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Sssqueeze

Masters of the Universe
by yo go re

Mattel has finally seen the light, and is bringing Masters of the Universe figures back to the market. Of course, they're only available online, and they're a disappointing melange of modern bodies with retro heads. If you want good Four Horsemen updates of these goofball old characters, then NECA's ministatues are your only recourse.

The Snake Men aren't just enemies of He-Man and his allies, but enemies of warm-blooded creatures everywhere. When it's time to capture or interrogate prisoners, King Hiss counts on the monstrous Sssqueeze. He may not look like a special threat at first, but his limbs conceal a deadly secret: Sssqueeze can extend his arms many times their original length, to snatch an unsuspecting warrior, or wrap around a victim and crush the truth out of them. Once Sssqueeze has his grip set, no one can escape!

In a line filled with more oddballs, goofnuts and straight-up freaks than you'd find hanging out backstage at a PT Barnum sideshow, Sssqueeze still managed to be a standout for reasons beyond his ridiculously sibilant name. He was immensely different from the other MotU figures, with only his legs being the classic style. Remember, this was back when figures traded parts like nobody's business, so a figure that didn't look like a repainted Buzz-Off or something was a rare find.

Sssqueeze looks much better in this update than the old toy ever did. He actually has anatomy now, rather than an action feature. On the original figure, the arms were a single horseshoe-shaped piece that could slide freely back and forth through the torso; now he has those big Horsemen-style shoulders and distinctive biceps, and it's just below the elbows that the crazy snake-arms begin.

Speaking of things that are new, Sssqueeze's hands are serpentine faces - that's certainly not something the old toy had. Each hand-head is topped by four black claws, making this guy's attacks even more dangerous. On the new cartoon, he was shown at times with normal hands, so apparently the extra faces are just something that come along with the stretching.

Additionally, Sssqueeze gets a new design for his actual head. The '80s version had this stupid pseudo-dinorsaur thing going on, with a head that looked more like a velociraptor than a snake: it had a long, beak-like snout and a mouth full of white teeth. Uh, what? The Horsemen's version manages to look like a serpent, with a flatter, diamond-shaped head, snub nose and four small fangs in his mouth. It is a vast improvement, and wonderfully threatening.

As is typical for the modern MotU figures, Sssqueeze's armor is based on the old toy, but updated with a lot more detail and a lot smarter design. This time, the overall theme of the armor is "faces." His purple and orange greaves have distinct eyes and fangs, his belt has two small teeth pointing up toward the eyes on his chest, and even his back seems to have eyes and a nose above a tiny pair of fangs. The silver pads on his thighs don't have any sort of faces, but the overall effect is "get near me and you'll get bit." The orange leather bands on his arms are a feature directly from the old figure, as well, but they rest farther down the arm and are more detailed.

Since the term of NECA's license restricted them to making statues, articulation was prohibited: Sssqueeze moves at the nothing. Had he been made as a real toy, he probably would have had balljointed shoulders and bendy arms - much like the Clayface the Four Horsemen made for Mattel. The ministatue's paint is excellent, with sharp edges between colors, subtle highlights and shadows on the skin, and a wet pink interior for all three mouths.

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 allegiance. King Hiss' minions pose on a hunter green base, though Sssqueeze is sturdy enough to stand without any support.

There's no question NECA's MotU ministatue line influenced Mattel's decision to bring the toys back. Not only did it demonstrate a real willingness on the part of the fans to buy these characters, it also showed Mattel the price collectors were willing to pay. After all, if we're willing to pay $20 for a figurine with no articulation, we must be willing to pay the same for a figurine with articulation, right?


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