Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rant Review: Masters of the Universe Classics Point Dread & Talon Fighter playset with Teela figure

When the adult collector-aimed Masters of the Universe Classics line debuted at the end of 2008, while everyone hoped for the best, I think most of us expected that, realistically, we might get a few dozen figures. I know that I was just crossing my fingers that we'd get the core heroic and evil warriors groups completed, since Mattel's bungling saw that the 2002 MOTU line couldn't even manage that. I don't think anyone was honestly expecting that we'd get so much as a Battle Cat, much less any full-on playsets. And yet, today we're looking at one of the largest vehicles produced for a toyline in this scale, along with the second playset in the MOTUC line! Sometimes I really am astonished at how much the MOTUC team was able to get produced.

As a playset & vehicle combo, the Point Dread & Talon Fighter set is a big-ticket item. Unfortunately for Mattel, but thankfully for me, they wound up with a lot of unsold stock, and I was able to grab one on the cheap. It's a good thing, as even though the Talon Fighter was possibly my favorite vehicle in the vintage MOTU line-- it was always neck-and-neck with the Battle Ram for that title-- I don't know that I ever would have been able to justify spending the cash to grab it for the retail price. that's important to keep in mind, since the execution would have to be extremely poor for me to be disappointed with it at the price I paid for it.

That said, Mattel's spotty quality control reared its ugly head the moment I opened the box. The instructions, sticker sheet, and radar dish were all missing. A replacement is on the way, but since it didn't arrive in time for this review, that dish will be missing in all the photos. I'll also note that the set is so large that my normal photo setup couldn't work for anything other than the pair of photos showing the Teela figure, so I had to photograph it in my bedroom using the flash. The quality of those photos is affected accordingly. My vintage Talon Fighter is in storage, so I couldn't take a comparison photo. With all that out of the way, on to the meat of the review!

The first thing you'll notice upon seeing this set in person is its size. It's huge. The box itself is quite large, and features some great art from vintage MOTU packaging artist Rudy Obrero, but it belies the size of the assembled product. The Talon Fighter is about eighteen inches long, and about as wide. Perched atop Point Dread, it's about eighteen inches tall. It's one thing to read those measurements and see the scale in photos, but until you actually have it in your hands, it's really impossible to know just how gigantic this thing really is. The Talon fighter's cockpit is large enough for up to three figures to sit inside it, though you'll need two females in the back to achieve that. Point Dread itself is tall enough to allow a figure to stand inside in front of the control console, but adding anymore figures requires some creative positioning. This is due to some extra plastic added to the open side of it, which is necessary to support the massive Talon Fighter. there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over this, but given the choice between posing multiple figures in the back of the playset and having it sag under the weight of the Talon Fighter, I think Mattel's designers made the right call. (If anything, they made a mistake in showing it to us with the open back before the design was finalized.)

Point Dread has an interesting history. Very early in MOTU's existence, before Snake Mountain was created, it was considered the headquarters of Skeletor, but this was abandoned early on. The Point Dread of the early minicomics was a powerful battle station capable of turning the tide of any battle, and was deemed too powerful to remain accessible to the likes of Skeletor and his crew, so the Goddess used her magic to place it atop Castle Grayskull, where it would be inaccessible. This was a very cool play feature with the toy, as the top of Point Dread could be detached and placed on the right-hand turret of the Grayskull playset. So it is with this version, though I can't include any photos of that since I don't have a MOTUC Grayskull... yet.

Thankfully, Point Dread makes a fine display piece all on its own. It still has the odd staircases that are in two different scales, which I always found a puzzling feature on the vintage PD. The base is very wide, giving the set a large footprint, and a very stable base for supporting the weight of the TF. The control console is a plastic piece, which is definitely a huge upgrade to the cardboard of the original. The perch is sculpted with mechanical details, rather than the plain brown of the original, which gives it an appropriate feel that meshes with the futuristic TF. The feet of the aircraft lock into place on the perch, and there is a release lever on the underside. This is a nice touch, and gives the vehicle more stability.

The sculpting on the Talon Fighter is excellent, a perfect update of the vintage toy. I normally find MOTUC releases that are straight updates with nothing new in the mix boring, but this doesn't really apply to the vehicles, for whatever reason. There is so much detail here, and areas such as the thrusters and some of the consoles inside the cockpit are sculpted, rather than stickers. (The flyswatter is there, too!) There are still a couple of stickers in the cockpit, however. I'm not sure why this is, as it's somewhat jarring to see sculpted control panels right alongside stickers. There is a blank area on the main panel, and the sticker sheet has three stickers that can fit in this area, so you can choose the radar screen you prefer. (This is all theoretical in my case, of course, since that sticker sheet was missing.) Paint apps are inconsistent. Some of the small bits on the consoles are neatly applied-- I'm assuming this is tampo-- while other areas have a good bit of slop or overspray. Of particular note is the swath of very gloppy blue paint on the back of my TF's canopy, and the orange bleeding over the front edge of the bird's head. Given the price of this set, and how few paint apps there are, this is an area where the otherwise excellent set is really let down. (Of course, given what I paid for mine, I can easily overlook it.)

Assembly of the set is easy, with only a few detached parts that snap easily into place. When attaching the top of Point Dread to the base, it is necessary to press down fairly hard to get it to lock into place. Otherwise, it will come apart when you pick it up. It's also worth noting that the control console does not snap into place inside Point Dread, it simply stands wherever you place it, so be sure to remove it before you transport the set, or it'll fall out.

Now, on to the most controversial part of the set: the pack-in Teela figure. First seen from behind in a video about something else entirely, this figure was standing inside Point Dread, and could be seen off to the side. Speculation ran wild, particularly since the details that could be made out indicated that this would be a Filmation-style Teela figure. Then the first photos showed up, and people lost their goddamn minds. The figure was derided as the worst in the entire line, and the complaints overshadowed the set itself. Though something clearly happened during production-- the head on this figure is clearly not the same head the Four Horsemen sculpted-- the figure is nowhere near as terrible as the apocalyptic reaction would have you believe. That said, it does have some serious issues.

The normal head sculpt suffers most from the lack of a chin. Her face appears to be sliding off her head. The alternate head is much better, but still nowhere near as good as the original figure's. (Personally, I think this figure will be sporting the extra "snake armor" head from the first MOTUC Teela.) The clothing overlay makes the body look overly bulky, a problem that was plagued the line for years as Mattel's designers seemingly forgot how this issue was avoided in the line's first year. The waist cut really stands out and looks awful, which was unavoidable, given the white expanse of the outfit. The only other option was omitting the waist cut altogether, as with the original MOTUC Teela. Collectors loudly complained about that for years afterward, so Mattel's designers were really in a no-win situation here.

Aside from the head, sculpting is mostly good, though inconsistent. The clothing and new bracers are sparsely detailed in an attempt to capture an animated look, while the upper arm bracers and boots sport the more detailed sculpts of the original version of the figure. This creates an incongruity that gives the figure an odd appearance. The paint apps are pretty good, at least. The paint on the basic head on my figure is much better than many of the heads I've seen online, which improves the overall figure quite a bit. Teela has some very cool accessories, including a Filmation-inspired sword and shield, and a removable visor for the helmeted head.

Despite a few shortcomings, this is a very impressive set overall. The sheer size of it makes it an excellent display centerpiece, if you don't have a Castle Grayskull, anyway. I could see someone having a bit of buyer's remorse if they shelled out to get it at the original $125 price, but as I only paid a third of that, I'm extremely happy with it. The biggest knock against this set is the pack-in figure, and that's hardly a deal breaker. For what you can currently get the set for, Point Dread & the Talon Fighter is a must-have for MOTU collectors.

No comments:

Post a Comment