Eternian Palace Guards Review

Armybuilders are a funny thing. We’re so willing to buy multiples of nameless guys despite wanting only one of our favorite characters. And it certainly baffles toy companies, doesn’t it? Mattel recently took a chance on armybuilding with their Eternian Palace Guards 2pk. Of course, I just had to buy two.

I’m all for army builders, so I was happy to hear that Mattel was going to start incorporating them into the MOTU line (even though space on my toy shelf is at a premium), but what really sold me on this set was the ability to differentiate the figures with four heads and four chest plates to split between the two figures. MOTU Classics has already incorporated swappable heads an removable armor across the board and the idea for interchangeable armor plates is borrowed from the Battle Armor figures, but getting all of this in one two-pack made for an impressive set.

But before you think I’m lavishing too much praise on the set, it’s more for the planning than it is the execution. In a couple instances, I found myself wishing things were done a little differently or that Mattel had been willing to take things a step further.

In each pack, there are two normal/human heads (one modeled after Toy Guru), a snakeman head, and a Qadian (cat) head.

The Toy Guru, or Lt. Spector, head features some nice sculpt work from the Four Horsemen – it looks so much like TG that I wish I had a pair of glasses to give him! The other “human” head features a black character (some speculate a young Clamp Champ) and is probably my favorite of the four. I don’t know what it is, but the simple face sculpt has a very MOTU feel and he’s the most likely to snag the lieutenant armor in my display.

The snakeman head is well done, if a little odd. As snakeman doesn’t necessarily belong in the royal guard, but I’m going to accept him into my ranks on good faith (thought it could be said it’s a “snakemanified” version of Man-At-Arms). The snakeman does look a little sad and you’ll see that he ends up getting picked on a bit in the photos. Finally, there’s the Qadian head. I like it well enough, but I’m going to use that one to segue into talking more about how I wanted this set to have some more customization opportunites built-in.

On the left in the photo below, you have a quick custom by Vault, simply achieved by heating up and switching the hands and feet from a Chief Carnivus figure. I understand the needs of having an army be uniform in appearance, but I’d love to see MOTU Classics build on their swappable heads and try out a few more swappable pieces like feet, boots, hands, etc. Clearly, Vault’s already swapping the compatible parts, but it requires a bit more work at the moment. Being able to more easily “build” some new characters, like my Caligar Guard on the right will only help MOTU continue to be the little line that can. While I really enjoy this set, I hope that the future armybuilding two-packs will feature even more built-in customizable pieces.

The other main interchangeable feature is the 4 chest plates: an eagle/lieutenant armor, lined armor, and then lined armor that’s been damaged with one hit and two hits – a call back to Battle Armor He-Man. I love that they were included, but I wish the set included one more undamaged chest plate. Ideally, I’d like to have my four figures be one lieutenant and three guys with unblemished armor, but that’s not possible. I love that we can armybuild, but if we don’t want to use the battle damaged plates, then half our squad will always be lieutenants.

The base figure itself is entirely reused – a standard buck with Tri-Klops forearms and Keldor boots, but it serves the figure just fine. A side note here is that the figures were displayed at SDCC with the fur/leather He-Man boots (like MAA) and the armor over those while the packaging featured just the unarmored Keldor boots. The final figure ended up with the Keldor boots and the leg armor. This is cool, but it’s somewhat of an odd fit with the left leg armor always riding up a bit over the bulk of the boot.

Other than the aforementioned heads, the new sculpts are really all about the gear. Man-At-Arm’s leg and arm armor is reused while new mirrored armor completes the look on the right side. It mostly works, but there are some minor issues in addition to the odd fit on the legs. The bulk of the arm armor and the bulk of the chest armor leave all the guards with their arms sticking out more than I’d like (“which way to the gym?”) and the forearm piece tends to want to slide off and/or interfere with the accessories. Finally, and this is a minor nitpick to be sure, but the latches on the new armor are in different places from the MAA pieces. It just looks odd. I know that was a bunch of “quick hit” criticism, but I do like the armor, I just wish it had been a little differently. Continue to Page 2…

51 thoughts on “MOTUClassics.Com:
Eternian Palace Guards Review

  1. I love the shield pic you’ve got there, Noisy. I’ve been fiddling with mine for a few days now wishing that there had been a bump to attach the shield to the back of the armor like you show with the snakeman.

    Alright, Matty… Bring on Dekker!

  2. Great review! Criticisms notwithstanding, if I collected this line at all, you’d have totally sold me on buying at least one set. They look and sound so cool.

    I’m thinking Snakeman is worried about friendly fire. Never was easy being green.

    “[Man-At-Arms] looks odd leading his men into battle with only half as much gear on.”

    Odd, or badass?

    1. Yeah, the poor Snakeman gets some rough treatment in the Palace Guard Corps that’s for sure.

      It is some badassery for MAA to wear only half his armor, but as a kid I always preferred his cartoon look (mustache) over the toy, so I’ve always wanted my MAA figure to spot gear on both sides. I just don’t want to cannibalize one of the figures to do it. Maybe I need to buy 1 loose guard with a clean chest plate off of somebody and my basic wants from this set will be fulfilled. 😀

  3. Fantastic comics, ND!

    I didn’t mention it in my review, but an extra, undamaged, “Private” rank would have been great.

    Overall, I dug the set and look forward to what’s next in the army building series.

    1. Thanks for the link, 3B! You’ve got a lot of good pictures over there and you reminded me of something else I wanted to touch on – no guns! These guys need some pistols…

      1. Yeah, and it’s especially weird since the bio mentions they’re trained to use “… several types of Energy Blasters.”

  4. 1. Man-At-Arms doesn’t need more armor, because he’s that good. (and traditionally, leaders have less armor because they need to be more mobile)

    2. Not to be all grammar police, I think you wanted ‘segue’, not segway. Segway is a two-wheeled scooter favored by hipster posers. 🙂

    3. Might the ‘snakeman’ head be meant to be a shoutout to the oddly included ‘Lizardman’ character that showed up in the ’80s cartoon? Lizardman seemed to just be hanging around the Palace (and Teela!) and got tagged to come along on a few adventures. Of course the cartoon Lizardman was a scrawny gecko type and not burly…

    4. I think the problem, once again and calling back to your MAA review, they used the wrong kind of plastic for the armor. IIRC the issue was the weapons were of the softer ‘almost vinyl’ plastic while the armor was of the harder ‘almost styrene’ kind, right? Hence instant stress marks at the clamps and latches. Of course these aren’t TOYS, they’re Adult Collectibles, one isn’t meant to be PLAYING with them! Heck, one isn’t meant to even take them out of the package! SHAME! 🙂

    Another great review, as expected! I really like that the helmets aren’t just carbon copies of MAA’s helmet yet ARE similar. Hey, can the face guard part fit on MAA (having to remove his armor of course) ?

    1. I’ll hit you back point for point! 😀

      1) He is badass, but I’m thinking of a more show accurate portrayal.

      2) Thank you, 3am writing is not my friend…

      3) Anything is possible, but like you say Lizardman was bit different on the cartoon.

      4) You’re right on the materials used. The weapons are sturdier, but the armor is just as “fragile”.

      The mouthguard doesn’t fit on the MAA helmet because it doesn’t have the recesses and you can’t swap helmets without some cutting. The helmets attach to the head in different ways – I had to chop off some of the non-mustache MAA’s head to fit it in the new helmet.

      1. The last part about the helmets should probably be in the review. I wish the 4H/Mattel would make some of those parts more compatible. They don’t have to make the hair easier to remove, but it would be nice if the internal parts worked together without modification if you wanted to swap ’em…

        1. Well, that would imply some long term thinking and planning, right? You or I would do it without a second thought, because the more you can do with existing tooling, the more profitable the entire line can be.

          You sacrificed MAA heads?! Dude, how much customizing do you do!? 🙂

          (and I’m somewhat surprised to read the helmet is indeed a separate part, I had somehow assumed it was all one part, but with those undercuts, logic tells me I’m an idiot 🙂 )

          It seems a fair amount of ‘development’ went into this 2-pack. I think it’s fair to assume the weapons are going to be in the next weapons pack (and I can’t wait for the return of the Store and the handing out and the comments!) but I’m wondering if the armor parts will have a second life down the line.

          Hey, for giggles? Put the armor on Faker. It’s all orange, he must think it belongs to him, right? 🙂

          1. Were’ still missing Noisy’s review of the second weapons pack… So I guess the store has been closed for quite a while… due to logistics…

          2. I don’t do a lot of customizing, but if I have extras I tend to tinker.
            I just put a bunch of my customs up in the custom thread on the MOTU board if you want to check ’em out.

            And almost the hair/helmets/etc are separate from the heads. It would make customizing easier except that very few of the head/hair combos can just be peeled off and popped on another figure.

            1. Well, we surely wouldn’t want the children aged 8-12 playing with these figures to pull any hair or helmets off by accident, maybe even putting the parts in their little mouths and swallowing them and even maybe DIE!

              All the 8-12 year old kids playing with these…toys… wait. 🙂

              1. my 6 and 8 year olds love these toys. i don’t allow them access to every accessory, but for those that seem kind of hard to lose and sturdy, they’re allowed those too. i don’t worry about breakage or swallowage.

                1. Sure, and you’re a cool dad to allow it, because you have sense. 🙂

                  But they’re not the market. They’re not the targeted consumer demographic. Unlike the original toys.

                  Let’s face it, Moss Man would completely fail the ‘lick test’ that any kid would instantly try.

                  1. perhaps… but i passed on moss man, so i can’t vouch personally. 😉

                    i think the truth of who they’re marketed at is more mattel’s lack of insight than a design-based one. these could easily be marketed to kids… if mattel was willing to take them to retail (as single packs, not those bogus 2 packs)… but then, mattel would have to lower the price tag cuz production would be higher, and they couldn’t gouge the margin like they’re doing now. and they’d have to get their QC together, cuz some kid WOULD put an eternian guard shield in their mouths and would thereby eat that toxic silver paint. but i will say, anecdotal as it may be, i’ve taken my figs out in public a couple times, and without fail, some 6 to 10 year old lays eyes on tri-klops or skeletor or he-man, and their eyes explode out of their heads and their jaws do that WB cartoon thing where the wolf’s jaw drops and his tongue unfurls.

                    1. Not to derail into rantings over other things, your experience confirms what I’ve held for some time. Imagination wins. Those kids that see the figs, they are instantly inflamed with the POTENTIAL, creating their own worlds, and Kids just don’t get to to DO that anymore.

                      So much nanny state of ‘protecting’ thinking going on.

                      Part of the issue is the lack of the traditional ‘kidvid’ time block on local TV. That timeslot, 2-5 PM (local time) was the key to imagination and shared experience for our generation. That, combined with the traditional 3 networks and their Sat. AM cartoons.

                      Yes, alot of crap came out. But it was energetic crap and it was engaging, and we talked about it with our friends, and we acted out stuff on the playground, and if there were toys we played with them to death.

                      Some say that the cable channels (Cartoon network and Nick) provide that same experience, but I really don’t think it does. I see a LOT of Ben 10 stuff in stores, I don’t see little kids running around ‘playing’ Ben 10. I know Teen Titans was hot for a time, and I have a nephew who watched the show. He wasn’t engaged with it, it was something that was just on while he fiddled with his PSP. He never breathlessly recounted an episode or expounded on the cool thing a character did and had zero interest in the toys.

                      At great risk of sounding crazy, I think there’s something very primal in He-Man and that’s part of the success back in the day. It could work today, but not at $20 a figure.

                      *sigh* I have to get my rant tank checked, I don’t think it’s draining properly. 🙂

  5. Great review! I don’t think I could’ve loved this set anymore, but I agree with you about the little things that could’ve put it over the top. An extra armor piece would be great and I’m definitely down for more Duncan armor! It would make him more filmation accurate and that’s always a good thing!

    1. That’s what I’d like to see with the extra MAA armor. TG recently talked about the WPs being mostly for redecos, but hopefully they can be talked into it.

  6. I don’t feel that compulsion for army building, so I skipped this set, but i have to admit they look really cool all lined up like that.

    1. I do want some Horde Troopers, but I don’t know if I want a bunch of Qadians or Adreenid Warriors. I mean, I’ll buy ’em, but they’ll need to do something extra cool to them too.

  7. i still don’t understand the issue w/ the hard rubber-like armors of hordak or he-ro for example… i just flat out don’t think that they couldn’t handle having a plate installed, and that would make the figs MUCH easier to deal w/, articulation-wise. cut a little bigger hole around the arm, so the arm band of the sleeve could fit w/ in the radius, and VOILA no more hans and frans arms! MAA arms sit at a much more natural posture.

    i don’t like the odd way that the greeves fit. there’s no reason again why, since we made a big deal of using the keldor boots, we couldn’t have passed on the greeves… OR since we were re-using the MAA right greeve, we make the two MATCH and use he-boots… OR since the base leg is the keldor boot, we make NEW GREEVES that fit the keldor boot and take advantage of it’s natural contours and make the straps buckle across the second layer down on the boot, so the greeves FIT and STAY IN PLACE.

    i don’t like how the bracers fit… the MAA bracer clearly is engineered to sit over the wrist band, way up just under the elbow… why doesn’t the new piece sit there? instead, is buckles to fit between the wrist bracelet edges, and it constantly slides down.

    the buckler… what the fudgy rat ooze is the point of the buckler for guys armored up like armadillos? OR we make the buckler cast in the color it’s intended to be (saving money on an unnecessary paint ap, but what the hell, i’m not brand manager!) and make the thing fit in the guy’s hand ala a post, like some of the vintage shields did (or the SMC shields DO), that way, they could use the shield for protection, and a viable bash, AND the shield could stow on their back mounts… DUH! but i’m just johnny fan, right? johnny “i don’t really have an idea how the toy business works and couldn’t possibly make a viable suggestion to the R&D team, while they have jobs,” right? and yes, the clips… they’re about a stable as crispin glover. i expect mass breakages before the mayan calendar ends.

    the nietlich head is, to say the least, indulgent. i understand it’s the horsemen, they’re funny guys, and they like slipping in heads to their figs… if that’d been a dalhberg head, i’d have been fine… but it’s neitlich, who i know they seem to like, but who honestly to most of us, seems like a spoiled little brat living his dream job while cornholing the rather large fanbase he seems to loathe despite sharing a similar taste in toys. he constantly seems to be in the position to symbolically say “NO MINE!!” and so his punnums on a fig makes me kind of want to vomit in the box and ship it back to mattel COD.

    that said, the set is fun, and i’m having using them as gygor fodder! 🙂

    they get one more chance to get the two pack thing right… one.

    1. Even though the armor plates aren’t compatible, the guard plate sits loosely in the Battle Armor, so the softer armors could surely hold the pieces. For all we know, there is some Mattel guideline that dictates what type of plastic the pieces need to be for the clips. Who knows.

      I agree with most of your points, but the figures are somehow fun beyond the technicals. Made writing the review a bit odd.

  8. I bought two sets, but I wanted more of these guys. Mattel’s given me a lot of hope for a good MOTU year with the January product! I can’t wait for Bow & the Shadowbeast.

    1. The January stuff has been particularly nice. I’m sure Bow will be cool, but the Shadowbeast will probably only be okay. Not a lot of movement out of the Gygor buck, y’know?

  9. These guys rock! I’m totally down for the african-eternian head being Clamp Champ and the Snakeman head for being Duncan. I’m excited for future packs. I hope Mattel lets the 4H loose on the next 2pk.

    1. He didn’t specifically ask for it as I understand, so it’s not a big deal to me. Though he might regret giving his visage in toy form. I can make him into any MOTU character. After I was done with this shoot, I even put He-Scott back on the shelf as is! 😀

  10. I was wondering if anyone would point out the conundrum of having a Quadian wearing standard boots, so I’m glad you did! I was considering picking up another carnivus to steal his paws, but I might try casting/ making some first. Until then, the Quadian will have to be a Quadian/Human hybrid.

    Now the snake head, I’m not sure what to make of him. I don’t suppose it’s a far stretch of the imagination to assume the caligars and snake men may have some common ancestry. Maybe his family’s background more closely reflects that so he chose to live in Eternos rather than remain a “tailless wimp” in Subternia. My boyfriend is Mexican and gets mistaken for Filipino all the time because his native blood runs strong, so maybe the snake guy just looks like a snake when he’s actually Caligar. Or maybe he can be a half-breed too.

    As for the “Caucasian” head, that’s getting mutilated and repainted for sure lol Every army needs a good berserker or war-torn warrior. ^_^

  11. In the shield pic, it looks like the shield facing us has a “this side up” arrow. Just thought that was funny.

  12. One two-pack idea I haven’t heard yet is for some skeleton warriors from 200x. Those could be some sweet figures and a good army for Scareglow!

  13. I still say we need some female Palace Guards. I have no idea what form they would take but I would hope for more than re-popping Teela’s snake-based armor thingie in orange.

    1. the eternians (or those who brand manager for them) don’t seem to value their women much… shame too. how else does one celebrate ass-stomping skeletor for the third time that week? you need wine AND women!

      1. I guess they just make a ‘booty call’ to Etheria or something…

        (Seriously, the over-air channel Retro Television is running a Filmation block Sat. AM, with Bravestarr, She-Ra and He-Man back to back. Lots more trucking back and forth between Etheria and Eternia than I ever remembered back in the day!)

        1. had to be, that’s where the tail was… any good economist will tell you, tail is the basis of 90% of human trade and economic relations. it certainly seems to be the case in the motu-verse, whence went the tail, whence went the masters. 🙂

  14. Excellent review, as per usual. Please add my voice to the list of those who want extra Palace Guard armour bits (right greave, vambrace, and upper arm plates for Duncan, undamaged chest plate for Poor Left-Out Guard With Hand-Me-Downs) in the next Weapons Pak. And blasters.

Comments are closed.