Sunday, March 28, 2010

THE ETERNIAN OBSERVER: Hyper-Detailed Edition

For those of us following Mattel's great but frustrating Masters of the Universe Classics line, there has been tension from the beginning over how much influence the 2002 cartoon and toy series would and should have on this new "Classics" line.

MOTUC obviously takes its visual cues from the classic 1980's action figure line, with its chunky aesthetic, and is deeply nostalgia-based. But at the same time, the inaugural figure was a MYP character, King Grayskull. Other 2002-exclusive characters have been released or are scheduled to release such as Zodak, Keldor and Count Marzo. There have been lots of other nods to the 2002 series in the form of accessories, deco, or bonus heads. This is not to mention the fact that the bios are largely straight from the 200X series and its associated comics. While we understood that this was a "Classics" line we were also told that it would draw from the entire spectrum of Masters of the Universe, including 200X, Princess of Power and New Adventures. Surely, there must be a happy medium?

Since the reveal of Keldor and his infamous swords, there has been controversy and a regular back and forth between Toyguru and the fans. Keldor and Skeletor in the MYP pilot, was depicted as using a pair of ornate short swords that connected together to make a double sword. In some early versions of the 2002 show, these were meant to be analogous to the old mini comic half-swords but this idea was later discarded (as were the swords themselves). The bottom line, toyetically speaking, was that the swords were very cool-looking. Cut to MOTUC Keldor, who will be released with a pair of purple half powerswords. You know, those same half-swords that have been released with every other character in the line. The ones that don't fit together.

When he has been asked about this, Toyguru invariably goes into a tortured explanation about how the 2002 Keldor swords were originally meant to the powerswords so the half swords are actually the "classics" versions of the Keldor swords. And that the anime "hyper-detailed look of 200x has been retired. That's all very interesting but whatever the design lineage, the half-powerswords just do not look good. Keldor looks kind of silly dual-wielding a pair of half-broadswords.
Now, I think Keldor is an amazing entry into the series and that he comes with a good deal of new tooling for a bonus MOTUC figure. I appreciate that the reality might have been that there was not tooling for a pair of new swords, so it became necessary to plug in the half-swords, but why close the door on the possibility of simplified 200X-inspired swords in the future? Why stubbornly insist that the half-swords are "correct" because they happen to be based on a discarded idea from the 2002 show, which technically is not even "canon" in MOTUC anyway. If you are talking about continuity in MOTUC, what is Keldor doing with two halves of the powersword anyway?

Recently, the increasingly snippy Toyguru replied to a post on with a long message about the Classics design versus the "anime" design of the 2002 figures, specifically regarding the possibility of of a MOTUC He-Man inspired by his 200x appearance. Personally, I think this is a weak case because, apart from the leaner proportions, 2002 He-Man is not that different from classic He-Man. A He-Man with a 2002 style harness and a new head-even just longer hair-would do the trick, because according to Toyguru having a pouch on the loincloth constitutes "hyper-detail." Apparently, when you walk around in cargo pants, you are super ultra hyper detailed, and you should not expect to be made into a MOTUC figure.

When fans say that they want more 2002 influence in MOTUC, that doesn't mean that we want to go back to the exaggerated style of that line. I'm not talking about Man-At-Arms with a huge and ridiculous Metroid ball on his shoulder, or a Battle Lion that is a foot tall, or Trap-Jaw with a weapon arm that is longer than the figure is tall, I'm talking about touches that are integrated into the Classics style that would look good with the figures that we already have like we've already come to expect based on figures like Webstor, Tri-Klops and Whiplash. I'm talking about a Skeletor that doesn't look like he is wearing a rain bonnet. I'm talking about a Trap Jaw that does not have a cup holder as one of his arm attachments. I'm talking about a He-Man that doesn't look like he's trying to pass a stone.

Putting aside the idea of the style in which they were presented, some design elements were better in vintage and some were better in 2002. I just want the ones that make for better looking action figures. So, Mattel, please start looking for a character to package the 2002 Keldor swords with. I think 200x decoed Evil-Lyn would be a great choice.

Patrick Garone
Creative Director


Leslie said...

So I guess this another "petition" type deal like Flocked Vs. Unflocked Moss Man?

Someone will start a topic on Mattycollector forums and then it will lead to Toy Guru caving in (if he does) and delaying the figure by a month because he already listened to the fans. Then there will be a variant with purple swords (which will be shorted and subscription only or something) and the 200X Swords version will show up to order on the site.


foolsbones said...
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