Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Action Figure Review: He-Man: 40th Anniversary 4-Pack from Masters of the Universe Origins by Mattel

   2022 is the 40th Anniversary of He-Man and Masters of the Universe and Mattel has really been pushing out the product in celebration of the milestone. It's kind of funny to think back to the Masters of the Universe Classics years when Mattel was treating Masters of the Universe like a really small, niche brand. We were told that having characters presented in different styles was impossible because it would confuse the consumer or that various styles were "retired." We were told that larger items or MOTU toys at retail would only be possible in a "movie year." Now, MOTU seems like one of the most prominent 1980s brands out there with multiple shows, multiple retail toylines, and product lines from at least a dozen different companies. It's really quite crazy how the brand has reemerged as a powerhouse over the past decade or so. Mattel is even offering a Mattel Creations crowdfunded MOTU Origins Eternia. That's crazy! There's so much MOTU stuff out there these days that I'm really having to pick and choose, especially when it comes to big ticket items like Mondo's Battle Cat and Tweeterhead's Trap Jaw statue (which I both sadly had to pass on) and Mattel's Eternia (which I'm still on the fence about). Today I'm checking out one of the 40th Anniversary items I did pick out, though: The He-Man 40th Anniversary 4-Pack. This set features four Masters of the Universe Origins figures of He-Man from his four major cartoon appearances: Filmation's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Jetlag's The New Adventures of He-Man, Mike Young Production's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and the Netflix He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series. Oddly enough, Masters of the Universe Revelation is not included. I guess you could argue that it's supposed to be a continuation of the Filmation series though I don't believe most fans view it that way and instead see it as a unique take on the MOTU mythos. Maybe including five figures, including a He-Man that would be pretty similar to the 200x and Filmation versions, would have made things too expensive or the the packaging too large? This was sold exclusively through Mattel Creations and it's still available as of today. Let's check out this set after the break and see if it's a powerful and worthwhile addition to your collection...

The Facts: He-Man (Filmation)

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, sword, and sheathe.

The Facts: He-Man (New Adventures)

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, sword, and shield.

The Facts: He-Man (200x)

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, sword, shield, and axe.

The Facts: He-Man (Netflix)

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, sword, and belt.

Non-Scalper Price: $150

The Packaging:

* I know that cool packaging is a thing for exclusives but I don't think anyone does packaging as well as Mattel for the Masters of the Universe brand, especially on these exclusive sets. This isn't just a cool package you'll want to keep; this is a cool package you'll want to display. Since the theme of the set is a tribute to 40 years of He-Man as a cartoon icon, the packaging looks like a television, or an Eternian monitor of sorts. 

* It's not a standard Earth TV set. This is a monitor like you'd see in Duncan's workshop, or perhaps in one of the computer consoles nestled into Castle Grayskull or Point Dread. The box is colorful and really nice and sturdy. It's definitely closer to "collectible" than packaging and it has a couple cool little Easter eggs on it, like the two digital screens reading "82" and "22." I'm really looking forward to find a cool place to display this. 

* The front of the television/ monitor comes off and it is indeed covered with a layer of clear plastic to simulate an old fashioned TV screen. The fantastic artwork inside is also a removable piece which you could easily frame. It's quite cool and shows off He-Man and Skeletor from the four animated series covered in this set.

* Once you remove the screen there are four separate packages inside, each with the logo from the respective era of Masters of the Universe and the dates of the coinciding animated series.

* The packages come out and show off the He-Man figure on a copy of "MOTU Guide." The sides actually look like pages, like this is a TV Guide magazine or some sort of special publication. Inside each of these sturdy cardboard sleeves is a packaged MOTU Origins figure. 

* Flip them around, though, and there is a lineup of MOTU themed programming with lots of great jokes and references. It's really funny and clever. 

* Each figure comes in reusable, collector friendly packaging. First up is the Filmation inspired He-Man. His packaging looks pretty close to the standard MOTU Origins packaging (which emulates the vintage "exploding rocks" design) but the figure is easily removed and put back into the package. Personally, I'd love to see this style of packaging reused on future Mattel Creations exclusive figures. 

* My favorite packaging in this set is the New Adventures He-Man, probably because it looks so different and we just don't see it that often. I just really like the design of this one and I always have, even though it's so different from the classic MOTU aesthetic. 

* Next up is the 200x inspired He-Man. I remember this packaging well and while it might be the least exciting in the set, it's actually one of my favorite Origins figures. The way the packaging works on these is a lot like Mythic Legions: The cardboard backer card slides in and out of the plastic frame while the tray is simply removed like any other Origins figure. It's pretty easy to get figures in and out. 

* Last up is the newest version of He-Man from the Netflix CG series. This is the one my daughter calls "Fat He-Man" due to his Pixar/ Dreamworks styled proportions but here, on a basic Origins body, he looks a lot more classic. I like the package design here a lot. Something about centering everything definitely improves the look of the card. 
The Positives:

* Since these are all basic MOTU Origins figures, you know what to expect. They're built like the vintage toys but with more 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 still really fun to play with and look cool as a group.

* They're also modular. and can be easily separated to make your configurations

* Let's start with the Filmation He-Man. When I think of He-Man, this is probably the version I think of, and I think Mattel did a nice job with this guy. yeah, he's built on the basic body, but they did give him a new harness along with smooth bracers and a smooth belt to match the look of the classic animation. The colors are right on, too. There might not be a whole lot to say about this guy but he's a really well done He-Man in the vintage style and I like him more than Super7's take on the Filmation He-Man in their 5.5inch scaled line.

* The headsculpt is pretty good. I do wish he had come with a few extra portraits bagged separately, especially at this price (winking, smiling, laughing) but the design of the face and the hair looks "right" to me. It's sometimes tough to capture animated characters in a three dimensional sculpt but I think Mattel's sculptors did an admirable job here. 

* Each He-Man comes with a vac metallized version their respective Power Sword and this version has the Filmation sword. While the sword is grey in the cartoon, the chrome finish really does look cool, especially in this set. 

* He-Man comes with his scabbard for holding the sword. it's a removable piece and it can pop on the harness. It's a very cartoon specific detail and it's definitely an important part of the Filmation He-Man's look. 

* Next up is He-Man from the New Adventures of He-Man. This is actually a pretty cool figure because this is the first time we've gotten a figure of NA He-Man based on his cartoon appearance. The vintage toys had their own looks while the Masters of the Universe Classics and Masterverse releases are
based on the vintage toys, but this guy is straight up based on the Jetlag animation. I'm not a huge fan of the show itself (though I love the toyline and the overall concept) but it's cool to see this guy looking like the cartoon version. Well, he is more muscular, but not by much. The new harness is really cool and definitely differentiates this version from any other New Adventure He-Man figure releases previously; they all had more mechanical, metallic looking harnesses. 

* The portrait looks very animation inspired, too. It's a pretty solid headsculpt that really does resemble the animated character from New Adventures, plus it shows off He-Man rocking a ponytail. Hey, it was the late 80s/ early 90s. That was a thing. 

* New Adventures He-Man is also sporting the brown boots of his animated counterpart. These seem to be a new part that's unique to him. 

* While the toys of New Adventures/ Galactic Protector He-Man have depicted the blade of the Power Sword as green or yellow, more like a lightsaber, the cartoon series had a standard grey blade. That's what we've got here, though the sword has been given a vac metal finish to make it all shiny. It's a really cool looking accessory. 

* Battle Punch He-Man and one of the child-sized roleplaying toy sets from the vintage line both had gold shields, so there's definitely a precedent for this gold shield with a vac metal finish, too. It's really cool and all shiny. 

* The back of He-Man's harness has a simple loop for stowing the Power Sword away when it's not in use. Handy!

* Let's move on to the 200x/ Mike Young Productions He-Man. This figure was released in the basic MOTU Origins line a few months ago but this one does have some more paint applications on the harness. Like the standard release, this 200x He-Man has his wrist cuffs painted silver, his boots molded in brown, and the classic cross as his belt buckle. The harness looks like it's made of leather with a metallic clasp in the middle. The clasp features the 200x era "asterisk" design and the harness there are now some additional painted details on the shoulder straps. 

* This version of He-Man is sporting a more modern, "messy" haircut like the 200x version, but he still looks like a classic He-Man. This is absolutely my favorite He-Man headsculpt from Origins and possibly my favorite He-Man headsculpt from Mattel since the end of Masters of the Universe Classics. I love the combination of this portrait and that hairstyle. 

* The 200x He-Man figure had a pouch on the back of his trunks and I'm actually quite amused that Mattel added that little detail here, too. There's a pouch on his furry shorts for storing all kinds of useful goodies. He's probably toting around some Junior Mints, Binaca, and a wallet photo of Frosta.
* I love the "techno Power Sword." It's not my all time favorite or anything but I love the cool design. The original idea the Four Horsemen presented when creating/ sculpting the 2002 MOTU line was that Skeletor had captured both halves of the Power Sword and Man-At-Arms constructed a new sword to help Adam channel the Power of Grayskull. In MOTUC, the sword helped He-Man to locate the halves of the Power Sword. Not only does this version of the sword get the vac metal chrome plating but it also get paint applications. It's pretty impressive!

* The Power Sword or axe can fit in the slit on the back of the harness, allowing He-Man to tote one weapon around while holding the other and wielding his shield. How convenient!

* I love this axe. Love it, love it, love it. I love the axe included with the 200x version and this one is am improvement over the single carded version because it's not only chrome plated but it also has multiple paint applications. Wicked. 

* The front of the chrome plated shield is nicely detailed and the four panels also get a paint application to add a bit of color.

*  The back of the shield also has lots of wires and gizmos and such. It functions the same way as most other Origins shields (a forearm clip and a handle) but the back of the shield is really detailed with a very unique. This is far more than just a simple shield.

* The fourth and final figure in the set is the Netflix He-Man from the CG animated series. Mattel included the energy effects on his arms, which is like what came in the Battle for Eternia set. This guy has all new bracers, new boots, and a new harness and belt. He's really cool looking and I like how unique he looks from the other He-Man figures included. The paint work is pretty solid and he does resemble a toned down version of the animation model. 

* Rather than trying to make the head look like the Origins He-Man, Mattel straight up delivered a heads that's not too dissimilar from the regular figures from the Netflix line. 

* The energy "Power of Grayskull" lines are really crisp on He-Man's arms and his gauntlets have a rather neat and clean paintjob. I imagine this version of He-Man will probably show up in Masters of the Universe Origins at some point but it's probably paint applications like this that will be absent on a retail figure. 

* The boots are unique too, and match those seen in the show quite well. 

* He-Man's a massive guy in the Netflix cartoon and the Sword of Grayskull he carries is a massive sword. It's like a buster sword, kind of like Cloud's from Final Fantasy VII, though with more of the traditional Power Sword trappings. The chrome blade looks fantastic here and the gold hilt is neat and clean and really completes the look. 

* There's a peg on the sword that plugs into He-Man's harness, allowing him to tote the sword along with him. It fits well in there, very snug and secure. 
The Negatives:

* Honestly, the only negative I have with this set is that the Filmation Power Sword doesn't fit very well in the sheath. It seems too loose, like it sticks out too much. It looks fine from the front but if you're actually messing around with this figure you're going to have some trouble.

   At $150 dollars, this set isn't cheap and you're paying about double the cost of your standard MOTU Origins figure, maybe more. The figures themselves are really good, though, especially if you like He-Man's various animated appearances. Filmation He-Man might be the weakest here an even he is pretty solid. The fact that the packaging really is inspired and fully collector friendly feels like it does help to somewhat justify a higher price. Not fully, but it's quite cool and something that'll look great in your collection. This is a Great set that might not be necessary (I mean, how many MOTU origins He-Man figures do you need? Don't answer that.) but it is a ton of fun and has some fantastic presentation. We've already seen the 200x He-Man in the basic MOTU Origins line at mainstream retail and I wouldn't be surprised to see the others at some point as well, especially since they do have a fair amount of unique tooling. This set didn't sell out immediately like so many other Mattel Creations MOTU items, so either it was produced in greater numbers or many fans just didn't like the inflated price. After having this in hand for a few weeks now, I have no regrets. I love it. 

He-Man/ Prince Adam is one of my favorite characters and I've reviewed so many toys based on him that he has his own review archive. Check out Fabulous Secret Powers for more He-Man toys!

1 comment:

  1. Man, that 200x head is my favorite. We often have completely opposite MOTU opinions it seems. I will say it doesn't match the animation, though, which is kind of weird. Definitely looks more like the toy than the cartoon.


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