Since it’s Friday night and I live life to the fullest, I will now write 900 words about old Masters of the Universe figures.
In this post: A lobster man, a guy with three faces, another guy with a big hand, an alien rock dude, a pure robot, and finally a naked race car driver. Eternia was a hot mess.
Given my well-documented crustacean obsession, it should come as no surprise that I love this action figure. One of Skeletor’s ineffective henchmen, Clawful had one little claw and one GIANT claw, capable of “snapping” with the aid of a hidden lever.
Interestingly, while this figure portrays Clawful as a sort of masked pro-wrestler, the cartoon version was 100% lobster. Or maybe 100% crab. Clawful was never clear about that.
Both versions were great, but I think I prefer the way he’s seen here. Mainly because it lets me dream up an origin story wherein an everyday musclebound villain simply decided to start dressing like a lobster. What was the impetus?
If you were a fan of Masters of the Universe, you definitely had this guy. Outside of the various incarnations of He-Man and Skeletor, I wouldn’t be surprised if Man-E-Faces was the most popular figure in the whole series.
As Man-E-Faces was a bit player, that popularity didn’t have anything to do with his standing on the cartoon. The reason we had to have him was because he had… many faces. Beginning as a normal human — or as normal as a human with a vending machine for a head could be — Man-E-Faces frequently slid into a sleek robot mode, or even the hideous monster mode shown here. (That little purple thing on top of his head acted as a dial!)
One of my favorite things about Man-E-Faces was how you could leave him at the midpoint between two faces, essentially creating new hybrid modes. It was hard to pick between a death robot and Frankenstein, but it was very easy to pick between a death robot, Frankenstein, and a Frankenstein death robot.
A guy from another world might’ve been self-conscious about his shockingly enormous right hand, but Eternia was full of people who turned the tables on their own defects.
I’ll never stop finding Fisto hilarious. It’s like the folks at Mattel scribbled ideas onto cocktail napkins while pounding martinis, and a subsequent series of triple dog dares took a barely legible “GUY WITH BIG HAND” from drunk talk to reality.
Admittedly, it’s not such a bad figure. For one thing, that gloved giant hand was attached to a spring-loaded arm, so you could really whack the bad guys with it. For another thing, THAT MUSTACHE.
I’ve seen thousands of action figures, and I couldn’t name another with a mustache so meticulously molded. I’m surprised Mattel didn’t give that mustache its own starburst on the packaging.
One of the two Comet Warriors, Stonedar was a “later wave” MOTU figure, arriving after Mattel had already covered the obvious stuff, like “monsters with two heads” and “GUY WITH BIG HAND.”
I’ve long had the impression that the Comet Warriors were Mattel’s quiet answer to Hasbro’s Transformers. At the time, Hasbro was also beginning to experiment with outer space motifs, and oh yeah, Stonedar transformed into a comet. (In comet form, Stonedar just looks like he’s painfully crouching, but if you squint, it’s passable.)
This figure seems crude by 2014 standards, but I remember being so impressed with the Comet Warriors in their heyday. They were robots, aliens and rocks, all at the same time. Also, their headpieces made them look like really old lions.
Now that I think about it, I treated all of my robot action figures as if they were real robots. This usually amounted to me having one-way conversations with them.
“Roboto, let me tell you about my day. It started bad and ended worse. I’ll begin with a list of those who must die.”
My plastic robots weren’t like my other action figures. They didn’t fight, nor were they the least bit interested in the perpetual war for the Fortress of Steele. They’d just kind of hang around, waiting for me to treat them like audio diaries. It was a simple life, but a safe one.
Roboto was a cross between He-Man and one of Cobra’s Battle Android Troopers. You could trade his normal right hand for various mechanical weapons, including the ax seen here. The gears in Roboto’s chest turn as you twist his waist, and between that and his bright colors, he kinda looks like the unofficial mascot of FAO Schwarz.
One of the most confusing characters in MOTU lore, Zodac’s been known as a good guy, a bad guy, a neutral guy, and a guy who spells his name “Zodak.”
While the cartoon portrayed Zodac as a mostly-heroic “cosmic overseer,” he was originally listed as a villain on the action figure card-backs. (If I remember the story correctly, that was only to keep the number of heroes and villains equally balanced.)
I’ve never been clear on the intricacies, but as a kid, Zodac’s shaky allegiance fascinated me. I understood him to be a character who existed on a different playing field, and I guess my friends did too, because we all treated Zodac like the Boba Fett of the He-Man universe.
And, much like with Boba Fett, whatever reasons we gave for our collective affinity were bullshit.
We just liked the helmet.