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Masters of the Universe
by yo go re

As Mattel continues to struggle with the less-than-impressive performance of their relaunched He-Man line, the prospect of the line existing one year from now is seeming more and more unlikely. But stores are finally beginning to put the unsellable figures on markdown to a reasonable price (there is no reason in the world why any of these toys should cost a penny more than five or six dollars), so at last we have an opportunity to pick up some of the ones we've missed.

Man-E-Faces Man-E-Faces is a fine example of the supreme idiocy of the Masters of the Universe's names: a professional actor, Manny was not born with three faces on his weird conical head; a curse brought by Skeletor turned the man into a monster, and a fight between Skeletor and the Sorceress eventually resulted (in a completely inexplicable manner) in changing him into a robot. Convenient, then, that the name he'd already had worked so well with his abilities, eh?

The figure's conceit has always been cool - turn a nob on top of his helmet, and his head rotates to display another face. When I was a kid, I always thought that made him a good agent to counter Tri-Klops; kind of a two-man three-on-three match. Of course, in the original line, Manny was cobbled together from pieces of various other figures, while today he's all-new.

As we've said before, the Four Horsemen have continued to do a spectacular job updating all those horrible old toys into something respectable. The attention to detail is great: Original Manny reused Trapjaw's legs; New Manny uses legs that share a lot of the design elements, but are 100% new sculpts. Even in cases like this, where cutting corners might have been accepted by the fans, the Horsemen delivered their best.

Manny's Faces Good update or no, Man-E-Faces' costume is weird. Big clunky boots, seemingly metal legs, a strappy harness on his chest, sleeves that just cover the backs of his arms and, of course, that helmet. I'm not sure if we're supposed to assume that he can physically change his appearance or that he actually has three faces on one cylindrical head. If the latter, it would explain why he wears such goofy headgear (to shield and protect his extra faces), but not why he was wearing it before he got them.

Big dumb gun Even Man-E-Faces' accessory is a retro throwback. A big gray blaster that launches a blue missile, it's an exaggeration of the classic figure's weapon. It looks a bit outsized in his hand, but it's certainly not out of character for the line. This new figure's got something the old one never did: a neck. Not only do his faces turn within his head, but his head turns upon his body. It's a nice feature and really shows how far toymaking has come in 20 years.

This is a pretty good figure. All three faces look great, and even the orange skin works for him. It looks as if Mattel skipped a paint app on the torso, leaving parts orange that should have been blue, but don't fret - those same parts were unpainted on the original. Of course, a Horsemen sculpt desperately needs a paint wash to bring out the detail, but there's none here. Still, the biggest downside is that the figure is so hard to find and so overpriced. Unless things change, even the dedicated efforts of the diehard fans won't be able to help He-Man win this time.

Will MotU survive the year? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.


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