Shortly before they screwed the pooch on yet another license, Mattel was doing pretty well with its Masters of the Universe line. Ok, that's not true - it really had little to do with Mattel, and was more the work of the Four Horsemen, who worked hard to update the original MotU toys into a whole new line of great figures with excellent sculpts. Corners cut at every end slowly buried this line, from cutting the budget on the paint apps to cutting articulation from the sculpts, the line finally ended with a whimper, forcing us to purchase heavily overpriced ministatues as teasers to what we might have seen had the line continued.
Fortunately, before this end came we got to see some of the most infamous characters from the original TV series and toyline;
not just main characters and cohorts, but the awesome Snake Men, updates of those memorable
figures you had as a kid. No one remembers the stupid human bee, or the moronic Man-At-Arms, but no one could possibly forget the scary phallicness of the red snake dude whose neck shot out with the push of a painful button on the back, or the green snake dude whose head bobbed up and down to shoot water from his mouth. Scary Freudian toys that no one will ever scrub from their memory. Bless you, Four Horsemen, for updating them so that we can once again rejoice in their subtle undertones as adults.
The General (hehehehe!!), better known as "Rattlor" to normal, thinking people everywhere, stands a menacing 6 1/2" tall - sometimes. He has a bit of trouble standing due to his top-heavyness and the odd angle of his legs and feet. Nonetheless, the big red machine looks great, with a nice big bulky body replacing the generic thing he had a decade or so back and complete with his nicely detailed costume/armor thingy wrapping all aorund his body. Also notable that this armor comes off - that's right, kids, your General can be completely derobed! Rattlor lives up to his name; he has a removable tail that rattles - supposedly like a rattlesnake but more like a dying baby-rattle.
The big feature with the General is, of course, the extending neck,
and it works like a charm - the button is much bigger and friendlier on the fingers than the original; press it and his head emerges like Celine Dion's on a nicely angled thick yellow neck. It works like a charm; I'm particularly fond of how it bends down slightly (hehehehe!!) though it might have been even cooler to see it longer, really reaching out to attack others, but really he gets much more air here than he did on the original and is really very cool.
Kobra Khan stands slightly shorter than The General (hehehehe!!) at around 6", and stands much better; he's a lot thinner than The General and his lanky limbs stand up quite nicely. Detailed with nice greens and bronzes, he looks a treat like his snakey brethern, a fantastic update of the original design that captures a distinct personality.
Likewise, his action feature is great - pull off his head,
pour a little water into him and then bob the head up and down to shoot water all over an enemy. It works really well and is a lot of fun, even though most colectors wont give it a shot - cmon guys, at least give his head a bob! There we go.
Both Snakemen are fully articulated with ball-jointed shoulders, cut-jointed wrists,
neck, midsection, and then double-jointed legs for a full range of movement. Their jaws also move, a very cool touch, and the hands are sculpted to hold their individual accessories, also updates of the original. The General's snakey staff now fires a snake-like projectile and looks completely ridiculous, whereas the gun that Khan has now looks totally kick ass and fires with some force.
Honestly, these are some really kick-ass toys - they look fantastic, they play fantastic, they're full of undertones. Kick Mattel in the face for me if you ever see them - to screw up a great line like this is a crime, and the expensive NECA things only a cocktease as to what more great stuff we had in store. Something to consider: a great company like Palisades goes under, while Mattel continues to live and thrive? It's just not fair.
(Btw, I'm still without a Fisto [hehehehe!] and Roboto to complete my MotU collection. If anyone knows where I can get them on the cheap, e-mail me? Thank you!)
Which old MotU freakshow character if your favorite? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.