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Masters of the Universe Classics
by Poe Ghostal

Whew! After all that chaos and uncertainty, Teela is finally here. I'll forgo the tempting-but-predictable "sausage fest" jokes about the current state of Masters of the Universe Classics and simply say that Teela, the line's first female figure, is a welcome addition.

The adoptive daughter of Duncan, the current Man-At-Arms, Teela grew up in the palace of King Randor. Trained from an early age in the ways of battle, at age 18 she became Captain of the Guard, leading the troops of King Randor and acting as a defacto member of the Masters of the Universe. She is yet to become aware of her true heritage as the magically cloned daughter of, and heir to, the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull. She carries the Staff of Ka, which was once used by the Snake Men in their epic battles against the Horde and King Grayskull during the Great Wars. Teela uses her magical staff to track her foes' every move!

The story of Teela's creation for the original 1980s MOTU line, and how that conception was later woven into the various continuities, is pretty damn complicated. The original sketch of the character we know as Teela was called simply a "female warrior." Since it was known even in those earliest stages that MOTU would reuse a lot of parts between figures, there was also a sketch of a character called the Sorceress, who would use the same basic body as the female warrior but have a snake-themed helmet and staff.

From here the story gets murky, but somehow the design labeled "Sorceress" got labeled "Teela" on the toys themselves, but the early mini-comics mixed up Teela and the Sorceress all the time (sometimes referred to as the Goddess, or even the Warrior-Goddess). In one mini-comic she was actually colored green.

The cartoon series put an end to it all, with the figure's design (sans snake armor and staff) being called Teela, captain of the king's guard, and the Sorceress having a completely different design. But the "Green Goddess" idea continues on, and Mattel even opted to make it official with a translucent repaint of this character (with a newly tooled staff).

This is the Four Horsemen's first female body for this line and is going to see a lot of re-use, so I hope you like it. Fortunately, I do. There have been some (legitimate) complaints about the tendency of the Horsemen's female warriors to be a bit too slender, but Teela has some real meat on her bones. I would have liked a bit more muscle in the biceps perhaps, but the legs and torso look great. Even the breasts are of a natural-looking size, neither too big nor too small. On a side note, I'm fine with the size of her much-discussed butt, but your mileage may vary.

The rest of the sculpt is great too, particularly the detail on the outfit. This is the first MOTUC figure to look all-around better than its 2002 version. The head in particular came out a lot better (though how much of that is due to the vagaries of the production process in both cases is a fair question). The facial sculpt doesn't seem to be based on the cartoon Teela, nor any specific incarnation of the character as far as I can tell, but it's evocative of both the cartoon and the comics.

[A side note: Teela is quite tall, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with He-Man. Some fans have expressed disappointment with this. As someone who married a woman the same height as himself (6'), I'm keeping my mouth shut. --Poe]

There's not a lot of intricate paint work on MOTUC figures, but what there is on this figure is clean and neat, for the most part. The gold color chosen for the armor is good. The light brown of the boots and the darker brown of the boot-straps corrects the old monotony of the original figure. The paintwork on the snake-armor is excellent as well - it's a shame I'll almost never be displaying her with it, because it came out great.

As you'd expect, Teela has most of the standard MOTUC articulation: a balljointed head, balljointed shoulders and hips, hinged elbows, knees and ankles, and swivel joints at the biceps, wrists, and the top of the boots. The Horsemen were also able to give her true side-to-side ankle joints that allow for some great range. She does not have an abdomen hinge, which was a design decision that is apparently going to hold true for all MOTUC females going forward. However, she allegedly does have a waist swivel - it's just unusable due to the tight plastic used for the outfit.

Also, the balljointed head is very loose. It's almost like a bobblehead. You can get it into the poses you want, but a good bump to the desk and Teela's going to be looking down. It seems to be due to the small size of the balljoint, which, by the way, you should be very careful with when swapping heads.

So, the lack of a waist-swivel and the bobble head really bring Teela down. However - thanks to her narrow torso, Teela can do something no Masters of the Universe Classics figure so far has been able to do: she can hold her sword in both hands! It's something I value highly in sword-wielding action figures. That, combined with the great ankle articulation, brings her back up a bit.

Teela comes with the two heads, the removable snake armor, the snake staff (which, incidentally, is intended to be a bit twisted), her shield, her sword, and Zoar the falcon. Of the weapons, the sword is the best due to the great detail and paint work. There's some slight slop on one of the jewels, but other than that it looks excellent. The head of the snake staff is nicely detailed as well. The snake-armor and alternate head are well-sculpted, and you can pop the head out of the snake armor if you want to have a helmeted Teela.

Then there's Zoar. Rumor is Zoar was the original intended use for this sculpt, and was later used for the animal form of Jayna in the infamous SDCC DCU Wonder Twins exclusive, and again in DCU10 Beast Boy's eagle. The falcon can perch on Teela's staff when it's held horizontally. I loved the original Zoar toy, and I wanted to like this one too, but the gripping claws and lack of some sort of perch make Zoar a bit of a letdown. I miss the blue on the wings and tail, although Mattel has hinted we may see another version of Zoar down the line. Without the blue, though, I'm not really clear on who this Zoar is supposed to be - even on the cartoon she had blue feathers.

Teela's addition to MOTUC is overdue (not long overdue, but overdue) and I'm sure the heroes are glad to finally have another, non-dead addition to their ranks (King Grayskull and He-Ro having lived in ancient times, according to the continuity).

-- 05/17/10

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