Mantenna is a great example of my relationship with the MOTU Classics line. I have no love for this character and he was as annoying as hell in the cartoon, but he’s such a creative and bizarre design and the figure is so wonderfully executed, that I absolutely had to have him on my shelf. Mantenna was released the same month as the Horde Troopers, which meant that there was a lot of new tooling invested in the October product. Normally, I would say they should have split it up better and spread all this goodness out over a couple of months, but then I was lucky enough to be home on that day to get them, so I’ll just keep my mouth shut.
The packaging is the usual Greyskull-inspired card and bubble. I thought Mantenna might warrant something bigger because of his odd configuration, but Mattel was able to get him into the standard package quite comfortably. He’s carded with his regular eyes in place and his extra set of peepers are concealed at the bottom behind the insert. There’s a Horde sticker on the bubble. There’s not a lot else to say about the presentation here, except that it’s as awesome as ever and I am now going to destroy it.
There’s no doubt that Eternia and Etheria are full of a bunch of freaks, but most of them have some basis in logic. Oh, look that guy’s a “beast man!” That chick looks like a scorpion. There’s a fellow with three eyes! Mantenna, however, takes the Etherian Handbook of Freaks and tosses it straight out the window. His design is pure imagination and it works splendidly. He’s also a delightful blend of goofiness and sheer horror. He may be a bumbling goon, but if you woke up and this thing was standing at the foot of your bed, you’d have some sheets to launder because you will have shat in them. But it’s not just this guy’s creative anatomy that makes him special… everything on this guy is just fantastic. Even the armor is gorgeous with the Horde emblem brilliantly sculpted into his chest and again on each of his four grieves.
But it’s not just the design that makes me love Mantenna, it’s the absolutely brilliant way Matty crafted him into action figure form. The Classics version is a satisfying mix of vintage toy and 200x design. The head sculpt is a nightmare circus of bulging jaundiced eyes, a toothy vagina for a mouth and vestigial tusks. Toss in some deformed Mogwai ears and you’ve got yourself an undeniably gorgeous piece of work. He’s in a class all by himself and his portrait alone will make him stand his own against even the strangest figures in most collections.
Naturally, the other thing that makes Mantenna distinctive is his two sets of legs. Both pairs are scaled just like regular MOTUC legs and attached to a specially sculpted double-pelvis so as not to mess with articulation. It looks great and wonderfully wrong at the same time, rather like staring at the Geometry of the Old Gods. I’d love to see someone do a stop-motion video of this guy skittering along, because it would probably freak me the hell out. With four legs, now is as good a time to talk articulation as any. From the waist up, things are what you would expect from a MOTUC figure, but the legs are a little different. You get ball joints and swivels at the hips and at the knees. The ankles have hinges and rocker joints as well. It’s great to see that Matty didn’t cheap out and Mantenna is every bit as poseable as he should be while keeping him at a regular monthly figure price point.
Beyond the bizarre design and excellent sculpt, I’ve got to say that Mantenna represents a beautiful selection of colors. The bright red, yellow, and orange contrast wondrfully with the darker blues and blacks. The use of a high gloss metallic blue for his boots and knee armor is a nice surprise and it makes those pieces stand out from his blue skin.
Of course, Mantenna can also stick out his peepers to ridiculous lengths and Matty reproduced this gimmick in the figure by providing a pair of swappable extended eyes. Making the switch is easy, as all you need to do is pull off the mouth and then pop out the one set of eyes and peg in the others. If you didn’t think this guy was unsettling enough, try looking into the soulless abyss of his face without his mouth or eyes attached. And the result of pegging in his popping eyes makes an already freaky figure even more bizarre and disturbing. The eye stalks are disgusting and veiny and take what was an innocent, goofy toy gimmick and elevate it to an artful form of anatomical gore. It’s simply splendid. The figure wouldn’t be Mantenna without this feature, but I doubt I’ll ever display him with the eyes popping out. My MOTUC collection is currently residing on some shelves in my bedroom and quite frankly, I like to sleep at night, thank you very much.
In addition to the extra set of eyes, Mantenna comes with the ubiquitous Horde crossbow. Obviously everyone got one of these at orientation. Mantenna’s has an awesome sculpt and a nice metallic silver painted finish. He can hold it in either hand.
October was a crazy-awesome month for Club Eternia and Mantenna is a big part of the reason why. I had very high expectations for him and he managed to exceed them with all his freaky charm. I love everything about this figure: It’s design, sculpt, coloring, articulation… it’s all fantastic. He’s one of those cases where I don’t even think about how expensive these things are getting with shipping because the end justifies the means. Had I missed him on Sale Day, I would have had no choice but scramble to get him on the secondary market, and I shudder to think how high I would have gone. All this, mind you, for a character I don’t even care much about. To me, that’s how good Matty is making some of these figures. This Summer, after a great deal of hand wringing, I eventually caved and subbed Club Eternia for next year. I’ve reassessed that decision many times since, but October’s releases make me so very glad I did. With Two-Bad and Modulok following in Mantenna’s wake, I think it was the right decision!