looming threat of the vintage remakes running out. There was more good than bad, but Classics was a toyline where bad meant BAD. You heard the bad stuff across the internet, and the good stuff was kinda pushed to the side. Still: Things needed fixing, and fixing was going to be hard when the subscription buyers were taking a hike. Mattel managed to pull through with sub drives; showing a meter that would rise as people subscribed. Once it got to the top, the sub would go through! Some people yelled "Scare tactics!" and others just went "meh, I was gona sub anyway." One way or another, the sub went through, and we got two more subs for 2015: The basic sub, and a 200X Sub (figures from the 2002 He-Man cartoon).
January started off obscure, but strong. This is Lizard Man, from the 80's MotU cartoon.
Lizard man showed up in only a few episodes (and one episode where he was a different color and designed with slight differences). It's funny that he's just called "Lizard Man" when he seems like a specific Lizard Man, rather than the only one. I mean, do they all wear blue vests and hats? Poor guy deserves a name!
Lizard Man is a heroic character; as you can probably tell from the friendly face - and man, what a face! The whole figure is a little work of art, to be honest. The sculpt is awesome all around, being made of all new parts (had the series gone on even longer, I'm sure the new thinner arms and legs could have gone to younger characters, like 200X Prince Adam). Lizard Man doesn't do much beyond looking great, but there is one little detail that I suppose I could call a "feature": The webbing between his fingers is translucent, making a very life-like effect. Lizard man not only jumps off the screen of the old toon, but he really seems to jump to life in general! If you're a fan of fantasy creatures, I'd keep a lookout for this one. If you're a Filmation fan, then I would definitely set aside some time to hunt this one down.
Lizard Man comes with a crossbone sword for Skeletor (not pictured until 2016), and the Diamond Ray of Disappearance, in a little box (a Filmation artifact. Also not pictured). Since neither item is intended for him, I decided to give him a halberd from the basic Grayskull weapons that came in the last weapons pak.
February checked off yet another vintage remake, making Ninjor the first stone tossed off the mountain to create the avalanche of vintage remakes for 2015 that would quickly finish off the rest of the vintage line before Classics ended. There was a fear that 2015 would be the end of Classics, after all!
Ninjor originally appeared at the end of the vintage MotU line, when they were designing some basic characters that were made to be obvious winners (though it ended up making them somehow forgettable to many fans, until younger fans like me got a little older and chimed in). Scare Glow was a part of this last wave, since a glowing skeleton just HAD to win with the kids. The other obvious winner is Ninjor - because he's a ninja! Who doesn't love ninjas?
...well, he ended up feeling kind of "dollar store figure", back in the day, but I think people warmed up to him over time. Personally, I think he was a no-brainer addition to MotU. The basic "ninja" idea was simple and didn't require much design work, but the end result made for a cool looking figure, and a badass Classics figure.
Classics Ninjor is precisely what you'd expect: A ninja! You couldn't get any more ninja than this. Thankfully, the designers of the vintage line gave him monster feet and hands, so that he could either be some sort of demon ninja, or wearing clawed boots and gloves for climbing. That little design flair mixes well with the Classics style, where it was pushed further with straps and shoulder pads added to the shirt (which was originally just a spandex piece on the vintage figure) and red eyes to drive home that demon idea. The details of the original figure mixed with the new Classics details and a bunch of accessories equals action figure gold. I suppose the ninja idea has been played out, but good god man, it plays well on this figure! I wouldn't hesitate to hunt this one down, whoever you are. You're going to want it. You probably want it right now after looking at the pictures.
Ninjor comes with a katana, nunchaku, and a bow (the bow is more of a short-bow, when compared to the larger compound bow of the vintage figure). He also has a quiver of arrows on his back (removable) which has two clips to store the bow and either the sword or the nunchaku. Finally, he has an unmasked head, and then a belt which was intended for Jitsu, but still looks natural on Ninjor, if you so choose (not pictured).
February was awesome enough with Ninjor, but Mattel decided to make February absolutely rock with a great two pack: Snake Armor He-Man and 200X King Hsss!
This set brought the fans two popular designs from the 2002 toyline and cartoon series. The first is Snake Armor He-Man, which was a popular design variant for He-Man that was unique to the 2002 series. The 2002 figure was a highlight of the toyline, which meant that this excellent addition was also a highlight in the Classics toyline. He's very nearly the same as the 2002 figure, with added detail, and (personally) better sculpting. The only thing he lacks is the 2002 version's pop-out arm claw feature (the claw is still there, but now it's a removable item) and a 2002 sword that opened up to reveal a snake-destroying magical blast. While I do wish that this one had come with a sword sculpted in the open position (with some magical energy emitting from it) I still can't find room to complain amidst all this gushing. He's awesome. Amazing. Well sculpted, fun to play with and pose, and carries over all of the awesomeness of the 2002 figure with none of the flaws. The new head sculpt also makes this one feel fresh, among all the He-Man variants in the line. Highly recommended for MotU fans, and heck, I think the design is cool enough for any toy fan as well.
Snake Armor He-Man comes with an optional arm claw and another slight repaint of the 2002 Power Sword (it can store in a slot on his back).
The second part of the pack was King Hsss, in his 2002 design. This wasn't all new parts, but every choice was well made to make a fully posable version of the 2002 design. This was highly sought after, because the 2002 figure was completely immobile above the waist, due to his whole upper half flipping upward to reveal his snake form. I never ended up getting the 2002 figure, due to the feature.
This set was supposed to come with this brand new snake form for his upper half, but it ended up being too expensive for one pack, so the snake form was....*ahem* well, it was actually forgotten by the design team when the brand manager left. It was mentioned by the fans later on, and Mattel ended up releasing the snake half in a special set that we'll see in 2016. The set was worth it, because as you can see; the snake torso is magnificent.
King Hsss comes with a recolored vintage Snakemen staff and his vintage shield in a darker red.
This set is WAY worth it, regardless of King Hsss not coming with the snake torso. Both designs are awesome, and both figures are fun to play with and pose. Highly recommended all around.
In terms of characters from either the He-Man or She-Ra cartoon, I was surprised that we hadn't seen this character until 2015: This is Huntara, from the Princess of Power cartoon.
I understood why we got the characters that were made so far, but Huntara is just so obviously cool that I'm surprised she was put off for so long. Huntara is a bounty hunter from a planet of warriors with a strong code of honor. She arrived on Etheria to take out She-Ra, because she was hired by Hordak, who lied and said he was the good guy, besieged by She-Ra and her gang. Huntara showed up, wiped the floor with She-Ra, and then figured out what was going on and worked to help She-Ra for the rest of the episode. It was badass, and Huntara was built to last....for that episode. Still, she made such an impression for that one episode that she more than deserved a slot in Classics.
Huntara was originally designed off of Grace Jones (in case that wasn't obvious), so she's a statuesque, chiseled rockstar warrior. With laser swords. The face sculpt ended up a tiny bit too soft, compared to Grace Jones' and the animation's angular faces, but it still got the job done, made for a striking and unique figure that fit right in with MotU. I highly recommend her to She-Ra fans, and honestly, I think she'll work for just about anyone. She's a ripped warrior lady with a mowhawk and laser swords; what more do you want?
Huntara comes with her two laser swords (which store on her back, though, sadly, the blades do not remove from the handles, nor does she come with un-lit sword handles). She also accidentally came with a wooden axe that was meant for the exclusive sub figure that we'll see next.
March's second figure was the sub exclusive: Oo-Larr, the jungle He-Man! Or, as he might be better known: Mini-Comic He-Man!
This is designed directly from He-Man's appearance in the first vintage mini-comic, when He-Man was nothing more than the strongest man in a tribe of jungle dwellers. He-Man got up one day and was was like: "Welp, I guess it's time to go fight evil" and he left the tribe to do just that. Eventually he ran across the Green Goddess, who, to him, just seemed like a lady in peril. He-Man saved her, and she revealed herself to be protecting a cave containing ancient weapons and armor created by the Eternian scientists of old. He-Man obtained his trademark harness (which contained a forcefield generator and granted him great strength), bracers, boots, belt, and axe.
The figure depicts He-Man in his fuzzy jungle trunks and carrying his only other possession when he left the tribe: A wooden spear with a sharpened stone tip. His other accessories were never used by him, but are items seen in the background of the comic. The sword was seen in the background of the cave that held his trademark items, and the axe (accidentally packaged with Huntara) was seen in a swirl of magically floating weapons given flight by Skeletor.
While jungle He-Man was awesome, his real draw was his two heads: one based on the mini-comics, and one a recreation of the original vintage toy head.
At the time, it ticked a lot of fans off, because fans wanted to buy this figure many times, to get the heads and replace the old He-Man head on many of the variants. Thankfully, Super 7's "Ultimate Edition" came with both of these heads, so that may be easier to get, if you want these sculpts (hopefully). This particular figure is the only way to get old fashioned jungle tribe He-Man, though.
It's hard to say if this one is worth hunting down or not. He's probably going to be expensive, but if you're a hardcore MotU fan, I'd say he's worth it - especially if you loved those old mini-comics like I did. This one probably isn't for your every day toy collector, though; due to the possibly high price.
April showed that Mattel was trying their best to not only finish off the vintage MotU figures, but also the vintage Princess of Power figures. This is Queen Angella, from both the vintage toyline and Princess of Power cartoon.
Queen Angella was Glimmer's mother, in the toon, and...well, I guess she was just the toy with wings, in the vintage toyline. Not a small feat, though! Who doesn't want the winged figure? I'm not sure if she was popular, but I wouldn't be surprised if she was. Sadly, the Classics figure uses the 80's workout fashion design from the toon, rather than the 80's fantasy design from the toy. The design isn't quite as interesting, but it'll be a must have for fans of the cartoon. The end result isn't a bad figure, but isn't one that's all that stunning, either. The wings are impressive, at least! That's one part that had to be done right, and they look fantastic. If you're a She-Ra fan, I would't pass this one up.
Angella only comes with a silver sword (pictured with Spinnerella) and a removable translucent "halo" that plug into the top of her wing joint in the center of her back. The sword looked good, but Spinnerella's spear and shield (which didn't work great for Spinnerella) look amazing with Angella - almost like they were made for her instead. If you get both figures, I'd make the switch.
April didn't have a second figure, so I'll just throw this in April because that's where it was placed in the reference list I used. This was 2015's "chase figure", which meant he popped up in Mattel's online store from time to time. He was just as annoying as the other chase figures, in that you had to be there at the right time to catch him. I don't quite remember how I got him, but Mattel would often offer the chase figures in an announced sale to give people a chance, so that's probably how I got him.
This is the Spirit of King Grayskull.
The Spirit of King Grayskull is actually a remake of an extemely rare variant from the first Classics figure: King Grayskull. You had a chance of getting either a bronze colored "Statue" variant, or a translucent blue "Spirit" variant, and both were pretty rare. This one was just a green glow-in-the-dark figure with a black wash to bring out the details, and is probably way easier to get, even now. The figure was just King Grayskull again, except that his cape was no longer removable. My love for glowing toys knows no bounds, so it goes without saying that I highly recommend this guy. He glows nice and bright, and ghostly toys are always cool for everyone.
The Spirit of King Grayskull comes with the full He-Man loadout of a Power Sword, shield, and axe - all glow-in-the-dark.
These guys are another side-item thrown in the middle of the year for convention exclusives (whatever convention Mattel happened to attend). They were sold in an announced sale at some point in the year, so why not shove them in here with Spirit of Grayskull?
These are Hover Robots, from the 80's MotU cartoon.
Anyone making a children's action cartoon is well aware that they can't actually have anyone getting hurt with the awesome weapons the heroes wield. They need the heroes to hit stuff, though. And maybe cut stuff, if possible. What to do? Ah yes: Robots! All the basic enemies are robots! It happened with Foot Soldiers in Ninja Turtles, and even G.I. Joe brought B.A.T.s in eventually. Masters of the Universe was no different. The Hover Robots were Filmation's answer to making violence awesome, but not bloody and bruising. These minions served Skeletor by the dozens, and He-Man smashed, tossed, and punched these poor trash cans all over the place. They were limited just to the cartoon so, naturally, fans were clamoring to get these classic robots in plastic form.
Well, on one hand, we got them! On the other hand, we got them and they were convention exclusives. I don't remember them being hard to get though, so I think quite a few people got at least two packs of these. I'm not sure how hard they are to get ahold of now, but if you run into even one of them, I'd give it a shot. They're great for MotU cartoon fans and just general robot fans.
The Hover Robots all have stands and alternate "spinning-blade" hands. They also come with a sheet of battle damage stickers so you can mess 'em up however you like (I chose one to totally deck out in stickers).
Back to our regularly scheduled program: May's figure was Blast-Attak, the exploding...Snake Man...robot? Man? Thing?
Blast-Attak is a strange one, though still a neat idea for a figure. The vintage figure had an "exploding" feature, where you stuck that whip thing (in the second picture) in his back, pushed the plunger, and the whole figure busted into two halves down the center. We all knew this wouldn't be possible with the Classics version, but at the very least, we assumed the figure would be like every other Classics figure and have removable armor, so we could mimic the ability by shoving other items under the armor, like plastic fire accessories or something.
Naturally, that meant that this figure randomly had glued-down armor. This is especially confusing and annoying - not just because nearly every other figure has removable armor - but because the Four Horsemen chose the robotic torso originally used for the Horde Troopers, but cast in bright red, so it could look like he was in mid-explosion. Nothing you might have wanted to do is possible without cutting the armor off. I'm not sure what happened in the design room at Mattel, but it was the first strange design choice we saw in 2015, carrying over some of the crazy decisions from 2014.
Regardless, Blast-Attak is still a dang fine looking figure. If you were interested in the figure alone, without any background knowledge, I think you'd be impressed. Without the context of the vintage figure, this is just an awesome looking robot-zombie monster with nice, shiny gold paint on the armor and a crazy junk-axe weapon and a whip. So, in the context of MotU, this guy is aggravating and kind of annoying, but still good looking. Outside of MotU, I think everyone would love this guy. He looks fantastic, and everything else (articulation, accessories, paint, etc) is great, so you won't be disappointed if you decide to pick this up on a whim.
Blast-Attak comes with a crazy axe thing that can be held in multiple ridiculous ways, and his vintage blast pump was changed to a rubbery whip (though, it's the kind of rubbery that can stick to plastic and paint under the wrong conditions, so don't store it with figures or painted items).
Jumping on to June, we see the vintage remake train chugging along with Sssqueeze, the Snake Men's leading reach-the-salt guy.
Sssqueeze was a pretty neat idea for a toy. All he had were LOOONG arms, which were just one long rubbery plastic rope with hands on either side, shoved into the figure's body (you could even pull the arms side to side and make one arm really long, at the expensive of the other side just being a hand coming out of his shoulder). Naturally, the Classics figure didn't have that same feature, but in a very rare occurrence in Classics, Sssqueeze managed to come out better than the vintage toy! The vintage figure just had rubbery arms that you tied around enemies yourself - Classics Sssqueeze has bendy arms, so his arms stay where you bend them, but he can also perform the same way the vintage figure did! Granted, he's still a goofy lizard man that looks nothing like a snake, but that's not his fault, man. He can't help the way he was born.
Sssqueeze is crazy weird and fun, so check 'em out if you have a shot at him. Anyone who was a fan of the vintage figure is gona get a real kick out of him, and he would probably be good for kids, too.
Sssqueeze comes with a snake club of some sort, which is my only complaint: The vintage figure's accessory was similar to this snake club, except that it was sculpted to wrap around his arm and looked like it had a gun coming out of it's mouth. This one isn't a gun and doesn't wrap around his arm, so the whole idea is changed. Not that it matters much; the figure is fun nonetheless.
June had a large-beast slot that was filled by Multi-Bot, the modular robot!
Multi-Bot was the same idea as Modulok, so all his parts were interchangeable through the use of ball joints. The difference was that there were two full bodies in one pack, so you could make two full figures, or pop them together for some crazy robo-monster junk. Naturally, I bought two sets, 'cause I'm a madman. This set rocks just as much as Modulok, and since they both use the same ball joints, you can swap between Multi-Bot and Modulok. There's nothin' not to love here, so pick this up if you have the chance. This is a great toy for everyone! Heck, Multi-Bot and Modulok might even be good for kids, since there aren't a ton of super tiny parts and very little that could break.
Multi-Bot comes with with rifle that splits in half, and six legs, four arms, two torsos, two heads, two butts, one butt connector, and a handful of random connectors for anything you want. Most importantly though: Two butts. Come on.
July brought a fireworks display from Peek-a-Blue's tail feathers, so she was aptly released at the time when her plumage could shine the brightest!
Peek-a-Blue was a character from the vintage Princess of Power toyline and cartoon. This is yet another figure that is based heavily on the cartoon, but with some added details from the toy. Sadly, the giant feathers made her a little expensive, so Mattel had to cut some paint apps on her, making her lack a few colors that could have made her stand out more. Even without the colors, she's still fairly impressive, with the bright green hair really catching the eye. I honestly thought I wouldn't care about this figure, but she ended up standing out among her peers. You just can't ignore that plumage! I wouldn't say she's a must-have, but there's no reason for She-Ra fans to skip this one.
Peek-a-Blue comes with a large feather "backpack" (best way I can describe it - it's removable) that folks up or fans out, a blue shield, and a new fan weapon designed just for the Classics figure.
July was the start of the 200X Sub, and it kicked off with one the fans had been asking for again and again: Calix!
This is one of those figures where I doubt people were asking questions. It doesn't matter who he is - he just looks awesome! Still, for a little context: Calix was shown in a flashback on the 2002 MotU cartoon. He gave Hordak some bad news, and then Hordak disintegrated him.
That was it.
The reason everyone was asking for a figure of Calix is because of design alone. I mean, look at him! The rock-man thing is awesome! The Classics story brought Calix back by giving him the power to reform himself but, once again, the story doesn't matter much. This is a great looking figure, and I think most toy fans - MotU fans or no - would agree that Calix is a winner. Not only is he a winner because of style, but he's also a winner in terms of design! He's still using the basic Classics body with arm and leg "gloves" glued on with new sculpted hands and feet. These items increase his height without using a whole new body. Finally, they added a glued-down rock overlay to the torso, pushing further the illusion of size. It's a brilliant way to mostly reuse parts while making him seem like a totally new figure. Highly recommended for all!
Calix comes with a stone axe (with a handle on the side, so he can also use it as the standard Horde crossbow), and a small buckler.
Loosen up those wallets, 'cause we're in August again - SDCC exclusive time! The exclusive for 2015 was a couple of oddballs: The Energy Zoids, Rotar and Twistoid!
The Energy Zoids were released in the vintage line, right before the toyline ended. Because of this, the vintage versions of these two are hard to find, though...you weren't missing much. They were just torsos placed on the zip-line top toy you've seen a million times in numerous ways (currently as Beyblades). The "battle top" kind of play was how these were meant to be used: You pull the zip line and watch them spin and bash into each other until one falls. The Classics versions don't do any of that, so everything has been recreated as swappable parts.
Rotar is the heroic one, sporting red and blue and carrying a danger-to-himself-and-others mace/axe combo. The vintage figure had a gear accessory that allowed the gears to turn when the figure spun. To recreate that without the spinning feature (and to keep it from being boring), the gear item was re-imagined as a gigantic triple-saw sword. It can still be used as a sort of stand (and the gears still spin), but the main draw is definitely the fact that Rotar carries a big friggin' murder saw. Might be why he comes with removable legs.
Twistoid is the evil version of Rotar, and is supposed to be completely robotic.
Twistoid also comes with an item to sit 'n spin on, but it doesn't work as well as a hand held weapon, so it comes off as a sort of massive throwing star. Twistoid also carries a whip/scythe thing.
This was a strange set, and I doubt it'll be sought after by anyone but MotU fans. I've mostly seen people trying to get it to complete the Classics line, and that's about it, beyond a few people who really loved the original Energy Zoids. It's cool, and if you like weird stuff, I'd give it a look if you run into it on the cheap. Otherwise, it's not so amazing that it's worth hunting down or paying out the nose for it. Definitely a neat little anomaly, though.
Both figures come with top-bottoms (you get what I mean) and a pair of legs to swap on, if you don't like the top look. They also come with stands for the battle top parts, in case you don't want to plug them into the big weapons.
Alright, on to August proper: This is the basic sub figure, Mara, from the New Adventures of He-Man.
Mara showed up in the New Adventures cartoon, but was mostly non-active until later on, when she learned to fight while stranded on a planet. She changed to warrior clothes and braided her hair with a freakin' spiked ball on the end, so she could whip-her-hair-back-and-forth and murder at the same time. She was originally going to be a part of the New Adventures toyline (which is where this figure takes its design) but her figure never made it to production before the line ended. Mara was regulated to obscure prototype picture until Classics, where she was finally brought to plastic life!
Mara is designed off the picture of the prototype (unless Mattel still had the physical item), so she carries over a lot of those details, with other details thrown in from the cartoon design. She was only shown with the hair mace and shield, so the Horsemen designed a new bladed mace/staff that works really well with her. Mara was also given two hair length choices - long, or short (the short is more like the prototype toy). Either way looks great; heck, the whole package looks great! She's one of the best looking female figures in the Classics line, and works well for classic MotU or New Adventures (I might even say she looks better for classic MotU than New Adventures). Nothing about her makes her stand out so much that I gotta shout "Buy Her!", but I still find myself wanting to say it anyway. I just love the look of this figure, along with the hair mace feature. It's such a cool idea! Mara is just all around fantastic, and I think she breaks away from MotU really well. Highly recommended for all!
Mara comes with a shield, staff, and two optional braid lengths (short one not shown).
The second figure for August was one destined to lose: Buzz-Saw Hordak, otherwise known as BS Hordak, because there's not a lot to him.
Buzz-Saw Hordak was a strange vintage variant of Hordak. It just looked like normal Hordak, except he shot some saws out of his chest. Hurricane Hordak at least got some gold armor, but BS Hordak received no costume change. The only thing he had to his name was some launching saws, so, considering what we know about action features and Classics figures...this is just a Hordak with an opening chest and some removable saws inside. On one hand, this is boring and kinda useless for anyone who has been with Classics since the beginning. On the other hand, if you jumped in late and didn't want to pay crazy prices for the first Hordak, then this one is actually a decent, basic Hordak! The chest door isn't obvious when closed, and you don't really need the missing ab joint. Also, if you have any humor in you at all, then you're already thinking of what else you can do with that chest door...
This is but a taste. I've fit a million things in there already, and I'll probably fit a million more before I tire of it. If I tire of it.
I probably won't.
The gist of this figure is that he was redundant for the time, and I kind of wish they just allowed the saws to fire out, but it's not terrible and he may be a much cheaper basic Hordak for you. Plus, there's a hole in his chest. The possibilities are endless. Make of what what you will.
Buzz-Saw Hordak comes with a white Horde crossbow, an opening chest, and a double saw inside. The saws have a handle between them so Hordak can hold them as well.
August's last item was for the 200X Sub: Evil Seed, the demon plant man.
Evil Seed was originally in the 80's MotU cartoon, but he was re-imagined for the 2002 cartoon as what you see above. We'll see his 80's design in 2016, but for a frame of reference now: Evil Seed was a plant guy in a brown cloak with a head that looked like a plant bulb. This version almost looks like the 80's version flowered into a vine demon - and I love it. Heck, I like both versions, but it's hard to deny this one's universal appeal. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't think this one looks cool! Still, fans were split on which version they wanted; even coming up with a double version where the brown cloak would hide this 2002 body and the figure would come with two heads, so that you could swap between the different looks. We ended up with both, but this came first, as an obviously cool and sinister design.
Evil Seed is another figure that brilliantly uses overlays and added parts to the existing muscle body to make a totally different looking figure. None of the new parts get in the way of the articulation - not even the vines stretching from the crotch piece to the knees. He works well, looks great, and practically jumps off the screen from the 2002 cartoon. Highly recommended for all! He makes a great plant demon for any fantasy setting.
Evil Seed comes with a biting vine that is molded to wrap around an arm. He also comes with a gold staff with a red top, which is an artifact from the 80's cartoon (I'm not sure who it was meant for, but it still kinda works for Evil Seed too).
August wasn't through with us yet (it never is...)! There was one more interesting item: The "Heads of Eternia" pack. Yes, just heads.
I've mentioned this pack many times in these year by year reviews, so here they all are in a couple shots. This pack was made to remedy a strange situation: When Classics started, some figures would come with a second head sculpt to show how the character looked in the 2002 cartoon. At some point, the Mattel execs wanted that to stop; so it did. Around this time, I suppose the ban was lifted, so Mattel took the fan's advice and picked some of the most wanted 2002 head sculpts to shove into one pack of heads. My opinions are head by head:
Grizzlor - A great head sculpt, but it does change the demeanor of Grizzlor entirely. The vintage head looks like a mythical beast (which was his original story), but the 2002 head looks like a serious hunter. Take your pick! It's good enough to me to leave Grizzlor like this.
Sy-Klone - This is mostly the same, with more of a samurai flair. Not the best of the pack, but not bad, either. I like the extra flair, so I'll probably continue using it.
Snout Spout - I love the vintage head sculpt, which is saying a lot about my decision to keep the 2002 head on there. It is SO AWESOME. Awesome enough to beat out the nostalgia of the vintage head. Plus, the trunk is now solid plastic, so you don't have to worry about ruining it.
Roboto - I'm torn on this one. I like both the vintage head and the 2002 head. I may go back to the vintage, since the 2002 head still looks like it should be on a bigger body. Something about the vintage head is still cooler, in a retro way. Not a bad sculpt, but not amazing enough to beat out that retro weirdness of the vintage head.
Buzz-Off - This one doesn't work, but it's hilarious. Buzz-Off was changed drastically, for 2002. His whole body was more bee-like, and much thinner. This meant that his head was thinner, and placing that thin head on the big Classics muscle body makes him look like he got plastic surgery to become a Beautiful Man. It's a great looking head sculpt, but it doesn't work for me on this body.
Clawful - This one blends in seamlessly with the vintage body, even though the 2002 design was massive and wide. It's no replacement for the 2002 design, but it does look great on this body, regardless. My nostalgia is strong for the vintage head, though. I'll probably keep the vintage head on there, though I'll still acknowledge that this head looks fantastic.
The end result was a fine choice of heads! The only real strike-out for me was with Buzz-Off - otherwise, they all work! If you like a little variety, then this is a pack that is worth hunting down.
Alright, we can finally leave another expensive August behind, and move on to September, with Saurod, a live action MotU movie character and vintage remake.
Just like with Blade and Gwildor before him, Saurod was made for the vintage MotU toyline, so he was available for the Classics line, even if Mattel didn't own the rights to the movie. Also just like the other two, Saurod is a perfect recreation of how he looked in the movie, rather than a recreation of the vintage toy (though the toy was very similar anyway). Saurod didn't do much in the movie; he was with the first bad guy away-team that tried to get the heroes. The team failed and returned in shame to report to an angry Skeletor, who made an example of Saurod by vaporizing him on the spot. That was Saurod!
This is one of those figures where the background just doesn't matter. You're going to love this figure, if you don't already, by simply looking at the pictures. The details are off the charts, the paint is crisp and exact, and the shine of his armor immediately catches the eye. This figure is a work of art, and I highly recommend him to anyone who loves toys. He is by far one of the best things to come out of Masters of the Universe Classics. If I could have added anything to this masterpiece, it would have been a clip-on spark effect for his mouth (the vintage figure shot sparks), but the lack of an effect in no way diminishes the awesomeness of this figure. Go find one asap.
Saurod only comes with his pistol, which fits in the holster at his side. It doesn't fit as perfectly as I would like, but it doesn't it fall out, so it's still good.
September's 200X Sub figure was King Chooblah, who was a part of the Eternian Council along with Lord Dactys and Chief Carnivus. This is another character that doesn't do much besides be there (like many background Star Wars characters). Regardless, the figure is a marvel of design. Yet again, the Horsemen manage to use the basic furry body and add new parts to make it seem larger than it is. The only new parts are the forearms and hands, feet, head, and the furry "armor" part that makes him look hunched over large. I can't say that this is an exciting figure, but neither can I pass it off as nothing. It may not be that important to anyone, but as a neat looking action figure, it really delivers. I'd pick him up if you like the look. He moves well, despite how he looks, so he'll be able to take some nice action poses if you want to use him differently from his intended friendly nature.
King Chooblah comes only with his wooden walking stick, which is nicely detailed and fits well in his hand.
October's basic sub figure was Perfuma, the standard smelly figure to match MotU's Stinkor and Moss Man.
Perfuma smelled like roses, but unlike the Classics Stinkor and Moss Man, the Perfuma figure doesn't smell; just her large rose. But MAN does it smell like roses! Even now the smell is fairly strong, though not in a bad way.
Perfuma is from the Princess of Power cartoon and toyline, so, like the rest of her Etherian kind, she is a mix of designs from both the vintage toy and the toon. There are some nice vine designs etched into her dress (to mimic the vintage toy), though they could have been a bit nicer colored in. Still, the figure ended up a lot better than I thought she would. Fans of Perfuma should pick her up, no question, but I doubt she'll have a lot of interest to toy fans in general.
Perfuma comes with a large rose cannon, which contains my only complaint about the figure: The rose is SOLID plastic, and very heavy, so it weighs her arm down. The rose is removable, however, so she can hold the cannon without the rose. Still, the rose was originally a backpack on the vintage figure, and I wish they could have worked that out for this figure. Other than that, she comes with a green shield and an optional rose hat (not pictured) to display her closer to her cartoon appearance.
October's 200X Sub figure was Ceratus; yet another royal member of the Eternian Council in the 2002 cartoon. Just like the rest of the Eternian Council, Ceratus doesn't do much in the toon. However, also like the rest of the Eternian Council, he still makes for an damn awesome looking toy! Look at how metal this guy is! Wait, no, one second...
Okay NOW check out how metal he is! See what I mean? He's even got real metal hoops in his ears! The design is yet another that uses overlays and some new parts to make him appear larger than the basic muscle body that he's using, and it once again works wonders. He is a great looking figure! Highly recommended for people who love the lizard man design. He's not really a must-have for anyone, but there's no reason to skip him if you like the look. As a side note: If you wanted him to use with the 2002 head that came with Whiplash, then you'll be a little disappointed to know that the green of his body is much darker than the green of the 2002 Whiplash head.
Ceratus comes with a bone club, of some sort. The sunglasses are from Standor and the guitar is an old McFarlane Toys guitar from a Guitar Hero line.
October's last release was what I consider the little present to me for my birth month: A two pack of Flying Fists He-Man and Terror Claws Skeletor, the (technically) last He-Man and Skeletor variants of the vintage line.
This set was yet another push by Mattel to get out the rest of the vintage line before 2015 was up. The first one in the set was Flying Fists He-Man, who (along with Skeletor) were figures I had wanted pretty bad, back in the day. I'm not quite sure why, since the features are kinda ridiculous, but the design comes out looking cool in the end.
Flying Fists He-Man's feature is a crazy spinning ball contraption strapped to his arm. The Flying Fists! I think. The mini-comic that came with him seemed to act like "Flying Fists" was a power he could use to strengthen himself, while the weapon was shoved off to the side as an inaccurately drawn stick weapon (and then tossed at Skeletor's face and immediately forgotten). Regardless: The vintage figure had the crazy ball buster, and so did the Classics figure. It worked well enough, though it was heavy and hard to pose the figure with it. The real meat was the awesome shiny armor design and the spinning shield, which felt like the more dangerous weapon, over the Flying Fists.
Flying Fists He-Man comes with the Flying Fists, a spinning shield, and his Power Sword in unpainted silver plastic.
He-Man's pack mate was Terror Claws Skeletor, whose name is instantly understandable when you see him.
Terror Claws Skeletor was an...interesting design, though one that I like, for some reason. He's essentially wearing a sports bra, but with the pecs going around Eternia, I imagine he could use the support. I still like the design, though I can't really pinpoint why. The weirdness doesn't stop there! TC Skeletor not only had his Terror Claws, but also a strange grabby claw dinosaur head attached to his back that could be held in his hand. The vintage figure had an arm swinging action, so I assume the dino head was meant to bend back and then snap forward when the arms moved. For the Classics figure, it just comes off as a hilarious dino head grabber you might find at a dollar store. I love that fact.
Terror Claws Skeletor comes with his two Terror Claws that clip on to his arms (so tightly that they scuff the arms a bit, but I rarely take them off), and his dino grabber, so he doesn't have to bend down to pick things up off the floor.
This set, as a whole, is a must-have for MotU fans; though I understand if these two variants are too ridiculous for even the fans of the vintage toys. I feel like these figures actually come off better than the vintage toys, so if you're on the fence: Give them a shot! I'm not sure if they're sought after, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were. They're not utterly perfect, but they're close enough for me to rank them pretty high. Maybe not as good as some previous variants, but certainly no damning faults like Dragon Blaster Skeletor. If I had to choose a winner in the set, it would be He-Man, for being a good basic He-Man (without the Flying Fists) who is just wearing some great new armor.
Alright, on to November, with Dragstor, the living drag race!
This one was a serious surprise, especially considering his major fault. The vintage Dragstor had one function: Lay him down on the wheel coming out of his belly, pull a cord, and watch him go! All the fans knew this feature wasn't going to work on the Classics figure, but everyone was agreed that it was worth giving him a new torso to at least allow the wheel to turn. Sadly, Mattel decided to make him a new armor overlay with an fake wheel. At first, I figured this would make him utterly boring; without the one feature, what else was there?
Well, there's the design! Maybe he doesn't look impressive in the photos, but I feel like he more than makes up for the fault by the design alone. Would he be more fun with the wheel? Yeah, of course! Is he completely ruined without it? NO. He may be a bit of a disappointment, but I just can't put this figure down when I pick him up. He's fun to mess with, and he looks awesome. Give him a chance, if you see him cheap.
Dragstor comes with his vintage pull cord turned into a bladed whip, and a brand new Horde crossbow designed just for Classics, sporting a badass muscle-car pipe design. It fits into a slot on his back, so it meshes with his drive mode to create a real drag racing cyborg monster.
November's 200X Sub figure was Queen Grayskull, the wife of King Grayskull and the first Sorceress of the Castle.
Queen Grayskull, or Veena, was King Grayskull's wife, portrayed in the flashback episode for the 2002 cartoon. She didn't get a whole lot of story beyond showing her off as having similar powers to the later Sorceress, implying that Queen Grayskull may have passed on her powers through the years.
The figure is stunning, which was a surprise, since I wasn't looking forward to this one at the time. Not that I was dreading it; the figure was just another background character. Man though, she really does impress when you get her in hand! I wouldn't say she's a buy-at-all-costs, but you should give her another look if you run into her. She poses well and looks properly ethereal and mysterious. Great figure!
Queen Grayskull comes with her bird staff and a pair of wings that plug into her lower back. She also had a teal shawl that is made of rubbery plastic, but it's not quite rubbery enough to lay well. I managed it in the first picture, but most of the time I just pose her without it, like in the last two pictures.
Now, let me break for a second to talk about November's large vehicle, Point Dread. This was a big set consisting of Point Dread (a rock that attaches to Castle Grayskull), and the Talon Fighter (a large ship that perches on Point Dread). It looked fantastic, but, at the time, I was feeling a bit of fatigue for Classics, Point Dread was expensive, and the set came with an 80's cartoon Teela that just looked horrendous. You can search for the figure and decide for yourself, but at the time, I felt like it wasn't worth it to take up my dwindling space with a massive vehicle and a terrible figure (plus, it saved me the cash). I don't really regret passing it up, though it looked nice and people seemed to be happy with it (though, not with Teela). It may not be hard to track down, as Mattel still had some left over when they were shutting down their online shop.
On to the final stretch, in December, with Dare, the Son of He-Man!
This one was contested among the fans for being a strange amalgamation of concepts and ideas, but I love it, so take my opinion with the usual grain of salt (which I'm sure you're already doing, since I like almost everything). The concept of a "Son of He-Man" appeared in a few places, according to Mattel. It has been said that The New Adventures of He-Man was supposed to be about He-Man's son, until that was scrapped and it was brought back to He-Man himself (which is the explanation for the silver New Adventures armor in the last picture). The main idea for this figure comes from a failed sequel pitch, called "He-Ro, Son of He-Man", which unknowingly used the "He-Ro" name without having heard of the canceled concept for the other sequel to the He-Man cartoon (weird how that works out, eh?). So this figure is based on Dare, the boy who could use He-Man's sword to change into He-Ro, which is just like He-Man. In this timeline, He-Man would be king, and Dare is actually He-Man's adopted son. Sometime later in the series, I believe you were supposed to find out that Dare was actually She-Ra's son, but the Classics story doesn't get that far.
OKAY. Does any of that matter? I suppose it does, for MotU fans, and I have to say that the future of MotU has always interested me, and I love the direction this figure takes the series. I also feel like this figure is just a great toy, too. The design is solid, the blue is vibrant, the accessories are cool, and both armor options a great, no matter what you choose. The details get a little more interesting for MotU fans, though: His sword is directly designed off of how the Power Sword looked in the original mini-comics from the vintage line, and his brand new pistol is a miniature Cosmic Key built into a gun, so he can just shoot and go, when it comes to time/dimension hopping.
In the end, I want to suggest this figure for everyone. I understand if that feels like the wrong answer for you. Maybe his only draw is to a select few MotU fans, or only for a couple of his accessories (which, by the way, if you want the mini-comic Power Sword, it is also available in Super 7's Ultimate He-Man release). Still, I'm going to suggest him for all comers. It is a solid toy with a great design, and I think you'll love it when you get your hands on it.
Dare comes with a "He-Ro" harness in blue, and a "New Adventures" armor in silver. He also carries a mini-comic styled Power Sword, and a Comic Pistol that fits in the removable holster at his side.
The final 200X Sub figure was Prahvus, a warlord from the 2002 cartoon.
Prahvus was another side character who only appeared in a flashback to provide some antagonism, and that was it. He obtained a figure because of the same reason a lot of background Star Wars characters do: He looks cool! Granted, he did get to do some cool stuff, like fight the Sorceress when she disguised herself as a regular human to go out and see the world. Of course, he was beaten easily and ran off, but at least he looked cool while doing it!
The figure is nice, though a tiny bit restricted in the right shoulder, because of the big skull pauldron. It's a small thing though, and he is otherwise unrestricted and moves well. If you like the look, I'd go for it! He's a great looking demon style character that will work in any fantasy setup. He's not really a must-have for MotU or toy fans, but he still looks cool either way. Check 'em out if you get the chance.
Prahvus comes with a triangular mace and a little genie lamp (not pictured) because I think he's supposed to be like a Jinn, for the Classics story.
This is it! The last, sort of "Christmas present" set in December, and what everyone thought might be the end of Classics. This officially finished off the vintage MotU toyline, meaning that every figure in the vintage toyline had been remade, with the creation of this set. This was why I put "technically" next to calling the Flying Fists and Terror Claws set the last vintage variants. These two are actually the final variants of the vintage MotU line, but it's hard to count them as such, since they were never available in the US, and only mildly available in Europe. The originals are hard to come by, and often go for big bucks - even if they're in bad shape!
This is Laser Power He-Man and Laser Light Skeletor!
We'll start with He-Man. Both of these figures share some mechanical details with the New Adventures designs, since, I believe, these designs were used as inspiration. He-Man sports heavily mechanical boots and metal gloves (the boots even look to have jets in the feet). His harness is heavy and attached to a big 'ol box on his back, which stores his sword and the battery power needed to light it.
The box can be removed (and underneath, the harness sports some more jet boosters) and He-Man can go it with just his metal fists. The box is permanently attached to the sword, and a button on top lights the sword up for a minute or so. If you hold the button down, the sword flashes for a minute or so. It's a neat feature, though the thick blue cord is a little unsightly (the Four Horsemen Prototype had a clear green cord, which I felt would have looked better). I love all of this, but I do have to mention that he's a little fiddly. For one, the armor on his right arm likes to fall off (I actually lost the forearm armor, which annoys me to no end), and then his sword is so huge (because of the electronics) that it often falls out of his hand (I fixed this by rubber banding it to his hand). I can't help loving this figure, but I also wish he had been tightened up a bit in terms of design, before release.
Laser Power He-Man comes with a backpack/sword combo (the sword can store on the backpack) and two armor parts for his arm (the lower one is not pictured because I lost it uuuuggghhh...).
Laser Light Skeletor, even more than He-Man, is obviously the "prototype" of New Adventures Skeletor. He shares the same cybernetic look with machinery melded with his body in various places (and they even reused some of NA Skeletor's parts from the Classics figure). The big difference is the retention of the purple hood and cape, making this the better choice, if you like the cyborg Skeletor but don't like his awesome helmet from New Adventures.
Skeletor has a similar backpack to He-Man, with the major difference of it not being removable - that's right - the big chunk on his back is permanent. It is mostly hidden by his cape, thankfully, but the top still sticks out of the back of the cape so you can reach the button. The reason why it's permanent is that Skeletor's light up features are all a part of his body (whereas He-Man's is just the sword). Skeletor's right arm and eyes light up when you press the button, and flash when you hold the button down. This means, of course, that Skeletor's neck only turns side to side, rather than being on a ball joint, and that his right arm has no elbow joint. These facts are major, but somehow I find myself not minding the lack of these two joints. The designers made the most of what they had, and the right arm at least still moves on a disc-hinge at the shoulder, and the wrist still turns, so you have a lot of options for posing. Even though Skeletor sounds like he has more drawbacks than He-Man, he still ends up as the winner of this set.
Skeletor comes with a removable hood (the cape needs a lot of work, but it is also removable...just probably not meant to be) and a translucent red Havoc Staff that partially lights up in Skeletor's translucent red right hand.
I had some problems with this set, when it was announced. At the time, I wanted fully posable figures with translucent effect parts, because I knew a light-up feature would hinder them in many ways. I was right...but the light-up feature ended up being really cool! After I realized that, I still had some little problems here and there, like with He-Man's sword being so huge and the big ugly cord coming off the end of it, but somehow these figures still wormed their way into my heart. I can't help but smile every time I pick these up, and it's because of the fun! They look great, and they're so detailed (especially Skeletor) but the main thing is that they're FUN! I don't think you can get any better than that. This set is dynamite, people. Pick it up if you get a chance, and maybe even pay a little more than it's worth. That goes for you non-MotU fans, too. It's just plain fun.
Alright! That was it for 2015! What happened there? 2015 had a ton of great stuff, right after falling off the cliff with a handful of screw-ups from 2014 and the threat of the line ending. Mattel clearly learned from most of their mistakes this time around (except in the case of the Filmation Teela that came with Point Dread - seriously, look that one up. Yeesh). They also were serious about finishing off the vintage line, and succeeded! Had this been the last year, it at least would have gone out with a bang. Somehow though, they managed to squeeze out one more year before calling it quits. What else could they do with one more year? Find out in the next post: 2016 and the Year Masters of the Universe Classics ENDED.