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Masters of the Universe Classics
by Shocka

As with my review of Zangief from the Street Fighter Revolutions, I will begin this review of an excellent toy first talking about the state of affairs with the series itself, Mattel's Masters of the Universe Classics. Let me preface by saying that although I adore and much prefer the design of the MotU'02 figures, I understand the love for these redesigns based on the original MotU figures, and feel that there is definitely room in the world for both. Any gripes I have are hardly to do with the design and style of the series - the Four Horsemen have once again done a brilliant job with these figures - and, as mentioned, Skeletor here is an excellent toy.

I have a general philosophy when it comes to the hobby of toy collecting, and that is that people should be able to buy the toys they want. That means that there should be a good run of figures so that no one is left out, and that they're easily available to the people who want them. With this in mind, Matty Collector is a horrible failure, a complete mess that is catering more to scalpers than to actual fans who want to buy these toys.

Consider that each short run has sold out very quickly and has immediately led to hundreds of hundred-plus-dollar sales on eBay by scalpers who got in early and bought as many as they could specifically to resale, whilst collectors like myself have missed out on their opportunity to own a particular figure which is now a rarity. (Distribution problems have also struck Mattel's other big action figure property at the moment, the DC Universe Classics, which are hard to get in the US and impossible to get in Australia - most collectors here have not ever seen a figure in the flesh.) Matty Collector has inadvertantly created a monopoly here that demeans fans and aids the kind of underhanded scum who'd seek to make a major profit out of toys.

The second part of this aforementioned philosophy is that people should be able to buy the toys they want at a reasonable price. Despite the value that they have to us, we shouldn't forget that what we're collecting is in fact just a toy; disposable income or not, there's no reason to spend hundreds of dollars on a plaything when there are more important investments to be made. (There is the odd exception to this, obviously.) Matty Collector has failed us here as well. Even if the $20 asking price doesn't sound too bad initially - especially in today's world with oil prices and the rising costs of plastic - consider the additional cost for shipping which jacks the price up significantly.

Shipping costs aren't usually so bad for internet retailers, as you expect to pay a little extra if you're buying online and saving fuel to get to the store, but you can only purchase these toys via Matty Collector and the prices are downright ridiculous. It's bad enough for US collectors, but for international fans each MOTUC figure costs $50. Fifty dollars. That's not right. Not to mention further downright pathetic costs if you're unlucky enough to get faulty product. Mattel is making a killing out of this line, and it is about to extend to the more popular Ghostbusters licence as well.

If you're one of those moronic naysayers who thinks along the line of "Well, if you don't like it, don't buy it," in addition to shutting the hell up, consider the fact that no other company is doing this to its fans. No one else is making an entire line "exclusive" and both difficult and pricey to acquire. It isn't like collectors are demanding that the toys be made free - we just want a reasonable price and reasonable treatment so we can pursue our beloved hobby. No other company is mistreating collectors like this whilst making hefty profits and also allowing scalpers to thrive.

And now, back to your regular programming.

Mortally wounded in battle with his half-brother Captain Randor, Keldor turned to his dark-arts master Hordak to save his life. Merging Keldor with the extra-dimensional being Demo-Man from Despondos, Keldor was forever changed into Skeletor, Overlord of Evil! He gathered together the greatest outcasts and evil warriors of Eternia in his quest to gain entry into Castle Grayskull and obtain what he believes is the universe's ultimate power source.

The Four Horsemen have done a fantastic job on the sculpting here; standing a glorious 6½" tall, this is a perfect update of the classic Skeletor design. Not quite as demonic or menacing as the MOTU02 version, Skeletor's suitably skeletal head peers out from his headscarf above his powerfully toned body. Make no mistake, Skeletor is ripped - for a guy whose face is bony, he's got muscles coming out of his arse - quite literally if you lift the back of his strange loincloth thing. I have to say, Skeletor's clothing is quite an enigma - don't get me wrong, though, it's perfectly sculpted, but he's wearing this bizarre gladiator-viking-cum-Lego-castle-era bodice thing that doesn't fit any time period or culture, nor does it offer any armor value. It's just as weird as the fact that it's a skeleton with Arnold's body. That doesn't make it any less awesome, though.

What does make it less awesome is the paint, which strikes a good skintone with plenty of highlighting for that big bulky body, and also features good detailing on the face. But his armor and loincloth are both bland and appear to have bene left without detail - a close look at the bodice reveals they have been painted differently, but it all looks so similar that any effect is lost. Worse is that the loincloth's fur is left one colour, which looks dodgy and cheap. It's not dealbreaking by any means, but since this is a very high quality figure otherwise it feels lacking.

Articulation-wise, Skeletor is a BEAST - like all of the MOTU Classics, he features oodles of artculation including balljointed shoulders, neck and legs, then joints at the elbows, upper arms, wrists, feet, knees and midsection. None of these interfere with the sculpt and it works perfectly - plenty of posability and also plenty of playability, being super-durable. Though with the price this high it's unlikely that any kids could afford to play with him, but at this point they're too busy playing video games, doing drugs and having sex to care.

Skeletor also delivers with the accessories, featuring his coveted sword, his nifty staff, the other half of He-Man's sword (which is identical to his) and his removable bodice thingy (not really an accessory, but still worth mentioning). Only the sword is really detailed, but that's fine - the full effect of him weilding the sword and staff is excellent and doesn't need a lot of paint, and although I'm not a big fan of the half-swords gimmick that the original figures had I'm still pleased they kept it here for the original fans whilst pleasing current folk like myself with a full accessory. There's not much more you could want here!

Overall, Skeletor is a fine figure, and a great addition to your collection, as well as mine: I have nearly every Skeletor ever made, including all the goofy variants with different stupid ice armor and whatnot. What can I say? A supervillain (term used loosely) so stupid that he attempted to undermine his nemesis with a clone that was identical in every way except IT WAS FREAKING BLUE is the kind of supervillain I can get behind! Everyone should have one! Or, at least, should get the chance to have one - and at a reasonable price.

-- 05/18/09

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