As a kid, Man-At-Arms was my favorite Heroic Master. It may have just started out that I liked his colors, or his swanky helmet, but as I got older it morphed into an appreciation for not just him, but his archetype. Man-At-Arms doesn’t have a power sword, an extending neck, wings, or the ability to control plants. He’s just a dude. Better still, he’s a dude who has to be smarter and come up with solutions on how to deal with all the other, more powerful, dudes.
Plus, he was the guy who knew the score. He knew about He-Man, the Sorceress, Eternian history. And he always seemed to know the right thing to do. He was intelligent and wise; that’s a rare combination. In 200x, he was adapted to be tough as nails and even more capable as an inventor. He finally seemed to live up to his name with all the tech he carried. This only furthered my fondness for the character (even if he gotten eaten by the same fish-thing twice). Now, in Classics, Man-At-Arms is back to his traditional look, but he’s kept a little of that “down, but not out” attitude that suits him so well.
Man-At-Arms currently has the fastest selling time of any MOTU Classics. Production units were probably around 12-15k, and he lasted for a whopping 45 minutes. There were some factors that may have sped things up, the website operated much more smoothly than it had the last two months, he has alternate heads, and he was viewed by some as an army builder. For myself, I grabbed two. I stopped there because I believe Mattel will create a palace guard at some point. Though it can’t look exactly like the Filmation version, a generic Palace Guard is money in the bank and I think Mattel knows it. As for the heads, my Duncan will have the mustache head at all times and the other one will be some type of Eternian Lieutenant.
Man-At-Arms is built around the generic He-Man body*. I took an armorless shot of my “Eternian Lieutenant” to show off his nipples and belly button. After the body though, Man-At-Arms gets loaded with new pieces. First, you get the two heads. Then the armor is composed of five parts: the shin guard, the 2-part arm guard, and the 2-part chest armor. Then, Man-At-Arms comes with 4 accessories: his classic mace, an Eternian sword, an Eternian pistol, and the 200x power sword. That’s how you make a figure worth $20. Even better, all but the power sword can store on the back of his armor.
* – Brilliant Reader Baena points out that I overlooked the gloved detailing on the hands and they are not taken from the He-Man sculpt, but from Hordak’s instead. It’s little things like this that show thought has gone into the figure’s assembly.
The weapons are all nicely done. The pistol looks like it came out of an episode (even though it can’t). The 200x power sword, now crafted by Duncan per his bio, is a great pack-in. It’s an all new sculpt and has great painted details. If I had a King Grayskull (Sob!), he’d be holding it already. I was disappointed that the mace was a little bendy, it seems like it came from the same sprue as the armor so it’s a little more pliable than it should be, and it may sag over time. At first I didn’t mind the mace being bendy because I thought I knew how the molds had to be cut, but the back of his armor is a harder plastic so the mace could have been done differently for the right consistency.
And that hard plastic back armor? That’s the weakest point on the whole figure. Place the weapons on gently. They do fit snugly in place, but with just the light wear of taking the pictures, I’ve already got two stress fractures on the outer clips. Sooner or later, I’ll probably snap one accidentally.
One thing about this sculpt that made me particularly happy was that Man-At-Arms could finally hunker his face down behind the shield on his armor. It’s not new articulation. It’s just that the buck body is articulated enough for it to finally work. Thank you, Four Horsemen!
Paint is where this figure loses a little bit of its luster. For the most part, the paint apps are planned out and sharp. The tiny details on the armor look great, the body and face paint apps are crisp too. Even the green wrist armor molded to his arm has paint apps (nice touch!). But there is one thing that’s bugging me. I’ve said before that it’s the price point that makes me more nitpicky about paint details than I usually would be, but that’s not the case this time. There’s some missing paint here that I’d be annoyed with at any price point.
I order for myself and others, so I had the chance to look at 4 Man-At-Arms today. All four of them had the same paint problem. On the picture below, you can see the fur-covering on Man-At-Arm’s left arm is missing a lot of paint. Not a single one of the figures had the brown paint completely cover the sculpted fur.* It’s a detail I can see from a distance, so it particularly annoys me. I hope to see that others got better paints on the fur than I did. I’m still happy with the figures, and I think I can fix it myself, but I shouldn’t have to.
*See the comments section below for a closeup of the paint issue.
I talk a bit at the beginning about how Man-At-Arms was very innovative in dealing with problems. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a morbid fascination with his “experiments”. Take Rotar, for example. He’s a palace guard that was badly wounded and Man-At-Arms saved his life by turning him into a giant human top. Let me say that again, a giant human top. Sure, he lived, but as a giant human top. There’s Mekaneck too. Do we just assume he asked to be turned into a human telescope? And then there’s Fisto.He probably got teased about his giant hand his whole life and he hurts it so badly it has to be amputated. And what does Man-At-Arms do? He crafts him a prosthetic hand, a GIANT prothestic hand. Man-At-Arms is kind of a mad scientist if you leave him alone in his lab long enough. He’s the one Eternian who asks, “why not”.
Overall, he’s another in a straight line of great Classics figures even with a couple issues. He’ll be a front of the shelf guy for me until the end of the line. There’s no doubt about it.
EDIT: Brilliant Reader Dayraven pointed out a sculpted detail that I had missed. On the piece of forearm armor, I hadn’t noticed that it has a nozzle tip, possibly to simulate the laser he would shoot from his wrist in the Filmation opening. It’s just one more last-ditch weapon for Man-At-Arms!