Reviews > Chief Carnivus (Masters of the Universe Classics, Mattel)

There have been few figures in MOTUC so far that have been as divisive as Chief Carnivus. When the figure was revealed at Wizard World Philadelphia in June, vintage fans groaned, 200X fans cheered, and casual fans said, “Who the hell is Chief Carnivus?”

MOTUC has reached the point where if you’re only into the line for the nostalgia of the figures you remember from the early-to-mid 1980s, you should probably skip the subscription. With Count Marzo in July, Carnivus in September and the Faceless One coming in May 2011, 200X characters are going to be a part of this line.

Anyway, to answer the casual fans’ question, Chief Carnivus was a minor character in the 200X Mike Young Productions He-Man cartoon. Part of Randor‘s Eternian Council of allies, Carnivus appeared in several episodes but never played a large role; something makes me think he might have in a future episode, though, given his increasing appearances as the show progressed. During the 200X era there were a good number of Carnivus customs, probably owing to his recurring role (however minor) and the fact that, as a feline humanoid, he represented an obvious but unrepresented type of design that–in my opinion, at least–fit in perfectly with MOTU.

That said, I think Michael Crawford said it best in his review last night:

If you’re a fan of the original MOTU, you probably don’t care a whole lot about this character. If you’re a fan of the 200x series, you’re finally getting the character – but not in the style you really want. The only fan completely happy is someone like me, with no particular connection to either show, and let’s face it – how many other goofballs like me can there possibly be?

I suppose I fall into Crawford’s first category–I’m more of a vintage fan, and admittedly I wasn’t all that excited about Carnivus. But I think the reason I wasn’t excited is because his character was never developed on the show, so I never created a connection to the character. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a cool action figure. So is he? Let’s find out together.

Packaging: At first, I really liked the fact that the packaging riffed off the vintage box art from the vehicles and playsets–lots of big stone bricks and lightning. I’m really starting to miss the bright colors of the vintage single-figure packaging, though, especially the red volcanic burst. I wonder if they could start working that in to the background, behind the figure…but I suppose they’ll never do that. At this point, consistency is necessary for those crazy MOC’ers.

Also: that real name is ridiculous. But we’ll get to that some other time…

Design & Sculpt: As expected, there’s been a lot of discussion as to whether Carnivus is too stylized and detailed compared to other figures in the line. The idea, of course, is that the Horsemen are supposed to imagine how Carnivus would have looked in the 1980s line, then update him with modern production values–that is, more articulation and slightly better detailing. Some fans have said that Carnivus’s head looks too “anime” and too detailed; the same for his shield.

Here’s my take: next to MOTUC He-Man, yes, Carnivus (and, say, Marzo) look very detailed and even a little stylized. But go grab your vintage He-Man and place him next to one of the later figures of the same line, like Rio Blast or Snout Spout–even the vintage figures became more detailed as time went on. Hordak featured more detail than Skeletor, and Rio Blast was 100% new parts! And any of the Snake Men have a lot more detailed and uniquely sculpted parts than Zodac or Tri-Klops. We haven’t even seen MOTUC versions of Rio Blast or the Snake Men yet, because of all the new tooling they’ll require. If you imagine Carnivus as having been one of the later figures in the line, I think his amount of detail makes perfect sense.

As to that sculpting itself: Carnivus’s thighs, arms, biceps & shoulders, and torso come from Beast Man; his greaves come from He-Ro. His head, left hand, upper calves, belt/loincloth, armor, cape, and feet are new (the feet have an arch to them wholly unlike Beast Man’s). The head closely resembles the 200X look, right down to the earring. While I’m not sure why they didn’t just use Stratos‘s open left hand, it does appear to be a new sculpt.

The armor looks great, and works quite well: the cape is separate, and after it’s removed, you can pull off the armor. The pauldrons attach via small strips of plastic at the top, but they look almost like separate pieces–a great effect. They also don’t inhibit the articulation at all.

As with Marzo, I think there’s a degree to which the “cartoon-ish” or “anime” look of Carnivus is owing to the fact that the only place we’ve ever seen him is on a cartoon. To break that connection, you really have to do a mind experiment and imagine a vintage Carnivus, or a Filmation Carnivus. I think if you can do that, Carnivus will suddenly seem to fit MOTUC a bit better. On a side note, I think the claims of an “anime” look are due almost entirely to the two bits of hair that angle up and then down in front of the ears; remove those, and the “anime” effect vanishes.

Plastic & Paint: Carnivus’s paint work is on par with what we’ve come to expect from MOTUC, and, at least in the case of my figure, it’s on the better side of that expectation.

The most intricate work is on the head, with a nice wash around the “beard” area. I like the rich shade of gold used for the armor, belt and greaves, which contrasts nicely with the purple highlights.

There are a few scratches here and there, particularly on the gold paint, but nothing that bothered me much.

Articulation: Carnivus has the standard MOTUC articulation: a ball-and-socket head (easily removed), ball-and-hinge shoulders and hips, hinged elbows, knees, ankles and abdomen, swivels at the biceps, wrists, waist, top of the greaves, and top of the thighs, and “rocker” ankles. Thankfully, Carnivus’s ankles are nice and tight on both axes.

Accessories: Carnivus comes with a shield and the Sword of Saz (as it was referred to in a ToyFare ad). The shield is fantastic; as many have noted, it’s sculpted to resemble the central tower of the immense vintage Eternia playset. What this means, and whether Carnivus and his race have any connection to the Three Towers, has yet to be revealed; however, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out there was a connection, particularly given the arrival of Preternia He-Man next year.

I love the sword–or rather scimitar. A curved sword was a great choice for Carnivus, as it’s distinctive from all the straight swords we’ve seen in MOTUC thus far. It does look a little familiar, though…

Quality Control: No problems.

Overall: I don’t think there were many fans who would have checked off “Very Excited” on a survey when asked, “How excited are you for Chief Carnivus?” He took just over a day to sell out. That would be an unqualified success for many companies, but given Mattel’s comments regarding previous sellouts that took more than a few hours, I wouldn’t be surprised if this caused them to re-evaluate offering other minor 200X characters. The Faceless One is already lined up, but others might get pushed back. And here’s why: despite what many, many fans seem to believe, I think Mattel wants to keep subscribers happy. The longer sell-out time for Carnivus suggests a lesser interest in the character, and it’s fair to say a good portion of the subscribers share the lack of enthusiasm of the non-subscribers who took so long to buy him off Mattycollector.

But however you feel about the character, Chief Carnivus is another great MOTUC action figure. I’d have bought him even without the subscription and without my general completionist tendencies, because I think he’s just a neat figure. Moreover, I think it’s fun to get brand-new MOTU figures nearly thirty years after my first He-Man. But as they say, your mileage may vary.

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Comments now closed (29)

  • Thanks for this review. I wouldn't really even class myself as a casual fan but it was good to read why he's causing a divide, my MOTU knowledge being extremely limited.

    With that in mind, maybe it's why I've been quite drawn to this guy and Marzo. The lack of familiarity makes them all the more interesting to me as an non-fan.

    I think he's cool.

  • If you’re a fan of the 200x series, you’re finally getting the character – but not in the style you really want.

    Yep, that's me. I mean, I am collecting MOTUC, so I am happy to get him in this line, but what I'd REALLY love would be an awesome 4H staction or 200X-style figure of Carnivus. That's why I'm more excited about Gygor–he acutally fits in really well with 200X figures, because he doesn't have a traditional MOTUC style body (cf: Tytus).

  • I never was a fan of Chief Carnivus. I admit that I never got into ThunderCats or humanoid cats as a whole, and just like Prahvus, Carnivus was an original MYP creation that just didn't klick to me as he did to other fans of the show.

    Because of that, I wasn't too eager to get the figure. But I gotta admit that it's a damn good, well-executed toy. I'd even say that it's easier to imagine him having been part of the vintage line than Count Marzo.

  • I hope Mattel doesn't take that attitude. While Carnivus didn't sell out in a half hour, he still sold out reasonably well.

  • Poe, I couldn't agree with you more if I tried. Seriously– while I'm saddened by all of this "hyper anime detail" freak out and backlash against the (IMHO) uber-awesome 200x series, I still find Carnivus to be a great looking figure, period!

    The last statement about getting a new character in MoTU after 30 years sums it up for me. Much like with my beloved GIJoe line, I still am more excited about new blood in the line as opposed to endless rehashes of the same characters. It was the 200x line that pulled me back into MoTU as it showed that MoTU could be taken more seriously in terms of story and still have appeal. While I think that Toyguru continues to hold out hope for more of the 200x characters to make their way into the line, it's a shame that TPTB don't deem it viable.

    Personally I can't wait for my Carnivus figure to arrive tomorrow!

    (Now if only there was a similarly-scaled Thundercats line to go with him!)

  • Thanks for that, Poe–it really does my heart good to read a review from an admitted vintage fan who nevertheless kept it even-handed and was absolutely willing to admit Carnivus is a cool toy regardless of any and all baggage associated with him…

    Honestly, I disagree with Crawford–I am much more any MYP fan, and I absolutely love my Count Marzo and am sure I will love my Carnivus when he shows up, but I wouldn't particularly want either of them in the 200X sculpting style. Maybe in addition to the larger, better articulated MOTUC versions, but not as a preference. Which of course isn't to say that the MOTUC buck system doesn't have issues…but I digress.

  • Am I the only fan of both vintage and Millennium?

    I was very excited to receive this figure. Carnivus rules! (because he's king and everything, see.)

  • I think there are a lot of the goofballs out there that Crawford mentions, including myself.

    I like when a vintage figure I had comes along, but the rest is fun too.

    I'm still wating on my Carnivus, but I think in some ways the Classics style is as close to the animation of MYP as the 200X figure likely would have been. It probably would have looked pretty ferocious and exaggerated. Not that its a bad thing. Its a shame 200X figures didnt get to touch on much more than recreations of vintage figures.

    Good review. I always appreciate the breakdown of what the characters are all about, even in this case where there isn't much history to touch on.
    That WizardWorld reveal was a bit underwhelming and confusing, if only because the choice to reveal a single figure would suggest something epic or at least more known.

  • Nope, De-Man; you aren't the only fan of both Millenium and Vintage. I love both also. They each have their merits. Glad we got Carnivus. He is fantastically detailed, and is a far better sculpt to behold in person than from afar. I think he is a homerun figure, and in a neat alternate universe kind of way is our MOTU version of a Thundercat by 4H.

  • I'm a vintage fan, but I'm also a MYP/200x/Millennium (whatever yew wanna call it) fan, but my heart is in this line for the nostalgia. A figure like Marzo I've sorta fiddled with a few times and I have forgotten him. My anticipation of Carnivius has gone through several stages, like "oh really?" "oh, cool!" to "Oh…" and "Meh…" and even when I finally got him I considered just leaving him MOC, but I did break down and opened him up with about the same enthusaiam of opening a bill or a piece of junk mail.

    When I finally broke him out of his plastic cell though my attitude completely changed. I've got him posed with Randor, they're both holding their swords high above their heads. With Moss man, Stratos, and Zodac, he doesn't look all that out of place. And I think Poe's point about the latter figures in the MOTU line having more detail in comparison to the earlier ones is spot on.

  • I can't wrap my head around the idea that a figure isn't successful if it doesn't sell out in minutes and create a huge uproar. I think with MOTUC you have enough completists that unless they up the production numbers significantly, they're pretty much guaranteed a sellout. And a sellout is a sellout, its not like the figures are languishing for months, how is a sellout any different if it happens in just over a day or if it happens in just over an hour. This hyperdemand where a figure is considered a "failure" if its still around after the initial server-clogging rush just boggles my mind. A sellout is still a sellout.

  • I hope that part of the extended time period for the sell out had to do with a bump in production numbers.

  • I've got nothing against the figure, in fact I think it is rather strong, but really I'm only looking for MOTUC figures that represent my youth and my nostalgia. So I've got a Carnivus to add to my Marzo for trade or sale.

  • Excellent review Poe, and I think you are dead on about the hair wisps being the much-loathed "hype-anime" element. I get the impression the design aesthetic is to capture figures in a static reality unaffected by some environmental factor, i.e. Marzo's hair blown by a wind, or just about every 200x toy I've seen. I think that makes for a much greater play value. Now if there were more actual kids playing with these things…

  • My only complaint about Chief Carnivus (and Count Marzo) is they should have had He-Man furry pants and maybe given our feline Thundercat lookalike (looks a lot like Grune The Destroyer – another reason why I'd love mattel to do Thundercats using MOTUC parts) He-Man boots.

    It's all about those fluffy briefs that make MOTU.

  • Count me among the fans of both the vintange AND MYP versions of the characters.

    This was the first figure I've gotten where both copies of him had noticeable paint issues. One had very heavy clumping of red paint on the loin cloth and scratches on his breast plate while the other was missing some gold on his shield bracelet (which somehow wound up on the back of his elbow). Fortunately the latter's issue is completely hidden by his shield but still…$20 a figure y'know?

    Still a kickass figure otherwise.

    One of my favorite aspects of him is how damn tall he is. Those feet add almost a half an inch to him so he really towers over most of the other characters. Makes him seem very regal.

  • My only issue with this guy is his chest armor; it's completely smooth and thus looks out of place with the rest of his wardrobe. Still a big fan of this guy. Though I haven't watched the MYP series in some time, I remember thinking Carnivus had a cool design and alot of potential.

  • this is a great toy, haters best be steppin'. BTW, go look at jupiter in the next few nights, it's closer this week than it will be again in 24 years!

  • I like Carnivus a lot and he seems to be one of the few figures with almost no QC issues. Too bad he's such a slow seller!

    Where was it announced the Faceless One was coming in May?

  • A good review and I'm one of those collectors who is in this line for nostalgia and nothing more.

    Carnivus was added to the line because one of the people in charge liked him and that's it.

    I cant believe that there is such a lack of POP characters so far and I decided against the Sub for 2011 due to a lack of POP characters.

  • @Max: well, to be real dude, if we're this far in, and there aren't more POP characters out, you picked the wrong time to not sub up. as they work through other rosters, the large POP cast has to, by percentage, become a greater and greater proportion of what is left to make, right? IDK, maybe they're holding off for 2015 or something to finish out the line in a POPlooza, but i have to think, w/ the year starting w/ bow, and TG stating many times there there are several females on tap for 2011, you made the wrong call. let's both hope i'm wrong, eh?

  • Well said. For nostalgia fans this figure is absolutely of no importance.

    I have seen MYP cartoon, but that was simply not enough for me to buy this figure. I

  • I'm a fan of both as well and to me -Carnivous is actually one of the best figures in the line. I even look forward to the "New Adventures" figures (though I couldn't get past the first few episodes of the show)

  • Nice review Poe. For those asking above, I'm a fan of the vintage, POP, and 200x. I'll take all the characters they can give me, be they new or old.

    King Carnivus and Marzo have been two of the best figures in the entire line so far. Not my favorites, but still two damn fine toys. I said before, people are judging Marzo (this version of him) and Carnivus by the only appearances we know them from, which was the 200x cartoon. I'm glad you picked up on that too Poe. They look fine next to every other character in the line so far in my opinion. Carnivus is entirely re-used parts except for his head, armor,and loin cloth. Same for Marzo.