While I had a ton on fun with Bane Week, it caused some MOTU reviews to be delayed. Maybe we could do a MOTU theme week – I’m sure Mattel would love to sell 5 new MOTU Classics toys in one month, wouldn’t they? Today, we’ll look at one of the three MOTU items for February, Preternia Disguise He-Man.
To subscribe, or not to subscribe, that is the question. I have no idea what percentage of the MOTU fanbase has joined Club Eternia. It sounds like it’s a sizable chunk, but the demand present on sale day still seems pretty high and Mattel wisely chooses to keep the subscription exclusives relegated to figures that hardcore collectors would want while still being items that casual fans could pass on without too much regret. In its first year, Club Eternia featured Wun-Dar. A simple He-Man repaint to be sure (though given a new, unique characterization), but I loved that figure. He’s still one of my favorites out of the fifty or so figures in the line. For 2011, Mattel chose another version of He-Man, this time his Preternia Disguise.
The origins of this look are relatively simple. In the vintage mini-comic The Powers of Grayskull – The Legend Begins, He-Man & the Sorceress travel back in time because they’re bored. It’s this mini-comic that introduces the concept of Preternia, He-Ro, as well as some techno-organic dinosaurs. Unfortunately, He-Man & the Sorceress left the door to the past open and are soon followed by Skeletor. While they’re walking around exploring the wonderful world of Preternia, Skeletor teams up with King Hiss and mayhem ensues. He-Man is allowed to help, but only if he wears a disguise. It’s never quite clear why that is, but you can imagine that if He-Man hadn’t shown up in Preternian history books before the Sorceress left, then she smartly chose to keep it that way. Anyway, He-Man changed clothes. Boom! New figure!
I don’t want to keep typing Preternia Disguise He-Man over and over and “PD He-Man” just doesn’t have the right ring to it, so, for the review, I’m going to call He-Man what I call the figure: Strangor. I just did a quick Google search for that name to see where it originated and… the only links I see calling him that come back here. I swear I heard it somewhere…
Anyway, Strangor here is mostly built from the He-Man buck though his arms feature the matching bracers from Tri-Klops. The new parts are the two pieces that make up his tunic and a new head. The first thing you surely noticed about Strangor is that his belt seems awful tight. I promise you that it looks better in person than it does in the head-on pics, but not a whole lot. The problem really isn’t the belt/waist, but rather the bulk of having the upper tunic be a separate piece from the torso (underneath is a brown He-Man chest with smooth abs). Since this figure is paid and guaranteed to sell the same number of units as every other subscription figure, I’d like to see a little more tooling.
I don’t always like the way that the fuller armor pieces sit on the figures. It pushes their arms out and increases the width of the torso more than it should, but it’s armor so I get it. This is supposed to be cloth. This figure would be light years better if Mattel could’ve sprung for a new torso (think Alan Scott). Despite my wishing they were torso pieces, the tunic is nicely sculpted and do look like simple togs on a bodybuilder.
Okay, other than the bulky tunic, I really liked the figure and one of the reasons is the head sculpt. Yes, it’s your standard He-Man expression, but instead of trying to fit a huge hood over the head like the huge tunic over the chest, everything has been sculpted anew. The mask is sculpted on instead of simply being paint and the hood is a separately sculpted piece. It’s pretty cool and, dare I say, 200x Skeletorish. The nice thing about the hood is that it sits far enough forward on the face to cast shadows. That’s usually a problem for hooded characters.
There’s not a lot of paint on the figure and what is there is a mix of good and bad. The light airbrushing on the tunic for texturing is nicely done and the paint on the face is really sharp. But the paint on the belt and boot trim didn’t come out as nicely. The boots had a lot of variation on the ones I saw: some had little to no dark areas while others were well covered like the one in the photos for this review. All the belts lacked a certain crispness though and I think the look of the figure unnaturally draws your attention to it, making the slightly sloppy paint seem a little worse than it might be on another figure.
Articulation is standard though the tunic does block things here and there. The skirt has slits in the sides to give the legs a little more freedom, but don’t expect any deep poses. The arms are prevented from coming down to his sides and the ab crunch loses some mobility inside the tunic piece. Other than these conflicts everything works as expected.
Since Strangor didn’t feature a lot of new tooling on the figure itself, he did come loaded with some cool accessories. The most important of which is the Cosmic Key. It’s mostly based on the movie design, but a handle has been added so the figures can hold it (though I did enjoy that the figure is cradling it in the packaging). It probably sounds silly, but I really like the key. I love the metallic blue and bronze keys and I’m always unnaturally entertained by vac-plating. Another handy feature is that the chromed forks are on a separate piece so they can rotate (and possibly so a future Gwildor can include a cosmic key in the off position). Continue to Page 2…