Saturday, November 22, 2014

Action Figure Review: Horde Troopers from Masters of the Universe Classics by Mattel

      Maybe I'm just a sucker for Masters of the Universe or maybe Mattel really has been on fire this year, but I definitely think that this has been one of the best years for MOTUC figures yet. It's amazing that this line, which so many seem to love to hate, has now gone on for over five years now with no relaunches, changes in scale, or changes in style. Well over a hundred figures in and we're still getting new accessory packs, vehicles, beasts, giants, and soon an in-scale Castle Grayskull! Today I'm looking at one of the sets that has been eagerly awaited for years: The Horde Troopers! The evil robotic minions of Hordak are probably the most significant and well known army builders in Masters of the Universe. Mattel packed two of them together and released them as the quarterly bonus figure for the 2013 Club Eternia subscription and I'm going to be looking at them today. Ready? For the Honor of Grayskull!!!

     While reusing parts is the name of the game for Masters of the Universe Classics, these guys are completely, 100% new. Yup, no reuse here at all. Each Horde Trooper stands right at 7 inches tall and is ready to oppress the people of Etheria. While so many fans know these troopers from the She-Ra: Princess of Power animated series, they definitely look more like the Horde Trooper figure that was released in the vintage Masters of the Universe line, particularly due to the shape off the Horde emblem on the chest and the details on the armor.


The Horde Troopers feature slightly different articulation than most other figures in the line: hinged feet, peg/ hinge knees, swivel thighs, peg/hinge hips, a swivel waist, hinged abdomen, peg/hinge shoulders, bicep swivels, peg/ hinge elbows, swivel wrists, and a ball jointed head. Most of the standard MOTUC figures don't have the peg/hinged elbows and shoulders which effectively give give the toy the range of a ball joint, so these guys are actually better articulated than your standard MOTUC figure. The only join they're lacking are the rocker ankles that some figures have (the ankles that allow for some lateral movement when taking wide stances). Both figures are very solid and feature tight articulation and no quality control issues.


Since these guys are 100% newly tooled figures every piece was designed specifically for them, so they look fantastic. One of the things I like about the Horde Troopers is that they're so generic and utilitarian. They're essentially just plan, serviceable robots in a suit of gray armor but something about the generic looking armor gives them a lot of character. I think it's the rounded domes that sit on top of their heads. The giant visor and fin on the helmet simultaneously makes them seem like just one of a faceless legion of troops while injecting a lot of personality into the armor.

It's really nice to see a 100% new sculpt in this line because it means that the figure is covered with plenty of juicy details such as rivets, circuitry, snaps on the gauntlets, and the cool rounded Horde symbol on the chest that pays homage to the vintage figure's button (when you pushed the center of the emblem, the figure's inner workings became exposed as the chestplate popped off). What's really cool is that when you remove the armor, you can see the robotic inner body on the torso. I wonder if this new chest piece could be reused for any other character?


MOTUC utilizes simple, clean paint apps and that's what you'll find here. Most of the body is either molded in the gray plastic of the armor or the black plastic of the underarmor with little details here and there. Elements such as the red and silver circuitry on the chest and rear, silver lines on the knee pads and ankle rivets, and the cool red half circles on gloves make for a very nicely presented figure.

While this set comes with two figures, they're both exactly the same except for the paint work. While one figure is your standard pristine Horde Trooper fresh from the Fright Zone, the second trooper has a little battle damage on him. He has some very convincing blaster scorches on the left side of his head, the right side of his neck protector, and the right rear side of his neck protector. This was a nice way not to force fans to buy two of the exact same figure (I'm the kind of person who that would drive crazy) while still keeping them neat and uniform for army builders. The only critique I could make with these guys is that the yellow visor looks a little rough around the black visor edges. Yellow's just a difficult color to work with when it comes to paint.

    Since things are completely top notch for these guys, you might think the accessories would be the Achilles heel for this set, huh? Nope! They're excellent as well. The set comes with duplicates of each of the four accessories (one for each Horde Trooper) and includes: two crossbows, two staffs, two shields, and two stun wands. I'll start with the crossbow, as it's my least favorite accessory. I like the fact that Mattel has really carried on the Horde tradition of using personalized crossbows and definitely find the design of this crossbow very appealing, but I'm a bit baffled because it doesn't look like it's sculpted to fire anything. Rather than a crossbow bolt or something protruding from the end, the tip is rounded and looks similar to the trooper's head. Is it a projectile of some kind? I like the paint work (nice red and yellow details) but the weapon still falls a bit flat for me.

Everything else, though, is just magnificent. The Horde shield snaps onto the trooper's left wrists and functions like a tower shield except that it's shaped like an elongated Horde emblem. It looks great, is made of a nice sturdy plastic (as are all of the weapons in this set) and features a bit of metallic red paint on the Hordak face and wing spines.

The stun rod is simple but effective. It's a metallic looking rod from the Filmation cartoon that the Horde Troopers used for crowd control. It looks great and is a nice, simple weapon for these guys.

Lastly is the staff that's based on the vintage Horde Trooper staff. This is my favorite accessory in the set as the sculpting is very detailed: while the front looks like the body of some small flying creature, the rear of the staff is covered with buttons, switches, and levers. It seems like a perfect weapon for the Horde as it conveys Hordak's melding of magic and technology. The little creature on the end can swivel but is not removable from the staff. I like to pretend that it's a magical artifact that Hordak has somehow grafted onto a weapon for his troops to use even though they posses no magical ability themselves.

This is a killer set. I know Mattel likes their secrecy, but it was truly a poor decision on Mattel's part not to show these last year during the subscription drive. These guys would have sold subscriptions. They really are amazing figures, whether or not you're a MOTUC fan. Who doesn't love evil robot troopers? Noone, that's who. The completely unique sculpt shows what the Four Horsemen can truly be capable of, even in a more "toyish" line like MOTUC, when they're not restricted by reuse. These guys are super cool, come with loads of accessories, and truly felt worth the price Mattel asked for them. This is how you do army builders, hands down. Confirmed Epic!

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