MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (MATTEL)
“Heroic Master of Weapons”
My introduction to Masters of the Universe was not via the franchise’s original ’80s incarnation, but was instead through the attempted 2002 revival series. Though ultimately not as much of a success as the original line, I myself have always much preferred this incarnation, in part for my own sentimental reasons, and in part because I have no reason to be sentimental about the original. Whatever the case, I’m always game for a look back at the line that got me into things, and that’s just what I’ll be doing today, with a look at the updated series’ take on Prince Adam’s own wise, sagely mentor, Man-At-Arms!
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Man-At-Arms was released as part of the Heroic Warriors half of the first assortment of Mattel’s 2002 Masters of the Universe line, alongside the basic He-Man and Stratos. The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation. While the vintage Man-At-Arms was built from the same bank of parts as He-Man and a good chunk of the rest of the line, for the purposes of the 200x update, he was given a major overhaul and, consequently, a totally new sculpt (albeit one that would be used for a handful of Man-At-Arms variants as the line progressed), just like pretty much every one else in the line. Earlier in the line, Mattel was still trying to hang onto some of the build aspects of the old line, so unlike later figures, Man-At-Arms still has a removable chest piece, much like his vintage counter part. While there’s not a ton of reason to remove it, it does allow for a continuation of the interchangeability that the old figures had, which would more or less be removed from the line from Series 2 onward. The arm and leg pieces are not removable this time around, but it’s honestly a bit of an improvement, since now they won’t constantly fall off or be at risk for breaking. Man-At-Arms’ sculpt is certainly an impressive one, and definitely the strongest of the debut Heroic Warriors. They’ve gone really crazy with all of the various tech details, which help to really differentiate him from his prior figure, as well as further remove him from his genesis as largely a repaint of the basic barbarian. That barbarian aspect is much more removed. What’s not removed this time around is Duncan’s mustache, always curiously absent from his original figure. This one has it in all of its Selleck-esque glory. He’s also got a far more intimidating facial expression than his predecessor, making this one guy I would not want to mess with. The paint work on this figure is fairly decent. Like the sculpt, the paint exhibits far more detail than the ’80s version, though it still doesn’t quite do the sculpt justice. Plenty of details go unpainted, and are therefore very easily missed by the casual eye. Befitting his name, this Man-At-Arms came with two styles of armament. He has the classic figure’s mace (albeit at a slightly more imposing scale) and adds an arm cannon which slips over his left hand.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Man-At-Arms was, admittedly, never a character that was high on my list. As such, I never had one growing up, and I hadn’t come across one since starting to go back and fill in the holes in the collection. When All Time got in a whole bunch of 200x Masters figures a couple of months ago, Man-At-Arms was included. Since I was already picking up a few others, he was a pretty easy purchase. Now my collection feels a bit more complete.