MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (2002)
In this day and age, action figures are almost exclusively a licensing game. Due to rising costs and falling demand, completely original toylines just aren’t worth the risk, which is really a shame. There was a time when the big companies were known for their own properties. Hasbro had G.I. Joe (and technically Transformers, though that one’s a bit complicated) and Mattel had Barbie. Mattel had also wanted to tap into the boys market, first trying with the moderately successful Big Jim, before striking it big with Masters of the Universe. Unfortunately for Mattel, Masters didn’t really find success any time after the early-to-mid-80s. They’ve still done their best to keep the line alive. They’re second attempt at bringing it back was in 2002, which was where I came in. Today, I’ll be looking at that line’s first version of the main guy, He-Man!
THE FIGURE ITSELF
He-Man was released in the first series of Mattel’s re-launched Masters of the Universe line. The prototype and early shipments of the figure sported an iron cross logo (just like the vintage He-Man had), but later figures (such as mine) had the H-style logo from the 2002 cartoon. He-Man stands a little over 6 inches tall and he has 12 points of articulation. It’s worth noting that this figure was shipping at around the same time as the first series of Marvel Legends, so the articulation wasn’t the most stellar. Still, it’s better than the vintage figures had, so that’s a small win. The sculpt for He-Man (and the entire 200x MotU line) was handled by Four Horsemen Studios. The design is very angular and definitely is a product of its time, but it holds up. Despite Mattel’s penchant for re-use, He-Man’s sculpt was never used for anyone other than He-Man, and this figure was the first one to have it. It’s certainly a nice sculpt. The harness is a separate piece, which can be removed if one so chooses, so that’s cool. The paintwork on He-Man isn’t anything amazing, but it’s solid. The details are all pretty clean, and the hair even has some nice accent work. It would be nice if some of that accent work had ended up a few other spots, but it’s not horrible. He-Man included his sword of power (which could have the guard turned like on the show), a shield, and an axe. The sword can be stowed in the back of the harness, as can the axe and shield, if you’re patient.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I wasn’t familiar with anything Masters of the Universe until Cartoon Network aired the first few episodes of the 2002 cartoon as a movie to kick off the series. After seeing the movie, I immediately wanted a He-Man. Unfortunately, it aired a little after the early shipments of figures had hit, which made finding a He-Man a little difficult. My Dad drove me to several different stores with no luck, but I eventually found him at a Target. I really liked the figure at the time. I don’t know that he’s one of my favorites now, but he certainly isn’t bad, and I can’t deny he’s a cool looking figure.