Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Rant Review: Masters of the Universe Classics Stinkor figure

Welcome to the first review of 2018! (Some health and family issues prevented me from posting the first couple of weeks of the year, but things should proceed as normal now.) In a move that I sincerely hope won't set the mood for the entire year, let's kick off 2018 with a foul stench! I first encountered Stinkor, as I did most MOTU figures, when I saw him hanging on the pegs at a local store. On a trip to the mall, we visited McCrory's, one of the few stores in the mall I liked, since it had toys. I discovered Stinkor and his nemesis Moss Man that day, hanging next to each other on the pegs. Even without having seen any media featuring these characters, it was clear that they were good/evil counterparts to one another. I remember excitedly explaining to my Mom that they complemented each other, so I really needed to get both! Getting a new toy wasn't a regular thing, so I was shocked when she told me I could get both! (Of course, I now know how tight money was for us at the time, so Mom probably had to give up or delay getting something she was planning to get herself so that I could have a lump of plastic that reeked of patchouli. She always put her family ahead of herself, and continues to do so to this day.)

I don't think it's an exaggeration to claim that Stinkor is one of the best-remembered of all MOTU characters, despite never appearing in the Filmation cartoon. Like it or not, the cartoon is quite possibly the biggest cultural touchstone for MOTU to the general public. For a character who never once made an appearance on it to be one of the most famous characters is quite unusual. The figure's gimmick-- he was a skunk man toy who actually smelled bad-- is just that memorable. Even my own Mom, who can scarcely recognize any MOTU characters beyond Skeletor and He-Man themselves, knows exactly who Stinkor is.

The same gimmick that lent him such notoriety also made him a huge fan-favorite, and the excellent 2002 redesign by the Four Horsemen kept that flame alive. (Of course, we never got a figure in the 2002 line since Mattel's bungling led to its premature demise, but he did at least merit a statue in the awesome figure-scaled staction line that was produced by the 4H and NECA.) The 2002 tie-in cartoon finally gave Stinkor an origin story: Diminutive furry thief Odiphus was involved in an accident while trying to join Skeletor's crew, and was transformed into the hideous Stinkor! Initially kicked out of Snake Mountain, he was welcomed back once Skeletor saw how useful an appallingly smelly mutant could be against his enemies. Stinkor was one of the most-demanded figures in the MOTUC line almost from its inception, eagerly awaited by collectors of all stripes. Not bad for a character who started out as a simple repaint of Mer-Man!

As with the vintage figure, Stinkor is composed of many re-used parts. Unlike his vintage counterpart, the Classics figure has a few new pieces that allow you to customize him a bit to suit your own preferences. The 4H used the greater range of parts available to them to give Stinkor a furry body, while retaining the Skeletor gloves, hands, feet, and shin guards. (Though those forearms are new pieces too, as the furry texture had to be added.) The armor is the same as Mekaneck's, though this time around, Stinkor gets it first. We've seen all these pieces before, and they sport the same great sculpts. The furry body works far better for the character than the smooth parts the vintage figure was stuck with. However, there is a glaring issue here: The forearms are reversed. Swapped parts were an irritatingly frequent problem with the MOTUC line, and the forearms are particularly problematic. The muscles appear to be shaped wrong due to the swap, the points on the gloves face the wrong direction, and the wrist doesn't quite line up with the hand properly. Swapping forearms is not a difficult thing, but since the white stripes would then be on the wrong side of the forearms, it will also involve some repainting for anyone who wants to do it. Thankfully, Stinkor's status as a deformed mutant gives him a bit of an out here, for anyone who doesn't want to bother with it. The bigger issue was Mattel's handling of the mistake, claiming it was an intentional choice. (I don't think anyone actually bought that.)

Putting that aside, we can check out Stinkor's new parts. He has a new 2002-inspired head sculpt, which looks simply fantastic. The vintage-style Mer-Man head works great as well, so it really comes down to personal preference here. The heads are actually quite similar, though the 2002 head is much pointier in general. I have a slight preference for the 2002 head, but I honestly could go either way. Stinkor also has a neck overlay, like Mer-Man received. In Stinkor's case, it adds a lot of fur to his upper body. It looks great, though it does limit the head's range of motion a bit. Moving into accessory territory, Stinkor has several options to allow you to customize his armor a bit. First, there is the rebreather, molded to fit on the 2002-style head. It fits well and looks good, but I just can't bear to cover up that wonderful head sculpt! The dot on the front of the armor is also removable, and there is an air nozzle piece that fits in that spot nicely. Stinkor also include a set of air tanks that fit on back of the armor. All of these pieces can be mixed and matched any way you like to get just the look you want. This attention to detail is fantastic, and it would be damn nice if more figures had gotten this level of care.

Stinkor's other accessories are his shield and gun. We've seen the shield before, and I feel the sculpt is too soft on it, just as I did before. While the shield echoes the vintage figure's accessory, the gun is based on the 2002 staction's weapon, and has some nice detailing. Nothing too wild, though. Both weapons look nice, but they (along with the air tanks) were molded in blue and then sent out to die. There are no details painted in, no wash to bring out the sculpted detail, nothing at all. It lends them a cheap appearance that is totally incongruous with the rest of the figure. Odiphus would have been very cool to get as a pack-in, but for whatever reason, that didn't happen. (More than five years later, we still haven't gotten him!) Articulation is standard for the line, with ball joints at the head, shoulders, and hips, hinges at the elbows, knees, torso, and wrists, cuts at the biceps, upper thighs, calves, wrists, and waist, and rocker joints in the ankles. The head's range of motion is limited a bit by the fur overlay, as I mentioned earlier, but everything else works as you would expect. The ankle rockers are a bit loose, but not to the point where they cause any stability issues. As usual, the only change I would really make are the addition of swivel & hinge wrists.

All those words, and I still haven't mentioned that Stinkor is one of the only figures in the line with an "action" feature: He stinks! Like his vintage counterpart, the smell seems to be mostly (or entirely) patchouli, though the smell is nowhere near as strong. I still have my childhood Stinkor, and he still smells much stronger than the MOTUC version! I think they made the right call here, though, as a slightly underwhelming level of smell is preferable to the pine scent bomb of Moss Man! I could smell him from a couple of rooms away for weeks after opening him!

Though he was never part of Skeletor's core group of underlings in various MOTU media, Stinkor made an indelible mark of the children of the 1980s. As a figure in the MOTUC line, he's definitely in the upper echelons of vintage updates, with a nice mix of 2002 elements to let us get the look we want. It's great to get a figure that allows for that sort of fine-tuning right out of the package, and it's a shame that that happened so rarely in the MOTUC line. The swapped forearms are very annoying, though. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to fix mine or not; even with the necessary repainting, it won't be difficult. I'm just not sure if it's worth the trouble. Even with that annoyance, Stinkor is a wonderful figure, and an essential part of any MOTUC collection. That's it for today, be sure to swing back by next week!

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