He-Ro is the first MOTU Classics figure that doesn’t have a childhood connection for me. I didn’t have the original versions of all the previous MOTU Classics releases, but I knew about them as a kid. He-Ro’s an exception because his vintage version never reached store shelves. Very little is known about the character, just bits and pieces that have leaked out of Mattel since he went into toy limbo. He was an ancestor of He-Man from Pre-Eternia, got to ride around on cyborg dinosaurs, and was going to be used to reveal the origin of the Powers of Grayskull. Pretty cool, right? But it never got a chance to bear out because the line was cancelled. The last mini-comic, featuring He-Ro in a small capacity, left fans and He-Man asking the same question, “but who is he?”
Twenty-two years later, MOTU Classics fans have been given the opportunity to discover more about He-Ro. With the addition of King Grayskull, some things have changed since He-Ro was originally conceived (he’s no longer He-Man’s ancestor), but fans are getting a sneak peak into Pre-Eternia with the SDCC Exclusive He-Ro.
He-Ro is available in two versions. One, sold only at SDCC 2009, has an SDCC logo tampo under his armor. The other, the wider release sold on MattyCollector.com is identical, but will not feature the logo. As of right now, there’s no way to distinguish them without looking under the armor, so MOC collectors won’t be able to tell the difference.
A second running difference between the He-Ro’s is the color of the stone inside the staff. It’s available in green, red, & purple. I’ve heard conflicting reports on which one is rarest, but green is more common than the other two. The color is supposed to only be determined by opening the package, but some fans have had success shining an LED flashlight through one side of the packaged staff and looking for a color to “glow” out through some of the other cracks. I tried it with this He-Ro and was able to determine he had a green stone before I freed him from his plastic prison.
He-Ro’s sculpt does start with the basic classics body, but he features more new parts than we’ve seen on the last few regular releases. In addition to his new head, he has new forearms, a new loincloth, new calves/boots, new feet, and his armor/cape. These pieces are all originally sculpted for his use, so they all match up great (the loincloth and boots will see some reuse with Zodak in October). I’m especially fond of the boots and the raised armor pieces on the forearms.
The armor is the half-armor that fans are divided on, but I think it works better on He-Ro than it did for Hordak. His arms can’t go down as far as they should, so there is still some bulk there, but the lines where the armor meet up with the torso are much smoother this time around. I had some trouble removing the armor because of the positioning of the pegs and the cape. In putting it back on, I can only get three pegs to line up, so be mindful of that. One other thing of note about the sculpt is that the top of He-Ro’s head is a separate piece. I don’t mention it because it’s very noticeable, quite the opposite. It’s neat to see how seamlessly the two pieces fit together.
I’m of two minds about the weapons. He-Ro includes his Spell staff and a clear blue Power Sword. First, I love the Spell Staff. The color and gloss match He-Ro’s armor exactly. He just looks great holding it. I love the cupped handle. And I love how the four pieces snap together so snugly (the higher two clasp together and hold the lower two in place) to hide the stone and I like how when you pop that peg open, the four sides fall open to reveal the stone.
That’s a lot of love, so you might have guessed it’s not looking good for the Power Sword. I don’t mind that the Power Sword should have been clear black with glitter like the Four Horsemen conceived it. I don’t mind that it’s clear blue because I’m a sucker for any clear plastic. What I do mind is that instead of it being clear blue plastic with glitter mixed in, it’s painted blue and spackled with gray paint. I was a little disappointed at first, but I was really annoyed when the blue started scraping off the hilt as I put it in He-Ro’s hand. That’s a picture of the hilt after using it to take the pictures. I’d like to see Mattel right this through the Weapons Packs. Two more Power Swords, one blue and one gray, both with glitter for the starfield effect. This clear sword with flake-off blue paint and gray spackle is the only thing that keeps this from being a great figure.
Okay, I know I just thoroughly hated on the Power Sword, but I do have to admit I still had fun playing with it. It’s still a great, simple sculpt and it is molded clear, so I have to like it a little. If Mattel will confirm a fixed version, I might strip the paint off entirely and just have an “invisible” Power Sword. So, it’s not all bad. It just should have been better. The image above has one of the set lights I use for the shoots aimed directly through the sword to create the powered up effect.
Paint is an area where my figure has one or two issues, but nothing that detracted from my enjoyment of the figure. First, my He-Ro is a tiny bit googly-eyed. His right eye just looks a little more scrunched up than his left one. I didn’t notice it until reviewing the pictures, so I can’t say it’s all that terrible. Second, the paint on his “H” symbol is a little rough. I’m not sure exactly what caused it, but the paint is bumpy and textured on the right side of symbol. I don’t mind it, but it should be noted if anyone else has a similar problem.
The rest of the paintwork is superb. He-Ro’s costume features 83 rivets and the tiny paint circles are solid on nearly all of them. And the ones that missed didn’t miss by much. The paint and gloss on his golden armor pieces look sharp and really make the figure pop – and his Spell Staff is exactly the same color making the whole package come together. Despite the one or two issues, this is a solidly painted figure. I particularly enjoy the symbol on the back of his cape. It’s a nice touch. Faker didn’t seem to like wearing it though…
So what did we find out about He-Ro with his updated cardback? Well, he still lives in Pre-Eternia, but Grayskull takes his place as He-Man’s ancestor and they fight side-by-side against the Snakemen and Hordak. He’s no longer Eternian anymore either, having been brought to the planet accidentally in a battle with the Horde. And he’s now connected to the Overlords of Trolla (and Zodac and Zodak by extension). We’re not totally clear on how the Power Sword transitions from one to the next, but the Sword was given to He-Ro, who gave it to Grayskull, who presumably left it to his Sorceress to hold onto it until He-Man came to claim it. Maybe. The bios so far seem to give conflicting answers when it comes to the Pre-Eternia storyline (for example, Zodac seems to leave Eternia behind twice). A reissue of King Grayskull on a regular card is promised and that figure will sport a new bio. Hopefully, it will help clear up some of the confusion surrounding Pre-Eternia and He-Ro’s tangential relationship to He-Man.
Overall, the figure had to grow on me a little bit. There were things I liked immediately and things I wasn’t sure about. But, after taking some photos and having fun wih him, I came to the conclusion he’s a cool figure. He’s another solid piece in a line that hasn’t missed yet. The painted blue Power Sword was my biggest issue with him and I hope Mattel can use the Weapons Packs to resolve that issue. Until then, he’ll be a front of the shelf guy, but he’ll only be holding his Spell Staff.
A special thanks to Izdawiz from the Fantastic Exclusive Forums for providing the SDCC version of He-Ro for this review.