MOTU


Throughout the 80s and into the 90s, many companies produced Masters of the Universe/Wrestling figure knockoffs. These tend to look alike, with some being better than others. Often they sort of resemble a real wrestler or character, but none of them are quite as egregious as this “Hulk Hogan” figure. Bootleg-a-mania is running wild, dude!


The head sculpt here is so blatantly supposed to be Hogan, it’s a wonder that the real Hulkster never sued. The likeness is just as good as the Cocoa Pebbles character that Hogan took to court a few years back. I suppose the real issue would likely be tracking down just who is responsible for making this figure.


You see this toy has no identifying marks. Even if you find one in package, this same sculpt including the Hogan head, has been used on dozens of figures through the years. Wrestling Champions, Sun Gold, Muscle Warriors and various others all seemed to “borrow” the same sculpts from one another. This guy probably comes from the Super Champs or Wrestling Champs line. There were several versions of him.


Unfortunately this Hogan isn’t as good as some of the rest. Phony Hulkster lacks leg articulation. I sort of hate these bootlegs/knockoffs without the leg articulation. It makes them less poseable and it just shows corner cutting. I know, I know, it’s a bootleg. Still I prefer a bootleg with a little pride, ya know?


He’s also considerably smaller than some of the better knockoffs and he’s dwarfed by Remco’s AWA figures. Still I have a place in my heart for little bootleg Hogan figures. I wish they still made these.


Today’s bootlegs tend to be of the Mexican wrestler variety, such as these guys. I’d say around 1996 or so was the last time I saw this type of figure on the market. I’m not sure why they stopped showing up, but I would buy a ton of them if they showed back up in my local dollar stores… Of course, they’d need the leg articulation. A Hulkster that can’t do the leg drop is a deal breaker for me. This Hogan knockoff isn’t too hard to track down in some form or another if you’re in the market for one.


It’s time once again to shine a spotlight on some of the interesting customizers out there in the toy collecting realm. I noticed this on Ebay today and thought it might be of interest to vintage He-Man collectors.


This is not my figure and I don’t know the guy who made it. I just happened to stumble upon it. I guess there’s still a fairly big community of classic Masters of the Universe collectors out there. Vintage MOTU customs seem to be on the rise if my research at He-Man.org tells me anything. This figure is coming from Buenos Aires. Who knew there were hardcore MOTU fans in Argentina?!

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Details are sketchy at the moment, but a new toy line is being created by the guys at Zoloworld. It’s called Warlords and Warriors and it appears to be a retro toy line based on the “knock offs” of Masters of the Universe. Of course, if you’re like me, you see this as so much more.


At 5 3/4″ these toys will rekindle my love for old toys like my Imperial Dragons and my Conan from Remco. Along with a ton of other figures that I mixed right in, including guys from Sungold and the like. While I don’t know what all this line will encompass, I’m hoping it will borrow heavily from that Remco spirit.

I have no idea what all this toy line will include and the figures above are just examples of some of my old Remco loves. However, the concept is sound and I hope it can grow and be successful.

More information can be found at their Facebook page Warlords and Warriors and I can’t wait to see what reveals they have next!


Masters of the Universe Classics
Eternian Palace Guards
7 Inch Scale
By: Mattel
$40 (plus shipping, around $49 total)

I’m back with another look at Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics! This set was supposed to come out late last year but was pushed back due to… Orko only knows. The Palace Guards have never had an official figure before, they were always in the background of both the Filmation cartoon and the more recent MYP cartoon, so it’s about time MOTU fans got their hands on ‘em.

They were originally included in last years subscription, thanks to whatever crazy crisis pushed them back a lot of people had to brave the evil ordering process at Mattycollector.com to get a hold of them. Was it worth the peril of my mortal soul Keep reading to find out!

Packaging:
My Eternian Palace Guards came well protected in a brown box from UPS. What’s that? Too much info on the packaging? The usual white mailer is a little smaller than the one Battle Cat came in, but it’s still a pretty good size. The outside says “ETERNIAN PALACE GUARDS”. There’s nothing too interesting going on here.


The ACTUAL packaging is a really good-looking item. It very nicely shows off the guards and the majority of their gear. I’m a little surprised that the 2 extra heads are hidden, to me they are a huge selling point and the reason that a lot of people bought multiples of this pricey 2-pack.


The back of the package shows both guards alongside their bio. The bio is pretty generic but that suits an army builder set. I think “Varies” is probably one of the most normal real names we’ve gotten so far! There’s a nicely laid out assortment of MOTUC figures that reminds me of the vintage card backs as usual.


Sculpt:
Right off the bat, it’s obvious that these guys are modeled to look a lot like Man-At-Arms. They have the same orange armor, blue helmet and green bodysuit that Duncan wears….or do they? While the forearm, shoulder and knee armors are the same piece, the chest armor and boots are quite different.


The chest armor is a re-colored Battle Armor He-Man part while the boots are shared with Keldor. The leg armor covers the upper section of the boots and really makes them look like their own part. The Palace Guard helmets are very similar to Man-At-Arms’ helmet, they have a slightly different arrangement of wiring though which is a subtle way of setting them apart.


The 4 heads that come with this set are just flat out wonderfully sculpted. You get two human heads (one is modeled after Toyguru, the brand manager at Mattel, and the other is African-Eternian), a dark-skinned cat man as well as a brand new reptile type of creature. All 4 faces are entirely unique sculpts with very expressive features and great paint jobs all around.


My Toyguru face has a little dark spot under his left eye, it makes him look like he has a prison teardrop tattoo so I don’t mind too much. Big house ink aside, the paint was perfect on mine. As with Vikor, I don’t know if this is typical or if I just got lucky.

Articulation:
The Palace Guards are, unsurprisingly, extremely poseable just like the majority of the figures in this toy line. They can get into all kinds of exciting action poses thanks to the new plastic used on the loincloth part, it doesn’t get in the way like a lot of the older MOTUC figures’ furry undies do.


They also look great posed standing at attention or guarding something important. The ball joint on the head works really well and you can get lots of great emotions out of the different angles it gives you.


My one complaint about their range of movement is caused by the armor on their shoulders and upper arms. The band that comes around the bicep prevents them from bringing their arms fully down by their sides. It isn’t a huge issue but it does bug me a bit when trying to get them to an “at ease” stance.

Accessories:
Within the box you’ll find:

2 Halberds
2 Shields
1 Mace
1 Axe
2 Armor Plates
2 Heads
2 Face Guards
(The arm, forearm and knee armor is all removable also)


This is a lot of extra pieces, although lets be realistic, the extra armor plates are going to be switched out once or twice until you find the setup you like and then tossed into a bin to stay. The process of swapping out the armor plates is a pain in the butt, just like it was on Battle Armor He-Man. I appreciate that Mattel gave us a way to make each of our guards look unique, but I personally would have preferred more weapons.


Speaking of the weapons, they are really nicely done if a little plain. The two halberds are appropriate weapons for guards, reminiscent of the Swiss Army’s famous weapons. They don’t have a lot of detail on them other than sculpted grooves to indicate the hand holds but they look really good either held at attention or pointed threateningly. The axe and mace are both repeats, the axe coming from Buzz-Off and the mace coming from Moss Man(it has been slightly retooled to look less viney though).

We also have two nice little dueling shields. I may be having a mental lapse, but I believe these are new shields. They are a good size and stay clipped onto the guards’ arms very well. The shields are molded all in one color but the simplicity works well for them. The faceguards are a great addition, allowing you to give your guards that faceless, generic trooper look that worked so well for Cobra.


Lastly, the armor pieces on the arms and legs look really great with some well done silver highlights scattered around to resemble the connecting points. While I’m really happy with the look of the armor, I’m not crazy about the way they connect and stay on the guards’ body. Besides blocking some of the movement range, the connectors that hold on the armor do not like to stay closed while you pose the figure. I spent a good portion of my time while writing this review re-closing the connectors or fidgeting with the two sections of the arm armor to keep the pieces in place.

Value:
At $49 (including shipping) for the pair of guards I actually believe that this is a decent price. There is a lot of play value here and the fact that I didn’t have to pay shipping twice to get two figures helps quite a bit. Realistically $25 a figure is still very high, the shipping is really the thing that hurts, and I can’t recommend these figures to anyone but a big fan of MOTU.


To put it into perspective though, a DC Universe Classics figure is $15 + tax and they typically come with zero in the way of accessories beyond a Build-A-Figure piece that’s useless on it’s own. Without shipping, a $5 price bump is well worth it for the improved sculpting and extra accessories you get from MOTUC.

Summary:
I’m a big fan of these figures. I love the different heads, I love the way they aren’t exact clones of Man-At-Arms and I love their variety of weapons. If I had infinite space and infinite money I would absolutely want an army of these figures to march against the inevitable Horde Troopers coming down the line.

Despite all the love I have for the Palace Guards, I can’t in good faith recommend them to the casual He-Fan. After all, these are nameless, faceless characters. Heck, they’re barely even characters at all! At $49 a pair, these guys are very pricey and they’re not for everyone.


However, if you are already collecting MOTU Classics and you just haven’t decided to pick up a set of guards, I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. They perfectly capture the essence of the Palace Guards that were always watching Randor’s back. The extra heads bring welcome diversity to both the MOTUC toy line and my Masters of the Universe shelf and they just look flat out awesome.


Masters of the Universe Classics
Vikor, He-Man of the North
7” Scale
By: Mattel
$20.00 (+ shipping)

Mattel kicks off 2011 with a figure that I wasn’t sure I wanted. When the time came to decide whether I was buying the “All-In” subscription for MOTU Classics I have to admit that I wasn’t sure. Mattel had only shown us 5 figures at that point and I wasn’t blown away by any of them. I still question the logic of their big reveals to sell the MOTUC subscription being He-Man in a mask, a mustachioed archer, a Skeletor “refresh”, Conan and a dude who’s torso is removable!

I caved in and bought the subscription despite being a bit underwhelmed, such is the nature of collecting, but now that my first figure has arrived I’m really happy that I did. Vikor is listed by Mattel as a predecessor to the He-Man we all know, a temporary protector of the Power of Grayskull, but I think most will more readily recognize him as an “homage” to Conan.

One of the stories of the history of the MOTU line is that it was originally intended to be a Conan the Barbarian line. Before the nature of the toys changed there was a concept drawing of He-Man as Conan and this is where we get Vikor.

Packaging:
Vikor comes in the usual Masters of the Universe Classics packaging. The outside white mailer box is cleanly printed with the MOTUC Logo and the name of the figure within. For those of you that are already buying these there won’t be any surprises.


Vikor’s interior packaging matches the rest if line exactly. For any of you MOC collectors he is posed well on the card and has a nice “Powers of Grayskull” sticker just like the re-issue of King Grayskull.


The card back is also well done, showing Vikor amongst his fellow Preternians including Zodak, Wun-Dar and The Goddess. His bio is pretty much par for the course, I won’t type the whole thing out here but it gives us a few hints about characters we will almost definitely see down the line. Mattel did a decent job of making up a reason for this guy to exist even though most fans probably won’t care.

Sculpt:
Once free from his plastic shell, Vikor comes to life! The first things I noticed about him while carefully removing the evil twist ties were his metal chains and his shackles. Vikor has clearly been in captivity at some point in his life and has gotten free. He’s so tough that he hasn’t even bothered to remove the irons he was imprisoned in!


Vikor’s body is made out of parts that MOTUC collectors have seen several times before. His body looks to be the He-Man buck almost entirely. This is definitely not a bad thing though, 2 lightly clothed barbarians are going to look largely the same until you get down to details. His muscles all have just the right amount of detail to make him look strong and powerful without seeming cartoonish or freaky.


Cona…uhhh….Vikor’s real strengths are in the tons of details you can find all over the figure. I mentioned his broken metal chains before but that is just the tip of the iceberg. His loincloth is a nice change of pace from the typical furry underwear found on most MOTUC males. It’s longer and ripped in places, obviously from years of hard-fought battles. Vikor has a fur cape that looks amazing and doesn’t inhibit his movement in the slightest, plus it’s removable(if you don’t mind popping his head off!).


Vikor even has his own, distinct facial sculpt. I’m really impressed with the way that he was made to undeniably resemble He-Man while retaining his own unique qualities. I looked very closely for paint slop and could only find a tiny spot on the inside of his left forearm. MOTUC figures tend to be a mixed bag in this area and I may have just been lucky. Overall the paint was very well done, I was especially impressed with the way the horns on his helmet came out.

Articulation:
Vikor has all of the same points of movement that I’ve come to expect on Masters of the Universe Classics figure. He has greatly improved range in the legs thanks to the new loincloth and VERY tight ankles, a welcome change from previous MOTUC figures.


My only complaint with him is on the head, where his long hair restricts the movement almost entirely. You can get a very small amount of movement from his noggin but only while fighting his hair for every centimeter. I had a lot of fun posing Vikor for the pictures in this review, he connects with the inner kid in the way that all great toys should.

Accessories:
Vikor comes with 3 accessories (4 if you count the cloak) that all work very well for him. He’s got an Axe, a Shield and a Sword that he is able to store behind his back. All three of them are sculpted in a style that reminds me a little bit of Anduril from The Return of King.


They are all metal and leather-looking, just detailed enough to make them interesting and yet not busy. The sword and axe fit very well in either hand while the shield clips on just behind the bracers. I didn’t have any problems with the shield popping loose of it’s own accord.


A minor negative is his non-removable helmet. I know we haven’t had a history of helmets coming off in this line, but I think that needs to change! Another option would’ve been an extra, helmetless, head.


I absolutely love the fact that his sword stores in a sheath behind him. I had no idea that this was a feature and actually said “Whoa!” out loud when I discovered it. Mattel has always been good about accessories and storage on the figures that get them, but they have truly stepped up their game with recent releases like Grizzlor and Vikor.

Value:
Here’s the point where MOTUC figures always lose some points. I paid $28 and change for Vikor including shipping which really is too much, no bones about it. For comparison, I recently bought the Transformers “Reveal the Shield” Battle in Space 2-pack for around $22 with tax. That set included 2 Deluxe size Transformers, a die-cast metal Matrix of Leadership and a comic book.


Fact is, you can’t get action figures anywhere near the quality or style of Masters of the Universe Classics anywhere else, for any price. While that’s no excuse to charge what Mattel is charging, it helps to put things in perspective.

I am comfortable with the cost of the line because I want these figures despite the high cost. More casual fans or collectors of multiple lines have to consider what else their hard-earned money could get them for the same cost as a MOTUC figure.

Summary:
Vikor is a truly awesome action figure. When I first saw pictures of him I was sure that he’d end up in a bin with Battle Armor Skeletor and The Goddess but now that I have him in hand I know he’s destined to hang out on the top shelf with all of his fellow Preternians!


The fact that Mattel was willing to not only make a figure of this obscure, unknown character but to knock it right out of the park makes me very excited about the rest of the 2011 Club Eternia Subscription. This figure is recommended for MOTU fans.