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Masters of the Universe Classics
by Poe Ghostal

As a kid, I loved the Buzz-Off action figure. The colors were bright and appealing, the articulated wings were a unique feature (and looked a lot more flight-worthy than Stratos' arm-feathers), and the claws were cool... to a kid. But I'll admit that the 2003 Buzz-Off was possibly the best redesign of the entire line, pushing the insectile aspects to the limit. MOTUC is meant to invoke the original line, not millennium, so we're going to review Buzz-Off compared to his MOTUC brethren and the general concept of the line.

Heroic King of the Andreenids, a bee-like species closely related to both the Kex insect people and the Arachna Spider-Warriors, Tzzzzt's race evolved into fierce warriors, guarding their home and their ambrosia honeycombs with stubborn dignity. Although he initially preferred to keep his people's neutrality, a sky war initiated by Skeletor gave Tzzzzt more than enough reason to ally himself with King Randor's Masters of the Universe. He often partners with Mekanek using his wings for airborne spying missions.

As much as I like Buzz-Off, he's one of the MOTU characters whose name I see as a potential stumbling block to getting a movie taken seriously. As "codenames," this sort of thing works in GI Joe; it works in Transformers because the Autobots are ostensibly replacing their Cybertronian names with Earth names that fit their character in some way. But I really can't come up with an even remotely feasible fannish explanation for names like Buzz-Off, Two-Bad or Clawful. I suppose Mattel may be trying to get around that by using the "real names" on the bios, but if so, they're not trying all that hard, since - well, they named him "Tzzzzt zzz zzTTTzz."

Buzz-Off's legs and torso are from Whiplash (his loincloth is the standard one). His shoulders and biceps are also re-used (shoulders from Whiplash, generic biceps), but his forearms are a new sculpt - they're not as spiky as Whiplash's, nor are they like Skeletor's. The forearms match the vintage figure's, since vintage Buzz-Off's arms were different than vintage Whiplash's (hence the claws). They have spikes, but only small ones, suggesting the rough hair of an insect's leg.

The claws and head are obviously new, as is the "backpack," which holds the wings and the "legs," or arms, or whatever you want to call those bug bits. The legs, by the way, are not the same as Webstor's - they're a link shorter. The translucent wings are based on the vintage design, and feature a kind of techno-organic look to them. Their rounded shape matches the vintage figure as well. A set of swappable, sharper 2003-inspired wings would have been a nice addition, but the millenium style is retired, in case you haven't heard. Except for weapons.

So the most significant new sculpts are the head, forearms, claws, wings, and backpack. The head is closely based on the vintage figure, as one would expect. The vintage sculpt has been tightened up and details have been added. The claws also look sharp, and they can hold the weapons quite tightly, since they're not articulated. If they'd been made with detents, a.k.a. "clicky" joints, they could still hold the weapons tightly.

Plastic and paint apps have often been hit-or-miss on this line, but Buzz-Off is a hit. They chose a nice, not-too-bright yellow shade for the paint of the chest. The tan color chosen for the arms and legs is really nice, though the forearms seem to have been cast in a different color, then painted tan - the difference isn't as apparent in person as the photos make it seem.

There's a wash on the legs and particularly on the arms, bringing out the details in the shoulder and forearms and giving character to the figure. It's a bit too thick in places, but the overall effect is positive. Buzz-Off is one of the better-looking figures on the shelf.

Buzz-Off features the standard MOTUC articulation: a balljointed head, balljoints at the shoulders and hips, swivels at the biceps, wrists, waist, upper thighs, and top of the boots, and hinges at the elbows, abdomen, knees and ankles. The ankles also have a limited "rocker" motion as well (i.e., side-to-side). In addition to all that, the wings and "legs" have balljoints.

Buzz-Off comes with three weapons: a brown axe, his '03-style staff, and his traditional helmet. Since the '80s, Buzz-Off's helmet has always been an odd accessory. All three versions of the character have come with one, and yet, what is it but a larger version of the very organ it's covering - like a codpiece for the eyes? (Ugh, that analogy did not work out like I hoped it would.) That said, Buzz-Off's shiny green eyes have always clashed a bit with the rest of his look, so the helmet actually fixes that issue. Incidentally, it fits quite tightly, unlike the vintage version.

The axe is obviously fairly simple, but accurate to the vintage figure. Thankfully, we also get the 2003-style halberd. There are a number of paint apps on it, from the reddish-brown haft to the shiny yellow blade and stinger, with some darker brown highlights around the top as well.

Overall, Buzz-Off is a straightforward, well-executed figure. He's one I've been waiting to add to my collection since the early days, and I'm glad to finally have him standing alongside Man-At-Arms, Teela, He-Man and the rest. An alternate 2003-style head (which evidently isn't possible) or wings (ditto) would have been a great addition that would have pushed this figure to ToY territory, but he's still a better-than-average addition to your MOTUC collection.

-- 01/24/11

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