Our look back at Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics line brings us to April 2009’s figure, Mer-Man, Skeletor’s Ocean Warlord. Mer-Man was the first of the line to have his production numbers increased and he was offered in two unique shipments both of which sold out in under an hour, which makes him one the fastest-selling figures in the series. With his popularity, it would be logical for Mer-Man to be offered for sale again in 2010. Let’s hope he returns, because Mer-Man is arguably the best figure in the MOTUC line.
Like many other figures in this series, Mer-Man is given a goofy name in his bio, Squidish Rex. Out of all of the silly names created for this action figure line, this one takes the prize. The rest of the bio is pretty unremarkable and seems to allude to the Icons of Evil: Mer-Man comic which provided some back story for the character during the 2002 line.
Squidish is the first figure in the MOTUC series to come with a bonus head. His packaged head is a slightly updated version of that of his 1980’s figure, which also used for the vintage Stinkor. I’ve never been a fan of this head as it always seemed too feline. The bonus head resembles Mer-Man’s original package art and, later, his 200X design. Kudos to Mattel for allowing us the option of displaying our Mer-Man which ever way we like. I’d love to see more of this in the line for characters that had a distinct 200X appearance (Buzz-Off and Stinkor come to mind). The alternate head has a great sculpt, with big glassy-looking eyes and those great head-fins that really help to sell the aquatic nature of this character. The rest of Mer-Man is largely a repaint of Skeletor, with the “monster feet” and the scalloped forearms, both of which work better here than on Skeletor. His left hand is sculpted open with fingers splayed out in an apparent reference to his 1980’s package art. I like this open hand a lot and it makes for some really evocative poses.
Mer-Man’s accessories very skillfully help disguise the fact that he shares 80% of his body with Skeletor. One of the nicest inclusions is a sort of fishy-looking piece that goes around his neck as an add-on which helps distinguish it from the basic Skeletor body. He also comes with an update to his classic ocean armor, complete with weird fish/bowtie/belt buckle, here a part of the chest armor. Mer-Man also includes his “corncob” sword (which fits into a special sculpted holder on the back of the armor) and a trident inspired by his 200X incarnation. Due to his open left hand, Mer-Man can only hold one item at a time.
The paint on Mer-Man is pretty good but also the one area of the figure where I find fault. When Mer-Man was first unveiled, he was painted in a soft blue-green, which I thought was a fantastic color and between the great sculpt and the great paint job, I was knocked out by this figure and he was the one I was most excited to pick up. This paint scheme is still visible on mattycollector.com. However, as he came closer to release, the color was changed to a glossy dark green (and to be fair, the final figure also has a nice dark wash on all the armor and shin guards and gauntlets that he didn’t have on the prototype). And while I don’t dislike the final color, the prototype color was a lot nicer and I really hope Mattel considers re-releasing Mer-Man in this color when they get around to selling him again.
Despite my personal gripe with his paint job, Mer-Man is my favorite Masters of the Universe Classics figure to date and he is likely the best out of the series so far. With his fantastic extra head and his abundance of accessories, Mattel and The Four Horsemen showed old Squidish Rex a lot of love and attention. So far, Mattel has been tight-lipped about their re-release plans beyond Skeletor in December, but I would bet that won’t be too far behind him. If you absolutely cannot wait, this is one of the few figures in the series that warrants paying the inflated prices on the secondary market.