Every now and again the stars align themselves in my favor and the universe blows me a kiss. Such was the case on Tuesday the 15th of October when I just happened to be off on the day the Horde Troopers and Mantenna went up for sale on Matty Collector. Next to Ram Man, these were easily the most anticipated figures for me this year and the very releases that made me go, “Oh shit, now I kind of wish I had subbed” because I knew how hard they were going to be to get. To make matters worse, that week I had Q4 planning meetings virtually every single afternoon. But, as it turned out, Tuesday the 15th was the only day that entire week that I didn’t need to be at work. It was the one day I could be sitting comfortably in my sweatpants at my computer at 11:59a EST. And despite having a few scares on the order page, I was able to purchase my figures with little fuss. It was a good thing too, because these babies sold out in under 10 minutes.
If you’ve picked up any of the MOTUC two-packs in the past, then you should know what to expect from the packaging here. This was actually my first two-pack in the line, so I was in unfamiliar territory. It’s a window box with the familiar green Greyskull stonework motif and artsy-fartsy angled sides. You get the usual Horde sticker on the window and an explosion of dialogue on the front inviting you to “Collect an army of Horde Trooper robots!” Many collectors did just that, buying eight or ten packs of these things, and the result was a quick sell-out that left others to scramble to Ebay and pay scalper prices. Oh, Matty, you seem to always know just the right spot to poke that sharp stick where it will hurt your customers the most. The troopers are laid out on a tray beside each other with all of their gear on display. It’s a nice presentation that doesn’t waste much space. If you’re careful enough, and patient with the invisible rubber bands, you can get these guys out without destroying the box.
The back of the package has the usual biography and features some other Horde figures, as well as the very elusive Spirit of Hordak figure… there’s that poking stick again! Matty be trolling you!
Out of the package, the Horde Troopers are very cool figures. Keep in mind, the two figures aren’t exactly the same. One has some minor battle scarring, which has received mixed reactions from collectors. I don’t mind it, especially since it only amounts to just three painted black blemishes, although I suppose if you are army building these, it’ll look funny to have the same blast marks in the same spots on so many of your troops. It’s not a concern for me, as I was content with a single set, so I approve of Matty’s little effort to distinguish these guys apart. Still, your mileage may vary.
Obviously, there’s a crap load of brand new tooling on these figures and it’s almost uniformly excellent. The proportions are great as these guys really do look like bulked out armored robots and the torso armor is even easily removable to reveal some new robotic sculpting on the torso of the buck underneath. It’s something that I will never do, but the extra effort is still appreciated and I think it helps make the armor more convincing. These trooper designs have always had a special place in my heart and a big part of the reason that I always liked The Horde better than Skeletor’s motley crew. Compare these guys to Skeletor’s goofy floating robots and there’s just no contest as to who had the cooler disposable army.
The one issue I take with the sculpting on this figure is in the way the heads turned out, and we’re really talking about a deliberate design choice rather than a failing in the sculpt. I so wish Matty had gone with the animated look for these guys over the vintage toy. The glowing red eyes looked so much better to me than the yellow boomerang-style band, and they didn’t even really get the look of the vintage toy visor down quite right either. The yellow part looks too large and chunky to me. It’s not a deal-breaker, the rest of the figures look way too good for something like this to ruin them. You can position the head so as to conceal part of the visor and I think that does a lot to improve the look. Besides, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get some Filmation accurate heads in a Weapons pack somewhere down the road. And while we’re on the subject of the heads, yes you can easily pop them off and pop on another figure’s noggin to make them look like they are wearing the Horde armor. I love it!
Gear! You get two complete sets of gear to kit out each of the troopers. I’m not up on my He-Mans enough to know where all of this stuff came from, but I’m imagining that the designs are borrowed from both Filmation and the vintage toys. Either way, it’s a great selection of goodies and if you do happen to be troop building these guys, there’s enough variety to arm your various troops in a lot of different ways. Mattel could have cheaped out here and gave a different set of weapons to each figure, but instead each one gets it all.
First off, you get a matching staff and shield, which are probably my favorite pieces in this little arsenal. The shield is sculpted to look like the Horde symbol, and while I personally would like my shield to offer a little more protection and less artistic flair, I can’t deny that it looks great in the troopers’ hands. It looks even better when paired with the nicely sculpted red staff. I would imagine that these are more ceremonial garb… the kind of shit that Hordak has these guys hold when their standing around the The Fright Zone and trying to look regal. Why else would you put a hole in the middle of a shield? Sure they’re just robots, but replacing them must get expensive.
Next up, you get these totally bitchin black Horde crossbows. These things are awesome, It’s a great looking sculpt made all the better by the slick glossy black paint job and they have a yellow paint app towards the tip to mimic the troopers’ visors and some red painted circuitry patterns on the back.
Oddly enough, the least interesting looking weapon in the bunch will probably please a lot of fans the most. It’s the wand that these guys carried in the Filmation cartoon. It’s not much to look at, but this is the weapon that I associate with these guys the most. For display, I’ll likely be sticking with the red staff and shield. If I ever get drunk and start playing with these guys, they’ll be equipped with these little energy wands. In the end, it doesn’t matter what weapons you give them. They’re always going to wind up getting their metal asses kicked in.
If you can’t tell from all my gushing, I think this is an amazing set of figures and I’m so very pleased that I was able to snag them. Had my display space allowed for it, I probably would have tried for at least one more, just so I could display troopers with all their different gear. Unfortunately, as it stands, I already had to nix a shelf of Star Trek figures because my Horde and Rebellion collection has now grown large enough to require a shelf of their own. With two figures and a lot of weapons, this set actually feels like a good value at $55 even with the shipping thrown in, and that’s something I can’t say about a lot of the MOTUC figures. They’re almost all great, but I still usually feel like I’m paying a premium for them, even if it is a justified one. This pair is going to be a hard act to follow, but crazy enough, I think Matty managed to upstage them in the very same month with the October monthly figure. That figure was Mantenna, and we’ll circle back to him at the end of the week to bask in his awesomeness.