Monday, March 2, 2015

Toy Review – Masters of the Universe Classics Snake Armor He-Man & Battle Armor King Hssss from Mattel

On paper this isn’t necessarily a two-pack I would have gotten super excited about. I have as many He-Man variants as I might want and there are a lot of 200X versions I’d prefer to have before King Hssss (Teela, Sorceress, Roboto, Prince Adam, Skeletor, possibly even Orko). But the pictures Matty showed when they first revealed this set looked awesome. I still love the 200X aesthetic and wish we could see more of it in the Classics line, so these two figures were a welcome addition. Plus, I would at least have a King Hssss that I wasn’t ashamed to put at the front of the shelf.

Side Note: The original Classics King Hssss is a very faithful update of the original figure, but is also one of the most visually boring figures in the entire Classics line. Yes – the snake torso is great. But just thinking about the humanoid form puts me to sleeeeeeeeeeeeeee

I’d say that after seeing those pictures I was anticipating this two-pack more than I had any Classics figures in quite some time. They’re easily two of the most visually exciting figures in the line and they looked to be positively packed with new parts. I was so excited about these that for the first time in at least thirteen months I was checking my shipping tracker daily to see when they would arrive (of course, at the time I was still excited about their case-mate, Ninjor).

First Glance

They look just as fantastic in person as they did in the first pictures. Each figure is loaded with detail and the parts that aren’t new are dolled up and covered up enough that you don’t even think about them.

Except for King Hssss’ staff, which has become the accessory I most loathe seeing; even over stands. 
 
Packaging

I like the Masters of the Universe Classics two-pack window box just as much as I love the rest of the packaging for the line. It’s all uniform in design and shows off the figures quite nicely.

The Most Powerful Snake Hunter in the Universe” almost crosses the boundaries of silly that I have established within my brain for this franchise. Fortunately it is offset by “Slithering Leader of the Snake Men”, which seems sillier and yet more acceptable at the same time. I guess I needed a reminder of what we’re dealing with here.

He-Man’s bio is pretty straightforward – he gets special armor to fight the Snake Men and ends up fighting his buddy, Duncan, who has been turned into a Snake Man.

King Hssss’ bio talks about how he sleeps all the time, only to awaken when it’s time for Orko to commit genocide against his entire race.

Looks

Aside from the iconic original He-Man, this is my favorite look for the Most Powerful Man in the Universe.

He has the 200X hairstyle and a slightly more stern facial expression than other He-Mans. The head looks great. Despite the awesomeness of this figure, it does make me want a regular 200X He-Man.

The armor is incredible and translates much more easily to the MOTUC style than I ever would have expected. Or maybe they just put a lot more effort into this set than I expected. The base is a standard MOTUC human body, but with the original King Hssss’ right thigh and upper arm. There are new forearms, calves, torso armor, and a new skirt piece and they all look fantastic together. This looks like a guy that’s outfitted to hunt giant, murderous serpents. Even being only half-armored makes a certain amount of sense – he would lead with his right side and strike with his unencumbered left, which will be able to move more quickly. Granted, He-Man is usually portrayed as being right-handed, but I like to think that part of being the Most Powerful Man in the Universe is being ambidextrous.

All of the rivets, textures, and plates of the new armor pieces add an amount of detail that we don’t often see in the Classics line. The torso armor is rubber so as not to interfere with the figure’s poseability, but it looks very solid. The paint apps are perfect. There’s also a strap on the back to hold the Power Sword and it’s even angled so that He-Man can draw left-handed. The lower torso is just silver paint on the naked MOTUC buck, so his armor has a navel. The abs are okay, as we’ve seen plenty of fantasy armor with physiques sculpted into it over the years, but a belly button seems like a bit much. But I get why it’s that way and it doesn’t bother me.

The new skirt is the most 200X-ish part of the whole figure. Well, that and the crazy detailed wrist cuff. The cuff has a glossy red gem on either side and some wonderful engraved designs. The skirt is rubber with slits on either side to allow leg movement. There’s a nice leather texture on the appropriate parts and the paint is excellent.

The greaves have the same rivets and plates as the rest of the armor, as well as some sculpted damage. Due to their design the usual calf swivel has been eliminated, but I don’t care. While those and the torso joint are nice to have, they’re also the ones that are the least important to me.

I would have preferred it if Mattel had called this King Hssss “Battlefield King Hssss” rather than “Battle Armor King Hssss”. The precedent has been set for “Battlefield” variations of characters – Teela, Evil-Lyn, but so far the other “Battle Armor” versions have actually had Battle Armor – He-Man, Skeletor, Faker. It’s just an issue of semantics, but it’s instantly apparent that this version of the serpentine monarch does not, in fact, have Battle Armor. I think my issue is that the moniker Battle Armor suggests a gimmick and this figure – while awesome – does not have such a gimmick.

Okay, enough bitching.

This figure is awesome and puts the original King Hssss – that was very well done for what it was – to shame. It fully embraces the Egyptian aesthetic that many of the 200X designs used. This figure uses the same base as the original, but adds so much fantastic detail that it even makes that base look more exciting. This Hssss looks like a warrior king (a neat trick for a guy that apparently spends most of his time asleep). The way that the design elements match across the figure is wonderful – the belt, bracers, and greaves work together. The belt buckle and headpiece work together. And then you’ve got the red loincloth and chest piece to highlight the whole design.

The head consists of a plated headpiece that suggests both a crown and a helmet and a face that is probably among the scariest of the MOTUC line. The blood-red eyes glare out from a pallid, emaciated face. Hssss is almost vampiric in his severity. It’s interesting that this figure sports a look of disgust that is almost the polar opposite of the originals’ smug smirk.

The torso piece is ingenious. It’s completely effective at making the figure appear armored, but it is designed to leave the abdominal joint exposed and free to move, as well as avoiding adding bulk to the figure’s appearance. This looks much better than most MOTUC figures with armored torsos. The paint on this piece is excellent as well. The gold rivets and trim on the chest piece are tightly applied and the snake sigil’s glossy green stays on the design. All of this despite those portions being very fine in detail.

The bracers and skirt are full of snakey detail. The bracers have a portion with a snake-like scale pattern while the skirt is more traditional scale mail. The loincloth in front is formed of stitched-together pieces of fabric, which is a cool detail.

The greaves stick to the snake theme and have perfectly applied paint apps, just like the rest of the armored portions. King Hssss’ feet are totally gross. I haven’t seen sandaled feet this disgusting since the second Lollapalooza tour.

Accessories

Snake Armor He-Man comes with a slightly different version of the Techno Power Sword and a “snake pincher”. The bio also mentions a “venom-proof shield”, which is not a thing that this set came with.

I like the design of the Techno Power Sword, but it really is a bit much. As Far as the general mythology of all of the various incarnations of He-Man, I prefer the original Power Sword. I was curious about how this version fit into the MOTUC bios, so I did a little research and immediately got a headache. It’s complicated. So complicated that I still don’t understand what the heck I just read. There’s a reason I don’t pay too much attention to those bios.

Snake pincher” is certainly one of the dumbest terms to come out of these bios, and that’s saying something. This piece plugs securely into a nicely concealed spot on He-Man’s right arm. It looks cool but isn’t as big or functional as I would have liked. A hinge would have been nice and a “pincher” big enough to actually put around the neck of a figure would have been even nicer. The opening is large enough, but you’d have to stretch the thing to make it happen and I’m not willing to take that risk.

King Hssss’ accoutrements include a shield (presumably venom-proof) and that tired, old Snake Men staff.

These are the same things that came with the original King Hssss. Both have been repainted to match this Hssss’ color scheme. The shield is fine, but I loathe this lame-ass staff. It was fine the first time around is it were only ever going to be used as King Hssss’ Royal Staff of Serpentry or whatever. Like Cobra Commander’s staff. But Matty had to go and include some variation of this piece of crap with almost every Snake Man, so not only is it a piece of crap that clearly has no offensive value other than perhaps bonking somebody over the head, it’s also not a Royal implement because apparently they just hand them out at the Subternia General Store.

Fortunately I am a hoarder and keep all of the useless accessories I end up with (even the stupid Snake Men staffs), so I still have the ludicrously oversized scimitar that came with the DC Signature Collection Ra’s al Ghul:

It looks great with King Hssss and the gold hilt even matches his deco. It took a little while before it occurred to me that I had this thing, but I had been picturing Hssss holding a scimitar. I think subconsciously this is exactly the weapon I had in mind.

Fun

These are both fun figures with the standard MOTUC articulation and very little getting in the way of it. They can achieve pretty much any reasonable pose you could come up with.
While the quality of their accessories may vary, they do interact with them in meaningful ways and definitely add value and play appeal. For the most part Masters of the Universe Classics figures actually are very good toys, beyond just being collectibles.

King Hssss has an added perk if you have the original figure – his torso and legs come apart and you can attach the original figure’s terrifying snake body to the legs:

Or you could mix and match the torsos and legs, though I have no idea why you would want to do that. I’m just glad I have a second Hssss so that I can display the snake body now. It doesn’t work so well by itself, without the context of a King Hssss, but beside this Hssss I think it’ll look fine on the shelf. 
 
Also, I think I remember Matty saying that they had plans to release a 200X King Hssss snake body, but that they weren’t sure how yet. In all likelihood I’ll stick that serpent body on the old legs.

I did run into one issue with this feature. The first time I separated Hssss’ torso from the legs, the peg on the torso broke:

Just a small piece broke off, but now the waist joint is super loose. It stays on, thankfully, but just spins freely. It’s inconvenient, but not nearly enough for me to try bothering with Matty’s legendarily terrible Customer No-Service department. 
 
Overall

These are a couple of awesome figures that I am thrilled to have on the shelf. Snake Armor He-Man is a must-have variant (not a phrase I use often) and this is the King Hssss as far as I am concerned. They look fantastic and complement each other so well that I actually kind of hate to put them on separate shelves.

If you’re not any kind of Masters of the Universe Classics collector then I can’t say you have to get these. They’re great action figures and it would give you a good guy and a bad guy, but they are firmly from the world of He-man. If you are, however, a fan of this Universe then you have to get these guys. I love ‘em. Despite a couple of questionable accessory choices.

4 out of 5

Obviously you should keep an eye out at cons or wait for Matty to offer this set again, but if you have to have these now and want to help out Needless Things, here you go:

 

6 comments:

  1. I just got my Q1 shipment this afternoon. I quickly busted open all the packages, and this 2-pack is the best.
    I am very happy with the execution on both figures. Because of your warning, I have not separated King Hssssssssssss's torso from his pelvis, so his waist joint is good and tight.
    I am surprised at how good the paint apps are for both figures. He-man in particular has all these little details on his armor and loin cloth, and everything just seems to line up correctly. I haven't seen this level of execution in a MOTUC figure for a while.

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    1. I think this set is a high water mark for the line. Having reviewed these and seen all six of the 200X sub figures, it's heartbreaking that the sub doesn't look like it's going to go through. All six of those figures look incredible.

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    2. Yeah, I just saw that the subscription is at 76% with 5 days left. I think the figures look great, but I only want the rock guy, queen Veena, and the big white fellow. Also, this 2015 sub is already going to be tough this year, so I just can't commit to it.

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    3. Whatever. If you don't buy ten subs just to keep the line going you're a communist that clubs baby seals.

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    4. Well, miraculously, the sub went through without my money. I forgot about Ceratus, so now my must-haves from the group is Ceratus and Calix. Veena and big white puppy dog guy will be a maybe.

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    5. I was initially surprised that the sub went through. I think I was so excited about the figures - I love all six and the heads - that I forgot my normal Matty cynicism. Once I tho get about it I remembered that I don't ever believe anything Matty says. So their percentages and numbers shouldn't mean anything to me. But I LOVE 200X and got all caught up in this one.

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