Masters of the Universe Classics
$30 + shipping from www.mattycollector.com
(available now on ebay and other online sellers)
Panthor exists as a character for much the same reason as several other vintage Masters of the Universe characters such as Battle Armor Skeletor, Evil-Lyn and Moss Man. With some different coloring, minor re-sculpting or some added flocking you’ve got a whole ‘nother toy that parents can buy for their kids at a minimal cost to produce. It’s a crummy way to look at these characters who have become a huge part of my favorite fictional universe but it doesn’t make it any less true.
The good news is, thanks to modern toy technology, the new versions of these characters can take on a life of their own channeled through the eyes of talented fans of MOTU. Moss Man is much more than just a flocked Beast Man, Evil-Lyn still shares much of her outfit with Teela but carries her own weight effortlessly and even Battle Armor Skeletor manages to be outrageously fun with a minimum of new parts.
Does the missing flocking drag Panthor down and kill any sense of nostalgia he might have carried? Is Panthor anything more than just a purple Battle Cat? Does he even HAVE to be more than a purple Battle Cat? Come on in and we’ll look at this grape cat together!
Panthor’s giant window box was seriously impressive to look at and HEAVY! It’s been such a long time since I got Battle Cat that I’d forgotten how much fun it was just to hold and admire him in the package. His helmet was tied up on the wall back behind Panthor’s tail, easy to see but out of the way for everyone who’s keeping him imprisoned.
Instead of plastic twist ties Panthor is held into place by recycled paper twisties similar to the ones that Hasbro started using for their products several months ago. This is exciting for 2 reasons, first these have to be better for the environment than the hard plastic ones that have been used in the past. Secondly, the paper twisties hold him into place just as securely but are considerable easier to remove than their plastic brothers.
He’s got a bio on the back that actually makes him an almost tragic character in the MOTUC story, a helpless kitten saved by Keldor who stays with him out of loyalty to his master. I always kind of thought of Panthor as a bit of a dick in the Filmation cartoon, he always seemed to be picking on Skeletor’s minions for no reason and getting knocked over by Battle Cat without fail. The story in the bio reminds me of the story in Futurama about Fry’s dog who waited for him to come home even though he would never come back. Poor Panthor, loyal to his master without fail even if it’s not for his own good.
Panthor shares almost all of his sculpt with Battle Cat, just as he did in the vintage Masters of the Universe toy line. From the tip of his tail to the joint where his head is connected to the neck he’s identical and this is exactly as it should be. When you’ve got a toy that’s as near to perfect as Battle Cat was you don’t need to make any changes just to be different.
There’s sculpted fur that’s really amazingly detailed all over the figure, even on the bottom of Panthor’s undercarriage. Individual claws and foot pads make Panthor’s paws some of the most impressive parts of him.
Panthor’s head is the only newly sculpted piece on the figure and even it’s not entirely new. He shares the same mouth and jaw, eyes, forehead and nose that worked so well on Battle Cat. From the core of the head his whiskers and ears extend out further than Battle Cat’s do. This is where the new sculpt kicks in and it’s so well done that I didn’t notice right off the bat just how much of the head was shared with Battle Cat.
(I feel like I should say that I’m not entirely sure of the re-use of any of Battle Cat’s head, it’s certainly possible that they sculpts are just very similar. I keep second guessing myself on this and don’t want anyone to think that I have confirmation on the repeated head parts.)
The jaw of Panthor is set back a bit allowing him to fully close his mouth, something that Battle Cat(or at least MY Battle Cat) cannot do. This gives them a different look with their mouths closed and I like it a lot. The longer ears and whiskers on Panthor give him the look of a lynx more than an actual panther, he looks like he’s up to something nefarious and that’s perfect for Skeletor’s pet.
The paint on Panthor is a nice mix of straight purple and dark washes that make his fur look multi layered and I couldn’t find a single spot of bad paint work on his whole body. His claws are painted individually with no bleed over. There’s even a light line of yellow on the tongue that adds a lot of character to the open mouth.
Of course, in order to see all of this detailed paint, we had to give up something that’s arguably essential to Panthor’s identity. His flocking! The original Panthor was flocked much like Moss Man, a way to disguise the fact that parents were buying another copy of a toy their kid probably already had, but this one isn’t. While a lot of fans were upset by this I personally think it was the right move. There’ve been a lot of questionable decisions made in order to uphold the “vintage look” of the MOTUC line but I don’t releasing Panthor sans-flocking is one of them.
Again Panthor benefits from Battle Cat’s body with joints all over the place. Hinged jaw, a limited ball joint on the head, hinged neck, limited swivel hinges at all 4 shoulders, swivel hinges on the front knees with 2 hinges on each back knee, a swivel hinge waist, swivel hinge ankles and a final swivel hinge on the tail. Amazingly, most of the joints do not disrupt the sculpt as much as it might sound like they do.
Panthor is able to get into most positions that you’d want a giant kitty to get into, although there are a couple of spots that I would’ve liked to see more range. His waist joint doesn’t allow him to turn side to side, this means you can’t bend his front even a small amount as if he is in the midst of a turn. In the same vein, the ball joint on the head doesn’t have any range side to side worth mentioning. This leaves Panthor always looking straight ahead. Battle Cat had the same “problem” so I guess it may have been a bit too optimistic to expect that to change.
Panthor comes with the exact same saddle as Battle Cat as well as a brand new helm based on the design of Skeletor’s Havok staff. They’re both cast in a solid dark gray plastic and sit on Panthor very smoothly, especially the helmet which clips on behind his long ears snugly.
The helmet looks really menacing on Panthor, it has a great weathered silver paint job on the curved horns and couple of smaller horns on the forehead section. The sculptors did a fantastic job of keeping a cohesive style between this new helm and the one that came with Battle Cat. It’s easy to believe that these armor sets were commonly used throughout the history of Eternia when giant cats were used as mounts in battle.
Panthor’s saddle is painted beautifully as well, better than Battle Cat’s in my opinion, with metallic highlights that bring out sculpted details that were not as apparent on Battle Cat’s saddle. While they’re identical pieces in sculpt it’s easy to forget the re-use and I think that’s one of the many strengths of the MOTUC toy line.
The saddle is an odd duck for me, I know the vintage Panthor had one but I don’t remember even using him as a mount for Skeletor when I played with my MOTU figures. While He-Man was always going from place to place on Battle Cat, Skeletor seemed to have better means of transportation. My Panthor won’t have any gear own once he makes it to the shelves, instead he’ll always be lurking in the shadows, waiting for a moment to pounce on an unsuspecting prey.
Here’s a MOTUC figure that is, without question, worth the price. Panthor is HUGE, heavy and practically a steal at the MSRP of $30. He feels very sturdy in my hands and I don’t think I would hesitate to let just about anyone play around with him unsupervised. The accessories even feel like they could take a beating, the belt that crosses under Panthor and pegs into the side to hold it on takes just the right amount of force to open and close. There’s just a high level of quality all around that makes me happy to have Panthor on my desk.
I do want to address some concerns that were brought up on the he-man.org forums where some folks were worried that Panthor was made of cheaper plastic than Battle Cat. I’ve held them in either hand together and I don’t feel any significant difference in weight so I’m fairly confident that they’re made of the same stuff. Of course I’m not an expert in plastics by any stretch of the imagination so take my words as my opinion and not gospel.
Pardon my harsh language, but Panthor is flippin’ awesome! When Battle Cat was released last year I started collecting Masters of the Universe Classics almost entirely on the strength of that lemon-lime kitty, another big part of my decision was knowing that eventually I’d have a Panthor to match him up against.
Panthor’s a huge purple cat that’s just as much fun to play with as he is to take pictures of. He’s pretty much an essential part of any MOTU fan’s collection thanks to his iconic role in the Filmation Cartoon. I’ve read a lot of talk about “true fans” holding out for a flocked version of Panthor that may or may not come out down the line. If you fall among those people I urge you to reconsider and pick up this Panthor. If a flocked version is released and that’s all you own then you’ll miss out on a lot of the best parts of this toy kitty, and besides, Skeletor’ll be lonely without his loyal eggplant feline!