Hot Wheels Character Cars Masters of the Universe Series 1 reviews

For their first set of Hot Wheels Character Cars in 2021, Mattel has gone back four decades, bringing their push to reinvigorate Masters of the Universe to the car aisle.

Prince Adam uses the Sword of Power to transform into He-Man - the most powerful man in the universe.

Shouldn't that be "the most powerful car in the universe"? Because this is not a man. It would be extra funny to imagine Human Prince Adam holding aloft his magic sword and saying "by the power of Grayskull," only to be morphed into the form of a car like Turbo Teen. That would certainly explain why no one can ever recognize him! In the '80s, Adam was the same size as He-Man; in the '00s, he was much smaller; in the '20s, he's a human instead of a vehicle. It's the perfect disguise!

He-Man's vehicle mode is, appropriately enough, a muscle car. Oh, come on! That joke is just way too perfect! The car was designed (in May of 2019, according to the signed concept art) by Charlie Angulo, a guy who clearly understands the importance of a good pun. The car has a blocky front end, like a Ford Mustang, and chunky off-road tires with shiny copper rims. Most of the car is metal, but you may not notice, because the roof and rear spoiler, the places you're likely to touch it when you pick it up, are plastic.

The He-Man-inization is great. The upper body of the car is tan, because He-Man is shirtless, and the yellow roof is in exactly the shape of his pageboy haircut. Love it! A grey piece on the hood stands in for He-Man's harness, with the big red air intake as the cross in the center. An orange stripe around the middle of the car is meant to be He-Man's belt, and then beneath that it's brown, with ridges to suggest the fur of his underwear. The weakest part of the whole design is the Power Sword, which is just painted in silver along both sides. Was there really no better way to do that?

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10 Responses to Hot Wheels Character Cars Masters of the Universe Series 1 reviews

  1. Ai Muhao says:

    "He-Man's vehicle mode is, appropriately enough, a muscle car." Boo! Hiss! Get off the stage!

    In all seriousness, maybe the spoiler could've resembled the Power Sword's hilt to mimic how He-Man normally has it strapped to his back so the hilt and grip are visible over his shoulder?

  2. ridureyu says:

    They're not pushing o "reinvigorate" the property, they're pushing to grab every last cent out of it before Mattel loses the automatic toy rights in 2023, and to give Universal an argument to let them continue to have it afterward.

    • yo go re says:

      Yeah, I've heard that for a few years now, but still don't believe it. The only source for it is Scott Neitlich, and if no one ever thought he knew what he was talking about when he actually worked for Mattel, why would we suddenly start listening to him now? It's never sounded legitimate, and that's why we've never repeated it here.

      In the ancient thread where he started this, Scott said the rights were once sold to Hallmark, which is demonstrably false: Filmation's animation library from the 80s was sold to Hallmark, but that's it; if they had wanted to do anything with it, they still would have had to pay Mattel. And it's that library that were eventually sold to Entertainment Rights/Classic Media/Dreamworks/Universal (in that order). Mattel did have to get Hallmark's permission to make the 2002 cartoon (because cartoon), but could have made toys without it.

      In 2010, Mattel started working with Classic Media, who by then owned the Filmation stuff, to be the licensing agent for the brand: if somebody wanted to make He-Man T-shirts, they dealt with CM rather than Mattel directly, but Mattel still gets final approval on all merchandise, because they still own the IP. CM works FOR Mattel, and being bought by (ultimately) Universal does not somehow magically bypass Mattel and transfer the rights for the whole brand up the chain.

      Now, 2023 may prove I've been wrong this whole time, but rumors don't become true just because people blindly repeat them a lot...

      • Ai Muhao says:

        Sorry, could I get clarification? I always get confused by rights issues.

        So in the case where Filmation's animation rights were sold to Hallmark, Mattel had to get Hallmark's permission to make the 2002 MOTU cartoon because it was a cartoon. However, since Hallmark only held the cartoon rights Mattel could've just made a bunch of toys and had the entire story told via the bios and stuff, all without dealing with Hallmark at all. Is that right?

        But now that Classic Media owns the Filmation stuff, would Mattel still need to negotiate with them to make a new cartoon? The bit where you mention CM works for Mattel kind of confused me, since I was under the impression it's still the same situation as when the Filmation rights were under Hallmark.

        • yo go re says:

          Probably, yes. Though I guess "hired" is the wrong word, since Mattel wasn't paying them, they were paying Mattel.

          Hallmark owned the Filmation stuff. In the '90s, they also bought the "entertainment rights" from Mattel, meaning they now owned the old cartoon and also had the right to make new ones. That's when the two got bundled together, so when Hallmark decided to sell, everything went together as one big lump.

          If the new owners (Classic Media) wanted any merchandise based on new cartoons they might make or on the old ones (shirts, coloring books, posters, etc.) they would have to work with Mattel's licensees to get it made, and both Mattel (for using the characters) and the other company (for the actual merch) would get a cut of the profits. So it probably made better financial sense for theCM to become the licensee themselves, that way they were keeping more of the money they made. And for Mattel's part, it meant they only had to deal with one outside company instead of multiples.

          Oh, and as a PS, "the Filmation stuff" wasn't just the actual cartoon. Remember how long it took for MotUC to do any Filmation-style designs or characters? That's because Filmation's very savvy contract said it owned anything it created, so characters like Orko or the entire She-Ra cast, for instance, technically belong to them (or, now, to Universal), which might be what Scott was getting confused about when he said they had to pay fees to Universal: it wasn't (as he claimed) for every figure, just for ones that originated in Filmation. And also why there can be a Netflix She-Ra cartoon, as long as it doesn't even obliquely reference anything about He-Man, and why the upcoming He-Man cartoons probably won't reference She-Ra...

          • Ai Muhao says:

            Ah, I get it now. Thanks for clearing that up.

            But, man, what a crying shame it'd be if She-Ra wasn't able to be a part of any upcoming MOTU stuff because of rights stuff like this. It'd be like that whole "Spider-Man in the MCU" thing again. I recall hearing that if the deal with Sony fell through they'd use Black Panther in the Spidey role, but I just don't see how that would've worked.

  3. Stephen says:

    Can't help but feeling like there should have been giant plastic arms on the side of the car a la Hulk Hogan's monster truck from Halloween Havoc 95.

    You know, before Giant fell off the roof onto the cement (er, water, er, cement... who cares) and then came back to life to dance the forbidden dance with Hogan and the Yet-ay.

  4. Scott says:

    There sure is a whole lot of MotU product available these days in all sorts of forms.
    I collect the Mega Construx mini-figures and sets. They're awesome. The figures are perfect for folk like me who even as a kid found the lego figures just far too simplified and limited. I got a lot of the stuff they did for the 80s Turtles too so I have the big Krang attacking Castle Grayskull (sadly I don't have the huge Technodrome playset because it was never made easily available in the UK and shipping that heavy set from the US adds even more silly monies to the already high cost of the set). I also have their figures of Predator, Kratos, Hellboy, Fry & Bender, T-800, Xenomorph etc. Also the small size of the figures means I often display them with Transformers as well cos eh why not? 😛
    Yeah I'm not sure if Neitlich is correct about the rights but something seems to be behind the absolute flood of MotU items available for purchase lately and two new cartoons.

    • Ai Muhao says:

      I guess there's some logical reason to believe this Neitlich guy when you put it that way. I mean, I don't think it's an anniversary year for MOTU or something. Like, Hasbro is doing a bunch of Beast Wars stuff because of the 25th anniversary and Transformers: The Movie stuff because of the 35th anniversary.

      But on the other hand, it could simply be that because two new cartoons are coming, Mattel decided to pump up excitement with lots of new merch. You know, like how Disney floods the market with merch whenever a new Marvel or Disney film comes out.

      If I remember right, that was part of the reason people had such low expectations for Rise of Skywalker: there wasn't a toyline or much merch out when it was coming close to release.

  5. It's infuriating that Mattel (& Super7) half-assed the toylines for the excellent She-Ra reboot but it looks like they're going all in for the new MOTU.

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