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Ram Man

Masters of the Universe Classics
by yo go re

Well, it's been a fun ride, but the time is here: the last MotU Classics release.

Growing up just outside the Vine Jungle, Krass' village was always under threat from the savage Beastmen. During a particularly brutal attack, he donned his family's ancient mystical armor that magically absorbs raw force. Using it to ram into his enemies and drive off their attack earned Krass the nickname "Ram Man." These actions were quickly detected by Skeletor who recruited him in a scheme to ram through the Jaw Bridge of Castle Grayskull. Realizing the error of his ways after seeing Skeletor attack He-Man, Ram Man switched sides, helping to defeat the Evil Lord of Destruction and save the Castle. He soon became a core member of the Masters of the Universe using his iron-like body as a battering ram against evil!

Okay, so this isn't the actual final MotUC figure, but face it: he was the last major character we actually needed to call this collection complete; everything else is just an extra. He's the end of the "casual" market, because if you care about Shakoti or Batros, you're a MOTU nerd.

I have no way of verifying this, but I believe Ram-Man may have been the first action figure I ever owned. It was either him or Trap Jaw, and since Rammy had fewer moving parts and accessories, he may have been a more child-friendly option. Consequently, he's always been my favorite MotU character, even though he never really fit in with the other toys. Instead of being built from the same pool of reused bodyparts as all the rest, he was unique - and remained that way throughout the line's life. And suitably, this new figure is entirely new as well.

His design fits with the Eternian "science meets magic" aesthetic. His outfit seems to be influenced by ancient Roman military uniforms, with the layered metal over the shoulders and the skirt made of wide leather strips that hang like fringe. Even his helmet mimicks the shape of a Roman's cheek armor! Plus, oh my god, I just this second realized: Roman, Ro-Man, Ram-Man... his name has been a pun this entire time! 30 years and I never noticed that. The tiny little rivets on his armor are all sculpted, and his boots have thick studs. As is traditional, there's a large skull on his belt buckle, but today it's matched by a skull in the tread pattern of each boot.

The Four Horsemen have based Ram Man's head on the original cross-sell artwork. That was not a good choice. In the case of a figure like Mer-Man, it's a welcome change because the vintage toy looked so unlike the art that went with it; Ram Man didn't have that problem. All that we get by turning back to the card art is a lack of eyes - the difference between 1983 Ram Man the toy and 1983 Ram Man the painting was that the art was squinting. That's it.

So instead of going with a face that has eyes (like the toy) or a face that has eyes (like the mini-comics) or a face that has eyes (like the cartoon), we get a face with two thin black lines on either side of the nose, and that's disappointing. It's even worse on his alternate head, which loses the helmet for a 2002 cartoon-inspired skull cap. The face is wide and flat, and looks like someone who smashes things with his head - it's just the eyes that turned out badly. Really badly.

On the original cartoon, Ram-Man was very short - almost a dwarf, really. On the other hand, the 2002 cartoon showed him as the largest of the Masters (even if the toy didn't follow suit). Mattel's sale page claimed he would be "almost twice as big as a standard figure," so we didn't really know what size this figure was going to be until he actually arrived. Turns out Mattel's advertising copy was full of it: Ram Man isn't even 7" tall, so he's right on the mark for this line's usual oversized standards. Yes, he's a bit wider than the average MotUC figure, but "twice as big?" No. We're not talking Gygor sizes, here. He's just about perfect for mixing with Mo2K (in height, if not in design).

For the first time ever, Ram Man has full legs, rather than a spring-loaded action feature. He moves at the ankles, boots, knees, hips, waist, torso, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders and neck - so in other words, just as well as every other MotUC figure. The knees don't quite line up right, and the feet don't rest flat on the floor - if not for the sculpted rivets that run down the outside of the legs, you'd think something had been misassembled (as sometimes happens). At least they are legs and not, as the original cartoon often interpreted them, big coiled springs. If you were afraid that the skirt would block the hips, don't worry - it's PVC, and flexes enough to make him poseable.

Ram Man only has one accessory: an update of the little axe the original toy had. Considering that we had to pay $33 (+ shipping) for this figure, that seems light. It would have been exceedingly cool if the figure's legs were removable, and could be replaced with a "short" pair that would simulate his springing ability. Even if they were unarticulated, it would have added value to the set. The axe is soft PVC and gets warped by its time in the package. It can be held in his right hand, or clipped onto his back - at least they took something from the 2002 release.

Being the last figure that matters, Ram Man proved incredibly popular - no surprise there. He sold out in seven minutes, so it's a good thing Mattel doesn't have website issues anymore. While the choice to make him squinty is an inexplicable one, the rest of the figure is really good. But man, that face! It really does knock the whole thing down from what could have been a "wow" to an "oh. Yeah, okay." Still, it's not like there's any chance of another Ram Man figure in the future, so we'll just have to be grateful for what we did get. And particularly that Mattel managed to get him out before the line ended.

-- 03/04/13

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