Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Rant Review: Masters of the Universe Classics Sorceress (Temple of Darkness)

One of the most impressive aspects of the Masters of the Universe Classics line is its diversity. While the all-embracing nature of the line has been a longtime gripe of many collectors who are only interested in one particular area of MOTU, it has allowed us to receive figures of characters who we really never expected to see immortalized in plastic. It's also given those of us who prefer alternate versions of some of the main characters to receive "our" version. This minicomic-based figure of the Sorceress is a perfect example. After the character transitioned from the snake-themed character seen in early MOTU media into the more familiar falcon-themed incarnation, variations of the look popped up frequently. This is especially true of the minicomics, where she didn't appear fully on-model until the final series. In the 1984 minicomic The Temple of Darkness, the Sorceress appeared in a fully white costume. It's a striking look that stuck with many MOTU fans who read it as children, myself included. For whatever reason, that rendition of the character superseded the far more familiar blue & orange look to become "my" Sorceress. (The full minicomic is posted over at He-Man.org if you'd like to read it!)

As a recolored version of the earlier figure, one would expect the sculpt to remain the same, but that's actually not quite true. While everything is the same from the waist up, TOD Sorceress eschews the thighs and hips used on Battleground Teela, so she has the hip articulation that is lacking in the original Sorceress figure. Her boots are also the standard leather-wrapped model, as opposed to the smooth boots of the earlier figure. (I'll point out here that the left hand on my figure has been swapped for the spell-casting hand seen on such figures as Castaspella and Battleground Evil-Lyn. The figure normally comes with two gripping hands.) The sculpt is quite good overall, capturing the look of the character very well. This face just looks like the Sorceress, without slavishly copying any specific version. The bustier-on-top-of-a-shirt look can look a bit odd, but it is accurate to the character's design. Even in the minicomic, the collar is partly drawn in, though not identical to this look. Still, it's close enough that I can't really fault them for not altering this part of the figure. I would like a bit more detail in the sculpt overall, but even so, there are a few areas that stand out in that respect. The headdress features some nice detailing, as do the wings.

Speaking of the wings... Let's go ahead and tackle the elephant in the room. The implementation of the wings has remained one of the major hot-button issues in the MOTUC line, even years after this figure was released. As seen in the photo above, the wings are divided into segments, which are attached to pegs on the figure's shoulders. Not-so-affectionately nicknamed "the drums" by collectors, these pegs allow the wings to swivel up and down, expanding as needed to match the pose of the figure's arms. Frankly, they look pretty terrible. They also impede the articulation, which is never a good thing. If you want an arm to be bent forward, you have to adjust the wing to do so, and then the wing just doesn't look right. To be fair, this was a big design challenge for this figure, and there really was no solution that would have pleased a majority of MOTUC collectors. That said, I can think of several alternatives right offhand that I feel would have worked better. This is the single biggest issue with the figure, by far. On the positive side, the wings are molded in a nice translucent white, matching their appearance in the minicomic. They could have easily just molded them in plain white, so this attention to detail is very nice.

Articulation is mostly standard for the females of this line, with ball joints at the head, shoulders, and hips, hinged knees, elbows, and ankles, swivels at the biceps, wrists, thighs, boot tops, and waist, and the aforementioned "drums" on each shoulder. As mentioned, the implementation of the wings severely limits the range of motion of the shoulders. The headdress also limits the head a great deal, and the "skirt" piece is definitely stiffer than I would like. It's a damn good thing that I was only planning to display my Sorceress standing around holding her staff, since that's damn near all she can do. Her accessories include her staff, molded in a nice pearl white, and a stand for the King Grayskull's shooter-- er, the Orb of Grayskull. If you have a Castle Grayskull, and the orb is currently residing in its chamber there, you'll have to find an alternate use for this stand. I reckon I'll toss some in-scale burgers or something on it so the Sorceress can have a makeshift grill for Grayskull cookouts. Or maybe I'll go the most obvious route and pose the various Zoars around it as a birdbath?

While I'm very happy to have a figure of "my" Sorceress, she is definitely a mixed bag. The figure's positive aspects are enough that I can easily get past issues like the stiff skirt and headdress, but the drums are a huge problem. They're not a big enough drawback that I'll be getting rid of the figure over them, but I will be leaving her on the shelf instead of getting her down and re-posing her regularly like I do with most of my MOTU figures. They don't ruin the figure, but they do drag her down to the point that she's a pretty good figure, rather than a great one. Still, if you want a minicomic-inspired Sorceress, she's the only game in town unless you customize your own. Thankfully, she does run significantly cheaper than the standard colors Sorceress, so she won't hurt your wallet too badly. I am glad I have her, but she won't be stealing center stage on the shelf from the Goddess. Scroll down for more photos, and I'll see you here next week!

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