Review > Stratos (Masters of the Universe Classics)

stratos_cardI love Stratos. Something about the design–the gray fur, the red feathered “wings,” the jet pack, the flight goggles–really appeals to me. He was one of my favorite He-Man figures as a kid.

While I liked most of the MOTU2K figures, I didn’t like the revamped Stratos much. His articulation was limited by his action feature, which probably had a lot to do with it. But ironically, I think it was the consistency and realism the Horsemen added to his design–the feathered loincloth, the jetpack handles–that made him less cool. Stratos is supposed to be a mash-up of various animal parts–it’s part of his charm.

Fortunately, the Masters of the Universe Classics version of Stratos restores him to his flying-monkey-like glory.

stratos_bio

stratos_packPackaging: Stratos features the same small but graphics-intensive packaging we’ve seen on the other MOTUC figures. Stratos arrived in a much smaller shipping box, and his card and bubble were in better condition than He-Man and Beast Man‘s were. While I don’t spend much time with my figures in package, I do like what Mattel is doing with MOTUC.

Sculpt: Like all the MOTUC figures we’ve seen so far, Stratos’s sculpt is based on the original artwork found on the back of the 1980 packages (see above). Thus, while the majority of the sculpt is very similar to the 1980s figure, it does contain a few unique touches.stratos-5

The jetpack harness features a small oval buckle; on the original figure, this was an actual clasp used to hold the jetpack to the figure’s back. However, the art depicted it as a buckle, and that’s how the Horsemen sculpted it (the jetpack can still be removed using some small tabs on the back, beneath the jetpack).

While most of Stratos’s body is a re-use of Beast Man, he does have different feet, with no clawed toes. Some fans have complained about this, since the original Stratos and Beast Man had the same feet, but there’s a good reason for the change: the art on the original eight-back featured Beast Man with clawed toesstratos-6 and Stratos without them, and that’s the way the Horsemen sculpted them. Like it or not, they’re sticking faithfully to their design philosophy. The same goes for the clawed hands.

Personally, I like the de-clawed feet, as it helps distinguish Stratos more from the Beast Man sculpt, but your mileage may vary, as the kids say these days.

The other new sculpting for the figure is the jetpack, wings, and head. The jetpack could have been a bit more unique and less toy-like, but I think that stratos-4comes more from the plastic than the sculpt.

From the original version, to the MOTU2K to this one, Stratos has probably had the least stylistic development in terms of his head, so there’s not much to discuss there–this is pretty much the same head as the MOTU2K version, just with a ball jointed neck.

The detail of the feathering on the wings as good as what we got on Hawkman. However, something odd happened between prototype and production. Since Stratos re-uses the Beast Man body, his bracelets are the same as stratos-7Beast Man’s, except the wings are attached. Unfortunately, the wings aren’t on the top of his arms as in the original illustration and the product photo, but rather along the back. This isn’t a QC problem because the wings are actually glued on, and this is how every Stratos looks.

At first, I didn’t even notice it. But once it was pointed out to me, I couldn’t not see it. Fortunately, it’s a relatively easy fix. Heat the forearms (I stratos_wingsrecommend using a hair dryer, but you could boil them as well) and carefully pop out the hands. Then, even more carefully, pull the bracelets off the peg they’re attached to. You may need to use an X-Acto knife to separate the glue. Once you’ve done that, pop the bracelets back on, put the hands back on and the bracelets (and wings) will swivel like a normal point of articulation, and you can get your Stratos to look like this. →

I have to admit, he looks a lot better with the wings in front of his arms. It’s the way he looks in the original cardback image, and I don’t understand why that’s not the way he was produced.

stratos-8Plastic & Paint: Stratos is molded mostly in gray plastic, and features one of the better dark washes we’ve seen on this line. This is one aspect of MOTUC that seems to be improving with each figure.

I like the shades of red and blue chosen for the rest of his outfit, but I did notice some odd things–the wings appear to have been molded in blue stratos-2plastic and painted red, while the belt appears to have originally been yellow. It doesn’t cause a problem–if anything, it improves the figure by making the wings and belt look less like plastic–but it makes me wonder whether we might get a blue-wing, red-jetpack variant of Stratos down the road (one of the rare variants I’d probably actually buy, as I happened to own that Stratos variant as a kid).

There’s some good drybrushing on the jetpack’s feathers, although the jetpack itself is rather plain. A metallic sheen might have helped the jetpack pop a bit more.

stratos-3Articulation: The usual MOTUC articulation–ball jointed neck, ball joints at the shoulders and hips, hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles and torso; and swivels at the biceps, wrists, waist, and just under the hip ball joints. The ball jointed neck is important here for the flying poses, although I still wish it could move a bit more forward. Perhaps Mattel and the Horsemen could come up with a new engineering trick for flying characters so they look straight forward when they fly. I’d be willing to accept a slightly sculptural sacrifice to the back of the head to allow for it, although I can’t (and wouldn’t dare) speak for all collectors.

Accessories: None. Where’s the Emerald Staff?

Quality Control: None on my figure–I’m pleased with his paint applications, and the joints are fine.

Value: I recently read a post referring to MOTUC as “another monthly bill,” and that’s true. With shipping, I’m paying more than half my cell phone bill for these things. Since it looks like production will be increasing, is it possible the price could go down a bit?

Overall:

11110

A lot of fans seem to have been disappointed in Stratos, but he’s one of my favorites so far–perhaps even more than Skeletor. In my opinion he’s an improvement from the MOTU2K figure, capturing the essence of what I loved about the original Stratos. He’d get an extra half-point if the wings could swivel without having to customize the figure.

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Comments now closed (15)

  • Certainly everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I think Stratos is great.

    Then again, I'm a fan of MOTUC, so I guess I'm biased. However I still like to think I'm still balanced enough to call a spade a spade. If I got a dumpy figure, I'd say so.

    I think Stratos, while a popular character, is one of the less interesting of He-Man's friends and Skeletor's foes. So perhaps its that everyone's waiting for Mer-Man, Hordak, or Man-At-Arms that some people are bashing the Avion. Plus he's got a couple hard acts to follow. See how well you compare if you came out after the Most Powerful Man in the Universe and the Evil Lord of Destruction!

  • As always a great honest review. If I can get one cheap enough I would deffinently get it. A lot of people are complaining about the parts being reused. The parts being reused is great as just like the originals means they can produce more characters quickly. I think it great that they line is starting to fill out and I think it will be great when we have Spikor, Extendar, Grizzlor lineing the shelves. I just wish the price would go down. But I am committed to the line, so I have give up Transformers and all others…although I will allow myself Classics Cyclonus and some NECA TMNT and of course the SOTA Micronauts if they ever get released (contact SOTA to ensure release and support for the line).

  • I agree with prfkttear. In my opinion, Stratos is probably one of the worst designs of any character from comics to sci fi, I have ever seen.

    He's a gorilla with goofy googles and a chipmunk looking face that can fly but his wings are fake? and are attached to his wrists AND to add to it he needs a jetpack?

    I just don't understand why the MOTU villians are some of the best designs (2002) ever but the heroes are the worst. Weird.

  • Nice review. Great pics. The wing fix does improve the figure quite a bit. What is your photo setup, Poe? These stratos pics are especially nice.

  • @Matthew K: I use a Fujifilm FinePix S5700 on the macro settings. As for the background, for a long time I used a homemade light tent made from cardboard, tissue paper, and posterboard, but a few months ago my wife got me a real light tent for my birthday. I don't know the brand offhand, but it's fairly standard. It came with a tripod and a pair of small halogen lights.

  • I think Stratos is a good, solid figure. I don't think you could really ask for anything more than Poe does in his review (i.e. swivelling wings, the staff accessory – though I'm willing to forgive the lack of the latter to an exceptional degree). But I don't want the guy, and I admit to wishing that Stratos was pushed back a little so we could get Hordak sooner (which I want so my King Grayskull has someone to beat on). But I guess they do need to add some good guys so He-Man's not fighting a handicap match on our toy shelves, eh? Because Stratos is only the second good guy in the line proper released, after all, and the next two (Faker and Mer-Man) are bad guys. Pretty good hero to villain ratio for a toyline, right?

  • Well its nice too have vilians….unlike 2002 line which was almost a 2/1 ratio for heroes to villains. I would be nice to get better characters, but they said they were doing the original first figures first then the others. Its cool they are doing that but Stratoss, Zodak etc…so many cooler heroes the could have made, Man-At-Arms, Syklone, Mechaneck, Manefaces, Fisto, Mosman etc.

  • Is it just me or does anyone else think the face on Stratos look like Alex Désert from 'Becker" when he had his sun glasses on?

  • @Elvis: you watched becker?

    If you believe the back of the box, here are the originals:

    He-Man

    Teela

    Man-At-Arms

    Stratos

    Man-E-Faces

    Ram Man

    Skeletor

    Beast Man

    Mer-Man

    Faker

    Tri-Klops

    Trap Jaw

    I've striked the ones that have already been released, and in italics the ones we know are coming. As for the rest, I'm not sure about Man-E or Ram-Man since they're "special molds"

    I think we can definitely count on a Moss Man, Evil-Lyn, Green Goddess (Maybe an exclusive), and Prince Adam. If they do either Buzz-Off or Whiplash, I think we can assume we'll be getting both. I'm sure Sorceress will come along since they've got the female body, plus they can always use DCUC Hawkgirl's wings…

    Okay, I guess thats enough speculation for now! 😉

  • "PrfktTear: you watched becker?"

    No not really, gave it a watch once or twice cos it had Ted Danson in it and I was a fan of Cheers, but thought it was rubbish so never bothered with it. The reason I remembered that guy though was he was also in The Flash tv series.

  • Trapjaw ans Man-E-Faces have some of the same parts so when one gets released the other won't be too far behind. 2002 Man-E and Trapjaw were cool, so can you imagine what they will be like with articulation. Ram Man will be excellent with some articulation, lets just hope he is a decent size like he should be. They can also reuse the Buzz mold for Whiplash and Clawful.

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