Today sees the release of Granamyr, the largest Masters of the Universe figure ever, with a wallet-weep-inducing price tag of $80 plus tax and shipping (just over $100 total). He’d stand about 30 inches tall if in fact he could stand, but he actually can’t – much like Todd McFarlane’s Malebolgia, and your constipated grandfather, he’s meant to stay in a squatting pose looking threatening. And yes, I bought him anyway.
Granamyr originally showed up in both the Filmation cartoon and the mini-comics that came with the figures, but never showed up in the original ’80s toy line; he’s the sort of figure only obsessive adults looking to reclaim their childhood could possibly afford ($80 would have bought TWO Castle Grayskulls back in the day). For those of us that resemble that remark, the new figures have been the highlight of He-Man’s revival; it’s cool to get revamped favorites, but the guys (and gals, but mostly guys) we never had before really give us that fresh new toy feeling.
Not all of them have been good ideas, though. Let’s take a look at the hits and misses.
5. Slime Pit Monster. This guy deserves a mention for being the only original character in the 200x line, and the fact that he’s a skeleton with slimy removable guts, reminding us of our favorite super-gross Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure Mutagen Man. Points off because he should have been an army builder rather than a playset pack-in.
4. Vikor. Yes, he’s based on concept art, but that feels like a cover story. Essentially, this is Mattel saying, “We want to make Conan the Barbarian, but we don’t have the rights. Wink wink – meet…uhhhh…Vikor! Yeah, that’s the ticket.” Given the long-believed myth that He-Man was originally intended to be a Schwarzenegger Conan toy until Mattel execs balked at the R-rated film, this is a nice little nod, and the metal chain links on the manacles are a nice touch.
3. Demo-Man. Some may object to his neon green color, or the retconned backstory that Keldor was somehow fused with this character to become Skeletor, thus making our favorite screechy skullface a hybrid personality that he never evinced in any iteration prior. Ignore the clumsy attempts to shoehorn him into canon, though, and he’s basically a concept, Viking-ized Skeletor come to life, or perhaps a new arch-foe for He-Man (which is a refreshing change – he can’t just fight Skeletor every day, as the Filmation cartoons made clear). Plus he came with a bonus extra-scary Skeletor head in Alfredo Alcala style, bringing the character back to his terrifying roots as a pumped-up Grim Reaper wannabe.
2. Griffin. There are any number of fan-requested repaints of the Battle Cat body that could have been done, and would have been tedious: King Grayskull’s Battle Lion (same figure with a bigger head, basically), for example, or Catra’s cutesy pink lion Clawdeen. This was a much better idea, mixing in some bird parts and making tangibly awesome what was just a deus ex machina device in the MYP cartoon any time the bad guys got in too much trouble. The resculpted saddle actually fits Beast Man snugly, unlike the Battle Cat and Panthor saddles which give He-man and Skeletor slightly bumpy rides.
1. Procrustus. Like Granamyr, a mini-comics character who looked extremely cool but we never thought we’d see, especially in a line that thrives on reused parts. Looking not unlike the Nome King from Return to Oz on steroids, he’s the Atlas and/or Cronos of Eternia, a giant that holds the planet together from the inside, while still having time to play with a giant marble, apparently. It’d be nice if the two of his hands that seem sculpted to hold weapons actually had some that were in-scale and could fit, but maybe they’ll make a Planet Eternia playset for a million dollars that will have appropriately shaped hand-holds to match. And yes, I’d probably try to buy that, somehow.
And now, the worst…
5. Chief Carnivus. With his bent Sword of Omens and animated kitty-cat face, this figure would look good in a Thundercats line, but just isn’t quite right as a Masters of the Universe figure, highlighting the fact that when it comes to adapting characters who originated in animation, the Classics line can’t help but make them cartoonish. The character could possibly have been cool – a generically “African” accented Lion King – but he never got much to do, so we may never know. The toy leaves something to be desired, however.
4. The Yellow Snake Man. The Snake Men army builder pack was basically just a cheap excuse to kitbash, but at least the brown guy used Rattlor’s ultra-scaly parts that we’ll probably never see on any other figure. The yellow one is just dull and he doesn’t even have a name, yet he got made before Tung Lashor and Ssssqueeze. That’s worthy of a Tung Lashing.
3. Vykron. The idea was sound: pay tribute to He-Man’s 30th anniversary by doing modern-style versions of the kitbashed sculpts Roger Sweet used to pitch the line originally. The execution, however, left much to be desired, from the “space” armor that barely fits – and had to be heavily modified anyway because the original figure was too close to Boba Fett – to the head that, when unhelmeted, had a giant rectangular peg on top instead of hair. Besides, they already did a much cooler version of this idea when they made Vikor, and could barely be bothered to alter the name in a manner that would disguise that fact.
2. The Faceless One. You see that thing on the front of his head? It sure looks like a face to me.
1. Sir Laser-Lot. We all got excited when it was announced that Geoff Johns would be designing a character for Masters of the Universe’s 30th anniversary. What we weren’t told was that it would be a character designed by Geoff Johns when he was eight years old, and presumably had a psychedelic dream after drinking too much Mountain Dew at a Medieval Times restaurant. When you’re a kid, it seems cool to combine all the things you like, such as Superman, Sir Lancelot and laser beams. It also seems cool to shove peanuts up your nose. Neither are actually good ideas.