Toy Review- Super7 Masters of the Universe Classics Collector’s Choice Wave 1

 

 

Super7 is a company out of San Francisco, California that specializes in pop culture products.  They are most famous for producing merchandise based on licensed items like Aliens, Street Fighter, Universal Monster and more.  They have recently obtained the license for Masters of the Universe from Mattel, producing new figures in the original 5″ style, as well as reimagined “retro” figures in the lines of classic Kenner-style 3 3/4″ figures (i.e. the original Star Wars figures) from the 70s and 80s.  They haven’t been the only company churning out new He-Man figures in the past 9 years, though.

In 2009, Mattel (the company that owns the Masters of the Universe characters) started to sell figures based on the classic Masters of the Universe characters through a subscription on its website, mattycollector.com.  Their goal was to release a updated version of all the classic MOTU toys by the end of the line’s run.  They preceded to do so, pacing them out over 6 years, interspersed with characters from other related media as well as some new characters or some based on unused concept art.  The line officially came to an end in 2015,but it continued as two separate lines; Collector’s Choice, continuing the Classics line with characters from outside the original toy line; and Club Grayskull, releasing new versions of classic characters, but done to closely resemble their look in the original Filmation cartoon.  Both lines had six figures in the initial run but shortly before San Diego Comic Con 2016 (where upcoming figures were usually showcased) Mattel announced it was closing down Mattycollector and awarding the license to produce Master of the Universe Classics lines to Super7.

That was in 2016 and fans of the line waited to see what Super7 was going to offer them. First, Super7 produced a line called Masters of the Universe Classics Ultimates, which were re-releases of some of the older figures, but with additional weapons and alternate heads that were added as bonuses with other figures or with alternate versions of the same character during the original run.  These were released in 2017, with fans liking them for the most part, but there were some concerns with the plastic being too hard or issues swapping the heads.  There were also some Power Con convention exclusives (three repaints, three new characters) that suffered alternately from stiff  or loose joints.  Then they offered the new wave of Collector’s Choice and Club Grayskull figures in May of last year.  The original delivery day was Sept of 2017, then November, then the new year.  Quality control issues cropped up and Super7 was determined to release the best version of the characters they could.  Finally, they shipped in Feb 18 and I got a set of the Collector’s Choice (because I prefer the Classics design than the less detailed Filmation look.)IMG_1879

Super7 first set of The Collector’s Choice line consists of four figures.  Unlike the Mattycollecter subscription mode, in which you commit to 13 or so figures while only seeing the first three, Super7 was upfront on the four figures being offered.  The packaging is the same as the original Classic line, with the yellow sky and green/grey bricks decoration the packaging.  This is so they can fit in with the collection of those who keep them mint or card (not my style).  The back is similar to those of the original Classics line, with cross sell art showing the characters from this set as well as the four from Club Grayskull.  Unlike the other Classic lines, there is some new art on the side of the card, showing the packages figure.  It also has a bio card (missing from the Collector’s Choice wave from Mattel.)  Depending on your own “head canon,” or if you only go with what was written in official publications or cartoons, you might enjoy these bios or dismiss them.  There is nothing too shocking that hasn’t been mentioned before, like Man-At-Arms turning into a Snakeman or the Unnamed One, the big bad behind the Snakemen, being a evil sorcerer from Orko’s race (all in previous bios/mini-comics)

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Both “facts” mentioned above are in Fang-Or’s bio.

Now lets look at the figures:  First up is Hawke

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Hawke is an Avionian, a race of flying Simian led by her brother and Heroic Warrior Stratos.  Obviously, Hawke got the looks in the family because she is less “ape-y” than her brother, and I guess all female Avonians are like this (that’s a helmet on her head apparently.)  She is based on her Filmation appearance as Stratos was the only Avonian in the original toy line.  She also appeared in the 2002 version and, despite a different character design, also appeared more like a normal woman than her brother.

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The figure articulation is fairly typical of figures in this size and is mostly the same on all female figures in this line.  The head is on a ball joint allowing standard movement and is removable (more on that later).  The shoulder joins are also on ball joints and can move up  and down and up to the sides.  The elbow is a single joint with about a 90 degree bend and the wrist rotate and can bend in and out, with is a new feature seem mostly on the Club Grayskull figures.  Legs are ball jointed at the hips, there is a boot cut swivel at the top of her boots, the knee are single jointed and the ankles can bend and has some pivot.  The only different joint is the torso swivel  mid chest underneath her breasts.  Most female figures have the torso cut at the waist.  The joints on my figure were good, with none of them being too tight or loose.IMG_1885

She comes with three accessories:  A sword (as seem in the picture of Hawke above), a rather large gun (a smoke screen gun, probably from the cartoon) and an extra blonde head,  This head belongs to Delora, Stratos wife (though some sources say sister.  Maybe it’s both?).  People with the forethought (and extra cash) to order two of her could have two separate characters to display, if they choose to.  Both heads are pretty much the same, with the hair color being the only difference.

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Next up is a character from one of the original pack in mini-comics, Lodar

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In the story titled “Slave City”, Lodar was the ruthless leader of an army of Kolbolds that capture people and brought back to their underground city.  He-Man was captured by them and forced to fight in the arena, but overcame his opponent then took on Lodar himself.  Lodar stood toe to toe with He-Man exchanging blows but also cast magic blasts which He-Man turned back on him.  Lodar was one of many characters featured in the mini-comics that never got a figure.

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Lodar is made from the standard figure buck seen throughout the line.  The head is new as is the chest piece, but with Beast-Man’s arm pads converted into shoulder pads. The rest of him is reused molds but they recreate his look from the comic nicely.  His main weapon is a back mace, see before in the weapons included with Castle Grayskull (but in silver).  Articulation is similar to Hawke, but with an ab crunch and waist swivel.  He also has the extra wrist articulation.

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His other accessory is a set of chains.  This enables you to recreate scenes from the story and have Lodar have He-Man chained up.

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Like so.

The third figures is this guy, Quakke

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Hailing from the often forgotten 1989-1990 The New Adventures of He-Man cartoon and toy line, Quakke is a member of the Evil Mutants, a faction led by Skeletor trying to conquer known space and take over the planet Primus, protected by He-Man and the Galactic Protectors.  Yes, it is He-Man in space..  Quakke uses his “Grabatron Meteormace” (I can’t make this stuff up) to create tremors to defeat his opponents.

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The figure’s design is faithful to the design of his original figure (from what I’ve see on Google) and has a futuristic look to it.  He is different from the usual barbarian look of most figures, but remember, even the original toys has futuristic vehicles and characters like Roboto.  His armour has a lot of wire sculpted into it with a seismograph screen built in.  His helmet is cracked and it look like even his face is slightly lopsided like the helmet.  His articulation is standard, with his ab crunch hindered by the armour overtop of it.  He also lacks the extra wrist articulation, which would have been handy for holding his oversized weapon.

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His Grabatron Metoermace is his only weapon but it comes in two parts.  The first part is his staff, with is a gun metal grey and fits in his right hand with the top part resting in the palm of his left hand.  The other part is a meteor itself, which fits in (and easily pops out) of the grabbing part of the staff.  The meteor even splits open, revealing  a mechanical interior.

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Lastly, we have the newest character in this set, the Snakeman, Fang-Or.

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Appearing as a background character in a large battle scene in one of the more recent mini-comics produced for the Classics line, Fang-Or is the Snakemen’s mechanical expert.  Apparently he was able to learn quickly under the tutelage of the transformed Man-At Arms.  He is a well designed figure with  new armour and belt pieces on a Snakeman body.  The Head is a gruesome sight, with his mouth wide open and his pointy fangs on display. HIs extra head features retracted fangs.  His articulation is in line with what we’ve seen, but his armour does not hinder his ab crunch, but he lacks the extra wrist joint.

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He has a few accessories that are all well done.  He has a wicked looking sword, which fits easily in his right hand.  He also comes with a winged snake pet, which, while neat looking really has no place to go on him, unless you carefully balance it on Fang-Or.  Finally, being a mechanic, he comes with tools.  The wrench and hammer all have snake designs incorporated into the tools,  The screwdriver does not, but it is just a screwdriver. They are all panted gold with brown handles.

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Fang-Or’s accessories.  Missing is the screwdriver, because it fell out of the package and I didn’t notice it until later.
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You can get his pet snake to balance on his shoulders, if you are careful.

 

Overall, this is a great initial set from Super7.  The figures look great  I didn’t have joints that were too loose or tight and my paint apps were spotless.  The weakest figure, in my opinion is Hawke, because of the minimal detail on her.  That can be chalked up to her design, since it was based on the Filmation version.  Hawke could have been in either line (Collector’s Choice or Club Grayskull and not be too out of place.  The best was Fang-Or, despite being the newest character and not having a previously known backstory.  He is still an awesome looking figure and we can always use more Snakemen to fill King Hiss’ ranks.

Both Master of the Universe sets (Collector’s Choice and Club Grayskull) waves were preorder only, which means you can only find these figures on reseller websites or eBay.  Expect to pay extra for those figures.  The preorder for the second wave ended mid-March, with a expected delivery date of late Fall.  A third line is planned but will no be announced until the summer at the earliest and not available for preorder until some time after the announcement.

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Why aren’t the Avionian women as hairy as the men? Almost like they use the same logic as the WoW races (males ugly, females hot.)

This Review is for entertainment purposes only.  I have not received any payment for this review. All opinions are mine and any pictures taken are for review purposes only.

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Graphic Novel Review: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Mini-Comic Collection

He-Man mini-comics
iHe-Man mini-comics

As a child in the early 1980’s I remember when the He-Man toys first came out,  They were different from anything else on the shelves at that time, a strange combination of Conan and Star Wars.  At first, though, there wasn’t any cartoon to introduce us to those characters.  To do that, each Masters of the Universe toy came with a mini-comic.  Those first books introduced us to He-man, Teela, Man-At-Arms and others as they fought Skeletor and his minions over the power within the mysterious Castle Grayskull.  These pack-in mini-conics lasts the entire line, even in its sister , Princess of Power and reappears in some form in the later lines.  Now all those classic stories are collected into one book.

This one.
This one.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Mini-Comic Collection is a hardcover graphic novel published by Dark Horse Books, in association with Mattel and DreamWorks Animation.  The book reprints all 51 of the original mini-comics from the original Master of the Universe toy line, plus all the Princess of Power mini-comic and books from subsequent lines.  There are also interviews with various writers and artists that worked on the line.

First of all the reprinted books look amazing.  The original mini-comics were not that big but to see the art in a bigger, almost regular-sized comic format is great.  The art, for the most part, looks good in a bigger size and you can really see the details.  The colours are good too, albeit not a vibrant as comics today with the advent of computer colouring.  As mentioned before, the book is a hardcover and is fairly hefty, due to containing so much material.

The stories hold up well, despite being written for a boy’s toy line 30 years ago.  The earlier stories are an especially interesting read, as it is very different from what be got with the cartoons series.  He-Man was not Prince Adam, but a warrior from a jungle tribe.  There was no Sorceress, but a Goddess, a green skinned (as first) woman that gave He-Man his “techo-vest” with gave him his super strength and invulnerability.  Man-At-Arms was not the King’s armourer, but the caretaker of lost technologies after  a cataclysm wiped out civilization, and Skeletor was a demon from another dimension, seeking the power sword to conquer Castel Grayskill and unleash his kind on the world. The comics slowly build up the mythos of Masters of the Universe, adding details to certain character’s back stories (Teela is the clone/daughter of the Goddess/Sorceress) and introduced elements from other sources like Prince Adam (originally appeared in the DC Comics mini-series) and Oroko (from the FIlmation cartoon.)  Even though some elements were dropped as the series went on to be similar to the cartoon, the mini-comics were its own entity.

The original mini-comics were more like a story book, with different takes on He-Man and the Sorceress
The original mini-comics were more like a story book, with different takes on He-Man and the Sorceress

There are interviews with some of the creative talent involved with the mini-comic, with names that would be recognizable by fans of comics and pop culture.  The first few mini-comics (which were more like mini-story books) had art from Alfredo Alcala, who worked on various DC and Marvel properties, including Conan the Barbarian.  Other names that some might recognize are writers Gary Cohn (various DC Comic books in the 80’s), Christy Marx (Jem), artists Mark Texeira (Wolverine, Punisher) and Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series and the DC Animated Universe) and even lettered Stan Sakai (creator of Usagi Yojimbo.)  The interviews go into their involvement in the MOTU series and their memories of working on the project.

Reading these mini comics gain is definitely a nostalgia trip for me.  I remember some of the stories, especially the early ones but there were some that I did not remember until I read them again.  Most of them I did not read before, as I lost interest in the toys due to the silly Filmation cartoon, but it is clear from this collection the mini-comic followed its own path.  Sure, some stories were blatant 12-panel adds for the new wave of figures or vehicles (Battle Bones really did not need an origin story!) but there are some hidden gems.  Original stories like Slave City and The Secret of the Elixir of Life introduced original characters that were not toys or on the cartoon.  Some were pretty violent, but not gory, with He-Man punching his foes or shooting them with a laser gun.  Nothing over the top, but it raised eyebrows them and would do the same (at least) today.

The book also reprints the Princess of power mini-comic which, like the He-Man ones, don’t follow the cartoon series.  the stories feature She-ra as she and here friends foil the schemes of Catra, Entrapta and others.  Only one story has the Horde in it and then, it is only Horde Troopers. There is also the mini-comics from The New Adventures or He-man (1989-1990) which has He-Man and Skeletor continue their battle in space in the far future and two retailer exclusive comics from the 2002 Master of the Universe reboot.  Finally, the book reprints three mini-comics released in the subscription-exclusive Master of the Universe Classics toy line.

Alongside The Art of He-Man book or by itself, this is a great book for fans of the various incarnations of He-Man.  As a trip down memory lane or as a way of learning more about the series, this is a great book to add to your collection.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Mini-Comic Collection is available online, in comic book stores and book outlets everywhere.  Check the web or your local stores for price and availability.  It is also available as a 2 volume digital edition on Amazon.