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Masters of the Universe Classics
by yo go re

One of the biggest strengths of the 2002 Masters of the Universe cartoon, the thing that Mattel was smart enough to use even while pretending that the 2002 line had never existed, was its world-building.

Shortly after the Great Unrest ended the Caligars and Speleans returned to their kingdoms to find their homes had been destroyed while they fought with Miro on the overside. Blaming each other for the destruction, both species were plunged into a war that would continue to ravage their kingdoms for decades. It was not until the threat of Skeletor and King Hssss emerged that Ceratus, leader of the Caligars, put aside his differences with the Speleans and joined Randor's new Eternian Council. In addition to serving in this political group, Ceratus also fought as a member of the Masters of the Universe during the Second Ultimate Battle Ground. Leading a battalion of Caligar warriors, Ceratus fights for the freedom of Eternia.

In the '80s, all the weirdos on both sides of the fight seemed to be one-off genetic mutations or something - there was a bee guy and a crab guy, but there wasn't an entire race of bee guys or crab guys. Mo2K changed that, giving us the Adreenids and the Karikoni, which is also how Whiplash became a member of the Caligars.

Ceratus, the leader of the Caligars, first appeared in the same episode as Lord Dactys, which saw Skeletor trying to attack Castle Grayskull from below, via the hollow world inside Eternia. At a glance, it's obvious this guy is related to Whiplash (in fact, they're brothers, as revealed on Whippy's Classics bio): he has scaly green skin, bony ridges on his chest, and a large, mace-like club on the end of his tail. That particular feature is definitely the 2K2 influence showing, because the vintage and Classics Whiplashes had simple, blunt tails. That also means this is a new sculpt, as is the chest overlay, the shoulders, the forearms, and the shins. The hands and feet come from Demo-Man, so they've got big pointy claws, and there are bony spikes on his limbs.

Naturally, the head is new as well. Ceratus (whose name comes from the Greek for "horn") has the Caligars' typical underbite, and also a big enough chin that he looks like Bruce Campbell in greenface. He has a big Savage Dragon-style frill over his head, and large ears with real metal rings dangling in the lobes. There's another in his nose, but it's sculpted on.

Because of the thickness of his rubber chest (and how much area it covers), the hinge joint in Ceratus' torso might as well be non-existent, but everything else moves well. When I opened the figure, the lower edge of his torso cap overlapped his big blue belt, so it needed to be put in the right order - luckily, they're both soft PVC, so flexing them past one another was easy. The belt and bracers are straight from the cartoon, and the bright blue adds a nice flash to the otherwise drab colors.

Ceratus comes with one accessory: it's some sort of... cudgel. An axe or a mace, I guess? It's not anything he used in the cartoon, but it's definitely got a cool look, and would probably hurt like hell if you got hit with it. It seems to be made from bones, with pointy bits on one side, a loop on the other, and a long handle with a leather wrap in the middle. The Caligars' name seems to be derived from the Latin word for "shoe" (caliga) or "shoemaker" (caligario), perhaps meant to evoke their lizardy skin - or maybe they're just really good leatherworkers, which would explain the skirts they all wear.

We're now more than halfway through the insipidly named "Club 200X," and there hasn't been a single dud yet. Given Mattel's normal track record, that's astounding! It's almost like someone new is in charge of the brand. Ceratus will be a terrific addition to your non-Classics collection.

-- 10/26/15

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