So this weekend, I bought a Masters of the Universe toy at Walmart. You can imagine my surprise. There I am, stumbling across some Hot Wheels because frickin’ Walmart felt the need to swap die-cast & figures in their latest reset. I’m suddenly lost, but then there’s something familiar: He-Man.
Since I’ve started doing Armchair Coverage for SDCC, I just flat out miss some stuff. Ironic, I know. I remember hearing some vague rumblings about Masters of the Universe Hot Wheels being shown, but I never saw them and, in time, I forgot about them entirely. So when I found them at a retail, it was a happy accident – even if my DCUCs weren’t where they were supposed to be…
I didn’t buy one that day because of sticker shock: $4.47. Each. Sure, that $5 buys a cool car with an awesome MOTU vintage oil printed on the side, all wrapped in a sweet Castle Grayskull inspired package. And, heck, Mattel even tossed in some “real” rubber wheels for added value. But, at the same time, there’s the same basic car for $1.07 (in black with some sweet flame decals) not more than ten feet away. I walked, but in my heart… I knew it was only temporary.
We all went through the Hot Wheels phase, right? I mean, maybe it wasn’t the Hot Wheels brand (my Dad favored Matchbox and typically bought me those when I was kid), but die-cast cars are like a rite of passage into greater toydom. I loved having them as a kid and I still buy ‘em on occasion when one catches my or my wife’s fancy (they’re a $1, it’s like candy…). She’s usually buying a cool one for her classroom stash while I tend to favor the ones with a bit of nostalgia thrown in – Batmobiles, Ecto-1, Deloreans, or even just late 70s designs of my youth. That’s how I knew which one of the eight Masters of the Universe cars would eventually get me – the Custom ’77 Dodge Van. It didn’t help that it featured one of the coolest vintage oils either – Battle Armor He-Man riding Battle Cat into… uh, battle.
When I finally found it again (it took a few extra trips into that foreign aisle), it came home with me. And even though I will flat out tell you that there is no way this toy is worth $5, I’m totally glad I bought it. It has some neat features – I actually do appreciate the rubber wheels and the full-length moon roof is pretty cool, but I think what I like most is how ridiculous it really is.
The other seven cars have some cool vintage oils on them: Beast Man is getting slimed on the roof of the ’59 Cadillac Funny Car, Skeletor is rockin’ the Land Shark on the side of a vintage Dairy Delivery Van and riding Panthor on the side of a ’50s Chevy Truck, but those seem a bit weird. Orko on the side door of a ’29 Pickup? Eh. The Eternia box art printed on the side panel of a classic delivery truck? Cool, but what’s that truck deliver? I know I’m overthinking it, but the design choices on most of the cars make me scratch my head. All except one.
See, there’s a special place in my heart for the gaudiness of a custom van that proudly displays a big honkin’ mural to everyone you drive past. And, frankly, it’s high time that someone acknowledged that He-Man deserved this level of prestige; the distinction that can only come from getting a full-size mural on the side of a custom van. That, my friends, is a laugh well worth $5 to me.
While the price seems a bit crazy to me, I’m going to guess that’s partially because I don’t understand the collectible pricing structure of Hot Wheels. While I can appreciate the special features, I still just see the same van being sold at $1.07, $2.47, & $4.47. But on my trips to Wal-Mart, I also keep seeing the $1 and $2.47 versions of this van. What I don’t see are the MOTU ones. These simply keep selling out at all the Walmarts I visit. It’s crazy, but it’s a good crazy. So, if you’re in the market for a cool MOTU collectible and have $5 to spare? These might be for you. If not, well… just keep track of where Walmart moves the action figure aisle and you might never even have to see ’em…