Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Toy Review – Masters of the Universe Classics Clamp Champ By Mattel

As happy as I am to be a sub holder right now, Matty used some real asshole, strong-arm tactics with this figure. Not that that’s anything new.
Back at the beginning of July, Matty put the 2014 Masters of the Universe and DC subscriptions up for sale. No specifics were listed other than prices. No idea what characters were coming out or anything. They were just counting on chumps like me blindly subscribing because we have a habit and that’s just what we do.
So anyway, they put the subs up for sale. And then, within a week, they announced that Clamp Champ – one of the last remaining Masters with what I have perceived to be as a huge demand – would not be available to purchase on the 7/15 sale date. Only sub holders would get him.
As a certain holy lady might say – “Hmmm, well… isn’t that convenient.”
I can’t say for sure that Matty has created an artificial shortage in an attempt to boost sales of next year’s subs.
I also can’t say for sure that Bigfoot isn’t real. If you catch my drift.
Anyway, I was pretty excited about Clamp Champ. He has been retconned into an important role, he has a cool weapon, and he’s a black dude. I’m always happy to add a little color to my action figure shelf.
First Glance: It still amazes me that the Four Horsemen can do so much with the same buck. This is just He-Man, but with different colors and a few new pieces Clamp Champ looks quite different.
Articulation: Clamp Champ has the standard MOTUC articulation.
Head – ball joint
Shoulders – ball joint
Biceps - swivel
Elbows – pivot
Wrists – swivel
Abdomen - pivot
Waist – swivel
Hips – ball joint
Thigh - swivel
Knees – pivot
Boot tops - swivel
Ankles – rocker
Clamp Champ’s head has the best range of movement of any recent figure. He can almost look directly up.
His arms – like all of the other figures with the rubber vest armor – cannot hang down.
Champ’s ankles are proper rockers, unlike many of the other figures that have come out this year. They work quite well and can hold poses.
Side Note: Referring to this figure as “Champ” made me very sad that we don’t have figures from the best comedy ever – Anchorman. Maybe with the sequel coming out somebody (NECA, please NECA) will get the license to do figures.
All of the joints on my figure are tight and functional. I had to work the boot top joints a bit to get them going, but once I did they were fine.
Sculpt: Champ’s head looks great. I respect the Horsemen for the fact that when they create an ethnic character, they actually look ethnic rather than just being Caucasians with differently colored skin. This guy has a very distinctive face and a ton of character. He looks like an old warrior – the type of dude that would be sitting in an Eternian pub sharing brews and tales with Fisto and Duncan.
Otherwise Champ uses the basic He-Man sculpt and that’s just fine. Well, aside from those freakish, tiny hands.
Clamp Champ is made of a more rubbery plastic than a lot of other releases. Especially his limbs and head. They’re all quite soft and flexible. I don’t care for it. I think Stinkor was the last one that felt this cheap.
I haven’t spoken in general about the human MOTUC buck in a while, but I’ll just say that this really is an amazing update on the vintage He-Man figure. Working articulation into such a ridiculously bulky body couldn’t have been an easy task and the Horsemen did it like champs (Clamp Champs). I always complain about the arms not being able to hang at the sides – especially on figures with the vest armor – but how is that going to work? With musculature like the Masters have, these guys aren’t going to be able to just stand normally. Heck, these guys probably don’t ever just stand around anyway. They’re always fighting killer robots or evil weeds or whatever.
My point is, good job, Horsemen.
Coloring: The skin tone is a darker shade than Netossa, which is cool. I like that there is variety. Champ’s head is painted quite well, with the hair staying where it should and the eyes centered and clean.
The red, black, and silver of Champ’s clothing and armor look great against that skin tone and really make this guy stand out. The colors are all applied precisely and cleanly. None of the paint adversely affected the joints; aside from the boot tops, which weren’t really a problem.
Flair: Clamp Champ’s armor looks awesome. I love the colors – the metallic silver and blue on top of the flat blue looks very cool, particularly with the dark skin tone and reds on other parts of the figure. The design is reminiscent of Fisto’s, but with a big ol’ steel collar thing. I think it all looks very cool, and that’s not even counting whatever the heck is going on with Champ’s back.
I suppose that giant thing had some use on the vintage figure. I don’t know. I think that one’s clamp worked independently of the figure like this one’s, so I don’t think it was a trigger or anything. Whatever the case, it looks cool and distinctive and I like it. I just wish it was a way to store one of the weapons or something. I guess it’s just a cool backpack.
Accessories: Clamp Champ comes with his gigantic clamp and this thing that I guess is some kind of smaller clamp. Like, he ordered his giant clamp off of EHSN (Eternian Home Shopping Network) and got the smaller travel clamp for free.
The big clamp looks great. The case has a good amount of detail and I love all the circuitry and stuff in the panels. The pincers are on simple swivels and are not spring-loaded, but we knew that. They work fine and look good. The paint job on this weapon is just okay. I like the way the colors match the figure, but there are definitely a few spots where the paint apps were inaccurate, most notably the “trigger” and some of the circuitry. The handle on this thing is rubber, which is no good. Because of that it doesn’t sit right in the figure’s hand. It kind of leans in one direction or another.
The travel clamp is kind of a piece of crap. The sculpt is actually nice, but it’s made of rubber and doesn’t have a bit of paint on it. Boo on all that.
Packaging: The standard MOTUC big ol’ blister card.
There is, of course, the standard bio on the back:
“Clamp Champ surprises his enemies with his clamping action.”
This makes me laugh.
Beats Man – “Uh oh – there’s a dude coming at us…”
Mer-Man – “Whatever. All he has is that big, silver box. It looks like a remote control. What’s he gonna do? Change the channel on a giant TV?”
Beast Man – “Bwahahaha!”
Mer-Man – “Hey – what are those red things coming out of… AAAAARGH!
Beast Man – “Oh shit – you just got clamped, son! I am surprised!”
Value: Splitting the shipping with Freddy Freeman and NA He-Man, Clamp Champ comes up to about $28. He’s one of the better figures lately, but still not worth that.
Here’s what I asked Evil the other day to get my point across about these prices – “If you found the DC Signature Collection Red Hood at Walmart for twenty-four bucks, would you buy him?”
I wouldn’t. He said he probably would, but he’s a DCUC completist.
So if I saw Clamp Champ for twenty-eight bucks at retail, I don’t think I would pick him up.
Overall: I really like this guy quite a bit. I think the Horsemen did a fantastic job, but Matty’s design team flubbed it once again by using cheap, inferior materials and poor paint choices on the accessories. He could’ve been a perfect score, but he’s still pretty good.

4 out of 5

If you’re a Clamp Champ fan, I hope you have a sub. Otherwise you’re going to pay an arm and a leg for this guy. Or you could just wait for Matty to “stumble across” some “customer service stock” at some point in the future.


  1. This guy does look pretty cool. I had no intention of getting him, but they did such a good job with his colors (especially the blue metallic details on his armor) that everything about him seems to pop.

    The no DOS thing really pissed me off (even though I wasn't looking to get Clamp Champ anyway), so much so that I didn't get NA He-man like I planned to.

    Yes, Mattel said last year that some figures were not going to be available. Yes, Mattel knows that there is high demand for vintage figures, Clamp Champ in particular. No, just because they gave a fair warning doesn't make it any less of a strong arm scare tactic to boost sub sales. No, it didn't work on me, just made me indignant toward Matty.

    Also, if I want a Clamp Champ I'm happy waiting for the price to go down on the secondary market. Once no DOS was announced they were selling for about $60, now they're in the $40s, and soon will be no different than any other figure that subbers are losing their money on. Even Ram-man, who I thought I got a pretty decent deal for $60 shipped, has gone down. Had I waited another two months I could have picked him up for under $50.

    1. I just re-read what I wrote, and I'm worried that saying "soon will be no different than any other figure that subbers are losing their money on" sounds like I'm happy with that.

      I don't like that people sub for this line, and then sell their unwanted figures only to lose money on them. However, I had just read a post at the matty forums where someone said you should purchase two subs because you can always sell the second figures, and probably make enough money to pay for the first sub. I completely called bullshit on that.

      If you sub, you need to do so knowing that you're not getting your money back, and just enjoy the figures you get. At best hope to break even on figures you don't want, but this is not a way to make money. There are a couple of figures who are pulling in big bucks, but it took a couple of years for them to start getting those prices, and there is no guarantee any figure will be desirable later.

    2. You're right. The suggestion that anybody could turn a profit on unwanted MOTUC figures is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. I have rarely been able to break even, when you throw in shipping costs. Which, granted, Matty does not consider anyway. I think they really, truly believe that they are selling $25 (or $27) action figures.
      In all honesty I think Matty should stop day of sales entirely if they're going to use any tactics. Shit or get off the pot, but stop making these hollow threats and empty gestures.
      Conversely, we do get an awful lot of communication from them as compared to other toy lines. Yes, this is a subscription line, but we are keenly aware of every step of the process, even if it is often veiled by a veneer of lies and half-truths.

    3. I'm still considering subbing this year, just because I like what I saw at SDCC and it would be fun getting more MOTUC figures (even though I still think Mattel pulls dick moves). I asked this question over on the matty forums and nobody answered, so I'll ask you since you're experienced with the subscription process.
      If I sub it will most likely be a quarterly shipping option, and they throw the first quarter worth of figures in my cart ($140 worth of product). Do I pay for the first quarter of figures up front, or will I ultimately only be charged $25 when the subscription period ends?
      I'm cool with paying for them up front, I actually prefer that.