And I did own him. Need photographic proof? That’s me around age four, with my grandfather, who is about the same age my father is now and looks shockingly like him. I can make out Skeletor and Man-at-Arms in the photo, though I have no idea what’s in my grandpa’s left hand…perhaps an Attak Trak sans treads? I cropped out the chair on the left of the photo, but the Talon Fighter is on it. What I find most shocking about this photo is the lack of armor on Skeletor and Man-at-Arms. That seems so unlike me…did I actually lose accessories when I was a kid? Nowadays I wouldn’t be able to rest until I had a fully armored and armed Skeletor.
Packaging: Since the figures went into production, Mattel has actually updated the bio. On Mattycollector.com, the second sentence reads: “Merging Keldor with the extra-dimensional being Demo-Man from Despondos, Keldor was forever changed into Skeletor, Overlord of Evil!”
Before this spins too much out of control. Demo-Man was one of the original names for Skeletor’s character in the early concept notes. Originally the line was He-Man vs. Demo-Man (i.e. Demon-Man, as reflected in the original mini comics that the character was a demon from another dimension).
Anyway, I’m personally glad they changed it to Skeletor instead.
But since Demo-man didn’t make the cut originally in the 1980s, it made sense to use this name as the spirit from Despondos who Hordak merged with Keldor to form Skeletor as a nod to Skeletor’s original name in the toy notes. Figured it would be a nice wink to the true uber fans.
And that’s the story.
Oh and the reason Demo-Man was not in the printed bio was because the copyright had not cleared yet. As soon as it did clear we added it back in.
However, as the responses following Neitlich’s post show, even most “uber-fans” weren’t aware of the “Demo-man” story.
The reason I bring this up is so I actually have something to write about in regards to packaging, which otherwise I don’t care about at all. I do, however, like bio cards and cross-sells (even if my dream line wouldn’t have bio cards or even proper names). And while I do believe every collector and fan makes their own canon, I think the way Mattel is trying to tie all the various MOTU mythoi (motuthoi?) together is fun, and tying in the whole “Demo-Man” thing is interesting, even if the name is terrible (though something like “De-Mon” has a certain ring to it).
Sculpt: The sculpt of the 1980s Skeletor was relatively simple, as that’s all American toymaking technology of the time would allow for. The 2002 Skeletor, on the other hand, had an amount of detail that rivaled the works of a McFarlane Toys or a NECA.
By design, Masters of the Universe Classics (MOTUC) follows a middle road between those two extremes–it’s definitely more detailed than the original figures, but less complex and intricate than the 2002 line. Skeletor was one of the most beloved redesigns of the 2002 era, so many collectors are looking at this new version as a benchmark of the MOTUC style.
MOTUC Skeletor takes most of his design cues from the original 1980s figure, from his bare, spiked forearms to his shorter groin guard, from his three-toed feet to his bright green-and-yellow face. But sculptors the Four Horsemen have also made a number of small but effective improvements: the groin guard and epaulets have a leathery texture, the hood looks more like cloth, and his skull face is more detailed.
While I think this is a great sculpt, there’s no question it’s lacking in a lot of the traditional hallmarks of what is often considered great action figure sculpting, such as intricate details and textures. MOTUC Skeletor looks like a comic or cartoon version of the character than the 2002 version, which seemed to imagine Skeletor as he might appear in the real world.
Plastic & Paint: Like He-Man and Beast Man, Skeletor’s body is mostly molded in solid colors (light blue, in this case). However, a nice dark blue wash has been applied, making the musculature pop and giving the figure a more three-dimensional look. Click the following links for some close-up photos of the wash:  
I really like the paint work on the face. As mentioned above, it’s done in the bright yellow-and-green look of the original figure, but with rougher texture and a decayed look reminiscent of an aquarium ornament–as if Skeletor’s skull spent some time at the bottom of a lake. Of course, he also has the red dots inside his eye sockets, hinting at his infernal evil.
The clawed toes are painted in gray, while the greaves are painted purple with black straps. The leather of the groin guard and epaulets is a sort of dark purple/black, while the studs are painted in a brighter purple.
Again, this is a case where MOTUC walks the line between the 1980s incarnation and the 2002 revamp. The armor hasn’t been molded solely in purple plastic like the 1980s figure, nor has it been intricately painted like the 2002 version. However, it’s just about perfect for the style of MOTUC.
Articulation: Skeletor features a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders and hips, swivels at the biceps, wrists, waist and the top of his greaves, and hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles and torso. The neck has a somewhat limited range of motion, possibly due to the way the folds of the hook spread out beneath Skeletor’s head. On a side note, one of the things that bugs me about the figure is the large amount of visible neck between the armor and the hood; I wish the Horsemen had found a way to cover it better, as it looks a bit too toy-ish as is.
Some fans have lamented the fact that the Havoc Staff is monochromatic, unlike the 2002 version; and in this case, I have to agree. While the ram’s head is a little different from the rest of the staff–it has a silvery sheen to it–some more paint work would make it a lot better. Even the Filmation cartoon had a brighter skull at the end of the staff.
On the other hand, I’m pleased with the sword. The bright purple sheen on the blade contrasts nicely with the solid black molding of the hilt, and unlike He-Man’s Power Sword, the grip is actually painted black.
I’m not so sure about the half-swords (click here for a pic). First off, I had a hard time getting them to snap together. It turned out I was squishing the peg at the top of the gray half-sword, and I ended up having to carve the peg off with a X-acto knife; so be careful to thread that peg in before snapping the hilts together.
More from that, though, I just don’t think the blended sword looks very good. It reminds me of the MOTU “dress-up” kid-size swords you could get in the ’80s, seen in this photo of me and my cousin Mike.
Quality Control: My Skeletor figure is great, but I’ve read some collectors have had trouble, including one instance where a reader received a Skeletor with two right legs. Mattel will replace the figure, but may charge you for shipping the figure back to them.
Value: As I’ve maintained in every MOTUC review so far, $20 is a little pricey for these figures. $15 would be much more reasonable, particularly given the resources of a company as large as Mattel, but I’ve heard it said that bigger companies actually have larger overhead than say, a NECA or a Mezco, and therefore a relatively small run of figures like this (presumably between 10,000-20,000) costs them more.
I took off a half-point for the unpainted Havoc Staff head and the price. But this is easily my favorite of every Skeletor I’ve ever owned.
Check out my Flickr page for even more photos!
- You can order your own Skeletor here.
- My other MOTUC reviews: He-Man, Beast Man
- OAFE’s MOTU 2002 reviews, including many written by me
- The image of Skeletor on the packaging bio comes from the pre-cartoon minicomic “The Vengeance of Skeletor”