Greetings fellow fans of all things Eternian! It’s Andy Larson here, the host of the Ghost of the Stratosphere podcast and resident super fan of everything dealing with the most powerful toy line of yesteryear and beyond, Masters of the Universe!
After last week’s comic book review of the He-man and the Masters of the Multiverse comic series, I was re-galvanized to write some more of my recent thoughts on this mighty series of action figures that has given me so much joy throughout my entire life. Luckily for me, there’s tons of MOTU related news to cover as of late, so this won’t be just an article with a sad 40 year old man drowning on about a dead franchise.
First off, I wanted to squee like a newborn baby nerd over the fact that the new Masters of the Universe Origins figures have been released and can be found at retailers like Walmart nationwide! Now for those of you that haven’t been paying attention, the Origin line is really Mattel’s first attempt since the failed 200x line almost 20 years ago to put MOTU figures out in the direct market for consumers.
They are hedging their bets on the fact that because the figures are pretty much faithful recreations of the original figures so many of us “Gen X” kids adored from the 80s only with increased articulation, that Moms and Dads around the world will pony up a couple bucks to snag several of these toys for their young ones whether the kids want them or not. I mean you know the old saying, until you have enough cash to buy it yourself, you are pretty much at the mercy of your parents for the next toy fix, and if your Dad wants to buy you a He-man figure to relive the joy of his youth for a few moments, then you better get used to playing with He-man toys.
Now, the biggest question most of my friends are asking me is whether I intend on buying the entire set, given I have already sank thousands of dollars in the MOTU Classics line over the years which was supposed to be the end all be all for my MOTU collecting.
Well, the simple answer is: OH GOD YES!
I mean there’s no way that these toys are going to be passed up by yours truly, given their retro style and decent enough craftsmanship. I mean they don’t hold a candle to the sculps of the MOTU Classic figures, but they really don’t need to. These are “playing with toys”. I’ll admit wholeheartedly that while I relished the fact that my kids played with my MOTU Classic figures, given how much I payed for some of them and how expensive it would be to replace them now if one got broken, it was somewhat of a dice roll every time I allowed them to pick them up.
As a result, there were plenty of times I got more than a little agitated with they were throwing around accessories or dropping them off the top of the tree house. That doesn’t happen when I get these MOTU Origin figures. These can be the figures they play with, allowing my own MOTU Classic to take their proper place as dust covered shelve warmers, complete in the knowledge that I invested money wisely into figures no kid should ever touch.
Plus, I gotta show my support, lest Mattel pull the plug again on this grand experiment of letting MOTU live again. With the Netflix shows coming out soon and the reintroduction of one of the greatest toy lines ever to the kid populace, this franchise is at a critical place in terms of needing those dollars to provde the investment is sound enough to continue.
I think nerds everywhere can agree that like GI Joe, Transformers, and Lego, the pop culture universe is a better place with a solid MOTU franchise in place. It helps balance things out in those toy shelves and whether you are a fan or not, gives opportunities for other forgotten franchises to see the light of day as well.
So don’t be surprised if you see a follow up article in the next couple of weeks showing off some of the figures I’ve been lucky enough to find in local stores. Maybe with a comparison to the MOTU Classic versions or better yet in tandem with the MOTU Classic Castle Grayskull!
Speaking of MOTU toys fresh to store aisles recently, we’ve got the first wave of some terrific official blind bag minis directly from Mattel.
Now, I say the word “official” because there have already been other He-man minis released previously such as The Loyal Subjects line and technically the Mega Construx figures, although they weren’t really sold in the blind bag type style. However, these figures really represent Mattel’s best attempt to date to capture some of that ridiculously diverse and interest market known as the mystery mini fig that can be found in every toy aisle in America.
For true MOTU fans though, this line is a definite retread as most are the exact same figures that were sold several years back on Mattycollector.com as a companion subscription to the aforementioned MOTU Classic figures. The only difference were they were sold in two packs back then for the hefty price of 20 bucks a piece before the absolutely ridiculous shipping costs jacked it closer to 30 bucks a pop.
Sure, they weren’t sold in blind bags so you could pick the figures you wanted, but given that insane price tag, they were an extremely hard sell. In fact, the only ones I bit on were the original SDCC pack of He-man and Skeletor and that’s only after they went on sale at 50% off one Cyber Monday years ago.
I do remember at the time writing on the MOTU forums that the only way I’d buy these mini figs was if they were sold in a retail establishment without the exorbanate shipping for half the price. Well, it looks like several years later, I finally got my wish. I mean sure they are in these nice little Castle Grayskull clam shells so you can’t see what figure you are getting, but like Imaginext, each shell has a number stamped on the back and with any number of internet websites out there with the number lists, you can easily search for the exact figure you need.
Which comes to the question of whether or not I’ll be picking up these figures like I will the MOTU Origins. The answer is regrettably no. Why you ask when it seems like Mattel did everything I originally complained they should do in order for me to get it? Well, the simple answer is that it’s too little too late. If this had been released 4 or 5 years back, then yeah I would have probably got them.
Additionally, if they had delivered characters that I had not already previously had an opportunity to purchase and passed on, like say a Teela, Sorceress, or the teased Horde Trooper, that would have peaked my interest more. But in the years since these same figures were sold on Mattycollector, I already filled by coffers as it were with “alternative smaller scale” MOTU figures. Namely, the Super7 Reaction line, which delivered really wonderful Kenner-esque versions of my favorite Eternians. So I really don’t need more novelty He-man figures outside the real deal line, if you know what I mean.
Besides, the entire MOTU mini figure line is bollocks anyways given the fact that Mattel owns Fisher Price and as such Imaginext. I already proved with my own custom modded Imaginext figures rendered in the MOTU design, that this line was ripe for He-man, Skeletor, and the like with very little retooling necessary.
So, the fact that Mattel ignored this gold mine whether on purpose or accident never did sit right with me. And now that I have my own versions which I have seen my own kids play with more days than I can count, nothing short of official Imaginext He-man figures will do…period.
In closing for today’s article, I have had a number of GotS fans out there send me questions since finding out I was a huge He-man fan about what I thought were the best episodes of the original Filmation cartoon. If I have never made my official thoughts known on this topic, I’d be happy to lay them out now.
Sincerely, I have a very complicated relationship with the Filmation cartoon. It’s like a Love/Hate thing in which they are some of my fondest memories of a TV show from my childhood, yet as an adult, I find the great majority of them extremely hard to swallow anymore. Most of the episodes are campy and contrived, playing up the exact opposite of what I want the franchise to represent.
Plus, unlike GI Joe, Transfomers, and Thundercats that managed to balance out some of their more childish aspects with some continuing story-lines and a fair commitment to continuity, He-man flitted around from one goofy harebrained scheme by Skeletor to the next, with little to no stakes as He-man eventually punched his way to a solution every episode.
The She-Ra cartoon from Filmation is actually the superior show mainly due to better overall writing and the added dramatic benefit of having She-Ra’s group be the underdogs, trying to free the planet from the evil rule of Hordak who has already conquered the vast majority of it. Plus, because She-Ra wasn’t their “A” list character, Mattel didn’t seem to care as much about the direction Filmation wanted to take with the show and that allowed for a lot greater creative control.
Some that worked on Filmation show actually said that Mattel pulled the plug too early on the He-man cartoon as they were just starting to dip their feet into the type of stories the series was capable of which in some ways might have redeemed it in my eyes as an adult. I mean, they did do “Problem with Power” in the final batch of episodes ever produced, and that is arguably the best He-man cartoon in history thus far, so maybe they were on to something.
But in the end, compared to the original mini comics with their dark barbarian view of a post apocalyptic Eternia, ravaged by wars and plagued by ancient mystical forces, there’s no way that the Filmation show can be seen as anything other than kids stuff, and somewhat mundane kids stuff at that.
Still though, given there has been some interest in me giving my Top 5 personal favorite He-man cartoons from the Filmation era, be on the look out for that in an upcoming article in the next couple of weeks. If nothing else, it will give my GotS fans who might be picking up the new MOTU toys for their kids, but have either forgotten or never really watched the He-man cartoon some place to start when watching it with their kids. I can attest that having to watch a cartoon your kids want to that is dull, uninteresting, nonsensical, or worse all three is one of the greatest “First World” problems a Dad can deal with. So hopefully this list I’ll be writing soon will help relieve that just a bit.
Until then though, May the Power of Grayskull be with you. And Also With you.