Saturday, November 22, 2014

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

     While I owned quite a few New Adventures of He-Man figures as a kid, I never owned Karatti. Honestly, I don't even remember ever seeing him in stores. He came out as part of the 2nd series of New Adventures (NA) figures in 1990 and was some type of martial arts expert for the Space Mutants (thus the name, a play on karate if you didn't catch it).  While NA might be the red headed step child of Masters of the Universe lore, it did have some cool design and story elements that work well when woven together in Masters of the Universe Classics (MOTUC). Looking at the original figure, I'm not entirely sure that Karatti was one of the stronger designs from that line. Still, he's got a chance at a second life in MOTUC, right? Find out more about "Bone Bashing Mutant" after the break....

     As always, the fact that Mattel reuses most parts on the MOTUC figures means that the scale and style remains pretty consistent.  Karatti comes in right around 7 inches and shares Trapjaw's boots, legs, hands, and arms. He also uses the basic torso and shoulders that most figure's utilize.  In order to give him a unique appearance, Karatti features one of the most detailed and intricate pieces of chest armor that has been released on a MOTUC figure.  While the gold certainly is reminiscent of Optikk (another NA release in this line) and the green skin is only a shade darker than Demo-Man's, the figure still manages to look fairly unique, if not a tad bland.    

     Karatti features the same articulation as the standard MOTUC figure: hinged/rocker ankles, boot swivels, hinged knees, ball jointed hips, a waist swivel, an ab hinge, peg/hinge ball jointed shoulders, bicep swivels, elbow hinges, wrist swivels, and a ball jointed head.  All the articulation is nice and solid with no loose joints whatsoever.  We're already in the fifth year of 2013 and I have yet to have any figure with a major QC issue.  I guess Mattel really is doing something with those raised figure price!  While the articulation is solid as usual, the only thing I find worth pointing out is that the movement of Karatti's ab-hinge is impeded by his torso armor. Honestly, since the armor was used to give him a very unique look, I don't really care that much. I'm sure someone, somewhere is whining about it. I hear you, bro. I hear you.
  Well, first I'll mention that while the Trap Jaw parts are certainly not 100% accurate to the vintage Karatti, they're probably a good choice. Honestly, looking at pictures of the vintage figure, the Trap Jaw parts actually seem more interesting than the original figure (although the original figure does look to have asymmetrical details on his thighs. Am I seeing that right?).  The rest of the reused body parts (torso and shoulders) are solid as usual.  How about those new parts?  Well, I'll handle the armor here rather than in accessories because it's vital to Karatti's look: the 4 Horsemen did a really nice job with the armor piece. It's nicely detailed and features some fun design elements such as the three pipes going across his chest, the over sized pauldron on his left shoulder, and the air tank and various circuitry/hoses on the back.  The waist piece also has some cool details like a pouch on the back.  While all those elements are present in the original figure, the 4H have brought them out a little more.  Furthermore, there's lots of great little details such as dings and dents in the armor and even some slashes on the back. Stuff like this really gives a figure character. I guess Mattel lets the 4 Horsemen have more fun since only a handful of people are really hardcore NA fans.  If the 4 Horsemen did something cool with a "vintage" figure, like give them windblown hair or a head sculpt with any expression, some fans would probably have a massive coronary.
      Well now that I've gushed about the positives, let me talk about a few elements of the sculpt that I'm not completely sold on.  First is the weird purple abs that are sculpted onto Karatti's torso and waist piece.  It's a design element on the original figure, although I'm not sure if they're intended to actually be Karatti's actual muscles or if they're a molded armor of some kind.  Since they're part of his removable armor, I'm going to pretend they're an armor element. Still, take a look at them.  There are multiple muscles and they go down really, really low on his pelvis. It looks really odd.  They probably needed to end the muscles a bit higher up, regardless of what they were going for.  Secondly, I want to talk about the head sculpt. Typically the head sculpt is the strongest part of a MOTUC figure, but with Karatti, I'm just not sure. I mean, I don't dislike Karatti's head head sculpt but I'm not overwhelmed by it. I think it's actually due more to the weakness of the original design.  The individual elements are great.  I like the funky dreadlocks and the metal lower face mask, but when they're combined together with the face things just don't gel for me.  I like the Predator vibe he's got going on, but I just can't fully get behind the head sculpt.    

     The paint is simple but quite clean and effective.  Most elements are molded in colored plastic versus being painted, but the few details on the armor are nicely painted.  I like the painted dreadlocks on the head and the weird eyebrows (or are they tattoos?) but I don't like how dark the eye sockets are. The eyes look to be a shiny black to stand out a bit, but that detail is almost impossible to see with the too dark eye sockets.  I wish the large fields of solid gold on the legs and arms had more little details, kind of like on Optikk and Trap Jaw, but the lack of such details probably saved a bit of money. 

     Other than his armor (which you can consider an accessory or not) Karatti also comes with a "laser axe" and a cutlass, both of which appear to be simple updates of the two accessories which came with the original figure (which were called a solar axe and a space blade on the original bio).  In fact, they feel almost slavish to the vintage accessories.  The laser axe is cool in concept and I like the execution for the most part.  It's an odd little weapon with a severe axe blade and an almost revolver like cylinder.  The cutlass fits Karatti's space pirate image and does have a few cool details on the blade.  Let me point out one issue that maybe should have went with sculpt, but since it has more bearing on accessories, I've decided to include it here: Karatti's left hand can't grip a weapon properly. This isn't just an overstretched hand but a feature of the original Trapjaw figure whom Karatti shares his hands with.  Fortunately, the cutlass has a hand guard that helps to keep the weapon in the loose hand, but I can't help but feel this was a major oversight. 

     While Karatti is technically a solid figure, there are some elements that make him pretty average. The accessories and the fact that it's hard for him to hold both at the same time is one knock. The weird abs going to low is another elements. Coupled with the head sculpt that I'm not completely sold on, and I end up with a figure that I'm confirming Good and a 1/2. I don't dislike the figure at all, and I certainly don't dislike the New Adventures of He-Man appearing in MOTUC (Optikk, Slush Head, and Icarius are some of my favorite figures and NA He-Man is probably my most anticipated figure that we've seen), but I can't help but feel that Karatti was just an average design in the past, thus making an average figure in a line that does little to reinterpret characters and designs.  The armor is excellent and the quality control is solid. There's no doubt you'll have fun with the toy, but in a line of over 100+ figures with dozens of stellar releases, Karatti just doesn't do much to distance himself from the pack.

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