Thursday, February 28, 2013

Toy Review – Masters of the Universe Classics Ram Man By Mattel

This whole Ram Man thing has been very interesting to me.

Since I started collecting the Masters of the Universe classics line, I have been reading about the customers’ desire for Ram Man. How he was critical to the line and one of the most-anticipated characters and how infuriating it was that Matty hadn’t gotten to him yet.

To me, Ram Man is the moron character whose toy had an action feature of hopping approximately 1/100th of an inch into the air and then falling over. I like the design and the fact that he was an entirely different shape from the rest of the line was cool, but he was nothing to get excited about. The vintage figure was a minimally articulated hunk of plastic and the 2002 figure wasn’t a whole heck of a lot better. Well, it actually was a whole heck of a lot better, but it was still inferior to the rest of the line. So I kind of didn’t get why people were getting so worked up over him. I mean, other than the fact that toy dorks on the internet like to get worked up over everything.

I asked Beau Brown about it on the first Needless Things Podcast and he said it wasn’t so much Ram Man as the idea of finishing all of the vintage Masters. It could just as easily have been Fisto or Stratos and people would have been just as worked up. Ram Man just happened to be the one that required 100% new tooling. I can accept that. 

Don’t think I didn’t want Ram Man or even that I wasn’t happy to be getting him. I like big guys and I curious to see how the Horsemen would adapt him. I just didn’t get why he was such a point of contention.
First Glance: I was expecting Ram Man to come in the beast box. That would have been awkward-looking, but I was surprised to see a new blister card. The figure itself is impressive in its bulk and in its conformity to both the standards of the current line and the look of previous Ram Mans.
Articulation: The Horsemen put forth a grand effort to create this guy with articulation equal to that of the rest of the MOTUC line. 

Head – ball joint
Shoulders – ball joint
Biceps – swivel
Elbows –pivot
Wrists – swivel
Abdomen - pivot
Waist - swivel
Hips – swivel/pivot
Thighs - swivel
Knees – swivel/pivot
Boot tops - swivel
Ankles – rocker joint

I can’t believe how much Ram Man’s armored head can move. He comes with two heads, but I’ll get to that. The armored head fits into the ridge on his collar, but has a pretty amazing degree of mobility given the tight fit.

The arms are a bit limited, just because of the shape of the figure and the size of the arms. He definitely has Snowsuit Syndrome and the ball joints just don’t allow for much movement in any direction. His elbows also don’t have a very deep pivot, but that tends to be a side effect of large arms.

I was very impressed with the abdominal pivot, as I didn’t even realize it was there at first. It has a great range and is built into the sculpt very well.

Ram Man’s hip joints are a standard swivel/pivot akin to old 3 ¾” GI Joes. Obviously they are limited by the bottom of his tunic. The knees have swivels at the top of the joint. His knee pivots don’t bend too deeply. This guy won’t be doing any squats.

The boots feature swivels at the top and rocker ankles on those big honkin’ feet. All of that works quite well, though you don’t need it so much given how limited his leg movement actually is.

Obviously this Ram Man is far superior articulation-wise to his predecessors. I think it all works as well as you could expect. Some folks have suggested that Mattel start putting slits on the sides of figures with skirts or low-hanging tunics. I do not want this. I would much rather have a figure that can’t achieve a few specific spread-legged poses than one that looks dumb always. I understand the necessity of the slits on Bubble Power She-Ra’s skirt to accommodate her riding Swift Wind, but they are ugly. The only good way to do slits would be to redesign the character’s wardrobe to create a look that was intentionally slitted, and that’s something the Horsemen would not want to do.
Sculpt: Obviously Ram Man is one hundred percent new. Furthermore, I can’t imagine how they could re-use any of his parts. 

That face is amazing. He looks tough without looking like the complete moron he was always portrayed as in the cartoons. Both heads are the same piece, the armored one just has a soft plastic helmet piece on it. 

The overall shape is perfect. It is reminiscent of the old figures, but more human. Rather than just being a big barrel, his torso has a bit of a v-shape going into the belt. I like the laces on the front of his tunic. It’s a bit weird-looking when you have the torso joint bent back and the laces just stop, but there’s no way around that. And I don’t plan on posing him that way anyway.
His arms are massive. The musculature looks great and has a very different design from the rest of the line. Not in a bad way, mind you. In the way that a larger human would have different muscles than others. If they had just done bigger versions of the standard figures’ arms it would have looked stupid.

Speaking of stupid, I don’t like Ram Man’s legs. I’m not saying they should have been done any other way, as this is what he looks like, but I don’t like the Michelin Man pants. That being said, they are well done. Obviously the lines make for easy concealment of the knee joints – from the front, anyway. 

The boots are awesome. I love the size of this guy’s feet. The boot tops are cool with whatever you would call those hanging, studded parts. The soles also look awesome. 

All in all Ram Man looks like a giant, beardless dwarf. It’s kind of odd, but I like it.

I have to wonder – the Horsemen sculpted the non-functional thumbwheel onto Hurricane Hordak’s back; why didn’t they sculpt a lever onto the back of Ram Man’s right foot? I don’t want one. I’d just like an explanation of that logic.
Coloring: First I want to say that I like this color scheme much more than the 2002 figure. I never liked the introduction of the bronze into the figure. It might have been okay if it had just been some detailing on the armor, but for the whole shoulder armor it was weird. This looks much better.

Ram Man’s face is good. His squinty little eyes have a bit of detail and the eyebrows are nicely done. The armor looks appropriately steely and matches the shoulder armor and wrist bands.
The red of his tunic and the green of his pants are the right shades. I hate this:
But I'm honestly not sure what could have been done. Oh, and I'm talking about his silver armpit. Never mind the blob of paint on his bicep. Ugh.

Ram Man’s boots have a bit of a wash to make them look worn, which is great but a bit odd when compared to the rest of the relatively clean paint decos. The metallic studs on the boot tops are a nice touch and are all well-placed.

The paint apps on my figure are solid aside from the silver arm blob.
Flair: Here’s where I ran into a couple of problems. I’m going to call his shoulder armor and the bottom of his tunic flair since they are separately sculpted pieces. Both are made of a softer plastic appropriate to the function they are serving.

Initially the shoulder armor looks good. But when I sat down with the figure I felt like it needed some paint detail. Just a different shade of silver here and there would have made a huge difference. I’m not crazy about the way the chains are sculpted, either. While actual, separately sculpted chains would have been great, I realize that wouldn’t have been cost-effective. But these just look kind of fakey. I also don’t care for the clip on the back where you store the ax. It’s a clip. I think something more creative could have been done there. I do like the bulk of the shoulder armor and the studs add a nice bit of depth. The sculpt on the back – aside from the clip – looks nice as well.

The belt and bottom of the tunic are the other piece of flair and my biggest problem with this figure. That belt buckle looks like crap. I don’t understand how Eternia has craftsmen skilled enough to put a perfect little fist on the pommel of Fisto’s sword or that nifty (definitely not a) Iron Cross on He-Man’s chest gear but Ram Man’s belt buckle looks like it was made by a four-year-old. The skull is all crooked and awful. Also, it feels like an error to me that the studs at the bottom of his tunic are not silver. Kind of like the lack of detailing on Stinkor’s weapons. It just stands out in the midst of a line where such things are typically attended to. When I got up close I realized that those studs are actually metallic red. At least they're detailed, bit I think silver would have been better.

I do like the width and design of the belt and even the size of the belt buckle. The holes in the belt are also a nice touch.
Accessories: Ram Man comes packed with an ax (when do you use “ax” and when do you use “axe”?) and an unhelmeted head. 

The extra head sports the same face as the regular one and some sort of bizarre metal yarmulke. I don’t know what’s up with that thing. It’s weird. Although now that I look, his face does look kind of like Gilbert Gottfried. Maybe Ram Man is Jewish? They did a great job sculpting this extra head and I think it’s cool that we got it, but I don’t care for it.

The ax resembles previous versions as far as the shape goes. It isn’t nearly as detailed as the 2002 version, but it looks good. Unfortunately, the grip is a bit too narrow and it doesn’t stay firmly in the figure’s hand. This is extra weird considering the grip is almost too big to fit into the clasp on the figure’s back.
Packaging: It’s a big-ass version of the regular MOTUC blister card. Like I said above, I was surprised to see new packaging. And like the figure itself, I don’t think I see where they could re-use it. Maybe Modulok or Multi-Bot? I’ve always felt it would be neat to get closed boxes like the originals, but that probably isn’t realistic. Ram Man’s cardback also features an extra-large bio:
"Krass". Because he's crass? I don't know. That's terrible.
Value: Let’s call him forty bucks with shipping. Purely from the standpoint of this line he’s worth ten bucks more than the regular figures. But forty bucks is steep. At least he came with two accessories.
Overall: Regardless of my confusion over Ram Man Fever, the figure is a must-have. Obviously Mattel was going to get around to him. I’m much more concerned about Modulok, a personal favorite of mine and one that is sure to be complicated. But Ram Man here is pretty well done despite my disagreement with some of the choices. The only thing that truly bothers me every time I look at him is that stupid skull on the belt buckle. 

4 out of 5

Ram Man is likely to be one of the most popular figures out of the entire Masters of the Universe Classics line. If you have even an inkling that you might want one, I recommend you go to Big Bad or eBay right now and order him. He isn’t going to get any cheaper or easier to find.

-Phantom

4 comments:

  1. They should reuse the oversized blister card with Extendar, and have his extended limbs attached in the package.
    I'm not sure what I want to do with Ram man. I want him, but for roughly $70-80 right now, I'm not sure I'll ever like him enough to not hate myself for buying him. For that same price you can buy all four Neca turtles right now (hint, hint).
    Also, I have never owned Ram man, so I'm thinking if I'm going to over spend for a figure I should probably over spend for Jitsu since I actually had him as a child.

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    1. I'm happy to have Ram Man, but I definitely wouldn't spend $70 on him. No way. And I just haven't been able to bring myself to buy those Turtles yet. I have weird morals. It takes a while for them to bend.
      Oh, and Jitsu is mostly great. His review will be up next week.

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    2. Well, I went ahead and bought Ram Man anyway. He was $71 shipped (cheapest I could find), not having a sub that is $23 more than he would have cost me had I ordered him from matty. I will forgo purchasing Jitsu, and hope he will be about $34 shipped from amazon in the next few months. That is a possibility considering I could get a mosquitor right now for that price.
      I am convinced the prices will keep going up on Ram Man, so I can either hold onto him and sell him later, or if prices stay the same or go down just tell myself it's okay because I've made a lot of good money over the last few months buying and selling items from a non-toy related interest.

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    3. Yeah - you're probably right about the prices going up. And now that you have him, at least you can't be mad that you don't. I thought about the Filmation sub ending last night and realized how pissed I'd be if I had forgotten to order it. I have a feeling none of those are going to be available on sale days.

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