I have a whole bunch of Masters of the Universe Classics figures to quick crappily review because Digital River don’t know their arsehole from their elbow so lets go!
Getting Lord Masque has been an almost unrelenting pain in the arse. When the final two years of Masters to the Universe Classics had their pre-planned release schedule rejigged so that so that all of the remaining figures that were released in the vintage Masters of the Universe line (including variants) and all of the remaining original characters who got a figure in the vintage Princess of Power line would defiantly get released Masque was one of the figures who lost out; but he lost out via a fan vote for who would fill one of the remaining slots where he was up against Huntara from the She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon, this would have been fine were this fan vote not held at a convention where only attendees could vote, subscribers who make up the majority of the buyers for the line, and would be receiving the figure no matter what, got absolutely no say in things. Lord Masque is revealed to be the initial figure in the new Collector’s Choice subscription1 which at least stops fans going on about him online BUT he’s the wrong colours and fans noticed (he was BRIGHT blue in places, odd) so the New Team™ at Mattycollector delayed him to later in his month (January) to fix the colours BUT decided to still take orders for him at the usual time of the month (between the 10th and 15th) probably because Digital River, the company who handles the Mattycollector website and online store, couldn’t handle a change to the soup in their vending machines let alone to a sale date on a site they run. BUT THEN because of a security feature (allegedly) a whole bunch of credit cards – including my card – failed to authorise Mattycollector and pay them leaving subscribers without subscriptions. Matty/Digital River did get on top of things pretty swiftly and intelligently though, realising this was a widespread thing they set up a function to re-allow affected customers to add a subscription to their cart on mattycollector.com, check out and thus reinstate it and sent out an e-mail with a link to this function BUT OF COURSE the link didn’t work for a whole chunk of recipients – including me of course - so we had to reply and get another one sent to us. AND because subscribers aren’t charged for their figures until a few days before they go on sale for everybody (and if failing to sell out, are usually made ‘no longer available’ after a short time) those dealing with this issue (including me) were farting about during this time so I (and I’m sure others did too) bought an extra Lord Masque at a non-discounted price (subscribers save a few dollars) to ensure I got myself a Masque, so now I have two – or I would have if they’d both shipped at the same time. Remember I said Lord Masque had been delayed to later in the month? Well some actually weren’t, some buyers started getting ‘order dispatched’ emails almost straight away BUT IT WAS OK when one online fan emailed them to ask why some people were getting shipping notices they told him that they were categorically NOT shipping any Masques and subscribers would be serviced first when they were, this heman.org member received this reply after another member had already started a Lord Masque arrival thread and posted pictures of their swanky new Lord Masque figure they had in their house that they’d bought on the all access sale day. Still they were sort of true to their word with me as my Subscription Lord Masque (which I technically ‘ordered’ a few days after the day of sale via the e-mail link shopping cart reinstating method) has arrived first - about a day after my December figures arrived, which means he wasn’t delayed at all, in fact he got here a little earlier than some non-delayed figures! How fucking complicated can the receiving of one character be? I just want a sodding shadow man Matty! Still all of this won’t matter soon enough, in five years’ time went someone is trying to buy all the old MOTU Classics line on eBay he’ll just be a mid-to-low priced cartoon figure, which is exactly why I spent all that time talking about what a prick he was to get because a) noteworthy backstories improve figure for me and b) I had to actually go through all that fucking about and I don’t want people to forget about it!
So with that all done, Lord Masque is the January Figure for Masters of the Universe Classics: Collectors’ Choice from Mattycollector, the collectors wing of Mattel. He was part of the Collector’s Choice subscription and available to non-subscribers though is officially considered a delayed figure. Collectors’ Choice’s focus is the slightly more obscure but fan demanded characters wanted by long time buyers of the line and the more hardcore He-Man fans, well except Crita, who’s an A-List character from The New Adventure of He-Man and just never got released in Masters of the Universe Classics. But WHO THE FUCK IS LORD MASQUE? He’s a one-shot wonder from the old He-Man & The Masters of the Universe cartoon from FILMation, he was the main villain in the episode ‘The House of Shokoti Part 1’ where he was kind of a servant-come-herald for the titular villain (who didn’t actually appear in that episode) and tried to keep He-Man and Ram-Man away from the House of Darkness as it rose form the Sands of Time (everything has a dramatic name on Eternia). He was fairly cool and fairly mysterious, not being ‘alive’ as much as an evil shadow held solid by his Demon Mask (see?) that Orko nicked – yeah he got beat by Orko (and by accident), a bit embarrassing there Masquey – but really he’s only remotely important because of his connection to Shokoti (who already had a figure) and I’m convinced only as desired as he became because fans were told they couldn’t have him because of a vote they weren’t allowed to take part in (and I guess, he would have been a more logical release than Huntara, given his mistress was already out).
I can’t say I needed Lord Masque; as much as I enjoy the 1980s He-Man and She-Ra cartoons I’ve never really felt that many of the one-shot villains were all that noteworthy, Masque was perhaps a little more acceptable because he could stand with Shokoti (a villain I do find noteworthy) but I’ve never thought once from the moment I discovered the Classics line that I must have Lord Masque. I say this not to insult Lord Masque or his fans but to put the following in context: Lord Masque looks fucking great. Honestly I wasn’t worried when he was revealed (well except him being bright blue in places, but they fixed that) because the Four Horseman have made a habit out of taking characters I have absolutely no feelings, good or bad, towards and making them into really enjoyable figures, especially when it comes to FILMation one-shotters and sure enough I was right and Masque continues the trend Fang Man started and all of his supporters were right because he makes a really good figure. He’s about as basic an MOTUC figure can get, being made up of nearly all pre-existing parts with only his head, loin-cloth/belt and thighs being new and his thighs actually being a mould of the standard He-Man thighs with the new garters sculpted on top of them and of course a new armour piece – in this case a cape and it’s straps. All the old pieces look good in their new colours though – he’s a really attractive colour but I’m not quite sure what to call it, I’m sure DIY shops have a great name for it ‘Outer Mushroom Beige’ or some shit but I’m dubbing it ‘sort of grey’2 - additional texture detailing has been given to the cape’s straps, the belt and the garters to give them a leathery feel and as above it’s really appreciated, I understand the argument for straight-up cartoon accuracy especially if you’ve been waiting since you were a kid to get a figure of the character but I appreciate little things that help make all these diverse designs and styles of characters fit a bit better together without fucking with the design too much, the texturing here is a subtle (hell it’s almost subliminal) but great technique for just that. Speaking of fucking with the design though the reliance on part reuse has changed the style of his boots from a simple straight top to the ‘double upped’ pointed boots from Skeletor, they did this with Plundor too and I wish they’d pack it the fuck in. It’s a little thing but bit bugs me just because it’s so obviously different shaped. Also altered is his ‘cheek spikes’, they’ve been shortened (for safety reasons, Mattel’s policy still being “it’s ok to poison kids, just don’t prick their thumbs”) I was surprised how noticeable that was but I can’t say it bugs me, his head looks great and the black on mine is nice and sharp even if the spikes aren’t. Though his head does have the only real issues (other than the boot thing which I’m sure only I care about), all the part reuse means that his articulation is standard and unhindered except for the head, which really doesn’t have a great deal of range of movement, it can tilt a little but the hoot hinders it some ways and the cape hinders it others; the real issue though is that his Demon Mask isn’t removable – so no soulless black void sadly, don’t Mattel know how much I identify with that? – but more seriously: seriously removing the mask is a major part of the character and the only episode he was in, I can’t see how that wasn’t priority one when making a figure of him.
Lord Masque doesn’t have any accessories – oh he comes with weapons, they’re just not his: The sword and shield he’s packed wielding are actually from Thunder Punch He-Man, not the orange armoured figure from the 1980s Masters of the Universe line but the transparent green armoured figure from the 1990s line He-Man (the one that The New Adventures of He-Man cartoon tied into). I think this is a bloody brilliant idea, the ‘H’ on the shield looks enough like an M (on the original toy too) and the weapons look enough like they’re made of magic to be used for Masque but look futuristic and enough like energy (because they are) to be used with the futuristic sci-fi themed New Adventures era characters including Galactic Protector He-Man (who they technically belong to). Some fans have been giving the weapons to He-Ro Ii and I’m thinking of joining ‘em so Dare can have his own unique sci-fi sword and shield like his daddy, who took his slot in New Adventures and sci-fi sword and shield anyway3. They’re great; I love transparent anything on action figures and although the shield is technically a little too small it actually came out better proportioned in my mind, no longer looking like it belonged to another, taller, action figure.
So in conclusion a good start to a new era of Classics in terms of product but a terrible start in terms of the competence of everyone at Digital River (though really most fans know there is no competence there) and probably a couple of people at Mattycollector too (though again the latter half of last year had already eroded most ‘smart fans’ belief in any competence there too).
1 y’know, with Lord Masque, Darius and Tuskador being in this subscription, nearly a third of it is made up of characters that lost votes!
2 on that, is Lord Masque wearing a grey body suit? ‘no’ would put him more in line with the standard He-Man style of design and I can believe that when hardened shadow would turn that colour but ‘yes’ would also make sense as he’d be a shadow poured into a suit, the cartoon doesn’t make it too clear (though I’m leaning towards the body suit) and Mattel not having a male upper torso without nipples makes it murkier still.
3 more on that in my upcoming Quick(ish) Crappy Review of Prahvus and He-Ro II