Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Toy Review – Masters of the Universe Classics Hover Robots from Mattel

For the most part the strictly Filmation-based releases of the Masters of the Universe Classics line haven’t been the ones I was the most excited about. Some of them have certainly ended up being great, but when I sit back and look at my MOTUC shelves, Trap-Jaw and Scareglow are much more satisfying to see than, say, Batros or… that Egyptian guy. Whatever his name is.

These robots are a different story. These guys are iconic.

He-Man is a big, musclebound dude that carries a sword. It stands to reason that when he runs into evil people doing evil things he would use that sword to lop their heads off or cut them in half or at the very least maim them to the point where they could no longer cause trouble. But since He-Man exists within the constrained world of a children’s cartoon, he can’t do any of that. His big moves are hugging villains unconscious or throwing rocks at them.

That’s why we have Hover Robots.

He-Man can’t rip Skeletor’s arms off. He can’t grab Mer-Man and squeeze his head until his brains spurt out of his big, goofy ears. He certainly can’t punch a hole straight through Clawful (though I would pay good money to see that). But he can do all of those things to these floating garbage cans.

Yes, the classic answer to the cartoon dilemma – “How to violence?” is “robots”. 
 
We have to have robots to mangle and destroy because little boys love violence but American standards won’t allow for-real violence against actual sentient beings. So from Foot Soldiers to B.A.T.s to Skeletor's Hover Robots, mindless automatons have long been animators’ go-to for cannon fodder. Heck, even the Marvel Cinematic Universe has gotten in on robot violence. Iron Man 2 featured the huge battle against the Hammeroids, with oil spurting all over the place like blood and Age of Ultron featured even more robot gore in the form of the Iron Legion and the hundreds (thousands?) of Ultrons.

I was excited to get these guys because they hit the right nostalgia spot and because I love troop builders. You should see my Star Wars collection. The number of Stormtroopers and Clones is ridiculous. 
 
From Mattycollector.com:

Skeletor® deploys these drones of destruction as part of his plan to crush the King… these robotic rogues descend from the skies to rain a payload of punishment on the people of Eternia®! Each 3-pack comes with three sets of hands, a sticker sheet, and three stands.
The Hover Robots™ 3-pack is the featured item at various conventions during 2015, and is not included with Club Eternia® subscriptions.

Since this set is the “Travelling Convention Exclusive” I wasn’t too sure I’d be able to get them, which was a sucky feeling to have since I was so stoked about them. I still haven’t managed to get a Spirit of Grayskull and I’m pretty annoyed about that. I was afraid these would be the same way, but I was able to buy two sets with no problems on the Early Access day. As opposed to Grayskull, which “sold out” in the time it took me to get to the billing page.

Of course, I did have to pay Digital River’s outrageous shipping for these rather than just being able to add them to my monthly sub. So that sucked.

On a more positive note, it does seem like everything has been arriving within seven days this year, so that is a huge improvement.

FIRST GLANCE

I am absolutely delighted by these guys. They’re so 80s – the segmented arms with pincers at the end, the angry cartoony eyes, and the lenticular mouth things. These look like toys, but also fit right in with the Classics line. 
 
PACKAGING

The MOTUC blister card never disappoints.

There’s a nice little bit in the bio about Skeletor stealing the design idea for these guys from Hordak. It’s a nice bit of streamlining and an explanation for why their eye slots are so reminiscent of Horde Troopers’. That similarity has been enhanced a bit on these figures, as it was only a vague resemblance on the cartoon models. I definitely like the connection, though, since Hordak is the tech guy and it never really made sense for Skeletor to have robots.

LOOKS

There are three of these guys that come out of the box identical, which pleases me. I am not a fan of “battle damage” except in specific cases, so I’m glad that Mattel didn’t decide they needed to create artificial differences in the robots to try to create the illusion of greater value or something. Instead, there is a label sheet packed in so that you can create your own variations. I’ll get into that later.

As with many MOTUC releases, an up-close inspection reveals a lot more detail than I expected. There are many sculpted panels and plates that give these somewhat nondescript drones a lot more character. I like how the plating and the shape of the body tapers down to the base and how the repulsor or thruster or whatever extends out of that base rather than just being part of it.

The “mouth” or vocal display or whatever you want to call it is a lenticular sticker. I bought two sets of these and among the six ‘bots I have they were all placed with varying degrees of accuracy. None of them are outright bad or outside of the sculpted border, but none are flush with the surface they are on, either. You can’t really tell from afar and visually it certainly isn’t a big deal, my only concern is that over time they might peel off due to the portions that aren’t making contact. I still have 80s toy stickers PTSD.

The paint deco on the eyes is great. The blacks and yellows are very solid and there’s no hazing or slop between the two. I’m glad that Mattel nailed this tricky color combination, because the yellow really needed to stand out and be distinct on top of the black for these guys to work.

The arms are a nice, shiny silver. The segmented look works nicely and the grasping pincers at the ends look menacing in a slightly silly way. I’m glad Mattel went with subtle joints rather than making these bendy. After Spout Snout’s trunk, I never want Mattel to make anything bendy again (though we do have Squeeeze coming soon). 
 
ACCESSORIES

The set of three robots comes with three extra pairs of hands, three bases, and a label sheet.

There are a total of three hand sculpts in this set. The first has the fingers spread out like a fan blade. The other two are subtly different – on one the fingers are relaxed and on the other they are posed like they’re grasping. They switch out easily and stay put in the wrists of the arms.

The bases plug into the base of the robots. They’re balanced nicely, though I found that mine seemed to stand slightly more securely with the stand convex in the front. 
 
I have a general distrust of toy stickers and am not normally a fan of battle damage, so I wasn’t overly excited about the labels. I knew I’d put some on one of the ‘bots just for review purposes, but I doubted they’d stick very well due to the curved surfaces of the figures. And I thought even if they did initially stick they’d peel off over time. 
 
So far I was wrong on all counts. The stickers look great and the colors are vibrant, but more importantly they are printed on a very thin, sturdy, and flexible material. They stick flush to the surface of the figures and don’t leave upturned corners or air bubbles. Once they are applied, the clear borders that typically make stickers something of an eyesore are barely even visible.
I am absolutely amazed at how well these work. I feel like there is some kind of new sticker technology at play here.

They peel off easily, as well. So if you deck out one of your ‘bots with damage, you can always undo it. I don’t think the stickers will stand up to multiple uses. As sticker-picky as I am, I have to admit that would be just too much to ask.

FUN

These robots are so much fun. Right away they have the advantage in that there’s three of them. Just on the ‘bots themselves you’ve got seven points of articulation and the interactivity with the bases. If these had come out in the 80s they would have been one of two things – altered to be big enough to sell as single figures, thusly rendered inaccurate to the show and undesirable to a young Phantom, or they would have been unarticulated pieces of plastic with maybe one paint app. Also undesirable. 
 
They have three joints per arm and their heads spin. With the low profile of the heads I thought they might be difficult to pose, but they turn fairly easily. The arms can achieve a variety of poses thanks to hinge/swivel combinations at the shoulders and elbows and the natural swivel at the wrist connection point. 
 
Swapping the hands out is easy and each pose is a fun one.

The main draw, surprisingly, is the label sheet. I was tempted to cover these guys in blaster burns and damage after having so much fun doing it to one of their number. The stickers work so well and look so good that I wanted more. But I like having just the one guy that looks like he’s been blown to shit over and over again and somehow just keeps functioning. He’s like the R2-D2 of Skeletor’s murder robots.

OVERALL

If you like toys and robots you should buy these; regardless of how much you like Masters of the Universe. They’re great, fun toys that will look good on any shelf. Plus, since they don’t have humanoids shapes they can fit with pretty much any scale of action figures. I honestly don’t think that Matty could have done a better job on these.

5 out of 5


No comments:

Post a Comment