Heroic Warriors

MOTU Classics He-Man

The Masters of the Universe He-Man figure, released in December of 2008 (almost nine years ago!) is actually one of the least impressive of the early Classics figures, in my opinion. Compared to figures like Skeletor, Mer-Man and Man-At-Arms, this incarnation of He-Man looks pretty bland, although later figures would come with bonus accessories that could be used to spruce him up a bit.

Source Material

Most Classics figures based on the original eight 1982 figures draw their inspiration from vintage cross sell artwork. In the case of He-Man, his cross sell artwork was almost identical to the toy itself. But the Classics figure is actually less detailed than that source material in a few ways.

For reference, here are the vintage toy and cross sell artwork:

Let’s compare that source material to the Classics figure:

Second release MOTU Classics He-Man, with corrected shoulders and toned down paint around the eyes.
First release MOTU Classics He-Man, with reversed shoulders and red paint around the eyes.

The Classics figure takes many elements from the original toy design, including:

  • Gray armor with red cross
  • Orange belt with reddish trunks
  • Longer half-gauntlet on the left arm

The one unique element from the cross sell artwork – the distinctive power sword – is also replicated in the Classics toy. The figure is “plussed up” in several areas with new details, like rivets on the front of He-Man’s harness,  leather straps on his left gauntlet, additional paint details on his belt, and so forth. He’s given orange gauntlets, which the original vintage figure would have had if it hadn’t been for cost reductions.

MOTU Classics He-Man’s axe and shield actually lose some detail compared with their vintage source material. The axe is given a smooth handle, without the ridges of the original, and the center section on the shield is flattened and simplified. The orange of the original shield is also changed to dark red.

MOTU Classics’ He-Man’s head is perhaps the biggest departure from vintage source material. It’s a much more civilized and handsome-looking face compared to the rougher, gruffer vintage figure. The level of detail on the face and hair are toned down compared the vintage source material, which is a reversal of the general Classics ethos. Of course He-Man was originally sculpted before the line was even green-lit, so the “spirit” of the Classics line had not been solidly established.

Original Classics He-Man prototype. Notice the gray gauntlets, which echo the color on the 2002 He-Man figure. Image source: He-Man.org

The Classics head seems to split the difference between the vintage source material and the 2002 He-Man face, which had a younger, anime-inspired look. The Classics harness also has roughly square “buttons” on the straps, like the 2002 figure (the vintage figure’s “buttons” were rhombuses). The Classics figure also has quite dark red/brown boots and loin cloth compared to the vintage figure, which seem to tilt the figure in the direction of the 2002 figure’s dark brown color scheme.

I was somewhat dissatisfied with this figure until alternate heads from the Oo-Larr release became available – but more on that in another post.

6 thoughts on “MOTU Classics He-Man

  1. I’m one of the biggest MOTU fans out there but sadly I could just never get into the MOTUC line namely due to how Mattel handled it. I wasn’t a fan of the subscription model, and a lot of the figures launched at prices almost on par with video games which is my primary hobby. “Hmmn do I get that expensive NES game I’m missing or do I get another version of Skeletor?”

    Anyway I do agree with you on the MOTUC He-Man though, compared to Skeletor, and the other ones I’ve seen in person at conventions, he’s a bit bland. The old-school figure had a much more imposing face. You knew our hero meant business.

    Great review as always!

  2. I was never thrilled with the MOTUC He-Man head sculpt, either. Whereas most of the figures, especially early on, were pretty great, He-Man was just “good enough.” Thank Grodd for the Alcala & vintage toy-style heads! My preference is for the Alcala head, but honestly, the vintage-style head is what the figure should have had from day one. I wish it was easier to get ahold of extras of those heads!

    Oddly enough, I think the original MOTUC head looks great in black on Anti-Eternia He-Man.

    1. I tend to vacillate between the Alcala and vintage toy style heads, although usually the latter wins out. I think the Alcala head actually looks more like the later Alcala stuff, like from Power of Point Dread, while the vintage head is actually closer to He-Man and the Power Sword. But the both look great, and turn a bland figure into a great one. I just wish we’d get the full on Alcala/Prototype He-Man treatment (two toned boots etc)

      I agree, the original head looks fine on Anti-Eternia He-Man. It’s even okay on Faker, since he’s kind of a bad copy of He-Man

      1. I honestly can’t believe that repaint-happy Mattel never produced a prototype He-Man in the MOTUC line. It would only need a couple of pieces of new tooling, and would be different enough that many people who would normally skip a straight reissue would have gone ahead and bought it. I’m one of those people who would buy a figure of every major revision of the character’s design, from the Taylor sketches to both Guerrero prototype sculpts.

        I agree that the Alcala head we have isn’t perfect– they certainly didn’t nail the sculpt like they did with the Alcala Skeletor head– but it’s close enough that I still love it. I do prefer the vintage toy-style head on most of the variants, though, as the Alcala head doesn’t suit those as well. (I just can’t see Alcala’s He-Man wearing the Flying Fists getup, for instance.)

  3. I discovered the MOTUC line a bit late so the core characters were already solded out, but adding the oversea shipping and the potentially customs costs, collecting these line was way too much expensive for me anyway. I still follow the line watching reviews with a lot of curiosity and I appreciate most of the work done, but after a while I noted some choices they made that I don’t like at all.
    1- The soft plastic. I admit that I never see a MOTUC in person but the idea of soft plastic make me cringe, maybe because I associate soft and rubbery plastic with degrading over (realively speaking) short time. However maybe I’m wrong about this.
    2- Capes and part of clothes made of soft plastic instead of fabric. This is something I really hate, because it hinder the posability and the interaction with vehicles and playsets (as I pointed out under the Grayskull review) and in some cases they add umbalancing weigth to the figure.
    3- Last but most important of the three: the lack of gimmicks (I know that there are some characters that actually still have gimmicks, but they are notable exceptions). For most figures the gimmicks are the one and only reason of existence and if you take them away, well…
    They included parts to simulate some gimmicks but again, they are like fakes. The most irritant thing is when they included sculpted details representing the switches and wheels that activates the gimmicks in the vintage figures: I’m sure that in their mind this is a sort of homage, but personally I only see as a constant reminder of what the figure lacks (“Hey do you remember this switch and the cool feature that it activates and that you liked a lot as kid? Sorry it’s fake, there is no feature, fuck you”).

    Sorry, I realized that this sound more like a rant than a comment XD

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