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Masters of the Universe
by yo go re

One of the (many) problems that plagued the 2002 Masters of the Universe line was one that infected all Mattel's boys' toys properties at the time: inappropriate scale. It's like there was some secret edict that no one could be bigger than the hero, which is how we ended up with things like the pinheaded Trap-Jaw. In that regard, it's probably a good thing that the toyline failed and was rolled over into NECA's mini-statue line: two-thirds of the series had an oversized figure that surely would have been shrunken to fit this arbitrary (and idiotic) standard. In series 4, that monster was Leech.

Emerging from the countless pipes and sewer pits of the Fright Zone, the energy sucking parasite called Leech is every Eternian's worst nightmare! Besides possessing no true skeleton, allowing him to squeeze through any opening, Leech also possesses long, parasitic members equipped with toothy jaws that pull the life-force out of his victims and into Hordak's magic/mechanical Soul Devourer, powering his Dark Magic and his legions of living nightmares!

The original Leech was released in 1985, and was kind of a crappy toy. He had suction cup hands, and an action-feature suction cup mouth. None of them stuck very well to anything, so about all Leech could do was hang from your bathroom mirror one suction cup at a time: the terrible articulation standards of the era meant you couldn't get all three cups attached to any one thing at once. Yay. So for their redesign, the Four Horsemen forewent the action features, instead opting to concentrate on the monstrous design.

As always, Leech's design is based on the original toy, just given modern tweaks. It's not just that he's wearing armor, but that the armor's odd design can be seen on the old version. The vertebrae ringing the collar and running down the back? The large flat pads on the shoulder blades? The bracers, the single armband or the plates of armor on his left shoulder? It was all on the original Leech. That's why the Horsemen's MotU designs were so popular: rather than just copying the old look, they took what was there from the beginning and turned it up by 1,000.

To suggest his inhuman nature, Leech's skin has a quite distinct texture. Yes, he's got little warts all over, but it's more than that: the skin actually looks slightly baggy, as if it's loose on his body. On any other figure, we'd complain that this was bad design, that skin shouldn't wrinkle like that; here, however, we can take it as evidence that Leech's body isn't as firm as it appears. Maybe he puffs up like a balloon as he drains energy. His hands and feet still look like suction cups, but much more threatening - his "fingers" have claws or spikes running down them, for an inescapable grip, and a red tongue slithers out of each palm.

Leech's defining facial feature back in the '80s was his large disc mouth, which obviously isn't present here. Did you even realize there was a head behind that mouth? There was, and it inspired the statue. Leech's neck is covered by segmented ridges, and he has an up-turned cranial ridge. His red eyes fall beneath a bony brow, and his nose turns up at the end: after all, can't have it getting in the way when he feeds. His mouth is lined with 25 sharp teeth, and instead of a tongue he has a fleshy mass that looks like it could begin pulsating at any moment.

The statue stands 7" tall, despite being hunched over - the original toy stood up straight, and looked really stupid for it. Due to the stance, the Evil Horde symbol on the chest is smaller and wider. Leech is posed stalking forward, so he'll look menacing even without the benefit of articulation. The paint is mostly good: the color choices are nice and the shadows and highlights are appropriately subtle, but some of the edges are far from being even. The light green of his fingers, for instance, spills really far onto the dark green of his cups. The belt looks like leather, and the knobs on his armor look like brass.

Like the rest of the Evil Horde, Leech includes a crossbow. All the original toys had the same generic piece, but the Four Horsemen's updates give each weapon unique traits to tie it specifically to its user. In Leech's case, that means the bolt ends in a suction cup, so it almost looks like he's shooting plungers at people. The shaft still has the same hooks seen on Grizzlor and Mantenna's weapons. Since he doesn't have hands capable of holding an accessory, the crossbow has a clip to attach it to either forearm (though it's intended for his left).

Each of the Masters of the Universe figure-scale statues comes with a hexagonal display base. Actually, they all come with the same display base: a generic technological thing that's color-coded to the character's allegience. The Evil Horde figures are supposed to have a maroon base - the same general color as Hordak's symbol - but my Leech came with one in heroic blue. Whoops! In any case, Leech's feet are large and flat enough that he definitely doesnt need the extra support.

Leech is one of the characters who has benefitted greatly from a modern update. The 1985 version was more action feature than action figure, and hardly looked like a scary threat at all. Free to tweak the design the way they wanted to, rather than being forced to hew tightly to the old line, the Four Horsemen created a Leech worthy of belonging to the Evil Horde.


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