Friday, November 20, 2020

Rant Review: Masters of the Universe Origins Orko figure


Today we're looking at the newest plastic incarnation of one of the most polarizing of all MOTU characters, Orko! Loved and loathed in seemingly equal measure by the MOTU fandom, Orko is nevertheless a fixture in the mythos, so it's not at all surprising to see him recieving a figure so early in the Origins line. Personally, I hated Orko when I was a kid. I always disliked the so-called "child identification" characters because it felt like I was being pandered to, and really, that's exactly the idea behind those characters. In my mind, Orko was the worst offender of them all, because he was plopped smack dab in the middle of my beloved MOTU. By the time he made the scene in the Filmation cartoon, I was already way into the more hard-edged world seen in the early minicomics. Orko was emblematic of the shift into a blander, more toddler-friendly version of MOTU that I didn't like nearly as much. While I enjoyed the animated show well enough for what it was, it was never the "real" MOTU to me, and Orko was a big part of why I felt that way. The vintage figure suffered countless tortures at the hands of Skeletor, culminating in his murder for "being a tosser," at which point he was buried in the front yard. As far as I know, he's still down there! (Side note about the "tosser" thing: I picked that up somewhere, doubtless from a movie or something, and just liked the sound of it. My Mom either found out what it meant, or just decided it was likely something her five-year-old didn't need to be saying, and promptly put a stop to my useage of it. For a little while, however, it was my insult of choice!) My feelings about Orko have softened over the years, but he remains far from one of my favorites. So, was buying this figure just a huge brain fart on my part, or what? Read on...

Where the Origins figures have mostly emulated the vintage figures, Orko is a big departure from that approach. He's based entirely on the Filmation design, and looks as if he floated right off the TV screen! While I don't consider the Filmation designs preferable to the figures or minicomic designs, they are the ones who created this character, so deferring to their design was definitely the right approach here. Orko still features a level of detail on par with the rest of the line, with wrinkles and such sculpted where the design allows, chiefly on his scarf and the back of his hat. The sculpting of the eyes is just about perfect. This is a crucial element of the character's design, yet it is something nearly every figure of the character has struggled to get right. Scale continues to be an issue with the character, as he his simply too large compared to the rest of the line. This is a persistent issue with the character, as Mattel presumably makes him large enough that he can be sold as a separate figure without being perceived as a poor value. (Only the Classics version was nicely scaled, but he had the advantage of being a con exclusive packaged with an entire extra figure as his "accessory.")

Unlike other wave two figures I've seen, Orko has very neatly applied paint apps. the colors are appropriately bright, and pop nicely on the shelf. I like the bright colors on this line in general, but they seem especially appropriate for this character! Orko's articulation is as close to the line's standard as his design allows, with a ball-jointed head and swivel & hinge shoulders, elbows, and wrists. All points of articulation have a wide range of motion and hold poses well, especially the head. Orko's head has a hole that is slightly smaller than that of the other figures. With a bit of heat, however, it can be swapped with the line's other figures, so you can easily create some truly nightmarish mashups! Sadly, Orko's scarf prevents other figures' heads from popping into place atop his body. It's worth pointing out that the figure does feel rather top-heavy. The solid head and had atop a hollow body creates this issue, though it's alleviated by his body's width at the bottom. The figure can feel a little weird in-hand because of the wonky weight distribution, but it doesn't really affect posing. 

Orko only has one accessory, but it's a big one. His display base is a large glittery purple cloud with a clear stand rising from it. There are two pivot points, allowing for many posing opportunities. the base's width makes it stable enough to support even the most extreme angles without issue. Orko also includes this wave's minicomic, which features him prominently. Despite the base's size, Orko still feels pretty light for a $15 figure. The inclusion of his wand (which was added in the 2002 line, I know) or some alternate hands would have gone a long way toward sweetening the deal here. As it is, it feels like you're paying a few dollars too much for him compared to the other figures. 

While the individual merits of Origins figures to their vintage versions continue to be heavily debated,  Orko is easily the biggest improvement over his vintage counterpart that we've seen in this line to date. There are aspects of some of the vintage figures I prefer to the Origins versions here and there, but Orko is a grand slam all the way. The one big issue is his scale, but even that is better than it was with the vintage version. Unless you can lay hands on the Classics Orko, scale issues are simply something that have to be accepted with this character. I'm someone who doesn't even like Orko much, and I debated whether or not to get the figure, as I usually skip him. (The only other Orko I currently own is the 2002 figure, which is in storage as I type this.) I'm glad I got him, though. While he'll never be a favorite character of mine, he's a wonderfully designed figure. While taking photos for this review, I was surprised at how photogenic he is, and how much fun I had putting him in various poses. If you flat-out loathe the character, this figure won't change your mind, but if you're on the fence about this figure, go ahead and get it. Orko is one of the unmitigated triumphs of the Origins line to date. That's all for today, but scroll down for more photos, and be sure to float back over this way next week for the next review! Until then, happy hunting, and stay safe out there! 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Rant Review: Masters of the Universe Origins Trap Jaw figure

 Wave two of Mattel's Masters of the Universe Origins line is gradually rolling out in the US, following an early debut internationally. (In fact, as I type this, wave three is now beginning to show up internationally! While I can be as impatient as anyone about this stuff, it's actually kinda nice to see collectors outside the US getting access to new figures before us, for a change.) Following the pattern set by the line thus far, trying to pre-order these on Walmart's website was an utter bloodbath, and many still had their pre-orders cancelled afterward. I was one of the lucky ones whose pre-orders survived, and my figures arrived in batches on the final days of October. (I wasn't so lucky with my WWE MOTU wave four pre-orders, alas.) The duo of ghoulish bastards Trap Jaw and Scareglow arrived at my door, appropriately enough, on Halloween! Trap Jaw is traditionally one of the coolest and most popular figures from any given MOTU line, so this new incarnation has a lot to live up to. Does he rise to the occasion? Read on...

One of the first things I noticed about this figure is that, in a break from tradition, the armor on the right side of his torso is actually sculpted on, rather than a separate piece slipped over the standard torso. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does seem a bit odd to create new tooling in a case where it was completely unnecessary. I know I used to enjoy mixing and matching the armor on my figures when I was a kid, Trap Jaw included, and I wasn't the only one. Having it molded to the torso limits that, and I hope this isn't a sign of a new trend with this line. Aside from that, the sculpt is generally well done, though bizarrely, details are noticeably softer in many areas compared to the vintage figure. The legs are rather undersized, but this is carried over from the vintage figure. I would have preferred they made them more proportional, but as it is primarily a vintage-based line, I can't fault them for not doing so. Those few gripes aside, this is the same batshit crazy cyborg-pirate-mercenary we all know and love. I'll also note that the plastic quality is good enough that the loop on top of the figure's helmet is strong enough for the zipline feature, which hasn't been the case with some of the other Trap Jaw figures we've gotten in the past.

Paint apps, while few in number, are kinda all over the place in terms of quality. We have some extremely neat work on the thighs and eyeballs, and then some very sloppy work on the left wrist and helmet. The top of the helmet is the worst offender, as the entire paint app is off-center, leaving some of the sculpted bit bare, and paint spilling over to the right of it. Much has been said about the new colors for Trappy's eyes and lack of eyebrows, not all of it good. Personally, I dig it. I've always though Trap Jaw was likely a mental case, and should therefore look pretty bonkers, and this definitely aids that perception. With the bare brow and sickly yellow pupils floating in those dead, black eyes, the dude looks like a total maniac! 

Trap Jaw sports the line's standard articulation for the most part, but with a few differences owing to his construction. He has a ball-jointed head, swivels at the right shoulder, waist, and calves, and swivel & hinge elbows, hips, knees, ankles, left shoulder, and left wrist. His jaw is articulated, and lacks the spring of the vintage and 2002 figures, so it can be posed in an open position. There is also a swivel created when a weapon is plugged into his mechanical arm, so that adds another POA if you wanna count it. It's a little disappointing that the mechanical arm is limited to a swivel shoulder, rather than the standard swivel & hinge combo. It could have been implemented, as we've seen with the Classics figure. Going with the basic swivel just seems a bit like lazy design. The head has a severely limited range of motion owing to a different construction, as seen in the photo below. I'm at a loss as to why this change was made, as it limits the head movement so much that it's barely better than a basic swivel. (Head swaps still work though, as seen in the photo above!) Again, let's hope this is the last we see of this in the line! I love this line's articulation model, and it's a shame to see it compromised by a couple of baffling and, frankly, unnecessary design decisions.

UPDATE: Shortly before this review went live, FedEx delivered the pair of Trap Jaws I was lucky enough to order from Walmart last Friday. Both of these figures actually have a swivel & hinge shoulder on the mechanical arm, so apparently a running change was made. I noticed that both figures had a small gap between the shoulder and torso that was visible while they were still sealed in the package, so use that as a guide to find one with the additional articulation if you're fortunate enough to come across a few Trap Jaws! See the photo below for the difference between the two different versions of the mechanical arm. The range of motion isn't as good as with the standard arms in the line, but it's still an improvement over a simple swivel.

Trap Jaw has plenty of accessories, though he's not quite as loaded as his vintage counterpart. His standard trio of arm attachments are present, of course, along with his removeable belt and this wave's minicomic. All three arm attachments store in his belt, as expected. The fit is a bit more snug than with past figures of the character, so they stay in place much better. When posing and re-posing the figure in my display and for these photos, none of them fell off once! It's also worth noting that there is a somewhat limited compatibility between these attachments and the vintage figure's. The pegs are different sizes, so the new attachments don't fit perfectly into the old figure's arm, and the vintage pegs are too large to go all the way into the new figure's arm, but they do fit well enough to work in a pinch. (See the photo below for an example.) The minicomic is an improvement over the first wave's though it's still very limited by the tiny page count. It still manages to feature a decent bit of characterization, and even ends in a way that holds promise of a follow-up! Sadly, Trap Jaw does not include the glow-in-the-dark "warrior's ring." We've known for a while that it wouldn't be included, but it's still a bit disappointing. Maybe Mattel decided they'd met the glow-in-the-dark quota with this wave already, what with Scare Glow's inclusion? Hopefully the ring will pop up with Tri-Klops next year! 

While a figure that is destined to be one of the line's most demanded, Trap Jaw falls a bit short of perfection. If the design team had not made a couple of regrettable decisions that compromised the articulation, and with some better quality control at the factory, this figure would be a lock for the line's finest to date. But honestly, removing my "objective reviewer" hat, he's pretty much there anyway. My handful of minor gripes aside, Trap Jaw is a very cool figure, and as tremendously fun as he ever was! He's just too damn awesome to be dragged down by a couple of sloppy paint apps and less-than-ideal articulation. If you haven't secured one yet, keep checking Walmart's website, as he has been popping up periodically. Good luck, happy hunting, and stay safe out there! See you back here next week for more MOTU goodness!