Man-At-Arms (Battle Ram Version)…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

Mattel has given us several versions of Man-At-Arms over the eight years of the line.  The Battle Ram came with one more different version.  How does this version stand up?  Keep reading!

You can see how I unboxed Man-At-Arms if you follow this link.    You can also see the review of the Battle Ram vehicle, and follow the links on that page to all sorts of cool NerdTainment.  To me, this Man-At-Arms is essentially a freeby!

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So here is Man-At-Arms, right out of the package.  Notice that this version has a silver mace, prominently featured.  He has Filmation-inspired shin guards.  He is the same green color, and has practically the same armor as the original Man-At-Arms release.  This time he has double arm-guards, and a helmetless head that features a prominent ponytail.

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The backside features an incredibly well sculpted backpack, which has storage clips for weapons.  In the previous version, Man-At-Arms could have He-Man’s techno-sword attached here.  This time we get to install a gun and the classic mace.From this rear-facing angle, we can see how well sculpted the armor pieces are.

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If you read my review of Rio Blast, then you heard my story of who I always thought he was Man-at-Arms in disguise.  See the resemblance?  Now for a head-swap.

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I knew I was onto something!

Man-At_arms comes with the aforementioned silver mace, the classic mace, and this silver pistol.  Note that the silver mace will not fit on the the clips of Man-At-Arms back.

Why was that even included?  It seems we’ve seen that mace several times in different colors.  So it gets the silver treatment.  Big WHOOP.

It would have been nice to have more paint hits on the classic mace.  Or maybe including that 200x gun in a different color.  (How about silver.  That would have been cool!)

But oh-well.  I don’t dislike the silver mace.  I just think its weird considering the main vintage weapon associated with Duncan is the orange mace.  And so that means he came with two maces.

He looks cool with two guns…not two maces.

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The point of this Man-At-Arms is that now you get maximum options for displaying the figure.  You can take this head and the 200x gun and armor and make the ultimate 200x Man-At-Arms.  (I don’t own the Snake Man At Arms…I don’t own the 200x the gun.  OK.  I actually don’t own either…the SpartanTeen owns the gun and the original Man-At-Arms release!)

You can take the Mustached head and put on the Battle Ram version and make a filmation Duncan.  (Sorry.  I can’t find the mustached head.  The SpartanTeen lost it!)

Here is a crack at the 200x version, using the Battle Ram body.

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Man-At-Arms inclusion with the Battle Ram was a great choice.  I personally needed my own Man-Arms to help me complete the classic team of He-Man, Teela, Man-At-Arms, Orko, and Ram Man (coming from Super7 eventually!)

The only thing stupid about this figure is the silver mace.  It adds something to the figure.  It just isn’t that significant.  But I can’t take any points off for that.  MOC collectors might be annoyed that he is displayed holding that in the box, though.

So I rate the Battle Ram Man-At-Arms 5/5.  This is Mattel’s final Man-At-Arms for the Masters of the Universe Classics line.  They used this opportunity to reward long-time collectors, and help appease those annoyed by Snake Man-At-Arms.  This version allows the widest range of display options, and pulls it together nicely.

For me, it gives me my own personal Man-At-Arms to help me complete my collection of essential good guys.

Do you agree with the SpartanNerd’s rating of 5/5?  Let me know in the comments!

 

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Battle Ram…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

Snow in the south.  What does that mean to the SpartanNerd?  While others slide their way to work…skid their way to the factory…get stuck in piled up traffic on their way to punch the clock at the warehouse, or to worry sick about the progress at the house building site, the SpartanNerd stays home.  Teaching has its perks!  And while even other teachers might get bored, sitting in their wool socks binge-watching the Netflix, the SpartanNerd stays busy…bringing nerdtainment reviews to the masses.  (Whoever you are, beloved readers, thank you!)  Someone out there reads what I publish, and this run of reviews is just for you!

I ordered the Battle Ram right before the year ended.  This is something I haven’t ordered before simply because of price.  I was seriously psyched when they first announced this item a couple of years ago.  $110 was just too much.  Then they were going to stick ridiculous shipping costs.  But not during the MattyCollector closeout event!  The Battle Ram was HALF OFF.  And I got free shipping too.  (I only paid $55 for the Battle Ram, which also comes with a new Man-At-Arms.  That’s incredible, people!)

I have been excited about this for quite some time.  Ever since The Four Horsemen revealed their original sculpt at the San Diego Comic Con…(I only saw pictures, like most of you readers.  I have never been to San Diego.)  I mentioned as well that the Wind Raider never has been my favorite vehicle.  To me, it always seems kind of generic for some reason.  And as a kid, the wings broke off and it was forever funkified by bathtub water.  (Because you see, we naturally made it into a boat as it didn’t have wings anymore.)

But on to the Battle Ram.  My original Battle Ram is still with me!  Keep reading for a comparison time!  (Shout out to Pixel Dan.  Who unquestionably probably doesn’t read this blog.)

The Masters of the Universe Classics Battle Ram came in this shipper box.

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This box is huge.  And when I see this giant mailer, I realize how big a MOTUC vehicle has to be to accommodate that nearly seven inch scale.  I have some other large MOTUC items.  But this is set to be the largest yet!

I am re-using this box this time, to cart my vintage figures back over to the school to put on display for the rest of the school year. (Now I have to make room in the Nerd Closet for this beast of a vehicle!)   It is nice and sturdy, and suits all kinds of re-use purposes.  I know, there are some collectors out there who have each of these in storage.  Come on guys.  Really?  Just.  Why?

(I am known to throw the packaging away, usually.  It’s just cardboard!  The item inside is what’s important to me.  And like Rob Base says.  “Their your toys.  Play with them!”

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You can see all of this goodness is really crammed into the box.  Man-At_arms is prominently  in front of the vehicle.  Maybe an odd choice?  They could have seated him on it and maybe saved some space?  But I suppose having the figure displayed in the window box is more important to MOC collectors.

The back of the box shows a diagram of the Battle Ram with some details.  It even goes as far as to point out that the Griffin Head is the custom piece done by Duncan.  This diagram is going through a little bit of pain to point out that the Jet Sled in front isn’t the same as what’s in the package, I think.  The other details are cool.  Isn’t Gwildor of the Tadorian race?  Or is that what creature’s head is depicted on the missile?

This is a nifty box.  I will have to check the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Art Book and look at the other schematic drawings of vehicles preserved there.  This drawing might be in there also…

Time to knife open the package!  There are lots of rubber bands tying the Man-At-Arms in.  And worry-ingly, check out this problem.  On the Roast Gooble Dinner podcast, I heard lots of people talking about Jitsu’s ponytail getting broken off in the package.  Looks like potential for something like that happening here…

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Thankfully, I managed to free the scary piece of hair without damaging it.

And here is the product, as vanilla as I can show you, right out of the package.

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Now readers…I am going to post the review of Man-At-Arms in a different post.  This figure deserves a fair review like all of the others, but I am afraid the Battle Ram is so awesome it overpowers old Duncan!

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So how big is it?

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Here are some other large MOTUC items I have just for reference.  (I hate this picture).

The Griffin’s impressive wingspan is a little bit longer than the Battle Ram.  Megator seems just the right height to get splattered in the face by the missile!  (That is a real working action feature!  The missile is a bit rubbery, but not too much!)

The point is, this is one hulk of plastic.  I can’t imagine owning Castle Grayskull.  That thing makes this vehicle look small…

As in the vintage model, the Jet Sled detaches from the Battle Ram portion.  The MOTUC version doesn’t do so as easily, however.  You have to wiggle it with a little bit of force, and there is a definite “SNAP” sound that happens, as the tabs that lock it into place seem to be stressing a little bit.  And that is my only complaint about the entire vehicle!

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You can see that this time we have the snake head version of the Sky Sled. (War Sled, props to James Eatock).  I won’t be displaying the Battle Ram with the snake head.  I’m not sure if the snake head version is ever depicted in media attached to the Battle Ram?  I will always have the Griffin head version on the front.

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Teela makes everything look better!  Sky High villainously belongs on the snake version.

The new Jet Sled War Sled is exactly like the other.  You should go and read that review right now if you haven’t.  Because they are the same item.  Just one has a griffin head, and one has a snake head.  (Really, it is a fantastic vehicle, that I rated 5/5.  I have had tons of fun flying it around and scaring my cats.  Sorry that some of the pics of Sky High are inexplicably missing, but the Jet Sled pics are all there.)

The Battle Ram is a display piece…as such, you can do the traditional thing…

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Or you can go 1980’s playtime, full on!

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Check out the backside of the Battle Ram.

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I don’t remember this detail.  This large mask thing…was it ever a sticker on the vintage Battler Ram?  This detail is sculpted on, like every other detail of the Battle Ram.  But this mask thing is very conspicuous.  The bright colors don’t really match the rest of the tank.  It doesn’t take away from it, I just found it kind of shocking because I didn’t remember it, and this isn’t on my vintage Battle Ram.  Maybe my parents didn’t apply it when they assembled it?  Or maybe I peeled it off?  There doesn’t seem to be any residue, however…

Every single knob, control panel, exhaust pipe, vent, indicator light, engine piece, all of it.  Fantastic sculpting.  I can’t gloat about that enough.  It is incredible!  It is this work that makes Masters of the Universe Classics the ultimate toyline.  Not only just for adult collectors, but this item in the hands of a kid…wow, it can capture their imagination.

Now for that “Comparison Time” I hooked you with earlier.

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My childhood Battle Ram is dwarfed by the MOTUC version.  The plastic is just about split in seam right up the middle of both the Sky Sled and the engine piece.

One thing about them both, and maybe only I notice this because I am the only music teacher interested in MOTUC in the whole entire world I am certain…both Battle Rams make the same sound when they roll!  This was the very first thing I noticed.  As soon as I freed it from the box, I set it on the floor and gave it a good push.  There is a certain “hollow” sound to the thing as it rolls.  I’m not sure what makes it so.  But it is.  It is the exact same experience.  When I rolled the new vehicle across the floor, a ton of memories flooded back into my head.  I mention how this is the ultimate action figure line…how kids can totally have their imagination captured.  Us adults can re-live it because of the incredible detail put into something as awesome as this.

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As a kid, my favorite vehicle was the Attak Trak.  But as a battery powered vehicle, it had limitations.  (dead batteries.)  What would I play with instead…the Battle Ram was my go-to guy.  And now that there isn’t even an Attak Trak for MOTUC, and there may never be, the Battle Ram takes over by force of destiny!  (That sounded cool.)

The SpartanNerd rates the Battle Ram at 5/5.  It is perfect!  The only thing close to a complaint that I can make is that it is slightly hard to separate the Jet Sled from the Battle Ram.  I believe that over time that may work itself out.  So no big deal.

The SpartanNerd rates the Battle Ram 5/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!

SpartanNerd…Revisiting the Origin Stories of DC Masters of the Universe

Coming in October, Masters of the Universe will have a crossover comic with Thundercats from DC.  I can’t wait!  Until then, I am revisiting the DC comics I already have.  (I have them all!  From the digital-only comics, through He-man and the Eternity War.)

I thought I would re-visit and comment on the three origins books.

First, the Origin of He-Man.IMG_9166.jpg

Of the three, this is the weakest.  I remember reading this, and worrying about it.  The art is jarring, and the story is disjointed.  Thinking back a few years when this came out, this was also the book that dropped the bomb on us that Prince Adam wouldn’t be a secret identity.  (When this was released, the ongoing story still had Adam and Teela trying to find their real identities.)

But the hardest thing about this book is the confusion about what happened in the panels below…

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Adam “tricked” Skeletor into thinking the sword on the wall was the power sword.  He swung it at the villain, who caught it in his bare hand, and crushed it.  See the picture above.  Doesn’t it look like the sword was crushed?  Skeletor knocks a wall over on Adam, crushing him, and then we see him grab the power sword…What?  How did it get there beside him?  Was the sword Skeletor crushed the power sword?  Did it heal itself?  The moment Adam grabs it, Skeletor is looking at the tapestry that details King Grayskull defeating Hordak.  Skeletor seems to think the tapestry hides the sword at that moment, and we clearly see its outline on the tapestry.

So in short.  This is a confusing story.  It could have been told in a clearer way.  If you’ll recall, the early run on the DC MOTU comics was panned by almost everyone.  This book wasn’t helping.

 

Let’s visit Skeletor’s origin now…

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This is the first comic book I ever ordered online.  The reason?  I apparently missed it at the Tangled Web.  Either they got only one or two copies, that were snatched up before I got there, or they didn’t get it at all.  I purchased the digital copy.  But only this summer, when I discovered MYCOMICSHOP.COM,  did I actually come to own a physical copy.

This book starts off with Keldor, who has a face full of acid.  The Mike Young productions cartoon had Keldor wounded in battle…with Randor’s shield splashing his acid back into his own face.  They elaborated later that Skeletor was healed by summoning Hordak.  This origin story takes that same vibe, but removes the combat accident.  Instead, Hordak himself caused the burn using the communication link set up by Keldor between the two worlds.  As Keldor melts away on his journey to find Randor, he reminisces about his first encounter with the Horde, how he saved Randor from the invading trooper, and then his accomplishment was quashed by their father, Miro, on account of Keldor being a blue gar.

Keldor eventually finds Randor, and stabs him, needing his blood to complete the transport to Etheria and be changed into Skeletor.

I like this book, but the art is a little jarring.  It is similar to the origin of He-Man.  The flashbacks have a different look about them than the main part of the story.

Now for my favorite.  The ORIGIN OF HORDAK!

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Why is this my favorite?  So many reasons.

The art is classic.  And looks like the rest of the series.  Hordak becomes a god…he engineered an entire war between the Cosmic Enforcers and his Evil Horde, and then killed everyone on both sides.  The Cosmic Enforcers seem to be “green lanterns”… In the end, only he and Zodac are left.  And this is because Zodac is his brother.  He wanted to relish in his death specifically.

Hordak is a cosmic vampire…he needed the millions of souls on both sides of the war to fuel his godhood.  The book ends with him pronouncing “Let there be light!”  Dang.  A blasphemy fitting of such an evil character.  (In the DC continuity, what actually happened was he began the “Age of Horokoth.” The bat symbol represents Horokoth, Serpos and Zoar being the other two cosmic totems.)  This story sets the stage for the tremendous power that the Masters of the Universe are up against.  King Grayskull was able to defeat THAT.  And his heir, Skeletor would also kill him eventually.

 

There is one more very notable origin story.  It is one of the digital only books.  THE ORIGIN OF DESPARA.

Despara is the DC Comics version of Adora, the Horde Force Captain.  DC made her a refined killing machine.  In her origin story, she is having flashback memories of when she was kidnapped.  Shadow Weaver keeps her mind wiped.  It is cool that what we see is actually a female version of Hordak.  She became his “Darth Vader,” as he is a disembodied spirit trapped inside some kind of life support machine.  Eventually, she would find herself, as the good mother that Shadow Weaver apparently is allowed her to play in Eternia’s gardens with Teela.  But this story, the last of the digital ones, raised the hair on the backs of peoples necks the same way “Vikor” the figure did.  We never knew we wanted a really evil She-Ra working for Hordak until this story made that happen!  When you read this, and then you go back and watch the Filmation “The Secret of the Sword,” you realize how silly Adora really was as force captain for Hordak.

SpartanNerd…Micro Reviews 1

New thing.  MICRO REVIEWS!

These posts will be brief summary thoughts concerning my feelings about various “nerdtainment” items.  This is becoming a necessity, as I am getting more content than I have time for a formal review.

 

SUICIDE SQUAD.  I promise, I will bring a full review after I see it a second time.  I saw this on opening weekend, and was impressed.  Very nice movie, that remained faithful to the comic book characters.  Harley Quinn stole the show…

 

HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: “THE THREE TERRORS” (Short Animation)…This is now available on iTunes, and I watched it today.  It is ten minutes of an attempt by Super7 to revive the Filmation style of animation.  This little cartoon hit it at about 80%.  Alan Oppenheimer still voices Skeletor, but he just doesn’t have the high pitches that he carried in his younger days.

 

SPEAKING OF SUPER7…I was shocked to hear of their takeover of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS.  I think their small figure line is cute and interesting, maybe even worth the $5 a figure.  But I don’t own any…I am in the camp with many other fans that jittery times are ahead.  Why would Mattel pass that property?  I am glad Digital River is done.  Maybe shipping will be cheaper.

 

METALLICA: “HARDWIRED FOR DESTRUCTION”…This is the only track and also is the title track) released so far, for an album slated to release on November 18.  It’s about time!  The few reviews on iTunes so far compare the song to stuff on “Justice for All.”  I think the singing might be a little smoother than what was on “Death Magnetic,” but the band’s all around sound is about the same.  Robert Trujillo is KILLING that bass!

 

YOUNG JUSTICE…I began watching this again…I watched it last year.  What a great cartoon!  I wish more would happen.

 

DC COMICS: REBIRTH..I have been reading Batman as well as Robin, Son of Batman, and also I picked up All Star Batman.  So far, the most powerful story is the Batman book that came out this week.  Batman #5 dropped a couple of bombs, that they are going to kill Batman ONCE AGAIN.  And that Duke Thomas is going to marry Gotham Girl.

 

MAGIC THE GATHERING: CONSPIRACY-TAKE THE CROWN…The spoilers released so far have fans scratching their heads.  This set looks to bring more power and almost better reprints than Eternal Masters and Modern Masters 2015.  Very odd!

 

First Ever Micro-Reviews!  Let me know what you think in the comments!

 

 

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review Serpentine King Hssss.

 

Behold.  A figure I should already have….

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When Mattel decided to make 200x Snake Armor He-Man and 200x Battle Armor King Hssss into a two pack, they didn’t account for the amount of money required to have a rubber torso alt form for King Hssss.  Notably, they also didn’t include a transforming sword or snake armor shield for He-Man.  This pretty much left a bad taste in my mouth.  (If you read my review, also a bad smell!)  The two figures were incredibly well sculpted and painted, so much so that I stand by my rating after all this time. ( And they don’t stink anymore.)

Serpentine King Hssss arrived in a mailer not unlike all the others.  (I’m not showing you that boring picture to save data.)  There is a prominent “Snake Men” sticker on the front.  And you can see King Hssss crammed comically into the package.  Notably, he was tethered down tight with rubber bands!  I paid $26 for the figure, with free shipping thanks to Mattel “opening the vault” in honor of the San Diego Comic Con this year.

Here is the back of the box.  A new bio is here, furthering the mythos of King Hssss in the Masters of the Universe Classics canon.

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So what’s inside, SpartanNerd.  Here is everything!

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Notice that awesome transforming sword for He-Man, and his extendable Snake shield?  I didn’t see that either….We got the figure, which for the first time ever sports snake legs for King Hssss, a snake inspired spear, short sword, shield, rattlesnake club, and a mid-transformation head.  (These weapons are repaints of what came with the Snake Army builders.  I don’t have those.)

A little bit of rant.  The mid-transformation head is undeniably cool.  But by all accounts, head sculpts are the most expensive part of a figure.  WHY NO SHIELD AND SWORD FOR HE-MAN INSTEAD OF THESE REPAINTS!

I said that.  Now I’m going to move on.  I guess if I really want those items, I can get them custom made.  Now that Masters of the Universe Classics has switched hands from Mattel  to Super 7, I’d bet we never see those items.  Not that I don’t give those guys any credit.  I just think someone who has been nagged at by millions of fans and is a multi million dollar company will probably listen more readily.  Maybe.  Finishing He-Man properly is probably on the bottom of their list.

The figure is tan colored, and adorned with snake markings up and down his body, including his legs.  The legs are just regular legs like you would expect.  My figure has weak ankles.  But this is the case forty percent of the time with this line of figures.

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Now, allay your concerns about the bendy plastic.  This toy can seriously bend every way you want.  The main head is hard plastic, the same as the “buck,” and can only swivel back and forth.  But every other snake on this figure is pliable and can be posed how you want.  And will stick, for the most part.

How bendy is he?  Lets ask Vikor.

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You can properly flatten him.

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You can make him look very big to scare off predators.  (Mongoose eat snakes.)

It turns out that King Hsss here can hold all of the weapons he came with as well.

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I am becoming more of a fan of the figure that can hold lots of weapons.  (Modulok, ahem.)  These fit loosely in the snake mouths, but make an intimidating effect, similar to General Grievous from Star Wars.

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The transformation works just the way you would expect.  You just pop the torso off, and attach it to the pair of legs you want.  Making not only an impressive 200x snake form King Hssss, but also for the first time ever, King Hssss Saturday morning cartoon watcher. (He appears to be wearing a shirt but only underwear down below.)

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Now Snake Armor He-Man has a proper foe to do battle with!

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So lets look at that other head, shall we?

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This really could pass as a different snake man.  It’s cool.  It has the green around the back, and the monster snake face on the front.  The green doesn’t so much match the 200x figure however.  Check the picture below.  The backdrop of green will help you see the different shades

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This head definitely works better on the MOTUC vintage take on King Hssss.

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I should note that the head seemed a little harder to snap onto the ball joint of both figures.  I believe it to be the way the neck is built up on the figures main buck.  The colors certainly match the vintage style better.  A puzzler,…we get an alt head meant for the vintage figure, with the torso for the 200x line…

Finally, we can get some proper comparison in.

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Yes.  I compared these in my earlier review.  This time, I wanted to reminisce about how me and my brothers used to think of King Hiss.  (That’s his correct name!)  The green body suit, with mask or eye make-up, was considered the “good guy” disguise.  Then when he earned He-Man and the other heroes trust, the skin would come off!  When you look at the figure on the right, you can really see how we might have thought that.  He doesn’t really look evil.  Unless you are scared of snakes, which none of us were.  (Our mother is, however!)

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Now lets compare the two snake forms.  I don’t think a single Masters fan will prefer the vintage style torso to the 200x torso.  It is much larger and more impressive.  There are snakes everywhere.  While King Hsss the first was bendy to a point, you get an incredible range of poses with the newer one.  Finally, the new version doesn’t have the rabbit teeth effect.  Yes, I understand it was modeled after the vintage toy.  But it just sucks compared to the 200x version.  The only thing that the older torso can do that the new one can’t is that it had a hinged jaw.

So.  Ratings time.

I suppose to be fair, I have to rate what came in the box.  I am going to give this item, as it came in the box, as it stands as a stand-alone figure, a 5/5.

It has lots of play value.  It looks impressive.  You get lots of weapons.  The only negative about this particular item is the ankles are a little weak.  But not so bad that it can’t stand.

But I have to give Mattel a 2/5 on this one.  We should have got the Snake Armor He-Man shield, as well as the sword that could open up and blast snake men.  It is all a big mis-handling of the property.  The Horsemen delivered an incredible sculpt.  The toys themselves are filled with fantasy play value.  But we should have gotten all of that the first time around.  They could have charged more money for the figures, or maybe split them up into two separate items.  This is essentially what they wound up doing.  Using another SKU that they were trying to save.

 

BOO Mattel.  However, this is an incredible figure, and I have enjoyed playing with it for a few hours today, and it has a prominent spot on display in my nerd closet.

The SpartanNerd rates Serpentine King Hssss 5/5.  Do you agree or disagree, Hub City geeks?  Let me know in the comments!

 

Masters of the Universe Minicomics Collection

I reviewed the Masters of the Universe Minicomics Collection back in May, after having a tough time getting my hands on a copy.  Since then, I have slowly read through every page, and can give you more of a review of the contents rather than just the product.

VINTAGE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE

First thing first.  “Miniternia” is definitely a favorite universe of mine now.  I was aware of it, and had read a few books from it.  When I was a kid, these books just confused me because they were so different from what I was used to (the Filmation cartoon.)  But reading these as an adult, there is a definite vibe to those books not found anywhere else.  There are comparisons to Conan the Barbarian, but as a Conan fan, I don’t think so.  Miniternia is a great comic story…an innocent story in a way, and in a way more pure of a story from a writers standpoint.  Mattel gave the writers carte blanche, as long as they depicted the toys.  The barbarian He-Man is awesome, and the miniternia Skeletor is more insane than his other versions.

I remember hearing that there were fundamentalist Christians boycotting and protesting He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  I was vaguely aware of this as a child (I AM a Christian, and was raised in a Christian home.)  But as an adult, I heard people talk about it on the Roast Gooble Dinner podcasts.  I can see how, after reading over half of the book, I’d bet the word “demon” and “devil” were invoked in almost every single story!  Watching the Filmation show, this also comes up…I don’t know if that was daring on the part of the writers, or what?

 

You can clearly see transitional guidance between Miniternia and the comics that more closely resembled Filmation shows.  The stories become even flimsier sometimes, and highlighting of the products becomes central, rather than story and character development.  Then one day, out of nowhere, the Evil Horde becomes more prominent.  As a kid, the Horde annoyed me because to me, Skeletor was supposed to be the ultimate baddy.  And Hordak was apparently his teacher.  I came to love the Horde as much as anything else in MOTU, but I can see why I felt that way.  Mattel began to push the Horde in the mini comics, and there were more Horde figures on the shelves, and the commercials depicted the Horde more.  They were supposed to be another faction…which worked well in a house with three kids.  Hordes became She-Ra’s main villain, but I didn’t watch She-Ra…(yeah, right!)

I remember the Snake Men story vibrantly from when I was a child…my oldest brother was very interested in them.  My mother (and grandmother) are deathly terrified of snakes, so…I never really thought of them as another faction…just as a side team that worked for Skeletor, which is exactly how the mini comics portray them.  Throw in that Kobra Kahn and Tongue Lasher appeared on Skeletor’s team on the Filmation show working with Skeletor, and you can see why.  It was the Mike Young 200x show that really highlighted them as another team…an even deadlier team that Skeletor’s bunch.

Of all of the things about He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, I rarely ever complain. But now is my chance.  The “Three Towers” really annoy me.  It is one of the rarest toys to be found, and is therefore a valuable item.  But I don’t care.  The whole concept is STUPID.

Lets replace Castle Grayskull and Snake mountain with two smaller versions, and put a stupid lion tower in the middle.  We can connect the whole universe together with a roller coaster thingy.

There are SOO many reasons why I dislike the three towers.  It is billed as “playset Eternia.”  So the whole planet of Eternia can fit into one Playset?  This was EXACTLY how it was depicted in the minicomics.  I heard someone call it “Grayskull 2.0.”  Castle Grayskull was supposed to be this ultimate place of power.  But the Three Towers were meant to supplant all of that.

Eternia must be about the size of Spartanburg or upstate South Carolina…It seems it takes King Grayskull in the Mike Young cartoon about three days to cross the whole place.  Maybe the three towers fit that scheme?  There is a map in the He-Man art book, it came with certain characters if you subscribed to the “Club Grayskull” or whatever.  That map shows the towers stretched out across a huge central continent.  That MIGHT be plausible.  But why would they all connect together by a vehicle?  And if “Viper Tower” was meant to be Snake Mountain (It DID more closely resemble the cartoon version), and Grayskull tower was supposed to be the base for the good guys…just why?  I believe Mattel sensed that the vintage line was coming to an end, and were getting desperate.

SHE-RA, PRINCESS OF POWER

The She-Ra comics were pretty cute.   One of the interviews mentions that there were strict guidelines for drawing female characters.  That is apparent…the depictions of all those she-ra women are not sexy at all.  Sometimes they are child-like and pretty.  The She-Ra comics “de-evolve” from Minicomics format into Storybook format.  There is an incorrect footnote in the first She-Ra story, that says the Evil Horde is not mentioned in the comics ever again after the first one.  But that was inaccurate as the final two She-Ra stories have Catra mentioning the Horde, and also depict Horde troopers.

These books give you less of a sense of “the great rebellion,” and more just sweet little stories.  Catra, “the jealous beauty” is the main villain in these stories, but she can’t really do anything worse than children do to each other, it seems.  She steals a treasure box, she crashes a party by spraying everyone with water.  She spreads a rumor.  SERIOUSLY?

I made it through all of the She-Ra books, and rather enjoyed them.  But they are far too shallow.  I enjoyed the way they usually depicted She-Ra with the mask and Adora with the headband…A device you never saw on the cartoon.  And I thought the story of “Crystal Dimension” was interesting, where Swift Wind was transformed into a crystal version of himself.

I never really got a sense that The Crystal Castle was a She-Ra’s place of power?  It seemed to be a place where she and her friends lived instead.  The enchanted forest was there.  But Catra seemed to be homeless.

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF HE-MAN

As a child, I was just getting “too old” for toys as New Adventures came out.  My oldest brother wasted no time in getting a few toys, but I don’t think I ever saw a single episode of the cartoon.  I DID remember reading the comic, however.

I wasn’t aware that there were only four comics ever produced for that toy-line.  I DID know that it was short lived.

Basically, the vintage He-Man and Skeletor characters translated smoothly over to the futuristic versions, with Skeletor getting burned badly while witnessing Adam transform into He-Man, and having to “fix himself” with bionic parts.  The only idiotic thing is that He-Man’s sword is already a “techno sword.”  They should have been able to draw the classic sword in those few panels.  I always thought it was kind of stupid that the power of Grayskull had to be transferred into that starship…Really?  The art and the storytelling in these books is good, but different from the earlier ones.  As we read through all of these, we really see Bruce Timm’s art style mature up.  Once, He-Man even looks like we would see Batman on the nineties cartoon!  (Not in a New Adventures book…one of the final vintage comics.)

200x COMICS

I almost forgot!  The singular “pack-in” comic is included here.  With Val Staples and Emiliano Santalucia forming the bond that would become MV Creations, (and eventually break apart into the saddest schism maybe in the whole brand.) There are two comics here, one that never made it to print.

These are similar to the 200x comics that Image and Cross Gen would publish, but shorter and having a lot less content.  The art is just about exactly the same.  Emiliano is great!  (The second book was drawn by someone else, who somewhat emulated Emiliano’s style.)

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS MINI COMICS

Before the collection, I had no opportunities to read these stories.  I heard fans complain about them because they leave out a lot of story details that should be filled in.  The first one is a modern retelling of the first vintage Preternia book, and the following two pull together the entire story to include even the New Adventures.  An interesting detail, this story portrays He-Ro as the originator of the Power of Grayskull when he passes the Sword of He over to King Grayskull in death.  Funny how it ended, with a remark about building a castle and naming it after He-Ro.  (It would be named Castle Grayskull!)

I also thought the twist where Skeletor gets the techno virus from Bionatops in order to transform into his New Adventures form was also fun!  I was confused about King Grayskull, King He-man (he makes an appearance!) and King Miro.  What was that all about?

The art on these books are terrifically modern, and yes, they COULD have gave us more story.  I see how these serve the same purpose as the earlier mini comics…justify more toys.  They even introduced members of He-Ro’s team that have never been produced, simply to spark interest.  Ultimately, mini-comics aren’t the best vehicle for telling a grand story…they are a place to jump off and use your imagination.  And since Scott Neitlich was the guy in charge of these, that statement sounds exactly like something he would have said.

EXTRAS

The Mini-Comic collection contains lots of interviews…most of them seem to have come directly from Roast Gooble Dinner podcasts.  Maybe the DID actually re-interview some of the people…and maybe these are redacted and edited versions of those interviews.  I enjoyed reading them all, thought they didn’t teach me much of anything new because I had already heard it from the mouth of the person being interviewed.

So, just when I think James Eatock has astounded me with his intense Fanhood and knowledge of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, he surprises me yet again!

James “Bustatoons” Eatock apparently is the owner of a discarded and never produced mini comic, which is published at the back of this book.  It apparently never made it to the coloring stage.  I wonder if more stuff like this is out there?  And what a find…AND how does someone like him find all this stuff?  The comic is apparently the supposed pack-in with Flying Fists He-Man…it has some details issues, which might be why it was scrapped.  But it is a terrific read.

And finally we have an outline of a never-produced mini comic, which would have featured Faker prominently.  It is cool to read over, and I wonder if any fans who are good artists have made this book as fan art?

I enjoyed reading the Minicomics collection, and recommend it to anyone who is a fan of He-Man…a great value at under $30.  Reading this kept me from purchasing other comics for awhile…I always had something new to read, and this will make its way to my office at work to read in my “spare time.”