“Wait, is this journal 100% He-man now?” you may ask. No! It’s uh… just an exciting time for Masters of the Universe fans. I’ve been a mark for these characters and this universe since I was five. Some loves die hard. Today, I was delighted to find the new figures from the He-man and the Masters of the Universe (2021) CGI show by Netflix (all except Man-At-Arms, who seems to not be in this particular assortment of wave 1, although he is a wave 1 character) and the two vehicle/figure packs. It’s funny. I was able to resist the Origins figures, for the most part. I have a small selection, but have kept it pretty focused. But with this line, I was so excited by this new interpretation of the characters I knew I had to get these. It helps that they are VERY inexpensive. $10 will get you a basic figure, and $20 gets you a vehicle and figure. The tradeoff is, of course, they are pretty basic figures. But let’s get into that, shall we?
I’ve not been a huge fan of the packaging on the Masterverse line, the new collector-oriented line that Mattel put out. It has beautiful artwork on the sides, but the general design is kind of flat. I suspect that’s to appeal to a more “collector” crowd, but it made me happy I was not a MIB collector. The new packaging for this kid-oriented line is very vibrant and stands off the shelf, especially in combination with some of the eye-searing colors on the toys (I mean that in a good way.)
The Basic Figure Assortment ($9.99)
First, let’s look at the basic figures wave 1, (except Man-at-Arms). Each one stands at about the same size as the vintage MOTU figures (and the newer Origins figures) at about 5.5”. They are pleasingly chunky – they were larger all packaged up than I expected when I saw them in the store. Each figure has a version of the old “twist and punch” action feature from the vintage figures, which is a neat homage to the classic figure. This time, there’s a spring-back function in the ab joint of the character. This means that you can not only twist the waist and make them punch, but you can push them backwards or forwards at this joint and they’ll spring back for an upward or downward attack. This movement isn’t as extreme as the waist punch. But it’s still fun.
He-man looks like he stepped right out of the CGI series. I don’t know if Mattel used the actual 3D assets form the series to create these figures, but it wouldn’t surprise me. There’s a lot of detail, and some really nice texture work here. Also, the paint is really crisp and clean on all these figures. I really like the new emblem on his chest. It harkens back to the old iron cross, looks a bit like an H, but also suggests the power sword too. His power sword stores on his back via a peg, or can be held in hand. The design is simplified – areas that are cut out in the show are filled in, but it’s in a nice silver and gold finish.
I really like Skeletor’s new design. It’s very evil-looking, and the exposed skeleton hand is a fun touch. He’s recreated here with a lot of vibrant green paint details on his outfit and around his neck. Along with his skull. His head is unfortunately permanently affixed forward. He-man and Trap-Jaw have heads on ball joints that move well. But maybe they didn’t want kids accidentally getting his head stuck sideways, since his hood doesn’t move? It’s a little unfortunate, but I can understand it. Both hands grip his Havoc Staff very well (not always a given on figures these days unfortunately!) and the Havoc staff looks great. I do sort of wish some green paint had been applied to the staff (and the back of it wasn’t hollow) but, hey, it’s a $10 toy.
Trap-Jaw has a very cool design in the show. Which is pretty well represented here. The one place that kind of lets it down is the paintwork around the teeth. I understand why, but I just wish the teeth were a little more defined. I might have to go in and do some paint there. Also, I might add in his eye-balls, as that’s more show accurate. My Trap-Jaw, unfortunately, has weak hip joints. It’s the only figure like that, so hopefully I just got a bad one. It’s too bad THIS of all the figures has the issue because he has a big heavy arm to support. His arms go forward and back fully, but since his shoulder armor is attached to his arm, it can look a little silly when you get the arm high up. But it mostly works for me. He comes with an energy blast that shoots out of his arm. If I had one big criticism of the new design, it’s that he doesn’t have multiple attachments. That’s such a fun feature of the past figures. Seems a shame to lose it. In any case, the blast works not by a spring-loaded mechanism or even a flick-and-shoot method. You use the spring-loaded ab joint. You pull him back, let go, and the blast shoots out of his arm. Most of the time.
Vehicle and Figure Sets
When I was 5, I was introduced to MOTU thanks to the son of a friend of my mom’s. He had a TON of MOTU stuff. On the way home, my mom got me Battle Armor He-man, Battle Armor Skeletor, and the Road Ripper, a small green bike that had a rip cord you pulled out to make it go. The Road Ripper didn’t even come with a figure back in the day! So it’s fun to see the idea of small, affordable figures continue in the new line—but this time with a figure!
He-man and Ground Ripper
The Ground Ripper itself is a clear homage to the old Road Ripper. In fact, I’m guessing it’d be called the Road Ripper if not for some copyright issue. It’s a very vibrant and shiny green. with yellow accents. It’s hollow feeling, but also the plastic is very solid. It has a peg on the side to store He-man’s sword (cast in a neon yellow, although it looks gold on the packaging shots) which is fun. He-man can grip the handlebars well, and it stays upright nicely. The He-man it comes with is painted to look more like the classic He-man, with brown and gray for his outfit and orange bracers. It’s actually a pretty fun variant.
Skeletor and Painthor
Like the Ground Ripper, this doesn’t actually appear in the first season of the show. So I don’t know if it’ll appear later or is totally a Mattel design. Either way, it’s a fun vehicle. The little details like the claws at the bottom are fun. And it’s designed to store Skeletor’s Havoc staff in the back! The day-glow green wheel is also really fun, and works perfectly with the motif of this new version of Skeletor’s Havoc powers.
The included Skeletor is, rather brilliantly, an homage to “Disco Skeletor” the infamous variant from the 2002 Masters of the Universe line that was eventually embraced by He-man fans in all its goofy glory. Now, I am a LITTLE sad they didn’t push it even further and give us a gold Havoc Staff. But I’m sure this will not be the end of the He-man and Skeletor variants we get in this line, so maybe we’ll get that gold staff eventually. It should be said that, although CLOSE in color to the regular figure’s staff, this one is more purple. The staff with the regular figure is more blue.