King Hssss Review

My Club Eternia subscription finally arrived yesterday. The slow shipping is starting to make these reviews a bit less timely, but with more King Hssss figures to be released next Friday, I actually feel like I’m a bit ahead of the games on this one! The only thing is, King Hssss left me feeling more or less underwhelmed.

Before we get into the complicated mixed feelings I have about King Hssss, I figured I should point out that I don’t really care about the character. It’s a shocker, I know. I haven’t met that many fellow He-Fans who feel similarly, but that’s okay. As a kid, I favored the Joes, the Autobots, and the Heroic Masters – very few of my favorite characters were villains and that has more or less carried through to today. As an adult, I can better appreciate King Hssss, but I don’t really have any sense of nostalgia about him. Moreover, I’ve never understood how anyone with such a sinister costume could be construed as heroic, slight smile or not…

Which is more or the less the way Hiss was introduced. Skeletor releases him from his ancient prison, but is surprised to see such a “heroic” dude and attacks him. He-Man, making the same mistake, intervenes and saves Hssss from Skeletor (or, if you prefer, saves Skeletor from Hssss) only to be subdued by Hssss moments later. He appears late in the mini-comics and, as such, doesn’t have any Filmation appearances under his belt. His story was fleshed out in further mini-comics that detailed the Snakemen threat to Preternia and their subsequent banishment to limbo (ever notice that all the Preternia heroes seem able to do is leave problems for He-Man to clean up later?). The MO2K series followed suit with these early story details while also making the Snakeman the primary antagonists towards the end of the show. That King Hssss featured more of an Egyptian motif – which is a look I wouldn’t mind seeing get its own action figure at some point in the line.

Where to start on King Hssss? I’ve been asking myself that a lot since he arrived. He looks so good sitting on my shelf, a few feet away from me, and it’s easy to forget that he’s a little pile of annoyances.

I’m going to start with the sculpt, because it’s really nice and the main thing the figure has going for it. I will say that it would be better if he had a new unique torso instead of the slipover piece. It thickens his neck and makes his arms seem stubbier than normal. And those boots… I understand and support intelligent part reuse, but I’m starting to realize there isn’t very much of a footwear selection on Eternia. Hssss has a ton of new parts, so maybe that’s making these two areas of re-use seem worse than they are.

Though I question the constant re-use of Skeletor’s calfwear, as I said, Hssss is almost entirely new. The boots, hands, and the torso pieces underneath the non-removable armor are all that’s been carried over from previous figures. The scaled (ribbed?) texturing of Hssss required new pieces everywhere else and looks really nice along with a great head sculpt. His crotch piece – a completely encapsulated, traditional crotch piece seems to have lost some of its detail from the prototype, but that appears to be a thick paint issue. It’s cast in green plastic and painted in a thick red which makes the scales seem soft. The belt buckle, with another coating of a thick silver, is left with only slight impressions instead of a sharp details.

The other primary component of the sculpt (or is it one giant accessory?) is the King’s snake form. It swaps out easily enough and replaces his regular torso. King Hssss being made of snakes sprouting from his lower torso is on the list of reasons I never really liked the character, but if you’re a fan of that, then you should be pretty happy with this figure. Once you regain consciousness from its fresh out of the package smell, you can appreciate the nice level of detail and have fun bending the two “arms” into some neat poses. The jaw is articulated for more fun too.

And I suppose this is as good a place as any to talk about those reversed shoulders…

I tossed a QC spotlight on the shoulders in the pic below simply because I felt I had to at this point, but I can’t say that I’m all that upset over it – I’m out of matches for my torch, so to speak.

It’s a stupid mistake, but visually, it just doesn’t bother me all that much. Over the last few weeks, I looked at the pics and videos of the other Hssss reviewers who went before me and didn’t notice the mistake (nor did they). It should be done correctly – don’t let my indifference imply otherwise, but, for me, the real annoying part of the whole debacle is, as usual, the poor handling of it. My fellow blogger Poe has already written what I think is the perfect piece on the matter and I encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already. I feel pretty much the same way, at least when it comes to the shoulders.

That said, you can all clearly see that the shoulders are sharing the QC spotlight. The shoulders are a bigger problem because they’re endemic, but the jacked up crotch piece bummed me out because it’s never fun to find “hidden” damage to the figure when you open him. I’m not sure what happened back there either. There are chunks of plastic missing from the upper belt line (which lets you see that green plastic underneath) and then more indentations below in the paint. Sadly, even though I’m showing you two angles on the jacked up crotch piece, I actually had a lot of things I could’ve put in the spotlight with them too. Continue to Page 2…

37 thoughts on “MOTUClassics.Com:
King Hssss Review

  1. I share your same feelings of ambivalence towards King Hssss. It wasn’t that I was a “hero” fan as a kid, but rather that my love of He-Man is mainly cartoon nostalgia and since Hssss was not featured on the cartoon I don’t have much in the way of interest for him. My collection of MOTU figures was quite small so beyond the handful I have the original cartoon is my main source of interest.

    1. I was surprised when I first learned he was never in the cartoon years ago. There’s so much fan interest in him despite that little fact. Boggles my mind…

  2. I’d love a 200X inspired Hsss. Also, pretty funny how He-Man was fooled before by a bunny costume.

  3. I want an Egyptian Hsssss! Has anyone seen the 7 snake Hssss customs? Now THAT’s a Kick-butt Hsssss!

  4. Hey! That’s Heroic WARRIORS, not “Heroic Masters”. 😉 😉 😉

    But yeah, great review!!

    The continuing QC problems is indeed fatigue-inducing as Poe puts it, and it’s contributing to an overall disinterest trend for me and MOTUC.

    As for Hiss himself, agreed with your issues on the torso and boot reuse, but I do love the human form design this go ’round, and IMO is one of the better “straight” vintage translations we’ve seen in the whole line.

    I know people keep making fun of the “heroic disguise” angle, and ignoring the no more thought into the story aside from a ‘selling a figure to kids’ perspective that was par for the course on every MotU figure, I always took it to be less that he was trying to look heroic, and more that he was hiding the fact that he was a huge pile of teeming-venomous-hypnotizing-man-devouring snakes!!

    The only other thing I can add to the dead horse beatathon that is the MOTUC Hiss is that I still find his snake form totally underwhelming here, and considering the human form issues you’ve detailed, it’s even more pointless IMO for them to have done two separate torsos. Looking at the final execution, they might has well have just had the big snake head and both arms removable, and a slip on torso armor piece.

    When the fans were asking for swappable torsos, it was because they wanted the snake form to be totally uninhibited snakey insanity!!!

    So overall I’m super stoked about the design and sculpting of the human form, but otherwise this is across-the-board Mattel botchiness encapsulated pretty perfectly.

    1. Masters, Warriors, Dudes, whatev! 😉

      I don’t really have an adult issue with King Hssss looking as he does, it’s more born out of my initial objection to him decades ago. He’s one of a handful of toys I remember turning down like a G1 Blitzwing, the GI Joe Swamp Masher, etc.

      The snake torso is definitely inspired by the vintage one that had to fit under the hood so to speak. There really isn’t a good reason they didn’t go for a great update on that to be sure.

      1. Just givin’ ya crap cause it was a bit too close to one of my many MOTUC bio pet peeves, the whole calling the good guys “The Masters” thing.

        Interesting comment on turning down toys, not sure exactly what you mean by that, like you were in the store and could’ve got Hiss but picked someone else?

        1. But they’re a team!! Hee hee.

          Pretty much, there were certain time that I remember where my family had picked one out(or simply trying to push me one one thing so I’d finally choose) and the original Hiss was one of those. I remember being at Sears and being given the option of Hiss and turning it down. I don’t regret many of those… though I did object to a Metroplex one time and wanted some Joe vehicle that I can’t remember at the moment. That was stupid.

  5. You’ve really hit the nail on the head. King Hssss is better appreciated OVER THERE where his visuals can outweigh his drawbacks.

    This is going to be another one of those ‘we tried so hard to get this figure out under budget blah blah blah’ excuses too. But who in design doesn’t notice that the hip articulation is basically worthless? Why did the 4H sculpt it that way in the first place? Hssss raises lots of questions like that.

    1. Exactly! He looks great on the shelf, in the crowd but I’d rather have one of the other figures that’s fun to play with. It’s pretty sad for one of the central bad guys to get this treatment.

  6. My Hssss wasn’t the QC nightmare some people have had, but I opened him, shot off a few pics, fiddled around with him a bit, and he’s been hiding in the back of my display ever since. He doesn’t suck, he’s just not awesome. I would have preferred removable armor with a snakey torso with alternate arms and head instead. But what I have is a toy that does a great Darth Maul impression if you play too rough with him, and by play too rough, I mean play at all. Since I’m not all that attached to the fig, I won’t feel so bad about cutting him up to custom, if I ever get to it. Throw it on the pile of unfinished work lol

    1. That’s a good point. Remove the QC issues and he’s not bad, but he doesn’t kickass like a King Hssss figure should.

      Then again, no King Hssss figure has ever kicked ass (the previous ones due to the gimmicks) so maybe it’s part of his vintage form being recaptured? LOL

  7. Yeah, that was my misassembled staff and I have a replacement Hiss on the way from Digital River because of it. This will be my second “free of charge” replacement figure in 6 months (first was Carnivous with a snapped wrist). That does not speak well for Mattel’s or their factory’s QC people.

    One thing to keep in mind people. Just because the Horsemen hand off the initial sculpt to Mattel, doesn’t mean there isn’t any pre-factory tweaking that happens in-house before the hardcopies are sent to the factory for tooling. Some of these issues very well may be implemented after the figures leave 4H-HQ. Matter of fact, I’d put money on it.

  8. @toygiant:
    All you have to do is look at Prince Adam’s missing holster for confirmation on that.

  9. I kinda suspect/hope the reason the staff is in two parts is that the Snakemen will be getting custom staffs not unlike the Horde’s custom crossbows.

  10. I’ve got a subscription so wil be getting a King Hssss anyway, but I was going to order another Hssss or two for custom purposes . . . . only to discover he’d sold out well before I logged on. Rassafrackin’ daylight savings time. Well, there’s still April 1st. And by what I’ve read about this guy, I won’t feel so bad about hacking up such a lackluster figure.

  11. Great review, of a figure I don’t really care about. One thing that I like about MOTU, and will probably keep this line going, is that for every guy like me who doesn’t like this character (although I liked the figure as a kid), theres plenty others who love him. Nevertheless, I always enjoy the well written reviews with great photos.

    1. Thanks! He is plenty of people’s favorite so that’s very true. I’m curious to look on the Org over the next few days as more folks get him and see their responses…

  12. The picture of the snake torso luvin’ on King Hssss really cracks me up!!!! Nice review.

    1. Thanks! I really liked that one too. Most of the others were pre-planned, but that was taken on the fly while I was playing with him. My favorite pics usually are the ones that happen organically like that!

  13. For what its worth, I like this king hsss, getting past the shoulders (which after roboto i dont even care to get upset over it again) and the terrible waist connection (the peg on my hsss torso is a tad smaller then the hole) its the best hsss figure we’ve had so far (imho) my figure didnt have any other qc issues, and he looks great posed on the shelf, and in his current pose i cant even tell the shoulders are backwards, so, i dont know, personally im happy enough with him. I never expected him to be the best figure in the line, not even close to it, but i can tell u im happy with there decision for 2 torsos, because if they made the torso slip over the snake body itd have been worse, and the majority of fans(who r never happy) would scream bloody murder anyway.

    1. I do agree that the swappable torsos was the way to go, definitely. He just feels like another figure where they tried hard to get him down and took their eye off the ball so to speak.

  14. I don’t care that all 4 of my King Hssss shoulders are on the wrong side I LOVE this figure. Another excellent review!!

  15. OK, I HAVE to ask.

    Is King Hssss *really* a king, or does he just style himself as one because, ya know, he can?

    Of course we’re talking about a land (world/system/dimension) where ‘Snout Spout’ and ‘Fisto’ are proper names… 🙂

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