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Battle Armor Skeletor

Masters of the Universe Classics
by Poe Ghostal

It's been over a year since the release of Battle Armor He-Man, and at long last, his flesh-challenged counterpart has his own Masters of the Universe Classics version.

Using dark magic taught by Hordak, Skeletor occasionally creates new forms of armor and weapons to outmaneuver the Masters of the Universe. His Battle Armor was first created to help Skeletor penetrate through the Mystic Wall in order to kidnap Adora and secretly clone the Sorceress of Grayskull. The original armor was destroyed by Oo-larr after three strikes with his mighty battle axe, sending Skeletor back behind the Wall. Skeletor re-formed the armor 20 years later in an effort to combat a similar battle suit now worn by He-Man. Although lacking the mystic qualities of the original, his new armor was stronger and more powerful. Skeletor, Evil Lord of Destruction is now protected by his magic Battle Armor!

Despite the fact that the 1980s Filmation He-Man cartoon existed primarily to sell toys, neither He-Man nor Skeletor ever appeared on the show in their battle armor. The armor was often featured in other media, such as posters, magazines and comics, and the figures were two of the most popular guises of the characters (some fans prefer them to the "regular" versions). Possibly the reason for the absence of Battle Armor on the show is because it would have cost money to animate. Although, it also seems that Filmation could have just created a separate armor cel and placed it over the chest part of the character cel - but maybe that wouldn't work. I'm no animator.

As with any MOTUC figure who had a vintage figure in the 1980s, Battle Armor Skeletor is closely based upon that version. The Battle Armor variants are fondly remembered by fans today for their unique action feature: when struck, the chest spun on a wheel to show increasing amounts of damage. There were three settings: no damage, one slash, and two slashes.

Adding the spinning feature would have been (we're told) prohibitively expensive to produce in MOTUC, so to replicate the look if not the action of the feature, MOTUC Skeletor features three interchangeable chest plates. The chest armor is relatively easy to remove (easier than Battle Armor He-Man, at any rate), and the plates can be popped in and out without trouble. The figure is packaged wearing the two-slash plate, which is probably the most interesting one to go with, yet many MOC fans would have preferred the unblemished plate.

Aside from the armor, there's absolutely no new parts on this figure. It's notable that, to match the vintage figure, he has a furry loincloth rather than the leather version his standard figure comes with. Because the MOTUC furry loincloth doesn't taper into the groin like the vintage version, you don't get the "Skeletor wearing a leotard" vibe that the vintage figure had.

There are two things to comment on regarding Skeletor's paint applications. The first is his face. The Skeletor paint apps have varied from cartoonish to heavily washed. This figure's face has thicker paint for a more classic, cartoonish look. On a side note, some fans recommended using the toothless Mo-Larr head for a battle-damaged Skeletor, and we have to admit it's pretty cool.

The other interesting thing is the feet. Fans requested that Battle Armor Skeletor's feet be colored purple to match his vintage card art, and Mattel complied. Some fans suggested using the Hordak feet instead, and that would have looked much more badass, but... ah well.

Skeletor features the usual MOTUC articulation: balljoints at the shoulders and hips, hinge joints at the elbows, knees, ankles and abdomen, and swivels at the biceps, wrists, waist and calves. The "rocker" ankle joints are excellent, with a great range of motion, and all of my figure's joints are tight.

The vintage Battle Armor Skeletor came with his sword and Havoc Staff. Since we've already gotten those accessories with the regular Skeletor as well as Mo-Larr, Mattel again listened to fans and gave us a purple version of the He-Man axe. This may annoy some of the purists, but the rest of us are very happy to get it - it gives BA Skel a unique weapon, and the axe better fits the brutal combat you imagine between BA He-Man and Skeletor.

Battle Armor Skeletor was a given from the moment we got Battle Armor He-Man. I'm more a fan of the "regular" versions than I am the BA versions, but they're both fun figures. Some extra touches, such as another accessory of some sort, or using the Hordak feet, would have made him a bit better, but overall he's a slightly-above-average entry in the line. I've been using BA He-Man to ride Battle Cat, and BA Skeletor is destined to sit astride Panthor come next month.

-- 04/04/11

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