Greetings Gang of Four! I know that its been a couple days since I posted and the reasons for that are like Nedd Stark’s kids, legitimate and illegitimate.
In the legitimate column, I did have a pretty important presentation to put together for a client of mine in my “big boy” job, and that did eat up a lot of my time over the past week.
On the illegitimate side, well, like a out of shape man that just ran a 5k (or in blogging terms the 3 a week post commitment), I was a bit winded by the experience and wanted to sip lemonade for a while.
But now, seeing that my fellow Ghosters, Robert Stewart and Chad Smith, both posted new blogs in the past 48 hours, it’s time for this old war horse to get back in the trenches and what better to galvanize the fan base than a good old fashioned “Top 5 List”. Seeing that some of my best ones deal with Masters of the Universe toys, it’s a no brainer for me to go back to well that has given the most water. So without further ado:
The Top 5 Vintage Masters of the Universe Vehicles:
(or as I have always affectionately called them “rides”.)
Unlike other lists, this one has no rules, other than this list isn’t supposed to be some “end all, be all” list rooted in mathematical or empirical survey data. It’s just a list of the ones I consider either the coolest or the ones every self respecting MOTU collector should have in their collection.
5) The Battle Ram:
Any self respecting friend of mine that has ever got me babbling on about MOTU toys, should know that I consider the first two waves of MOTU to be as sacred as toys can get. The toys released in these waves predate the development of the cartoon show and are in themselves a world apart from what the general populace knows of MOTU. They are a part of “Minieternia”: a dark violent place filled with swords, sorcery, and forgotten high technology which was the focal point of the early MOTU brand. It was long before the cartoon show sugar coated the series, when just the box art and the classic minicomics paved the way for young kids imaginations to take MOTU in any direction they wanted.
The Battle Ram was one of two vehicles released in Wave 1 of MOTU and although some fans might favor the other Wave 1 ride, the Wind Raider, as the superior toy, I couldn’t disagree with them more. Mainly, because the Battle Ram was two toys for the price of one. The front part detached to create the Sky sled (which got some major play on the Filmation cartoon show), while that back part became a war cannon perfect for shooting your annoying kid sister in the eye with.
It looked like a tank, it played like a tank, it was solid like a tank, but it was also so otherworldly with a gargoyle like face at the front, and strange tubes and gears molded in the design. I made the thing Man At Arms main mode of transport in those days and for all the right reasons. Like Man At Arms, the Battle Ram was some sort of strange mix of magic and technology, like some sort of last vestige of science in a world that had long ago fell into barbaric disrepair. It’s like finding an M-1 Sherman in a post apocalyptic wasteland. It really starts making your mind wander with the possibilities.
4) The Dragon Walker:
This battery powered Wave 3 entry was given to me as a Christmas gift in 1985 along with a Mekaneck and another Trap Jaw (seeing that I lost all the weapons for the first one). I just remember looking at it almost awestruck.
It was just so fierce looking, monstrous, that I thought it had to be belong to Beast Man or something. But then I saw He-Man driving it on the box art, and I said “Well..Beast Man is still going to drive it” and thus despite it being marketed as one for the good guys, in my playroom universe, the Dragon Walker was the bad guy’s tank. Kind of like the Anti-Battle Ram in the every increasing arms race between He-man and Skeletor.
I remember I took some flack about that from fellow kids too. They would always say “Why do your bad guys get to drive the Walker? The commercial shows it belongs to He-man.”
To which I would respond: “Dragons are always bad, dummy. You always believe what they tell you in commercials?”
That would usually shut them up real quick. 7 year old Andy was the epitome of term “straight shooter”.
3) Tyrantisaurus Rex:
A very late entry in the MOTU line, T Rex has the honor of being the final straight “villain” ride made in the vintage line (Turbodactyl could go either way), and the only one from what I can recall that was made specifically as a vehicle for the sub group of MOTU baddies known as the Snake Men.
However, despite him being released in the waning days of the franchise, T Rex still packs a lot of good old fashioned MOTU punch. Equipped with bionic legs, a shoulder mounted laser gun, and vicious spinning drone that could be fired from his stomach, he was one monster you didn’t want to mess with. Even his jaw was impressive, snapping down on the heads of unsuspecting heroes with Jurassic Park like savagery. In short, more than Stridor or even the iconic Battle Cat who were really inarticulate hunks of plastic, Tyrantisaurus Rex delivered the goods when it came to being a mount and could be played with for hours.
The saddest thing personally though about this entry is its the only vehicle I currently don’t have my collection. I did get a Tyrantisaurus Rex for my 9th birthday, along with an Attack Track and I can remember those being some of the final MOTU vehicles I got. More than the Attack Track, Tyrantisaurus got the play time that evening and for the months that followed.
Somehow however, my Tyrantisaurus Rex got separated from my MOTU collection and probably got pitched in some Spring cleaning of my parents basement many years later. Yep, I would be beside myself with joy to find that wasn’t the case, and it was in some musty box somewhere. But that’s not the reality. Like my Eternia playset, Rex was an unfortunate tragic causality of a guy that didn’t realize how much he would treasure his MOTU toys…once he got to his mid 30s.
Ok, now it’s time to get serious. Anyone that says this battery powered death machine from wave 4 shouldn’t be on the list of the top MOTU rides, is a goddamn liar.
I mean look at this thing. I think we can agree that not only is this one of the coolest MOTU toys of all time, it’s probably one of the coolest toys from the 80s…period. It’s sleek red and black design, it’s perfectly balanced spider like locomotion, the pincer claws in front, the party in the back.
It’s a toy I can still bust out with younger kids nowadays and its like they are awakening from some sort of fever dream. Their mouths hang open for a moment or two, they start looking all jittery, and immediately they want to play with it. It’s like instinctive, they know it’s bad ass and they need to own it.
Personally, this is a toy I never owned as a kid. It was one I would lie awake at night thinking about but somehow never materialized in my collection. I would have to wait until I was 32 and that really special deal came across on Ebay to add this Moss man stomping arachnid powerhouse. And just like those kids I talked about earlier, I played with the damn thing for hours. Well worth the almost 3 decade wait.
1) Point Dread and the Talon Fighter:
Ok, so maybe the top entry on the list doesn’t have the instant flash in the pan fire that Spydor does, but truly there isn’t a more iconic MOTU vehicle on this list than the Talon Fighter.
Again, it’s no surprise that the top entry on this list comes from the epic first 2 waves of toys, in this case, Wave 2, which was solely responsible in my mind for cementing MOTU as one of the really awesome toy lines. So many good things came out of Wave 2: Man E Faces, Trap Jaw, Triklops, and now this impressive falcon shaped space ship.
Really, if there’s any remaining doubt about how awesome the toys released in the first two waves were, just think about it in these terms. If the first 2 waves had not been so great, so imaginative, so unique and special in their design, then there would be no wave 3. Or Wave 4. Or Cartoon. Or well anything. But these toys were and as I said before it gave Mattel the license to print money for a number of years as no toy was as popular or beloved in the mid 80s.
To this day, I’ll ask friends what was one of the best toys you can remember from the MOTU line, and they will usually say “That Bird ship”, and I have to believe it’s because the toy is so damn memorable.
It’s tight mixture of red, blue and orange color, the eagle design complete with feet, the fact that two figures could ride in it together, that it came with not only its own minicomic but it’s own damn record, I could go on. Throw in the fact that it wasn’t just a vehicle but with the addition of the Point Dread “play set” (I use that term loosely), it became the only true add on to your Castle Grayskull, adding to the legend that is that impressive meeting hall of plastic mortar and stone.
I often times think about how Mattel missed the boat in creating more add ons to their main bread and butter play set, such as the ill fated prison attachment which never got off the drawing board. But at least thanks to the Talon Fighter, we got this sweet majestic looking hawk perched high atop its lofty spires.