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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Toy Review: Masters of the Universe Classics Lizard Man from Mattel

As we enter the twilight year of the Masters of the Universe Classics line, I find myself experiencing a mixture of relief and excitement.

Nope. No sadness or melancholy or anything remotely negative. This line has run its course and I will be quite pleased when my December 2015 figure arrives and signals the end. That’s not to say that I feel the line has done everything it could and should have. It’s also not to say that I’m opposed to new and different products in the same style under a different banner in 2016. But I am tired of this system.

Obviously I have voluntarily signed up for the Club Eternia subscription each year. Nobody put a gun to my head. And just as obviously I have liked the product enough to keep signing up. But the last two years have felt more like an obligation than a hobby. Last year I didn’t even keep track of when my figures were shipping and when they should arrive. I just didn’t really care. It’s not that I didn’t want them (well, most of them), it’s just that the excitement was gone. I knew that I could expect one of two things every month – a figure I didn’t want or a figure that was just a paint app or design decision shy of being great.

I wasn’t even reviewing them on a regular basis anymore because how many times can you come up with new things to say about such similar figures?

Since this is the final year, I have decided to get back into the swing, rev myself up, and review every single Club Eternia release for 2015. So far it’s worked and I’m excited about returning to the line full time. As of now I’m even planning on reviewing them as quickly as I can; something I didn’t worry about even when my enthusiasm was in full swing. 
 
We don’t know yet how much will be offered outside of the sub. The glow-in-the-dark Spirit of Grayskull is coming to Early Access on 2/12 and I, for one, am very excited about that one. GITD and translucent? I’ll take two, thanks. There are rumors of a 2002 mini subscription like the Filmation and Princess of Power subs before it. I’d be down with that. But I can’t guarantee I’ll buy all of the extra stuff. For right now I’ll just say that I am definitely reviewing every single item from the main sub, regardless of my excitement level.

Side Note: We should find out about a final mini sub in a couple of weeks at Toy Fair, and you can bet we’ll cover it on the Needless Things Podcast.

I’m glad we’re starting with Lizard Man, a character I never would have requested, but that I was perfectly okay with when I saw him for the first time. He’s from Filmation and is just this side of too cartoony, but in person looks pretty cool and is one of the more unique figures from the line. 
 
FIRST GLANCE

Everything about Lizard Man looks different from your standard MOTUC releases, and yet he still fits the overall aesthetic. If he were one iota goofier he wouldn’t work. The most surprising thing to me was that he’s a good guy. I don’t remember any of the Filmation characters particularly well, so the fact that this guy is pals with the Masters was unexpected. I like it, especially after reading his bio.

PACKAGING

Big blister card, consistent packaging, attractive design, blah, blah, blah. Love it.

Lizard Man’s bio puts him over big time. I don’t know if he’s a sentimental favorite of Nietlich’s or what, but all this talk of bravery, power, honor, and strength is pretty impressive. I like the angle of him dealing with racism due to his genetic connection to the Snake Men. Or speciesism, I guess. The point is that this guy has a cool story that makes me like him more.

There’s a sticker on the back of the card that tells you how to get the best results from the included glow-in-the-dark Diamond Ray of Disappearance. This is nothing short of shocking, as Matty usually doesn’t even bother to tell us what items are, let alone how to use them. I didn’t notice this sticker until I was perusing my pictures for this review, so here’s what it says for those of you that don’t want to ruin your eyes trying to read the blown-up version above:

Glow-in-the-dark feature will last longer if you do not expose this product to intense heat or direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time. Place the gem box approximately five feet (152 cm) away from a light source for 30 seconds. Placing the gem box closer will not intensify the ‘glow-in-the-dark’ feature.”

I do wish Matty would identify the accessories. I didn’t realize which sword this was until after I was finished with pictures or I would’ve taken one with Skeletor holding it.

Side Note: What do you think about that custom Filmation Skeletor head? I think it looks fantastic, but the price is absurd - $28 – and the fact that you have to buy it through e-mail rather than an actual website is a bit sketchy. I want one, but that’s one too many question marks for me.

LOOKS

Lizard Man looks super! He could fit in with any number of animated properties – He-Man, Thundarr, Ninja Turtles, Thundercats – and yet still works within Masters of the Universe Classics. The clever use of Mantenna parts to give him a unique profile is impressive.

Obviously Lizard Man’s head is the thing that’s really pushing the boundaries. It has a curvy, bulbous shape that’s clearly meant to be a cartoon, but something about the angles and the eyes makes it work. I particularly like how his hooded… what the heck is this thing called? It’s actually pretty bizarre now that I think about it. He needs a hood and that’s it. No sleeves, no torso covering. Just an unaffiliated hood. It’s not even attached to a vest like AJ Styles used to wear. 
 
Anyway, I like it. It looks cool and they did a good job connecting the sculpt from this new torso up onto the head.

The torso is new and I don’t see Matty getting any further use out of it. The garment is sculpted nicely and there are some nice skin textures on his back and stomach. All of the colors of the figure match up quite nicely across the different materials used. The greens are uniform and even the lighter color that runs from his neck to the end of his tail looks great. Oh, and I like the unevenness of the stitches on the front of the garment.

Lizard Man’s wide belt, loin cloth, and tail are all one piece. The blue dots on the front of the belt give it just enough extra to make the piece look nice. The loin cloth is sculpted well, but the way it hangs around the tail is utterly baffling. Is there a hole cut in it? That’s just weird. It would have made a lot more sense to just have the back part hanging over his tail.

Lizard Man’s three-toed lizard feet look great. There are wrinkled textures sculpted on the tops that are reminiscent of those on the abdomen. It’s always nice to have those little bits of connectivity throughout a figure.

The hands are great and I wish I could’ve gotten a picture that really captured the coolness of the translucent green webbing between his fingers. This is so impressive for a number of reasons – 1) the green paint used on the hands matches the rest of the figure, 2) that paint is applied cleanly and evenly and there are no painted parts where light shines through to spoil the illusion, and 3) Matty didn’t have to do this. They could have simply put this guy out with green, opaque hands and we wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

ACCESSORIES

Lizard Man comes with a sword and a diamond in a box.

The sword is the one Skeletor had in the Filmation cartoon. It would look great if it had any paint on it. I understand that this is pretty much what it looked like in the cartoon, but even just a bit of silver on the blade or dark grey on the hilt would have been nice. As-is it has that dollar store look that unpainted MOTUC accessories tend to have.

The diamond in the box is the Diamond Ray of Disappearance. Technically this should probably be called the “Diamond of Disappearance”, but whatever. Out of all of the Filmation items that could have been produced, this one is probably the most historically significant. It comes from the first episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Without getting into the specifics of the episode, this item was the first in a long line of magical MacGuffins that demonstrated the confusing nature of Skeletor’s particular style of conquering. 
 
The toy version features an open box (that does not close) with a glow-in-the-dark gem inside. The sculpt is good and it even has some finger indentions in the back so that figures can hold it. The fact that the Diamond glows in the dark is a wonderful bonus. Like Lizard Man’s hands, this is just another cool extra that Matty needn’t have done. I am impressed.

FUN

Lizard Man features standard MOTUC articulation. There are plenty of joints and most of them work well enough to be satisfying. The figure can achieve plenty of action poses. One of the great things about this line is the fact that the number and style of joints allow for so many variations that just about every figure can be posed in a different way on the shelf.
Lizard Man has two parts that don’t quite work for me.

I like how snug the connection is between the head and the neck. It maintains a nice profile and doesn’t reveal any ugly gaps that would hurt the style. The integration here is another thing that adds to this guy fitting in with the line. But the range of motion on the head isn’t great. It can pretty much just rotate, with very little range otherwise. 
 
I’m tremendously disappointed in the tail. It’s stationary. It doesn’t even rotate. I didn’t need a bendy tail, but it could at least be poseable in some manner. As it is the thing doesn’t look quite right if Lizard Man is doing anything other than just standing there. 
 
That being said, between the accessories, his solid MOTUC articulation, and the figure’s general sturdiness Lizard Man is fun to play around with.

OVERALL

He isn’t perfect, but he’s pretty darn good. The Filmation Skeletor sword isn’t perfect, but it’s great to have. The Diamond Ray of Disappearance is just a neat extra and I hope to see a lot more Filmation artifacts over the course of the year.

I like Lizard Man and I’m happy to have him. I can’t recommend him to anyone but hardcore Filmation fans or folks who are just collecting this line, but he’s a neat figure and I really like what he does for the MOTUC shelves.

4 out of 5

This guy isn't on Amazon, so maybe try eBay or BigBad.



Monday, January 26, 2015

Toy Review – Reel Toys Alien Kane from NECA

I’ve mentioned before that I saw Aliens before I saw Alien, so the slow burn horror of the original was something I had to adjust to. It’s a credit to Ridley Scott, Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett and the cast that I wasn’t turned off by it after the fast pace and loud action of the sequel. I’ve never been a person that is patient with storytelling, so it’s somewhat remarkable when I can enjoy something with a slower pace.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dragon Con 2015 - LYMPHOMA RESEARCH FOUNDATION SELECTED AS DRAGON CON’S 2015 OFFICIAL CHARITY

New Slate of Superheroes Community Service Projects Lets Dragon Con Fans Lend a Hand

ATLANTA – January 12, 2015 – Dragon Con, Atlanta’s internationally known pop culture, fantasy and sci-fi convention, has selected the Lymphoma Research Foundation – Georgia Market as its official charity for 2015. Dragon Con will match dollar for dollar, up to $50,000, any money raised for this charity at the 2015 convention.

Earth Station Who Episode 93: The Dalek Invasion of Earth

I haven’t seen all of the William Hartnell Doctor Who stories, but I think I’ve seen enough to have a pretty good feel for his run. And to know that – outside of watching stuff for Earth Station who – I don’t particularly want to watch any more.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Toy Review: Alien Xenomorph from NECA

Sometimes it takes me a while to get around to reviewing action figures, especially if they are in some way retoolings of figures I have already reviewed. This is why I have essentially stopped reviewing Masters of the Universe Classics figures (although I am considering starting up again since this is the last year). It’s also why it’s taken me something like six months to review this guy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Comic Book Wednesday - Rocket Salvage #1 Comic Book Review by R.T. Ewell



I don't make it to the comic shop very often these days - about once a month. And even when I do go my budget is about twenty bucks. I don't have set titles that I just have to buy anymore so I try to find number ones, trade paperbacks, or ones with self contained story lines. As I was browsing the new release titles at my local comic book shop, I came across Rocket Salvage #1 of 6 published by Archaia. The first thing that caught my eye about this title was the gorgeous artwork and use of bright colors that popped off the page. I took a chance and picked up this book without knowing a single thing about it.