Review > Optikk (Masters of the Universe Classics)

We live in an age where our favorite pop culture franchises get “rebooted” every other month. Sometimes the franchise and its characters get a brand-new origin, other times it’s just taken in a radically different direction. In this age of 25th Anniversary G.I. Joe, the countless Transformers incarnations and the Clone Wars, it’s easy to forget that one of the first major “reboots” in popular toy history was The New Adventures of He-Man.

After MOTU died its ignominious death on the shelves (and in theaters) in 1987 (forcing great toys like Tytus to be released only overseas), Mattel set to work trying to figure out how to revitalize the brand. Since MOTU had always borrowed a lot from Star Wars, it must have seemed a natural to ditch the sword-and-sorcery angle of the franchise and revamp it as a space opera. They slimmed down He-Man, gave him a helmet and armor, redesigned the Power Sword to look more high-tech, and sent He-Man, Skeletor and a new crop of heroes and villains into the future.

The new toy line–called simply He-Man–debuted in 1989. But by that time, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles–whose toys owed much to the original MOTU line, stylistically and in terms of its execution–had become the true masters of the universe. He-Man limped along for three years, with a short-lived cartoon in 1990; but fans of the original toys and cartoon were hostile to the new take on the premise, while others (including an adolescent Poe) were too busy with Leonardo and Donatello.

When Mattel announced Masters of the Universe Classics, they emphasized the fact that the line would encompass all eras of MOTU, from the pre-cartoon minicomics to the Millennium line. That meant the New Adventures of He-Man was also fair game, and this May we got our first (and so far, only) NA figure: Optikk. (For a great review of the vintage Optikk, check out this review by the Weirdo Toys blog.)

I never watched nor cared about the New Adventures as a kid, but I did own Optikk, probably because he had a great design and was just your basic awesome action figure. He strikes me as one of those impulse “Can I get this?” when my mom took me shopping at Rich’s in Plymouth, MA.

He was the one and only NA figure I wanted in MOTUC, and lo and behold, he was the first one announced. And while some fans complained–loudly–about an NA character appearing in the line (particularly as a subscription figure) before, well, any character from the 1980s era, he still sold out within fifteen minutes on Mattycollector.com.

Packaging: Optikk comes in the usual MOTUC packaging. As usual, his head is a little blocked by the logo. They really need to fix that.

His bio is intriguing, because it gives us a surprising look into the latter part of the MOTUC story: at some point, Skeletor will defeat Hordak and move on to attempting to conquer the entire Horde Empire, while He-Man will end up on Primus with the Galactic Guardians. This essentially incorporates the overall premise (if not the exact storyline) of New Adventures into the MOTUC canon. It’s worth noting that this idea–moving He-Man into space in a manner similar to NA–is rumored to have been the overarching plot of the fourth season of the Millennium cartoon, had it gotten that far.

My favorite part of the packaging, however, has to be the new, 1950s-scifi Space Mutants logo (see above).

Design & Sculpt: One of the fun parts of collecting MOTUC is guessing how figures that weren’t part of the 1980s line will be created using parts from existing figures. The idea with MOTUC, as Mattel and sculptors the Four Horsemen have repeatedly pointed out, is to create the figure the way it would have been made in the original line in the 1980s.

Back in October, I made a guess as to which parts Optikk would incorporate from other figures. I got everything right except for the pelvis and boots. I still think He-Ro’s boots would have been a better choice, but the new pelvic piece–which we’ll see again on Man-E-Faces and Roboto, among others–is much better than He-Ro’s would have been.

Optikk features the arms and legs from Trap Jaw/Kronis, two brand-new armor pieces over the standard chest, a new head and a new crotch piece. The crotch piece is actually a “loin cloth,” i.e., a rubber piece that goes over the same pelvic joint on every other male MOTUC figure, but it curves in enough that you don’t even notice unless you flip him upside down.

The armor features some of the most extensive new sculpting we’ve seen on a MOTUC figure. It’s a perfect Classics-ized interpretation of Optikk’s vintage armor, right down to the dial on his back which turned the head of the original figure (it’s motionless here, of course, but the trade-off is that the head is now ball jointed). The only way to get the armor off is to pop off both the head and arms (the arms, like Trap Jaw’s, are easily removable).

Optikk also shows how Mattel is willing to go the extra mile to preserve ab articulation: the “grill” over the abdomen is actually a separate piece. However, it doesn’t appear to be removable; there’s no hole/peg, and you couldn’t possibly slide it over the torso or legs.

Plastic & Paint: This has been a point of contention with a few fans. The original Optikk was indeed gold, but it was a very dark, dirty gold. It was distinctive, and I think this figure would have been just as good, if not a bit better, if they had gone with that darker shade. However, the brighter gold does make the figure pop on the shelf and stick out among the other colorful characters.

The upper body armor features a number of tiny rivets, each painted silver and with no slop. The only major problem areas on my figure were the legs, particularly the back of the legs, where there’s some slop and uneven edges.

Oddly enough, I think Mattel has done a better job with parts re-use in MOTUC figures than they have in DCUC, largely thanks to the paint applications. While Optikk shares both arms and legs with Trap Jaw, they’re painted in such a way that it’s not glaringly obvious when they stand side-by-side. That’s partly just the nature of the toy lines; Mattel has free reign to repaint parts however they want on MOTUC, while DC has to approve everything for that line.

The eyeball is made from a durable, smooth plastic, but it’s molded in a dark color and painted white, a mystifying decision that must have been made purely for cost reasons. But the cornea (on both eyes) is a separate piece made from translucent plastic, with the iris painted on carefully around the edges. It looks fantastic, and it’s easily the nicest detail on the figure. (Some people have found bubbles in their figures’ corneas, and I do have a small one in mine, but it’s barely noticeable).

Articulation: Optikk features the standard MOTUC articulation: a ball jointed head (yes, it can look in all directions), ball/hinge shoulders and hips, hinged elbows, knees, torso and ankles, swivel biceps, wrists and boot-tops, and slight “rocker” motion at the ankles (this varies wildly from figure to figure, and my Optikk has very little rocker motion in his ankles).

Accessories: Optikk comes with his “Photon Neutralizer,” a shield, and an alternate orange eye-head based on the vintage art.

While I did make light of the gun in Action Feature, I can see how it could be cool if it were actually a “darkness gun,” neutralizing photons to generate a fog of darkness, giving Optikk an obvious tactical advantage (which would hopefully counteract the fact that his head is a giant, defenseless eyeball). Regardless of its function, however, the rifle looks great (and is slightly reminiscent of the Nautilus from Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea).

Then there’s the shield. It’s a brand-new sculpt, so it’s obviously a welcome addition to the line, but it is a bit puzzling, since the original figure didn’t include it. But I’m hardly going to complain.

Finally, there’s the alternate eye-head. I like them both, but right now I’m going with the green eye.

Quality Control: A check on He-Man.org suggests a lot of fans have Optikks with loose ankles, but my figure seems fine.

Overall: I’m already fond of Optikk from my childhood, so I was well-disposed toward him even before I saw the MOTUC version. But the Horsemen have outdone themselves here. Optikk’s vintage figure would have looked bizarre next to the 1982 He-Man, but MOTUC Optikk fits in seamlessly alongside the rest of the line.

Regardless of how you feel about the character, when you consider the new armor (including the abdomen piece–likely a one-time use), the translucent cornea, the alternate head and the brand-new gun and shield, Optikk is an excellent example of what a Masters of the Universe Classics figure should be.

11111/2

Comments now closed (25)

  • I love how you are "well-disposed" of every MOTUC character.

    Im J/K. I really do miss your DCUC reviews. ;( Perfect Tear. <-(pun)

  • @George: Well, that's not entirely true…I was rather "meh" on King Randor and Adora. And pretty much any other POP character, except maybe Shadow Weaver (who won't be made unless Mattel gets the Filmation rights). I just never watched the show.

    And I think PrfktTear's DCUC reviews are great–just as good as mine, or better.

  • my only issue w/ optikk, as others have said, is that he's a lot of the same gold color… some variation, like what was done on trap jaw, would have helped break him up a bit… as is, i expect visit from goldmember at any moment…

  • Optikk was actually one of the NA figures that I didn't own. I'm excited to finally have him, as he is a fantastic figure. I want Quakke next!

  • You don't have to remove the arms to take off the armor. The armor is held in place by the four round clips on the back, two on each side, and the plastic is pliable enough to slide off once you undo the clips.

  • I'm pretty sure you can remove Optikk's armor without taking off his arms.

  • Also, you mentioning what his Photon Neutralizer gun could be capable of gave me a fantastic vision of what he'd be like if they brought him into the inevitable new movie (I think Snout Spout has a bigger chance at being included than Optikk, but still). I just picture him darkening a chamber of Skeletor's stronghold and wailing on some heroes. Optikk strikes me as a guy who moves slowly, but powerfully, so he darkens the room then throws, punches, and beats heroes across the hall, snapping spines and cracking skulls along the way. That armor has got to augment his strength a bit, right? Also, when your eye is such an obvious weak point, you need to make up for it by being extremely capable in a fight, even without any weapons.

  • I was working on a custom using Optikk as the base and removed the ab/waist piece. It is held in the front and back of the torso by tabs that plug into the lower torso. They had to have retooled a new lower torso to accommodate the tab holes since none of the other figures have them that I know of. Trap-jaw might but I don't have one to compare.

  • i love my optikk but i am an NA fan.

    sadly his arms are looser than lindsey lohan at an open bar.

  • Can you put another head on him while the armour is on? Like, say, He-Man or He-Ro's head?

  • Before MOTUC Optikk, I had no interest in the NA. I thought the idea of He-Man in space was cool but I didn't like how the style of figure changed and that the only returning characters were He-Man and Skeletor. Plus, the cartoon blows goats.

    Since my main beef with NA was the style of figure, I think I'm gonna dig NA figures in MOTUC if they all turn out as good as Optikk because all characters will be in Classic style regardless of which line they're from. I agree with Poe that Optikk fits in seamlessly with the other guys and I hope all future NA characters do too.

  • Loved NA, and I'm eager to see how/if they'll do that version of He-Man in this line. Ditto Skeletor.

    However, I thought NA was supposed to be in-continuity with the old MOTU cartoon from Filmation? Just sort of set ambiguously after it?

  • Great review on a figure I totally agree with you about – absolutely love it in person, much more than I thought i would. Now i really wish I had been able to get that second one.

  • One of my favorite MOTUC figures. Of course it's fortunate that he didn't have a 200X version to blow the classic out of the water.

    Anyways, LOVE the sheild. It's so simple but stylish.

  • I think Optikk turned out really well. I really have no complaints about the color, he's a dead on with his original NA character, and though I like the original's darker shade, like Poe said, he really pops on the shelf with the brigher gold.

    I never had any NA figures (though, I always wanted Disks of Doom Skeletor) so I have no nostalgic ties to this, other than having watched the NA show. One thing that I thought was a really nice touch is the sculpted dial on his back. Its little details like that which make this line so fun!

    Andrew: You can put other heads on his armor, but it's a tight fit. I tried out Trap Jaw's head, and took off the hinged jaw, it looked pretty decent. I saw a nice pic of Scareglow inside there too. The characters with big heads/hair will make it difficult to get them in, and if you even can, the articulation will be hindered.

    I'm really looking forward to Slushead, and even Flogg. I truly hope we get a NA Disks of Doom Skeletor variant, I would seriously flip my lid!

    -x

  • No prob Bob!

    I wonder if anyone with photochop skillz has made a mock-up of what we might expect a MOTUC Man-E-Faces or Roboto to look like given that now we've got the arms, legs, and crotch.

  • Great figure! One of the best from MOTUC line! I can't wait to get mine!

  • Speaking of Roboto, I just bought today a vintage one for my MOTU collection… He's a great figure and his action feature is one of the coolest ever… I am very curious about how the horsemen will do in his MOTUC version.

  • My fault… I couldn't edit my words.. I wanted to say: I am very curious about what the Horsemen will do in his MOTUC version.

  • Wow. Great review. I love Optikk. The new MOTUC style suits him quite nicely I think. Too bad they didn’t keep the functioning eyeball dial.

    (Thanks for the link, btw.)

  • @Justin: I agree with you.Keeping the functioning eyeball dial would be one of the coolest thing ever…