Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Toy Review - DC Universe Classics/Masters of the Universe: Superman Versus He-Man By Mattel

He-Man himself has never been a big selling point for Masters of the Universe. Not to me, anyway. I like the crazy creature men with bad puns for names. Something about the concept of reusing the same basic body for almost an entire line of figures, but substituting a crab head, bee head, skunk head or even just a giant fist; then adding some fancy robot-looking armor just appeals to me. I think the original Masters toy line was really the height of 80’s toy exploitation. The whole line must have cost like eighty bucks to develop.

However, now that I’ve got a small collection of MOTU creature guys I felt compelled to have a He-Man. I mean, he is a pretty cool barbarian guy in the vein of Conan or Thundarr. Aside from the whole Prince Adam thing, what’s not to like? So I decided the easiest (and cheapest) way to get Eternia’s mightiest defender would be to track down this two-pack. Thirty bucks off the shelf for this is by far cheaper than I’m ever going to find a single He-Man online and isn’t too much more than it would cost to buy him outright if Matty does another re-issue. Plus it includes Superman, who I generally have no tolerance for but my DC Classics shelf just doesn’t feel right without the big goof.

So I was pretty thrilled to come across the set at the Toys R Us in Wilmington. It’s not perfect, but it’s as good as I need for these guys.

First Glance: I really like the look of this set. It doesn’t look quite as natural as the Luthor versus Skeletor set, but it works. Everybody should be at least a little impressed by the two most powerful men of their respective universes facing off. I am a little confused by He-Man’s apparent lack of sword.

Sculpt: I want to start by saying that I hate He-Man’s tiny, creepy hands. I don’t know if this is an homage to the original (he, too had tiny hands) or what, but they are really off-putting and weird. None of the other Masters figures have this deformity. The rest of He-Man is just fine. He looks like a good quasi-futuristic barbarian from another world should. He sports the same great articulation as the other MOTU Classics and - just like Skeletor – is an outstanding modern update on the classic figure. You could almost believe the head is the same sculpt, just better somehow.

Superman is Superman. His articulation is just like the rest of the DCUC figures, which is to say great. I do like his head and cape sculpt a lot. The head really looks Superman-ish. I mean, you could put it on another body and people would be like, “Why does that lame Aquaman variant have Superman’s head?” The cape is sculpted very heroically, something I’m pretty sure was difficult to manage. I appreciate the fact that the “S” on the back of the cape is sculpted and not just a paint app. Not like certain other “S” logos on this figure I could mention. Like the one on his chest. That is just painted on. Seriously, Mattel – this is fucking Superman. You could have made the guy his own chest.

Comparing Superman and He-Man is pretty hilarious. Supposedly people in He-Man’s dimension or universe or whatever are proportioned… differently than inhabitants of Superman’s home plane. Differently as in they have giant heads, crazy huge muscle bodies and – in He-Man’s case – tiny little midget hands. I can buy that. As a matter of fact, whenever they get around to doing the live-action movie, I think they should use the same technique Tim Burton used on Helena Bonham-Carter’s head in Alice in Wonderland to make all of the actors similarly huge, muscle-wise. That would be fucking great.

Design: This time I’m starting with Superman because he kind of sucks in this department. His paint is a little sloppy and I don’t think that’s okay just because this is a two-pack.  Also, there is some kind of discoloration on his right cape, er… lapel or whatever. Mattel and Hasbro have both been getting kind of sloppy with their paint apps lately and they need to fix that shit, pronto. Or else I’m going to keep pointing it out, because I certainly don’t have the willpower to stop buying their products or anything; which I guess is sort of the problem.

He-Man is obviously painted to reflect his appearance in the accompanying comic. He is lacking some of the detail of the first MOTU Classic release, but still looks pretty great. The pink highlights on his belt absolutely crack me up and I will gladly take that over the rest of the missing apps any day. I am still very impressed by the shading and highlights on all of the MOTU Classics.

Comparing them, He-Man wins. He is just a much better decorated figure than Superman. Then again, Superman is kind of plain anyway, so I guess even the best figure of Krypton’s Last son isn’t going to blow anybody’s mind.

Accessories: Mainly He-Man’s battle ax, which I always liked better than the sword anyway. I suppose you could count his chest-belt bondage gear thing since it is technically removeable, and maybe the comic that is packed in. As a matter of fact, I do count the comic (which explains why there is no sword in this set – He-Man only ever uses his ax in it) and am going to give you a review of it tomorrow because it is just that fucking awesome.

Packaging: It seems a little big, but I like this packaging. It makes this set seem more special than the standard DCUC two-packs. Also, it is bright and stands out very well on the store shelf.

Overall: I can’t say this is a must-have. People who don’t have He-Man are likely to be pickier than me and not like this one. And honestly, anybody who wants a Superman has had about a thousand opportunities to get one better than this. I’m very content with the set, but it is not worth internet prices. If you find one at Toys R Us, it will make a nice shelf piece. If not, I wouldn’t worry about it. For a very bland Superman and a sub-par compared to the original (though I like him) He-Man, this set gets a:

3 out of 5

You should definitely track down a copy of the comic, though.

Special Bonus Feature:

Crippling bear hug or Dirty Dancing re-enactment? You decide!

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