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Masters of the Universe Classics
by Poe Ghostal

In the 1980s cartoon, Tri-Klops was just another one of Skeletor's thugs. He was given no background story on the show, although the cartoon series bible claimed he was a scientist by the name of Dr. T. E. Scope onboard the future queen Marlena's spaceship who was later corrupted by Skeletor. TK also received little in the way of character development; his only claim to fame was the various abilities of his three eyes, which could shoot laser rays, see through walls and so forth.

Originally an inter-dimensional bounty hunter and tracker, Scope was recruited by Skeletor during one of the final battles of the Great Unrest to bolster his weakened forces. As good with a blade as he is crafty, Scope took the name Tri-Klops after an accident left him blind and he was forced to wear a tri-optic visor which granted him expanded tracking abilities including Gammavision, the ability to see around objects, Distavision, a form of Far Vision, Night Vision, and the ability to generate optic blasts. Tri-Klops uses his three different eyes to spy for Skeletor!

On the 2002 series, Tri-Klops was changed into Skeletor's #1 inventor, creating useful devices such as his iconic Doomseekers (little bird-like robots that secretly observed the good guys). While in the original cartoon, Skeletor had invented both technological and magical devices, in the 2002 series Tri-Klops took on the technology side of things, leaving Skeletor free to investigate the workings of the mystical realm.

While the 2002 portrayal was great, I've always been partial to the early mini-comics, produced by DC Comics, as well as the DC mini-series. In his first appearance in any media, "The Terror of Tri-Klops," TK is just a random swordsman summoned by Skeletor to fight He-Man. When we first see him, he's just randomly slaying blue demon-looking fellows who may or may not have deserved such treatment. When Skeletor teleports him to Eternia, he's about ready to give Skullhead a beat-down until Skeletor hires him to fight He-Man. Tri-Klops proceeds to systematically take down Battle-Cat, Ram-Man and Teela before giving He-Man a solid thrashing. Ultimately He-Man triumphs, of course; and interestingly, Tri-Klops seems to accept his defeat gracefully, and there's no reason to think he'll go back to working for Skeletor.

While I think Tri-Klops works best in the MOTUniverse as Skeletor's gadget guy, I've always liked the notion that he's a near-match for He-Man as as a fighter, and may be more morally complicated than he appears. His bio for MOTU Classics is a blend of all his origins, and even includes a take on the old "T.E. Scope" name: here he's Trydor Esooniux Scope.

Like most MOTUC figures so far, Tri-Klops sculpt is based primarily on the original 1980s cross-sell art. The - for lack of a better term - "frill" on the underside of the chest armor and the orange abdomen connector are sculpted straight off the art. However, that doesn't mean there aren't touches of the 2002 revamp. While the original figure had a straight green band on its head, with the eyes just sculpted on the surface, the Four Horsemen have added some significant detail to each eye, even cutting in divots to give the appearance of an eyebrow or allowing space for the nose on the red eye. The evil, robotic red eye is easily my favorite of the three. But the green one is probably Tri-Klops' "standard" eye, which I'm fairly certain he created by cloning and enlarging one of Bette Davis's eyes. When my Tri-Klops' red eye is facing forward, the right side of the visor seems to be a little higher than the other. It doesn't happen with the other eyes, which is odd; it wouldn't bother me too much if the red eye weren't my favorite of the three.

I love the chiseled face. Something about Tri-Klops - both the original figure and on the 1980s cartoon - always struck me as vaguely Native American, and while the 2002 figure didn't have that, the Horsemen have definitely added it here. It adds a great, distinctive touch to the character. With some effort (or a bit of hot water), you can remove the visor, revealing a fully sculpted upper face complete with electronically augmented eyes.

For the most part, the paint applications on my figure are clean and sharp. One area of particular concern is the shiny knives on his back, but they're fairly well defined and clean. Mattel's factories have also improved on the light wash on the limbs in the course of the line. There is a slight hue difference between the paint on the face and the plastic used for the neck. I hardly noticed it, but your mileage may vary.

Tri-Klops features balljoints at the shoulders and hips, hinge joints at the elbows, knees, ankles and abdomen, and swivels at the biceps, wrists, waist and calves. The ankles also have "rocker" side-to-side motion. I had no problems with loose joints, though some of them started out a bit tight. Tri-Klops comes with three accessories: his sword, a Doomseeker, and a glow-in-the-dark ring.

Tri-Klops has one of the most distinctive swords of the entire line. It was unique even back in the 1980s for having some minor paint applications (black on the grip), rather than being simply molded in green plastic. Ironically, while the MOTUC version doesn't have the black grip, it does have some orange highlights as well as a distinction between the dark green of the hilt and the shiny green of the blade.

The 2002 Doomseeker was entirely silver and looked a bit more futuristic than the MOTUC version, but the new one features a lot more paint. Both the paint colors and the scupt of the tail/rudder make it resemble the Wind Raider - a rather puzzling reference, since the Wind Raider was usually a good-guy vehicle. I'm not sure whether this is just a Horsemen homage to the Wind Raider or if it's intended to have some relation to the vehicle in he new MOTUC canon.

The ring is a throwback to a gimmick from the 1980s line. It opens up, and inside there's an etched MOTUC logo. It fits on my little finger, but there's not a snowball's chance in hell of my taking a photo of that.

I'm sure I'm in the minority here, but I'm disappointed we didn't get a second sword based on the cross-sell art. While I do like Tri-Klops' distinctive classic sword, and I'll admit the cross-sell one is very generic, I think it would have made a nice inclusion - particularly since it's the one seen in "The Terror of Tri-Klops."

Tri-Klops, no matter his backstory, has always been one of my favorite MOTU characters, and he's been given a first-class treatment by the Four Horsemen. The 2002 Tri-Klops suffered from the worst pre-posing of the entire line, so it's great to finally get an updated version with full articulation.

While some fans might prefer the more cyborg-looking Tri-Klops of 2002, I prefer this classic, more barbaric look. Tri-Klops is easily one of my favorite MOTUC figures so far. He would have merited a ToY nomination had his paint apps been neater, and if he had come with the cross-sell sword. Given Mattel's and the Horsemen's avowed efforts to match the cross-sell art, I think it's a disappointing omission.

-- 04/05/10

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