Friday, September 11, 2020

Rant Review: Masters of the Universe Origins Man-at-Arms figure

 Oh, it was an epic moment. I checked Brickseek while taking a quick break at work, and the furthest Walmart in town from my house was showing the MOTU Origins assortment case as in stock. As the hours dragged by, I resolved to drive over there in the hopes of finding the final wave one figure I needed. My hopes were not high.These things have been selling quickly, and the assortment cases in particular seem to evaporate within minutes of being stocked. Plus, this Walmart is the biggest and most heavily shopped in town, and collectors who live much closer to it than I do keep it pretty well cleaned out. Still, I had to check. Walking to the aisle, my mask cinched tight, keeping my distance from the denizens of Walmart as best I could, I mentally prepared myself for what I would likely see: A few pegs, probably empty, but with perhaps a Skeletor or He-Man or two hanging there, mocking me for not arriving earlier. 

Instead, I was greeted by this sight: 

The packages for these three were heavily damaged-- it's much worse than is apparent in the photo-- and that's probably why they were still there. Many adult collectors will pass on something in this shape, but for me, the package is just something to be ripped open, then tossed into the trash. (I do save the cardbacks on these for the cool art, though!) Green leotard-clad warrior in hand, I strolled to the checkout. Was this fella worth all the trouble? Read on...

Like his fellow wave one figures, Man-at-Arms is a more sharply-sculpted version of the vintage figure, with the head standing out as the one real point of departure. To make the figure jive better with most of his depictions in various media, MAA now has a mustache! Whether this is good or bad will depend on your personal preference; for my part, while I prefer the depictions in the early minicomics for pretty much everything, I actually like MAA with a 'stache. While I do hope we get one without it in the future for variety's sake, I'm quite satisfied with this head for now. (Some collectors have pointed out a resemblance to Jack Black, and it's definitely hard not to notice it once you've seen it!) As with the vintage figure, MAA sports a more detailed sculpt than most of the other figures in the line, with lots of tiny details sculpted into his armor and helmet. While the green body is supposed to be armor, there is no 2002-style detailing here, and the the figure is the exact same sculpt as He-Man from the neck down. This is true to the line's mission statement, so no foul there. 

The paint apps are sparse, but again, true to the spirit of the Origins line. Most everything is cast in the appropriate color, and the few paint apps the figure has are neat and clean, particularly on the face. Some may take issue with the hair color chosen, but as there is no real canonical hair color for the character-- the vintage figure's sculpted hair was unpainted, and its color varied across different media, from brown, to gray, to black, to blonde on the cross-sell art-- so I can't fault them for this. It's an easy enough fix for anyone who wishes to change it. (I'm partial to dark brown, personally.) It wouldn't have killed them to paint in the red dots on the helmet, as a reference to the early run vintage figures, but that's really not a big deal.

Man-at-Arms sports the standard articulation for the line, with a ball-jointed head, swivels at the boot tops and waist, and swivel & hinge shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. All points of articulation work well, with a nice range of motion, and hold poses with no issues. As I've said before about these figures, this is a very well-designed articulation model, and I like it quite a bit. The parts pop apart and reassemble easily at most POAs, though I recommend heating the elbows, knees, and ankles before trying to disassemble them, as you're liable to break them otherwise.

Man-at-Arms comes loaded with accessories, including his four pieces of armor, his mace, and the standard wave one minicomic. The mace has caused a bit of debate, with some collectors expressing disappointment that the designers mimicked the one included with the vintage toy, rather than the larger version seen in early minicomics and cross sell art. I'm torn on this personally, as I can see the logic behind both. While the line does have some influence from the early minicomics, its chief inspiration is clearly the vintage toys, so I can't say I was surprised by their decision. (At any rate, I have extras of the MOTU Classics mace lying around if I decide the figure needs an upgrade!) The armor looks good, and goes on and off with no issues. The arm armor is designed a bit differently due to the added articulation, however. It's in two sections, with the middle "flex"portion designed so that it can overlap when the arm is straightened, similar to the design of the MOTU Classics version. (This is demonstrated in the photo a couple of paragraphs down.) It works well enough, though the lower section is prone to slipping down at times. As for the minicomic-- I hope this is the last time I'll have to type this-- while it's very short and underwhelming, it still feels awesome to be getting an honest-to-god minicomic with a figure in this day and age! Hopefully the quality of them improves in the future. 

As one of the handful of key characters in pretty much every iteration of MOTU across all media, Man-at-Arms is one of those figures that anyone who collects this line at all is bound to pick up. With that in mind, it's nice to see that Mattel's designers pretty much nailed it right out of the gate. While some optional extras like clean-shaved & helmet-less heads, or different versions of the mace, or additional weapons will be nice to get with upcoming figures or--dare we hope-- an updated version of the Weapons Pak, this is a great basic version of this essential character. While the figure holds no real surprises, it delivers all you really need in a Man-at-Arms figure, and is definitely worth having to do a bit of driving around to find. That's all for today, but be sure to don your armor and battle your way back next week for more! Until then, happy hunting, and stay safe out there!

BONUS: Check out my Man-at-Arms after I spent some time repainting him! I love the weathered look his armor has now; it definitely looks like it's seen a  lot of use! I also had to repaint his hair, as the black just didn't look right to me. A bit of paint washes and some metallic paint make a world of difference with these figures! (Apologies for the use of the flash; after finishing the repaint, I didn't have access to my usual photography spot, and the area just wasn't lit all that well, so the flash was necessary.)


  1. Cool review! Love the photos. I bought some black Fuzzy Sticks from the craft section of Wal-Mart and glued them to my Man at Arms' breast plate to replicate the fur of the original design.

    1. Thanks, and that's a great idea! I may steal it. :D