Heeey, hey hot rod
I’ve gotten into the habit of writing Quick Crappy Reviews – which I only do of recent releases – about the day after I get whatever’s being quickly, crappily reviewed. This generally doesn’t come across to you fictional fans because I actually post my writings whenever I feel like but that is how I do things. This has been the exception thus far, I’ve had these since last week at least and I’ve been putting things off because I just couldn’t figure out what I thought about Dragstor, I’m still not sure.
Baby steps then; these two are the November releases for both Masters of the Universe Classics subscriptions offered at Mattycollector.com. If you’ve forgotten; Mattycollector.com is the ‘adult collectors’ wing of Mattel and they currently release collectors figures based on He-Man once a month and you can subscribe to these releases just like a magazine. This is the last year in their current format of having a regular ‘Club Eternia’ that runs all year with 12 monthly figures, four extra quarterly figures and an extra extra holiday item plus an additional ‘mini-sub’ that runs for six months, this year’s one is Club 200X and features characters solely from the early 2000s He-Man cartoon you probably hated because it was ‘too anime’ (read: not exactly like the 1980s cartoons). Dragstor is November’s figure for Club Eternia and Queen Grayskull is November’s figure for Club 200X.
Putting it off then: Dragstor is one of the later additions to the Evil Horde and even though I like him as much as the original five Horde figures I’ve always felt he was lower in the Horde hierarchy because of this. He came in the 1986 wave of toys, a year after the Evil Horde faction debuted but alongside faction-mates Multi-Bot and Horde Trooper. Both of those Hordey companions appeared in episodes of FILMation’s She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon1, as did a bunch of other 1986 characters including Rattlor, Tung Lashor, Rokkon, Stonedar and bloody Snout Spout but Dragstor sadly did not. And bloody hell, I love me some Snout Spout but if the elephant headed fireman got to appear in the show and you didn’t despite being a living hotrot, then someone must really have it in for you. He did appear in some print media though including the mini-comics and UK comics. He was based around the action feature of… having a wheel in his belly, I get the thought process – kids like toy cars, kids like action figures, combine the two, whallop, printing money.
Having to give in and review the figure then: Having thought about it I’ve decided my opinion on Masters of the Universe Classics Dragstor is as follows: his busy design hides most of his flaws. You may see this as one flaw hiding others and if you do I’m not going to disagree because you’re absolutely right but that’s my summation. Draggy got revealed at SDCC 2015 and since then fans have been posting a list of complaints, I’m now going to address all the one I can remember (fuck doing research this is Quick and Crappy not a school report); two are undeniable – his torso is the wrong colour, it should be blue but on this figure it’s black and that’s incorrect, and his thighs are too thin, I have no idea why this would be because I was under the impression that the Horsemen just took the regular He-man thighs and ‘fabricated’ them by adding additional elements onto them; I hate it when you have awkwardly sized parts on a figure and I do hate it here however again the design is so busy it doesn’t really notice so much in hand; I have no problem with his headsculpt, in fact I don’t see any reason to complain, it’s faithful to the original figure and looks fine, mine also has very sharp paint apps despite being quite complicated to paint I don’t doubt. The execution of the ‘action feature’ is the big one though; this figure doesn’t have a wheel and it doesn’t spin, it’s just a sculpted-on part of the armour overlay and this has upset some fans with many wanting to know why they didn’t use the new hollow chest made for Buzzsaw Hordak and give us a spinning wheel, even The Fwoosh – toy review gods in my eyes – said this. The answer is pretty simple: the wheel’s in the wrong place to use that torso. I have no idea why no-one has brought this up, BS Hordak’s flap is hinged around his belly button, Dragstor’s wheel stops just above his cock, the wheel wouldn’t fit. Yes they could have shunted it up a bit I suppose but I think I personally think that would have bothered me; he’d look too squashed up and like Ram-Bam from Thundercats2. What I find more annoying is that you can’t pose him ‘in motion’ because the wheel’s too damn round (only time you’ll hear someone complaining a wheel is too round), with his feet down and dragging behind him like his vintage toy he stays upright, but lift his legs (as he’s shown doing often when racing along) and he falls over. Also another something no-one’s griped about is how the factory seem unable to stay in the lines when painting his silver pipes, I’ve not seen a single figure so far without silver on the red/black areas of his chest armour (is it armour, or part of him? How much of him is actually cyborg in general for that matter? Is the ‘gas mask’, engine and thigh ‘grates’ attached to him too? Huh, never thought of that before now), my one also has really thin paint on the gloves and Horde emblem; in fact they may have used water colours.
So what do I like? Well his boots, engine and ‘loin cloth’ are all fantastically sculpted, I remember sitting as a kid and just feeling those weird, angular but very smooth boots and was concerned how they’d come out when Dragstor got his inevitable Classics figure, they came out fine. Other than that…um…well he’s Dragstor? That was part of my problem with deciding what I think of this figure, Dragstor’s one of my favourite vintage figures, right up there below Fisto, Mantenna and Buzz-Off and I find his design really aesthetically pleasing, especially his colour scheme, that’s all here and it’s still Dragstor but the figure’s flawed and my brain has had trouble processing the conflict. Just to extend the Dragstor portion of this QCR he comes with two accessories; a new personalised Horde Crossbow and a…axe-mace-whip-thing. The crossbow is the shit, the Four Horsemen have done a great job with each personalised crossbow (something new for this line) even if Octavia’s was a little unintentionally hilarious, this is no different, it’s the best thing about the figure; the whip thing is…I hate it. I get it, it’s the chord from his vintage figure (used for his old action feature) fully turned into a weapon, I just hate it - it’s unwieldy, it’s unposeable, it defies classification and it looks like a pissed off cartoon snake, it’s going into the weapon’s box forevermore.
Queen Grayskull then, oh sod this, this is the last time I’m using the name ‘Queen Grayskull’, her name is Veena and she’s never used the Queen Grayskull named before this figure, it’s a copyright thing I'm sure, it happens, but it’s a lot more letters and feels unnatural, so fuck that. Veena comes from the early 2000s Masters of the Universe cartoon fans have dubbed ‘200X’, she only appeared in one episode – The Powers of Grayskull – but has an key part in He-Man lore: she’s the very first Sorceress of Grayskull. That’s pretty bloody important, since the first mini-comic where the Sorceress’ predecessor The Goddess gave
He-Man Oo-Lar his He-Man gear the
Sorceress has been essential to the various He-Man stories and this lady
started the whole thing off (in-cannon anyway). She’s also the wife of the
first He-Man, King Grayskull, and the ancestor of the current He-Man, Prince
Adam. Her old man was the first figure in the line so fans have had to wait a
long bloody time to finally complete the couple, I’ve only been waiting since
2013 so I can’t speak for everyone but for me, the wait was worth it.
Veena is gorgeous, which happily for you means this paragraph will be much shorter. She’s easily one of this year’s finest offerings and one of the most attractive female figures in the line period, everything that could (and often does) blight a female figure is missing and it’s great. Though it does come at the expense of two articulation points – she lacks the ab-crunch and the boot cut - the ab-crunch removal on female figures is an aesthetic choice and I can understand that but the lack of boot cut’s a bit weirder - she has two very obvious places where the articulation point would fit perfectly. Maybe it’s just a cost-saving measure so they only had to tool up two parts instead of four? That would make sense as Veena sports a huge amount of new parts (more than Dragstor) with a new torso, head, loin-cloth, shins, feet, forearms and those lovely wings. They are so bloody nice, though I suppose you could argue for a paint wash on them I don’t like too much paint washing, especially on light colours, anyway they’re delicately sculpted, detailed and textured (it would have driven me mental sculpting these) and thin but not so thin you’re scared of breaking them every time you look at them, and attach via a swivel-hinge combination joint, which now always remind me of Rick Flair - woo. BUT while taking the photos I noticed that she has two right wings! (You can tell by how they curve) What happened there? Did they only tool the right wing? Did they make too few of the left wing? Are there huge piles of left wings out the back at a Chinese factory somewhere? Is it a subtle reference to China’s political leanings? Anyway as I’ve had the figure for weeks and didn’t notice it isn’t very apparent so it doesn’t do much to ‘ruin’ the figure nor can I feel too much anger at whoever missed it (if it was missed) but, well, I’m pretty sure there are people who have noticing these things a primary function of their job, so doesn’t missing something as big as a wing kind of mean they suck at their job? Anyway Her face is great, someone griped that her lips got bigger from prototype to final figure and they did but mine doesn’t show it, in fact mine has very light make-up in general which is just perfect for matching her cartoon appearance, she also has a nice arse:
I’m sorry, I know, I know, but it’s a nice arse and a clever bit of sculpting as the hips underneath that have no shape to them at all, that’s all in the overlay. The Sorceress Queen comes with two accessories; her staff is nice though I don’t remember her using it in the episode? I think it’s just the 200X Sorceress’ staff, whatever, it’s nice though I wish they’d make gems translucent or at least a lighter colour and not just paint them Ferrari red, it makes the characters look like cheap-skates3. The other accessory is her shawl and *sigh* I want to like it and I want to display her with it and I appreciate the team’s effort to include it but it’s just impossible (and it feels like cooked pasta). If you want her to hold her staff, whichever side of the shawl that drapes over that arm (though according to official photos she’s a lefty) will ping up, I thought I could jam it between the wing and the gauntlet but you can’t, it just sticks up and looks daft, but even with her arms down it doesn’t stay properly. Simply they needed to sculpt it with the ends hanging down, it might have limited her number of poses when wearing it but at least she could, in fact, wear it. I haven’t seen anyone keep it on and I’m joining the crowd, it can spend the rest of eternity next to Dragstor’s whip-mace-rip-chord-angry-snake-thing. Other than that her head articulation (a ball joint as always) is slightly limited by her headdress but the lower placement of her wings allows for a good range of looking down and tilted head poses, Dragstor’s ab-crunch btw is completely useless due to his armour overlay but then he has a wheel through him, I doubt he’d be that flexible.
And that’s it, I did it, as usual you put something off and it doesn’t turn out to be too bad at all. In conclusion Veena makes up for all of Dragstor’s short-comings this month but she can’t erase them nor can just being Dragstor, though most of them don’t stand out thanks to his design and your eyes’ inability to take it all in (at least my eyes’ inability anyway) they’re there and I’d be lying if I said they weren’t, but overall he’s not the disappointment I thought he’d be, in fact I like him better than Mosquitor and he’s still far superior to Perfuma. Next month, well this month now, December, is the final month of Masters of the Universe Classics, starting January it’s being replaced by Masters of the Universe Classics 2.0 and Masters of the Universe Classics Collector’s Choice (and Thundercats Classics *joy*) but it’s ending with my two favourite vintage variants and the criminally underappreciated 200X villain Prahvus so as far as I’m concerned it’s going out with a bit of a bang – I seem to be rather alone in this feeling, oh well, I know I’m right and they’re all wrong.
1. In fact the Horde Troopers debuted in the cartoon and were then brought into the toyline, similar to Orko or The Sorceress, however because She-Ra: Princess of Power, the Princess of Power toy line and the Masters of the Universe toyline were all developed simultaneously and in conjunction with one another I don’t know if the Troopers were Mattel designs and always supposed to be figures or if FILMation came up with them and they were added in afterwards (like Orko).
2 Ram-Bam of the Bezerkers had the exact same action feature as Dragstor the exact same year, I’m saying nuffin.
3 The only other problem with the staff isn’t with the staff itself but the return of hard hands, which I mentioned as being a bit endemic these last two years in Masters of the Universe Classics in my very first Quick Crappy Review and then they promptly stopped appearing, they’re back this month and it was a bit perilous getting Veena’s staff in her hand the first time, though it slots in nicer now and as it’s not made of melty chocolate like Eldor’s staff it didn’t bend or break. Dragstor’s awesome crossbow is also a bit loose if not pushed all the way in but I can’t decide if that’s the fault of the weapon or the hard hands.