Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 Days of Halloween: Creepy Toy Review – Masters of the Universe Classics Dragon Blaster Skeletor By Mattel

I’m going to cheat a little bit and call this guy a Halloween review so he doesn’t slip too far back like Sir Laser-Lot already has. And I’m not cheating too badly, because I just couldn’t find a way to justify throwing a Mekanek review in here. Even with my snazzy Halloween background.
Besides, I think having a skull for a head and a vicious dragon that looks more than a little bit like a THINGS chained to your back qualifies you.
I definitely didn’t have a Dragon Blaster Skeletor when I was a kid. I didn’t have a very large Masters of the Universe collection and I certainly didn’t have any of the variants of He-Man or his nemesis. It’s part of what makes me kind of happy to see these come out now – they’re relatively new variants to me. I mean, of course I knew of them; but I’ve never had a version in hand before.
This was one I was looking forward to getting. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was stoked, but the dragon factor definitely got me more excited than I was for, say, Thun-Derp-Unch He-Man. And once again there were just enough new and different pieces to make this guy feel fresh.
Okay, I didn’t go into it the other day in my Black Mask review, but my September order from Mattycollector got me really fired up.
I want to be clear – I chose the cheaper shipping option for my subscriptions and I always will. UPS is hugely overpriced and Newgistics is only slightly overpriced. I am not paying almost thirty percent more for shipping just to get things a day or two earlier, though I would be curious to know who has what shipping and how long their items take to arrive.
Another thing to be clear on – the cheaper shipping option is not the United States Postal Service. It is a company called Newgistics that is on par with Digital River for general levels of incompetence. As a matter of fact, I suspect they may be a branch of Digital River. Newgistics picks the package up from Mattel’s distribution center and delivers it to your local post office and it is the most ridiculous and inefficient delivery I have ever had the misfortune to witness. Here is the route mine took this time:

DateTimeDescriptionLocation
9/29/201203:44 PMDeliveredNEIGHBORHOOD,GA ZIP
9/29/201205:51 AMArrival at USPSLOCAL POST OFFICE
9/25/201205:20 AMAccepted by USPSLOCAL POST OFFICE
9/21/201201:23 PMIn transitATLANTA,GA 30349-3623
9/21/201212:28 PMElectronic Shipping Sent to USPS 
9/21/201212:28 PMIn transitATLANTA,GA 30349-3623
9/20/201205:17 PMIn transitFishers,IN 46037
9/20/201208:46 AMIn transitFishers,IN 46037
9/18/201206:54 PMIn transitSparks,NV 89441
9/18/201201:46 PMArrived at Shipping FacilitySparks,NV 89441
9/15/201201:27 AMElectronic Shipping Info ReceivedOntario,CA 91761 

My deliveries (and those of many others, according to the Mattycollector forums) always end up spending a couple of days in Sparks, NV. I don’t know why. And they always sit at the local post office for a couple of days before being sent out for delivery. It’s pretty ridiculous. Now, I can’t claim to know anything about delivering goods. But I do know that there is not a single other entity on the internet that I do business with that takes so long and charges so much to get me my orders. And this time it took far too long.
To have been shipped on the 15th and then not arrive until the 29th is fucking absurd. The invoice estimated delivery on 9/27 or 9/28, which is already ridiculous, but I do usually get my stuff a couple of days before the estimated delivery date. And then there’s the fact that Monkey, Evil, and Carl always get theirs a day before I do. And received theirs an entire week before me this time. Heck, Carl ordered an extra set of Snake Men the day of the sale and got them several days before my items arrived. That just isn’t acceptable.
First Glance: This is another one of those big, bulky figures that fills up the package quite nicely. I’m a little worried about him standing up, though. That dragon is big. This looks like yet another variation on Skeletor’s head, as well. I’m not sure where this design comes from, but I’m sure one of you knowledgeable Phantomaniacs will be happy to clue me in.
Articulation: Dragon Blaster Skeletor has all of the same articulation as any other Masters of the Universe Classics figure, those some of the joints are less useful than others.
Head – ball joint
Shoulders – ball joint
Biceps – swivel
Elbows – pivot
Wrists – swivel
Abdomen – pivot
Waist – swivel
Hips – ball joint/swivel
Knees – pivot
Calves - swivel
Ankles – rocker joint
The abdominal joint is rendered mostly useless by the chest armor. This hasn’t really been an issue with other releases with chest armor – the Battle Armor figures, Man-At-Arms, Stinkor – but Skeletor’s armor is different because of the dragon. It isn’t a huge problem, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
This Skeletor’s elbows don’t work very well, either. This is because they stuck Kobra Kahn’s forearms on regular biceps and I guess that wasn’t meant to be. The joints only bend to about sixty percent of their normal range. Again, not a huge deal, but it kind of irritated me when I was posing this guy for pictures.
The rest of the joints all function perfectly well. They are mobile and tight enough to hold poses.
Sculpt: The only thing completely new on this figure is the head. It’s another new Skeletor head that I’m sure is based on something Roger Sweet drew on a napkin. I have liked every new Skeletor head better than the first MOTUC one and this is no exception.
I’m not sure how I feel about these forearms. They kind of fall under the “just because” category. I mean, they do look neat and they’re different from the norm, but I’m not sure I like Skeletor with spiny forearms and the fact that it messed with the depth of the pivot really bugs me.
The rest of Dragon Blaster Skeletor is all the same parts we’ve come to know and love. I definitely prefer it when Skeletor has claw feet as opposed to boot feet. I still don’t quite understand what’s going on here, though. Why can we see his toenails? Are these socks? Or does he have regular feet and these are some kind of weird, KISS-esque demon boots with toes sculpted on? WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH SKELETOR’S FEET!?!
I do like his weird, new calves that look like they are all feathered or something, though.
Coloring: Mattel went to Sherwin Williams and picked up a bucket of “Skeletor Blue” for this guy. Unfortunately, they painted that over a black plastic body, so parts of it look like shit. This set of figures – Skeletor, Mekanek, and the Snake Men – are the first ones that I have experienced a problem with the black plastic, but this absolutely has to stop. Never mind wear and tear on the figures, I am seeing exposed black straight out of the package:
Not acceptable in any way, especially not from a higher-priced collector line.
Quality issues aside, the actual palette and application on Dragon Blaster Skeletor is great.
The dragon itself looks fantastic and is very reminiscent of Draego-Man. The transitions between the shades of red and purple are very nice. The facial details are tight and accurate.
Flair: It could be argued that the dragon is an accessory, but it is permanently attached to Skeletor’s chest armor by way of the chain. Since I don’t remove these types of chest armor out of fear of not being able to get them back on I’m going to list the dragon as Flair.
The chest armor is new and unique. The sides where it clasps together are extremely thick and bulky and prevent the arms from hanging properly at the figure’s sides. This bothers me every time, but I understand. The only solution to this would be to just sculpt the torso as the armor and that would probably be cost prohibitive. And there would likely be some customers (not fans – customers) that wouldn’t like that anyway.
The dragon is… weird. I certainly don’t dislike it, but that head is very odd. This is an instance where I might have preferred it if the Four Horsemen had deviated from the vintage figure’s design. An open mouth would have been nice since this dragon is, technically, supposed to be blasting.
As an update of the vintage figure this dragon is very successful. I don’t find it to be as cartoony as some do and I kind of have to like the head because it does look like a THINGS:
The body is very well done for being all bunched up on Skeletor’s back and looks more like a separate, organic form than the original. I actually buy that this is a creature chained to Skeletor as opposed to just some incredibly weird-shaped armor/weapon thing.
The chain itself is really neat. It is attached to a padlocked collar on the dragon (the padlock is actually a separate piece), runs through a raised piece on the front of the chestplate, and attaches to a removable cuff on Skeletor’s left hand. Lil’ Troublemaker was very impressed that it was an actual chain. This is because we had recently had a discussion about the new TMNT Michelangelo’s nunchaku and how disappointed we both were that they are each a single piece of plastic rather than having linked chains in the middle like the prototype did.
Anyway, at first it might seem like Skeletor’s left arm is a bit restricted when the cuff is attached. But the chain does feed through that loop on the chest with some help and gives a bit more range to the arm.
The chest armor is actually kind of dull. I like the big studs and the general design, but I feel like it should have had some texture. Maybe chain mail or something. Plates; I dunno. Not scales because that would have blended in with the dragon and looked odd.
Accessories: Skeletor comes with his sword. It’s the same sword we’ve always seen and I can’t fault that because what else are you going to give this guy? Mattel could’ve done something gimmicky that didn’t make any sense just for the sake of doing something different. My only thought was that maybe they could have done a blade that was partially heated up or something – maybe halfway up the blade it could’ve been red and orange; maybe even translucent. But what we got is perfectly fine. The sculpt on this sword is perfect and the paint is subtle but exactly how I would have done it. Just a slightly different shade on the hilt and raised portion of the sword.
He also includes the third new minicomic. I'll get to those at some point.
Packaging: A nice-looking blister card with a bio on the back.
I've really got nothing more to say. I dig these.
Value: $28.70 (including shipping) for a six inch scale figure with a lot of shared parts. Not very good. Granted, the shipping was diluted by being included with other figures, but that would probably only knock a dollar or two off. This figure would probably be okay if it legitimately cost twenty dollars.
Overall: The black plastic must stop. Period. I have accepted a lot of small imperfections from this line, but having black plastic showing through inferior paint jobs is not okay with me.
And I can’t help but be a little bothered by the dragon head. It just isn’t quite right.

3 out of 5

This guy is far from a must-have. They did a decent job and he is a novel figure, but I just can’t get too excited about him. He might end up on eBay sooner than later.

Phantom Troublemaker vs. 31 Days of Halloween

If you’re new here or haven’t been keeping up, this is where I give my thoughts on SyFy’s “31 days of Halloween” programming. Obviously I haven’t seen everything I’ll be talking about, but that’s kind of what the internet is all about – talking out of your ass. 

Each day I will cover the schedule from the time my post goes live (usually 11 AM) through the following 24 hours. On Fridays I will cover the whole weekend, which is a huge pain in the ass but also kind of fun.

Enjoy!

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM – Ghost Hunters – If this show was any good at all, wouldn’t Ray Parker, Jr. have written a song about it?
Halloween score – 5
Quality score – 1
2:00 PM – 10:00 PM – Face Off – Get caught up on this great show about a bunch of makeup artists who are not only talented but actually seem like pretty swell folks. The only real asshole was this guy named Joe and he walked out during the first episode. Everybody else is pretty cool. The episode from 9 – 10 is a new one and features the gang creating original cyborg makeups. It should be really good. But if you do Steampunk it had better be good or Glen will absolutely shit on you.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 5
10:00 PM – 11:00 PM – Hot Set – This is Face Off’s less interesting but still watchable little brother. It’s about entire sets as opposed to single makeups and it’s pretty good. This is a new episode called “Basement of Horrors”, so if you’re going to check one out, this is it.
Halloween score – 5
Quality score – 4
11:00 PM – 12:00 AM – Face Off – A replay of nine o’clock’s “Junkyard Cyborg”.
Halloween score – 3
Quality score – 5

WEDNESDAY

12:00 AM – 1:00 AM – Hot Set – A replay of “Basement of Horrors”.
Halloween score – 5
Quality score – 3
1:00 AM – 3:00 AM – Dark Relic – A knight battles a demon somebody accidentally unleashed on the world back before people had showers or electric razors.
Halloween score – 2
Quality score – 3
3:00 AM – 5:00 AM – Monster Ark – This one disappointed me last year by being about a singular monster rather than an entire ark full of monsters (like Noah’s Ark). I’m still disappointed.
Halloween score – 3
Quality score – 2
5:00 AM – 8:00 AM – Paid Programming – I have nothing clever to say about SyFy’s Paid Programming today. Except maybe to point out the similarities between it and movies. You know how with movies you might say, “well, I’ll just wait for it to come out on DVD”? Now there might be a tendency to do the same thing with infomercials – “I’ll just wait for it to show up at the AS Seen On TV store”.
Halloween score – 1
Quality score – 5
8:00 AM – 11:00 AM – Ghost Hunters – Hunting ghosts like a motherfucker.
Halloween score – 5
Quality score – 0

Come back tomorrow for a Q&A with Alucard, a trio of horror rock maestros from Tennessee!

-Phantom

2 comments:

  1. Great review of a figure I initially wanted, but passed on because...yeah, that black plastic has got to go. I have refused to purchase any MOTUC figures since they've started that crap. Which mean I've passed on several I wanted, including Sir Laser Lot, the Snake Men, and Mekaneck.

    In 2013 I really want Jitsu and the Fighting Foe Men, but if they aren't back to molding limbs in the proper color that will absolutely be the end of the line for me.

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    1. I have heard from a fairly unreliable source that Dekker will be the last to use black plastic. I certainly hope that is the case. I don't think it bothers me as much as it does some folks, but it is utterly unacceptable.

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