Mattel's Masters of the Universe: ...and the rest!
by Mr. Stinkhead
Here we are. It was just a bit more than a year ago when we launched our site; our first article was a MOTU review, and here we are, at our last MOTU article. [Ed note:Maybe not!...But don't hold your breath.] We're not done by any stretch, but my MOTU collection is.
When it became clear that the line was going nowhere, and there'd be no new MOTU to collect, I made it my goal to finally get my hands on Roboto and Rattlor, whom I had never seen at retail. Once obtained, I would close my collection. It's hard when you're a completist, but you can take measured steps, and heal. Well, I put up the red velvet ropes and the gallery lighting, I have a little brass plate on the wall with 2001-2004 engraved upon it. Using our friend the internet, I have been able to get Roboto and Rattlor at a good price, and I picked up Man-E-Faces and a repainted MerMan on clearance.
"Quit yer bitchin' Stinkhead, tell us how cool these muthas are..." is the resounding message I received from the masses. So before I turn my eye to something shinier and newer, I'll give you some incentive to show you that perhaps, these figures are worth the hunt.
I first saw Roboto in proto-type form at the 2003 Toy Fair, I instantly fell in love. Roboto was one of the coolest figures from the 80s... not just from MOTU, but out of all of the figures to come from the 80s, he ranks up there. The new Horseman version does not disappoint. He's clearly the Roboto we know and love, but he also impresses with his 21st century rebirth.
First off, the gears do move when you twist his torso back and forth. You can easily pop off his chest plate to reveal the gears. I think he looks pretty sharp either way, but I of course, prefer to see the gears. I painstakingly made this animation (255K!) that may or may not really show you that they move, but they do. The turning gears lightly shake his "heart" and make his jaw go up and down. You can still rotate the head on the neck joint, but if it's not looking straight ahead, the jaw movement is not as noticeable (in fact, the jaw hardly appears to move in my animation, but it will go up and down if you click it into place)
His missile looks great, and the spring-loaded launcher shoots it a nice distance. When you'd rather use the claw, you can plug his missile launcher into his back. The only thing I miss here is that the claw does not easily plug into his back when you're using the missile launcher.
Stylistically, I'm pretty happy. His left arm, to me, shows obvious Transformer influence, and I like it. I also think the oversized legs actually look pretty cool. There's a bit of Japanese influence here, but it's not as obnoxious as I originally thought it would be. I would have maybe liked a different head, but I think what he has looks pretty cool. Between the moving gears, and how unbelievably cool Roboto is to begin with, he's worth tracking down online. I got mine for $16 shipped from a kind soul on the He-Man.org message boards. They're still hitting $20 on eBay.
The General aka Rattlor
The one guy I didn't get from my Mattel haul... it took me awhile to track down afterwards, too. I didn't want to pay the big prices on eBay, but I had to have him. I had all of the other Snakemen, and he's pretty bad-ass in his own right. So I finally found a Mom & Pop toy store carrying the Snakemen the other week. Guess what, they had everyone except the General. Curses! (I did shake my fist in the air, and got a dirty look or two, true story.) I picked up Khan and did a trade.
So looking at Rattlor, er, the General, I am stinkin' impressed (hence the name). His sculpt is beautiful. Like Whiplash he's hulking huge. His shoulders are wide and he really departs from the standard MOTU body type. He retains the extending neck action, (activated by a small release button on his back) but now his jaw opens and closes too. Honestly, this figure is rising to the top as one of my faves from the whole line. Khan is cool and all, and he spits, but this guy is a beast.
Aside from his massive torso, his armor can come off, and he actually looks pretty sweet with or with out it. It slides over his head and hangs on to a small ledge across his shoulder blades. The strap around the back is your standard MOTU-type buckle. So the armor comes on and off pretty easy. Speaking of armor, I love his wrist gauntlets. They look like bone, but they're done wonderfully. Amazing detail here.
Ok, so I love his new head, the neck action works great, his tail actually rattles, and he looks amazing from any angle. Is there anything imperfect with this guy? Well kinda. I do not like the snake shooting staff that he shares with King Hsss. Neither character could hold it all that well, and when you do get it in their hand, it doesn't fit nicely at all. The sculpt and detail, and overall look and feel are great, but it's just not feasible for the characters it comes with.
So I finally got Roboto and the General and I'm pretty happy. If my final quest had been for, oh let's say Man-E-Faces, I'd be left with a sour note, but this was it. This was the bang it all ended with, and I'm happy.
Right before I got my grubby mitts on the General, I happened upon a killer clearance sale at KB Toys and I was able to pick up Man-E-Faces and the repainted MerMan for $5 each. I thought now was a time if any.
I liked Man-E-Faces plenty enough when I was a kid, so why am I so disappointed now? This is worth $5, but that's about it. If I had paid the $8-10 he was originally offered at, I'd be pissed. His face changing feature is done well, and the sculpt isn't bad, but it doesn't seem to have received the same attention that most of the line did. Now it's true. I'm looking at this toy after really delving into Roboto, the General, and, the Rotocast figures, so maybe that's a little unfair, but c'mon, this guy is kind of pedestrian.
The sculpt is far from crappy, but it's nowhere near the neighborhood of Skeletor, TrapJaw, or even Orko. I'm looking for homage to the original figure and a current day revitalization, and I'm just not finding the later. And his gun is frickin' huge. It looks like it was left over from some other toy line and dropped in the package to help the threat level of a guy with three faces. If you're a completist, and can find him deeply discounted, I say go for it, but otherwise, you'd do better off putting your $5 towards your retirement.
Honestly, I was a victim of the short-packing in the very first round and missed out on the original MerMan. When this opportunity presented itself, I'd figure I'd pick him up. I wasn't a gigantic fan of MerMan back in the day, but I always thought the new one looked cool.
And he is. Even with the orange highlights and a different shade of green, this MerMan is looking pretty sweet. I really dig his trident and his sword, and, and his sculpt is intense. You can tell this was one of the first figures produced, when the Four Horsemen really had to impress. Every little nook and cranny is expertly sculpted, and he transcends his paint scheme. [Ed note: Well Skeletor would be capable of that, but honestly, no one can survive high lighter orange. No one.]
The only thing was his chest plate is quite loose, so I left on the little thing piece of plastic holding it on. It appears this is to be removed, but I'm keeping it on.
Alright, back to the sobbing, broken Mr. Stinkhead... I'm pretty bummed that I won't be taking valuable time from my work day to sneak off to Toys R Us and try to find Clawful or Stinkor. I won't be convincing the girlfriend that Snake Mountain is an investment. I'd say it's just a toy line and I'm moving on, however it did instill me with a sense of excitement that I hadn't felt since I was eight, and it was a nice little sensation to have. If you too are facing the end of you collection, I put in one more bid for you to check out the Rotocast He-Man and Skeletor, overlooked by many, they are truly pretty sweet. Head on over to He-Man.org to find someone you can trade with or buy from. That is definitely recommended before hitting the bay.
Hang your heads high, MOTU fans. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but I'm getting tired from squinting at it.