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Two Bad

Masters of the Universe
by Poe Ghostal

It's tough working for Skeletor.

Take Two-Bad here. According to the new Mike Young Productions Masters of the Universe cartoon episode "The Monster Within," he was once two rival bounty hunters, Tuvar and Baddhra. Though sworn enemies, Skeletor hired them both to capture He-Man. Like anyone remotely connected to Skeletor, they failed. As punishment, Skeletor fused them together. The lesson: don't fool with the Overlord of Evil, or he'll make a two-headed monster out of you and your worst enemy. (And there, you thought only the old Filmation cartoons had a handy moral at the end.)

But Tuvar's and Baddhra's loss is the action figure lover's gain. While Two-Bad still has the most groan-inducing name of all the MOTU characters (yes, even worse than Clawful and Buzz-Off), he's one of the best figures to come out of the line so far. (One quick note: the packaging calls this character "Two Bad," but that just looks stupid - the new line seems to have an aversion to the hyphens that were so characteristic of the original line (something that seems endemic to modern toymakers, if Snake-Eyes becoming Snake Eyes is any indication). So for the purposes of this review, I'm calling him Two-Bad).

The original Two-Bad figure was a marvel - of hilarity. He seemed designed to maximize awkwardness and humor. His arms, which featured a special punching action, were set so that each fist, when released, would punch the other head. Yeah, emphasis on the "special." In addition, Two-Bad was extremely top-heavy - bad news in a line where even the monocephalic figures can't stand up after four minutes of play (due to the cheap rubber bands inside the legs). And how was this fearsome two-headed beast armed? With a huge mace, perhaps, or a terrible broadsword, or a gigantic axe? Nope - a shield. Just a plain yellow shield.

All these issues and more have been corrected by the Four Horsemen, the maverick ex-McFarlane Toys sculptors who have updated the MotU line for modern sensibilities. The new Two-Bad retains the twin heads and great color scheme of the original figure, but lacks the self-loathing and stability issues. (The physical ones, at least - there's no easy fix for his mental ones.)

There are a lot of things to like on this figure. First and foremost is the painful attention to detail - the Horsemen have taken extra care to make Two-Bad look like two completely different beings stuck together. Tuvar's skin is smooth and blue, while Baddhra's purple skin is pebbled and scaly. They have different footwear, different gauntlets, and even their loincloth is split between two styles - rough leather sandal and glove with a fur loincloth on one side, riveted metal on the other. Their chest armor even has spheres and a smooth background for Tu, and spikes on an etched background for Badd. One can't help but wonder just how far the splitting goes... but that's best not speculated upon in polite company.

It should also be noted that the new Two-Bad stands just fine. I suspect this was something the Horsemen and Mattel were concerned about, given the troubles with the original toy. In addition, he has a mace-bashing action, but thankfully this can be done simply by lifting the arm, which eliminates the gaudy buttons that characterize some of the other figures in the new line.

While Two-Bad does still have his goofy shield (the same shape, but now with bumps and spikes representing both warriors' fashion sense), he also carries a twin-headed mace, which is articulated - to what purpose I'm not certain, but it highlights the twin theme the figure has going for it. The comic implies it's meant to grip foes' neck, like a lobster cracker (no one tell Clawful); it also makes clear the "mace" arm should be bronze, like the shield, because it was originally Baddhra's weapon, while the sharper side hails from Tuvar. In the cartoon the two of them used a truly massive gun that was designed to accommodate their differing statures, but that surely would have eaten far too much of the budget.

But best of all are the heads. As you can see, Tuvar has a pensive look, while Baddhra is just pissed off. Both expressions are priceless. This figure has the most personality of all the MOTU figures so far, and I love it.

Two-Bad does suffer from some scale issues - like Trap-Jaw, he's a little short compared to his portrayal on the cartoon. Most of Skeletor's henchidiots are hulking brutes (cf. Beast-Man, Whiplash), yet the toyline insists on making them smaller for unknown reasons. But the scale problem is less pronounced here than in Trap-Jaw.

Two-Bad is one of the better additions to the new MOTU line - largely by virtue of just being a villain. MOTU has some great villains with some excellent designs - it's the heroes who are boring. With bright colors, amazing detail, and a goofy shield, Two-Bad is one of the best of the new MOTU figures to date.

-- 06/13/03

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