In Aliens, James Cameron used six men in suits to make an entire army of xenomorphs; clever editing and use of shots made it seem like there were hundreds of the buggers, but onscreen there are only ever six at most at a time. For this reason, when it comes to armybuilders, I like to buy several of them - this isn't just limited to my beloved Aliens, but also characters Daleks, Endoskeletons, zombies, Mass Production Evas, so on so on. Of course, buying six of a single toy is an expensive proposition, so I usually cut this number in half and own three of my desired army characters. When taking photos, you can use a stationary tripod set up and move the toys if required, taking multiple shots to create the illusion of more, but usually three is an excellent number. (Some toys end up taking a few extra slots in my collections, like the different kinds of Daleks.) It seems that Matty is feeding into this habit of mine releasing armybuilders of various Masters of the Universe characters, beginning with the very cool Palace Guards and continuing with generic members of the evil Snake Men.
A hybrid of three cold-blooded alien races, the Snake Men were spliced together and bred by the Unnamed One to serve as loyal foot soldiers in his ever-growing army. Several battalions of Snake Men were assigned to the Viper Lord King Hssss and traveled with him to Eternia to plunder its hidden magic for their formless master.
Unprepared for an attack by invading Horde armies, the Snake Army was driven into hibernation and eventually trapped in the Void by the warrior Zodak. Five millennia later, Hssss and his reptile army escaped their imprisonment and once again took up the fight to claim Eternia. Snake Men fight loyally in the armies of King Hssss against the heroic Masters of the Universe.
I've always thought of the Snake Men as similar to Skeletor's minions, with their own unique characters and characteristics - like Kobra Kahn and Rattlor and the others - usually focused around their action feature. While it made sense to me to see Palace Guards in this line, as generic characters we see around Randor and other members of the Eternian royal family, having generic Snake Men to fill the ranks of King Hssss' army doesn't seem quite as fitting. But we see several of these characters throughout the different Masters shows and comics, and we can always do with more ssssssnake action figures in our collections, so who am I to complain?
The Snake Men are featured in the same window box packaging that we're accustomed to with the larger MOTUC releases and does a great job showing off the toys, complete with the always contentious bio on the back alongside shots of other (loosely) related characters.
As always, Mattel does a great job of catering to the MOC collectors with these releases, and keeping the same standard across the entire line means that a MOC display will always look neat and enticing.
The Snake Men feature exactly the same high quality, excellent sculpt we expect from the Four Horsemen. Standing just under 7" tall, one uses the same body as the MOTUC Rattlor, making it nice and bulky but also featuring all of the same intricate scaley detail with the exception of the standard He-Man male torso under the armor. The other is constructed from the standard male body but using the Whiplash arms and legs and the different boots circa Kobra Kahn. They're different enough to be notably individual but carrying over the same serpent-meets-Masters theme that fits them into the line and into Hsss's army.
They're painted slightly different colors of yellow and brown with slight highlights to bring out the detail, and the paint is all-round excellent. I appreciate that they're similar in color as to allow collectors to own several of them who look consistent with each other but also different enough to be individual; further I like that they differentiate from the other notable Snake Men characters via color. The Snake Men have the same MOTUC articulation that we've come to expect and it all works very well - these are durable and playable action figures with plenty of poses in them.
The best thing Mattel did with the Palace Guards
two pack was include enough accessories as to make very different figures with each, including interchangeable heads and weapons, and it is pleasing to see them do the same here with the Snake Men. Each pack features four different heads, two with a closed mouth and two open in a snarl. All feature different color eyes and slightly different color schemes, enabling to fit on either body ala the Palace Guards, which is absolutely awesome. Each Snake Man has a different and unique armor piece on the main body, both interchangeable and very cool.
Finally, between the two of them they feature four unique weapons:
a new slithering snake sword with a snakehead hilt, a silver shield, a large spear with the slithering-style blade head, and finally an all-new morning star. These can be switched between the Snake Men so they're holding any configuration of them, and they look terrific. Clearly Mattel has made this pack with the intention of the collector buying two, getting four unique individual Snake Men, which is ideal for me (four is only one more than three!) and will look amazing on the shelf.
I'm really impressed with the Snake Men two-pack, and my only gripe is that since these were included with the subscription I'm going to have to look elsewhere to buy a second set. When Mattel allows subscribers to add day-of-sale items to their sub package for combined postage, all will be right - no longer will we have to contend with ordering problems on sale day like the past month's Unrest weapons pack, and the upcoming nightmare that will be buying Granymr. I dig the Snake Men and really hope that we see a new two pack next year of the classic Horde Troopers, allowing us to build on the Evil Horde the same way we can now build King Hsss's army.