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!

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