Sunday, January 3, 2021

Wrapping up 2020: Lords of Power from Masters of the Universe Origins by Mattel

 


   Like most other events last year Power-Con 2020 was canceled and, instead, was held as a virtual event. It was pretty cool and while I'm sure it wasn't the same as getting to attend Power-Con in person I certainly enjoyed it. The exclusives were still offered up as well and the main piece for Power-Con 2020 is what I'm checking out today: The Lords of Power 5-pack from Masters of the Universe Origins. What exactly is Lords of Power? Check out Battle Ram or one of the He-Man documentaries on Netflix like The Toys that Made us or The Power of Grayskull for a full run down but, to make a long story short, Lords of Power was the original working name for Masters of the Universe. Apparently the name was changed due to someone at Mattel thinking that it sounded "too religious" so Masters of the Universe was chosen. The "Lords of Power Collection" was displayed with an image of five prototype figures of He-Man, Skeletor, Beast Man, Mer-Man, and Man-At-Arms that showed more details from Mark Taylor's concept art which were eventually dropped for the final product. While ideally I would have wanted these figures as Masters of the Universe Classics releases but, considering that MOTU Origins is currently Mattel's main focus, it makes sense that they'd push it. All five figures come in a box that looks similar to one of the vintage MOTU carrying cases, so the presentation is pretty slick. The set was originally sold through Power-Con to folks who bought attendee tickets and was sold through Big Bad Toy Store for non-attendees. I'm going to go ahead and forewarn you that this set was quite pricey due to being a limited fan convention exclusive: Power-Con was charging $200 for attendees (who paid an extra attendance fee) who would pick up on site while BBTS was charging $270 for anyone who wanted one. Anyways, the price has been paid so let's check out the Lords of Power after the break...


The Facts: Beast Man

Height: 5 3/4ths inches

Articulation: Swivel/ hinge ankles, calf swivels, swivel/hinge knees, balljointed hips, swivel waist, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, and a double balljointed head.

Accessories: Harness and belt.






The Facts: He-Man

Height: 5 3/4ths inches

Articulation: Swivel/ hinge ankles, boot swivels, swivel/hinge knees, balljointed hips, swivel waist, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, and a double balljointed head.

Accessories: Harness, ax, and shield.





The Facts: Man-At-Arms

Height: 5 3/4ths inches

Articulation: Swivel/ hinge ankles, boot swivels, swivel/hinge knees, balljointed hips, swivel waist, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, and a double balljointed head.

Accessories: Chest armor, shoulder armor, forearm armor, leg armor, and mace.





The Facts: Mer-Man

Height: 5 3/4ths inches

Articulation: Swivel/ hinge ankles, calve swivels, swivel/hinge knees, balljointed hips, swivel waist, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, and a double balljointed head.

Accessories: Chest armor, belt, and sword.





The Facts: Skeletor

Height: 6 inches

Articulation: Swivel/hinge ankles, calve swivels, swivel/hinge knees, balljointed hips, waist swivel, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, and a double balljointed head.

Accessories: Armor, belt, and Havoc Staff. 

Non-Scalper Price: $200




Comparison: Beast Man

    The Lords of Power Beast Man is on the left while the standard Origins Beast Man is on the right. Beast Man might be the most different figure in the set as he has a new head, new armor, a new belt, and new forearms. He's also molded in a darker orange with a bit more red in it.



Comparison: He-Man

 The Lords of Power He-Man is in the center while the standard He-Man is on the left and the SDCC 2019 He-Man is on the right. The Lords of Power He-Man uses the vintage styled head from the SDCC 2-pack, has more bluish weapons and armor, and has more peach colored skin.





Comparison: Man-At-Arms

   The Lords of Power Man-At-Arms is on the left while the standard Man-At-Arm is on the right. The LOP Man-At-Arms has a darker body, a new head, new chest armor, the mace from the MOTUC Man-At-Arms, a new armored left hand, and the boot with a dagger from the SDCC He-Man 2-pack.



Comparison: Skeletor

 The Lords of Power Skeletor is on the left while the standard Skeletor is on the right. The LOP Skeletor has slightly darker armor, new greaves, and a new head.

 

 

 

 

The Packaging:

 

   * The Lords of Power set comes in some very nice packaging. That's kind of a trademark of the MOTU brand and it's always cool to see what Mattel's designers come up with. The main package comes in a brown mailer box with an image of He-Man and Skeletor on the front underneath a banner that says "Lords of Power." On the reverse is a cross sell image showing the five figures in the set. 




* The main packaging shows the same image of He-Man and Skeletor battling in front of Castle Grayskull though it's now in full color with the Masters of the Universe logo. The packaging also includes credits:

Toy Designer: Bill Benecke
Packaging Designer: Roy Juarez
Packaging Engineer: Adam O'Connor
Copywriter: Robert Rudman 
Artist: Axel Gimenez
Colorist: Nate Baertsch
Brand Manager: Britt Shotts
Project Manager: Neil Desai




 

* The back of the box shows off the other three characters in the set: Man-At-Arms, Beast Man, and Mer-Man! The packaging material is extremely nice with a matte finish and is clearly designed to be kept and displayed. It's gorgeous!

 

* The box opens in the middle to reveal four "compartments" where the figures are stored. There is a clear plastic cover on each side and a plastic tray inside holding the figures. Everything is 100% collector friendly, so you can put these guys right back in if you want to. It's a really nice design and it really adds value to the set!
 


The Positives:

* The MOTU Origins line are built like the vintage toys but with modern articulation. While their bulky frames make the articulation a bit clumsy, they do feel like an evolution of the vintage line. Imagine what you would get if you mixed a vintage figure with a MOTUC figure. They're quite fun to play with.

* They're also modular. Like the Masters of the WWE universe figures, these can be easily separated to make your own lazy boy customs!

* Let's start by focusing on Beast Man, who I think is one of the most impressive figures in the set. With lots of new parts Beast Man looks incredibly different! You know how fighting games (think DC Injustice) always add tons of armor and gear to characters? This makes me think of fighting game Beast Man! The colors are fantastic on this guy and all of the extra details really make Beast Man feel unique.

 

* Beast Man's new headsculpt is far more savage than the vintage toy and his teeth are massive. Wow, does he look fearsome or what? You could almost use this guy as another character if you wanted to. Maybe he's Biff Beast Man's older brother, Buff Beast Man!



 

* Beast Man's armor is a brand new piece and it's really quite impressive. The medallion on his chest is smaller than on the vintage Beast Man but it's much sharper looking, definitely cleaner. He's also sporting some major spikes on his shoulders. They're crazy looking!

 

* The belt is another new piece that's far more ornate than what came with the vintage Beast Man. The paint work is excellent here, too. I love the gold flourishes on this Beast Man.

 

* Last up are these massive clawed gauntlets. They round out Beast Man's looks and give him some extra "oomph" when he's in battle.





 

 

* He-Man is the figure who looks the least different between his standard release and the Lords of Power prototype version. His skin is much pinker, which seems accurate to the prototype, and his armor has more of a blue hue to it.

 

* He-Man uses the vintage styled head that so far has only come with the SDCC 2019 2-pack of He-Man and Prince Adam. I think the upcoming Battle Armor He-Man will use this head sculpt as well.

 

* He-Man comes with the same ax that the standard figure comes with although it would have been nice to have gotten a new sculpt that looked more like the Lords of Power prototype. Still, it's a nice piece and I like the paint hit on the blade tips.




 

* The Lords of Power prototype picture doesn't show He-Man with a shield but Mattel still included on here. It's the same shield as the standard release, just with a bluer tint to the plastic.

*Special thanks to my daughter, Adora, for taking this picture!*



 * Man-At-Arms is another figure with lots of changes from the standard figure. You might not notice them all at first but there are a bunch. First, the green of his bodysuit is much more of a deep forest green and his wrist cuff and his trunks have more paint applications than the standard figure. 

*His armor is also new, featuring fur lining on the edges. This was a detail that was included on the vintage cross-sell art but that was dropped from the released vintage figure.

 

* Man-At-Arms comes with the armor he wears on his left arm and left leg. Its made from the same flexible plastic as his chest armor and the arm pieces are split into the shoulder pad and forearm plate allow the elbow articulation to still function as intended. Like the Lords of Power prototype, the armor also covers Man-At-Arms' left hand.

 

* Duncan comes with a larger mace than the standard figure. This piece is actually a lighter orange version of the mace that the MOTUC figure came with.

 

* The headsculpt is completely new as well. the helmet is sleeker with more wires and panels on it. It's quite nicely painted and definitely helps this version of Man-At-Arms to feel completely new.





 

* While I didn't see the knife in any of the Lords of Power prototype photographs it is pretty cool that Mattel included the knife in the boot with Man-At-Arms. It's very fitting for him.

 

* Of course, the knife is removable and can be wielded as a backup weapon when needed.






 

* For some collectors Mer-Man is going to be the most exciting figure in this set as not only is this a really cool prototype/ cross sell art Mer-Man but it's also the first MOTU Origins Mer-Man we've received. He looks incredible! His armor is very cool with lots of detail and his skin is a very dark bluish-green.



   

* Lots of folks prefer Mer-Man's vintage cross-sell headsculpt to the headsculpt that the vintage toy ended up with (I know I do) so it's cool to see it rendered here in the Origins line. It's a great headsculpt and the paint matches the Lords of Power prototypes quite nicely.

* Thanks to my daughter Adora for taking this picture, too!*


 

* The armor is quite complex looking, especially for the more simple aesthetic of Origins. The chest armor and belt are separate pieces. I love the details on Mer-Man's trunks (meant to looks like scaled, I presume) and the little shells hanging from the belt. Oh, and he's got the large finned gloves!




* Mer-Man's sword is enhanced with a blue stripe down the middle of the blade.

*Thanks to Adora for taking this picture, too!)





 

* The Lords of Power Mer-Man has completely different boots with some cool protrusions on the top. Armored and stylish!





 

 

* Lastly, let's check out Skeletor. Overall he's quite similar to the standard figure with the biggest difference below the neck being the painted emblem on his armor.







* The biggest difference on Skeletor is that the Lords of Power prototype made him look less like an actual skeleton and more like a rotting corpse. Remember Mark Taylor's story about the fun house corpse that he tells in The Toys That Made Us? You can feel the inspiration from that incident in this sculpt! It's very unsettling for sure.

 

* Skeletor is also walking around in some very cool greaves with little skulls on them. The Lords of Power version had more human-like feet I think, too, but I'll give Mattel a pass as these feet are pretty creepy with the rest of the sculpt.

 

* The Havoc Staff is the same as the standard release, just molded in a deeper purple color.





The Negatives:

* Beast Man still has the weird bootie feet that the standard figure has. This would have been a great opportunity to make some more savage looking animal feet, especially since that's what the Lords of Power prototype had.




 

* Man-At-Arms has some really sloppy paintwork on the fur on the edge of his armor. There's even some slop that has spilled onto the back of the armor as well.

 

* Why does He-Man's shield always look like it's been scratched up or damaged? I'm not talking about battle damage, either. I'm talking about the plastic looking scratched up with stress marks around the edges.




   Wow! This was a big set and I've got a few things to say about it before wrapping up here. First, one of the most fun things about MOTU is the reverence the fan base holds for the creators of the line and art and the prototypes and concept art. It's cool that toys based on those designs and such appear fairly regularly in MOTU toys and the Lords of Power was a very inspired choice for an exclusive.

   Second, the set is quite well done overall. There are some little nitpicks I have with it but overall there's quite a bit of new tooling here and the presentation is incredible. Seriously, it's a nice package.

Lastly, I gotta talk about the price as it's the elephant in the room with this set. I know exclusive items released in lower runs have higher costs. Power-Con is truly a fan convention with the ability to order exclusives from Mattel. We're not talking about a convention as large as any other con that usually warrants convention exclusives. That being said, wow. $200 bucks as the asking price through Power-Con, plus shipping, made this set insanely pricey. Big Bad Toy Store offered these originally at $270 with their $4 shipping and, honestly, both probably came out pretty close. You're paying at least $50 bucks a figure here which seems wildly overpriced. Of course, now the figures are selling for around $100 each and the sets are selling around $400 or more, so I'm glad I got it early I guess. As a collector I'm glad to have this in my MOTU collection. As a consumer, I don't care how few of these Mattel made, the value isn't quite where it should be. We really should have received some extra weapons and maybe a few more newly tooled parts. Still, what's the verdict? It's a Good set. He-Man is pretty unimpressive, but we've had multiples of him in Origins so that makes sense I guess. Skeletor is cool but Man-At-Arms, Mer-Man, and, surprisingly, Beast Man, are the starts of the show. I love the idea of being able to have a shelf of MOTU prototype toys. Add these to the MOTUC Roger Sweet trio and Vikor and Demo-Man and you've got a cool display for sure. This is definitely just for the hardcore fans and everyone else will be rolling their eyes, but that's OK with me!

 

 I've reviewed so many toys of Beast Man, He-Man, Man-At-Arms, and Skeletor that they have their own review archives. Check out Beast Manor, Snake Mountain, the Man-at-Armory, and Fabulous Secret Powers!

 If you're a fan of Mer-Man, the guy who made talking to fish cool, then check out my reviews of the M.U.S.C.L.E. standard Mer-Man and green Mer-Man figures, the Panosh Place Mer-Man Collectible Eraser, MOTU Colorforms Deluxe Play Set, the Monogram Mer-Man bag clip, the Loyal Subjects' Mer-Man, Super7's neo-vintage Mer-Man, the Mondo Exclusive Mer-Man, the Mega Construx Battle Cat vs Roton set, and the ReAction Mer-Man (Invisible) and Mer-Man (Carry Case Color).

For more Masters of the Universe Origins reviews check out the following:



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