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Masters of the Universe
by yo go re

Thinking back, I have to wonder why the same childish muffin-headedness that made 8-year-old yo go re decide Man-E-Faces was the natural enemy for Tri-Klops never managed to conflate Buzz-Off and that other insect-based character, Webstor.

The post-retirement season is suddenly disrupted for football player George Papadapolis and his wife Katherine when Webster, the orphaned son of a former teammate, moves in. Laughter - and life lessons - in every episode.

Crap, sorry - that's the info for Emmanuel Lewis' Webster, not Skeletor's minion Webstor. Webstor was the evil master of escape. Webster starred Alex Karras (Mongo in Blazing Saddles). yo go re Biographical Fun Fact #219: I used to buy my comics from Alex's nephew. So if, for some reason, you're out there reading this, Greg, "hi!"

[Sorry, folks - we think yo's been into the cooking sherry again. It's obviously time to put a new lock on the cabinet. --ed.]

Anyway, despite being described as the master of escaping (which I suppose is similar to being the master of unlocking), nothing of the sort ever came up in Webstor's cartoon appearances. Of course, that was typical: no matter what personality or talents anyone supposedly had, they were just there to get punched in the face by He-Man. What set Webstor apart from, say, Clawful? He was blue. With such two-dimensional characters, is it any wonder the old toys were so generic?

Webstor is much less human in this incarnation. The original toy was basically a repainted Skeletor/Mer-Man body with a new head and a gimmick in his backpack. Thanks to the Four Horsemen, though, the new version really does look like a humanoid spider. He's got a mighty hunch, bestial legs and barbed spines poking out all over his limbs. Oh, and four extra spider-arms - those are kind of hard to overlook.

The head takes its cues from the classic Webstor, but is much more monstrous. His face is long and pointed, with a medial ridge over the top of the skull and two black spikes jutting down from his chin. He has large, pointed ears, a flattened Chiropteric nose and six red eyes of varying size. He has prominent cheek bones and, in one final nod to the old design, two pairs of fangs: the center set point down, while the outer set curve up and outward.

Rather than purple booties, the modern design has Webstor wearing armored greaves, and the three-toed design is accomplished by his black talons. He's wearing black fur undies, and his orange belt is a new design. His armor is no longer plain and boxy, but looks like an insect's carapace. The back comes up higher, to cover the hump, and of course there are holes for the extra arms. His skin wrinkles realistically around the joints of his legs, and his neck is covered in natural plates of armor. Even the superfluous arms have different designs: the ones reaching over his shoulders look like spider legs, fully segmented, while the ones around the sides have near-human musculature and creepy little psuedo-hands at the ends.

Webstor's paint is excellent. His skin isn't quite as indigo as it used to be, but there's some excellent shadow work all over, and dark speckles painted carefully all about. They're not aligned with the sculpted texture, suggesting that they just represent colored spots on his flesh, not any raised or differentiated elements. The edges of the paint are all crisp, and the black widow symbol on his chest gets the benefit of sculpted edges.

Even the old figure's accessories have gotten the update treatment. He has an orange pistol of some sort, and a grappling hook on a string. The original toy had a gear mechanism in his backpack that allowed him to "climb" the rope that fed through it, and while this mini-statue does have a string running through the armor, it's just moving freely. Again, instead of a plain box and plastic tab, the pack looks organic. In a really clever move, the tab on the non-grapple end of the rope shares the organic look and can plug into the armor. It looks like you might even be able to do the same with the grapple, if only the knot in the rope wasn't so large. Taking advantage of their updated design, the Horsemen have Webstor holding both his weapons in his freaky mutant hands.

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. Skeletor's minions generally pose on a rusty red base, but Webstor's seems a bit closer to purple, for some reason.

The beauty of the 2002 take on the Masters of the Universe is the way the Four Horsemen took all these old characters who were full of promise, yet hampered by their '80s designs, and unlocked all that potential. Webstor is a prime example of how much value can be found in those old sculpts - provided you're willing to throw them out entirely and start over.


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