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King Randor

Masters of the Universe
by yo go re

They say "uneasy rests the head that wears a crown." If the affairs of state are such a burden for a single small nation, imagine how much worse it must be to rule an entire planet - one populated almost entirely by circus freaks and the mentally ill.

The MotU ministatues from NECA and the Four Horsemen are just about to celebrate their first birthday - the first three series have sold out swiftly, absolutely proving that the failure of the MotU relaunch can be laid squarely at the feet of Mattel. Too much product too fast killed the line, and the poor character selection didn't help any. When NECA can sell out a guy like Clamp Champ, that right there is a demonstrable demand.

So while the mass-​market statues have been going like gangbusters, the Horsemen kicked this whole series off at SDCC '05 (and Wizard World Chicago, SDCC's younger, goofier little cousin) with the premiere ministatue of King Randor.

The Horsemen certainly like to keep things in the family, don't they? In 2002, the exclusive was Randor's son. In 2003, his brother. In 2004, his daughter. This year they're doing Evil-Lyn, so don't be surprised if she turns out to be He-Man's father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate or something.

On the old cartoon, Randor barely even had a design - he was such a minor character that they didn't waste time trying to make him look interesting. He sat on his throne, maybe made some comment about the day's events and then faded back into the scenery. Lame. In the reboot, Randor became a warrior king, a leader who leads from the front. Hell, in the premiere, we see him kicking ass before there's even the barest hint of He-Man, so the character needed to reflect that attitude shift.

Gone is the red nightshirt, replaced by golden armor over a brown leather tunic. The armor's overlapping plates are intricately detailed and his shirt has matching gold bands at the hems. He's wearing blue leggings, but you can only see that on one side - his right knee is still blue, but it's covered by technological details. Assuming that Man-At-Arms didn't sneak into the royal chambers at night and give the king a robotic leg (which we can safely assume because, if he had, the king would now be known as Kickor or Squatulon or something), that's a knee brace: like any number of pro athletes, Randor's been sidelined by injury. To complete his ensemble, Randor's wearing a huge fur cape that spills all the way to the floor.

The sculpt is very good, of course, but Randor's face seems a bit "soft" compared to the rest of him. Lots of detail on the armor, the clothes and the cape, but you move above the neck and it all goes to pot. Okay, that's too harsh, but his face and hair seem a little too smoothed out, like detail was lost in the mold. Maybe it's because his hair is so dark that it swallows a lot of the small stuff the Horsemen sculpted on, but the king looks younger than he should.

Now, while the current minis are made from multiple pieces of a semi-flexible resin, which has allowed truly industrious fans to jury-rig some slight articulation, King Randor is different. He's one solid cold-cast chunk of the hard stuff, so the pose you see is the pose you get. You can swap his accessories around, but that's it.

Randor may be a king, but he's still armed for battle. Yes, he has his royal scepter, a 7" tall silver staff with a red and gold emblem on the top, but he's also toting a sword that makes even He-Man's blade look flacid. See, that's why he's the king, and Adam's still the prince. The sword is 5¼" from point to pommel, and the hilt has the same red and gold shape as the royal beat-ass stick. Oh, and that shape, with the spreading prongs sticking out at the cardinal directions? Looks like the iron cross symbol on He-Man's armor. Nice continuity!

While the modern ministatues come with hexagonal technology bases, Randor has a three-tiered version of the Four Horsemen logo. Instead of a peg that fits into his foot, there are two large recesses that the goofy platforms on the bottom of his boots fit into. While this does make him fairly secure on the base, it also means he'll never stand off of it. But hey, he's the king: why shouldn't he stand higher than everyone else? The base is 5" across, 5½" deep and stands 3/8" high, and is damn heavy.

A few years after the original Randor statue had come and gone, online retailer Action Figure Xpress offered an exclusive variant of him. But unlike their retro-fabulous white, blue and orange Sorceress exclusive, this was more than just a straight repaint.

Like the previous release, this Randor is still a heavy statue, not the plastic/resin used for NECA's ministatues. Just as with the Sorceress repaint, Randor's colors have been tweaked to reflect his original figure. His tunic is now red, and his exposed leg is orange. His boots are black, and his armor (including his leg brace and crown) is bronze, with blue rivets. His cape is now blue, and is also one of the small changes.

Rather than just have a sculpted fur cape like the original statue, this one has sculpted blue fur trim (like he skinned Beast or something), but the exterior is white softgoods - you know, "real" fur. It actually extends about three inches beyond the bottom of the sculpt, so it can trail behind him or swirl around his feet.

Other new portions of the sculpt include his arms (redone to show long sleeves) and head. His hair is being blown to the side, and his face is a slightly different shape than the previous figure's - or maybe he's just trimming his beard differently. The paint on his hair allows more detail to show: instead of black with dark brown highlights, it's dark brown with red. His eyes are less detailed, though, with just plain black pupils and a heavier outline around the lids. He's also looking up, rather than straight ahead.

The sword is the same, but the colors have been changed to match the armor - bronzes, rather than brown and gold. The circle in the center is blue, matching the small rivets all over his chestplate. He doesn't have his staff any more, but instead he gets a nice disc shield that plugs onto his right forearm. It's the same one seen in the pilot episode of the recent animated series, as evidenced by the acid scars on one edge: this is the shield he used to protect himself from Keldor's attack, turning it back and creating Skeletor.

Rather than the Four Horsemen logo base, this version includes the same sort of hexagonal base seen with all the other ministatues - but made of the same material as the statue, and with longer footpegs for better support. It's blue, just like the rest of the heroic bases, but don't expect to put any different figures on here, or even swap Randors - the base is specific to this one.

Even if Mattel hadn't completely screwed the pooch on the MotU relaunch, do you think they ever would have gotten around to making a new Randor? He only squeaked into the very end of the original line, and this one didn't have legs like that. So, kudos to NECA and the Horsemen for creating this cool ministatue, and to AFX for helping out everyone who didn't get a chance at the original; now, when are we going to see a Queen Marlena?

-- 07/03/06

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