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! 

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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: Horde Wraith by Mattel

So, two things: First, there’s obviously no Transformers Thursday this week. Next week is looking good, though. Second, I’m crazy pressed for time today, so my apologies if today feels a little abbreviated. Today, I’m going back to the waning days of Matty Collector, with what I’m pretty sure was the last MOTUC figure they released: The Horde Wraith! With so many delays toward the end, I just got a big box of figures all at once, so it’s hard for me to tell what order they were intended. Granted, I still have plenty of older figures and other goodies from Masters Classics to open, but after sitting around since last year, I thought it was time to open this guy up. So let’s do it!

I’m fairly well versed on my Horde lore, but I actually have no memory of this fellow at all. My sources tell me he’s from the 200x reboot and I think it’s long past time I pulled out my DVD’s and gave that series a re-watch, because so much of it has slipped my mind. Here’s one time when I really miss the bios that used to be on the backs of the cards, but his tag-line on the front, “Sorcerer for The Evil Horde,” is all I need (I’d like to believe it says that on his business cards). Besides, do I really need an official backstory to enjoy a figure like this? No, sir. I do not.

Especially when the figure looks like this guy! The Horde Wraith could easily be Shadow Weaver’s more evil-er granddaddy. He’s a foreboding, cloaked slab of wickedness that floats around thanks to a translucent stand provided in the package. His gray robes don’t sport a lot of sculpted detail, and that gives him something of an animated feel. They do, however have some really nice ragged edges on the bottom and on the sleeves. He also has some arm bands with sculpted sickle-like patterns, cool wrist bracers with diamonds, and blue claw-like hands, which makes me think that Horde Wraith may be an evil Trollan on steroids. Dammit, that should have been the tag-line on the package, “Evil Trollan on Steroids.” Damn, my lack of customizing skills!

The true star of this outfit is the black cape and shoulder piece. The front features a sash that drops down with a sculpted Horde emblem at the top. The shoulders themselves are textured and the whole ensemble has a red border. The lapse in QC that has touched some of these final figures rears its ugly head with a few tiny paint flubs, but nothing too bad. On the back, a tattered cape cascades down, almost to the end of his robes.

The portrait, for lack of a better term, is just a hood with a dark, featureless face buried in it and two yellow eyes peering out. Here the paint work is pretty spot on, right down to the subtle red outline around those eyes. The hood is sculpted as part of the head.

The articulation here is more limited than usual, only because Horde Wraith does not have any legs. Everything else is close to what we normally get in our MOTUC figures. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulder and elbows, and swivels in the wrists and biceps. There’s a swivel in the waist and an ab crunch hinge in the chest. The neck is ball jointed. The stand works really well to support him, but it gave me a hell of a time getting it in there. I had to use so much force, I was afraid I would snap it. I don’t believe that I will risk pulling it out again.

In addition to the stand, Horde Wraith comes with a staff with what looks like a Horde crossbow stuck on the end. I’m not sure whether its intended to be functional or not, but maybe he can shoot some kind of magic missiles from that baby. The staff is a very nice sculpt, but it’s very thin and prone to warping. Also, he has a hell of a time holding it properly. It looks like the cut-outs in the small axe blade are meant to loop his fingers through. That helps a bit, but it doesn’t take much to knock it out of his hands.

The Horde Wraith is a great design and I think he’s an excellent way to end the MOTUC line. I don’t know if a lot of collectors were jonesing after this dude, but if so I’m hoping he lived up to their expectations. As for me? I absolutely love this figure, even though I know nothing about the character. Hell, I don’t even know if he is a single character or if The Horde has a whole army of these spooky spell-slingers. I do know that he’s exactly the sort of thing that I would have doodled on my Trapper Keeper back in school, while dreaming up AD&D campaigns during math class, and that he’s very welcome in my Evil Horde display.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Tuskador by Mattel

It’s 2017 and the self-proclaimed King of Collectors is dead. Or, wait… Matty wasn’t the King, the collectors were King. But Matty wore a crown. Who was the freaking King again? I’m so confused, but I suppose in the end it was all bullshit. Matty is no more, but I still have a HUGE pile of figures (and even some vehicles) from them waiting to be featured, so you’ll still be getting a lot of Masters Classics content coming your way here this year. Today, I decided to open Tuskador, because…

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Well, just look at this beast! I had no idea who this was when his name turned up on my billing email and even then I was clueless. But when I felt the heft of his mailer box and gazed upon him in the package for the first time, I knew that it was love at first sight! The packaging may look standard, but trust me it’s much bigger than what we get for the usual MOTUC figures. Turns out Tuskador is one of the Galactic Protectors from the New Adventures series, and that’s cool because I’ve been really enjoying what Masters Classics has been doing with these goofy space bastards.  And speaking of New Adventures, did I mention that I had to buy a new Flogg because my old Flogg’s crotch spontaneously exploded when he was sitting in a tote in the closet? That’s craziness! But enough about Flogg’s crotch… let’s open this guy up and check him out!

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OH. MY. GAWD. As we saw in the packaged shot, the figure comes with the tusks off and you have two different pairs to choose from. I started with the big’uns and HOLY CRAP LOOK AT THESE GODDAMN THINGS! They are both awesome and ridiculous at the same time, which pretty much describes half the Masters Classics line. Let’s call it Awediculous. And yes, I realize that the placement of them basically makes them nipple-tusks. I’m starting with this big pair because, to be honest, I can’t even get a closer look at the figure with these mammoth (That’s right, have a pachyderm pun, free of charge!) tusks in the way. There’s no bio on the package, but a little research tells me that Tuskador is a trader and sort of a supply officer for the Galactic Protectors. How the hell is he going to walk through some marketplace or fly a spaceship with these things coming off of him? It only makes sense that he can switch them out. Anyway, I’m just calling these his battle tusks. It’s sort of like his Sunday best, only in this case he puts them on before a fight so he can gore Evil Space Mutants with them. They’re glorious, but I’m going to swap them out now so we can get on with looking at the figure.

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That’s better. The tusks simply peg right into the sockets on his armor, and both feature a beautiful pearlescent finish. They swap out really easily and they can rotate where they attach so you can tweak them a bit. These smaller tusks are still suitably large, but at least the figure is more manageable with them on. And what a great looking figure he is! He’s built using some parts from the Ram Man buck, most notably the arms and upper torso, but he actually stands notably taller than Rammy. The torso and legs are cast in two different shades of blue plastic, and feature lots of great sculpted detail, including panel lines, and some amazing treads on his boots. He also features a pair of metallic gold knee pads. There are also some very subtle touches of metallic blue paint on his pants and boots.

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Of course, the real draw here is the gold armor that makes up the top third of the figure. The gold paint is beautiful and once again, the attention to detail here is just great. You get these powerful looking shoulders, panel lines, sculpted rivets on the plating, hoses, and this big circular contraption on the back, which I’m going to assume is some kind of cooling unit to keep him from dying under all that apparatus. It’s a lot of technology just to get a guy to wear some tusks, but in the crazy sci-fi-fantasy world of New Adventures, it all makes perfect sense. Despite being a bulkier figure, Tuskador features all the articulation we’ve come to expect from the regular size figures.

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Buried deep under all those armor plates and support systems is a little open area showing Tuskador’s head. The mouth is obscured by additional hoses and a mouthpiece that’s sculpted to look a bit like a mechanical elephant’s trunk. It looks like there’s an amazing face sculpt under there, and thankfully, the helmet is removable to allow us a better look!

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Yup, that is one great portrait, especially for a figure that keeps the head covered up most of the time. The facial features are sharp and packed with personality. I particularly love the detail in his blue arming cap. It reminds me of a WWII tanker’s helmet.

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As if having a huge pair of tusks strapped to his chest isn’t enough, Tuskador comes with a rifle that he can wear on his belt. The sculpt is pretty cool, as it looks like a cross between a laser rifle, sub-machine gun and blunderbuss. Unfortunately, it’s all sculpted in an off white plastic and doesn’t feature any additional paint apps. In this case, I’m willing to give it a pass, because they sure put a hell of a lot of extra work into this figure.

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It’s fitting that Tuskador is the last new figure I will receive from Matty, because this figure happens to represent everything I have loved about this line. It’s a character I didn’t know or care about until I got the figure in hand, at which point I don’t know how my collection ever existed without him. He’s crazy, he’s ridiculous, he’s beautiful, and he’s gloriously fun, and as I said earlier, that pretty much sums up this entire line. And there’s no point for me to serve up a sappy farewell to MOTUC here, because I still have one more new figure to look at, and after that I can turn my attention backwards to some of the older figures that I picked up late in the game and still need to be featured on FFZ.

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: Night Stalker by Mattel

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m doing MOTUC features sparingly these days because I know it’s all coming to an end soon. I’m also starting to get worried about the collapse over there at “The House That Matty Built,” as I just got an email telling me that all four of my November subscription figures (two Masters and two ThunderCats) are now not expected to ship until January. Keep in mind, I got a notice they would be shipping back in early November and I was supposed to have received them about a week ago. In short, there are shenanigans going on over there and telling me I’m going to receive figures that I already paid for some time after your operation is supposed to close down makes me a little queasy, Matty!

So, today I’m going to dial the wheel to a happier time when the toy shipments were more or less running on time, and I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I was ever going to see them. Besides, I’ve been chomping at the bit (Horse Humor! HA!) to open Night Stalker for a while now and after a lot of long hours and hard work over the last couple of weeks, I’ve decided to treat myself by doing just that!

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The packaging is pretty damn big, and should look readily familiar to anyone collecting the line. Matty has been using something similar to this angled window box for previous beasts, steeds, and two-packs all along. You get that wonderful Grayskull-themed stonework on the outside as well as the illustrated cardboard tray inside. There are no longer any bios on the boxes, but you get pictures of a bunch of previous releases on the back. All in all, this box shows off the toy splendidly and is also technically collector friendly, but that later point really depends on how patient and careful you are getting your mecha-horse out of the stable. There’s a torturous combination of transparent rubber bands and black string holding this guy in place. It’s worth mentioning that Night Stalker is most associated with Jitsu, one of the few MOTUC figures I don’t own, but that’s OK, because any of my Eternian baddies are free to ride him into battle. For the purposes of this Feature, I’ll be using Tri-Klops, because… I love Tri-Klops.

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Holy hell, the design here is pure bad ass and just oozes toy perfection. It’s got that wonderful look of retro-tech that tends to flourish on Eternia with just a little hint of steampunk. I’d like to think this thing sounds like a hundred lawnmowers as it stalks the countryside looking for those blasted Masters Do-Gooders. Besides being a great design, there’s so much loving detail packed into this mold! I really dig the bulky and boxy body, complete with sculpted bolts, vents, hoses, plates and all sorts of other bits and bobs. Even the rather low-profile area behind the seat has sculpted hoses and machinery.

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As great as the sculpt is, I think it’s the coloring here that really makes this a prize winning cyber-stag. The bulk of the body features a gorgeous metallic gold finish with black used for the neck, the inner areas where the legs attach, hooves, and the recessed leg panels. This lovely deco is rounded out with some purple for the tail, guns, and the back of the seat and you get some copper paint on a few of the sculpted details. Egads, this is a gorgeous toy!

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The head is the most organic looking thing about this robo-stallion. If it weren’t for the segmented sections on the sides of the head, I’d almost believe the intent here was that some Eternian mad scientist transplanted a real horse head onto this thing and created an unholy abomination. As things are, I’m still inclined to believe the ears came off a real horse. And just look at those soul-less Funko Pop! styled eyes. They’re like black wells of despair… creepy!

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Night Stalker also includes a purple mask that fits perfectly over the head. It gives him a little extra armor, but mostly just makes him look cooler. The sculpt includes scale-type armor plates and cut-outs for the ears, nostrils and eyes. The way the eye holes are cut make Night Stalker look a lot meaner with the mask on. The mask also adds a single horn.

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Articulation includes rotation in the upper legs and hinges in the “knees” and “ankles” for lack of a better term. Sorry, if my horse anatomy is lacking. The tail is ball jointed, but it really seems only designed to rotate and lift up ever so slightly, probably useful for when he is pooping out batteries. The neck is built on a clever string of segmented ball jointed plates, giving it a lot of movement. While I believe the original vintage beasts were mostly static, this modern update is tons of fun to play with. The weapons on this beast are also articulated. The two front guns and raise and lower and the tail gun rotates left and right. Unfortunately, in a mis-guided attempt to secure the toy in the box, the rubber bands have warped the front guns, so they curve inward a bit. Not a big deal, but it was a stupid thing to do when packing him.

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Obviously, Night Stalker is designed to seat a figure. There’s some detailed sculpting inside the compartment and you get a sticker for the dash board, which includes some buttons, gauges, and a video screen showing Night Stalker targeting Castle Grayskull. Yeah, one of the things that really impressed me about the Wind Raider was that all the controls were actually sculpted and here they’re not. I’m not going to hold that against Night Stalker. This late in the game, I’m amazed we even got something as big and cool as this toy.

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I actually had to look up how much Night Stalker cost me, because as a subscriber, they just take my monies and ship me stuff and I don’t tend to think about it a lot. I was surprised to find that he was only $40, which seems like a decent enough value for a toy this big, detailed, and well painted. He’s actually still available on Matty Collector, but the non-subber price is $54. That’s quite a price hike for the purpose of punishing the disloyal. Still, not an outrageous sum for what is a very cool toy.

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As many of you probably know by now, I didn’t have any Masters toys as a kid, but I admired the line through TV commercials and Wish Book pages, and I can remember the endearing appeal of the two robot horses, Stridor and Night Stalker, quite vividly. I got to play with the He-Mans over my best friends house, but he never got either of these steeds so I was looking forward to the possibility of getting both of them in the Classics line. Alas, Matty was only able to make half that wish come true. Stridor didn’t happen, and considering how good this one is that’s a shame. But at least we got this one and he’s quite spectacular! He also throws a little more balance on the side of Skeletor, as the vehicles so far have all been for the heroes.

Masters of the Universe Classics: General Sundar by Mattel

I think in my mind I’ve already detached myself from MOTUC, because I keep forgetting that I have new figures to look at. Not to mention a Castle Greyskull and Battle Ram and a sizable robotic horse to open. No, I haven’t lost my love for this line, but I think I’m just beginning to make peace with the fact that it’s almost done. So, maybe it’s not an issue of forgetting them, but wanting to take my time and savor the final releases because soon there will be no more. That having been said, I was really looking forward to today’s release, which arrived on my doorstep several weeks back and today’s the day I felt like finally opening him up.

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There’s nothing to be said here about the packaging that hasn’t already been said these past many years. Fans of the Filmation She-Ra series will note that the spelling of this guy’s name has changed from Sunder to Sundar because, copyright lapse? Probably. Anyway, the bios on the back of the cards are gone, but I remember a good deal about the two episodes that Sundar appeared in and how unlikely Sundar’s character arc was. Yup, he’s a Horde General with honor, which makes little sense, who all the sudden decides that Hordak and his taxes are unreasonable… shortly after he’s thrown a poor old farmer and his wife into prison for not paying their taxes after they were arbitrarily doubled that morning. Yeah, I see what they were going for here, and I appreciate that kind of depth in a kid’s show that was basically a toy commercial, but it’s still pretty weak.

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This figure, on the other hand, is amazing. There’s something about the Horde Trooper aesthetic that I just adore and that’s on full display here. Sundar wears a modified version of the Horde Trooper armor, which features the same pale gray plates with exposed black ribbing at the joints. His chest plate is missing the sculpted Horde emblem, but he makes up for it with a dashing red cape that “secures” to the front of his shoulders with two bronze clasps, which also match his belt buckle. There’s some wonderful detail sculpted into the armor itself, particularly on the legs and forearms. One o fmy many weaknesses is sci-fi/fantasy armor and this is just a great example of that.

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The head sculpt features a helmet sculpted onto the underlying head to give it some depth and credibility. It’s a relatively simple helmet design with the nose and mouth exposed and large holes for the eyes. The top is adorned with a Grecco-Roman style brush crest. It’s worth pointing out here that my figure has a few nagging little QC issues, like a chip of gray paint near his right eyebrow and some glue residue on the helmet in front of the crest. There’s also some rubbing on the front of his chest plate, but that last bit I’ll just write off as some battle scuffing. I hate to say it, but it really does feel like some of these final figures aren’t getting as much QC as the bulk of MOTUC releases. There’s nothing here that ruins the figure for me, but keep in mind, this guy was around $38 shipped, so even the little flubs can be annoying.

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The articulation here is a bit of a departure from what I’m used to seeing in the MOTUC line, but then this guy does look like he’s comprised of mostly new tooling. The big change here is the use of rotating hinges in the elbows and knees, as opposed to just regular hinges. In fact, this guy is all about the rotating hinges, as he also has them in the shoulders and hips as well. There are swivels in the biceps, wrists, and at the hips and chest. You get the usual ab crunch hinge hidden under the chest plate and the neck is ball jointed. The ankles have hinges and possibly lateral rockers, but I really can’t get much movement out of them.

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Sundar comes with his pair of stun pistols, each housed snugly in his twin holsters. These are cool little designs and he looks great dual wielding them. Oddly, the trigger finger on his right hand doesn’t seem like it was designed with the gun in mind, so he tends to hold it on a bit of an angle.

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You also get this Horde axe. I don’t recall him having this in the series, but it’s been forever since I’ve seen his episodes. Whatever the case, it looks wonderful when matched with one of the Horde Troopers’ shields. It’s pretty cool that Mattel threw in the axe when you consider that Sundar also comes with a trio of extra heads…

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Yup, these bonus noggins are actually for the Horde Troopers so you can spice up your ranks with a little variety. As I understand it the one in the middle is a Naval Trooper and the one on the left is the design helmet from the Horde’s earlier days. I have no clue as to the purple monster face helmet, but it’s a damn fine sculpt.

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Will I get much use out of these? Probably not. I only have two Horde Troopers and I plan on keeping them with their stock heads. There was a rumor that Mattel was going to be re-releasing the Horde Trooper sometime in November, but with things at Matty Collector winding down in just two short months, I’m not finding that likely. If I can get another Trooper, I’ll definitely display him with the Navy Head.

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Sundar is definitely one of my favorite MOTUC figures this year, and that’s saying a lot because there have been quite a few excellent releases. It also shows once again that I don’t need any special affinity for a character to love the figures in this line. The front of the card may say Former Horde General, but I’ll likely keep Sundar displayed with my Horde army because he looks so amazing standing beside Hordak and flanked by a pair of Troopers. The extra heads were also a fantastic bonus and continues to show that Matty is trying to get as much extras into the hands of the collectors before the curtain drops on this wonderful line.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Crita by Mattel

The news has been out for a while now that Matty Collector’s days are numbered. The site as we know it will close up shop at the end of the year and the rest of their stock is now up for grabs. Sadly, it’s mostly the late-game figures that don’t garner a lot of interest. That reminds me, I do need to get me a new Flogg, since the crotch on mine inexplicably exploded while it was sitting bagged in a tote. And in all this turmoil, I completely forgot that I still have a Masters Classics figure from last month waiting to be opened. I better open this one up now, because September is going to be a big month with quite a few figures rolling in.

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Her name is Crita and she dances on the sand… no, wait… that’s Rio from Duran Duran. Let’s try that again. Her name is Crita and she hails from the New Adventures cartoon series. I have no idea who she is, other than one of the evil Space Mutants, and since there are no bios on the backs of the packages anymore, I’m no more the wiser. But not knowing a particular character has never stopped me from enjoying any figure in this line before. I just have to do some research. Thanks to the magic of The Yootoobs, I’m off to watch an episode of the cartoon that she appeared in called “Escape from Gaolotia.” BRB!

…And NOPE! I couldn’t get through it, but I saw enough to know that Crita and Skeletor might have had a little sumthin-sumthin going on and she talks like she smokes 30 packs of Marlboros a day.

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And here she is in all her glory. I don’t get what they were going for with her design. Most of the Space Mutants each had their own crazy thing going on, but I can’t figure out what that is supposed to be with Crita. She’s a lavender skinned lady in a purple dress, purple boots, and a blue half cape kind of thing that is permanently attached to her arm bracers. At the risk of dropping two 80’s music references in one MOTUC review, this looks like Space Stevie Nicks. Holy shit, now I can’t unsee it. Some of the finer details of her ensemble include a gold belt, a gold amulet around her neck, a sculpted ring on her right hand, and what appears to be a bone necklace. Seriously, what’s going on with this chick?

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Have I mentioned this cape thing? Yeah, I did, but it begs further study. Never sacrifice agility for fashion, especially if you’re in a career that demands you fight people for a living. I would have been a whole lot more forgiving of this thing if you could un-peg it from the arms, but you can’t. It’s like some kind of bizarre fashion bondage accessory designed to inhibit her arm movement. Apparently Space Stevie Nicks is a little kinky!

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Crita may be a product of the 90’s, but she’s got hair straight out of the 80’s. Forget Space Stevie Nicks, she looks like she should be a backup vocalist for Jem and the Holograms. Or maybe The Misfits, since she’s a bad girl. My point is she’s got a whole lot of hair. The portrait is pretty standard stuff for this line. She’s pretty, but nobody ever sat her down and told her that too much eye makeup makes her look like a whore. The gold tiara is a nice touch.

By now we all know the standard articulation for the MOTUC female bucks, but I’ve only got so many of these figures left, so let’s run it down for old time’s sake. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinges in the elbows. Of course, the range of motion is limited, so if you want one arm out the other arm needs to be close to her side, and even then, you don’t get a lot of range of motion here. The legs feature ball joints and swivels in the hips, and hinges in the knees and ankles. Here too, Crita suffers some limitation, this time because of her skirt. Finally, you get a swivel in the waist and a ball joint in the neck.

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Crita comes with three accessories. First, you have her gold wand with a rose-colored opaque stone embedded in it. I didn’t watch enough of the episode to figure out what her powers are, but I presume she’s some kind of spell-slinger. Either that or she just hits people with this wand. Actually, it does have a more conventional use…

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It transforms into a whip. No, it doesn’t really transform, this is a second accessory presenting the wand in whip form. I kind of like it. It’s different. I mean, rocker chicks from space with magic whips? I can dig that.

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And lastly, she comes with what I believe is a fear gas gun. I hate this thing. It looks like somebody 3D-printed it. Seriously, not a single lick of paint on an accessory this big is inexcusable when you consider the price of these figures and getting her to hold it in any convincing manner is all but impossible. Also, I kind of hate that it’s not a keytar.

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And that’s Crita, folks. Contrary to how it may sound, I don’t really dislike this figure at all. I kind of hate that I paid about $35 for her when you factor in shipping, but whatever. The rest of this Collectors Choice Sub has been rock solid, and if Crita’s the worst of the bunch, that’s still not too bad. I know quite a few folks were complaining about the QC on this one, like maybe it’s getting worse as the line gets closer to the end, but I don’t have any issues with mine, other than a stray spot of paint or two. Really, in the end my main gripe here is that her outfit is restricting, and she’s just not a lot of fun to play with. But in the end, it’s just nice to have a chick on hand to spruce up my Space Mutant shelf.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Despara by Mattel

In case you haven’t heard, there’s been big doings over at Matty’s Castle. Matty Collector is officially closing down at the end of this year and the Adult Collector lines are being handed over to Super7. Right now it seems like Masters Classics will certainly continue under the new stewardship in some form, while the future of lines like ThunderCats, which haven’t even started shipping yet, are a bit more questionable. Either way, as we ponder the future of these lines, it seems only appropriate to be looking at one of my most anticipated figures from the Collectors’ Choice Sub. Let’s check out Despara!

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Will Super7 carry over this style of packaging? I hope so! These packages have become so iconic to me over the last handful of years. No more bios on the back, but we do get Despara’s tag line on the front, “Powerful Force Captain of the Evil Horde” and a Horde sticker on the bubble. An explosion on the side panel declares this figure is part of the Collectors’ Choice Subscription. I think there are still two more figures coming in this Sub and I still have one other waiting on deck to review. As I understand it, Despara is the name used by Adora in the DC Comic, when she was a Force Captain for The Horde. I’ve never read it, but I do remember her being affiliated with The Horde in the beginning of the She-Ra Filmation cartoon, although I seem to recall that she was just called Force Captain Adora and that she wore her regular clothes. I think I like the DC version better, because…

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Well, damn… just check her out! I don’t know about you, but being told that Force Captain Adora is coming to lay down some Horde law wouldn’t instill fear in me. Nor would I be trembling when some wholesome looking blonde shows up in a tunic and skirt. Now, you tell me Despara is coming to set fire to the village and this bitch turns up? I’m gonna get out my Bank of Etheria checkbook to pay my taxes right quick. This design is just so bad ass. Yeah, it’s basically just She-Hordak, but oh man, do I love it! You get that same sinister black and gray deco on her outfit and a little bit of red. Why no Horde emblem? I’m sure there must be a reason, no?

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The stepped shoulder armor is part of the cape, which just lays on her shoulders. If you pop the head you can lose the cape to give her a little more agility for battle. The cape also features a pair of loops for her twin swords, which I’ll get to in a bit. The paint on this figure isn’t quite as tight as what I’m used to seeing on most of my MOTUC figures. It’s by no means terrible, but some of the lines could be a little sharper. Also, it’s just my personal preference, but I wish the outside of the cape was black. But who am I to nitpick the Horde Queen’s color choices?

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The masked head is patterned after Hordak’s and it is every bit as ugly as it should be. Actually, it’s a wee bit uglier. The teeth look kind of sloppy in both sculpt and paint. Same goes for the cowl that frames the face. The truth is, we’ve seen better in this line. Just compare this portrait to any of the Hordaks and I think it comes up a little short. Again, not terrible, but I think Matty could have done better.

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As we saw in the packaged shot, Despara comes with an unmasked head. It’s basically Adora with a buzz cut and some war paint under her eyes. The portrait looks a little too friendly, but I guess that’s why she has the mask. The paint here is fairly solid. I like the gloss they used on her lips and the bright white for her teeth. There is some unfortunate and annoying mold flashing around the edges of her chin and her ears. I love that we got this extra portrait, but will I be displaying it on the figure a lot? Probably not.

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Articulation features the standard for MOTUC female bucks. That includes rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinged elbows. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have hinges in the knees, swivels at the boots, and the ankles feature both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a swivel in the waist, no ab-crunch, and a ball joint in the neck.

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In addition to the extra head, Despara comes with her own Horde staff, which features an array of silver painted blades and a red tip. I like this thing. It’s a pretty cool mix of ceremonial piece and weapon.

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Despara also comes with her twin swords and here’s where we run into some problems. The swords themselves are fine. They have silver painted blades and the hilts are black and red to accessorize with her outfit. They look great! No, the problem here is that her hands are clearly not made to hold them very well. The grip is just a little too big and the swords wind up falling out of her mitts. I can squeeze the grips to close them and that works for about a minute or so before they go back to normal and drop her swords. Now is a good time to go digging through the trash and find those clear plastic rubber bands they used to hold them in her hands while she was in the package!

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If it sounds like I nitpicked Despara more than I do most Masters Classics figures, you have to understand that I was really looking forward to this one. And what I got is in no way a bad figure. There are, however, a few things about her that didn’t live up to my expectations and I feel some of that has to do with her coming at the end of Matty’s run. I could be totally off base on this conclusion, but the little nitpicks about this figure point to her being rushed. Just stand her next to the original Hordak and the difference in care and craftsmanship feel like night and day. I think the paint could have been a little tighter, the head sculpt a little better, and those sword-dropping hands really are a nuisance. Disappointed is way too strong a word for how I feel. I dig this figure a lot, but I can’t help but believe that had she been released a year or so ago, she would have turned out a little better for it.