Joe vs. Cobra. Optimus Prime vs. Megatron. Ninja Turtles vs. The Foot. Marvel vs. Capcom. All great battles that fans have long taken sides on. Thanks to Mattel, we can add a new one to the mix: DC Universe Classics vs. Masters of the Universe Classics. Hey, it’s less clunky than Crisis of the Infinite Masters of the Universe…
Mattel’s first foray into bringing MOTUC to retail came with an unexpected twist, DC figures. ToyFare #152 first revealed the existence of these two-packs, Superman vs. He-Man & Lex Luthor vs. Skeletor, back in early February. Now, just weeks later, they’ve hit and fans are gobbling them up.
When I first heard about these packs, I was skeptical. It just seems so… contrary to normal toy company operation. I’ve long wanted Hasbro to merge Joes & Transformers into a compatible line, but Hasbro doesn’t think it would benefit either brand. And it seems to be standard procedure for a toy company to make their figures incompatible with other lines through scale or aesthetics. Even DC Classics and MOTU Classics aren’t exactly compatible toy lines. Different fans have different opinions about that, of course, some feel that He-Man should be a 6′ 9″ bodybuilder if he were to show up in the DC Universe. I’m not going to say no, but I’ll tell you that DCUCs and MOTUCs won’t be sharing a shelf at my house. Anyway, Mattel saw an opportunity to use the DC brand to bring He-Man back to retail and it seems to have worked so far based on the fan reaction.
The Superman in the He-Man 2pk is the same Superman from the Gotham City 5pk and the All-Star releases in DCUC11 and DCUC12. Personally, I’m full up on Superman figures (until we get some decent alternate costumes), but he does have superior neck articulation to my 5pk Superman at least.
The Luthor figure was recently reissued in the Kryptonite Chaos 2pk which itself was a reissue of the DCSH figure. Like the one from the 2pk, this Luthor features better neck articulation and the four pieces of kryptonite (green, red, blue, & gold). This was nice for me since I passed on the 2pk. Still, Mattel cheaped out and didn’t give Luthor his gun (despite displaying him with it at Toy Fair). Anyway, Luthor, like Superman, is still just an extra in the box for me. I bought both of these for the MOTU Classics.
There are things I like about this He-Man and things I don’t. I’m not a big fan of the colors including the pink gems or the bright yellow wristbands, but somehow, along with the copper belt and brighter harness, the figure pops and looks great. Though darker boots could only improve the whole presentation.
But what really makes this a nice piece is the head. I think the 4H did a great job sculpting the head, but I don’t think any of the final versions that I’ve received have been painted well. The first He-Man was glossy with irritated eyes. The reissue fixed those problems, but still looked off and the Battle Armor He-Man was painted too flat. But this He-Man seems to finally have it. The paint all seems to click and the wash on the hair sells it. Even if this doesn’t end up as my default He-Man, that will be the default head.
Skeletor is similarly appealing, but I’m not sure if he would end up as my default Skelly either. This figure is a repaint of the reissue Skeletor (with the tighter left hand), but with some paint differences. The first thing you notice is the all-yellow skull and black eye sockets. Vault loves it since its closer to the cartoon colors, but I’m happy with some green on old bonehead. Still, I admit this one looks sharp.
One thing that I do like is the more vibrant purple on the armor. It looks great, particularly with the blue. I don’t know… I could see myself going with this figure in the front of the display some of the time. Maybe the two Skeletors can timeshare. At least, until Battle Armor Skeletor gets here…
He-Man didn’t use a power sword in these comics, so he only comes with his ax and shield. The shield is in new colors, metallic silver with black rivets and grey recesses. The black paint was a little sloppy on mine and since it was designed to clip-on He-Man’s traditionally longer left wristband, it doesn’t work as well on the Tri-Klops forearm this figure uses. That’s okay. I already gave it to Battle Armor He-Man anyway. The axe is somewhat disappointing, I wish Mattel had painted it to match the shield instead of just repackaging it for the third time.
The other “unique” accessory comes with Skeletor, a translucent yellow power sword. It doesn’t really have any basis for its existence. The sword does glow yellow with energy from time-to-time, but it never looks quite like the final product here. Still, the sword is a cool accessory, and I suspect that at least some MOTU fans will be buying the 2pk just to get it.
Before I close out, I wanted to take a moment to mention the packaging. I really enjoyed the concept behind the packaging. Initially, Mattel was going for a simple notion – that a standard DCUC and a MOTUC package were slammed together (via Toysrus.com). Somewhere along the line, though, they changed their minds with mixed results. The He-Man cardback became a reprint of the cover to DCP #47 with Superman and He-Man removed and looks off, but the Skeletor one came with an excellent piece of art. On this one, I had to open the packaging carefully and did some quick photoshop work to remove the bubble remnants so I could show it off. It’s an image of the two Snake Mountains looks combined. If we ever get a Snake Mountain in this toy line. I want it to like this:
Overall, if you’re a MOTU fan, you should find these two-packs. At $30 a piece, they’re expensive, but if you’re buying one figure a month from Mattel, then you’re paying $28.70 anyway. For the extra few dollars you get a DC Classics figure. Yes, the figures are repaints, but for some fans, Vault included, they’re the best versions yet. But more importantly, there was something unexpected to finding them. As a kid, I loved getting toys in the mail. It was a rare treat that, as an adult, has become woefully common place. If you’re lucky enough to snag these at Toys R Us… well, let’s just say it was awesome to pick up He-Man at a store again. Well worth the cost of admission.