Masters of the Universe Classics: Hover Robots by Mattel

My Christmas excursion into Masters Classics last month got me good and fired up about picking up some of the figures missing from my collection, and finally opening up some of the stuff I’ve been waiting on. Hell, I still have a unopened Battle Ram lying around here somewhere. Suffice it to say, I still have some unfinished business with MOTUC. Take these Hover Robots for example. Missing out on these the first time broke my heart. And then just as I was getting over that heartache, I missed out on them again. Luckily, I peruse Mattel’s Ebay page every now and then, and they just so happened to turn up there over the Holidays… and on sale too! It was like a Christmas Miracle!

Despite being a three-pack, these figures come in the same size and style card-and-bubble that we’ve been seeing throughout the Masters Classics run. If you’re unfamiliar, these tin cans are from the Filmation cartoon, and occasionally served as Skeletor’s soldiers as well as enemies for He-Man to beat up without having to depict him actually inflicting violence on living beings. It’s sort of like the Battle Android Troopers in GI Joe. Acceptable cannon fodder. I seem to remember one of He-Man’s signature moves was to grab one robot and toss it into a group of others, resulting in them all explode. Even the delightful tagline, “Evil Mindless Robot Goons” stresses that they have no sense or feelings. Some of you may know that I have a “love to hate” relationship with the Filmation cartoon, but I always loved these robot designs.

The three-pack does indeed consist of three of the same figure. I’m a little surprised Matty didn’t do something to distinguish them apart like they did with the Horde Trooper two-pack. Maybe scorch marks on one? But don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they didn’t. The robots come with clear plastic stands that plug and unplug easily into the socket at the bottom of their little hover tube. These are similar to the stands used for Orko and The Unnamed One. They balance quite well and certainly serve their purpose, but it would have been cool if Matty could have given them a ball joint or some kind of articulation. Maybe it could have been something put into one of the accessory packs, if these were released earlier in the line’s lifespan. But I didn’t come here to complain, I came here to praise these adorable little death machines.

Each of the robots are very simple figures, but that’s not a criticism, but rather what the design demands. The sculpts feature minimal details and minimal paint, but both of which works to maintain the Filmation animated style. You do get a little bit of metallic blue paint on some of the panels, as well as silver paint on the hover tube and the arms. The dome at the top features bright yellow paint for the eyes and black for the “V” shaped area that houses them. It helps to give them a rather sinister look, despite their somewhat dumpy design.

The coolest detail on these guys is the lenticular sticker used for their “mouths.” By viewing it at different angles, it changes the pattern of the oscilloscope-like wave that would react when the robots spoke. It was a great idea and it works really well. Other than the animated mouths, the articulation on these fellas is pretty simple, but all the necessary points are there. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders and elbows, and they hands can rotate at the wrists. The dome with the eyes can also swivel from side to side.

The pack includes an extra set of propeller hands for each of the robots, and swapping them in and out is really easy. I seem to remember the robots in the cartoon using the propeller hands as weapons by spinning them really fast to chop up their foes. I suppose they could really do some damage with those if they got up close and personal. Good thing for The Masters of the Universe that these guys were pretty useless.

And really, that’s all I have to say about the Hover Robots, but don’t be fooled by the brevity of this review. These are fantastic little figures and I’m so happy that I was finally able to snag a set without paying crazy money for them. They look great, they capture that Filmation design perfectly, they’re fun to play with, and even though I never owned any He-Man figures as a kid, I still would have loved to have a set of these. They’re still available on Matty’s Ebay Store, although since I picked mine up the price has gone back up to $35. But that includes shipping and is certainly less then they would have cost if they were included in my Club Eternia Subscription back in the day. Either way, I’m in love with these dopey tin cans and I do believe I’m going to try to grab another set before they’re gone.

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Masters of the Universe Classics: Point Dread and the Talon Fighter by Mattel

Merry Christmas, friends! Well, it’s actually Christmas Eve for me as I’m writing this, and yes I’m bumping Marvel Monday this week for some special Christmas content. Last year I attempted to recreate the magic of Christmas past by opening up a truly epic playset, Castle Grayskull, and it was a wonderful experiment in recapturing my youth. It brought me back to those Christmas mornings as a kid sitting under the tree and unwrapping that giant toy that I begged for all year long like the insufferable little shit that I was. This year, I’m doing it again with the only playset that could possibly match Castle Grayskull… Yes, it’s the MOTUC version of SNAKE MOUNTAIN!!! Oh, wait… that never came out. Bummer. OK, so I don’t have anything quite as grandiose as Grayskull, but once again, I have been saving an MOTUC toy all year for this occasion. And if you know me, then you know that it took every scrap of my nearly non-existent willpower to let this thing sit unopened for a year. Keep in mind, I have to really stretch the limits of my little photo staging area for these bigger toys, so I’ll apologize in advance for the quality of the pictures. Now… Let’s check out The Talon Fighter and Point Dread!

The long and fully enclosed box is none the worse for wear after having spent an entire year unopened in my closet. Despite it’s lack of height, it’s still an impressively sized box measuring just a bit longer across than the Grayskull box. You get that same amazing vintage-style artwork that I’ve come to know and love from the Masters Classics boxed toys. He-Man and Teela are cruising along while Duncan looks like he’s chasing after them and yelling, “Have my daughter home at a reasonable hour!!!” There’s also some trouble rising in the background as Skeletor and his goons approach to ruin He-Man and Teela’s date. I originally abstained from buying the Talon Fighter because I knew I had nowhere to put it. Naturally when Matty put it up on clearance, I decided I would somehow make it work. The collector part of my brain told me that cheaper things take up less room, and Collector Brain would never lie to me!

The reverse side of the box has a panel of line drawings showing all sorts of figures and other goodies from the MOTUC series. If you grew up in the 80’s these monochrome panels were on most big playsets. It’s all an effort to recreate that vintage charm, and it succeeds brilliantly. Opening the box reveals lots of parts and cardboard, telling me that there is some assembly required here. Point Dread comes in two parts, with one stacking on the other. There’s also a beam that attaches to the top for the Talon Fighter to rest on. The Talon Fighter itself requires you to attach the wings, the radar dish, and the four guns. You also get to choose a sticker for the viewscreen inside the ship. There’s nothing too complex here, but unfortunately the wings aren’t meant to come off again, so unless you’re willing to risk some damage to the clips, this baby isn’t going back into the box.

And here’s what you get when everything is all set up. While it’s no Grayskull, the combined size of the Talon Fighter and Point Dread is still pretty impressive. Just look at how the whole thing towers above Teela. Oh, did I mention the set also includes a Filmation version of Teela? You know that one annoying relative that shows up every Christmas and almost ruins everything? Well, let’s just call her Teela.

So, this version of Teela has become infamous from the scorn that she has attracted, so I was really curious as to whether she could really be that bad. And yes… she really is that bad. With something like 125 Masters Classic figures in my collection, I’d only consider a few to be sub par, and this one is easily in the runner up for the worst of them all. I don’t know what happened here, but it’s like a perfect storm of bad design. From the bulky top to the granny panties on the bottom, the outfit just doesn’t work. There’s even hideous mold lines running down the arms. About the only thing that I can give a pass to here are the boots, they look fine. That’s probably because they borrow from the original figure.

And the head! The nose and mouth are so weirdly shaped and the paint is so basic and flat. Maybe if this figure was released at the beginning of the line, I could understand, but Matty and The Four Horsemen had something like a hundred figures under their belt by the time this Teela came out.

It doesn’t help that the original Teela is such a great figure and easily one of my favorite in the entire line. And yes, I realize that this Teela is supposed to look simpler because she’s based on the animation model, but that doesn’t help excuse any of this. If I had to say something nice about this new Teela, it would be that the paint is overall pretty good. They used the usual gold leaf for her armor and it really pops next to all that white.

Teela does come with some accessories to help assuage the suck. One of them is an alternate helmeted head, but unfortunately it’s built off the same sculpt, so it really doesn’t improve anything. The blue helmet is similar to the kind her father and the Eternian Royal Guard wear. It also has a removable visor. I want to love that they included this for when she’s piloting the Talon Fighter, but this figure is so ugly, she won’t be allowed in the Talon Fighter. Well, maybe just today… but only because it’s Christmas.

The other accessories are a sword and a shield, both of which are new sculpts and they both look great. OK, that’s enough about Teela. She’s the turd in our holiday punch bowl and it’s best to just ignore her and move on to the main event… Point Dread! We’ll start at the bottom and work our way up.

Point Dread is not only the resting place and remote outpost for the Talon Fighter, but depending on which fiction you happen to follow, it can be a surprisingly weird place. Sometimes it was depicted as magically appearing under the Talon Fighter when it landed, other times it was a fixed location that only appeared every twenty years. It’s also the place Skeletor cooked up Teela by magically cloning The Sorceress in an attempt to make an Evil Sorceress. HOLY SHIT! For the purposes of this review, let’s just say that Point Dread is a small fortified outpost that gives the Talon Fighter a place to rest its weary bird feet. The little playset is comprised of two pieces, the top of which can be attached to Castle Grayskull, and I’ll circle back to that at the end.

From the outside, it shares all the iconic charm of Grayskull’s green stonework architecture. It uses the same eerie colored plastic with a nice wash and some dry brushing to bring out the look of the stones. It’s sculpted out of proportion, with the size of the stairs getting smaller toward the top to make it look bigger. The stairs do, however, give you a cool place to give your figures some action poses. You also get a little window near the base with a sculpted wooden shudder over it. Let’s turn it around and have a look inside.

As a playset, there’s not a lot going on in here. There’s a sculpted wooden floor, which features some really nice woodgrain detail as well as sculpted nails. There’s a window that the occupant can look out of, and there’s a computer system with a sticker on the screen showing a Saturn-like planet. The computer features that lovely retro-tech styling that I love so much in my swords-and-sorcery-and-tech fantasies. It not only has all sorts of sculpted controls, buttons, and dials, but it features some wonderful paint applications that really bring the whole thing to life. On the downside, it’s scaled way too small for the MOTUC figures to really work with it. Maybe if it came with a chair it would work better, but as it is, even Teela has to bend way over to get to the controls. In all honesty, as a standalone playset, Point Dread doesn’t offer much other than a little cubby for your Masters figures to check their emails, tweet a little, and maybe engage in some naughty net surfing. Or they can just look at a picture of space.

But what Point Dread lacks as a compelling playset it easily makes up for as a posh way to display your Talon Fighter, thanks to the rotating crossbeam that rests on top of the structure. This platform has foot pegs for the fighter’s birdy feet and they lock into place securely so there’s no worries about it falling off and crashing. When you’re ready for the Talon Fighter to take off, you just press a switch on the bottom of the platform, and it releases the craft for flight operations.

And what a great looking fighter this is! Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s clunky and it’s clearly designed by someone who was more concerned with satisfying their bird fetish than applying actual aerodynamics. But this is Eternia, where a vehicle can be all those things as well as be downright awesome. And when I first had this thing in hand, I was indeed in awe of it. Sure, there are some companies out there experimenting with 6-inch scale vehicles. Diamond Select has done some for Batman, NECA did one for their Predators, and even Hasbro has delivered some for Star Wars Black. But it’s still a new and rare enough experience that it’s hard to approximate just how big a 6-inch scale vehicle is until I’m holding it my hand and trying to find somewhere to display the damn thing. And let’s keep in mind, the Talon Fighter is designed to hold two figures!

And besides being big, this thing is a work of art. From the chunky, back-swept feathered wings and taloned claw landing gear, to the sweeping curves of the bird’s hooked beak as the nose of the vehicle, this is a sculpt that celebrates the very weird and wonderful spirit of Masters of the Universe. And the coloring… oh, the coloring. I love the way the sumptuous golden yellow of the bird’s beak gradually gives way to the fiery orange on the top. Couple that with the maroon wings and the brilliant metallic blue that makes up the guns, canopy, and radar dish, and you’ve got a deco that is as appropriately flamboyant as the design.

The back portion of the craft beautifully blends the glory of Eternian tech with the fighter’s avian art deco design. You get two large thrusters and two smaller ones in the middle. The sculpt includes vents, tubes, cables, what appear to be some rotating handles for shut-off valves, and even the individual bolts are part of the sculpt. Applications of red, black, and silver paint all help pick out some of the details.

The cockpit canopy features clear plastic windows all around and the framework includes sculpted rivets and a sculpted non-functioning escape hatch at the top. There are also highlights of a deeper and more metallic blue paint used to pick out some of the details as well as some beautiful silver paint used on the triangular vent sections on the sides. Finally, there’s a beefy radar dish on the top of the canopy, which can rotate 360-degrees.

Inside, the cockpit displays more of that great Eternian tech design. The main console features an array of buttons and switches in all different colors as well as a dual-handled flight stick protruding out from under it. The central viewscreen on the console is a sticker. You get three choices to customize your Talon Fighter, including a goofy shot of Orko. I went with the generic radar display graphic. The left and right of the pilot seat is flanked by more consoles and still more colored buttons and switches. There are also some gauges to the right. I love that Mattel went with actual sculpted instruments for the bulk of the controls here, rather than cop out with just stickers.

That’s not to say there aren’t some stickered panels. The back seat features two stickered consoles to the left and right, showing all sorts of gauges and readouts, and even what appears to be an intercom system.

On the back of the rear seat there’s more sculpted and painted details, which include some tools and emergency equipment. Included here is a medical kit, a fire extinguisher, an axe and some wrenches.

What’s really impressive about this vehicle is how roomy it is. Lately I’ve found myself having to squeeze some 3 3/4-inch figures into their vehicles from one of those other toy lines from that other big company, but this big fella can accommodate two Masters Classics figures and still give them plenty of room to move around. That’s no small feat for figures as big, buff, and bulky as these guys, but just look at He-Man in the back seat. He’s got room to spread out, stretch his legs and enjoy a first class flying experience. Teela has so much room, I’d bet you could squeeze two chicks in the back as long as they weren’t opposed to things getting cozy. The pilot seat is just as spacious and your average MOTUC figure can sit and hold the control sticks perfectly. And now that we’ve looked at this big bird inside and out, how about joining it with Castle Grayskull.

Just when I thought Castle Grayskull couldn’t get any more impressive, I go and add this to it. And boy was this a lot of fun to shoot in my tiny studio. I had to reposition my overhead light all the way to the ceiling, and it was still bumping the top of the Talon Fighter. Next I had to switch out the table I shoot on for something a lot lower. Needless to say, this set up is freaking huge!

The top part of Point Dread fits over the right tower and while the union isn’t exactly seamless, I think it looks pretty natural. The connection is extremely solid and you hear a big scary snap when it’s locked into place. What’s scarier is separating the two again. In fact, it’s so scary, I don’t know that I’m going to be doing this too many times for fear of cracking the castle wall. Granted, the Talon Fighter looks pretty awkward sitting up there. It either looks way too big or makes Grayskull look a lot smaller. But I really don’t care. I just think it’s awesome that they were able to make this work so well with the castle.

And this is what Christmas used to be all about: Waiting all year for that one special big toy and experiencing the joy of opening it up on Christmas morning. Of course it’s getting harder and harder to do, because they don’t make big and satisfying toys like this much anymore. But Point Dread and the Talon Fighter did not disappoint, even if the Teela figure was a little like getting coal in the stocking. And for all the shit everyone used to give Matty, I’m grateful to them for allowing me to celebrate two Christmases in a row now with some truly amazing Masters of the Universe Classics. I still have some pretty cool toys and figures to open from this line, but I doubt I’ll be waiting until next Christmas to do it. But fear not, I have some other ideas for Christmas 2018.

And that’s a wrap for me this Christmas. I’m going to be taking a couple days off from bloggery and I hope to be back with new content on Thursday and Friday and by then I should have sorted out what next week is going to look like. For now, I’m off to have dinner with my folks, exchange some gifts, and come home and watch Doctor Who. But before heading out I want to offer my sincerest and most heartfelt wishes to you all. I hope your holiday is restful and full of joy. Cherish your families, don’t sweat the small stuff, and I hope you get to enjoy some toys! 

Masters of the Universe Classics: Clamp Champ by Mattel

Yes, folks, I still have Masters Classics figures sitting around and waiting to be opened. I’m actually rationing these out as a way to get my MOTUC fix until Super7 can get their thing up and running. Today, I’m opening up Clamp Champ! Poor Clamp Champ missed out on being in both the Filmation series and the 200x reboot. His figure was released too late in the vintage line to make an appearance in the former, and the later series was cancelled before he could swoop in and take over for the doomed Man-At-Arms. On the flip-side, as far as I know he’s the only character of color to get a vintage toy release, and as such he’s certainly worthy our respect and attention.

After all this time, there’s not much more that can be said about this iconic packaging. Clamp Champ is an older release, so he does have a bio on the back of the card. His tag line on the bubble insert proclaims him the “Heroic Master of Capture!” I think they missed the opportunity to call him “Heroic Champ of the Clamp!” Give me a minute to rip open this package and we’ll see what he’s all about.

Clampy gets by with a buck that’s a straight up re-use of He-Man’s body only with a fresh coat of paint. Apart from the dark skin tone, his furry diaper and boot fringe have been recolored red, his boots are black, and his belt and bracers are silver. Nonetheless, he still manages to look rather distinctive thanks to his cool chest armor, which packs a lot of sculpted detail and a two-tone blue and silver deco. I’m a big fan of the whole techno-meets-fantasy vibe that I get off of this figure and I’ve got to say, Matty did a beautiful job recreating that armor.

The back of the armor also sports a black backpack. What is it? Maybe a power generator for his weapon? I don’t know. I think it would have been a good idea to put a hole there so he could wear his accessory on his back, but Matty decided to remain true to the vintage figure and I can respect that.

I dig the head sculpt on this guy a lot. Even though Champ didn’t appear in the Filmation cartoon, I think this head fits that style pretty well. But where does this guy get his name from?

From this big-ass clamp! I should note that Clampy feels like a bit of a cheat, because most of Eternia’s heroes and villains get their names from some kind of horrific defect or mutation. As such, you would expect Clamp Champ to have this thing grafted onto his arm, or just have a giant mutated claw. Nope, it’s just something he carries around with him and refers to as “The Techno Clamp”® The bio exclaims that Clamp Champ “surprises his enemies with his clamping action,” but that would have to be a pretty good trick, because how could they not see this giant clamp coming their way? Even Skeletor’s minions aren’t that clueless!

And to be fair, this big accessory is really more of a claw than a clamp, but Claw Champ isn’t quite as catchy. The original toy had a lever-control gimmick, and while this new version has a faux-lever sculpted on it, you have to pull out the claws manually. It’s still capable of grabbing enemies and I really like the little detailed paint apps that Matty did on its instrumentation.

Now this piece looks more like a clamp, but I have no idea what practical purpose it can serve, as he just holds it. Obviously, he can make a living with these ridiculous tools, otherwise he’d be unemployed and they’d call him Clamp Tramp. They’d probably also call him that if he slept around a lot.

In the end, I find myself in the odd position of not really digging Clamp Champ’s weapon all that much, but liking the figure quite a bit. The armor and the deco really works for me, but the clamp itself just reminds me of the goofy over-sized accessories that Hasbro is packing with Star Wars figures these days. It’s not terribly practical, but I suppose I’ll let him keep it. Otherwise it’ll be too hard to explain to people why he’s called Clamp Champ.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Castle Grayskull by Mattel, Part 2

Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m spending this morning on the living room floor, under the tree, in my footie pajamas with a cup of cocoa! Not really. I don’t have a Christmas tree, I’m actually wearing sweatpants and an old T-shirt from a Journey concert, and I’m having an Irish Coffee with extra Jameson to infuse myself with good cheer for the day ahead. But, I might as well be a kid again, because it’s Christmas morning and I’m opening up one of the coolest playsets ever. OK, technically I opened the box a few days ago and checked out the exterior yesterday, but Christmas Eve is all about peaking, right? And today’s the day I get to open up Castle Grayskull and really start playing with it.

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When you first open this sucker up, you’re met with a massive interior and a lot of parts. Parts in bags, parts in cardboard, parts in other bags stuffed in cardboard. There’s a lot here to process, and a giant sheet of instructions to tell you where everything goes and how everything works. The first thing to do is put the three floor pieces down, which locks the playset in this open position and gives you a place for figures to stand, and maybe even a place to park a vehicle, but I’ll come back to that later. There’s so many things to look at here, I’m just going to start on the ground floor and work my way up. But first…

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These are pieces that I’m not using. One is a decorative point for the top of the castle and the other is a carry handle, just like the original playset had. I like these, but word is once you put them on, they can be really hard to get off again and I don’t want to risk breaking anything trying to take them off. Why would I want to take them off again? Because Grayskull won’t fit back in the box with these in place and I want to hang onto that option at least until I can find some place to actually display this thing. That may be never, so for now these pieces are being set aside. Now, back to the ground floor…

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Naturally, you have the inside of the jawbridge, which can be opened by sticking a sword in a slot and triggering the mechanism. Next to it, there are a couple of places where you can clip shields to hang them on the wall. The set even comes with one to get you started. There’s another, similar set up on the other wall. This one has a sword behind it. The shields look really good on the wall, but if you’ve had them clipped onto your figures’ wrists for a while, it may stretch them out too much for them to stay put here. Also, to the right here you can see that backdoor we saw yesterday from the outside. It’s sculpted to look like it’s reinforced on the inside with a plate of steel.

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Also down here is this horrible little dungeon with a sticker showing more horrible things locked away under it. For a bunch of good guys, the Masters don’t seem to be very humane to their prisoners. Sure, you can argue that they’re all monsters down there. But let’s face it, this is Eternia, and that sticker might as well be a picture of any Eternian’s family album. The cell door opens and closes and you also get some chains for the prisoners. One of these sets of chains is designed to peg into somewhere… anyone happen to know where that might be, cause I sure don’t!

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Also down here is this nifty training device. I love the sculpted detail on this thing, especially the ornamental head and the giant hand that’s designed to smack you when you’re trying to hit it. Also check out some of those hack marks in the wood. This is such a beautiful piece!

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You also get a handful of weapons, including an axe, a mace, and two laser pistols. Now would be a good time to dig out that weapons rack, because it looks fantastic in the corner, and you shouldn’t just leave weapons lying around.

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You can climb to the second floor via the ladder or just take the elevator. The lift features pegs for a figures’ feet and it holds strong enough to carry the weight of a figure without sliding back down. At least for now. The second level features more of those lovely sculpted floors.

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A little further on is this spiffy computer bank with a scanner screen. One of my favorite things about MOTU has always been the melding of fantasy and science fiction, so there’s just something about seeing high tech stuff like this in a medieval style castle really does it for me.

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Speaking of which, the next point of interest on our tour is this crazy space armor. It’s a static piece that just pegs into the floor and makes for quite the conversation piece. It’s also positioned next to another hi-tech computer bank. Or that might be Grayskull’s central AC unit. Moving on…

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Behold… The Throne of Grayskull. This is a regal chair, indeed. I love the gold paint used on it and the two blue orbs. The starburst on the back looks great too. There’s a lot going on in this picture, so let me break it all down. First off, that sword on the wall up there is removable and you can replace it with most other swords. There are two battle standards that hang down on either side of the throne, and if you look to the right you can see the secret door that leads out to the ledge on the exterior. That’s clearly the “Oh, shit!” door, used to bugger off when the rest of Grayskull’s defenses fail. Oh, yeah… and speaking of defenses, you see that horribly garish rug beside the throne?

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Turn the throne and it activates the trap door. I used Tri-Klops to demonstrate, but only now am I realizing that I should have put Trap Jaw down the Trap Door. It would have been poetic. Anyway, I love this thing! It’s very design counts on your enemy besting all your defenses, finding his way into an impenetrable fortress, fighting his way through all your Men-At-Arms, confronting you as you sit on the throne, and then standing there and monologueing like an idiot for long enough for you to activate the trap. How unlikely is that to work? Oh, wait, we’re talking about Skeletor here. Never mind, it’ll work. Unfortunately, when it does work all it does is drop him down a floor and makes him ride the elevator back up again. That’s probably what the “Oh, shit!” door is for.

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The rooftop level is accessible by the elevator. Here you can admire the flag or open up that little door to reveal whatever the hell this thing is. Seriously, what is it? Anyone know? The instructions are failing me on this one.

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Finally, our last stop on the tour is a mounted laser gun for fending off attacks from Snake Mountain. And if all that isn’t cool enough, back on the ground floor, there’s room to park the Wind Raider!

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Well, sort of. The circular slot is designed to take the Wind Raider’s stand. And while this beautiful craft does technically fit, it’s a tight squeeze and it eats up a lot of real estate. It also kind of looks like a big albatross and probably cooks anyone locked in the dungeon when it takes off. To be honest, I’d probably be more likely to park it a little further out and off the floor pieces.

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The Sky Sled, on the other hand, is compatible with the same stand and it fits a lot better. hell, even if you want to do away with the stand, there’s plenty of room to tuck this vehicle in here without compromising all your play room. And speaking of playing… this set really starts to shine when you load it up with figures.

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In case you haven’t guessed by now, I am absolutely in love with Castle Grayskull. In fact, I love it so much that I almost feel bad that I waited until it was on clearance to buy it. Grayskull originally debuted at $300, which in itself is a huge chunk of change, but that sum inflated even more when you added tax and Matty’s crazy idea of a reasonable shipping rate. When all was said and done, I think it cost around $360 to get this thing shipped out. Back then I couldn’t fit it into the budget, and I cried myself to sleep many a nights (when I was drinking) over the fact that I would never own it. Then last year, Matty blew this beauty out at $150 with free shipping and that made it practically an impulse buy. No regrets!

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And thus ends the chronicling of my magical Christmas morning with Castle Grayskull. I really did feel like a kid again while I was setting this up and getting out all my figures to put in it, and hopefully I was able to convey some of that in my ramblings. To me, this is a big part of what Christmas is all about. Remembering happy times of Christmas Past and feeling young at heart again. As to the other part, I’m about to head out to spend the rest of Christmas with my family, eat a lot of great food, come home get drunk and watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special. And that, my friends, is my formula for a perfect Christmas.

Whatever constitutes your Perfect Christmas, I hope you all get it. Have a happy and safe holiday and I’ll see you on tomorrow for Marvel Monday!

Masters of the Universe Classics: Castle Grayskull by Mattel, Part 1

It’s finally Christmas… well, almost! As a kid, this was always the one chance of getting that huge playset from my favorite toy line. The one that I had no chance of coaxing out of my parents any other time of the year. Asking for such a grail would always elicit the same response, “Put it on your Christmas list!” It was a good strategy on my parents’ part, because if it was still on my list six or seven months later, chances are I really wanted it! I can remember a lot of examples of these from Christmases past. Whether it was the Micronauts Mega-City, the Star Wars Death Star Playset, the GI JOE HQ Command Center, or The AD&D Fortress of Fangs. These were the big guns that I begged for all year, and I was a lucky little shit, because Santa always delivered. This Christmas, I wanted to relive some of that glory from my youth by opening up and featuring something comparable. Something special. I wanted to feel like a kid on Christmas again. And so I’ve been saving Grayskull all year for just this occasion.

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And here it is. The ginormous box that’s been sitting in the corner of my closet since last December, building my anticipation to the bursting point. Gosh, has it really been that long? Yes, I’ve been gazing longingly at this glorious artwork and anticipating the day that I would finally slice that tape and open her up. While a lot of those old playsets from my youth would probably seem pretty small to me now as a grown up, MOTUC’s Grayskull is appropriately inflated to account for my adulthood. This has quite simply got to be the largest boxed toy I have ever owned. And that’s saying something, because I have owned a shit ton of toys. Hell, the box dwarfs He-Man so much, he looks like a 3 3/4-inch figure in this shot. All I have to say about the artwork on the front is that if I ever do get rid of this box, I’m going to frame that panel and hang it over my fireplace. Oh wait, I live in Florida… I don’t have a fireplace. DAMMIT! What am I going to do with all these chestnuts I bought?

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But besides just being a huge playset, this Castle Grayskull is kind of special to me. Masters of the Universe was one of those few major 80’s toy-lines that I wanted to get into as a kid, but I never owned any of the toys. Oooh, poor me! Don’t feel bad… I had plenty, and my parents had to draw the line somewhere! Well, for the past few years, I’ve been living that missed opportunity of my youth through the Masters Classics line. The feeling of getting to open up a gigantic updated Grayskull like this when I already have a huge collection of figures to go with it is as close as I can get to going back in time and experiencing Christmas again as a child as I’m ever likely to get. Plus, now I’m drinking a lovely Jameson when I open it, so even better. Grayskull comes packed in the box surrounded with some cardboard padding and wrapped in a huge plastic bag. Surprisingly, it comes out all in one piece and that’s it! There’s nothing else rattling around in that huge box. All the extra pieces are conveniently stowed inside it’s green plastic walls.

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Look at the sculpting and color on this thing! The jagged, unfinished rocky base gives way to the smoother, worked stones of the massive castle walls. It’s so goddamn iconic. I love the subtle variations of gray and green and the wash that picks out all the details. Just taking this massive playset in from the front suggests it may very well be toy perfection. I am literally in awe of this thing and I simply can’t compliment the guys who worked on this enough.

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The massive fanged skull that dominates the front facade is just amazing. It’s also one of the things that confused me the most about the He-Man continuity. I mean, let’s say I was a third party arbiter brought in to mediate the ownership dispute between He-Man and Skeletor over Castle Grayskull. All I would need to do is meet those two and I’m going to have a pretty good idea who’s castle it really is. I mean, am I going to give it to the tanned dude with the Prince Valiant haircut, or side with THE GUY WHO’S FACE BEARS A PRETTY STRONG RESEMBLANCE TO THE DESIGN OF THE CASTLE?

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The drawbridge door is one of my favorite aspects of the exterior. The coloring and ancient wood texturing on the planks looks incredibly realistic, as does the hammered finish on the “iron” hinges, the cross bar, and handle. The whole thing is topped off with a beautifully sculpted coat of arms. I could picture Skeletor battering on this thing forever and it never giving way to his attempts to gain entry. It looks virtually impenetrable.

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As we turn the mighty fortress to the right, we can see the two catches that hold the castle together on its left side. There’s a ledge that winds its way around the left tower and toward the front. It also looks like there’s some kind of hidden panel above it. What could that be?

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Coming around to the back shows more of that amazing stone detailing, as well as some truly spectacular coloring, as well as what appears to be a hidden back door, complete with a tiny keyhole in the stone.

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The little details here, like the wooden ledges under the windows, really give the castle an authentic medieval feel. I particularly love the sculpted thatch roofing and the wooden support beams on the turret. All the windows here are actual windows, teasing me with the dark and mysterious interior of this structure. What amazing features await us, as we flip over to the castle’s right side?

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Eh, nothing really. Just a hinge.

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Finally, I love how the top of the castle offers this walkway to put figures on even when the castle is all closed up. While the inside of the tower is just the unfinished reverse of the sculpted stone, I can let that slide because look at the sculpted detail in the wood floor on the battlements. You also get a smaller, sculpted wood door leading into the depths of the castle. I have to be honest, wherever I wind up displaying this beauty, space limitations will probably demand it remain closed up. So, it’s nice to know I’ll still be able to put some figures on the battlements.

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And did I mention it was big? Yeah, I did. Probably several times. But it is! I seem to remember a big controversy when the prototype was shown about how He-Man could barely fit through the front door. Well, they sure changed that. He looks properly scaled standing right in front of the mystical fortress. Even if this thing didn’t open up, it would be worth owning just to be able to stand He-Man in front of it, looking all majestic. It reminds me of just how much I adore this toy line and how, even despite the bumps along the way, I’m very grateful to Matty for delivering it to us these past few years. You see, opening up this beautiful castle on Christmas, wasn’t just about getting to experience being a kid on Christmas again, but it was also an opportunity to celebrate the ending of Matty’s run on this fantastic line of toys.

And unfortunately, that’s all I can show you today. Because it’s only Christmas Eve and I can’t open my present until Christmas morning. So come on back tomorrow and we’ll open her up check out all the amazing goodies on the inside of this marvelous playset!

Masters of the Universe Classics: Serpentine King Hssss by Mattel

Controversy and Matty Collector seem to go together like PB&J. In this case, the hub-bub centered around word that Matty would be including a newly tooled snake torso for King Hssss in one of the Club Eternia figures for 2015. I try to tune out a lot of this stuff, but I think the plan was to pack it with Buzz Saw Hordak, which admittedly would have made that terrible figure a bit easier to swallow. Whether this was a promise or a loose comment, I don’t remember, but the bottom line was it didn’t happen because it would have been too expensive and despite Matty being fairly transparent on the matter and sending out a letter to the fans, subscribers still went berserk. Matty ultimately offered the piece for sale as its own figure with a bevy of extras at a pretty good price and it arrived at my door last week.

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Yup, that’s the same old MOTUC packaging we’ve been seeing for years now. There’s even still a bio on the back, which is missing from the most current figure cards. You get a colorful “Snake Men” sticker on the bubble and Hssss’ tagline is “Evil Disguised Leader of the Snake Men.” To say that he fills out the bubble nicely is a bit of an understatement. It actually looks like Matty just took a pound of snakes and crammed them in there. In fact, it’s such a mess of snakes that I can barely make out most of the accessories.

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There’s no doubt that the new torso is the star of this show. It takes the concept of the snake torso that we got with the original Classics King Hsss and cranks everything up. It’s beefier, better proportioned, and it ultimately it makes a pretty goofy idea and makes it look bad ass. Also, someone clearly said, “NEEDS MORE SNAKES!”  I actually own two of the first Masters Classics King Hssss, which is convenient to display one human and one half snake. It’s also an odd thing to admit to, since I was never that fond of the original’s snake torso and would probably never display him with it. But this? This I like a lot. If the were coming after me, I would step on old ladies and babies to get away from this guy. Thanks to some bendy plastic and wires, six of the snakes are posable, so while the only two actual articulation points above the waist are the swivels in the waist and the main snake’s “neck” you can still have some fun with him.

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The sculpting and paint on display here are both excellent. Hssss is covered in scales quite literally from head(s) to toe and there’s a lovely high gloss finish over the whole figure to give it that illusion of slime that all snakes are burdened with. The bulk of the figure is a sort of ochre color, that feels like a nod to the original snake torso, with green patterns. From the waist down, this seems to be a repaint from the Snake Men two-pack. At least that’s my impression. I never did get my hands on one of those packs. Either way it mates wonderfully with the new torso, although the legs on my figure are somewhat loose.

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The main portrait features an open mouth, which offers a grizzly view right down the snake’s gob, and displays a pair of white fangs and a long cascading forked tongue. All the snake heads, right down to the tiniest have solid paintwork for their eyes and mouth and all around this is a great looking figure.

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To sweeten the deal, Hssss comes with what is basically a mini-weapons-pack, which includes a shield, a mace, and a sword and spear, both with serpentine blades. These are actually some of my favorite weapons to come out of the line and they go a long way toward building value in this package. The weapons can be held in some of the smaller snakes’ mouths, but it’s tough to make it work and I honestly think these weapons will be better served getting doled out to my Snake Men or just being added to one of my Weapons Racks.

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How about a bonus head? Yeah, Matty’s got us covered there too with a mid-transformation snake head for the humanoid King Hssss figure. Now, I presume this was intended for both the original and the 200x versions, but the socket is way too small for my original Classics Hssss. I’m sure I could get it to work if I tried hard enough, but for our purposes here, I’m showcasing it on the 200x figure from the two-pack. Again, it’s a great piece of work and looks fantastic on the figure.

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Of course, while Serpent King Hssss is a complete figure onto its own, the torso is also compatible with the legs from either of the previous King Hsss figures, so you can mix-and-match all you want.

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Naturally, I’m very glad Matty got this figure out and onto my shelf. It totally blows away the previous snake torso on every level and the fact that they gave him some legs and threw in so many accessories makes the pot all the sweeter. As for the controversy… it doesn’t really interest me. I can see collectors being frustrated when a company can’t follow through on an expectation, but while I am a toy collector, I’m not a child, and I realize these things happen in the grown up world of big business. I can see cause for rage if this individual piece motivated someone to buy in to the sub only to find it wasn’t included, but I can’t imagine that was the case for most. And in the end, the figure went up for sale to subscribers for $20, which quite frankly is a great deal for this densely packed bundle of goodies.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Laser Power He-Man and Laser Light Skeletor by Mattel

Here we are in February and I’m still opening stuff from last year’s Club Eternia subscription. Well, this is the last box to open from the sub’s final month and it’s a two-pack to boot, so let’s dive right in and check out Laser Power He-Man and Laser Light Skeletor!

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We’ve seen this box before. It’s the standard two-figure window box with the sloping sides and that great greyskull stone motif. It’s collector friendly if you’re careful, and since I kept the box for my last Skeletor and He-Man two-pack, I’ll likely keep this one too. Flip it over and drink in the goodness and sorrow that is the last of the MOTUC bios. Now, I’m no expert when it comes to Masters of the Universe, but as I understand it, these were two of the last figures to be released in the vintage line (in 1988), and even that needs qualifying because they were only circulated in Europe. Let’s start things off with He-Man and look at the base figure first…

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Yeah, it’s another version of He-Man, but considering how long this line has run, I don’t think they’ve milked the variants too badly and they’ve all been pretty good, including this one. This guy is like a hybrid of traditional He-Man and Space He-Man. I’m pretty sure I said that about He-Ro II, but it’s true here as well. The chest harness calls back to his original, but it’s blue and has a futuristic flavor to it right down to the silver “H” in the middle. It rides a little high on the shoulders, but it’s got to be strong to hold the enormous piece of kit he’s going to strap to his back. The boots have the same sci-fi look about them and the paint on those silver gauntlets just look stunning, as does the belt. If you’ve complained in the past that He-Man’s fuzzy barbarian diaper leaves too much for the imagination, well you’re in luck because this new tiny blue steel speedo clamped around his junk does not. All in all, I really dig the look of this guy.

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The portrait appears new, although I’ve lost count of all the He-Man noggins floating around in my Masters Accessories Tote. This is an impressive piece of sculpting, although it looks like it might have been pinched a bit in the final production. I think I can see a little bit of Dolph Lundgren in there, but maybe that’s just my wishful thinking. Of course, we’re really here to talk about that new Laser Power!

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After a lifetime pitched in desperate struggle with his arch nemesis, Skeletor, He-Man has finally had enough and decides to strap a giant box, which I presume holds a series of daisy-chained car batteries, on his back to power his newest electric sword. Evil will die! Actually, screw the batteries, in my mind I’d like to think that this thing is gas powered and that Duncan has to pull a cord on the back a bunch of times to get it to start and when it’s running it’s louder than a hundred leaf blowers. The box clips onto the harness very securely and there’s room to store the sword on the side. He-Man also has to wear two bulky pieces of armor on his right hand, presumably to protect him from the horrific lethal radiation given off by the sword. Come to think of it that’s probably why he wears the steel speedo, to protect the Eternian jewels from getting irradiated.

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All kidding aside, though, I like this thing a lot. Sure, it’s bulky and makes the figure rather back heavy. And with the sword in storage he looks like he’s ready to go bust some ghosts. But it’s a cool gimmick and it’s remarkable that it survived translation to the Classics line where gimmicks have been traditionally neutered. Yes, that backpack really is crammed full of electronics and batteries, and yes the sword really does light up. You can even get it to spazz out and flash like crazy. So good! Let’s move on to Laser Light Skeletor…

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Right off the bat, there’s a lot of New Adventures Skeletor in here. Some of the arms and some of the legs are reused, the feet are repainted and reused, I think the belt might be the same, but there’s a lot of excellent new sculpting here as well, like the new lower legs that make use of some remarkable copper paint to make the grafted armor stand out from the blue skin. The same could be said for the gorgeous copper chest piece. As amazing as this figure looks, it would be cool to see a skilled customizer add some paint hits to the tech bits sculpted into the blue body.

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I’m not all that fond of the portrait here, although I will concede that based on pictures I’ve seen it is a solid update to the vintage Laser Light Skeletor. Still, something just looks odd about the face. The hood is removable and sits rather strangely too. It’s hard for me to figure out if I have it in the intended position or not. I do like the added techno-bits sculpted into the back of the head. I’ll also note that while there are electronics in the head, I find it impressive that Matty was able to keep the neck articulation to a degree.

llskel3As with He-Man, Skeletor has an electronic box on his back, but unlike He-Man, Skeletor integrates all his electronic gimmickry right into the figure so the box is not removable. There’s some really nice sculpting and paint on it that was absent from He-Man’s backpack. The problem here is that the figure is still very back heavy and while He-Man was able to compensate with a decent pair of feet, the little clodhoppers that Skeletor has just isn’t up for the task. It’s really hard to get him to stand decently and it’s a shame that Matty couldn’t have engineered some lateral rockers into those ankles. They’ve done it on a fair number of Classics figures, and here’s one that really would have benefited from them.

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Skeletor’s electronics feature glowing eyes and a light up right gauntlet that is supposed to light up his translucent red Havoc Staff. The gauntlet and eyes light beautifully but the light doesn’t travel very far up and down the staff. Don’t get me wrong, it still looks plenty cool. It is worth noting that in order to accommodate the electronics in the right arm, there is no elbow hinge or bicep swivel. There is, however, still a swivel at the top of the gauntlet.

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A lot of other companies would have just phoned in the final two figures of a line, but Matty gave us something special here. We got two figures that most fans never saw in their vintage collections and we got them engineered with electronic gimmicks. That’s a first for the last, and that’s going above and beyond in my book and these are overall fun and solid (and perfectly appropriate) figures to end the line with. I feel like I should get all sappy and wax sentimental about Club Eternia. It delivered a fantastic series of action figures and sapped a shit ton of money out of my bank account. In other words, it was a great ride. But I still have older Classics figures and vehicles to open and look at (not to mention a giant castle) and I still have the Collector’s Choice figures ahead of me, so for now I’ll resist the urge. At some point down the line, I’ll eventually open my last Masters Classics toy or figure and I’ll save the reminiscing for then.

Masters of the Universe Classics: He-Ro II by Mattel

It feels weird, this is the first month where I’m no longer collecting the MOTUC line. The last traditional Sub ended in 2015 and while I have been nothing but thrilled with my collection, I just couldn’t bring myself to sign up for the 2.0 and do it all over again with the Filmation versions. Maybe if display space wasn’t in such high demand around here, it would have been a different story, but it is what it is. I did go on Matty Collector and consider picking up Lord Masque, but with a checkout price of $38, I just couldn’t do it. Anywho, I do still have plenty of unfinished business with the line and today I’m opening up the last single carded figure from December’s sale… It’s Hero II.

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And here he is, in package. He-Ro… II? Yes, the II is to denote that this is the second He-Ro figure released in the MOTUC line and both have roots in the original Mattel property. This one, as the tagline on the package states, is the “Heroic Son of He-Man.” His real name is Dare and he is the product of Adam and Teela bumping uglies, at least in the Classics narrative. The character is based on the protagonist from a failed pitch in the 90’s to spawn a new Masters cartoon. So yeah, what we have here is a figure based on a concept series that didn’t get produced, let alone spawn an actual line of action figures.

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Dare isn’t so much like a cross between Adam and Teela, but rather He-Man and New Adventures He-Man. He’s got NA’s blue pants and ponytail and a spiffy futuristic version of He-Man’s chest harness and his fur lined boots. There’s so much I dig about this guy’s design and execution, particularly the corny combination of “H” and “M” on his belt buckle and the traditional He-Man crosses on his gauntlets and shoulder armor. Dare also features a belt with a working holster for his pistol and a bitchin’ crystal in the center of his chest harness.

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The coloring here is great too. There’s a couple purdy shades of blue along with a metallic blue for the shoulder and it combines with the gold, silver and red to make a dynamic and pleasing color scheme. In fact, this figure is loaded with great little touches to the paint and sculpt that make it obvious Matty put a lot of extra love into him. They just went all out.

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The head sculpt is new, but the nod to NA He-Man is certainly there. Besides the ponytail he’s got a younger look and a more angular face. The hair sculpt is particularly great with the tussled bangs.

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If you want a little more NA He-Man in your Dare, the figure comes with a swap out vest, which is basically a silver repaint of NA’s gold space vest. It’s a welcome bonus, but I’ll likely be sticking with the blue rig.

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In addition to the extra vest, Dare comes with his sword and laser pistol. The sword can be stowed in the loop on the back of either vest. I’m a big fan of mixing swords and laser guns, so this guy’s armament is right up my ally.

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There’s no doubt about it, He-Ro II is mined deep from the annals of Masters history and so as a character, he’s only going to appeal to the most hardcore of Masters fans who know the stories beyond the stories about the stories that never happened. But for someone like me, a significant portion of this line has always been more about the figures than the characters, and so I can say that I really dig this guy a lot. And since, I don’t have a New Adventures He-Man in my collection (yet). Dare may just stand in for him on that shelf. Oh yeah, I just realized I never looked at the Classics release of the first He-Ro, so I’ll try to remedy that next week.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Dragstor by Mattel

Ack! Once again, the December Matty figures are shipping soon and I haven’t opened my November figures yet! Oh, yeah, not to mention the Battle Ram and the huge-ass Castle Greyskull boxes that are taking up precious real estate in my toy closet. I’ve vowed not to open any of the big stuff until I’m completely done with this year’s figures, so let’s take a step closer to that goal by tearing into The Evil Horde’s road warrior, Dragstor!

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Dragstor fills out his package nicely and his tag line is “Transforming Evil Warrior Vehicle.” Apart from that I don’t have anything new to say about the packaging. We’ve been seeing it for years now and not much has changed. Of course, Dragstor was a figure that was big on gimmickry in the vintage line, so I’m very curious to see how this Classics version turned out!

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Dragstor’s design is a delicious mix of monster and machine and one that adheres very strongly to the vintage design. In fact, once you get past the more realistic proportions and the neutered gimmick, there’s not a lot of changes at all. And that’s a good thing for me, because I’ve always dug this crazy design. The exposed tire that resides in Dragstor’s tummy is particularly well sculpted with well-defined treads and it even has the little notch off to the side where the rip-stick would go if that gimmick were still in tact. The whole tire ensemble is part of a bulky sculpted vest that’s laid over the torso of the buck and also includes some silver hoses and The Evil Horde symbol sculpted right into the chest.

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The back of the vest features Dragstor’s jet-powered backpack, which helps propel him at break-neck speeds on his tire. I love the way the side pipes look on this piece as the design is straight out of a suped-up hot rod. The outfit is rounded off with a pair of red angular boots and orange gauntlets, just like on the vintage figure.

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The head sculpt offers what little look we get of Dragstor’s actual organic side and it isn’t much. You just get a pair of reptillian eyes and some scaly skin peering out from the helmet and breather mask. There are a few paint flubs on my figure. particularly noticeable is the one pupil that runs up into his eyebrow. There’s also some slop on the silver paint where the pipes meet the vest. All in all, though, it’s nothing too bad.

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Articulation follows the usual MOTUC male buck. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, hinged at the knees and ankles, and there are swivels at the hips and boots. The neck is ball jointed and Dragstor can swivel at the waist. I’m sure there’s still an ab crunch buried in the torso, but all that gear on him renders it inert. Alas, I was unable to get him to balance on his tire without having his limbs touching the ground to support him.

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Dragstor comes with two accessories. First you get the ubiquitous Horde crossbow. In this case, it’s a very unique design and made to look like it’s fashioned out of an engine and exhaust pipes, which is a nice touch because I don’t remember the vintage toy’s crossbow matching Dragstor’s theme so nicely. There’s a hole on the top of his backpack, where you can plug this thing in for storage. It probably makes more sense to angle it down, keeping the spoiler and the pipes in the opposite direction he’s traveling, but I kind of dig the way it looks angled up.

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The other weapon is a whip with a double bladed axe on the end. It’s presumably intended as a nod to the vintage figure’s rip-stick. If you want you can plug this into the backpack too, but it just looks silly to me.

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As the last addition to my Horde ranks, I really dig Dragstor a lot. He’s a perfect example of the crazy imagination that went into this line. At the same time, Matty was able to keep him very faithful to the original design and still make him fit in with the modern Classics aesthetic. It’s a great figure like this that makes it harder to face the fact that it all ends this month with the final shipment of figures. But before we can get to that, I’ve still got one more November figure to look at next week.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Terror Claws Skeletor and Flying Fists He-Man by Mattel.

Things are coming to a head, folks! There’s only one more month left in the 2015 Masters Classics Sub, I just got my November figures, but I still have unfinished business with October. I’ve actuallly got two figures to look at today, so without further delay, let’s check out our friends, He-Man and Skeletor all kitted out in some truly bizarre new battle gear!

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If you own any of the other two-packs from the MOTUC line then you’ll know what to expect from the packaging here. It’s got the same attractive green Greyskull deco wrapped around a (nearly) trapezoid-shaped window box. The back features a bio for each figure and some shots of other figures that are long gone from Matty’s Store and only available now from Ebay for all your monies. Overall, the box shows the figures off quite well, it doesn’t waste a lot of space, and it’s sort of collector friendly, but the box is easy to damage, so your mileage may vary. I was careful to preserve the packaging on mine, because I think I’m actually going to display them this way. I just think it makes for a neat looking set. Let’s start with He-Man…

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When you think about it, it’s surprising how few variants of He-Man were produced. I mean, Mattel could have really gone crazy, but they didn’t. It’s also worth noting that my very first Masters Classics figure was one of those variants, Battle Armor He-Man, so maybe I have a soft spot for variants. This version is kind of similar in that it gives He-Man an armored chest plate, which also kind of make it look like he’s been packing away the Roast Gooble dinners. Yes, it’s a rubbery vest over the already beefy buck, but I don’t think it looks bad. It features a nice silvery sheen and a bright red “H” on the chest. There are a few blemishes on my figure’s paint here, but I’ll write that off to battle scuffing. I should point out that Mattel chose not to go the vac-plated route like on the vintage figure. I’m OK with that seeing as how my Hurricane Hordak has some chips in his. The rest of the figure’s buck is pretty much what you would expect. This version does have some nice white trim on the tops of his boots and his belts and wrist bracers are painted red. The head appears to be a new sculpt, or at least different from the ones on my regular He-Man and Battle Armor He-Man.

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Of course, this pack is all about the crazy weapons, but we’ll start small and go big. Firstly, He-Man comes with a Power Sword and a spinning shield thing. The shield is the new attraction here and I actually dig it a lot. It’s a gold circular shield with a grey spinning piece mounted on the front. On an Eternian Ridiculousness Scale of Ten, this one scores only Two Orkos and that’s not bad. The shield clips onto the wrist bracer firmly. I only wish there was a place to put the sword on his back for when he’s using…

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THIS! Yeah, the needle on that scale just pinned to the right. When I think “Flying Fists” He-Man, I kind of expect him to shoot his fists like a Shogun Warrior Robot, but it doesn’t summon up images of this. He-Man’s special weapon is like Duncan combined a mace with a weed wacker. It’s just three spinning balls on the end of an arm. On the one hand, it’s ridiculous, on the other hand if someone was coming at me with it, I’d run away, so I’ll have to give the designers some credit. Do I like it? Yeah, I do. I’m not into this line because it has a firm grasp on common sense. Let’s check out Skeletor…

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Again, there’s some nice variations on this figure over the original, and I mean besides the giant robot dragon head on his back. The chest armor is new and includes a painted skull and flared shoulders. The buck seems to be cast in a slightly darker blue, his webbed feet are painted to match his leg bracers and thereby make them look more like boots. Lastly, the belt is painted red, which I just noticed now matches He-Man’s. How embarrassing is it when you show up for battle and you and your arch-enemy’s accessories match. I almost cried foul about how the dragon head doesn’t angle over the shoulder, but then I remembered that was Dragon Blaster Skeletor, a figure that I somehow missed out on. The paint on the skull face is different from the original Skeletor’s as well. It’s a lot more vibrant and I dig that.

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The dragon chomping piece unclips from his back and he can hold it in his right arm. Now this thing? I just don’t see the appeal of it. It looks like Skeletor decapitated Sky Lynx and is using his head as a grabby arm. It’s OK, I guess. There’s a hinge in the middle of it, but it only bends upward and I think a downward hinge would have been more useful. The jaw is also hinged. Now, the real main attraction for Skeletor are his self-titled…

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TERROR CLAWS! And they’re exactly what you might expect. It’s just a pair of giant claws that snap over his hands. God help me, I think they actually look pretty cool. Although I can’t help picture Skeletor showing up to Castle Greyskull and shouting, “Come down here He-Man, I’m going to scratch your f’cking eyes out!!!” Again, ridiculous? You betcha! Cool? Oh, hell yeah!

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I’m not ashamed to admit that I love these figures and I’m super thrilled that Matty bundled them together in one box. As individual figures, I doubt they would have made the cut for my already crowded MOTUC shelves. As a boxed item, however, I’ll find a way to sneak it in somewhere among my Sky Sled and Wind Raider, which I also display in their respective boxes. This is quite simply epic stuff. It’s the kind of gear that would make Skeletor and He-Man approach each other on the battlefield, give each other a good look and say, “OK, we’ve officially taken this too far” and just go home.  And that finally wraps it up for October. Next week, I’ll start in on the November figures, because after that we’re into December and that means we’re coming up fast on the end of the tunnel! 

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“Dammit, Beast Man, I did not invent the Terror Claws to scratch your flea-ridden hide!”

“Harder… A little more to the left… Oh, yeah. Boss, you’ve got magic fingers!”