Friday, May 22, 2020

Old School MOTU: Teela from Masters of the Universe by Mattel

    After picking up the pieces to restore my original He-Man figure back to greatness I decided Teela was the next candidate. My Teela was fortunately in good shape and nearly complete so all I had to do was to find a new staff for her. Well, here she is! My original Teela! Teela was probably the first female action figure I ever owned and she was always a main character in my MOTU adventures. I've recently been watching Scott "ToyGuru" Neitlich's videos about the making of the Masters of the Universe Classics toyline and he has dropped some pretty interesting information about the characters, including the vintage Teela figure. While I've long known about Teela's connection with the never made Sorceress/ Godess figure, I don't think I realized that Mattel's intention was that Teela was intended to be two separate characters, allowing kids to only have to buy one figure to have two separate female figures. It certainly wasn't clear on the marketing for sure. Teela's unique snake motif definitely stood out and gave her a cool fantasy edge that worked so well in the early years of the line. Let's take a look at Teela and see how cool of an action figure she still is after the break...

 The Facts:

Height: 5 1/2 inches

Articulation: Rubber band hips, spring loaded swivel waist, swivel shoulders, and a swivel neck.

Accessories: Snake armor, staff, shield, and minicomic (not pictured).

Original Retail Price: $4-$5 dollars

Year of Release: 1982

 The Positives:

* Teela's a pretty impressive looking figure. Compare her to the various Princess Leia figures from Kenner's Star Wars and other similar action figures from the era and she is easily leaps and bounds above them in terms of being a very fierce looking figure and being an attractive looking figure. Seriously, I imagine most boys who owned Teela definitely had a bit of a crush on her. She's built like a Frank Frazetta drawing and is wearing a very ornate but still barbarian /fantasy-esque one piece outfit with lots of cuffs and bracers.

 * Teela has a very pleasant face.  I mean, yeah, we're taking about a kids toy from 1982 but she's kind of pretty with lots of facial detail for the time such as eye details, pink lips, and eyebrows. She also has a great hairstyle with a cool tiara on top keeping everything in place.

* Going back to Teela's outfit for a second it is indeed quite detailed. Seriously, look at all of the individually painted gold elements on her outfit. That's quite impressive work for the era and really shows both the attention Mattel put into designing the MOTU line (thanks to great artists like Mark Taylor and great sculptors like Tony Guerrero) and what could be done by MOTU being in the larger 5.5 inch scale.

 *  Most of the vintage MOTU figures, yes even Teela, have nearly the same articulation. She's posed differently, though, and is standing rather than crouching. The vintage MOTU figures may not be very well articulated but they're dynamic and their battle poses certainly made them incredibly fun to play with as a kid.

 * All of the original eight MOTU figures had a spring loaded waist for battle action and Teela was no exception! Twist her waist and let it go so that she can smash the bad guys with her staff or deliver a karate chop to Beast Man's throat. Huzzah!
 * Perhaps the most unqiue feature of Teela is the snake armor that fits over her head and torso and clips behind the figure. It's actually quite easy to put on and quite sturdy, too, which is a nice change of pace from many of the early vintage armors which were fairly fragile. I mentioned it above but the original idea was that there would be two female figures: The Goddess/ Sorceress and Teela. While they would use the same base body the intention was that Teela's outfit and the Goddess' snake armor would be separate overlays for each figure, but that didn't happen and thus we got the snake armor with Teela. It's very nicely sculpted, though it rarely appeared in most forms of media featuring the character.

* Teela comes with a shield which can attach to either of her arms via a clip. It works quite well and has a rather elaborate design.
 * Lastly Teela comes with her serpent staff, which in recent years has come to be known as the Staff of Ka. This is another holdover from the Goddess/ Sorceress design and it easily fits in Teela's right hand. I always wished she had come with a sword, though, but this is a pretty cool weapon nonetheless.

* Teela also included a minicomic, either "The Tale of Teela" (early releases) or "The Dragon's Gift" for the later releases of the figure.
 The Negatives:

* I get that the idea with Teela's odd wrist is that she's supposed to be casting a spell (another holdover from the Goddess/ Sorceress concept) but I've always though this just looked off. Maybe if the hand were flat or if the hand was angled up? But no, alas this just looks kind of odd to me.
   Teela is absolutely one of the toys I've had in my collection the longest and I'm glad that she's able to be complete again with her serpent staff back in hand. She's an Epic figure and definitely stood out in the line with some great accessories and a design that was far above the other female figures of the time. Being one of the A-list MOTU characters means Teela was a pretty popular figure, and rightfully so. Mattel made magic with the vintage MOTU line and Teela was truly a key part of that!

Was Teela one of your first loves? If so, check out my reviews of a few Teela toys such as the M.U.S.C.L.E. green Teela and the standard M.O.T.U.S.C.L.E Teela, the Mega Construx Teela from the Battle for Eternia Collection and Teela from Battle Bones, the 200x Snake Teela, the ReAction Teela (Shiva), the NECA Teela micro-bust, the neo-vintage Teela and Frozen Teela, the Tweeterhead Teela bust, an appearance in 1983's Colorforms Masters of the Universe Deluxe Play Set, and Super7's Ultimate Teela.

For more Masters of the Universe action figures check out the following:
Battle Ram
Moss Man
Prince Adam

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