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Masters of the Universe Classics
by Poe Ghostal

Just as Teela was the token woman among the sausage-fest that was the Heroic Warriors, Bow represents the token man in the Great Rebellion (unless you count Kowl, I guess... and I think Swiftwind might be a dude...). Having never watched She-Ra, I can't say I have an attachment to the character. But I have an attachment to Masters of the Universe Classics, so, here we are.

After wandering through Despondos for several centuries and unable to return to Eternia, Hordak and his ageless army eventually claimed Etheria as a new throne world, deposing the local monarchs and ruling the people through fear. A nobleman in Queen Angella's court, Kyle Reccula was one of many brave warriors who took up arms against the Horde invaders and joined the Great Rebellion. Nicknamed "Bow" due to his natural ability as an archer, each of his arrows possesses different powers and he has a magical heart that beats frantically when She-Ra is in danger. Bow is secretly in love with Princess Adora, unaware that she and She-Ra are one and the same!

The original Bow figure wasn't that impressive. As part of the "Princess of Power" line, he lacked the insanely-muscled physique of the vintage MOTU figures, reminding those boys who were interested in POP that the line wasn't really meant for them. That said, Bow is arguably a forerunner of the "New Adventures of He-Man" toyline, which featured more realistic anatomical proportions. That's probably why MOTUC Bow's legs, particularly his boots, are quite obviously based not on Bow's vintage figure, but on NA He-Man, and his gauntlets appear to be based on NA He-Man's as well. For MOTUC, Bow has been updated to match the house style, meaning he finally gets to show off his abs like all the other dudes.

Bow is packaged with his vintage toy-based head, rather than the more Filmation-style mustachioed head. This has to be disappointing for some mint-on-card collectors, since the mustachioed head is the much more familiar look for Bow. The mustachioed head is completely hidden in the package behind the label (in fact, I was momentarily worried it wasn't in there).

Bow's sculpt is fascinating. He's a mixture of re-used parts, pre-used parts, and new parts. The new parts include the heads, armor, belt, pelvis, boots, feet, gauntlets, and hands. The pelvis is a new, generic "pants" sculpt. But the boots, feet and gauntlets all appear have a design much closer to the vintage New Adventures He-Man than vintage Bow. If NA He-Man had come out first, the shared parts might not seem quite so odd. That said, the NA He-Man parts aren't distractingly off-style from Bow himself; as usual, the Horsemen have done a good balancing act of making the parts generic enough that they can be re-used for other figures.

Both head sculpts are great. What's most intriguing is that unlike Man-At-Arms, the mustachioed and non-stache heads have different faces. The non-'stache head seems to be a bit more detailed, with a narrower jawline and thinner cheekbones. The hands are interesting as well. They seem much more detailed than typical MOTUC hands - complete with individually-separated fingers on the right hand and skin folds around each knuckle. You can see that sort of detail on other MOTUC figures, but here it's quite noticeable, possibly owing to the separate flesh-toned paint application.

Finally there's the cape, armor, and quiver. They're all one piece, although the quiver is glued on and could, I suppose, be removed if you were determined. The "heart" in the center of the armor can be popped out and swapped with a simple red circle, an obvious J.J. Abrams reference (kidding). This is a nice touch for those of us who might think the heart was a bit incongruous on a rebel warrior. Between the vintage toy-based head and the heart, it's clear Mattel is still committed to giving us full toy-based versions as well as more idealized looks.

The armor is sculpted with divots near the armpits, which was to accommodate his biceps in the "archer" pose. Unfortunately this doesn't quite work out in practice; the arms still lift the armor off his chest in that pose. It's possible that with more playing around with it, I could get him in a pose with bow drawn and armor down, but it's not easy. Anchoring the armor to the front of the torso might have solved the problem, but I'm not sure how that could have been accomplished, other than the obvious (glue).

Bow has some interesting paint apps. As mentioned above, the work on the stache-less head seems more detailed, with a nicer matte tone to the skin. The mustachioed face, on the other hand, seems a little smoother and the details less defined, which actually looks more in line with most MOTUC faces. It's a bit of a shame the stache-less head is so good, since most collectors will never display him with it.

The other really interesting paint work is on the hands. They're actually painted, rather than simply being molded in fleshtone, and the result both looks better (i.e., they look more like real hands) and worse (because the color doesn't quite match up with the arms). The armor is made from a very pliable material. Some armored figures have had harder plastic armor (BA He-Man, Man-At-Arms), and I suspect the softer armor we've seen on figures like Bow and Carnivus is because the cape and armor are one piece, and the cape needs to be fairly pliable.

Bow has a balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders and hips, swivels at the biceps, top of the boots, and top of the thighs, and hinges at the abdomen, elbows, knees and ankles. The ankles have some slight "rocker" give, but not as much as we sometimes get.

The real news here are the hands, which are swivel/hinge to accomodate Bow's traditional archer stance. The idea is to get the arrow in his hand and line it up with the bow (although that's still 100% incorrect for an archer). It's trickier than you'd think, even with the extra articulation, and while possible the end result still looks a bit awkward. The problem is the huge biceps; they limit the amount the right arm can come in toward the chest. That said, it's definitely good they tried it, and we encourage this sort of articulation experimentation in MOTUC.

The bow is nice and large, and the sculpt features a horse motif (possibly meant to evoke his horse/pegasus, Arrow). It's not strung, but there are loops in both ends so that you can string it yourself. It's gold and features some nice paint brown paint apps to break up the look.

The arrow is, well, an arrow. The head is vaguely heart-shaped and looks like it would be really, really painful if lodged in your aorta (most things would be, though). If you work it between his right index and middle finger, he can hold the arrow.

Mattel calls the last accessory a harp. It has the traditional shape of a harp, but the small size and the way Bow is depicted using it - strumming it in his hands like a guitar, serenading Adora or She-Ra like a medieval minstrel - is really more like a lyre. Most harps are very large and stand on the ground; lap harps can be held on the lap between the knees, and that's probably the closest thing to what Bow has here. but even lap harps are pretty large. He can hold the harp and "strum" it, but it's not a particularly natural-looking pose.

Bow is definitely not a figure many MOTU fans wer excited for, but Mattel and the Four Horsemen seem to have taken this into account by giving him a number of added-value features - the new wrists, the extra head, stringable bow and the separate arrow. His head sculpts, particularly the non-stache head, are even better than usual. Regardless of how much you like the character, Bow is a great MOTUC figure.

-- 03/21/11

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