So Super7’s second wave of Collector’s Choice figures for Masters of the Universe Classics are shipping and finally arriving in the UK, so I thought I’d review ‘em, why not eh? I’m somewhat bitterly unhappy with Super7 and their handling of MOTUC (and just their handling of mail-order business in general) but we’ll try not to let that influence the review shall we?
And I’m a bit rusty, so cut me a little slack (ha! the internet cutting someone slack, as if).
So in case you missed it: Mattel stopped making Masters of the Universe Classics, an online-only collectors’ action figure line, a couple of years ago and a small firm called Super7 picked up where they left off, releasing their figures in two types: ‘Collectors Choice’ which carried over the style and broad focus of the Mattel line and ‘Club Grayskull’ which focusses on making figures accurate to the Filmation cartoons (the ones you remember from the 1980s). This is the first collectors' figure line they’ve worked and they still only have a vague idea of what the fuck to actually do.
So as this is a Collector’s Choice wave the characters have been drawn from across the various He-Man and She-Ra media of yore and you might actually recognise one or two and vaguely remember them: from the She-Ra cartoon we have Dylamug and Granita, from the MOTU movie we have Karg and then we have Wrap Trap, in fact let’s start with the mummy.
Wrap Trap’s a ‘concept character’, a term for characters who were designed but never ultimately used in a franchise: in this case the ‘Horde Mummy’ was an idea for a toy for the vintage Masters of the Universe line that never got off the drawing board. However drawings for the toy were shown in various magazines and books and spread online and the mummy got a good amount of fan support to be including in MOTUC which had already made a whole bunch of concept characters (like He-Ro and the Star Sisters). Fans gave him the name Fear-Ro but Super7 went with the decidedly less awesome ‘Wrap Trap’, which is a bit strange as MOTUC has previously used fan terms like 200X and Sky High.
I’m not sure how I feel about him as a figure, I mean Super7’s lack of quality control is in effect on mine, whoever painted his green skin had trouble staying in the lines (so we’ll assume they were four) and has loose hip joints but that’s not quite what I mean. It’s a stylistic thing, he looks far better in hand than he did as a prototype but there’s something very… Marvel Legends about him, he lacks that feel good chunky style that Classics figures usually have and that makes them so much nicer to look at that the twisted messes Hasbro put out for the House of Ideas. I think it might be because of how thin his bandages are, but this is accurate to the concept art, and how they’re broken up so by the joints but that would be unavoidable, and he’s not completely off, just a little bit and ugh, I dunno. What I do know is that the way his skin has been painted makes him look like a Toxic Crusaders figure and that I like a great deal. Other than that (which is a complaint I’m sure is exclusive to me and me alone) what is there to talk about? Well he’s nicely detailed; the rips in his bandages don’t match the concept art on his right arm; his loose bandages are a hard plastic so I’m a little concerned about them snapping off; his bio is just Imhotep’s story from The Mummy (the Brendan Frasier one); he has that thing that concept characters have, a kind of unending appreciation of his mere existence because we can finally own this thing we were denied. And he adds to the Universal Monster/classic monster archetypes The Horde has going on: in case you haven’t noticed – the original Horde correlate to the classic Universal Monsters, I don’t know if that’s intentional or not but it does work, so we had Dracula (Hordak), Frankenstein’s Monster (Modulok), The Wolf-Man (Grizzlor), Gillman (Leech), Metaluna Mutant (Mantenna) and now we have The Mummy (Wrap Trap) – now we need an Invisible Man and a Phantom of the Opera. So all in all he’s pretty good but I dunno.
Accessories wise Wrap Trap is fucking boss though. He comes with a scimitar like blade which confusingly has a snake handle (maybe he took it off a dead Snake Man? or found it in the Temple of Serpos? Or maybe the Horsemen just didn’t think about the fact that there’s another prominent faction in He-Man that are snake themed when they were going through their checklist of ‘standard Egyptian shit’), it’s very hard to not look badass when holding a sword like this. And he comes with a unique Horde Crossbow that is – for me - the best so far, it’s a gorgeous scarab affair that shows a good understanding of Ancient Egyptian design and boasts lovely colours but, of course, pretty poor paint apps. Still a bit of extra gold doesn’t exactly hurt the feel it’s going for, Ancient Egypt would have had gold pee if they could’ve found out a way to do it.
Might as well stay with The Evil Horde and do Dylamug next. Dylamug is another character who was supposed to have a toy but ultimately never got one, HOWEVER he was used in the She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon (the 80’s one that you etc etc), and in the ‘Secret of the Sword’ multi-pater that kicked off the series, which was later made into a movie and put out on VHS so a lot of people saw this demented Dusty Bin looking chap acting all Sherriff of Nottingham on the poor people of Etheria and getting his metal arse (I assume he has one?) kicked by He-Man. She-Ra actually featured a lot of these by the way, at least Dylamug, Acrobad, Colonel Blast and Octavia were planned toys: there was a lot of toys dreamt up for the Horde. Fans have been asking for him since it was announced Mattel had the rights to make characters from the two Filmation Studios shows and frankly I was getting a bit sick of it. I don’t dislike Dylamug, far from it I think he’s quite fetching, but I’d had enough of people constantly bringing him up – this did mean however that I was happy to see him revealed, just because it would shut everyone up.
I love him. To every fan who pushed for his inclusion in the line: you were right, he makes an awesome toy, he just looks so good in 3D. I love the effort that went into making his ligthbulbs, I’m seriously obsessed with these right now, each one is different and thus uniquely sculpted and tooled and put under clear plastic domes, one of them looks like a marshmallow, I think that’s my favourite. So much extra work but so rewarding to nitpicky pricks like me. His action feature also came out perfectly: he has three mouths (happy, angry and sad) and three sets of eyes (scared, angry and ‘I want you to contract cancer right now’ angry):
But you can also get some confused and scared faces out of only half turning the drum and using one eye from one face and one from another:
So there’s a good number of combinations to be had here. Now to complain: being a completely unique tool he has a unique set of articulation points to the regular MOTUC figure, he has – ball jointed shoulders; hinges at the elbows & kneels; swivel joints at the crotch (or whatever the robot equivalent to that is), thigh cuts and rocker ankles. Notice anything missing from that list? He has no wrist joints, there is no excuse for this Super7, there is no excuse whatsoever for a collector’s figure of this price point to lack articulation points, you’re already using cheaper plastic than Mattel so frankly cutting artic. points is unacceptable. It’s made all the more annoying here as the character is a robot so clearly has joints at his wrist but they’re just not real joints on the figure. Also some paint applications on his body wouldn’t have hurt; I guess they were going for a cartoon accurate look (we’ll get to that)
Dylamug is the wave’s let down when it comes to accessories; he has three different horde head-pieces that can be swapped out, a cartoon accurate one, a regular Horde logo and one with an effects piece – but no Horde Crossbow. The head pieces are a nice extra but the thing Super7 can’t grasp this time around seems to be plugs, they have an issue with understanding that they need to be long enough to hold something in place so the head pieces are a bit precarious, and the effects piece suffers from its laser not being see-through plastic (I thought it was a staff when I first took it out) it simply looks far less like a laser and far less impressive. And of course nice extras are just that: nice extras, a Horde Crossbow is kind of essential nowadays for new Horde members in Classics and you could have easily have made one that plugged into his headpiece (yes I know it’d be slightly redundant as he can shoot lasers like The Vision but I don’t really think Callix or Mantenna really ‘need’ a crossbow either, it’s not the point) and with his line-mate Wrap Trap coming with such a great unique Horde Crossbow, the lack of one with Dylamug seems even more noticeable (which is the second time this problem has come up in two paragraphs). So I’m dubbing Dylamug ‘great looking but flawed’.
Granita is one of the Comet Warriors, a desperate attempt from Mattel to make He-Man appeal to Transformers fans (allegedly); they’re basically sexy Rock Lords. Two Comet Warriors made it into the vintage Masters of the Universe line: Rokkon and Stonedar, both of whom received a figure as a San Diego Comic Con special two pack and fans were instantly annoyed that Granita wasn’t in that set and have been moaning for her ever since. I honestly don’t know if Granita was intended to be a toy at any point, a lot of designs for Comet Warriors were drawn up but none that have been shared online that I know of look like they could have been Granita. It’s possible though given how many unused concepts turned up in the She-Ra cartoon and that’s where Granita’s from, she was 'the girl Comet Warrior in the cartoon show'.
Granita’s a fucking mess. She looks very nice, in a photo or packaging there’s little to complain about it’s just if you want to do silly things like stand on her on that shelf, keep her standing on that shelf or y’know, really anything but stand a few feet away and admire her sculpt and Filmation accurateness. Some of the problems I can’t confirm are universal, my figure has joints looser than a Conservative MP’s morals for instance which makes standing or posing her somewhere between ‘a farce’ and ‘impossible’ but given what a rag doll Hawke (another female character made by Super7) was and the new Filmation Sorceress is it might well just be a problem with Super 7’s female parts. What is a universal issue is that the clips used to hold the rock pieces onto the figure are even looser than the joints and these turn moving, posing and most of all transforming the girl into frustrating slapstick. In fact you know what it’s like? You know that pair of socks that never stay up? It’s like wearing them all day but in action figure form. As for her transformation, this was the best I could do:
You should notice two immediate problems: the first is that she doesn’t look anything like a comet and the second is that you can clearly see her arse. It’s a nice arse Granita but it ruins your camouflage. There are tabs on the rock pieces but they’re far too small and the pieces are far too loose to allow for anything more than a rubbish semi-cube with big gaps in it. Her accessories are just the additional rock piece needed to make her comet form (so that’s worthless) and her own stomach gun, which I greatly appreciate her coming with; I’m pretty sure she didn’t have one in the show so this is a nice bonus to make her fit in nicely with Rokkon and Stonedar and feel on the same level as them, as she should because, well, she IS on the same level as them in the show. And as I think of them as ‘standard Comet Warrior weaponry’, their version of the Horde Crossbow so to me it ‘makes sense’ that she has one.
That just leaves Karg, and this is going to take some explaining, so strap in: Karg was created for the Masters of the Universe movie, the rubbish one with Dolph Lundgren and Courteney Cox that you probably don’t like. But Mattel had a very strange and unintuitive deal with Filmation Studios, Jetlag Productions (who made their cartoons) and Cannon Films (who made the movie) that meant that MattyCollector (Mattel’s adult collectors wing who made MOTU Classics for most of its life) could only make characters or versions of characters that Mattel had previous used in He-Man media they owned (mostly the toys and comic books) so for instance: they could use Orko because he’d had a toy and Granamyr because he’d appeared in a comic book but not Shadow Weaver because she had never been used in anything Mattel owned. If Mattel wanted to make figures of Shadow Weaver or Icer or Shokoti (or Dylamug and Granita up there) or whoever else they would have to pay for licences, they did this for the cartoons (so they had the ‘Filmation rights’ and the ‘Jetlag rights’) but didn’t for the movie (apparently Warner Bros. asked too much?). This meant that of the trio of villains created for the movie (Blade, Saurod & Karg) only Karg would not receive a figure (as the other two had figures in the 1980s toyline) and we’d have a big Karg-shaped hole in our collections (again). However a loop-hole was found by fans: Karg had appeared in a comic in an issue of the Masters of the Universe magazine which would mean that so long as they made him in those colours Mattel could make him. HOWEVER the then-current man in charge of the line (and Mattycollector in general) Scott ‘Toyguru’ Neitlich was never up for it, which was odd as he’d used a similar loophole to make the cartoon looks for the She-Ra cast (including the very first figure of Adora). Super7 don’t have whatever objection Scotty Boy (or his superiors) had and now, on the 10th anniversary of the line, we finally have a Karg. Got all that?
Karg has been executed exactly how he should have been – as far as I’m concerned anyway and my opinion is unto that of God’s remember - they just let the Four Horsemen sculpt a movie-accurate Karg then painted him ‘wrong’ to match the colours of the magazine, I’m not exactly sure how they can get away with doing this (they did it with Gwildor too) but I’m glad that they can. There is some differences in the legs (this uses smooth leg pieces and a longer ‘loin cloth’ piece) but yeah, it’s just Movie Karg in fetching blues and greens (they even swapped his hook back to the correct arm) – and it’s great, I’m not a huge fan of the ‘stuck on’ look of his cape (it’s the way they attach it, Madame Razz had a similar issue) but it’s not a deal breaker or anything and you can’t see the problem from the front. In fact the figure’s so great that I need something to fill up this paragraph with…I know! I’ll talk about other complaints common to the whole wave and indeed the second wave of Club Grayskull too (which I also own) instead. One is that the necks have some serious range issues when it comes to movements, this is worse on the Graskull stuff but Granita’s is completely blocked thanks to a combination of shit neck pegs (they’re too soft apparently) and her stone hair and Karg has some issues (though a much better range than perhaps he should given his Motley Crue of a haircut), Wrap Trap is the only figure in these two waves to have a neck and not have problems turning his head. The other is hard hands, which seem to have been made from fucking Adamantium, getting weapons into the bloody things is a hell of a struggle without getting the hairdryer out and even then they don’t sit right, you have to be a special kind of shit to make something such a failure that it cannot achieve its only function but Super7 managed it with their concrete hands, good job lads.
Back to Karg, he comes with two weapons, his gun from the movie and a pathetically small knife that makes him look silly; it looks fine in the hands of your average Action Force figure though. I would just like to finish this Karg section by saying this figure has caused a revelation, what is that revelation? Karg. Has. Ears. How have I never noticed this before? They’re even on his trading card! I’ve been such a fool.
So all-in-all we end up with three figures that display nicely and one that looks a bit off but only if you’re me so I am, complaints aside, happy to have them all and they do all look nice with their various factions. Plus the wave was very satisfying: Karg and Granita make our MOTUC shelves that little bit more complete, those gaps that only we could see between Rokkon & Stonedar and Blade & Saurod have been filled and it feels great. Quality control overall seems a little better than Wave 1 (going by reading forums anyway) but issues are still there and they still seem too numerous, we’re getting schoolboy errors like hard hands after three waves of figures (yeah there were some ‘ultimate’ re-releases before wave 1, don’t worry) and then there’s things like cutting articulation points and the complete disaster of execution that was Granita, something that shouldn’t have been such a misfire considering they had two previous Comet Warriors to use as reference, all of which leads me to the conclusion that Super7 just aren’t very good at their jobs And while I don’t mind so much because I like how they look, it does need to be said that this wasn’t really a Collector’s Choice wave, it was half a Collector’s Choice wave and half a Club Grayskull wave, Dylamug is Filmation accurate to a fault with no ‘classicizing’ at all unless you use the alternate headpiece and while Granita has been ‘classicized’ the paint job hides a lot of this leaving her feeling far more Grayskull than Classics. As someone who ISN’T a Filmation fan primarily and who doesn’t see it as the definitive version of the characters and mythos I don’t feel catered to by the line that’s supposed to be catering to me and that’s a bit of an issue isn’t it? So we’ve got a lot of little niggles that add up to a terrible constructed but really nice looking set of figures.