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Truetorial: Is There Room for
New Characters in MOTU Classics?

Last month, the IAT staff sat down and beat out our Jan 15th Mattel questions. We bounced around a few ideas and, like we always do, we got off track. This time talking about Masters of the Universe Classics and the future of the line. Vault had done a little spreadsheet work and came up with a rough estimate of how many figures Mattel would be putting into the line if they fulfilled their 2016 goal including monthlies, quarterly bonuses, convention exclusives, and subscription exclusives. Then he made a list of all the previously released MOTU toys and added in some likely non-Filmation candidates that didn’t get a toy but could be done now. Vault was surprised to find that the numbers turned out to be about the same.

This got us talking. Was Mattel working off a similar list to the one Vault created? Did they work in reverse, counting the characters and then the months to arrive at the rough 2016 estimate? We talked at length about if the line could last that long, if they could stretch out key characters long enough to keep interest, or if 2016 would be the year of the unknowns. But we came up with a new concern too. What about new characters?

We discussed and all agreed that we were interested in seeing some new ideas coming out of MOTU Classics. That became our leadoff question. We came up with a couple great new character ideas, but we had to face facts. It’d be a lot harder to come up with a new character, say, Infringor, and then ask Mattel to make it. That’s just not going to happen. No, any new character will have to spin out of Mattel or 4H Studios. So we changed up a bit and went for a mash-up of two old ideas: Battle Armor Faker. That’s something that we could create an excellent Photoshop of without creating any legal issues if Mattel chose to make it. Still, we threw out one idea – an Evil Horde counterpart to Extendar that would reuse some of the new pieces he will require and get more use out of his tooling.

Response was, let’s say… mixed. Some fans were as excited at the possibility as we were. Others liked it, but were reserved about how it should be handled. But there were others that outright objected to it; claiming that “new” has no place in MOTU Classics. My co-contributor, Mr. Rant, let his feelings on the subject be known yesterday. I agree with him. While opinions are welcome, those fans that want to limit the line are, simply put, wrong.

The attacks on the request for new characters were the same excuses we’re hearing from people campaigning against the inclusion of POP, NA, and 200x. They’re neither novel nor varied. The first and most tired defense, that the line is called “Classics”, is immediately worthless upon submission. Mattel has made it clear, for those paying attention, that the title is about the style of the figures and has no impact on character selection. There can be a Classic Ice Armor He-Man even though that’s a 200x design. And let me tell you, if and when they do get to him, it’s going to be an awesome figure. The Classics title means nothing. If you’re using it as a defense, you’re sitting in the Alamo for close-minded MOTU fans.

Then, there’s the nostalgia angle. Honestly, I get this one. I do. I’m a Super Powers kid buying DC Classics. I love getting the updated characters. I love the nostalgia feeling they create. If I thought for a second that Extendar’s potential evil brother would rob me of Roboto or Snout Spout, I might say no too. But I’m not going to live in fear.

This is similar to DC Classics and the “Quest for Martian Manhunter!”®. From the looks of it, we won’t be getting that long-time member of the Justice League until around the 17th wave. He’s likely to be the 200th or so figure in that line. Let me say that again, two hundredth figure. He would have been in my first ten. But that’s how it goes in these toy lines. I don’t look at Shark, Killer Moth, or Commander Steel and get upset that I might not get Martian Manhunter. I have faith that they’ll get to him. I have the same faith for MOTU. They’ll get to these guys. If they don’t, you ask? Well, all these paranoid feelings of which characters aren’t going to get made can wait. They’ll be an eternity after the line ends to hash out who did and didn’t belong.

Finally, there’s the “well, I don’t want” attack. This one is a great one and, truthfully, it works for each of us on a personal level. But it doesn’t work overall. Suffice to say, I’m in agreement with Mr. Rant on this. No one fan’s vision of MOTU should be able to restrict it for others. I’m not interested in what figures you don’t want. There’s some I don’t want too, but somewhere someone has a list of likes and dislikes opposite of mine and we cancel each other out. Our opinions are negated.

I’m sure there are more reasons why not, but those are the big three and I consider the naysayers struck out. The MOTU line needs new characters and here are three reasons why.

First up, it helps make the line more profitable. If Mattel is looking at characters like Ram Man or Extendar and balking because they see one figure requiring a bunch of one-off parts, then lets tell them it’s okay to reuse some of those parts. We used Extendar as our example – suggesting he receive an Evil Horde counterpart. Our reason for this was simple – he was created by Hordak and it seems logical that Hordak would try again. Hordak tries again a lot, in fact. If they take the Extendar buck and follow the new chest armor, new head, new accessory paradigm to give us a new character – it will fit canon nicely, it will look great on your Horde shelf, and it gives Mattel a reason to extend the line past that 2016 cutoff.

My second reason is a simple one. To give the Four Horsemen a reward for all the hard work they do, to let them have a stamp on the franchise bigger than what they’re doing now. We’ve seen these gentlemen sculpt a few different versions of a lot of these characters. They have faithfully given us three different Evil Lyns, for example, and there’s likely more of her to come. But I want to see what they do when let loose. From reading about and talking to the Four Horsemen, I can guarantee you there are new character designs for MOTU floating around those studios. I say let the 4H have the reign to do them. As far as I’m concerned, no 4H fan should be against this idea. If you balked at our idea of an Evil Horde counterpart to Extendar when we first suggested it, you didn’t think about it. It would be a Four Horsemen Evil Horde counterpart to Extendar. They would ensure it was awesome and gruesome at the same time.

Third, that’s what the original line was all about. There’s a bunch of barbarians and sorcerers in a line with robots, aliens, alien robots, ninjas, monsters, and a cowboy! There’s a cowboy. Vintage MOTU was a line that could have anything in it. It was about coming up with a crazy figure and working it into the line. That’s why we loved it as kids. Sure, we might have objected to the man with a mechanical elephant head (I didn’t) or to that aforementioned cowboy (I didn’t), but we all surely had at least one of the out there ones as a favorite.

It makes me sad to think that that inclusiveness, so pivotal to the original line is so unwanted today. If you want MOTU Classics to only make your favorite old figures then you’re limiting it to be the greatest homage line. If you open it up to the other MOTU shows (which Mattel has done, that boat has sailed) and to a handful of new 4H-created characters then it can fulfill its own promise and be a great line overall.

I think that last one is where it gets me most. MOTU Classics, in my opinion, is the be-all of MOTU toys. I’m sure that are still innovations to come in the action figure aisle and future toys will do amazing things, but I’m going to get too old to be interested in Ultra Action Multi-Action Re-Action Figures or Holo-articulation. I’m confident enough to say that MOTUC will forever be the right balance between the original mythos and the way I want an action figure to be. It’s my desire is to see this toy line be as complete as possible. And I won’t consider it complete unless it has some of its own unique characters to showcase what the line can do. A figure that will always indelibly be a MOTU Classic.

So let’s agree to try and make that happen. I’m positive Mattel will be more than happy to test out my theory, it’s good for them. I’d bet the 4H wouldn’t mind either. And it’s good for fans too – if we’ll let it be. So, let’s tell Mattel through our Q&A’s, reviews, and feedback that we’re interested in a little expansion. Don’t worry that Battle Armor Faker will knock off Dragon Blast Skeletor, because it won’t. They won’t purposefully make one figure and then not another. Still, I can’t tell you that the line will go on forever and I can’t tell you that you will absolutely get that obscure character you want, but I can tell you that we shouldn’t live in fear of which ones aren’t made. That can be debated ad nauseum once the line does end.

Ram Man is probably the most requested character that needs a lot of tooling. Let’s try and improve his timetable by letting Mattel know we’re willing to buy a new character made from those new pieces so they can double the value of the tooling. I promise you that, in the Four Horsemen’s hands, we can expect a lot more than a repaint of Ram Man with gold armor. Just look at our Steppenwolf review from Monday to see how different the 4H can make two figures using the same basic parts and a few new ones. I know that they can find a way to reuse those Ram Man pieces and create something most of us we’ll love.

Finally, just think of it in terms of the old wedding tradition. We have something borrowed (Wun-Dar). We have something blue (Faker). We have something old (Goddess). Now, it’s time for something new. And I for one can’t wait to see what they can come up with…

54 comments to Truetorial: Is There Room for
New Characters in MOTU Classics?

  • Rich Resolve

    No on that Ice Armor He-Man. In fact, no on any 200x/NA/POP He-Man. I can barely stomach the new characters, but we don’t need the lame 200x armors.

  • People who don’t want anything but the old stuff don’t really matter. They won’t buy it anyway, so who cares about them?

    Masters of the Universe, in general, has a couple of big shadows covering them in the forms of GI Joe, Star Wars and Transformers, all of which is able to rehash the old and create new characters. I’m not even including DC or Mattel. When you think about it like this, He-Man being the “Strongest man in the universe” or toys? No. If it’s not allowed to grow, you can expect it to fall like the 200x line.
    I, for one, am open to all forms of MOTU, POP, NA, and 200x, even the freakin live action movies AND even new stuff. This line NEEDS to grow in order to survive. All the naysayers? Forget about them.

    • I meant Marvel, not “Mattel”… oops

      • You’re absolutely right, it must grow. He-Man is lagging behind it’s 80s counterparts by a wide margin. Some of that is on Mattel, but it’s on the fanbase too.

        TF-fans have a giant multi-universal thing to fit everything in and TF fans keep buying different versions of the same thing in new styles… happily! I have G1, Masterpiece, Alternators, Animated, Classics, and Universe all on my shelves right now.

  • Casey Allchurch

    You’re the one that’s wrong. This is an HOMAGE line and it’s supposed to mimic the old one. We’ve already got Grayskull/Zodak/Adora/Optikk garbage to deal with, we don’t need them making sh!t up too. If you want that crap you can wait until your turn at the end of the line.

    Vintage MOTU first.

    • Fisto's Foot

      You! Right there! Go buy the old toys off eBay! Once you have them all, you’re done! See? No need to bother us in the 21st century with our crazy idea that ADORA IS HE-MAN’S SISTER!!

      • LOL. I can see some fans not liking certain versions of things, but you’re right about folks how discount She-Ra as part of MOTU. They surely all passed on Hordak and will pass on future Horde members too, right?

    • Where did Mattel unequivocally state it was a homage line again?

    • You know what? You are right, this IS an homage line, but to the MOTU universe, not the first MOTU toy line. If you want it to be only the originals you are going to be disappointed. We already got characters from POP. Optikk (announced) from NA. Grayskull and Zodak from 200X. And He-Ro (don’t forget about him), who was only a plan in the original line and was never produced, so is actually less cannon than, let’s say, She-Ra. You are telling me that Eldor is more deserving of a spot in MOTUC than Grayskull? Personally, I want them both.

      I would really like to see the take of the 4H on new characters (or characters without an action figure). But if people is going to be pissed about Elon-Gator (my working title for Extendar’s bad twin – I’m thinking he can have reptile details and all, so awesome) being a part of the subscription, then make it a Bonus figure and don’t buy it if you’re hardcore about your own idea of the truth.

    • MegaGearMax

      Here’s a Quote for you…
      http://www.actionfigurepics.com/2009/09/interview-with-mattel-associate-brand-manager-scott-neitlich-part-2

      F: Does that mean we can also expect to see Princess of Power figures coming down the pipe as well?

      SN: Are you kidding? Peek-a-Blue, Mermista, Frosta, Sweet Bee, even Bow done by the Horsemen? We want to do them all and we will get to them in time. Masters of the Universe Classics from day one were always meant to be about everything.

      Did you read that last sentence from the man himself?

  • Mike Epps

    That was a great article. I’m in total agreement! Bring it on, Mattel!

    • Thank you! I wish I could talk about ideas for new characters in the article, but I have to leave that up to them. I just know the 4H have to have some good stuff somewhere.

  • Randy McNally

    I’d be happy to try out a few new designs, like you say – it’s the frickin’ 4 Horsemen! Four years ago, they could no wrong on the .Org and now they’re being asked to be slaves to nostalgia and their creativity only used to replicate old things with as little new parts as possible.

    FREE THE 4H!! FREE THE 4H!!

    • You raise a great point, they’re creativity is what’s making Classics great with as few new parts as possible, but we need to let them free to make a handful of new characters too. I know it will be awesome.

  • Fisto's Foot

    I want that line to live and that means at least some innovation. A new figure, maybe just one a year would be great.

  • Bryan Emmer

    Right on I been a fan of several other 80’s lines and I will always support growing the brand and name and bring it to generation to come can’t wait to see what they come up with. I alway thought of triclops has a jelous rival when it came to Man At Arms and his technical prowess and want to see him steal the plans for roboto and make his own evil Knock off but because either poor parts or poor craftmenship he would alway fall apart on his or in combat leaving him the name “Knock Off”

    • That’s a great one! I think there is a ton of play for across the aisle counterparts. Who from He-Man’s team could fight off Mer-Man under the ocean? What Evil Warrior took to the sky to defeat Buzz off and Stratos?

  • AllMindsAboutEverything

    “It would be a Four Horsemen Evil Horde counterpart to Extendar. They would ensure it was awesome and gruesome at the same time.”

    You did that on purpose, right?

  • Johnny Briggs

    YOU. ARE. RUINING. MOTU.

    Seriously, it’s not fair. I have to have an exil Extendar now. That is such a great idea!

    And I’m up for the others you show too. That Faker Battle Cat is hilarious and I’ve loved Horror Cat since your Scareglow review.

  • shanedalton

    Here freaking here!

    I started this line only wanting He-Man, Skeletor and Hordak. Then, I saw Mer-Man, then Battle Cat, then I started looking at the other figures in the line and finding myself wanting more and more and more. Grayskull, He-Ro…Classic, POP, 200x, you name it! Why, because they are all awesome!

    The idea of shoehorning 4H and Mattel into the original toys alone is ridiculous. That’s like Super Powers fans (which I am) only wanting those original 33 figures released by Mattel, regardless of what others want.

    Like the interview with Scott Neitlich said, the line is about everything. It’s not an ‘homage’ line or a ‘worship the original releases’ line…it’s a Masters of the Universe line, that, when finished, will find places for everything and possibly for new things as well! That’s an amazing concept!

    Plus…I really want that Ice Armor He-Man!

    • I passed on this line! I was putzing around on MattyCollector awaiting Adam Strange and I realized I had Beast Man and He-Man still in my cart after they had sold out.

      I went ahead and ordered them… and screwed myself.

  • 3B

    Yes! Free the 4H! Free the 4H!

  • orionpax636

    I’m down with whatever will prevent that horrid Faker Cat from getting made. (Just kidding…I think…)

    I’ve been a fan of MOTU since it first came out in the 80’s, and I can honestly say that I’ll support whatever comes out and looks cool. I can sympathize with 80’s MOTU loyalists wanting to see original characters given the MOTUC treatment (my collecting life will feel incomplete without MOTUC Roboto, Rattlor, Tung Lashor or Mosquitor), but not so much that I’d hate She-Ra, NA or MYP stuff.

    I’m no big fan of the NA universe, but I can see how if NA wasn’t accepted by SOMEONE, MYP He-Man wouldn’t have been made. And that’s unacceptable, given that the MYP series was some of the best cartooning in the past decade. And further, while I think the original NA He-Man looked quite ridiculous, I’d still pick him up in a hot second if his MOTUC version looked cool enough.

    • Awww… Well, keep in mind a true Faker Cat would have his color scheme decided by the 4H. I’m sure they’d do an infinitely better job.

      • I like all the eras, but I admit to not knowing as much about NA as the others. I did love MYP though.

        I’m up for just about anything from this line. I just can’t see the logic behind restrictions.

  • Hank Henshaw

    Mattel should do whatever neccesary to keep the line going. All these people that want to get their 20 figures and out are being selfish. Thinking for their own good and not the good of the line.

    • Exactly. They should want the line to survive. MOTU fans should take a page from JLU fans. Sure they want that last batch of characters that appeared in the cartoon and haven’t been made, but they don’t say no to characters that never appeared in animation on automatic.

  • Ebonhorn

    WANT!!!!

  • I agree. I’m totally open to new designs. That’s what makes 4H’s private lines so amazing. However, this line has always been approached as an homage. To keep all collector’s happy, let this line complete its run, in the same packaging, articulation, mythos, what ever make completionists truly happy.

    Simply make another line. It doesn’t even need to be after this one, it could start next week. To really free the Horsemen, there needs to be a line with no restrictions (back stories, play features, etc’). Transformers especially, used to enrage me with all of their re-imaginings. But, that is what has kept them fresh. There has been toys/stories I love (Beast Machines, Animated) and things I have hated (Armada, Energon). I picked up what I wanted. Joes are the same way and somewhat with Star Wars, even with it’s “canon”.

    With that said. Toys for the most part need fiction. New characters need to be relatable and loved to push sales. We saw that with 200x and even NA. I have great hope for the on again off again movie.

    Thanks for the great article NoisyDvl5…Slick

    P.S. Battle Armor Faker is officially on my short list!

    • Thanks for the compliments! Any fan of BA Faker is a friend one mine.

      I would like to see them mix things in. I think new figures mixed in would sell. But on their own? They may not make it.

  • Wow, I was in the Camp 3 – if you get a new figure, you won’t get to the figure you want. I won’t mind brand new figures so much if Mattel increases the total numbers of figures produced a month, e.g. Goddess/Zodak. That way, we can have a brand new character and a nostalgia one every month and those who do not want the brand new figure can just stick with the nostalgia fig. Too bad that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

    • Not up for an Evil Horde counterpart to Extendar?? 😉

      I totally understand people feeling like something crucial could get bumped off the end, but I just can’t worry about that right now. I think no matter what happens, whether something like a Snake Man with a binocular theme shows up or not, there are going to be figures that get missed. I don’t see a difference.

  • JimPansen

    I think the Masters Universe is BIG enough. It´s to early for new charakters. There is already so much reuse of bodyparts with all the “old charakters”.
    Also there is a much larger choice of parts to create new Masters, after all original charakters reappeared!

  • dayraven

    to look at this from a practical standpoint, let’s not forget that there are certain characters that are line killers. that is, when that “most wanted” character comes out in a toy line, that’s it, the majority of collectors walk away happy cuz they got their “must have” character but the fanbase on the whole is left unhappy because of how many characters DIDN’T get made.

    as an example, i offer akuma. for SF fans, this late-comers has become “the” character, the potent badass they just have to have… BUT… resaurus puts him out and gets one more wave done before the line dies… SOTA get him out, and manages to put out one more wave before the line dies… NECA puts him out and they produce one more wave of repaints before the line dies… toy biz only made one series of x-men vs sf, and surprise, akuma was in that wave… capcom vs snk had two sets of figs, akuma was in the last wave… clearly there’s a pattern here.

    why is this relevant to MOTUC? i’ll tell you why… king hsss… i won’t consider my collection complete w/out king hsss, but he’s the line killer for motu… so the longer we can put him off, the happier i’ll be. maybe you don’t agree w/ me, that hsss is the man… but it doesn’t change the fact that we can recognize that SOME fans will walk away from this line once they get all the “classic” characters… and that will hurt overall sales… giving them a month off of buying here and there, by offering new characters, won’t hurt the line overall, and those of us open to new ideas get them… what can that hurt?

    BTW, i would lastly like to point out that besides totally new characters, like the IAT crews’ extendar redux, i’d love to see some characters who are mythos-established finally get figs, like geldor, queen marleena and count marzo… these characters are essentially new to figure form, but to me, are essential in this, the definitive motu experience.

    on a closing note… you he-don’ts, who feel the line should be the classic 8 back crossell and out… aren’t you late for the .org? don’t you have books to burn or kids to punch? why don’t you leave the brave new frontier of innovation to those intellectually interested in it and go back to plucking your knuckles.

    • “definitive motu experience.”

      That sums it up right there. The vintage toys, the accompanying properties, the unmade characters, and a dash of new to give the line a little of its own flavor.

  • DrNightmare

    True story – Someone once brought their MOTU toys to school and I said maybe He-Man would look cool with some pants. All the kids in the room got a wild angry look in their eyes and tried to beat me up. It was pretty bad, blood and British Knights shoes flying everywhere. Hey, I’m 23, I’m not about to let a bunch of 3rd graders beat me up!