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Beast Man

Masters of the Universe
by Poe Ghostal

Beast Man is one of the henchmen of the evil Skeletor. Beast Man (along with Mer-Man, Evil-Lyn, Tri-Klops and Trap Jaw) was one of the regulars on the old cartoon as well as one of the first releases in the original '80s toy line, so it is fitting that he is one of the first three villain figures in the relaunch. Beast Man was actually Skeletor's right-hand man, even though he was a complete moron.

At least 30 seconds of screen time in each episode of the original cartoon consisted of Skeletor mocking Beast Man. It's a shame Beast Man was so incompetent, because he had a fairly useful special ability: he could control almost any animal, with the exception of dragons and (presumably) He-Man's feline steed, Battle Cat. Perhaps Beast Man will be more reliable in the new cartoon.

Judging from the action figure, Beast Man will certainly be a lot meaner. The original Beast Man toy featured a rather staid furry orange body - the same body used for all the original MotU figures - with a puffy round head. Not so this new Beast Man. Sculptors the Four Horsemen have sculpted him to emphasize his beast-like attributes. He now sports a huge, gorilla-like hunch, and his arms practically drag the floor. He also has one of the finest hand sculpts we've ever seen - the claws twist in a very realistic manner. The face is extremely detailed, right down to the sneering fangs. And let's not forget to admire all the sculpted fur; one of the Horsemen spent weeks working on each little hair.

The paint applications are good. The aforementioned fangs, despite being less than a centimeter high, are colored a gruesome yellow and have a tiny red wash, making them look bloody. Like the original Beast Man, the new figure sports the baboon-like white face with blue eye shadow. The brown paint used on BM's bicep and shin armor is particularly good; even though the hair spills realistically over onto the armor, the paint is never splashed over these spots. This is sharp paint work.

It is in the accessories department that Beast Man suffers a bit in comparison to his fellow figures. Perhaps this is because he's so huge; he is unquestionably the largest figure of all the new MotU, so he may have been more expensive to produce. He has two main accessories: a rubber whip and some removable armor. The whip is not painted at all. This makes some sense - whips aren't that colorful - but the solid color looks a little cheap. Plus, you can tell that the handle is meant to be the cracked remnants of a bone.

The armor, while it looks good, has no way of attaching firmly to BM's body - it just hangs over it. This looks more natural than big plastic tabs wrapping around his waist. It may work fine for collectors who just display their figures, but for kids this seems like a prescription for lost armor. Another nitpick? The armor - or "mane," really, since it's just a bundle of fur and not something protective - is brown, rather than the red color used on the original figure and cartoon. This was a decision of Mattel, however, not of the Horsemen.

BM also has a rather disappointing action feature. Theoretically, when you raise his arms up and press the button on his back, he yanks them down, bashing whatever is in front of him. This can be interesting when you put a figure in his hands and cause him to throw the figure, but the function is a tad awkward. We doubt kids will mind, though.

Despite the lackluster accessories and action feature, we must rate Beast Man above average for the fantastic sculpt. Beast Man has been truly realized by the Four Horsemen, and we're all looking forward to future interpretations of classic MotU characters.

Incidentally, Mattel has pulled out all the stops for the new MotU; in addition to the toys, there's also a cartoon series beginning Friday, August 16 (two weeks from today) at 4pm, as well as a comicbook in October.

-- 08/02/02

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