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Preternia Disguise He-Man

Masters of the Universe Classics
by Poe Ghostal

We covered the origin of Preternia Disguise He-Man pretty thoroughly already, so we won't rehash that here, aside from mentioning that he's based on the character's appearance in the 1980s minicomic "The Powers of Grayskull - The Legend Begins!"

Using the combined power of the Central Tower with the newly invented Cosmic Key, the Sorceress disguised He-Man and sent him back to Preternia - a time when his ancestor King Grayskull fought for freedom against the Horde invaders and Snake Men from the Nameless Dimension. Quickly allying himself with Grayskull and the wizard-warrior He-Ro, He-Man aided them in many battles, even turning the tide at the First Ultimate Battleground. During this battle he learned the secret to defeating the Snake Men and with this knowledge returned to his own time to finally defeat King Hssss once and for all. Disguised in a cloak and mask, He-Man cannot reveal his true identity to his own ancestor!

PD He-Man is the 2011 subscription exclusive figure, a decision which made most people happy, since people who bought the subscription are generally big enough fans to want the figure, while those who didn't were happy not to get another He-Man variant; and those who did buy the subscription but didn't want PD He-Man could easily sell him to those who didn't buy a sub. Which is an incredibly complicated way of saying yes, he was a good choice for a subscription incentive figure.

The figure comes in the standard MOTUC packaging; he's in a good pose, cradling the Cosmic Key. The rifle is crossed behind his back, and the only problem with that is it looks so awesome you'll wish there was some sort of holster on his back so that he could actually carry the rifle that way. The factory forgot to slap on the "Powers of Grayskull" stickers, so it was included as a loose sticker in the box.

The "Powers of Grayskull" concept came about very late in the MOTU line in the 1980s, just as the movie was flopping. As such, it makes use of some of the movie's ideas, including the Cosmic Key, a device which can open a portal to other worlds - including Earth, which conveniently lets you film 90% of your epic fantasy movie on the streets of Los Angeles. Mattel got a bit more creative with the concept, sending He-Man back to the time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth - I mean, Eternia.

Only the head and tunic of Preternia Disguise He-Man are new parts; the legs and arms we've seen before. The forearms are the ones with the narrow bracelets from Tri-Klops, rather than the asymmetrical ones we usually get on our He-Men (which is accurate to his comic depiction).

The tunic covering the chest and legs is made from a nice, pliable material, and the reddish-brown coloring matches the comic. His boots are more reddish than the standard He-Man as well, again capturing the look of the comic art (which was inked by Bruce Timm, incidentally). The one negative is the gray belt, which is poorly painted with a lot of uneven edges between the dark and light gray parts, and some slop around the part where it meets the tunic.

The new head is great, with the hood sculpt shadowing He-Man's face and the raccoon mask covering his eyes. Given how interested Mattel is in re-using sculpts, PD He-Man has a fairly significant amount of new tooling, what with the head and tunic. But the face isn't attached to the hood... and doesn't that hood, coming down as it does past the chin, look an awful lot like the hood of 2002 Skeletor? It's hard to say whether this could be part of a planned bonus-figure MO2K Skeletor or an abandoned extra head for a previous Skeletor release, but keep your hopes up for the former.

The accessories are the best part of this figure. In addition to the standard Power Sword, PD He-Man comes with a large laser rifle based on the one he wields while riding Bionatops in the "Powers of Grayskull" minicomic. I love the gun, but it's a shame it doesn't have any paint applications. It's also slightly warped from its placement in the package.

But the real appeal here is the Cosmic Key. The sculpt is based primarily on the device's look in the movie, but the Four Horsemen added a handle a la the Cosmic Key that came with is that Mattel does not own the rights to the movie, Gwildor. Our understanding so I'm not sure why they can get away with such an obvious movie-based accessory, unless there's some sort of loophole due to the Gwildor/minicomic appearance. The Cosmic Key looks great, with detailed bronze paint apps on the "keys," chromed "forks" and a blue metallic sheen on the rest. The forks can spin. Clearly, the accessory budget went to the Cosmic Key. The Key, like the rifle, is a tad bent due to the packaging, reflecting the softer plastic they've been using for MOTUC (we wonder if they're saving money by using a regrind plastic mix).

A lot of fans were underwhelmed by Preternia Disguise He-Man - a figure based on an obscure appearance of the character in an unfinished storyline from the minicomics. But for whatever reason, I really like him. He reminds me of the "Bruce Timm era" of MOTUC, the post-Filmation cartoon period when the world of Eternia, thanks partly to Timm, began to look and feel more modern and cohesive. It's a shame we never got to see where the Powers of Grayskull might have gone in the 1980s - if it had been given a chance, He-Man, like GI Joe or the Transformers, might never have gone away.

-- 05/30/11

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