Masters of the Universe (Masterverse) ’87 Movie Skeletor by Mattel

Last week I checked out He-Man based on the 1987 film from the Masterverse series, so it’s only fitting I swing back around and have a look at his nemesis Skeletor. Mattel did a few figures from the movie as part of their Classics line, but sadly the line came to a close before they could get to those versions of He-Man and Skeletor. Super7 stepped in to release them, but now Mattel has finally served up these versions as regular retail release action figures. Skeletor had two distinct looks in the movie, regular and golden God all hopped up on power. This is the former version. Super7 did both, and I sure am hoping that Mattel will too. But that’s getting ahead of myself. Let’s have a look at the packaging…

Skeletor is a Deluxe release, which means he comes in a bigger than normal window box with some extras. The Masterverse packaging does a great job of showing off the figure and all the goodies, but the art styling doesn’t strike me as being very evocative of the MOTU brand. It’s not ugly or anything, but I found it surprising that they didn’t at least go with green stonework for the backdrop. But that’s fine. It used to make me shed a tear every time I ripped into those beautiful MOTU Classics packages. And while these are collector friendly, I don’t feel bad about tossing them after I open them.

As much as I loved He-Man’s redesign for this film, I think I dig Skeletor’s even more! It’s an even bigger departure from the classic design, but it looked great on the big screen and it looks pretty damn good as an action figure too. There’s a lot of layering here, with the partial skirt being cast in plastic, as well as the two strips of plates that run from his shoulders to his ankles. You get some beautifully sculpted armor on his chest and shoulders, which I can only describe as having an organic techno-skeleton vibe to them. The metallic purple paint used for these pieces is really snappy too! The lower skirt also has a series of square plates sculpted onto it, resembling brigandine style armor. Skeletor has some really cool bracers, and I dig the silver paint on the backs of his gauntlets that reminds me of a circuit pattern. It’s a bit more pronounced here than on the actual costume, but that’s fine. The cape is light cloth with a triangular plastic piece jutting down, probably intended to be leather, and punctuated with a single bronze painted medallion. The layering and textures of the costume combined with the ornate sculpting makes for an awesome looking figure.

In terms of portrait, Skeletor fares a lot better than He-Man did. You only get the one head sculpt, but I guess Mattel’s thinking was if you get it right the first time, you don’t have to offer a second option. And wow did they get this right! The definition of the skull features mixed with what looks like lumps of malformed flesh makes for a sinister look and a downright superb bit of sculpting. The waxy gray coloring of the skin works too, although I sometimes wonder if a greenish tint would have been the way to go. The hood is sculpted in plastic as part of the head, which looks great, but does curtail his head articulation quite a bit. The rest of the articulation points seem to be identical to He-Man, but you do get a little more restriction in the hips because of the plastic skirt. It’s also worth noting that the shoulder pieces are designed to pop off if you exceed the range of movement up there.

What would Skeletor be without his Havoc Staff? And this iconic accessory got a pretty cool redesign for the film as well. The ram skull motif is a lot more elaborate here with a design resembling a burst of powerful rays behind the skull, and a horn on top. This is a beautiful piece and pretty damned intimidating. In addition to his right fist and left flat hand, Skeletor comes with a pair of accessory holding hands to work with the Havoc Staff and sword.

The sword is quite impressive! There are hints to the design that make it a little similar to He-Man’s, but I can’t remember whether there was supposed to be any connection between the two swords in the movie. At least I don’t remember there being any. The hilt is beautifully sculpted, and the blade is broad and straight. Alas, it is left as unpainted gray plastic, and I wish Mattel had given us some silver paint on the blade. Unlike He-Man, there is nowhere for Skeletor to wear the sword, which is a bummer, but probably more a fault of the movie costume design than the figure.

And finally, you get the Cosmic Key! Mattel gave us this accessory with the Classics version of Gwildor. This time around, the key is in its dormant state with the tuning forks closed. The device is painted in brown, silver, and purple and it looks OK, but I feel like the detail could have been a bit sharper. There’s a plastic loop on the side, so the Key can be held by passing Skeletor’s flat hand through it.

I think both of these figures turned out excellent, but I have to give the nod to Skeletor for not having to make any apologies for the head sculpt. It’s a shame we never got these versions in the vintage line. I would have loved to see at least a couple waves of toys come out branded specifically for the movie, as opposed to stuffing Gwildor and Blade in the regular line. Then again by 1987, I was 15 and almost completely drifted away from toys to pursue other interests. But it’s nice to have these two on my shelf now, and I’m hoping that at minimum we get the golden armor Skeletor, but even better, I’d love to see Mattel use Masterverse to get us a bunch of movie figures. When I get back to Masterverse again, we’ll start checking out some of the Princess of Power figures!

Masters of the Universe Origins: 200x He-Man and Skeletor by Mattel

Happy Friday! And what better way to bring on the weekend then by opening some new toys! Mattel’s MOTU Origins line continues to pump out the content at a record pace, leaving me behind on reviewing these magnificent figures, but I’m doing the best I can to get caught up! Today I’m checking out two more variations of He-Man and Skeletor, this time based on designs from the 200x toyline.

The figures come on the same gloriously retro designed cardbacks that we’ve been seeing all along. You get the 40th Anniversary logo in foil up at the top left corner fo the card, and a rather spiffy MOTU logo sticker on the front of the bubbles. What you don’t get is any actual reference to the Mike Young Production cartoon or 200x series. And that’s fine. For any kiddies out there who are into this line without any context, these are just cool new versions of the two main characters to play with! I should note that I never collected the 200x toys, although I did run into them a lot back in the day when I was making my weekly trips to KayBee Toy Outlet, and I was often very tempted to pick some up. Ultimately, I reasoned that the line was too far along for me to start collecting from the beginning, and so I resisted the temptation. I did, however, get into the MYP cartoon BIG TIME, and I still consider it to be one of the absolute best cartoon reboots ever made. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to get these figures in the Origins style. Let’s start with He-Man!

One of the things that characterized the 200x figures were the somewhat stylized proportions, and since these figures retain the usual Origins bodies, a little of that flavor is lost. What we have left is mostly a costume change, but I really like it. The arms and legs are left unchanged, with the boots all painted brown and the wrist bracers in silver. The pelvic piece is new, with a silver belt and red and gold circular buckle. The sculpted furry diaper is still present, but trimmed back quite a bit. The chest harness features a hexagonal plate with another red and gold motif. The silver border looks great and there’s a nice hammered texture to the background. This design is different enough from the classic look to stand out, but not so much to be jarring. Were I a kid playing with these figures, I could easily see this one becoming a regular stand in for the more classic He-Man on my adventures. It just looks fantastic!

As for the head sculpt, I like it a lot, but there have been so many He-Heads in this line so far, I’d be lying if I could keep them all straight. Is this new? Is it recycled? Without digging through a tote for my head bag, or scrolling through my past reviews, I’m not going to say for sure, but I’m guessing it’s a repack. I will say that it is emphatically not designed to look like the 200x figure, and instead retains that very vintage look. I think this head would work on pretty much any Origins He-Man we’ve seen so far. Either way, I think the head looks really good with this costume.

As for weapons, He-Man comes with the 200x redesign of the Power Sword. I’ve never been a big fan of this design, as it just way too clunky and impractical. I do, however, appreciate the attention to detail in the sculpt. It’s more machine now than sword, but that really gave the sculptors something to work with. There’s a loop in the back of He-Man’s harness so he can wear the sword on his back. I will point out that the figure’s grip is a little loose on the sword. I’m not sure if that’s a problem with my figure in particular, but it helps to squeeze it tight so he doesn’t drop it.

You also get his battle axe and shield, and I absolutely love these! The axe has some techno-gizmos sculpted into it to resemble the same tech that went into the sword, but here it doesn’t really make the weapon look unwieldly or cumbersome… just futuristic!!! The shield also has a little mesh circuit pattern on one of the arms of the cross, and some really nice texturing in the red field areas. These accessories look great together, and I’ll likely display He-Man with the wielding these and with the sword on his back. OK, let’s move on to Skeletor!

To me the 200x version of Skeletor looked extra stylized to me, and there was something about him that made his limbs look extra long and his head extra tiny. As a result, this Origins version looks a lot more like its doing its own thing, and boy do I love it! The armor pieces sport some excellent detail, like leather texturing in the hip and groin armor, organic designs in the grieves, and the shoulders and gorget look awesome! In addition to the purple plastic on the armor, you get red jewels painted on the knees and in the center of the crossed bones on his chest, as well as black for the shoulder guards. The wrist bracers are painted purple, and his feet are left pale blue. The fastener on the armor tends to slip out of the loop on my figure from time to time, but even when it does the harness and shoulders stays put. All in all, I love the way Mattel adapted this design to Origins, and this is a great version of Skeletor!

And then there’s the head sculpt! Hot damn, is this outstanding! The skull face is nestled in the center of a purple textured hood, and boy does he look pissed! The angry, downturned brow looks very expressive along with the red dots in the center of his eye holes. I also really love the paintwork on the face, with the way the yellow transitions to the green at the edges. This portrait is a little work of art, and one of my favorites that this line has produced so far!

Skeletor comes with the 200x version of his sword, which I believe was two swords joined together, which is why it has what looks like two grips. I suppose one could be a knuckle-guard, but either way the design of the hilt makes it kind of awkward for him to hold. Like the 200x Power Sword, I think this is well sculpted, but it just looks completely impractical. I wish they had given Skeletor a loop on his back to tuck the sword into like they did He-Man. I guess I could tuck it under the strap, but with the way it likes to come loose, that’s probably not going to work.

And you also get his trusty Havok Staff, which I think is just a repack of the one we’ve seen a bunch of times before.

I usually get tired of toy lines constantly churning out variants of main characters, but in the case of Origins I haven’t minded so much, because they’ve all been really good. And this pair may be the best yet. Normally, I would take the classic look for these guys over the 200x designs any day, but I’m shocked at how great these look adapted for the Origins bodies. Both figures get high marks from me, but I’m leaning toward the Skeletor as being my favorite of the pair. The armor just looks outstanding and the portrait is perfect! What’s even better is right now both of these figures have been turning up online at pretty good sale prices. Last time I looked Skeletor was going for $10 on Amazon, and boy is that an absolute steel for such a remarkable figure! Do I get another to keep carded? Nah… but it is tempting!

Masters of the Universe Origins: He-Man and Skeletor by Mattel

If you’ve been with me for a good part of my decade long journey here on FFZ, you probably know that I went deep into Masters of the Universe Classics. I braved the horrors of a hundred ordering days. I dealt with site crashes and instant sell outs. I coughed up confiscatory shipping rates. And I have no regrets. It was all worth it. I have a beautiful MOTUC collection, which takes up a lot of space. I love these figures and I will die with these figures. But when they started with the Filmation versions, I declared that there was no way in hell I was doing it all over again with a brand new line. I drew my line in the Eternian sand and said I bought my last He-Mans. My willpower held. And when Super7 announced the Vintage style figures, I again held fast. Yeah, I bought a bunch of those Super7 ReAction figures, but that’s a story for another time. When Mattel re-launched the He-Mans yet again with Origins, I was confident my resolve would continue to be firm.

Hey, look! I bought new He-Mans figures! Well, there was only so much my willpower could take! So, here’s the thing. I never owned any MOTU figures as a kid. My parents were big into my investing in the toy lines I already collected. So, if I asked for a He-Man I would get, “Why don’t you get another GI JOE or Transformer and build up one of those collections?” It was sound advice, and to be fair my best friend at the time had everything MOTU put out, so I could always play with them over there. As a result, those old toys have something of a mystical attraction to me. It’s why I nearly caved and collected Super7’s vintage line, and it’s certainly why I gave in and started buying Origins. So what is this line all about? Well, it recreates the vintage figures with added articulation. Hense the tag line, Modern Posing, Retro Play! The figures come on vintage style cards, which are totally not collector friendly and meant to be torn open in the car while you’re driving home from the store. Yeah, just kidding about that. Don’t do that. You’ll crash and die. Let’s kick things off with He-Man!

Here’s the most powerful Man in the Universe and I think he looks great! He is not simply a copy of the vintage figure with added articulation, but he’s close enough to really invoke the feel of the originals. The body type is mostly unchanged with He-Man being as burly as ever, but now that he has working knees he isn’t stuck in that squat pose. As a result, the figure is ever so slightly taller than the originals, but really presented in the same scale. The sculpted muscles look great, and they should, because we’re going to be seeing them again and again in future figures. He still has the rubbery-plastic chest harness, which clips on in the back, and includes a loop so he can wear a weapon on his back. The rest of the outfit includes the sculpted belt and brown furry barbarian diaper, which looks nearly identical to the original figure. The boots have the sculpted wraps and fur fringe at the top, only now that fringe is painted yellow. He has sculpted wrist bracers to match his belt, which is probably the biggest departure from the old figure. In hand, I absolutely love the feel of this figure, the colors pop, the proportions are great, and it just begs to be played with.

The head sculpt is a merging of old and new. He has the angry barbarian expression, gritting his teeth as if he plans to dine on your entrails. It’s very unlike what I’ve become used to seeing as He-Man, but still very faithful to the original. The hair is a longer coif than he originally had, and it’s cast in a separate piece of plastic to give it some depth as it hangs down over his forehead and frames his face. I do kind of wish they had gone for a closer recreation of the vintage look, but that’s not to say I don’t dig this portrait, and I suppose it goes a long way to make this it’s own figure. I’m fine with that.

He-Man comes with the same weapons load out as he originally had. That includes one half of the Power Sword, a shield, and a double-bladed battle axe. The axe and shield are both fantastic. The shield actually has both a grab bar for He-Man to slide his hand through and a clip to attach it securely to his arm. The sword, It’s the sword that I have some mixed emotions about. They followed through on the old gimmick that he and Skeletor would each have half of the Power Sword and they could be pegged together. I think that’s a great concept, but it means that half the sword looks like crap. It would have been great if Mattel could have ponied up for a completely finished sword as well.

As for the articulation, He-Man is now loaded up with rotating hinges. He’s got them in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles. He’s got swivels at the tops of his boots and his waist, and a ball joint in the neck. Plus, the jointing system is modular, so you can pull him apart and swap parts, at least that’s the theory, I don’t plan on trying it with my figures. The result is all the nostalgic aesthetics of the original toys with some added playability. It’s truly a match made in heaven! Let’s move on and check out Skeletor!

MYAHHHH!!! Just like the good old days, Skeletor makes use of the same basic buck as He-Man, with just a few obvious differences. The forearms lack He-Man’s wrist bracers, and the lower legs and feet are completely different. And that’s where that modular construction comes in handy for Hasbro and no doubt does a lot to help keep the cost of these figures down. The belt and barbarian diaper are still there, but partially concealed under the new belt and loin cloth that’s attached around the waist. Skeletor also has his iconic chest armor with attached shoulders, and the sculpted crossbones on the front. Like He-Man’s this attaches together in the back, but unlike He-Man’s it does not have a loop for his weapon. You can still, slide it into the straps and it works just fine. Overall, I think the figure looks great, the colors are vibrant, but his webbed feet are a tad small! And since the bodies are the same, we get the exact same articulation as we saw with He-Man.

As with He-Man, Mattel went in a new direction for the head sculpt, and therein lies the biggest bone I have to pick with Skeletor! I really would have liked something closer to the vintage head. I’m not hating this, but I’m just not loving it either. It looks so much more primitive than the original head, particularly the way the teeth are done. And I’m just not sure about those red eyes. This would be a great opportunity to do a running change. Or maybe give him a better head in a Battle Armor version, so I can swap it out.

Skeletor comes with two weapons, one of which is the half of the Power Sword, which I’ve really already discussed. It’s a great gimmick, it gave my buddy and I lots of play value as kids, with Skeletor trying to unite the two halves. But it makes for a f’ugly half of an accessory. It would have been so cool if Mattel could have included full versions of both swords in the package. But hey, I’ve already been over this.

The other accessory is his infamous Havok Staff, and this is a magnificent looking piece!. It’s molded in pretty stiff plastic and the detail on the ram’s head is great. I also dig how he can now hold it in both hands thanks to that added articulation!

In case you can’t tell, I’m absolutely in love with the idea behind this line, and at a $14.99 price point, Mattel has managed to keep these pretty inexpensive, especially when I’m used to paying $20 for Hasbro’s 6-inch figures and Deluxe Transformers. I was a more than a little concerned that these were made a Walmart Exclusive, and I still think that’s a bad idea, but I was surprised to find that even my shitty Walmart that never gets any good toys (INCLUDING THEIR OWN EXCLUSIVES!!!) actually stocked these, so I was able to get this pair as well as Prince Adam and the Sky Sled and Battle Cat too! Of course, these have all since sold out and no re-stocks have arrived since, but I’ve managed to pre-order the rest on the website, so hopefully that goes well. How deep will I go here? I’m trying to tell myself to stick to the core characters and not go All-In, but I think a lot of that will have to do with their availability. If I see a new MOTU Origins figure on the peg, it isn’t likely that I’m going to leave it there, but maybe I can keep myself from buying a bunch online. We’ll see! In the meantime, these two have been permanent residents of my desk and have been battling it out a little bit every day!