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Masters of the Universe
by Poe Ghostal


There is something buried deep in my psyche that informs me there was once some sort of ad campaign, or perhaps a series of public service announcements, in the late 1970s or early 1980s that involved the exclamation, on television or in print, of the word WHIPLASH! I believe it had something to do with the unfortunate results of minor car accidents. It may have been an ad for a neck brace. Unfortunately, I can find no one who recalls anything like that, their answers being confined mostly to things like "I don't remember it" and "never heard of it," and the less relevant "aren't you supposed to be at work?"

I was also unable to find any reference to it in a brief Google search, so I'll have to forego that cultural reference this time. I find this very off-putting. If anyone has the slightest clue as to what I'm thinking of, please email me. You will be putting my soul at ease.

Bereft of my reference, I am forced to focus primarily on Whiplash, the action figure. However, this will not stop me from occasionally referring to him as WHIPLASH! in the course of this review.

Whiplash is a large reptilian creature with a massive tail that can destroy nearly anything. His tail can take down an Eternian tree with one strike. Whiplash also has a keen sense of smell. often found feuding with comrades, Whiplash would rather show Skeletor that he can get He-Man on his own than have to be "slowed down" by the other minions.

Whiplash is yet another villain from the Masters of the Universe (MotU) line. Like most evil people in the fabled land of Eternia, he is subject to the evil Skeletor (who once boasted chiseled good looks and a stylin' devil beard back in his "Keldor" days, before he got his face burned off... which he doubtlessly found very off-putting).

Whiplash was one of the cooler figures in the MotU line even back in the old days. Whiplash also has the distinction of being the only original MotU figure in my collection to be the exact same figure I had as a kid, having bounced from house to house and toybox to toybox over the course of 20 years. With his rubbery tail and bright green reptilian flesh, Whiplash was one of the best of the original MotU figures. So it's with relief that I can say that maverick sculptors The Four Horsemen have given ol' Whippy his due in the revamped line.

The original WHIPLASH! was, like most figures in the original MotU line, made from the same molds as other figures - he had Buzz-Off's arms, legs and torso, but boasted a unique rubbery tail that could whip out when the figure was twisted at the waist. The Horsemen used the original figure as a jumping-off point for the new one, retaining a few of its features while building upon them enormously.

The new Whiplash is extremely saurian. His green skin is covered with square plates, much like a dinosaur, and his back boasts even thicker plates. This, combined with the tiny club at the end of his tail, makes me suspect the Horsemen designed Whiplash at least partially after an ankylosaurus. It works out very well.

Put simply, this is one of the best sculpts on this line so far. The tiny detail on his hands and feet are something to be seen. The paint applications are nice and crisp, and the colors are bright. Also, WHIPLASH! features one of the best expressions I've seen in this line so far. This is one area where the line seems to be getting better and better: Two-Bad can boast not one, but two priceless expressions.

Whiplash does suffer from Gaudy Button Syndrome, which afflicts many figures in this line. In this case, he has a long cylindrical button protruding from his left hip. It's quite obtrusive and ugly. I find it (say it with me) quite off-putting. The function of the button is to make Whiplash's tail whip around. That, I will admit, it does well. In its "at rest" position, the tail is pointed all the way to the right, but with some force, you can pop it out of its socket; then, if you push it partially back in, you can have it point a different direction (at the sacrifice of being able to use the button to swing it about). Whiplash has one of the few action features I actually find neat, though I still dislike action features in general.

Also annoying is Whiplash's weapon. It's a sort of staff-sword-axe combo - difficult to describe. It looks great, but it's made from soft plastic. The corresponding hole in Whiplash's hand is very tight, and it's impossible to work the weapon all the way into his hand without it bunching up.

Here's the trick: toss the weapon in the freezer for a few minutes. Then it will not only be harder, due to the cold, but it will also be thinner, and it will slide right in.

Like Two-Bad, Whiplash doesn't suffer much from the scale issues that have troubled some other figures in this line (such as Trapjaw and Orko). He even looks pretty impressive next to Beast Man, the largest figure in the line.

WHIPLASH! is a great figure largely by virtue of being a villain. Fortunately, he's also got a great design and a well-executed action figure. I find him very on-putting.

-- 06/25/03

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