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Masters of the Universe
by yo go re

I would love to know what Trapjaw's story is. I remember in the old comics that used to come with the figures, Skeletor opened some dimensional gateway in an effort to get into Greyskull, and Trapjaw escaped from his native world to Eternia, where Skeletor and He-Man had to team-up to stop him. In the new cartoon, Trapjaw was seen with Keldor's minions before getting his mechanical arm and bright metal jaw. So what's up with him?

A look at the cartoon's official website reveals one potential tale:

A thuggish brute, Trap-Jaw was once a human named Kronis, a thief who terrorized and pillaged the good people of Eternia. Kronis joined Keldor's forces years ago, helping him build his power base. In an explose battle, Kronis was captured and locked away by the then Captain Randor. When Keldor rampaged through Eternia, he freed Kronis, but he mutilated his arm and destroyed his face in the process. Keldor and Tri-Klops later rebuilt Kronis into Trap-Jaw. Trap-Jaw can transform his bionic appendage into a hook, claw and laser cannon, among other devices. He uses it to devastating effect against He-Man.

Not bad, I guess, except that "Kronis" (if that's his name) was seen in the pilot episode whole, hale, and hearty. Pre-Trapjaw (that's how he's listed on the package, which is different than the current cartoon [Trap-Jaw] and the old series [Trap Jaw]).

He looks like some kind of screwed up pirate. A skull and crossbones can be seen on his belt, and he does have that hook hand. Only thing he's lacking is a peg leg, parrot, and eye-patch. Okay, so he's missing quite a bit. But still, he just screams "pirate." I don't care if it's in the comic or on the cartoon, but I want to see a story that focuses on Trapjaw.

Trapjaw is a fine example not only of how to update a classic property (pay attention, Hasbro), but also a barometer of how far toymaking has come in the past 20 years. Many of the sculptural details on the figure are updated, improved versions of what was seen on the old figure: the ridges on the front of the shins, the round bits on the thighs, the armored plate over his right breast, et cetera. He's got the same three weapons - claw, hook, and gun - though they've been updated and redesigned. His mechanical arm has much more detail than ever before. But then, there are things that are new, but still decidedly awesome, like the fact that his left hand appears to also be mechanical, or the way there's a giant scar on his chest that suggests he's had his heart taken out.

Of course, Trapjaw just wouldn't be Trapjaw without his metal mouth, though there is a bit of a problem with it: the spring-loaded jaw is too flat. It connects to his face at the cheek, like it should, but extends directly from there to his chin. It lacks the bend that a jaw should have, so his face looks truncated from the side. I think this was done so the jaw could be opened fully, but it just looks wrong. Of course, that's how he looked on the '80s cartoon, so who am I to complain? He does still have the incongruous eyelet on the top of his helmet.

The first release of Trapjaw was done in the traditional colors: black boots, black arm, blue skin, green face, et cetera. And yes, I bought that version, but I also bought this repaint, because he's an homage to the old minicomics. In the comic, Trapjaw had yellow-green skin to match his face, his metal parts were light gray, and his clothes were all magenta. This version doesn't duplicate all that, but it does make changes. Obviously, all the exposed skin is green, though darker than the comics. All the black is gone from his robotic parts, leaving them a uniform grey. His belt and the spots on his thighs are golden, but the belt also gets an extra paint app to turn the second belt he's wearing brown. He has black circles around his eyes, but the jaw itself is still red, not gray like it was in the comic.

Trapjaw also seems a little short compared to the other figures; in fact, he's barely taller than Ram-Man. While it's possible that Trapjaw is just a short fellow, I think that his stature may have more to do with a molding error than a design choice - perhaps the mold was sized incorrectly, which is why he suffers so. Of course, it could also be that he was made smaller so that giant arm could fit inside the packaging.

The interchangeable weapons are all nicely done; the hook is menacing, the claw is articulated in two spots for a wider range of motion, and the blaster is intricately detailed (even if it fits better upside down). Tiny latches on the hook and claw allow them to hang from Trapjaw's belt, and the gun plugs into his back. Additionally, the mechanical arm has a spring-loaded elbow joint; flex it in either direction, and it snaps back to the center when released (though oddly, the packaging attributes this feature to his "human" arm).

Trapjaw was my favorite He-Man villain back in the day, cooler even than Skeletor. I absolutely love the new version, even if his jaw is slightly off. The Four Horsemen did a brilliant job updating this guy, and he looks more terrifying than ever. The regular release is an excellent update, but this repaint is fun, too. He's not an exact reference to Minicomic Trapjaw, but he's got the spirit.

-- 11/22/02

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