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Battle Armor He-Man vs. Mer-Man

Masters of the Universe Minis
by yo go re

In 2013, Mattel started a line of superdeformed Masters of the Universe figures called MotU Minis. The initial offering was an SDCC exclusive that paired He-Man and Skeletor in a giant box shaped like Castle Grayskull, but because Mattel is Mattel, the figures were the wrong size and barely moved. When the line returned for real in 2014, at least one of those problems had been corrected.

Since plain He-Man had already (sort of) been turned into a MotU Mini, Mattel opted to make a variation in the first release: rather than his usual leather bra and fur panties, this version is wearing his battle armor. The lower body is the same - tiny brown boots and a loincloth with a thick orange belt - as are the arms, so really it's just the torso that gets changed.

The armor is a breastplate with a sunken panel over the chest. In the center is an orange and brown symbol that is clearly designed to be an H. There are overlapping plates and sculpted rivets, which is impressive for a figure of this size. Although, either the armor is sculpted crooked or he's meant to be turning to the side: the middle of the chest armor doesn't line up with the center of the belt when he's just standing in a neutral pose.

Although the figure's shoulders are sculpted to look like balljoints, they're only swivels. He also moves at the neck and waist - the head may or may not be a balljoint, it's hard to tell. It definitely turns, but it may also tilt. The face is wonderfully stupid, with squinty eyes and a one-sided grimace beneath his yellow Prince Valiant haircut.

Hasbro may have started the SD mini-figure trend with their "Heroes"-scale lines, but Mattel has done something Hasbro never did: included accessories. Battle Armor He-Man comws with his Power Sword and his shield. Both are molded in grey and given their own paint apps - silver for the blade of the sword, red for the background of the shield - and they can be held in either hand.

The figures are sold in two-packs, and the villain who is doomed to forever get his butt kicked by BA He-Man is the evil ocean warlord, Mer-Man. That's honestly kind of a nice touch, because back in 1984, Mer-Man appeared as the foe on the back of the original Battle Armor He-Man's card. Is this intentional, or just a lucky homage?

This is the classic design, with the bluey-green skin and the yellow armor that seems to be made of coral. He has orange underwear and big yellow dish gloves. The armor is a separate mold, but it's not a separate piece - that is to say, it's glued into slots in the figure's body. The armor here doesn't come down as far on the figure's back as it does on his big brother, but there's still a notch to hold one of his weapons, and his neck is sculpted with wrinkly gills.

Like we said, one of the problems with the SDCC release was the size: at more than 3" tall, they were as far out of scale with Hasbro's Heroes as MotU Classics are with Marvel Legends. The actual line tones things down, so the figures are only about 2" tall - much nicer! Mer-Man makes it up to about 2⅛", thanks to his fishy eyebrows (based on the original art, not the original toy).

Mer-Man definitely has a balljointed head, which suggests He-Man has one too. The shoulders and waist are still mere swivels, alas! He's armed with his trident and his sword, which looks less like a corn cob than it usually does. The staff of the trident gets pretty bent by its time in the package, which we'll tell you right now is going to be endemic with this line. Many many warped weapons are on the horizon.

In order to help sell the MotU Minis, Mattel decided to go the Build-A-Figure route (or "Collect & Connect," because that's the name they've chosen and they're sticking with it no matter how stupid it is, like Slim Pickens riding that bomb in Dr. Strangelove). Buy all the superdeformed figures, and you'll be able to build a superdeformed Castle Grayskull. This set includes the barbican - aka "the face."

Mattel sold these sets for $20 apiece, which is an utter effing joke. Do either He-Man or Mer-Man look like they're worth $10 to you? If they do, then you're terrible at judging the value of things and I would like to sell you many items. No surprise they lasted long enough to reach clearance on the Black Friday sale - the 2015 Black Friday sale, that is, not 2014. At 50% off the SRP, MotU Minis are okay. Not great, just okay. But anybody Matty tricked into paying full price for these got scammed, hard.

-- 05/09/16

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