Review > Tytus (Masters of the Universe Classics)

In 1986, Mattel was riding high on the massive success of Masters of the Universe. But by 1987, Mattel reported an incredible $127 million drop in domestic sales, mostly blamed on the decline of MOTU. There were probably a few reasons for this, ranging from tough competition from the Transformers and G.I. Joe to the lack of any media support–there hadn’t been a new episode of the cartoon in two years, and the comics were sparse and mediocre at best, unlike those of the Transformers or G.I. Joe.

But perhaps the biggest problem, as Jerry Oppenheimer suggests in his tell-all history of Mattel, Toy Monster, was that Mattel had become “too confident and too aggressive and too greedy in pushing the product to retailers to increase profits and impress Wall Street.” As Roger Sweet noted in his book, the product was “way oversold, and in 1987 it collapsed […] There was just too much product put in the stores for the amount of demand for it. It swamped the shelves.”* One can assume the much-maligned 1987 feature film that August was the final nail in the coffin.

It’s a shame that MOTU died when it did, because in some ways 1987 was the most creative period in MOTU since its inception. With the end of the cartoon and its somewhat limited storytelling scope, Mattel’s designers were able to return to MOTU’s “anything goes” roots and create a new storyline. Called “The Powers of Grayskull,” this sub-brand offered a new, prehistoric setting, a new cast of characters led by He-Ro, “the Most Powerful Wizard in the Universe,” and featured that perennial kids’ favorite, dinosaurs. Sadly, only the dinosaurs–Bionatops, Turbodactyl and my personal favorite, Tyrantisaurus–ever made it to U.S. stores. The rest of the line, including an immense sauropod called Gigantisaur and two “giants,” Tytus and Megator, never appeared here in the States. Curiously, however, both Tytus and Megator did appear in stores in Italy, making them two of the most valuable MOTU collectibles in existence.

Like He-Ro–who never existed except in a few obscure catalogs–Tytus and Megator have grown to legendary proportions among MOTU fans over the years. And so, when Mattel announced that Tytus would be appearing in the immensely popular, collector-oriented Masters of the Universe Classics line, fans rejoiced. Then they complained. Are these complaints justified or the usual grumbling that surrounds any popular toy line? Read on for my opinion and my opinion alone.

Packaging: Due to his height, Tytus comes in a large window box rather than a blister pack. The window is large and wide, and should satisfy MOTU collectors. The angled top is pleasing to the eye, reminiscent of the oddly-shaped packaging for such figures in the old days–if you saw this guy wrapped under the Christmas tree you’d recognize it immediately.

Tytus’s bio is working hard to get him involved in the MOTUC canon they’re developing here, but for me the most important aspect is the reference to dinosaurs–the only thing that could top Gygor would be a Four Horsemen-sculpted Tyrantisaurus.

Design & Sculpt: Tytus’s sculpt is interesting. Of course, it’s clearly the Four Horsemen’s work, which means it’s quality. The face looks less like the original toy (probably a good thing–woof!) and more like the packaging art by William George, seen at the top of this review. Details have been added to the headband, belt, gauntlets and boots.

However, the overall body sculpt and aesthetic isn’t quite as super-muscled and cartoonish as the regular MOTUC figures, which makes Tytus curiously almost as at-home among Millennium figures as among MOTUC. The detailing on the boots and bracelets in particular add to the Millennium effect (as does the oversized weapon). I think he still looks fine alongside MOTUC figures, it’s just interesting that he has what seems to me to be a sort of hybrid style.

This is also the place to discuss the height. The original Tytus was a true giant–he’s immense. I’m not sure what his actual height was, but it has to be between 15″-18″. MOTUC Tytus stands just over a foot tall. You can see a comparison pic with the new Tytus here.

Am I disappointed Tytus isn’t as large as the original one? No. I own NECA’s gigantic Balrog figure–one of the greatest action figures ever made, in terms of sculpting and paint. But it also takes up four square feet of space. I live in a small apartment, and I just have no place for something that big–it becomes less the highlight of a collection so much as a pain in the ass. I think an 18″ Tytus would be the same–and that’s not even taking the inevitable Megator into consideration. I’m perfectly fine with a 12″ Tytus.

Plastic & Paint: As everyone knows, Tytus is made from rotocast plastic, meaning he’s hollow inside. This results in reduced articulation (see below) and a softer feel to the plastic. As someone who likes the look and texture of rotocast toys, this doesn’t bother me, but the matte texture will reflect light differently than the shinier injection-molded 7″ figures in the line.

One annoying note, however, is that the plastic of the lower back slightly overhangs the belt. It’s not that noticeable, but it’s a flaw.

The paint work is great. The silver boots have a nice wash, giving them a very strong sword-and-planet look, as do the bracelets. There’s a nice wash on the loincloth as well–better than most of the 7″ figures–and some sharp detailing around the belt. The silver details on the headband are a bit sloppy, but nothing too egregious for a mass market toy.

Articulation: Here’s where Tytus disappoints me–and most fans–the most. As everyone knows by now, Tytus has swivel joints at the neck, shoulders, wrists, waist, hips, and the top of his boots, and hinges at the elbows and knees. Mattel has claimed that because Tytus is rotocast he can’t take any ball joints, but that’s not true, as Mezco’s Goon and Kriegaffe figures show. It’s probably expensive, but not impossible.

Now, to be honest, I’m fine with all of this articulation except the shoulders. I can live with a T-crotch–I wasn’t planning to put Tytus through any serious posing paces with his legs. And as much as I love ball jointed necks, with long hair like that Tytus’s neck would have been really limited anyway.

But the lack of shoulder ball joints is just a bummer. I will give them points for at least sculpting the shoulders so that it looks like they’re ball jointed, so as to preserve the stylistic unity with the rest of MOTUC.

Accessories: The original figure’s weapon was called a “Body-Snatcher”; Mattel has renamed it to a “Warrior Smasher,” perhaps because it’s no longer capable of “snatching” figures. There are two reasons for this: first, the edges underneath the weapon are made from tough plastic, meaning they can’t slide over a figure’s shoulders. For this to work, they would have had to use a more pliable material (as I believe the original toy’s did). Second, Tytus’s articulation isn’t tight enough for him to lift a figure even if the Warrior Smasher could do it.

As for the Warrior Smasher itself: the fact that you can’t even put the thing over a figure’s head is disappointing, especially since the Horsemen corrected for Tytus’s reduced size by making it very large. I think it would have been cooler to downplay the “body snatching” part, reduce the head size and make it more of a high-tech Mjolnir.

Quality Control: No problems.

Overall: The sculpting and paint applications are great on this figure. The articulation, accessory, and price are less satisfying.

To be clear: yes, I am happy we got a Tytus at all, and that’s playing into this review. I don’t feel an urge to be indignant that I wasn’t offered one that was larger or more articulated or cost less. Call it some cow-like complacency of character on my part if it makes you feel better, but while the $40 ($50 with shipping) I dropped on this was expensive, but I don’t feel like I was severely ripped off. Slightly ripped off? Sure. But not severely. This figure was produced at a small fraction of the numbers of a Marvel Legends Icon figure or a 12″ movie Hulk, and when you factor in economies of scale the price makes more sense.

As always, these reviews are entirely my own opinion, and your mileage may vary greatly. Personally, I like Tytus, and I’m glad to have him in my collection.

11100

*Perhaps the memory of this disaster, looming large in the minds of Mattel execs, is part of the reason for the constant under-production of MOTUC? Probably not, but there’s a tempting correlation to be made there.

Comments now closed (20)

  • Meh. I'm happy with him.

    Ball jointed shoulders would have been nice, but the reality is he'd have wound up posed EXACTLY like he wound up getting posed anyway. Arms at his sides, towering over the other figures, menacingly.

    The knees on mine are a little weak though. Although, the weapon does help balance him.

  • HOLY FRICK! I'd give my roommate's left testicle for a new Gigantisaur! Though the odds are as slim as seeing a modern U.S.S. Flagg.

  • @Justin:

    D'oh! I checked the bio on the back of my Tytus and the error is there too. You'd think with all the dough Mattel pulls in off this line that they could afford some proofreaders.

    Anywho, the UPS man in his sweet logo socks dropped off my Tytus today and I'd say the figure itself is great. I personally don't give a frog's fat arse if he's rotocast or doesn't have ball-jointed articulation. Tytus is exactly what I would expect from a large scale figure.

    However, in total agreement with Poe, the "warrior smasher" is junk. I think the original "body snatcher" is lame even though it actually worked. So a non-working imitation is even lamer. He should have just came with a big club fer smashin'!

    I'd give him 3.5 out of 5. If he was 30 instead of 40 bucks or he came with a better/working accessory I'd be a little happier but I'm still satisfied with the purchase.

  • @Justin:
    I don't have a Tytus, but I'd wager from Poe's lil' pic of the bio that following King Grayskull's name is a trademark, and not a comma. Hence he didn't build King Grayskull, he built King Grayskull a mighty fortress.

    There you go, Poe; I'd like the record to reflect I acted at least once in Mattel's defense.

  • @Justin & toyman2581:

    "…Tytus used his great strength to build King Grayskull a mighty fortress,…"

    He built a mighty fortress FOR King Grayskull.

  • Ah, good point all. I was reading it as a comma – "he built King Grayskull, a mighty fortress…." Ha.

    Thanks for clarifying. It makes sense.

  • You talk about Tytus being made in far less quantity than a Marvel Legends figure or a 12" movie Hulk, but isn't that kind of the problem? Make more, which will meet demand and also lower the cost, which would mean that Mattel would have happier fans. Why is this a bad thing?

  • One can only hope we get a Gigantisaur.

    Glad I passed on this dude, he's just so meh, which a $50 figure should not be.

  • @Wes GRogan: i've read that argument as well, that his price is higher cuz he was made in lower qty than ML colossus, triple h, LotR battle troll, etc… thus, he's more expensive, and you're answer is exactly my answer… make more. a 5 minute sellout window seems pretty obvious to me that they WAY undershot demand… and that's THEIR FAULT as the manufacturer, not our fault as the buyer… we did out part. and were done in 5 minutes.

  • If Matty's "excuse" for the woeful under-production on this years figures is that he/they are still gunshy about the way a property performed more than 20 years ago then they have no friggin business being in the toy business.

    If they really have got nothing more out of the last two years than "we have to be even more conservative and make about 5 of that figure" then why are they even bothereing? Their stockholdeers money would be much safer if they just made sparkplugs or doorsills for Challengers.

    Or made a few more Barbies. That's much safer.

  • Wow, a good history of the death of vintage MotU right near the beginning of the article. It's sad that they blamed bad financial results on a toyline that was at best a small fraction of their revenue (what with Barbie and Hot Wheels being the main sellers then and now).

  • He's waaaay too expensive at $40 for what he is. That said, if he were a DC character, I'd probably of bought him.

    Goes to show what I know.

  • Open mouth, insert foot. I was reading the TM as a comma too. Maybe I should've been the one to proofread! Thanks to those that caught our error.

  • @Fengschwing:

    I think he's quite comparable to the Giants of Justice Batman, Killer Croc, Superman, and Flash they made in 12" scale. I waited and paid $30 at TRU.com for the Flash and it was worth it. Any more and it wouldn't have been–Poe was dead-on about how much less you like a figure with lack of shoulder articulation.

  • Great review. I skipped Tytus. Money is a little tight and he's not worth the $50 to me. He looks a little better with the MOTUC than I thought, but I'm not going to cry over it. I'll get the re-release maybe.

    I've said this a hundred times, but the lack of a real weapon is a deal breaker for me. At this price point he should have a few more things with him. When compared to other $40 items like WWRP figures, he falls short IMO.

    Part of the reason for the price, IMO is because Mattel knows that MOTUC is a popular brand, but also an elite brand. It's like paying for Nikes. They're more expensive than Jordache because of the name and status, not because they're better shoes.

  • Well, quoting Poe, this is my opinion and my opinion alone.

    IMO, the vintage figure is better than this one.

    Of course, when I say that, I'm not talking about sculpt, paint or articulation. It would be foolish to expect modern-type sculpt, paint and articulation in a vintage figure. Those were different days and the technology was different as well.

    I'm talking about playing value. As a toy collector myself, I believe the vintage Tytus is a much better toy than this one. Why? Well, the old one is bigger, he is truly a giant in scale with his counterparts ( MOTUC Tytus is a undersized giant to me ), his weapon works, he can lift his weapon, his hip articulation is better and, ironically , because of the rooted hair, his head articulation is actually BETTER than the MOTUC one.

    Don't get me wrong… The MOTUC Tytus is not a total failure im my book… I really liked the sculpting in the torso and arms, for example… But, to be honest, his size is the major turn off to me… I would buy a bigger MOTUC Tytus or a vintage one reissue… But not this one.

    Cheers,

    D.