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Masters of the Universe
by yo go re

And now, some purple prose.

When Skeletor rides into battle, he goes astride Panthor. This giant panther, clad in armor and bearing wicked weaponry, is every bit as dangerous as his evil master.

As He-Man and the Masters of the Universe are updated for a new generation of collectors, a lot of the old ideas are held steady - a Power Sword that's divided into good and evil halves, for instance. Another throwback? Two cats, one mold.

In the classic line, Battle Cat and Panthor were made from one mold (one which, I've recently learned, was reused from a different line altogether) and painted different colors. Those cats had no articulation, and were simply big lumps of plastic. Not so any longer!

Like his heroic counterpart, Panthor is articulated at the shoulders, hips, tail, and jaw (sort of). He has a removable battle saddle, and two spring-loaded missile launchers. While not as gaudy as the silver and "safety orange" monstrosities that come with Battle Cat, the bronze launchers and their day-glo yellow missiles are still easily removed. Push the button on Panthor's back (or the button on the saddle which pushes the button on Panthor's back) for "claw and maul" action, which amounts to him raising his right paw and opening his mouth.

Panthor is quite well sculpted. While not as detailed as the sculpting team originally intended, muscles, fur, and teeth are all terrifically done. The serrated claws are made from a softer rubber than the rest of the beast, but they do still have quite a point on them. Sets of four claws are glued into each foot; Panthor rested in a hot car all afternoon before I had a chance to play with him, so the glue had softened to the point where I could have de-clawed him quite easily. It's since reset, but parents might need to watch out for that.

For some reason, the inside of Panthor's legs aren't completely molded. In a move probably intended to save plastic, there are odd geometric cutouts marring the sculpt. While they're not terrible, they... okay, they're terrible. What was Mattel thinking? The 2.3 cents' worth of plastic couldn't have been worth that.

Rather than just being painted purple, Panthor is flocked with purple fur. The original had the same type of fur, and while I never had one, I knew someone who did; his Panthor had developed bald spots from years of play. Unless Mattel has found a way to compensate for this, the new Panthor is likely to be a victim of premature baldness as well.

And, to be fair, Panthor and Battle Cat aren't exactly the same - they've got different heads and teeth. Thing is, Panthor looks more like he's got a toothy grin than a wicked snarl. Despite that, and the weird legs, this is still a great figure. Skeletor looks great riding on his back, and he's scads better than the original.

-- 08/08/02

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