Massstersss of the Universsse Classicsss
King Hssss
7” Ssscale
By Mattel
$20.00 + ssshipping from www.mattycollector.com

King Hsss is a bit of a sssore sssubject for Massstersss of the Universsse fansss at the moment thanksss in large part to a vitriol filled thread on the he-man.org forumsss. Fansss are up in armsss becaussse of a blunder on Mattel’sss part that causssed King Hssss to end up with bicssepsss that are on the wrong arm, an error that’sss happened 2 timesss before.

COUGH COUGH cough! Achem!

Whoa, sSsomething in my throat there.

Crap, hold on.
Salisssbury.
SSSalisbury.
Salisbury Steak.

Alright!

While I’m bothered by the mistake (and by Mattel’s response to it) I’m extremely excited to get my hands on the leader of the Snake Men. I had a King Hiss (spelled Hssss now) when I was little but never really knew the story behind him. All I knew was that he had SNAKES for ARMS and that I loved him. According to the old mini-comics he is supposed to be hiding in plain sight as a hero who eventually is foun out for the villain he truly is.

King Hssss is going to be on sale again in a few days on www.mattycollector.com for people who missed out previously. Is he worth the trouble of braving the harrowing masses? Should you spend your hard earned money on a figure with known flaws in the construction? Is the entire sale just a giant April Fool’s Joke?

The ansssswer to (mosssst) of thesssse quesssstionsss liesss inssside!

Packaging:
The King comes in the good ol’ fashioned white mailer box with his name printed on it, within the mailer is the standard Masters of the Universe Classics package. The only thing notable is the super cool “THE SNAKE MEN” sticker slapped on the front so we know beyond a shadow of a doubt who El Rey is the King of.


The back features a snazzy cross-sell showing several Preternian Characters including Zodak. I appreciate that they showed Zodak because not only is he the guy who helped lock Hssss away for a long time but he’s also an under-appreciated and amazing action figure!

Inside the plastic shell he’s tied up with a few devilish rubber bands to make sure he doesn’t climb out and take over at the USPS. His second torso, the snake head, is stowed away out of sight so as not to freak out visitors to your home should you keep him in the box. I kinda think this is a dumb move since him being all “A SNAKE!” is the defining core of his character, but you know, Mattel?


Sculpt:
King Hssss is downright pretty guys! The 4 Horsemen (the sculptors responsible for Masters of the Universe Classics’ design) have done an amazing job of creating a figure that is undoubtedly King Hssss but doesn’t look nearly as awkward as the vintage figure who’s human form I was always very quick to cast aside in favor of the snake within.


There is a whole lot of sculpted detail all over the place including overlapping armor plates that cover him from head to toe. He’s nice and bulky looking, like a muscled dude in armor would actually look, standing out amongst the other MOTUC figures thanks in large part to the vibrant dark green used for most of his armor.


King Hssss has a great knowing smirk on his face that could be taken as friendly, you can almost understand why the Eternians thought he was good guy until you remember that he has snakes as his main motif. Of course you and I know that his half smile means “I am made of snakes, fool.”.


Hssss’s “true form” torso is a nicely detailed bendy toy that plugs into a slot in the top of his waist. It’s been sculpted to look very creepy and the proportions are done just right to look like it could have actually been hidden inside his human shell just like the vintage toy. It’s painted in a glossy finish that resembles the slimy look that a lot of snakes have


The paint on Hssss is well done overall with no big problems in the slop department. I would have liked the green snake on his silver necklace to be a little better detailed but it’s far from bad.

I was really impressed with the job done on his snake eyes, it would have been really easy to mess up these tiny black lines but they were done excellently.

Articulation:
King Hssss has the same articulation as all other MOTUC figures, this includes ball joints at the head, shoulders and hips; hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles and abs as well as swivel wrists, biceps, waist and knees. This makes him, in theory, able to get into all kinds of poses but a lot of this theoretical movement is hindered by his armor and by the sculpt itself. As a result he is a lot more limited that I would have liked.


The biceps are a major offender, they don’t allow him to bring his arms fully to rest at his sides. It’s hard to tell if this is a result of the reversal of the biceps by Mattel or if it’s caused by the extra bulk the armor adds. The biceps are also extra tough to turn, they don’t feel like they are scraping against anything though, hopefully this is not a sign of further issues to arise down the line.

Similar to Bow (last month’s figure), King Hssss does not get the full range of motion from his hip joints thanks to the crotch piece blocking much of the forward and backwards movement. I hope that Mattel is able to figure out a good solution to this going forward, otherwise we may end up with a lot more figures in Furry Underpants to allow them to sit down.


Hssss’s head is ever so slightly bobbly, it’s not as bad as my Green Goddess (the worst head joint on any of my MOTUC figures) but it is loose enough to shift a little while you are posing the rest of the figure. The head stays in place well enough though so it’s a minor quibble overall.

My biggest gripe with the figure comes from his main feature, the torso swap. While the true form snake torso stays plugged in securely, his human disguise pops loose with the slightest pressure. I had to reconnect the human torso so many times while taking pictures for the review that I actually lost count, everything from moving a leg to clipping on his shield would set the torso free.

On the up side, the bendy nature of the snake torso works extremely well to get his “arms” into whatever pose you want. They wrap around other figures nicely and even allow him to hold onto his staff. The hinged jaw is a nice touch that they didn’t have to include, it breaks up the “one piece” nature of the torso and makes it feel like more than just a bendy.


Accessssssoriesssss:
Included in the package are 2 accessories besides his true form torso, a badass snake staff and a nifty shield. Mattel continues to do right by us with accessories for the MOTUC line, this is the 3rd figure in a row who has come with a great assortment of gear. Poor Stratos!


The snake staff is made of 2 separate pieces that are intertwined to make the weapon. The snake is painted with a wicked diamond pattern and creates a set of organic hand guards for King Hssss to use when he clashes with Zodak and his Cosmic Staff. The staff feels very solid and sturdy in the hand, not bendy like some of the MOTUC accessories can be.


The shield is also nicely designed and continues the snake theme, not only does it have snakes sculpted onto it but IT IS A SNAKE ITSELF! Aaaaiigggh! My only complaint is that a shield feels kind of silly without a sword to go with it. I’ve given him the recolored Tri-Klops sword from the 1st Weapons Pak and it seems to match Hssss’s colors nicely.

Value:
King Hssss cost me effectively $25 including shipping, slightly less than average thanks to his being shipped with Battle Armor Skeletor. It’s hard to say that this is a good price, but when you’re able to combine shipping with other figures a lot of the sting is taken out. Over the last few months Mattel has done a great job of making multiple figures available on their site on sale days and I feel like that’s a big step in the right direction.


There are no figures truly comparable to the Master of the Universe Classics figures available in stores. Nothing comes close in style, quality or variety of figures to MOTUC and until something does $20 + shipping is the cost of admission. I’m curious what the price point will be on the new Thundercats Classics toys when they’re released, they seem to be similar to MOTUC in their size and design, and I bet they’ll cost at least $20 each in stores.

With prices for toys rising higher and higher it seems that just about everyone is going to have to choose their toy purchases carefully. While MOTUC figures are definitely towards the higher end of the action figure market I think they are definitely worth the asking price, quality control problems and all. I’ve cut out a lot of the fat in favor of keeping MOTUC in my budget and I haven’t regretted it in the least.

Summary:
King Hssss manages to slither past a lot of major problems to be a really cool figure. He’s got limited articulation in a couple of places, reversed biceps, a torso that likes to pop off when you aren’t trying to remove it and a head with ADD….. yet I love him. This is a case of the sum of the crappy parts making a really nice whole.

The fact is that once I get finished taking pictures for this review he is going to go on my shelf where I won’t care about his problems. He’s going to look amazing mixed in with my other villains and someday leading the rest of the Snake Men into battle and I guess I just don’t find any of his issues all that serious.


In the end each person is going to have to make up their own mind on Hssss because there’s a lot of baggage packed into that mailer box. If you’re a fan of the character I think you’d be making a big mistake passing up on him when he’s back on sale. If you don’t care much for King Hssss or for the Snake Men as a whole then you’re a silly person and you need to reevaluate your taste in fictional reptilian monarchs and their subjects named after what special abilities they have.

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