Saturday, December 19, 2020

Action Figure Review: Snake Mountain from Masters of the Universe Classics by Super7

 

   

   Despite everything this year has brought Masters of the Universe fans will remember 2020 as the year that Super7 finally delivered us Snake Mountain. While Mattel is still actively releasing Masters of the Universe toys and they may revisit the scale and style of Masters of the Universe Classics, this piece is truly the end of the long running line stretching back to the first release of King Grayskull at SDCC 2008. Since then Mattel and Super7 have released well over 200 figures, multiple oversized vehicle and beasts, giants, dragons, and even massive playsets, a feat that's quite impressive in this modern age, particularly when you realize that 99% of the product never appeared on a retail shelf. When Mattel released Castle Grayskull in 2013 it seemed like it was the epitome of the MOTUC line. It seemed like mountains had to be moved to make it happen and that it would be the centerpiece of the line. But, little did we know, Snake Mountain was in the works. It didn't happen under Mattel, though, but under Super7. When Mattel lost interest in the MOTU property Super7 took over and continued to offer figures and vehicles that fit in with what we already had. We had Night Stalker but Super7 gave us Stridor. They gave us figures from the 1987 movie, something Mattel assured us over and over again was impossible. And finally, in April of 2019, Super7 began their campaign to give us Snake Mountain

   With Super7 being a smaller outfit than Mattel and Snake Mountain being a much larger playset than Castle Grayskull, we knew Snake Mountain wouldn't be cheap. And it wasn't. Second only to purchasing a vintage Eternia I do believe that Snake Mountain is the most expensive collectible item I've bought. I actually started a side savings account a year or so before just for fun (the Snake Mountain fund) so that I was ready to preorder the day it arrived. Well, now Snake Mountain is here and it's massive. I've had mine for about a month now as I wanted to give myself some time to mess around with it and really get my thoughts together on it. Now, its time for my review, and I'm joined in taking pictures and setting things up by my 7-year old daughter, Adora. She was only 3 months old when Grayskull came out but now at 7 she's all about this. You'll catch glimpses of her in some of the pictures peaking through the various openings and corridors of Snake Mountain. Let's take a journey into the Dark Hemisphere and venture to Snake Mountain after the break...



The Facts:

Dimensions: Around 38 inches tall at from base to the top of the door, around 42 inches long from side to side, and about 17 inches deep at it's widest.

Includes: Skeletor's throne, wolf scepter, net, bridge, 4 faces, ladder, table, breakaway wall, front door, creatures, Serpos head, and control panel.

Non-Scalper Price: $600 dollars plus shipping








 The Manual:
  
   Snake Mountain does require a bit of assembly so it comes with an instruction booklet (narrated by Orko) and all of the pieces in separate containers in the main box. Mine arrived from Super7 in a massive shipping box, inside of a another larger shipping box. It weighed about 50 pounds in the box (I wasn't home and my wife really struggled to get it in the house). There's also a folded up poster of the box art by Jason Edmiston that includes a bio for Snake Mountain on the back.






 

The Poster:

   This is Super7's picture of the poster. It's 40 inches x 40 inches, so it's huge! It's amazing too, though I don't have wall space big enough anywhere (that my wife would allow) this to be framed and hung. I thought it would look nice above the mantle.









The Front:

* Let's start with the front of Snake Mountain, which is really the most impressive part. If nothing else can be said about this set let it be said that it is massive, overwhelming, and visually stunning. Whenever I have to move it around or pose some figures on or near it I get a grin on my face. This thing is just so massive and mysterious feeling. It really does bring back the same sense of awe that I remember my second hand vintage Snake Mountain gave me as a kid. 

* The right half of the set features the giant demon face in the mountain, the lava falls, the bridge, and the chains for capturing a heroic warrior. The plastic quality on the set is excellent. It feels very, very sturdy and of a very high quality. I think this was one of the biggest concerns of most collectors when Super7 announced Snake Mountain but I'm happy to say that in terms of the production itself the piece is very well made. 

   The paintwork is just so well done here, too. There really are lots of nicely captured details here, from the roots growing out from between the rocks to the dark shading on the various surfaces. It's excellent looking and shows of the Four Horsemen's sculpt beautifully. 







The Mountain Creature:   

  * The most impressive part of the front right is without a doubt the voice of the evil creature growing out of the side of the mountain. The sculpt is wonderful with amazing detail and paint that fits right in with the MOTUC aesthetic. The eyes are excellent, just like I remember, and I love the roots growing over the creature's head and down his face. 





 *  The jaw is hinged, just like on the vintage Snake Mountain, although it doesn't have a lever on the back to allow you to make the mouth move on its own. It's just a simple hinged joint. That was a really strange design choice as the vintage Snake Mountain's main gimmick was the talking mountain demon where you spoke into the wolfs head microphone and moved the mouth from the rear. The missing lever is a real miss in my opinion. 




   The Wolf Head:

  * Speaking of it, here's the large wolf head that rests atop the right side of the mountain. It's not a microphone this time (not that anyone expected it to be) but simply a statue-like pillar. It is removable (I'll get to that in a minute) and can be rotated. I love the sculpt, particularly the cracks to make it look like worn stone, although a splash of color on the eyes would have looked awesome. It's odd that this paint app is missing. Also in this picture: A spy for the Heroic Warriors!



The Path:

   

 *  The vintage Snake Mountain had an almost straight path that led from the right of the playset to the left where the bridge set. The MOTUC version makes it more winding and stair like, though, adding in some extra height. Visually it looks more organic and untamed. I kind of like the more pronounced platform as it creates a place for some fearsome creature to lurk. There's also a breakaway wall panel underneath the overhand, but we'll look at that more closely once we're inside Snake Mountain.








 *  The downside to the path is that it doesn't really fit the MOTUC figures, who are between 6 and 7 inches. Here's a picture of the vintage Two Bad (he's my daughter's only vintage figure so she wanted to use him) under the overhang. He doesn't look too bad, and the MOTU Origins figures look pretty good here as well, but the MOTUC figures have a hard time walking up the path. It seems like the right side of the set needed to be a couple inches taller to accommodate them. 





 The Chains:

   

   * The platform where Skeletor can keep one of the Heroic Warriors chained up is very nicely scaled for the MOTUC figures and there is plenty of room to keep most figures captive. The chains themselves are made of metal with plastic cuffs that are on a hinge. They open easily and can snap right over the wrists of most figures. 

   


  * My daughter wanted to use one of her She-Ra figures to demonstrate the chains, so here's She-Ra chained up at Snake Mountain. Personally, I think she's breaking out of those chains in under 5 seconds. The cuffs are a little large, more meant for the male figures, so Teela could probably slip her arms right through. They look cool, though, and seem quite sturdy, quite unlike the vintage chains. 








 The Bridge:

   * To make our way further up Snake Mountain we will have to cross the lava falls/ blood falls by traversing this rickety old bridge. The lava fall is a wonderful element added to the MOTUC Snake Mountain (the vintage set didn't have it) that adds a little Filmation inspiration to the set and sets it apart from its vintage counterpart. The falls are slightly translucent, so if you have a light source behind it they look like they're glowing. That's pretty menacing, right?




   * The bridge is pretty nice looking. It's one solid piece, not two like the vintage toy, and it has some excellent detail on the wooden planks that make it up. The posts and rope going across it also have their own paint applications, showing the age of the structure.
   

   * The bridge looks cool but... well, it's a bit puny, right? I'm pretty certain this bridge is actually smaller than the vintage bridge. You could at least have two figures fighting on that one. This one is less of a bridge and more of a decorative feature. I'm pretty sure those entering Snake Mountain could step across this gap. It's amazing that Snake Mountain is as big as it is and yet parts like this are woefully undersized.


The Mountain:

* Now that we've crossed the bridge let's work our way up Snake Mountain itself. The mountain is easily the coolest part of this playset as it's the largest and the most impressive. There aren't many play features here but the craggy purple landscape and the coiled serpent make for one of the coolest MOTU backdrops you could ask for. The structure is very much a hybrid of the vintage toy and the Filmation Snake Mountain since the vintage toy didn't show any of the body of Serpos wound around the mountain. The sculpt is excellent, capturing a fine line between looking carved by hands and looking organic.   

* There are more strange faces coming out of the living rock of Snake Mountain. This one sits at the bottom and it's horrifying! Stuff like this really evokes the feeling of the earliest MOTU art and style. Eternia feels like a place where every inch off the planet tells a story and is primed for an epic adventure.







The Passage:

* Next to the creature, hidden beneath the jagged rocks jutting out from the surface of the mountain, is the true entrance to the interior of Snake Mountain. This natural cave leads to the horrors inside...


* Don't bump your heads, though! Seriously, this cavern is low and narrow. MOTUC figures will have to crawl through. It seems more designed for vintage or MOTU Origins figures, which is disappointing. Serious, this is another undersized element of the set. 

The Ascent:



* It's a menacing trek climbing up Snake Mountain! The ground is littered with roots, strange pulsating rocks, and, of course, the wining body of Serpos. There is a cool little platform that gives Skeletor and his henchmen a place to stand watch and guard the entrances to their inner sanctum. 
* While it is possible to pose figures on the steps, it's going to take some real concentration and expert balance. Seriously, these stairs are tiny. I can understand that the Four Horsemen probably wanted to retain a more organic feel but unless you're putting your figures in some really weird poses, these steps are next to useless. They look incredible but they're just not functional for MOTUC. Folks seem to have better luck with the Origins and the Action Vinyls, actually. They look amazing on the set. 




The Door:

* The doorway at the top of Snake Mountain is marvelous! I love how ominous it looks! The size on it is perfect and there's some nice paint detail on the floor and the spiked rocks. I will admit that it is weird that Serpos seems to pass through the door with part of his body missing (it's kind of like a trick arrow through the head gag) but if you see the giant snake as just ornamentation rather than being an actual creature (I do) then it's not an issue.



* The door is menacing. I love the nasty wolf head on the front! The paintwork almost makes this door look like it's actually made of metal, which is pretty cool. It looks a bit rusty, too. And it's got some broken slats. Seriously, Skeletor isn't much for maintenance, is he?


* The head of Serpos is really, really cool. The sculpt is excellent and, like the wolf, it's made to look like archistecture rather than a living creature. I do think some reddish, metallic eyes would have looked fantastic, though, but it's hard to knock what we got. Brilliant stuff! The snake head isn't articulated like the vintage toy, though that one seemed like it was meant to be an actual snake rather than a decorative statue.






The Back:

* Here's a shot of the back of Snake Mountain. It has some great stuff but there really feels like there is a lot of wasted space. Truthfully, the vintage Snake Mountain wasn't that interesting inside, either, but it feels like there are a lot more duller areas to this set than to the MOTUC Castle Grayskull where interesting play features were squeezed in everywhere.


The Trap:



* Here's a shot of the back of the door atop Snake Mountain. The back of the door looks nice but the rest of the set is just the opposite molding of the front. It's stuff like this that I really wish would have been better thought out, particularly for a $600 item. How about some painted vines in there, or some snakes? What if there was storage for weapons? Maybe a few bones, or a guard post for a Hover Robot?





* Battle Armor He-Man has fought his way to the top of Snake Mountain but upon entering he finds nothing. Just an empty room. Wait? What's with the floor....


* Oh no! A trap door! He-Man plummets... about 7 inches down into a net. And the trap door? Well, it's caught in the net, too. The net is nice but the trap door is really kind of wonky. It gets stuck in the net, too.



* See that little teeny lever you can barely reach? Yeah, that's what activates the trap door. It's very hard to reach and it's tough to turn. Dropping figures through the trap door is just a pain and mostly a joyless experience. The engineering on the features on this set is rather questionable and this is the second worst example. The worst is coming.
The Interior:

* The faces inside of Snake Mountain are separate pieces that can be attached to the walls. They look awesome and they're another example of the best things about this set. The sculpt and paint is fantastic. This one reminds me of Leech!


* The next face to highlight is the melted skull. looking face. Creepy!



* Last up is the teeth monster (with lots of teeth) and the rock monster. I'm just making up names for these guys, by the way. They're not specific named characters or anything. Yet. 

* Remember the tunnel on the front of Snake Mountain that I said was the true entrance? Here's where it leads! That's better than being dropped into a net, huh? The interior is cool and definitely seems fitting for Skeletor's residence. It looks like something you would see in an ancient temple dedicated to some malevolent creature. The platform on top of the tunnel also gives you a bit of room to stand another figure or two, or maybe store some Eternian artifacts. 






* Like the trap door, the tunnel, and the bridge, the entrance way is a bit too short. Since there's really nothing above it is there any reason why this couldn't have been raised 2 or 3 inches? It looks fantastic with vintage figures and Origins figures but, again, it's just a bit too small for MOTUC.

The Swamp:

* Next to the entrance, tucked back in the caverns of the mountain, is a terrifying pit filled with horrific creatures. This was just a sticker on the vintage toy but here it's a fully three dimensional sculpted piece. It's one of the coolest parts of the entire set!

* The swamp is a single piece that you can move around. I've placed it here since that's where the sticker featuring the swamp was on the vintage playset, but it could be moved anywhere. Heck, even display it separately if you want. The sculpt is incredible and the paintwork definitely matches the quality of the sculpt. It's one of the best pieces in the MOTUC line in my opinion. 








* Here's a close-up of the purple sea-monster like beast poking his head out of the water. Pretty terrifying, right? Those teeth and the paint on the scales are just amazing. 











* My daughter, Adora, took this picture of the orange beast who is crawling ashore to perch himself on the rocks. He's a fearsome little guy, too. 










* There are three tentacles snaking their way out off the swamp and they're also incredibly well done. They're not bendable or anything but they do look like they're moving thanks to how they're "posed."


* It's easy to fix (and not really even in need of a fix) but one of the tentacles on my set was loose in the package. It can fit back on just fine but it seems like it was meant to be glued into place.








The Scepter:

* The instruction book calls the stone pillar that was the wolf microphone in the vintage set a scepter. I can deal with that. It's a very cool piece that is removable. You can rotate it, too. It's designed to look like some sort of ceremonial pillar. Again, you really get the impression that Skeletor found the ruins of some ancient temple and just decided to take up residence there. There are lots of symbols on this and it kind of reminds me of the evil version of the evil counterpart of the stand that holds the Power of Grayskull inside of Castle Grayskull. 
 
* While there is no microphone or anything as part of the scepter in this version the scepter does have a hidden door that opens to reveal storage space for weapons. That's kind of cool in theory but there are no clips or anything. Honestly, I thought the intention of this was originally going to be a storage space for the Havoc Staff, so something very specifically designed for that would have been really cool. As it stands, this is just an opening space where you apparently just set weapons inside. Wouldn't including a few repainted weapons have been a cool idea? Imagine getting a few awesome weapons cast in Snake Mountain purple, or maybe black and red? It's an OK feature but it doesn't feel fully realized.

 
 
* The most disappointing thing about the scepter is that it just doesn't fit on the base well. The scepter has a hole on the bottom that is supposed to fit onto a round peg on the second floor of the left side of the rear but mine just won't stay. See the gap between the wolf head base and the slot where it is supposed to be? That's a pretty unacceptable gap on a major part of a $600 item.








The Throne:
 
* Let's jump back to something positive, though, and take a look at Skeletor's bone throne. Yeah, that's absolutely what it's called. The bone throne is based on the throne Skeletor used in the Filmation series and it's an excellent rendition of that accessory. The paintwork is really cool, giving the throne a mixture of white and blue, and the sculpted detail is amazing.
 
 
* Skeletor looks petty cool on the throne. With the harder loincloths of the MOTUC figures they're not designed to sit properly but give it some time and you should be happy with the results. Doesn't Skeletor look happy just chilling on his throne?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
* Here's another shot taken by Adora so you can see the detail on the headpiece of the throne. Spooky!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Second Floor
 
* The second floor also has this cool little grate as a decal near floor level. It reminds me of the Castle Grayskull dungeon piece. This is a new element and it's fun a little element to discover. I do wish that the wooden trapdoor from the sticker on the floor of the vintage set was somehow captured here, though. That was always one of my favorite details as it just seemed so mysterious.





 
 
 
* Above the grate is an odd little recess in the wall. As it turns out, it holds the stand for Screeech, the evil falcon that came with Evil-Lyn, perfectly. How cool is that, right?



 
* The battery case for the microphone on the vintage Snake Mountain is simply a sculpted element here but it looks incredible. Seriously, I have no idea what it is intended to be but it looks great. It's a pretty fun example of the technology you find in MOTU and seeing all of the wires, the view screen, and the skull gets your imagination going.
 
 
 
* It makes a nice place for the more tech minded villains, like Tri-Klops, to tinker around.
 
 
* To help you get up and down between floors Snake Mountain comes with a very precarious looking ladder. It looks like the same sculpt as the Castle Grayskull ladder (both vintage sets shared the same ladder sculpt as well) and since you can move it you can use it wherever you'd like.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Skeletor's Table
 
* Another Filmation inspired element is the table that Skeletor holds his staff meetings around. The large accessories in this set like the bone throne, the swamp piece, and this table are all amazing. Great sculpt, a very solid feel, and some nice paint to make this look like some sort of ancient artifact make this a highly prized part of the set for sure.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
* The top of the table has lots of bones which hold the gazing ball in place. Skeletor uses this to watch the goings on of Eternia so I guess you could say it's kind of like Eternian YouTube.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Bottom Floor

* The bottom floor is easily the most disappointing part of the set. It's largely empty and it's missing the cool elements of the vintage toy like the wooden trap door and the random bones strewn about. It's always good to have some play space, so I guess you could put the table here, but overall it feels like wasted space.
 
 
 
 
 
* The packaging refers to this as the dungeon and there's clearly a space for Skeletor to keep someone held captive. The door is nice and, like the wolf door on the top of Snake Mountain, it has been painted to look like weathered metal.


 
 
 
 
 
* For being a dungeon, though, well, the door doesn't even close with a figure inside. Seriously, look at the gap. *sigh*


 
 
* The dungeon does have a play feature, though. The idea is that you can have a Heroic Warrior bust in through the wall beneath the platform where heroes can be held captive out front and then the wall knocks the door open. It's a bit tricky to get it to work but it's kind of fun. Hey, look, there's a Heroic Warrior getting ready to to take on Snake Mountain all on her own! She's got this!










 
 
* Notice that on the side of the dungeon there is no wall. Yeah, the dungeon's too small to hold most figures and those you do fit in there could just slide out anyway. I know Skeletor is surrounded by incompetence, but this is ridiculous.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
* Snake Mountain can fold up though, since it's asymmetrical, it doesn't look very good. I doubt you'd want to display it like this. It's for storage only though oddly is has no clasp to hold it closed.



 
 
 
* Here's the other side. It doesn't look too bad displayed this way.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   Well, that's Snake Mountain. This project was first revealed in 2015 and but Mattel seemed to abandon it just a year or so later. The fact that Super7 picked it up and delivered it is nothing short of a miracle worthy of the He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special. That being said, it's not perfect. I'm going to break down my thoughts on this one a bit. 
   Let's start with the price. At around $600 dollars, Snake Mountain was expensive. For those folks who didn't order it when Super7 offered it, it's not getting any cheaper, either. I have started trying to factor in pricing into my reviews a bit and I'm definitely sure that Snake Mountain is the most expensive "new" collectible I've ever purchased. $600 is a lot of money but, at the same time, it's also about the largest collectible item I own. It's not overly complex or electronic but it does have lots of parts that would make for lots of molds that neither Super7 nor Mattel will be able to use again. I don't think it's overpriced, especially considering the size of the toy and the limited scale of the offering,  but it's definitely priced at a premium and I'm not sure every decision made on the set reflects that pricing.
 
   Next, let's talk about scale. This thing is huge and it's impressive. I know it's been downsized a bit from when it was first shown but I'm not sure it's noticeable unless you're sitting there measuring and I'm not sure I could really handle it display wise if it were much larger. This is a heck of a display piece and probably a centerpiece of your toy room unless you have something like a vintage Eternia, the U.S.S. Flag, or something else similarly large.  

   The functionality of the set is odd. Some things work great (the chains, the swinging doors) but others just don't. My wolf scepter doesn't fit on properly, the trap door is a pain, the dungeon is too small to accommodate a figure, the mountain monster's jaw can't be moved via a lever, and the tunnel, bridge, and other areas feel undersized for the 6-7 inch scaled MOTUC figures. It seems like the room was there to make these things functional but that the design wasn't up to snuff. The quality of the set is good, though. The plastic is solid, the paint is excellent, and I had no fear of anything breaking. There's nothing here that I'd call fragile.

   For the extras, I'm overall quite happy. Skeletor's throne, his table, and the creatures coming out of the swamp are excellent and are among some of the finest pieces in MOTUC. The same goes for things like the control console and the faces of the mountain demons look excellent. A few extra accessories, simple things like weapons, or even a repainted Skelcon, would have been nice additions to add a bit more value, but the extras are definitely well done. 

   If you're a MOTUC fan (it's my favorite toy line of all time) you're going to want this. It's an amazing piece and while there are certainly still toys I want for the line should it ever continue (or at least be added to via the upcoming Masters of the Universe 6-7 inch scaled line) Snake Mountain does feel like the cherry on top of what has been a very satisfying sundae. It's doubtful we'll ever have a toy line like MOTUC again. That being said, I can't help but feeling some disappointment at some of the weird decisions made for Snake Mountain. I'm not sure if the blame lies with Super7, the Four Horsemen, Mattel's original design, or a mixture, but it's weird that decisions were made on things like making the trap door so awkward, making the bridge so tiny, creating a tiny, useless dungeon, and other baffling decisions. Of course, things like the bone throne, swamp creatures, and the various panels are amazing and really bring a smile to my face. Overall, I'm giving Snake Mountain a Good and a 1/2. It's simultaneously impressive and disappointing, though it's a quality piece that's fun for display and play. It's interesting that while playing with the set and reviewing it with my daughter she didn't seem to pick up on any of the faults I found. She's completely caught up in the way it fuels her imagination and, in certain moments with the set, I am too. 

 
Are you a fan of Snake Mountain? The check out my reviews of the Snake Mountain M.U.S.C.L.E. from series 3's Pack C, the Masters of the WWE Universe Rattlesnake Mountain Ring, and the plastic Snake Mountain cases from the series 2 Eternia Minis StinkorFakerHe-ManFirst Appearance Trap JawSerpent Claw Man-At-ArmsGolden Armor SkeletorSkeletor, and Beast Man.
 
For more reviews from Super7's time with Masters of the Universe Classics check out the following:



 

 



 

 


 

 

 


8 comments:

  1. I appreciate your honest review. My thoughts reflect your feelings on it too. I don't have buyer's remorse but as it is, it's only a one-sided playset. The lack of attention to the interior is rather embarrassing for the price (and for whatever reason, I want to blame Mattel). For instance, the new grey second story is boring. What a shame because, if this is the last ride for classics, it should go out with a bang! But instead, it resembles a factory floor not a reimagined Skeletor's lair. I can't believe that was the Four Horsemen's intention

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the inside is definitely quite uninspired. The vintage Snake Mountain's interior wasn't that impressive either but I really was hoping for something more impressive than we got. It's kind of odd how good things like Skeletor's throne and the swamp creatures turned out while other parts of the inside are just so dull.

      Delete
  2. Wow. Just wow. Very impressive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Overall, I'm still quite happy with it despite my criticisms and I certainly would not sell it or trade it.

      Delete
  3. Very nice! Do you have the Castle Grayskull as well? I never was able to collect the Classics line but the new Origins line has really imposed itself on me, LOL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do! I have the vintage Grayskull, the 200x Grayskull, the MOTUC Grayskull, and now I anticipate picking up the Origins Grayskull.

      Delete
  4. Looks a lil undersized for Classics figures as your review points out some areas that are a lil cramped. But it sure makes a heck of an epic Snake Mountain for Mega Construx mini-figures! :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mega Construx, vintage, Origins, and the Loyal Subjects all look really good with this. I really think some of the feature like the bridge and the trap door just didn't scale as well when the size of the playset was changed up. Still a really cool set and in the center of my collection but if you have it in hand you'll definitely notice the flaws.

      Delete

What'chu talkin' 'bout?