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Snout Spout

Masters of the Universe
by yo go re

The world of Eternia is one screwed-up place - giant insects, flying monkeys, drunks, siamese twins, shaved apes... it's like the whole planet was founded by circus freaks. To stand out in that menagerie, a guy's gotta have quite the gimmick, like, say, a robotic elephant head.

No one knows the true story behind the elephant-like iron mask of the mysterious firefighter known as Snout Spout. Some say he is an android invented by ancient Eternians to aid in battling huge fires, other say he was a heroic firefighter badly burned in a blazing inferno while saving lives and then was encased inside a protective suit. Whatever his tale, this massive warrior possesses great strength, a strong heart, and a pressurized water cannon in his trunk that is capable of extinguishing any flame!

Until now, Teela was the character who benefitted the most from a Four Horsemen redesign, but that honor has since been claimed by Snout Spout. In the '80s, Snout Spout was a terrible eyesore cobbled together from spare pieces, completely generic from the neck down. Now he's something much more special.

Snout Spout used to look fairly organic, with only his head being metal. Now he's 100% mechanical - whether it's a suit or his actual body is up for debate. The Horsemen have said that he's mostly robotic, with a humanoid brain and some organs and muscles, but the guy is such a blank slate that you can call him whatever you want. Maybe it's just one guy in a life-support suit. Maybe the entire Eternian fire department is staffed by robots like these. It's up to you.

Since this is a specialty statue and not a mass-market toy, the level of detail is above what we got from Mattel's MotU offerings. Snout Spout's got more metal plates on him than Man-At-Arms and Roboto combined, and it's not any of that "generic parallel lines" Colossus-style stuff, either: the plates form the outlines of his anatomy. The surface of his suit shows evidence of wear - pits and scratches - sculpted by the Horsemen.

Snouty's more elephantine these days. His black boots have been replaced by three-toed hooves, and he's got two thick fingers on each hand. His gloves and boots have the same ridged look as the old toy, but it's just been done better. His black belt is inspired by the original figure's, as is the silver buckle with the "crossed tusks" insignia (mirrored on his left shoulder). His backpack is handled beautifully, with a tank and pressure gauge on the side, a riveted hatch on the top and a stylized representation of an elephant's head on the back. If this had made it to action figure form, you can see how nicely the water-blasting feature would have been updated.

The figure's head is the real star of the show. Unlike the sculptors in the '80s, the Horsemen have an idea of what an elephant's head looks like. The design elements are the same - three black stripes in the ears, double row of rivets down the forehead, yellow eyes - but they are just so much better today. The old comics depicted Snout Spout in his few appearances as a mopey, self-pitying sack of crap, which was probably because the old toy looked so depressed; the modern Snout Spout looks like he deserves to stand alongside the other Masters of the Universe, a warrior equally comfortable facing Skeletor's forces as striding into a blazing fire.

Since Mattel still holds the rights to create action figures, NECA is making these characters as statues, a choice which has led to some fans using the most annoying compound contraction this side of "blog" or "Tomkat," a word that makes me want to stab the speaker in the jaw every time I hear it: "staction." You know what, guys? It's a statue; don't get cute.

The paint apps are very well done, muting the garish colors of the old figure and turning them into something that won't make you want to vomit out your eyes when you see it. His body is a rusty orange, his trunks are blue and his gloves and boots are red. The tank on his back looks like polished brass, and his head is a flat gray. Every little bolt on his hide is painted silver, completing his robotic look.

Though Snout Spout doesn't have any articulation, he does have an accessory: his large axe, a throwback to the old toy. Much like a real-life halligan, it has a bit of a forked pry bar on the end, which can be removed to fit the axe in the figure's hand. Or, if you choose, you can fit the end in Snouty's other hand as a wrench - gotta open those Eternian hydrants somehow. In the '80s, the fork allowed Snouty to aim his water-spewing trunk; since this new version can't move, it's not an issue.

Each of the Masters of the Universe figure-​scale statues comes with a hexagonal display base. Actually, they all come with the same display base: a generic technological thing that's color-coded to the character's allegience. He-Man's pals pose on a dark blue base.

Snout Spout is going to piss off a lot of fans. Seeing how the Four Horsemen could turn a first-class loser from the bottom of the barrel into a beast like this, then what could they have done with some of the other Eternian oddballs, like Rio Blast or Spikor? Thanks to Mattel's unbridled idiocy, we may never know.

-- 08/02/05

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