Saturday, November 22, 2014

Action Figure Review: The Unnamed One from Masters of the Universe Classics by Mattel

     The Masters of the Universe 2014 Subscription Exclusive, The Unnamed One, has just been released. Who exactly is the Unnamed One you might ask? How did he come to be? Where can you by him? All of these questions (and more!) surely must be flowing through your mind, so we're formatting this review in the form of an FAQ for your enjoyment and infotainment. Want to know who the Unnamed One is? Go On and Read this Post to find Out!

Who exactly is The Unnamed One?
     In one of the last minicomics released in the vintage Masters of the Universe toyline, The Powers of Grayskull: The Legend Begins!, writer Phil White began to introduce story elements that were intended to usher kids into the new Powers of Grayskull toyline. In the first of what was intended to be a three part story He-Man travels back to into Eternia's past by using the Cosmic Key in the Central Tower. There He-Man runs into the Snake Men and their leader, King Hisss, but he is unable to intervene in the affairs of the past. Skeletor makes his way back to the past as well, however, and is accepted as an ally by King Hiss. Meeting Skeletor, King Hiss thinks to himself, "Perhaps this is an emissary from the Unnamed One who we serve."
     And that's it! That's pretty much all we have ever really known about The Unnamed One since 1986 when that minicomic was released. Over time there have been numerous theories as to who the original Unnamed One was. According to various sources and quotes from various Mattel employees, it sounds like the Unnamed One might never have had an identity and was simply a mysterious allusion to something else. Others have connected the identity to Keldor, Hordak, and even an Emperor Palpatine like being who was the ultimate evil power in the universe. The name has definitely caused a great deal of speculation by fans and the character was planned to be explored in depth by the MVCreations comic series by Emilianio Santalucia and Val Staples. Alas, that never happened, but we do get an identity for the character in the MOTUC canon, first revealed with this figure! Find out after the break....

      It's Gorpo, a renegade Trollan wizard who was banished to the Nameless Dimension, created the Snake Men, and is beaten by Dare (the son of He-Man). So yeah, the Unnamed One is Gorpo. 

Who is Gorpo?
     Gorpo was the original name for Orko, the Trollan magician created as a comical character that kids could identify with for the Filmation animated series. That name didn't stick, however, because Filmation often reversed animation cells to get more mileage out of them. Since the "G" on Gorpo's shirt could not be flipped, Gorpo was changed to Orko. You know, since "O" is more symmetrical. I'm writing backward O's right now. I've been writing them this whole paragraph, in fact, and you never noticed, did you? At some point in the past, did an ask Gorpo feature and the character appeared in the 1984 Masters of the Universe annual in the UK. Interestingly, at some point the Four Horsemen denied that the sub exclusive figure was Gorpo when many fans began speculating about it, leaving many to wonder if they were simply told to sculpt an evil Trollan and did not know the name The Unnamed One would eventually receive.

Aren't Trollans a bit silly?
 Personally, I'm never a fan of one race always having to have the same general characteristics in fantasy and sci-fi, so I like the idea of there being good Trollans and evil Trollans.We've seen both before. I'm not wild about The Unnamed One as a Trollan, but I have no problem with the idea itself.

So how was the figure sold?
     Since The Unnamed One is the club exclusive figure for the 2014 Club Eternia subscription, the only way to get him was to subscribe last summer during the sub window. This isn't unusual at all as every year since 2010 has had an exclusive figure (Wun-Dar, Preternia Disguise He-Man, Shadow Weaver, and King He-Man), but this was the first year that subscribers did not get the opportunity to see the figure before subscribing. Technically, subscribers paid the $25.00 cost of this figure when they paid their subscription fee last year.

What did we know about this guy before he arrived?
     At SDCC 2013 we knew the figure was going to be The Unnamed One and not just a mystery figure. We were also told this by Mattel on 7/31/2013:
"Befitting this legendary character, his figure is almost completely newly tooled! This isn’t just He-Man® with a new head – his only shared part is the arms.

- Two heads really are better than one, especially when it comes to the Unnamed One. He’ll arrive with an alternate noggin (but why??) and two accessories, one of them a magic burst. The question is what wrongdoing was wrought by that magic burst?

- Like King He-Man with a scar over his eye and a beat-up Power Sword, the Unnamed One will feature visual details that help tell the story of his malevolent existence.

Although the Unnamed One has remained shrouded in mystery for more than 25 years, we promise all will be revealed with his release as the Club Eternia exclusive figure in 2014. He’s much more than a collection-essential figure, he’s storyline-essential so don’t miss this opportunity to make him yours. Sign up for a 2014 Club Eternia subscription today!"

 And no one knew about this figure until he arrived in the mail?
     Other than knowing the name (The Unnamed One, not Gorpo) and the few details shared by brand manager Scott "ToyGuru" Nietlich, that is correct. Almost. Actually, back on February 9th, 2014 an image of a carded Unnamed One began to circulate online. I believe it first appeared on 4Chan and quickly popped up on all of the major Masters of the Universe sites. Actually, the only thing we didn't see until the figure arrived to a subscriber was the alternate head, the character bio, and the stand.

What's the fan reaction been like?
     Pretty mixed. Some fans really love it, some really hate it, some seem to be pretty lukewarm too it. Actually, I tend to see more fans liking the figure but not liking the idea of it as The Unnamed One or as Gorpo. 
 So was the figure over-hyped?
     I'm going to go with a yes here, for a few different reasons. First, I think regardless of how The Unnamed One ended up appearing, there was going to be some disappointment. Typically, when we have no visual depiction of a character (particularly an evil character) we make up the most terrible, frightening thing we can thing of that personally appeals to or terrifies ourselves. Thus, making the figure an unrevealed "mystery" figure did not help at all to manage expectations. Remember, this guy was actually called a "legendary character" and "more evil than evil itself" by Neitlich, so he was definitely pitched as a big baddie.

     Secondly, the way his accessories, details, and importance in the mythology were pitched really didn't come to fruition. His second head was brought up on multiple occasions and the mysterious "(but why??)" really seemed to point that the second head would be something rather unusual. Was it going to be the head that appears on Snake Mountain? The head of a character we knew? Nope, turns out it was just Gorpo wearing a battle helmet. But why? I guess the response would be, "why not?" The same goes for the character being called a story-line essential and a love letter to the fans. I just thought the figure would end up being more significant.

Interesting stuff. So, isn't there an action figure in that package or something that you should be reviewing?

     Absolutely. What do you want to know about The Unnamed Gorpo?  

Does this guy reuse any MOTUC pieces?
     The only parts that The Unnamed Gorpo reuses appear to be Orko's shoulders. The rest of the figure is completely new and built quite differently from your average MOTUC figure. He's also much shorter than your average MOTUC figure. If you're very generous and measure from the bottom of his robes to the top of his head, he's about 3 3/4 inches tall. While I think he looks fine in the MOTUC line, the level of detail, flowing elements, and design sensibilites actually make me feel like he'd be more at home in the 200x line. He really matches that aesthetic.

Wasn't that style retired?
     Oh, you're a cheeky one aren't you. I do find it quite funny, though, that a character design created new for this line does have the most 200x style and proportions of almost any figure in the line, particularly with how many times in the past Neitlich stressed that the 200x "hyper anime detail" style was retired and that Mattel's management wouldn't let it be used. I guess with what's going on with the new DC Comic, no one at Mattel cares what happens with MOTU anymore. Zing!

How is the articulation?
     It's much more limited than your standard MOTUC figure because Gorpo's built so much more differently. Remember Orko's articulation? That's pretty much what you get here: swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel wrists, and a true ball jointed neck. I'm really not sure what more Mattel could have done since it's not like the Trollans have legs or anything. Everything feels nice and solid, though, which is good on an exclusive figure like this.

How does the figure look?
With it's eyes!

You know, there are like at least 12 other sites reviewing these stupid things. I could go elsewhere...

     Of course you could, but you come here for the charm! To answer your question, the figure itself looks very nice. Once again, as long as you're fine with Trollans, that is. I feel like we're definitely seeing more and more completely new or mostly new sculpts in this line and for the most part, The Unnamed One looks quite good.  Anyone familiar with the Trollans or Orko will definitely see some similarities (blue ears and hands, yellow eyes, hidden face covered by a purple scarf of some kind), but the detail and costume design here is a lot more intricate. The Unnamed One's deep purple robe is tattered and torn along the bottom and features lots of little holes, a worn look that extends to his royal purple hood and his pinkish-purple scarf that covers his face.
      Rather than have a big "G" on his robe, ol' Gorpo here is actually wearing a fantastic armored breastplate. The detail on the armor is quite nice, especially the red skull that sits in the middle. It kind of looks like the Skull of Power from DC's New 52 Masters of the Universe comic series but it definitely appears to be too small to be that particular artifact. Of particular interest to me are the various little pouches and such on Gorpo's belt. I loved little elements like this in the 200x line and have always treasured these additional little details on MOTUC figures like MossMan, Tri-Klops, Fisto, and Man-at-Arms. Gorpo has a tiny pouch on his left side his right a larger satchel a small dagger. I really wish the dagger was a removable piece, but unfortunately it isn't. 

     Overall, The Unnamed One's yellow eyes set amidst nothingness really do look quite terrifying. Despite his size, he definitely looks like a powerful, evil character. I think my only complaint is that he has a bit of a bobble headed look to him. This isn't something that we see on other Trollans so I'm left to wonder if this was an intentional design element or some type of molding flaw. Other than the bobble head issue (and some weird scratches on his shoulder armor), I definitely like the appearance of The Unnamed One (but you can call him Gorpo); he reminds me of the black mages from the Final Fantasy series or the Poes from The Legend of Zelda.

How does he stand since he has no legs?

     Gorpo comes with a clear plastic stand with a black plastic base that plugs into a small hole on his......undercarriage.  It's a completely different stand than those the stands that came with Orko or Tri-Klops' Doomseeker. It has a larger base (that's a plus) but lacks the ball joint to aid the figure in flying poses that Orko's stand had (that's a negative). Since his body/ robe is made from a very hard plastic, you can also stand Gorpo on any flat surface and hell stay standing.

What accessories does he come with?

     Other than the included flight stand which was already mentioned above, The Unnnamed One comes with three accessories: His wand, an energy blast, and an alternate helmeted portrait. Let's start with the wand; possibly modeled after Orko's wand from the 200x series, Gorpo's wand is sculpted with a serpent wrapped around it. That's a nice nod to the staves carried by King Hiss and the other Snake Men, whom The Unnamed One is responsiblefor creating. This might be one of the nicest MOTUC accessories in quite some time as it has an intricate sculpt, is made from very sturdy plastic, features a translucent gem in the middle of the headpiece, and has a nice dark wash over the gold plastic of the wand. It fits nice and tightly in Gorpo's right hand.

     The second accessory is an energy blast accessory that fits over Gorpo's left hand. Molded in translucent green plastic, the energy blast features quite a bit of detail. The end of the blast looks like it is turning into multiple snakes. The snakes at the end actually seem to be able to wrap around the head of a standard figure, perhaps replicating the way that The Unnamed One created the Snake Men originally.

     Last, there is the second head that was marketed quite mysteriously for the character. Many fans were speculating as to the significance of the second head as the way it was pitched made it sound like it would be something that was possibly important to the story. It turns out, it's just an armored battle helmet for Gorpo. Don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic head sculpt and really looks quite fearsome, but its inclusion doesn't feel significant or bring up some new mystery about the new MOTUC canon. The full battle helmet covers all of Gorpo's head, only exposing his ears. It's a dark, iron looking helmet with a metal Mohawk on top, two rows of three small spikes, and a cool little bronze skull on the front. The way the yellow eyes peer through the eye slits and the intimidating mouth-guard really do impress. I've seen a number of collectors put this helmet on other bodies like Lord Dactus', Skeletor's, and Fang Man's. Overall, these are some really fantastic accessories. I don't think the head answers any questions or turned out to be a cool Easter egg like fans hoped it would, but it at least turned out to be a really cool design.

He comes with a comic too, right?

     Yes, It seems to be entitled He-Man and Skeletor: Their Final Battle. It's a minicomic (6 inches tall by 4 inches wide) and features 13 pages of story panels.

How is it?

     It's not bad, but it suffers from the same overload of new elements and limited room to fully develop the plot as the previous MOTUC minicomics.  I'm pretty sure 22 new characters are introduced in the comic's 13 pages. I know a lot of fans don't like the bios or the story Neitlich is telling through them, but I'll definitely side with him in the way the MOTUC story brings together every element of Masters of the Universe into one cohesive canon. I think allowing everything has been a real strength of the toyline and that transitions fairly well over into the story. That being said, this issue feels like a bunch of complete stories crammed together into one minicomic. While I don't agree with every story element he outs forth, I'd actually love to read Neitlich's story in order with adequate room for him to develop the storyline.

     I think the biggest complaint about this issue, however, is that The Unnamed One has only one appearance on a single panel. That's it. For a character we've been teased with for years and whose significance seemed to be dangled in front of subscribers, it's really odd that Neitlich didn't feel that he had more story to tell. A future comic is teased in this issue, but that seems like a bit of a cop out.

Are you satisfied with the figure?
       I might get banned from sites for saying it, but I think Scott Neitlich has done a lot of things right with this line. I think MOTUC being a monthly line has really helped to keep it popular and in view of many collectors. I also really appreciate how he has brought in a variety of characters from all across the MOTUniverse. Sometimes, though, particularly when it comes to creating new characters and concepts, I'm not sure that he has his finger quite on the pulse of MOTUC fandoms. To me, Gorpo/ The Unnamed One is an example of this. Then again, Light Hope looks to be a success and readily accepted by most fans, so that's something.
     All that is to say that I like the figure, but I'm a little baffled as to why so much work and new tooling was thrown into a new character when we've had major requested characters suffer from cost cutting. We're always told that budgets stretch across the line and aren't the same for each figure, so why does a character like The Unnamed One warrant a second head but most other figures don't? Anyways, I like the figure but I'm not crazy about him as The Unnamed One. Overall, due to the great sculpting, paintwork, and accessories, I'm giving him a Good rating. His bobble-headed look does bug me a bit because, once again, none of the other Trollans have it. Also, I really wish he had a ball jointed point of articulation at the stand to assist him in achieving better flight poses. The wizard formerly know as Gorpo isn't a bad figure at all, but I'm not sure how he fits as being a love letter to the fans.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What'chu talkin' 'bout?