Friday, 20 January 2017

Post-Christmas Quick Crappy Reviewapalooza 2017: Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics: Collector’s Choice Tuskador and Horde Wraith*

I LIKED the subscription concept Masters of the Universe Classics used, it needed some refinement but in 2015 we got two of those refinements – we knew the whole subscription up front and the ‘sub or die’ scare tactic was retired. Of course late 2015 and all of 2016 turned into an absolute mess of delayed releases, no updates and squashed faces following the loss of Scott ‘Toyguru’ Neitlich and what seemed to be personnel changes once every 12 hours. But the concept I liked, every month you get (at least) a new figure through the post, it guaranteed you all of the figures (from the main line at least) you wanted that year and as a side effect you ended up getting characters you wouldn’t normally have bought. Some fans hates that last ‘benefit’, cross every time they had to receive a figure of a character they didn’t care for or from an incarnation of He-Man they didn’t like and I can’t say I was thrilled with getting Nepthu or Buzzsaw Hordak either but honestly it’s worked for me more than it hasn’t; without the subscription ‘forcing’ me to receive them I’d’ve never bought Icer, Batros, Geldor, Strongarm Strong-Or, Galactic Protector She-Ra, Lizard Man, Huntara, Calix, King Chooblah or Lord Masque and I’d’ve missed out on a lot of cool figures. I bring this up because 1) the subscription days are over for the foreseeable future, Super7 isn’t continuing with the concept, replacing it with the concept of doubling the cost of buying from them if you’re stupid enough to not live in America and 2) Horde Wraith is half of this review and while I’m not as in love with him as I am with Icer or Strong-Or I’m glad I now own one and that wouldn’t have happened without the subscription model.

Horde Wraith and Tuskador are the final two monthly releases from Masters of the Universe Classics: Collector’s Choice to arrive here, in theory they’re the last two monthly MOTUC: Collector’s Choice figures to be released but because Mattycollector, the former adult collector’s wing of Mattel, have completely failed at releasing things when they said they would, I’m not 110% certain. Horde Wraith was planned to be the November 2016 figure from the line and Tuskador’s release date was always a bit sketchy, the Wraith was a regular figure and the elephant man was one of two deluxe figures that replaced the quarterly extra releases for 2016. Masters of the Universe: Collector’s Choice was one of the two continuations from Masters of the Universe Classics (the other being He-Man & The Masters of the Universe) and like its predecessor the figures were only available online at either as part of subscription or for sale on their planned day or release (even if they didn’t ship that month).

Horde Wraith appeared in only one episode of the ‘200X’ He-Man & The Masters of the Universe cartoon – the early 2000s one you probably didn’t like because it was too anime-esque but was in fact really well written. That episode was ‘The Power of Grayskull’ where…they said 1 word and were background characters; they did I suppose do something important by opening the portal to Despondos that was later used by King Grayskull to banish all of the Evil Horde from Eternia (which I’m aware makes sense only if you know what I’m talking about) but fan demand for the figure (he really was fan demanded) is because of the following reasons: they look cool; they’re part of very popular Horde faction; Shadow Weaver is very expensive and quite rare and Toyguru hates Illumina so we knew we'd never get her1

Three paragraphs in so it’s time to review the actual figure: I like him but I don’t love him, a cliché that I’m a little ashamed of using. At first glance he looks fantastic but there’s lots of little things that build up to keep me from going ‘yeah, Horde Wraith’s fucking great’. Examples: the front of his hood is a piece that’s been stuck in and it’s really noticeable with a really obvious line across the top of the hood piece that’s part of the head; there’s really big gapes around the articulation points, especially at the biceps, elbows and ab crunch; the waist articulation is pointless and when used makes the figure look unsightly by the top and bottom parts not matching up at all, shape wise; the head articulation is pointless; the forearms are shiny when nothing else on the robes are even remotely shiny; the paint on the back of the cape is sloppilily applied, not as bad as Evil-Lynn last He-Man review but still out of the lines and thin in places and overall he just looks like of…lumpy and uneven, not as bad as Hasbro’s Marvel figures (god no) but still off. Like I say these are all small things and you could make a good argument for them not fucking mattering at all, but all together they just put me off the figure a little bit. There are things I like of course, but mostly standard Four Horsemen good things – additional texture and detailing, delightfully sculpted ripped fabric and a nice way of doing the characters ‘faces’, in the cartoon they just have black shadow with eyes and I’d’ve been happy with just a flat-ish black area inside the hood, instead the Horsemen sculpted a fully masked head in there and then painted everything black, half-hiding their work but making the figure look better, god the Four Horsemen are good. Just to run down articulation as it’s a bit different to the usual MOTUC toy, he has ball joints at the neck, arms and elbows (that causes the lager gaps), swivels at the waist and biceps and the ab crunch hinge.

The Wraith comes with two accessories, the first is a lovely little transparent stand that I’m counting as an accessory but it’s pretty essential, he can stand up without it but it’ll ruin the edges of his cloak and he’d be very cross, as would anyone who buys it from you later on and the Horseman who spent ages making them look buggered up on purpose. He ‘proper’ accessory is his staff and it’s another black mark for the figure, it’s really soft and bendy as hell and looks rather limp pathetic, if you can figure out a way to get him to hold it, his sleeves and odd shaped hands combined with it being roughly the strength of a well-dipped Rich Tea biscuit do not ease make. design wise it’s great though, a cool staff in its own right with a definite 200X feel it’s also sneakily the Horde Wraith’s crossbow, whoever it was who became committed to giving each Horde member a unique crossbow even if they didn’t previously have one, and then to making them as creative as possible, you get all the hugs.

I’ve been a fan of Tuskador’s look for a long time - The New Adventures of He-Man was the current incarnation of the franchise when I was a kid – but I can’t say I really knew much about him other than ‘the big guy of the Galactic Protectors’ and Mattel retired the bios on their figures this year (they were…controversial), so I Googled him so you wouldn’t have to: he’s a trader from the Polarides system which isn’t something you’d instantly think a space football player with elephant design elements would be doing. His figure debuted in the 3rd wave of He-Man2, the toy line that corresponded to The New Adventures of He-Man cartoon – the space one you probably didn’t like because it was too different, over here his toy was called Insyzor.

I’m still not over how BIG Tuskador feels; the thing is I knew he was going to be a deluxe figure and I knew he was going to be built around the Ram Man parts but Ram Man doesn’t feel that big, not as big as I’d’ve liked certainly, but Tuskador feels huge. It makes these two a sort of nice counterpoint to Evil-Lyn and Clawful, who were buck figures through and through, here we have Horde Wraith who I think is almost an entirely new tool (he uses the regular He-Man upper torso) and Tuskador who’s only reusing the torso, arms and feet of Ram Man, parts that have until now not been reused at all. I can’t fault most of the part reuse, the gauntlets are a fine fit for Tuskador’s, though I wouldn’t have minded new hands with the additional metal on them, they work fine and allow him to hold his only weapon by proxy of being designed to hold Ram Man’s only weapon. Actually while we’re on construction – that most fascinating of topics – I’m very impressed with how they’ve done his armour: the main chest piece where the trunks attach is a hard plastic additional piece glued onto the upper torso piece; the top part that goes over his head is a detachable ‘helmet’ piece that can be removed to reveal his head, a head that’s attached to a neck joint that’s part of the amour piece, allowing for a unique neck and sculpted details until the helmet (including some piping that has nifty bronze paint apps); the shoulder parts are attached to new shoulder pieces and are soft plastic – it would have been so easy to have made the whole thing as one big piece and just glue it to the upper torso, blocking the arm articulation and offering us no head articulation at all, but with a bit of clever thinking we get a far superior product, many kudos. On the head, it’s really nice if not a bit overly detailed; it’s clearly sculpted by the same person who did Ram Man (which makes sense, Tusky IS using his parts) but it’s an entirely original design – a nice one but entirely original – when Tuskador already had had his unhelmeted head revealed, and it was handsome and with his hair on show, I’m guessing no one at Matty/The Four Horsemen Studios knew this, I mean it IS a third wave New Adventures of He-Man character we’re talking about, and it IS a nice head, but something to note. Everything from the waist to ankles is new and accurate to the original toy, it’s all fantastic and I enjoy the additional metallic paint details they’ve added, another ‘standard good Four Horseman thing’ but it leaves me without much to say because ‘it’s fantastic’ really sums it all up perfectly. Other than ball joints at the knees he’s standard MOTUC articulation fare – on a stranger note, this Tuskador figure doesn’t have the unusual colour skin of the action figure, I’ve always taken this to mean he was meant to be Native American3, it doesn’t really matter to me because he was this skin tone in the cartoon but, again, noteworthy and I don’t doubt someone on Tumblr has complained about whitewashing.  

Tuskador comes packaged without his tusks, because they stick out a fucking country mile and the packaging would be unnecessarily huge. You get two types in the pack: his toy accurate set that are the country mile sized ones and a smaller set that are closer to their size in the New Adventures of He-Man cartoon and I’m sure a lot of people are damn pleased with the inclusion, Tusky’s gonna eat up a LOT of shelf space even without his tusks. Both sets are pearlescent and very nice, a slightly soft plastic that doesn’t make me weary they might break, better yet you can store the tusks you’re not using on his back, his armour piece has a second set of holes ‘round there and the smaller tusks really finish off the look of the figure from the back, the larger set don’t look too silly either and take up much less space back there. Tuskador can balance ok with both sets of tusks, so long as he’s on a hard surface, when wearing the large set anything as soft as say… a water proof table cloth and he’ll likely as not fall forward, the tusks can support him but I don’t trust them to not bend under his weight I wouldn’t let ‘im lay on ‘em too long. He also comes with Mega Blaster which is as small feeling as the figure is big feeling, I don’t think it’s particularly out of scale with the original weapon but was probably a case where bigger would have been better. It is a nice thing though, and has a more Kirby-esque feel under the Horsemen.
I know this means nothing to anyone who hasn't
vacationed at Haven Holidays, but for those of you who have
I hope you went 'awww'
So in conclusion these are alright, Horde Wraiths’ not as good as he could be but he’s still an impressive and imposing design and’ll look great cast in half shadow at the back of the Evil Horde (so yes he only looks good when you can’t see him properly) and the only problem I have with Tuskador is that he reminds me how great a Classics Sagitar would have looked *sigh*. 

1 I kid, actually there’s now copyright issues surrounding Illumina, but I don’t think there were when this wave was planned and made.
2 despite what everyone including your mother always called Masters of the Universe, this toyline – which ran from 1989 to 1992 – and a corresponding comic book are the only parts of Masters of the Universe to just use the title ‘He-Man’; otherwise it’s things like Masters of the Universe, He-Man & The Masters of the Universe or The New Adventures of He-Man.
3 This Isn’t as mental a thing to say about a man from space as it sounds, Kayo and Sagitar had Asian features and Vizar was dark skinned. . 

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