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!