If you’ve been buying MOTU Classics since their debut nearly a year ago, your MOTU shelf was starting to look more like the He-Man Woman Haters Club than Masters of the Universe. But, Mattel took a huge leap forward this month with its first all-new figure since last December’s Beast Man: Teela. Fortunately, Mattel saw fit to not try and make a Teela using the He-Man buck and charged the 4H with making a female buck for the line. This new body is (hopefully) going to be seeing repeated use for the large catalog of She-Ra characters, but it all starts here with Teela.
Like most of the original characters, Teela’s got about forty-seven versions of her origin. Everything was tweaked as MOTU was developed across the different forms of media that Masters debuted in. She’s had different hair colors, different jobs, different origins (that spawned most of the other female characters), and she even got to ride around on a unicorn at one point (large scale beast coming in Nov 2011??). But, the one constant about Teela was that she always a strong, capable warrior and one of the toughest Masters. This figure does a good job of balancing that status with a great look.
As stated before, Teela is an all-new sculpt. The 4H designed the new female buck to be reusable by making an unclothed buck that the various women’s costumes could be wrapped around. The result makes for a figure with unusual depth and detail. A figure that’s essential wearing the right clothes. From the fur lining the shoulders to the various leaf details, the leotard piece carries most of the sculpt details, but not all. Teela’s arms have sculpted bands and gauntlets and her legs have the trademark boots. Some of these might see re-use on future figures, but they’ll always look their sharpest here.
Teela’s regular head sculpt is, in my opinion, one of the best female faces the 4H have ever done. I’ve bought a lot of their work over the years and they’ve all been great, but Teela has a beautiful face sculpt, something that usually gets lost in mass production. Not here, this Teela would look at home on a magazine cover. I’m not as interested in the snake armor head, but it’s equally well done.
The only place I was disappointed in the paint was the gold tips on the main body. For the most part, it matched up well, but on each of the three Teela figures I saw it was missing from a tip here and there. The paint work is solid everywhere else, especially the head, where the paint helps bring out the great sculpt.
Articulation is always a gamble with the new body. For Teela, the arms and legs will work like you expect, but the torso has had some articulation removed to preserve the sculpt. She does have a waist swivel, but the leotard restricts it heavily. The ab-crunch joint has been removed entirely. Normally, I’d be okay with that, but Teela’s head perpetually looks down slightly and the ab would have helped rectify that. Then there’s the neck joint. On mine, the regular head can be placed and removed easily, but the Snake Armor head wouldn’t pop onto the peg out of the package (I ultimately had to dremel out the hole). The post in the neck doesn’t move and keeps both heads angled down slightly. It’s not that bad, but it seems to give Teela a sorrowful posture. There is still good range – full side-to-side and front-center to down. I’ve heard that some of the head joints are loose, but both of the heads I have are tight on the peg – you can hear the friction between the plastic pieces when you turn the head.
Scale isn’t something we usually talk about when it comes to MOTU reviews. Since Teela is all-new, we need to this time. She is tall, but I think it looks good. The crest of her head is shorter than on some of the other figures, but two things are adding to her height. One is her ponytail and the other is the switching head feature makes both heads sit high on her neck. I don’t mind her being the same height here, but some of the future releases might start to look off. Hopefully, the 4H can sculpt newer female figures heads to sit lower on the neck.
Teela is loaded with accessories: clip-on snake armor, Staff of Ka, a shield, a sword, and Zoar. The clip-on snake armor has a great black wash that brings out the sculpted line work and it fits snugly over the second, helmeted head. I’m glad it came out well, but I’m never going to use it – I can only hope the Goddess has equally well-done armor. The shield and Staff are nice pieces with nice metallic paints, but the real gem is the sword. It features intricate line work and great paint apps. My Teela will be on display with the sword/shield combo for as long as I have her.
Then there’s Zoar. I want to like Zoar, but I’m already sick of the sculpt. I don’t think the reuse is bad, but maybe they shouldn’t have re-released all three versions so close to each other. If you have the Wonder Twins eagle or Beast Boy, you should know what to expect – the talons can turn and grip smaller objects (like the Staff of Ka), but they can’t stand on their own. Mattel definitely needs to make a perch for these birds. One nice thing Mattel did with Zoar was to package him in a way that his wings wouldn’t get warped (the insert held the wings vertically) and that automatically makes him better than the heavily warped green version that came with Beast Boy. Zoar has a great yellow to red fade across those wings.
Overall, Teela is a long overdue figure in a young toy line. The body works well and should work great as a re-use for future female figures. The parts specific to Teela really make a complete package, particularly the great head sculpt. She’s going front of shelf on my display because of all the positives, but it might be worth it to keep her up front just to increase the shelf’s diversity. Hopefully, Evil Lyn & the Sorceress are on the way sooner than later.
For more MOTU reviews, check out our MOTU Classics Collector’s Guide.