Friday, August 14, 2020

Rant Review: Masters of the Universe Origins He-Man figure


As Mattel's new Masters of the Universe Origins line continues its gradual rollout. more and more people are finding the figures at their local Walmart stores. The one nearest my house received a shipment Sunday, so Monday morning saw me driving over to see this awaiting me:

All joking aside, the feeling I get seeing MOTU figures in a store again, especially in the classic packaging, is indescribable. Many of my earliest memories revolve around MOTU, and seeing that package art. There's a deep connection there that makes me forget about all of my problems, and the new horrors we're all facing daily during this seemingly endless pandemic, and that's a very valuable thing. So, after paying for my precious discoveries, I buckled them up for the ride home.

Seriously, we have a lot of terrible drivers around here! ;) Despite a few lucky grabs on Walmart's website, the main man had still eluded me, so it's very nice to add him to the collection. There have been numerous figures of He-Man produced across the decades, each with their own strong points and weaknesses. How does this newest incarnation stack up? Read on...

The sculpt, for the most part, is something we're already pretty familiar with. New articulation model aside, this is a new rendition of the classic MOTU body we all know and love, and is remarkably faithful to it. One difference worth noting is that the bracers are now symmetrical, whereas He-Man traditionally has had a longer half bracer on his left forearm. I suspect this change was made since several aspects of the design hearken back to the early minicomics lushly illustrated by the great Alfredo Alcala, and the symmetrical bracers were seen in those. The head has been perhaps the object of the most discussion, both good and bad. It's definitely a departure from the vintage head, and while I was ambivalent about it when it was first revealed as part of last year's SDCC exclusive, I've grown to like it quite a bit. It seems Alcala-inspired, but is rendered in a slightly more cartoony style. I think it's a few tweaks away from being in the same class as the vintage head, but I do like it for what it is. Thankfully, we've already seen new heads that will be packaged with future releases, so people will have options. 

The paint apps are applied pretty well, overall. There's little slop or overspray, and what there is lies well within my expectations for a mass-produced kid-friendly toyline. It's nice to see that Mattel painted the fur fringe on the boots and the arm bracers. While this is what I expected, they didn't bother to paint those parts on certain other figures. As with Skeletor and Teela, I really love the bright, vivid colors Mattel is using for this line. They really do "pop" on the shelf!

The articulation is standard for the line. He-Man has a ball-jointed head, swivels at the waist and boot tops, and swivel & hinge shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. It's a well-designed articulation model that I've grown to love, and He-Man snaps apart easily at each POA. The parts pop apart easily, yet don't feel loose when attached. The designers deserve a great deal of acclaim for their work here!

He-Man includes all of his standard accessories, though with sculpts differing a good bit from their vintage counterparts. The power sword is the opposite half to the one packaged with Skeletor, and is sculpted in the Alcala style. The swords fit together easily, though there is a bit of slight warping. As you can see in the photo below, they'll need a dip in some hot water to straighten the tips of the blades. The axe and shield are also sculpted in the style seen in the early Alcala-illustrated comics, and the shield is quite a bit larger than the vintage one. It is one piece, and the handle's design is sturdier than its vintage counterpart. I don't foresee this one breaking as easily as the old one did! Last, but certainly not least, is He-Man's chest armor. It's the classic gray and red armor we all remember, but again, it's sculpted in Alcala style, so the back is different than the vintage version. There's an added loop that can be used to store a weapon. I quite like this design, and it does seem as if it may be less prone to breaking over time, though only time will tell for sure. You do have to pop the figure's torso off to remove it, though. The minicomic is the same as with other figures in this debut wave, so all the same comments apply: It's too short and underwhelming, but I still love that we're getting an honest-to-god minicomic with these figures. Hopefully the quality of them will improve in the future. 

With any MOTU line, the standard He-Man figure is the biggest hurdle. Mattel could easily have played it safe, but they took some risks by giving us a figure that blended the vintage toy with some design cues from the early minicomics. Collectors seem to be divided, but personally, I love it! We've gotten the same basic design so many times that, ironically, going backward helps to move things forward in this case. By taking some elements from the earliest MOTU media, the iconic character's design has been freshened up a bit, bringing something different to the table. This isn't a perfect figure, as I like but don't love the new head, but it's a damn good one, and a more than worthy successor to all that have gone before. That's it for today, but be sure to swing back by next week for more! In the meantime, happy hunting, and stay safe out there!

Here's a look at this figure after a bit of repainting. I did less work here than with the other figures, as much of the detail I painted in on those is already taken care of with He-Man. It mostly amounted to a light paint wash and some bronze drybrushing, plus some silver on the edges of the axe's blades. I'm planning to apply a paint wash to the hair as well, but I don't have the color I want to use, so that'll have to wait until my next trip into town.

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