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!

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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.

ThunderCats Classics: Jackalman by Mattel

Hurray! It’s time for another depressing look into Matty’s still-born ThunderCats Classics action figure line. The second figure in this very short-lived line is none other than Jackalman, and that’s great, because why spend the slots getting us an entire team of ThunderCats when Matty can give us little bits and pieces of an incomplete line? Why not just kick me in the dick with a steel toed boot while you’re at it, you assholes! Anyway, in addition to being cut short, these figures have also been arriving really late. Jackalman is October’s release and mine only just arrived a few days ago.

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Here’s a look at the packaging, which is mostly the same as we saw with Lion-O. You get a black mailer box, this time with Mumm-Ra’s logo on the front and some nice monochrome art on the side panels. Inside, the figure comes in a colorful window box with a trap door in the bottom to slide out the tray. You get a great look at the figure from the front and the back panel has some rather colorful and unconventional character art, as well as a blurb about the character. In a nutshell, the presentation here is absolutely superb and it’s totally collector friendly. Jackalman has the dubious distinction of being the first and very likely the last of The Evil Mutants to be released in this line, unless of course Super7 can work licensing miracles. Yeah, that isn’t going to happen.

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And that’s a crying shame because this figure is fantastic! Jackalman makes use of a fair bit of the MOTUC Beastman buck. I never thought it would work as well as it does here. And yet, Jackalman feels even less like an MOTUC-styled figure to me than Lion-O did. Part of the illusion of newness comes from the clever way Matty layered the neck and additional shoulder fur onto the buck by sculpting it as part of the left shoulder armor and chest straps. Jackalman is still wearing a belt and furry diaper, but these are both new sculpts and are very distinctive. The minimalist detail on the shoulder armor really lends itself to an animated look, and I dig the leopard print armor plate strapped to his forearm.

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The coloring on this figure is nice and vibrant. The orange-brown fur is pretty close to Beastman’s coloring, but I think this figure still manages to carry a unique look without feeling like a glorified custom. I will concede that the paint could have been cleaner in some areas. For example, there’s a little chipping to the gray borders on his ankle cuffs and the white paint on my figure’s right fang is sloppy. I’d say that the paint QC is in step with the recent MOTUC figures I’ve been getting, which is to say not terrible, but not as good as it was in the earlier days of the line either.

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If there’s any one thing that really sells this figure for me, it’s the head sculpt. They’ve really managed to capture the personality of this particular Mutant in the portrait. It’s so good that it just reinforces what a damn shame it is that we’ll never get to see them take a stab at Vultureman, Monkian, or Ssslithe.

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The articulation here is very similar to the MOTUC line. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, and hinges in the elbows. The legs have rotating hinges and swivels in the hips and hinges in the knees. There’s a swivel in the waist and an ab crunch hinge in the chest. The neck is ball jointed. The improvements include hinges and some rather generous lateral rockers in the ankles and the wrists are on rotating hinges. Jackalman comes with an extra set of hands that offer a little more versatility with the accessories, but I found them to be unnecessary.

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Speaking of accessories, Jackalman comes with two weapons. First off, we have this pretty cool club with a spike in it. It’s a wickedly gnarled sculpt with a lot of personality for a simple club.

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Even better, you get this amazing axe. It’s a two-handed pole weapon with a wood grain pattern sculpted into the shaft. I love the crude, hammered look to the axe head.

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While the paint could have been a little tighter on my figure, I still think Jackalman is a fantastic release and yet another example of how great this line could be if it were ever allowed to go the distance. At the same time, I can’t help but feel a little resentful that with so few different figures being made, one of them is Jackalman. Yes, I realize that the releases were planned out before the line was shit-canned. And yes, it’s bad form to blame Jackalman for not being Cheetara, Tygra, or even Ssslithe. But it’s hard not to think that way.

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.

ThunderCats Classics: Lion-O by Mattel

After a slight delay and having his entire toy line collapse out from under him, Matty’s Lion-O finally arrived at my doorstep last week. Of course, he was unceremoniously preceded by the SDCC Thunder Kittens, which I looked at a few weeks back, right around the same time Matty announced they were closing up shop. Since then Super7, who inherited Matty’s Masters license, exhibited at the New York Comic Con with lots of Masters of the Universe Classics teasers, but not a peep about Thundercats. Yes, I think I’m finally prepared to concede this line is dead after this year, but I’m going to try not to focus on that in this feature and just look at this figure for what it is. I will, however, make some comparisons to the Bandai figures from several years back.

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The packaging and presentation here is quite nice. There’s a black mailer box with the Thundercats logo and the Eye of Thundera on the front and some additional art on the side panels.

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Inside the mailer box you get this really slick looking window box. And yes, that’s a cat hair stuck to the bubble of the package. Is that meta or irony? I’m really not sure. Anyway, the figure is presented against a bright red backdrop and the artwork on the bottom shows Lion-O gazing into the Sword of Omens with the blade extending upward in the form of molded detail in the window. On the bottom, there’s a flap that opens to allow you to pull the tray out. The back of the package features some very colorful artwork and a blurb about Lion-O himself. I’m totally blown away by the presentation here. It’s just fantastic and totally collector friendly. I don’t keep a lot of my toys’ packaging, but this one I sure as hell will be hanging onto. Let’s get the Lord of the Thundercats out of the package and check him out…

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The idea here was to recreate the Thundercats in the Masters Classics style and while I was dubious at first, I have to say it works brilliantly. This is certainly the Lion-O that I know and love and I didn’t already know that he was developed with the Masters Classics in mind, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed until I picked him up and played with him and felt a lot of the similarities. I think the buff proportions look great on him and his outfit is executed beautifully. The detail on the exposed mid-riff area maybe looks a little off. It’s a little too much like it was chiseled out of plastic, but it’s not something that really hurts the overall look of the figure for me. The detailing on the belt is great and the shade of blue they used for his vest and boots is perfect. The paint on my figure is very sharp.

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In the cartoon, Lion-O used the Claw Shield as a sheath for the Sword of Omens when it was in its dagger form. To simulate that, you get the Claw Shield with the Sword of Omens hilt sculpted in it and the whole thing pegs onto his belt. Now, on the one hand, Bandai was able to give us a Claw Shield with a removable Sword of Omens on each of their Classics Lion-O’s. On the other hand, Matty’s version of the Shield looks so much better than what Bandai gave us. Here, we get actual sculpted fur, as well as painted knuckles and claws, whereas the Bandai version of this piece was just smooth gold plastic. I’m not saying that Matty couldn’t have still made it work with a removable sword, but I still prefer what we got here, based on the aesthetics alone.

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I find that I’m still mulling over the head sculpt. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but at the same time it feels a little off. There might be a wee too much Masters styling in there. I think it leans a bit toward being an interpretation of Lion-O than an attempt at recreating the animated character. I suppose you could argue the same thing about MOTUC He-Man, even the Filmation one, versus the figure. I think Bandai was on the right track with their larger Lion-O figure, but at the same time, the sculpt was way too soft. Here, you get much more defined features. In the end, I guess this is leaning toward more like what a realistic Lion-O might look like and I’m OK with that. Lion-O’s hair must be pretty tough to do in a 3D representation like an action figure, but I think they did a fine job with it.

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The articulation is exactly what I’ve come to expect from the Masters Classics line and that has it’s good and bad points. The MOTUC articulation is great when compared to the vintage figures, but it’s feeling a little dated to me now. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, hinged at the knees, and have swivels at the hips. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge in the torso, and the neck is ball jointed. The points are all there, and the hinges in the wrists are a nice bonus, but the range of motion is stifled by the muscle sculpt. Bandai’s figures had mostly the same points, but a better range of motion. On the other hand, this figure feels a lot more solid and better built.

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In addition to the Claw Shield that pegs to the belt, Lion-O comes with another one that he can wear simply by popping off his left hand and popping the Shield onto it. And while I nitpicked the belt version having the sword sculpted in as part of it, the wearable Shield can indeed hold the small version of the Sword of Omens that comes with the figure. This Claw has all the same great sculpting paint as the other one.

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The small Sword of Omens is a nicely sculpted little piece with some great paintwork as well. The hilt is left matte silver while the blade itself is painted with metallic silver paint. The paint used for the closed Eye of Thundera is also sharp and clean.

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And naturally, you get the Sword of Omens in all it’s… um, fully erect glory. This is a great little recreation of the majestic weapon, right down to the detail in the curled crossguard and a tiny Eye of Thundera painted every bit as neatly as the larger one on his belt buckle. Again, the hilt is left matte silver plastic while the blade is painted with a metallic shade to make it really pop. The plastic used here is a lot stouter than the stuff Bandai used for theirs, leading to a lot less warping and bending. Lion-O also comes with an extra left hand with a looser grip that makes it easier to hold the sword in both hands. But the big question is… can he be posed consulting the sword’s Sight Beyond Sight?

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Yes, he can!

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When Bandai’s Lion-O’s came out, I thought they were decent figures. The original, larger version was my favorite of the two and there’s still a lot I love about that release. I was interested to see if Matty’s version would replace him and after spending some time with this figure, I have to say that he has. Blending Thundercats with Masters Classics was an interesting experiment and it’s almost surprising to me how well it played out in the end. Lion-O is a great looking figure and I’m finding it pretty hard to put him down since he landed on my desk sometime last week. And yes, here’s where I throw in what a shame it is that a figure this good is part of a line that will yet again be cut short. Actually, at this point it’s not so much a shame as it is a cruel joke the universe seems to be playing on us poor Thundercats collectors.

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.

ThunderCats Classics: Wilykit and Wilykat (SDCC Exclusive) by Mattel

Yes, folks, I’m sort of cheating on this fine Anime Saturday morning. Obviously this day is set aside for figures based on proper anime, but today I’m bending the rules so I can finally look at this set based on the Thundercats cartoon, which at least counts as animation, and a tenuous hook on which to hang today’s Feature. I was so excited for this set when it was first revealed. I cursed it for being a convention exclusive, but I vowed I would pay whatever price was needed. In the end, I was able to get it off of the soon to be defunct Matty Collector site with little difficulty and since then it’s been sitting in the corner silently mocking me. I should be cherishing this Feature, but I’m more in a mind of just wanting to get it over with…

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Of course, the reason for my onset of Thundercats induced depression is because the line may already be dead. With Matty Collector going under at the end of the year and transferring their licenses to indie toy company, Super7, it seems unlikely (albeit not impossible) that Thundercats Classics will survive the switch. That means that after two false starts from Bandai, the dream of getting a full set of Thundercats figures based on the classic cartoon may still be only just that… a dream. With that rousing introduction out of the way, I’m going to try as hard as I can to not let any of the behind-the-scenes politics to cloud my opinions on these Thunder Kittens.

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The packaging for this set sure is nice. I don’t know whether it was ever really an SDCC exclusive, few things are these days, but the presentation sure points to it being something special. The set comes in an illustrated black shipper box with the Eye of Thundera logo and the figures’ names below it.
Inside, you get a fantastic looking window box that shows off the figures and their accessories beautifully. The back and side panels feature some rather pretty character art, and the whole thing unfolds into an illustrated display stage with The Cat’s Lair in the background. Getting the figures and all the accessories out can be a pain, thanks to those terrible plastic ties that all these companies seem to be using now. Also, you’ll want to be super careful opening up the stage, which serves as a storage for the hoverboard display stands. Ultimately, Matty went all out for the presentation here and I absolutely respect and appreciate that.

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And here are WilyKit and WilyKat out of the package. The figures themselves are special for being really the first time we’re getting proper figures of the Thunder Kittens. I believe LJN originally released them as static PVC figurines. They later got better releases, but still felt a little wanting. Even the 2011 reboot figures were rather insubstantial in the 3 3/4-inch scale and not released at all into Bandai’s 6-inch scale. The sculpts on these kittens are pretty solid. They do a nice job capturing both the character portraits as well as the classic costumes. Kat features his two-tone brown belted tunic and buccaneer boots. Kit features her ragged-cut dress and spats. Both figures have places on their belts where you can peg in the coiled versions of their weapons. Overall, there’s a very nice balance here between detail and adhering to the simple animated look.

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The articulation here is identical on both figures, and it’s safe to say these are the best articulated versions of the kittens we’ve yet to see. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. The ankles are hinged, the waists and wrists have swivels, and the necks are ball jointed. Hinges in the wrists would have been nice and the tunic and dress do inhibit the hip movement a bit, but otherwise I really have no complaints when it comes to the pose-ability here.

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Unfortunately, the paint quality runs hot and cold. Most of the paint on these are fine, but there are some flubs that have no business being on a pair of $60 figures in this scale. Oddly enough these mostly appear on my Kat, while Kit has escaped largely unscathed. The biggest offender is on my Wilykat’s face, where there’s a large glob of paint on his left cheek just beside his nose. There’s also a lot of paint chipping on his right arm just below his wrist bracer. Some of the lines could also be sharper.

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Each of the kittens come with some extra hands. These are all pretty standard with the exception of the one sculpted with an effects part for Kat’s smoke bombs. The sculpt and paint on this piece are fantastic, but if memory serves, the purpose was to throw these and have them burst into a smokescreen, so why would they already be smoking in his hand? Am I missing something?

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You also get deployed versions of each kittens weapon. Kat comes with his whip and Kit comes with her pink lasso. It’s worth pointing out that on the back of the box, it mentions Wilykit having a hypnotic flute as one of her weapons. It’s not included with the figure, but then unless I’m mis-remembering the flute was something they introduced in the 2011 reboot. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve watched my original Thundercats DVDs, so I could be entirely off base on that one. Either way, it probably shouldn’t have been mentioned on the box.

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The hoverboards are nice pieces, but the paint on these could have been better. Again, the issue seems to mostly affect Kat’s board and not Kit’s. Kat’s board just looks dirty on the top surface with all sorts of scratches and stray paint marks, and the edging lines aren’t really that sharp. Someone at the factory really had it out for WilyKat that day. If this set were a regular release that I had picked up through a regular retailer, I would have demanded an exchange for another one.

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The clear stands secure pretty well to the bottoms of the boards and they hold them beautifully thanks to a pretty strong ball joint. Each stand features a sculpted Eye of Thundera. The figures attach to the boards via standard foot pegs and they look great riding them.

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Finally, we have the stage, which folds out from the packaging. Even better, it can be folded back together so the figure can be returned to the packaging without any issues. I absolutely love when companies do this sort of thing and in this case it goes a long way to help justify the price point here. The artwork is beautiful and the figures look fantastic displayed on it. It’ll look fantastic at the back of a shelf with the kittens on the stage and whatever other figures we manage to get posed standing in front of it.

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Also, if you’re wondering, the kittens scale pretty well with Bandai’s first pair of Thundercats Classics, Lion-O and Tygra.

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If I set aside all the ill will I’m feeling toward Matty and their Thundercats Classics right now, this set really only suffers from some piss-poor paint QC, and I’m willing to concede that issue might be isolated to my particular set. If the paint on my Wilykit figure and board wasn’t such an issue, I’d be free to gush on about how much I adore these figures, the accessories, and the overall presentation. Even if we never do wind up with a complete set of Classics out of this line, it’s nice to finally have decent figures of the Thunder Kittens and knowing that I’ll at least have some of the core team to display them with. Indeed, I’m smitten enough with this set that I’m seriously considering rolling the dice on better paint and picking up a second one. And just because there aren’t enough Uncle Buck references in Thundercats action figure reviews…

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“Hey Wilykat… Here’s a quarter. Go downtown and have a rat gnaw that thing off your face.”

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.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Darius by Mattel

Yes, folks, I continue to cling to the Masters Classics line through the tenuous link of the Collectors’ Choice subscription. I want to say this is the third release in this Sub, with another four or five still coming, but the constant delays are throwing off my count. It’s gotten to the point where I’m just surprised to see one of these show up at my door. Today I’m opening up Darius, and this is a figure that sat around for a little while because I honestly had very little interest in him and, mostly because he was not a Mythic Legions figure and right now anything that’s not a Mythic Legions figure can pretty much go to hell.

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Of course, you get the same great packaging as always. Maybe not as snazzy and collector friendly as those Club Grayskull boxes, but I still dig it. You get a “Galactic Protectors” sticker on the bubble and his tagline is “Leader of the Galactic Protectors.” Yup, Darius is one of the good guys from the New Adventures of He-Man. To clarify, he is based off the prototype of an unreleased New Adventures figure and was going to be He-Man’s intergalactic mentor in the cartoon, but they ended up not using him. Do I care? Nah, I’m just in this line for the cool and wacky designs. Note how messed up the top of my card is? Despite charging like $12 for ground shipping, Matty continues to rely on just one sheet of crumpled brown paper as packing. Thanks, guys!

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So, one of the things I like most about the New Adventures characters is that they allow for a lot more detail than a lot of the MOTU figures, and Darius here is a great example of that. The paint and sculpt on this dude is just totally off the charts for a line where we’re used to just getting a repainted muscular buck. Just look at all the gizmos sculpted into his vest and thigh armor and the straps holding them on. Even the coloring on this figure is outrageously good, with metallic copper and gold armor against a red and blue costume. Many of the sculpted details are highlighted with additional silver paint. Darius is a techno-infused feast for the eyes!

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The blue cape is rather bloated and cumbersome. I think the use of plastic for capes on figures in this scale needs to go away. It looks OK from the front, but from the back it’s just a big hunk of plastic. It cries out for some sculpted stitching, or rumples and wrinkles. There’s even an unsightly seam running down the right hand side. Fortunately it is removable by pulling it out of the shoulder tabs.

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The result not only frees the figure from a lot of unwanted bulk, but also lets you get a good look at all the beautiful detail on the back of the figure. Look at the individually painted straps and buckles on his leg armor. Check out all the work that went into the back of his vest. Why hide all that great stuff with an ugly blob of a cape?

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The head sculpt here is absolutely fantastic. The facial features are very pronounced and he has a slight snarl that gives him loads of personality. The detail work in the beard and hair is great as well. Yeah, my figure has a few stray marks of the brown paint they used for the hair, but I just consider it dirt from the battlefield, or whatever. This is undoubtedly one of my favorite portraits in the entire line.

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To protect that wonderful noggin, Darius comes with a removable helmet, something we haven’t seen a lot of the line. In fact, this may be a first, unless you count Flogg. It fits beautifully on the figure.

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I wish I could tell you that Darius comes with some suitably amazing accessories, but the sad truth is that his shield and weapon are both disappointing. The shield is just a weird shape with virtually no detail. And the weapon is… well, I guess it’s some kind of flail, but it just looks ridiculous. It reminds me of an Aspergillum, which is a word I only know because I was raised Catholic and it’s a kind of mace that was used to spritz holy water on crowds of people. And a warm welcome, to all you bewildered folks who find themselves reading a Masters of the Universe action figure review because you googled Aspergillum and it brought you here! Anyway, I presume Darius’ ball is designed more for bashing in heads than it is blessing people. Either way, I just don’t like it at all.

motucdar12

motucdar13

It’s a shame to end this Feature on a downer due to some shitty accessories, because Darius really is a great figure. I was not looking forward to this guy, and even when he arrived, I had little interest and tossed him aside. Once I got him open and in hand, however, I found a lot to appreciate.  I won’t lie, though. I’m really getting to the point with this line where I’m saying, “Wow, I paid like $37 for this guy if you factor in the shipping.” My conception of any kind of value in this line is beginning to wear thin, and I find myself becoming more comfortable with the fact that the end is drawing near. At the same time, I know there are some amazing figures yet to come!