Given He-Man's '80s origins and the faithfulness to the original with which this new Faker figure has been created, a review of it seems perfectly in keeping with the spirit of Retro Month...and now, on to the review.
Built by Skeletor... looks like He-Man... fights - for evil!
As any fan of Masters of the Universe knows, the original '80s toy line got a lot of mileage - and saved millions in production costs - by reusing the same molds over and over again. While it was obvious that Stinkor was just a remolded Mer-Man and Moss-Man was just a fuzzy Beast Man, the most blatantly obvious reuse of a mold was Faker. Faker was, quite simply, a blue He-Man. The original packaging claimed he was an "Evil Robot of Skeletor." As a kid I thought this made sense - Skeletor was just fiddling around, as he always was, and built an evil robotic He-Man. Maybe he thought seeing a blue-skinned, orange-haired He-Man charging at them would psyche out the forces of good, I don't know. If a blue-skinned, orange-haired version of myself came charging at me with an orange sword, I'd certainly balk for a minute or two.
But Mattel released Faker again a few years later, after the cartoon episode where Faker was presented as being identical to He-Man (except for a pair of glowing eyes). This time the packaging said Faker was an "Evil He-Man Imposter." Obviously, there are inherent problems with this idea. To illustrate them, I hereby reproduce, in its entirety, a hypothetical conversation written by Matt over at X-Entertainment:
Faker: Hello, Teela.
Teela: Who are you?
Faker: He-Man, here to finally give in to our quasi-romantic relationship. Declothe immediately.
Teela: You're not He-Man. Your skin is blue.
Faker: Yes... it's awfully chilly out today, Teela.
Teela: Your hair is orange.
Faker: I dyed it in a tribute to Halloween. Same with my sword.
Teela: You have robot buttons on your chest.
Faker: It's Darth Vader Day. Get with the spirit.
Teela: You don't sound the same as He-Man.
Faker: Well, I have a cold. I told you it was chilly.
Teela: And the purple underwear?
Faker: They have a cold too.
The point is: Mattel should have stuck with the "evil robot" scheme, rather than the "evil twin" one. Evil twins just can't have alternate skin colors.
But all that aside, Faker was always one of my favorite MOTU figures. I won't say he was a favorite character because he didn't really have a character, to my knowledge. But he had blue skin, which was always something I looked for in my favorite MOTU toys (see Skeletor and Trapjaw). He was amusing. He was Faker.
Apparently the folks over at ToyFare magazine share the same nostalgia for Faker, because they managed to persuade Mattel to create an exclusive Faker figure. Essentially it's just a reuse of the regular He-Man mold, with a reuse of He-Man's sword and Skeletor's armor was well (some might even call it a repaint, though since the figure is molded in blue plastic I'm afraid I just can't agree).
I must admit that part of me is a little bit disappointed that Mattel decided to go with the reused mold, rather than allowing the Four Horsemen to create some sort of cool, Terminator-like Faker. I have watched this new line closely, to see whether Mattel would try and go back to its old tricks. But apparently Mattel has reserved the right to make their own Faker in the future, so we may yet see a Horsemen-inspired Faker. In the meantime, I'm more than happy to have ToyFare's faker.
So how to review the toy itself? As mentioned above, it's basically a blue He-Man with orange hair, orange Skeletor armor, and an orange He-Man sword. His boots, loincloth, and gauntlets are purple, his belt is black, and his epaulets have dark painted buttons along the edges - a small, but nice touch. Most importantly, Faker has a chest sticker, just like the original Faker. While there isn't much to say about the figure's sculpting, since it's just a mold reuse, I must praise ToyFare and Mattel's care in reproducing the original design. I especially appreciate the fact that the figure and its sword and armor are actually molded in blue and orange plastic, respectively. I actually think the orange plastic is a bit too bright, but again, that may be out of faithfulness to the original design.
One other thing I should mention: the packaging. The box is simply beautiful. One of the best packages I've ever seen for a ToyFare exclusive. It's big and the graphics are fantastic, in the same style as the rest of the line. This is one of the few cases where I envy MOC collectors. The box also opens easily, allowing the figure to be slid in and out without damaging the packaging (other than cutting a small round piece of tape).
ToyFare won't say how many of these were produced, but the number is somewhere below 10,000. That means these figures will always be something of a collector's item. Only time will tell whether Mattel chooses to make another version of Faker. For now, MOTU fans can enjoy this excellent exclusive.
Agree with this review? Disagree? Discuss it over at The Loafing Lounge.