Saturday, November 22, 2014

Action Figure Review: Sky High with Jet Sled from Masters of the Universe Classics by Mattel


     When I eventually release my top ten MOTUC figures of the year list, I'm really going to have a tough time narrowing things down because there have been so many good figures this year. One of the ones that came out of nowhere was Sky High and the Jet Sled. In my review of the Fighting Foe Men I discussed that the characters were originally used as the drivers in the painted box artwork of the Monogram model kids. We got the Roton driver, the Attak Trak driver, and the Talon Fighter driver, but strangely were missing the Wind Raider pilot which was the only vehicle we had in MOTUC at the time. Not only did Mattel rectify the problem of not giving us a Wind Raider pilot but they also managed to give us our second vehicle for the line, the Jet Sled. In the vintage line the Jet Sled was the front part of the Battle Ram Chariot vehicle and later appeared as the default air transportation for both heroes and villains in the Filmation animated series. Mattel opted to package together the Jet Sled and the Wind Raider pilot (now named Sky High) as an item available outside of the subscription. Ready for a look at both Sky High and the Jet Sled and some discussion regarding the way Mattel delivered them to collectors? Then join me after the break...



 
 First, I want to talk about the way Mattel sold this item by including a figure with a vehicle. From everything we have (basically the fact that the character has a real name [Darid] and a bio card) it seems crystal clear that Sky High is a unique character and not an army builder. The Jet Sled, however, really seems like a vehicle that some fans intended on army building. Not only is it one of the smallest MOTU vehicles, but these were shown in multiples on the cartoon series. It seems odd that Mattel didn't recognize that they had an item they could have potentially sold more of (although they didn't seem to recognize that with the Horde Troopers, either). While some fans have taken pictures of Sky-High's body with other heads on it to represent other characters wearing some sort of Eternian flight gear, this seems like a way to justify some fans now having a pile of Sky Highs sitting around. I'm pretty much a one of each kind of guy, so this is less of a personal gripe on my end and more of an observation of Mattel's often weird practices.

     Utilizing a basic body with mostly shared parts, Sky-High is right around the 7 inch mark like pretty much every other MOTUC figure. He shares the gloves from Zodak, the legs and boots from Trap Jaw, and the crotch from Optikk. He'll fit in well with pretty much any MOTUC faction but looks awesome alongside the Fighting Foe Men, Galactic Protectors, or the Eternian Palace Guards. The Jet Sled is a solid vehicle (no assembly required) that measures about 9 inches long and 5 inches tall.

  

Sky High's articulation shouldn't come as a surprise for anyone who's held a MOTUC figure: hinged ankles with minor lateral rocking, boot swivels, hinged knees, swivel thighs, swivel/ hinge thighs, a swivel waist, hinged abs, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, and a double ball jointed head. Everything feels fine in regards to QC and Sky-High has no problem being posed aboard his Jet Sled. I kind of wish his ankles had a bit more lateral motion to them, but it's not a deal breaker. His armor sits up pretty high on his torso and allows for plenty of movement at his abdominal hinge. The Jet Sled has no moving parts.

 




      Since he reuses parts, the only newly tooled pieces on Sky High are his head and his armor. His head is covered completely by a helmet and it looks pretty cool. It kind of reminds me of the Lasers Vipers from G.I. Joe for some reason. It's a bucket helmet that completely covers his head and has two eye holes and a long beak-like protrusion on the front.If you wanted to use this guy as a generic army builder, there's no reason why you couldn't. While we've seen Sky High's shared body parts many times (particularly the infamous Trap Jaw legs) it really works for a character who is a pilot. The thick, heavy gloves, and armored boots with thigh pads work well. Not super exciting, but still pretty cool. Since the armor is so vital to his look, I'll cover it here: it's fairly thin body armor that snaps in the back, features lots of sculpted rivets and plates, and has a sculpted image on the front of what looks like the Wind Raider's wings and the skull that adorns the front of the vehicle. It's looks awesome and is a very nice homage to the Wind Raider itself.

     The Jet Sled is a beautiful sculpt, perhaps even more so than the Wind Raider. It's not as large as the previous vehicle but it is covered with lots of rich detail that just evokes the primitive feel of the early MOTU stuff. Besides random armor paneling and circuitry, I think you'll be impressed by the control pad, the cannons, and the relief on the side. The control really pops out at you as all of the dials, gauges, and switches are sculpted pieces and not just stickers and paint. The Jet Sled is a heavily armed little bugger as well, as it's got one massive cannon on the front (under the dragon sculpture) and four smaller guns underneath (two on each side). The Four Horsemen really did an excellent job on this vehicle as it's a mighty impressive piece.


     I like Sky High's blue, black, and red color scheme, but there's definitely some sloppy paint work, particularly on the thigh pads, boots and legs, and edges of the helmet. The chest emblem looks really good, however, and the metallic blue bolts on the boots are a nice touch.

  









The Sky Sled's paint excels. It really is pretty close to perfect. First, it's molded in a beautiful shade of blue, almost a bluish green, but there's definitely some lovely added shading to give it a much richer appearance. The little pieces of armor plating on the sides and on the bottom of the vehicle are all painted with various metallic colors that really bring this piece up to a level of quality and detail you'd expect from a collector's line. The two best parts, though, are the dragon relief on the side of the Jet Sled and the control panel. The relief is very colorful and really evokes the stickers of the original, but surpasses them by adding more to a textured piece.

Remember how I talked about the impressive control panel and how each button was sculpted on? They're also all painted. There are at least a dozen colors on the control pad alone and it just brings this toy to life. I thing the only thing that could have made me happier was if the front cannon was given a different paint app from the main body; the bolts on it are metallic blue but nothing else is any different.

  



     Other than his removable armor (which snaps in the back, making it much thinner than other recent armors like Sea Hawk's) and the Jet Sled, Sky High only comes with accessory: it's a winged weapon that can either be worn on his back or used as a staff of sorts. Designed to look like the wings of the Wind Raider this piece is as tall as Sky High and features some excellent gold paint apps to bring out all the detail. On the back of Sky High's armor is a clasp that the handle of the winged weapon can snap into.



     I like to imagine that it's made of an extremely light metal that's so light Sky High can use it to glide. Imagine him and a bunch of other pilots involved in a dogfight with Skeletor's forces, all on Jet Sleds. If Sky High's sled got damaged he could use his wings to glide onto the Jet Sled of an ally or glide onto an enemy Jet Sled and commandeer it.






The Jet Sled itself doesn't have anything that I'd call an accessory, but I will point out that it does have tabs so that it could potentially link up with the chariot part of the Battle Ram (if that half of the vehicle ever gets released) and that the Jet Sled can utilize the same stand as the Wind Raider. It doesn't fit perfectly since the arm of the stand that holds the Wind Raider up has a lip on it that supported the Wind Raider's base, but it still stays on nice and tight.

  


This set was a great surprise at SDCC 2013 and really turned out very nice. I'm personally very happy that Mattel completed the Fighting Foe Men/ Monogram Vehicle Drivers and also thrilled to have a Jet Sled, one of the most oft used vehicles in the Filmation cartoon. If I were rating these individually, Sky High would simply get a Good and a 1/2 but the Jet Sled itself would get an Epic rating. Averaging the two together and having to round up a bit, I'm confident in giving the set a Great and a 1/2 rating. The Jet Sled is just too remarkably impressive in hand and it's clear that someone at Mattel really made sure that it turned out right.

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