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Wind Raider

Masters of the Universe Classics
by yo go re

Thinking back, I had quite an impressive Masters of the Universe collection as a kid. Tons of figures, the Castle Grayskull playset, and off the top of my head, quite a fleet of vehicles. I didn't get any vehicles from the MO2K line (unless you count the big cats), because they were clearly aimed at the kids' market, and no one wants to be the asshat complaining about "these children's toys aren't specifically catered to me, the adult collector! Wah wah wah!" So I was perfectly happy to leave those alone, but when the Wind Raider was announced for MotU Classics? I knew I'd eventually have to get one - it had always been one of my favorites.

In the '80s cartoon and minicomics, the Wind Raider was pretty much the Masters' basic unit of transportation, the thing they used to go everywhere. It didn't really get much play in the 2002 series, but there was a seafaring variant in one episode - a Wave Raider, maybe? Anyway, that handily explains why there was never an update of the old toy.

The modern update keeps the same profile as the original: you've got a central body, shaped kind of like a boat, and then a pointed tubular nacelle on each side. Two big yellow wings jut out the sides, and there's a matching tailfin in the rear. There's an anchor on the nose, but the dominant feature is the long, pointed skull that acts like a hood ornament. On the vintage toy it looked like a horse head, but today the toy takes its cue from Rudy Obrero's '80s packaging artwork and makes it look like a pterodactyl skull (or at least the Eternian equivalent).

The Wind Raider is huge! Much bigger than the old toy, of course. A little assembly is required once you take it out of the box (plug in the wings and snap on the tailfin), and once you do it's about 16" long with a 17½" wingspan. Huge! It's even bigger in comparison to MotU Classics than the original Wind Raider was to the figures of its time. Of course, it's still not as it was shown to be on the cartoon, where the cockpit could seat three adults - this one only has room for one figure. What a gyp!

The cockpit is fully detailed. Everything that was created by stickers on the vintage Raider is now sculpted. The details appear to be painted, but they're not - they're actually stickers. Not normal adhesive-backed stickers like you're used to, but the sort of water-slide decals you often see on model kits and other fun things. Honestly, the only reason we can tell you that is that the edge of one sticker was lifting, and crumbled when I tried to push it back down. So be careful out there, huh?

The color details on the sides of the Wind Raider are meant to resemble stylized birds, feathers and all. The technological details are golden, and they, at least, seem to be painted rather than stickered. These gold bits are on both the body of the vehicle and on the wings, where they stand out nicely from the yellow. The seat is brown, and also this time there's a seat - the original just had a big hollow interior to jam the figures into.

There are two control sticks in the cockpit, as well. When the toy was first revealed, they pointed toward the outside, but the fans complained gently pointed out that was wrong, and Mattel clearly fixed it before release. The sticks don't actually do anything, but you can pose the wings and tail however you like.

A panel on each of the engines opens, revealing the mechanics within. You know, so Duncan can get in there and make repairs. There appear to be three missiles in there, but nowhere for them to come out - is this just a storage compartment? There are guns under the nose, but they look like laser blasters, not rocket ports.

The only thing on the toy that does fire is the front anchor. Yes, what used to just be a manual feature on the old toy is now a spring-loaded play gimmick. And yet, this despite the fact that Mattel has a history of neutering existing action features. Go figure. Press one of the knobs on the top, and anchor shoots out on its little string. Turning the head theoretically winds the string back into the body, but the nose bumps against the body and thus can't turn. Apparently you're supposed to pull the head up first, but that didn't seem to do anything other than pull the skull off the plane. So I have to remove the head, pry the knob up, wind the string, then put the head back on. It's probably not supposed to work that way.

There are three wheels under the body so the Wind Raider can roll, but you'll probably never use them. See, the set includes a display stand. And not just the usual clear plastic stick that passes for a display stand, the best damn display stand I've ever owned.

It starts with a 7¾" circular base, so you're going to need at least that much space for display. There's then a thick curved arm that raises the Raider about 6" into the air and terminates in a big, ratcheted hinge joint. The peg coming up out of that joint plugs into one of the turbines on the underside of the vehicle, becoming in effect a swivel joint. So the base is sturdy enough to support the toy with no worries, and it's mounted on a swivel/hinge joint, meaning you can pose it at a dynamic angle that A) shows off the design from whatever angle you choose, and 2) allows you to display the damn thing even without a crazy amount of shelf space. Want to know how versatile it is? Every photo in this review was taken head-on and perfectly level with the ground - any angle to the shot was accomplished by moving the stand, not the camera. This is excellent work!

Honestly, the entire thing is good. We don't know why Mattel chose this to be the only vehicle in the MotU Classics line, but we're glad they did. The $50 (plus shipping) Mattel wants for it may be a little hard to swallow, but the toy comes close to being worth that price; I got mine on Matty's annual Black Friday sale, so it was a little bit cheaper. And even though I prefer MO2K to MOTUC, the Wind Raider works for both - and heck, since the 2002 figures aren't the wrong size, it just makes the Wind Raider look bigger and more impressive.

-- 02/18/13

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