Mattel's Masters of the Universe: Snake Men Heroes
by Mr. Stinkhead
Just as I was basking in the delight of the Snakemen Villians, another box arrived. This one contained one of each of the new Snakemen Heroic Warriors! Could this be true? Could Mattel's case packing be something of joy and prosperity? I believe the answer is yes. Now with this line, most of the heroes were re-paints, so instead of going down the articulation, paint, sculpt etc, I'm going to give you the rundown on each character. (I'll still leave the large pool of images at the bottom, for those of you who skip my writing.)
Believe it or not, these repaints are good. And Fisto and Zodak are sweeter than Yoo-Hoo. I'm going to use a scale of 1-10 based on the MOTU line as a whole. Samurai He-Man would be a 1, Trapjaw would be a 10.
Serpent Claw Man-At-Arms
Let's start off on a good note. This Man-At-Arms is a really good repaint. Now I'll admit, I'm a big fan of Man-At-Arms, and a particular fan of the Four Horsemen envisioning. I passed on the Samurai and other variations that have come out subsequently, but I would definitely pick up this one. First off, they stuck to the original design without going all nuts with new stuff glued to him. The colors are vibrant and electric and the detail and articulation are still top notch. The colors aren't too crazy though. This figure definitely does not look like an unhealthy side-effect of two much Jim Beam and candy corn like our friend Skeletor suffered earlier.
I love the whipping action you get with his Thrasher Whip (there's actually a video clip of it). It's a club with a rubbery piece of soft plastic connected to a tripod type thing. MAA's push-button smashing action whips the tripod thing all over the place and back again. I'm diggin it. His Serpent Claw Missile is a cool looking claw that shoots out. I like how both the whip and firing missile resemble his original weapons, but are new designs. Man-At-Arms gets an 8.
Serpent Track Mekanek
Another re-paint, but I still think they did a fantastic job on color choice and paint apps. But low and behold, they've added some new parts. In moderation the occasional new part can be a good thing. He's got a microphone (so he can work at Old Navy) and a mounted missile launcher on his head. Normally, you'd think that a missile launcher on your head would suck, but this one is done nicely. Though it would only benefit from one or two more points of articulation, the missile launcher is nice. It rests on a track so you can slide it forward and back. His other weapon, the Snake Clamp looks decent enough. It's a fine sculpt, however it was a tiny bit difficult for my older-than-seven-year-old fingers to move the claws, and if you take into consideration his Onan-tastic spring loaded action arm, it doesn't go with the weapon, like original golden club. Here's a strange note, this Mekanek is much easier to stand on his own, but it may be because the Clamp is not heavy like the club was. Only because of the weapon issues, I give this figure a 7.
Sky Strike Stratos Powered Convoy from the Toy Buzz wrote in to say that this Stratos does feature ball jointed shoulders (different from the flapping-action original Stratos). Also, the reds are deeper, and the colors are less plasticy. The colors remind me of a 1940's daredevil pilot. I don't know where that came from, probably too much Beam and candy corn... anyway, I love the overall sculpt, the movement range on the shoulders lets you get some really sweet poses, and the detail is beautiful. He has a single missile that launches in the back, reminiscent of the infamous prototype Boba Fett. There are also some new cool soft rubber "feet boosters" you can strap onto his calves, and the wings move smoothly. I'm giving Stratos an 8 as well.
Snake Hunter He-Man
So here we are at He-Man. Let me start off and say that the new sculpted pieces on this guy, particularly the uh, trowser, uh skirt, uh whatever, is really well done. I like the color, I like the sculpt, I like the level of detail. This is a decent He-Man to have. In fact, he looks half-way decent when he doesn't have the spring loaded net attached to him. Ok, let's look at this spring loaded net slinger. Overall, I feel it hurts the dynamic ism of the sculpt. He looks top heavy. The net neither stays put very well, or flies very far, so basically it's a pain. On top of that, his sword isn't very mighty. I feel that, though themes are allowed to alter and re imagine, He-Man should always have a powerful, regal looking sword. This isn't a shabby sword, no, but it doesn't look like it could deep fry a tiger at all. I'm giving this He-Man a 5.
Battle Fist (Fisto) Oooh! He we are, completely new territory, brand new figure. Here he is, Fisto... I mean Battle Fist. Ok, I understand name changes happen, I'm going to drop it now and not bring it up again. Promise. Anyway, I really like the size and sculpt of this guy. He's big, and commanding. His battle fist has a good level of detail, and the wrist is articulated so you can get some really decent poses. This figure is true to his original 1980's counterpart, yet definitely a toy of the new MOTU line. He comes with a cool clasping weapon, you push the tab at the back and it opens, release and it clamps shut. This execution works much better than the Claw thing Mekanek has. Ok, so that's all well and good, but there is one flaw with the figure I can't get over. His left hand is at such an angle, that I wasn't happy with any of the action poses where he's holding the clamp. It's also not a good fit, so you can't really activate the clamp while he's holding it. You'd think the wrist should be bent out straight, as if he's grabbing at a vile Snakeman, not like he's pinching your sister's rear when you're not looking. Good figure though, and nice to have something fresh to fight the Snakemen, I give this figure a 7.
We made it. This figure is one bad-ass shut your mouth. He's got style, he's got articulation, and his helmet comes off. Yes! Oh how I love a figure with a removable helmet. This one is a nice soft (yet firm) rubber that plugs securely on his head. You can pop it off and on, no problem, but it doesn't easily fall off when you're fighting on the floor making laser gun sound effects with your mouth, I mean, coming up with a good pose and camera angle. I dig his staff, it's dynamic, imposing and compliments the style of the figure. Speaking of which. I like how Zodak is more of an Art Deco style, as opposed to Barbarian Chic, like Fisto, or Crypt-Gothic like Skeletor. Take a look at his boot. He also comes with a funky missile launcher, that he supposedly holds upside down. I would have gone with a different approach myself, but it's something new, not necessarily bad. But I am diggin Zodak, he's the one that looks cool before I start getting into posing him. One thing I'm not crazy about is his push-button smash arm is the one with the two pointing figures. He can get someone to guide the Enterprise into warp speed before really hurting someone in battle. (Unless you play with your figures Three Stooges style, which I like to do from time to time. Nyuk Nyuk). Though we all dread he will be hard to find, he will be well worth the hunt. One thing I like about this packaging is that they put a small picture of the figure on the side, for easy scanning on crowded pegs. This is something that I truly need when digging through the peg warmers for that one treasure I always think is lurking at the back. Ah, my naive days, back when I thought that a retail employee would stick a rarer figure at the back of a peg instead of selling it on eBay. I give this figure a 9.
So we've looked at the Snakemen. I feel Mattel has proven they can do good repaints when they think about it. More importantly, I feel that this is a strong indicator that there is still energy and potential for the MOTU line on the whole, and that they are truly attempting to keep us collectors interested and happy. (This assortment was one of each...)
There are more characters and playsets that need to be produced, and perceived issues with the retailers need to be ironed out. I personally hope this line sells well, really well, so that we can keep seeing what's next. I've been impressed so far, and I'm not ready to be done with my collection. That, and I have more meaningful relationships with my action figures than my coworkers.