I know, I know. We just did a whole week on She-Ra: Princess of Powers figures. Yet here we are, kicking off the next week with yet another Masters of the Universe Classic. Normally, I’d opt for a little more variety, but two things. One, knocking out Rio Blast gets me caught up on MOTUC reviews (mostly, I know there are two older items still unreviewed) and because this figure annoys me. It’s been a long weekend, and I’m hoping that annoyance is fuel for me to get this done.
To clarify, I’m ecstatic that we finally got to Rio Blast. This is the month that the last “big to me” name gets crossed off my list. I’m still excited for other stuff – Dragstor, for example, and hopeful for other things like Red Beast to still sneak out. But in terms of nostalgia? Childhood loves? Awesome Favorites?
Well, Rio Blast is the last one for me. And maybe because of that, some might say that my expectations were supercharged. So much was riding on this figure being awesome. He’s not awesome. There are things I like about the figure – heck, even with the perceived flaws this review will laboriously point out, I’m still happy he’s here. But he has problems that have nothing to do with my expectations. And sadly, most that were preventable. As a result, this review is going to feature something different – a custom. On the left of most of the pictures is Mattel’s Rio Bloat and next to him is extra figure I ordered and put the armor under the knife. I’ll talk more about it towards the end, but Spy Magician from Spy Monkey Creations did an amazing job with his and I did my best to emulate it and slim my Rio Blast down.
Like many less-than-awesome MOTUC figures, it tends to be the shat the sculpting and engineering tell two different tales. This site is full of reviews where I praise the sculpt and heap the criticism on how the figure was produced. I’ll do the latter here in a bit, but I’m going to nitpick the sculpt on this one too. When the prototype debuted at Toy Fair, it looked awesome, but the seeds of problems that would face Mattel were evident. The prototype was already bulky. The prototype didn’t appear to offer a solution to what ultimately became a pretty stupid problem with the chest flap. The loose cables running from the backpack to the arms were there right away. And the prototype came standard with those two Stratos hands that prevent him from doing anything but appearing to be about to grab his ejecting pistols.
There is still a lot to love about the sculpt. Djordje does amazing work. The level of detail is top notch. The shotgun shells on the belt and the spurs look fantastic. The nuts, bolts, and circuitry all add to the figure. I do long for the nostalgic flare that Treadaway might have given Rio. It recalls Frosta a bit. Treadaway’s women look similar to one another and while I may talk about how I want more differentiation, I’ve always regretted Djordje got the nod for Frosta. Rio is that to a lesser degree. Unlike Frosta, I love this sculpt. I love the hair, the expression, and the general “wild-westness”. It’s like Kurt Russell Tombstone. It’s great, but I kinda wonder what Treadaway would’ve done here all the same.
Then Mattel’s in-house team took a crack at Rio Blast. The usual problem cropped up – the tabs for the armor ended up right under the armpits causing armor bloat. But the armor then presented new problems. The hose doesn’t connect to the flap. The high collars blocks the neck pg. But the real aggravation? The clip-on accessories needed pegs to hold the weapons. The chest flap got a peg for the gun, but there is nowhere for that peg to go when the flap is folded up, so the flap just sticks out. I repeat, it doesn’t even close! I know there are always differences of opinion on everything, but I can’t fathom folks out there who doesn’t think it looks terrible. I’m sure they exist. But it looks awful. It’s a dumb, rookie mistake and it hurts the figure. I can’t believe it got approval. I can’t believe that anyone at Mattel was happy with it. Continue to Page 2…