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Prince Adam

Masters of the Universe
by Poe Ghostal

During my first semester of college, I got a job at the circulation desk of one of my school's countless libraries. One day a woman came in. She was blond, a bit on the older side, but for some reason she seemed really familiar. She wanted to check out some books and presented me with the college ID of a male professor.

Now, it had been drilled into me that these ID cards were non-transferable, and as such I could not let this woman check these books out without her own card. She became quite huffy as I persisted in refusing to let her check out the books. She claimed she was working with this professor and that she'd already checked out some books. Politely but firmly, I stuck to my guns, though that vague sense of familiarity persisted.

Eventually the woman stalked off in frustration, and one of my supervisors ambled over.

"Do you know who that was?" he asked.

"She seemed really familiar," I admitted.

"That was Faye Dunaway," he said. "She's a bitch, huh?"

It turns out she was doing research for her then-upcoming role in the film The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, which will be important later (the movie itself, not that she was doing research for it).

When I was a kid, Prince Adam was one of my favorite toys. In general I hated variations even as a kid - I never got Battle Armor He-Man or Dragon Claws Skeletor or Bad Hair Day He-Man and so forth - but Prince Adam wasn't a variation as much as an alter ego. Of course he was nothing more than yet another repainted He-Man, but the entire toy line was constructed that way, so that was no problem.

No, what I loved about Prince Adam was that he was a nod to story. Whereas the cartoon mainly served to advertise the toys, introducing new characters, vehicles and playsets as they became available in stores, the concept of Prince Adam first appeared on the cartoon. He didn't arrive in figure form until two years into the line, and a year after the premiere of the cartoon.

While all the other toys in the line were various heroes and villains, Prince Adam was arguably a domestic figure. If a kid played with him, he or she was probably using him to forward some sort of plot or adventure - something that would require Prince Adam to turn into He-Man later. The kid that preferred to just bash his toys into one another or cover them in green slime probably had no interest in Prince Adam, and probably grew up to marry a woman.

Of course, none of this negates the fact that Prince Adam was a heavily-muscled, blonde-haired guy with a pink vest and purple tights. I've put forth my theory on the symbolic significance of the Prince Adam/He-Man relationship (wimpy, soft-voiced blonde guy in pink vest turns into huge, oiled-up blonde guy with a deep voice, and both of them tend to hang around an older man called Man-At-Arms) elsewhere, so I won't go into it here. Wait, no, I just did. Huh.

This time around, maverick sculptors the Four Horsemen have done Prince Adam right. No longer is he a carbon copy of He-Man that anyone with an IQ of 12 would recognize as the same person. Now he's properly teenaged and scrawny, but better yet, he's got a far more reasonable outfit on. However, all is not perfect.

Aside from the head sculpt (more on that in a sec), Prince Adam is probably one of the coolest figures so far in the line. He features a rare flat paint job on his purple pants (which are clearly pants, not tights), which adds a slight realistic touch that works well on this figure. The jacket is a separate piece made from soft plastic, and supposedly it's removable, though this must be done carefully. It's definitely a step up from the cheap felt vest of the original figure.

The detailing is also impressive; I especially like the leather strap across his chest and the double-layered, Han Solo small-large combo belt at his waist.

The scale is tricky. As you can see, Adam is just about the right size in comparison to He-Man, but he's a little small compared to Orko. In truth, however, I think this is more a problem with Orko being oversized than Adam being small. This line has had a few issues with scale - both Trapjaw and Ram-Man are a little too small.

The articulation is standard for these toys, and I have no complaints. The accessories include a down-sized version of the Power Sword (it seems Adam isn't the only one who grows under the power of Grayskull) and Prince Adam's sceptre of office, or whatever that thing is. In theory it shoots like a missile, but it doesn't really work. The sword is well-sculpted - I like how it's smaller and a bit different than the one He-Man wields - but unpainted, which is a bit disappointing. Prince Adam also has the wind-up-punch waist action of many of the MotU figures, old and new.

And now the bad news: the head sculpt. We love the Four Horsemen - they're great guys and immensely talented - but I just can't figure this one out. This head sculpt, featuring a rather feminine-looking Prince Adam, has been compared to everything from Luke Skywalker to... well, mostly just to Luke. Fanboys have a very limited imagination. It looks nothing like the cartoon Adam. But I believe I have discovered exactly who this Adam resembles.

Which brings us back to The Messenger. In this film, Milla Jovovich plays Joan of Arc, the teenager who led the French to "victory" over the English on a few occasions. I know the Horsemen modeled one potential He-Man head after an actor in the film The 13th Warrior. Were they perhaps, consciously or subconsciously, influenced by The Messenger when sculpting Prince Adam? Decide for yourself.

I feel compelled to add, I suspect this "resemblance" is a product, once again, of the vagaries of the production process. I'm not a huge fan of Teela's face on the actual figure, but the two-up's face looked great.

-- 04/11/03

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