Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Toy Review - Masters of the Universe Classics Mantenna from Mattel

Mantenna was highly anticipated by everyone who pays any attention to the Masters of the Universe Classics toy line. Partially because he was one of the last remaining heavy hitters from the Evil Horde, but mostly because we all wanted to see how Matty was going to handle a figure that seemingly defied re-use of parts – whether it was going to use existing parts or be a source of parts to future figures.
Once Matty finally revealed the production pictures, even the most strident of Matty cynics had to admit that the finished product was breathtaking. For the most part the Four Horsemen do a bang-up job on this line, but every once in a while they create something truly spectacular.
For my part, I only cared about Mantenna because he’s part of the Horde. The Horde is my favorite faction despite the fact that I’ve never really watched the show that they were on (I am going to have to amend that soon – Dragon Con is approaching). All I really knew about the character was that – like pretty much every villainous henchperson of the 80s – Mantenna was only slightly more competent than a damp noodle. But he looked awesome.
I also had fond memories of the original Mantenna toy. I didn’t own one, but a buddy of mine that had all of the Masters toys did. This guy even had the Eternia Playset, which was such an out of reach item that it wasn’t even on my radar. I didn’t know what it was the first time I saw it, and I didn’t remember it until a few years ago when I got into collecting MOTUC. But I remember that guy’s Mantenna and the simple joy I got out of pushing that little lever and watching those bulbous orbs rise up out of the figure’s head.
Of course, that’s no how this updated Mantenna works, so let’s go ahead and talk about that.
First Glance: This is one of the most striking MOTUC figures I have seen yet.
Articulation: I had assumed that Matty would cut some corners on articulation – ankles or knees, maybe – to accommodate the figure’s complex form. I was wrong. Mantenna sports the articulation of a standard MOTUC figure in all of the same places, even though he has more places.
Head – ball joint
Shoulders – ball joints
Biceps - swivels
Elbows –pivots
Wrists – swivels
Torso - pivot
Waist – swivel
Hips – ball joints
Thighs – swivels
Knees –pivots
Boot Tops - swivels
Ankles – pivots
Mantenna’s unique and eccentric appearance does not interfere with the functionality of his joints. None of the fins and giant ears and whatnot block movement.
The head has a pretty good range and can look in whatever direction you like.
The legs are amazingly versatile. They don’t get in each other’s way and the rubber underpants on the figure’s lower torso are flexible enough that they don’t cause any restrictions.
Mantenna has a nice, deep knee pivot; considering the armor around his knees and the fins on his thighs.
Mantenna’s ankles are fantastic. Rather than using the lame, almost non-functional rocker joint that they’ve been utilizing lately, Mattel gave Mantenna all-new feet with full hinges built into the ankles. They work well and look fine. This design has been used on some of the female figures in the line and I think it’s great. The ankles have a deep pivot and the rocker in the foot moves side-to-side.
Sculpt: Mantenna is a 100% new sculpt – even his hands and feet.
The head is a marvel of insanity and clever design. The massive ears manage to look sinister rather than goofy. The shape of the skull is bizarre and off-putting – it looks like it was made just to house those creepy eyeballs. Both of those eyeballs and the mouth are removable, but look great when they are in place. The eyes are perfectly round and the mouth and tusks are detailed and even.
Mantenna’s torso is unique and packed with interesting detail. The big Horde crest on the front is obviously the first thing that draws the eye. It matches the style and look of the many other Horde crests in the line and is a nice, raised sculpt. The rest of the torso consists of various pieces of plating that could be Mantenna’s exoskeleton or actual armor. I’m leaning towards exoskeleton, but that’s part of the charm of MOTU – you just don’t know sometimes.
Mantenna’s arms and legs have these detailed fins sticking out of them that are big and conspicuous, but manage to not interfere with movement. It does bug me a little bit that the bumpy texture on his legs is not present on his arms. The hands are new five-fingered sculpts with claws. The right is an open fist for holding stuff and the left is opened a little wider – more of a clutching hand. The figure’s feet are booted and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that Mantenna has on four matching licensed Hordak© brand boots. I love Hordak’s sense of brand identity.
Coloring: Mantenna actually has a fairly simplistic paint job – no washes and very little detailing – but the boldness of the colors works well. He is colored heroically, which is probably why his face had to be so fucking hideous. Traditionally primary colors – red, yellow, blue – are associated with the good guys. I will say that throwing the blacks in on the torso and limb armor helps a lot.
The head does have a darker wash to bring out some of the details. The eyes are a glossy yellow and the teeth are an off-white that makes them look more like tusks. The pupils are precisely placed in the same spot on each eyeball. If you take the time to position them the same way, they match up perfectly. I didn’t do this for every picture.
The rest of Mantenna’s deco is applied well. All of the colors stay where they are supposed to. I don’t have any blotches and no joints were frozen by paint. I like the distinction between the blue of the legs and the metallic blue of the Hordak© brand boots. The reds, blues, and blacks all match shade across the various types of plastics used.
Flair: Mantenna has a new rubber lower abdomen piece to accommodate his four legs and hide the joints. It has a pretty standard studded belt with armor plating that matches what’s on the torso. It looks really good and does what it is supposed to do – unobtrusively cover the ugliest joints on the figure.
Accessories: Mantenna comes with a Horde crossbow and an extra set of eyes sculpted to look like they are extending out of the figure’s skull.
The Horde crossbow is a new, unique design. The sculpt is great and the metallic silver plastic looks good. But I think it could’ve benefitted from a wash or some small amount of detailing. I hate to see weapons in this line with sub-par decos.
The eye stalks look great. The eyeballs themselves are perfectly spherical and the stalks are totally gross – all veiny. I love how the glossy yellow paint covers the eyeballs and blends down into the flat red plastic. The stalks plug securely into the holes in the head and stay put. My problem here – and my only real issue with the figure – is that the eye stalks protrude forward rather than up. On the vintage Mantenna, the stalks popped out at maybe a 60° angle. Not directly up, but mostly up. These are basically horizontal to the body, which is not correct. While the extra elevation offered by the feature on the regular feature is negligible, it was something. And one of Mantenna’s assets is that he “uses his antenna eyes to spy on the enemy”. I don’t see how a pair of eyes that extend roughly twelve (scale) inches forward of their normal position are going to do a whole lot of good.
I feel like the figure was probably intended to come with a Filmation style mouth, as well. There’s no other reason for the mouth to be detachable – it doesn’t interfere with eye removal at all. I like the horrifying vagina full of razors that Mantenna came with, though, so I don’t really care about that other mouth.
Packaging: The standard MOTUC blister card. I love the blister and this is probably my favorite modern toy packaging. I think the best thing about it is that Mattel has kept the design consistent through the life of the series. That does not often happen. Granted, I open all of my figures, but for the folks who leave them in the package it must be nice to have one line that actually all matches.
Mantenna’s bio is one of the most well-written of the whole line. There’s nothing in here that is outright stupid or that undermines the character. Even his name and home planet sound pretty reasonable.
Value: Definitely worth the price, even once you add shipping. There aren’t many MOTUC figures that I would say that about.
Overall: Mantenna is fantastic. I’m disappointed that his eyes aren’t what I thought they should be, but everything else about the figure makes it one of the shining examples of how wonderful Masters of the Universe Classics can be. Getting this guy a month or so before my Castle Grayskull arrived was a nice sort of affirmation. I hate to not give him a perfect score, but those eyes, man. That’s his whole deal. How do you mess that up?
4 out of 5
Regardless of the eyes, Mantenna is a must –have figure. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say he transcends the MOTUC line and would recommend him to other collectors, but he is a great figure that is fun to play with. Also, he’s so damned strange that he would fit on any random monster shelf and not stand out as being too He-Man like.
-Phantom

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