Thursday, July 5, 2012

Toy Review – Masters of the Universe Classics Snake Man-At-Arms By Mattel


I wanted to call him “Snake Man Man-At-Arms”, but I guess that’s either redundant or just too much manliness; even for Duncan.
Lots of people seemed upset that Matty was producing this figure. Or maybe they didn’t care for the way he was done. When I first saw him (was it back at SDCC last year?) I wasn’t impressed. I would have much rather had a 2002 Man-At-Arms. Apparently everybody else felt that way, too, and Matty listened. They made some changes to which parts they were reusing and attempted to make a 2002 Man-At-Arms, just without the ponytail head.
That’s fine by me. I’m not fifteen anymore, so I don’t think ponytails on dudes are particularly cool.

Once Matty revealed images of the updated Snake Man-At-Arms I was pretty excited. In general I prefer the 2002 versions of Masters of the Universe characters, so this was a big deal to me. I was going to have a much more visually interesting version of Duncan on my shelf. Of course, I had just bought a reissued Man-At-Arms, but whatever. He can be a second-in-command or something.
If you don’t know, Man-At-Arms was going to be turned into a Snake Man in the third season of the 2002 Masters cartoon. This is one of those things that more devout fans of the franchise could just rattle off to you. Duncan’s eventual fate is covered in the all-new Masters of the Universe mini comics that are being included with the figures, but we’ll get to those.
First Glance: Ooh – he looks nice. I honestly don’t give much of a crap about the Snake Man head, but the rest of this figure is pretty awesome.
Sculpt: Aside from the head this figure is one hundred percent farmed parts. And it works fairly well.
Duncan is articulated just like any other Masters of the Universe Classics figure. He has ball joints at the neck, shoulders, and hips. There are swivels at the biceps, wrists, waist, thighs, and boot tops. The elbows, abdomen, knees, and ankles pivot; with rocker joints on the ankles. Most of the joints on my figure are solid and move well. The only problem seems to be with those ankle rockers. The side-to-side motion isn’t very good. I had a hard time making the feet flat for some poses during photography, but it really doesn’t matter because most of the time I forget to utilize the ankle rockers anyway.
The Horsemen took an interesting route to create a Classics approximation of Man-At-Arms’ updated look. There is a standard MOTUC male torso with Roboto’s arms and legs. Stuck on those are Man-E-Faces' hands in two different colors and the new furry boots in two colors. On top of that you have King Grayskull’s long loin cloth and Man-At-Arms’ armor pieces. I don’t consider this armor to be accessories in this case, so here we go:
The long loin cloth is great and I prefer it to the shorter ones. Loin cloth>furry underpants. I still really dig the rest of the armor pieces. The calf/kneepad is very cool and I just love the big, stumpy studs on that knee. The arm pieces restrict movement quite a bit, but really do work well together and stay in place alright. The chest armor is awesome. All of the circuitry and detailing on the front is very well done and distinctive and the back is genius. The way that the Horsemen designed it to hold weapons is very clever and makes a great use of space. Too bad this Duncan only came with one weapon.
The new Snake Man head looks fine. The helmet is basically the same as the others we’ve seen from the Eternian police squad. The actual face part is nicely scaled and looks awfully angry. I kind of wish it had a mustache.
Design: Once again the paint job is busy making a huge difference. While the greens are basically the same as other releases, Man-At-Arms’ armor and loin cloth are different.
The armor pieces are more of a yellow than an orange and I think it’s a huge improvement. To me the detailing seems to stand out more on this release. The little tools on the back of his armor really look good and the front is just more distinctive. The little dual blaster-looking thing on the left wrist stands out more as well.
The head is outstanding. The helmet is slightly lighter than the ones on previous releases. I kind of wish it was more consistent, but it also doesn’t really matter. I’m sure Duncan might’ve covered his own headgear with some sort of magic-resistant enamel that lightened the colors a bit. Or maybe it’s just faded from being so old. Whatever. The face has some outstanding detailing. The wash really brings the scales out and the teeth and eyes are clean and bright, not to mention well placed.
Accessories: This reptilian Duncan comes with his trademark mace and a hoop with a snake on it - the Serpent Ring. The mace is the same rubber mace that came with the older Man-At-Arms, but colored to match the new armor. I think this one looks better, but it is still droopy. Stupid soft plastics.
The Serpent Ring. It’s what turned Duncan into a Snake Man. This thing is also made from a super soft plastic. It doesn’t have any deco, but I guess that’s okay? It looks fine.
This figure did not come with the short sword or pistol that the original Man-At-Arms came with. I don’t think that’s okay. He has the slots on the back of his armor for them and they are already tooled, so there’s really no excuse for this. I mean, I’m sure there is an excuse; but it isn’t an acceptable one.
Packaging: That good ol’ MOTUC blister card that honestly still excites me to look at. This may well be some of the finest packaging I’ve ever seen, as I would be really bummed out if they ever refresh it. And I don’t even collect MOC.
Overall: For a figure that I didn’t care about when it was first announced, I think this is a great variant. People who don’t like the 2002 stuff aren’t going to be happy, but I like him. Too bad about the missing accessories. And I do think he should have come with a 2002 head, though I don’t mind that he didn’t.
4 out of 5
I didn’t keep track of how long it took this guy to sell out, but I bet it was a while. If he’s gone and you want one, I’d probably check out eBay. From looking at forums and whatnot I think you might be able to get ol’ Snake Duncan relatively cheap.
-Phantom

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