Review > Bow (Masters of the Universe Classics)

[Poe's note: Welcome to the new look for our reviews! Much thanks to OB1 for helping put this together.]

Just as Teela was the token woman among the mostly sausage-fest that was the Heroic Warriors, Bow represents the token man in the Great Rebellion (unless you count Kowl, I guess…and I think Swiftwind might be a dude…). Having never watched She-Ra, I can’t say I have an attachment to the character. But I have an attachment to Masters of the Universe Classics, so, here we are.

Pic via He-Man.org

[toc title="Table of Contents" class="toc-left"]

The original Bow figure wasn’t that impressive. As part of the Princess of Power line, he lacked the insanely-muscled physique of the vintage MOTU figures, reminding those boys who were interested in POP that the line wasn’t really meant for them. That said, Bow is arguably a forerunner of the New Adventures of He-Man toyline, which featured more realistic anatomical proportions. That’s probably why MOTUC Bow’s legs, particularly his boots, are quite obviously based not on Bow’s vintage figure, but on NA He-Man. (And now that I’ve gotten a better look at them, his gauntlets appear to be based on NA He-Man’s as well.)

For MOTUC, Bow has been updated to match the house style, meaning he finally gets to show off his abs like all the other dudes.

Packaging

Bow is packaged with his vintage toy-based head, rather than the more Filmation-style mustachioed head. I have to imagine this is disappointing for some mint-in-card collectors, since the mustachioed head is the much more familiar look for Bow. The mustachioed head is completely hidden in the package behind the label (in fact, I was momentarily worried it wasn’t in there).

Design & Sculpt

I find Bow’s sculpt fascinating. He’s a mixture of re-used parts, pre-used parts, and new parts. The new parts include the heads, armor, belt, pelvis, boots, feet, gauntlets, and hands. The pelvis is a new, generic “pants” sculpt. But the boots, feet and gauntlets all appear have a design much closer to the vintage New Adventures He-Man than vintage Bow. If NA He-Man had come out first, I might not] find the shared parts quite so odd.

That said, the NA He-Man parts aren’t distractingly off-style from Bow himself; as usual, the Horsemen have done a good balancing act of making the parts generic enough that they can be re-used for other figures.

Both head sculpts are great. What I find most intriguing is that unlike Man-At-Arms, the mustachioed and non-stache heads have different faces (or so it seems to me). The non-stache head seems to be a bit more detailed, with a narrower jawline and thinner cheekbones.

The hands are interesting as well. Not only do they feature the swivel-and-hinge joint to facilitate the archer stance, but they seem much more detailed than typical MOTUC hands–complete with individually-separated fingers on the right hand and skin folds around each knuckle. You can see that sort of detail on other MOTUC figures, but here it’s quite noticeable, possibly owing to the separate flesh-toned paint application.

Finally there’s the cape, armor, and quiver. They’re all one piece, although the quiver is glued on and could, I suppose, be removed if you were determined.

The “heart” in the center of the armor can be popped out and swapped with a simple red circle, an obvious J.J. Abrams reference (kidding). This is a nice touch for those of us who might think the heart was a bit incongruous on a rebel warrior. Between the vintage toy-based head and the heart, it’s clear Mattel is still committed to giving us full toy-based versions as well as more idealized looks.

The armor is sculpted with divots near the armpits, which I’m guessing was to accommodate his biceps in the “archer” pose. Unfortunately this doesn’t quite work out in practice; the arms still lift the armor off his chest in that pose. It’s possible that with more playing around with it, I could get him in a pose with bow drawn and armor down, but it’s not easy. Anchoring the armor to the front of the torso might have solved the problem, but I’m not sure how that could have been effected.

Plastic & Paint

Bow has some interesting paint apps. As mentioned above, the work on the stache-less head seems more detailed, with a nicer matte tone to the skin. (Don’t judge the heads too harshly by the close-up pics. They’re many times actual size, and if you looked at your own face that closely, you’d find plenty of imperfections, too.) The mustachioed face, on the other hand, seems a little smoother and the details less defined, which actually looks more in line with most MOTUC faces. It’s a bit of a shame I like the stache-less head so much, since I don’t see myself ever displaying him with it.

The other really interesting paint work is on the hands. They’re actually painted, rather than simply being molded in flesh tone, and the result both looks better (i.e., they look more like real hands) and worse (because the flesh color doesn’t quite match up with the arms).

The armor is made from a very pliable material. Some armored figures have had harder plastic armor (BA He-Man, Man-At-Arms), and I suspect the softer armor we’ve seen on figures like Bow and  Carnivus is because the cape and armor are one piece, and the cape needs to be fairly pliable.

Articulation

Bow has a ball-jointed neck, ball-and-hinge shoulders and hips, swivels at the biceps, top of the boots, and top of the thighs, and hinges at the abdomen, elbows, knees and ankles. The ankles have some slight “rocker” give, but not as much as we sometimes get.

The real news here are the hands, which are ball-and-hinge to accomodate Bow’s traditional archer stance. The idea is to get the arrow in his hand and line it up with the bow. It’s trickier than you’d think, even with the extra articulation, and while possible the end result still looks a bit awkward. I think the problem is the huge biceps; they limit the amount the right arm can come in toward the chest.

That said, I’m definitely glad they tried it, and I encourage this sort of articulation experimentation in MOTUC.

Accessories

Bow’s accessories are:

  • Bow
  • Arrow
  • Harp
  • Alternate head
  • Alternate chest symbol

The bow is nice and large, and the sculpt features a horse motif (possibly meant to evoke his horse/pegasus, Arrow). It’s not strung, but there are loops in both ends so that you can string it yourself (I haven’t done so yet–I tried it with some fishing line, but it was too thin. I’m going to try to find some thicker line, and I’ll add some new pics if I do). It’s gold and features some nice paint brown paint apps to break up the look.

The arrow is, well, an arrow. The head is vaguely heart-shaped and looks like it would be really, really painful if lodged in your aorta (most things would be, though). If you work it between his right index and middle finger, he can hold the arrow.

Mattycollector calls the last accessory a harp. It has the traditional shape of a harp, but the small size and the way Bow is depicted using it–strumming it in his hands like a guitar, serenading Adora or She-Ra like a medieval minstrel–is really more like a lyre. Most harps are very large and stand on the ground; lap harps can be held on the lap between the knees, and that’s probably the closest thing to what Bow has here. but even lap harps are pretty large.

As you can see from the last pic, he can hold the harp and “strum” it, but it’s not a particularly natural-looking pose.

Quality Control

I had no significant problems with Bow, QC-wise. His joints were all tight.

Overall

Bow is definitely not a figure I, or many MOTU fans, was excited for, but Mattel and the Four Horsemen seem to have taken this into account by giving him a number of added-value features–the ball-and-hinge hands, the extra head, and string-able bow and the separate arrow. His head sculpts, particularly the non-stache head, are even better than usual.

Regardless of how much you like the character, Bow is a great MOTUC figure.

11110

Comments now closed (21)

  • Good one Poe! And I definitely like this new format, very straightforward and user friendly.

    One question about the bow and arrow, is there anyway to a get a proper archer pose, or is the arrow just too short?

  • I kind of disappointed you didn't mention either the fact that arrow is WAY too short to be used with the long bow–which was a terrible design choice (the arrow, that is)–nor that the quiver's rope is too short, and looks like it's choking him when strung around his neck.

    I wouldn't accuse you've of shilling for mattel, but is your love of the 4H blinding you to these poor design issues?

  • …if you looked at your own face that closely, you’d find plenty of imperfections, too.

    (Chuckle) Well, you maybe, but I rather doubt–OH GOD! I look like friggin' Spawn!

    Anyway, I wasn't really interested in Bow, but the reviews and pics make him look like a fun, swashbuckling hero. Every time I see him with his lute, though, I expect him to be singing "I gave my love a cherry," ala Animal House.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I need moisturizer. Badly.

  • @Dead Man Walking: indeed, i haven't seen any of the reviewers give bow a truly honest review yet, but i suppose bias towards a character/property can't be helped on occasion. i certainly don't think poe goes too far in defending the fig, it is built on a standard, and fairly good frame, so the basics are decent. and he doesn't overlook flaws, he just doesn't harp on them, like i'm about to do. :)

    there are issues… the articulation needed for a proper archery pose on a motuc is definitely lateral shoulder joints (think NECA SF) and/or a new bicep piece. the articulation smacks of being designed by someone who's never shot a bow before… as does the length of the one arrow we got.

    the quiver sucks. the arrows are sculpted pointed out (that's going to hurt when he reaches for a reload) and he's getting carradined by the preposterously short rope anyway. that, and it sits too high on his shoulder. at a full run, those arrow heads would be tattooing his right ear. OUCH!

    i'd also call out the shorts, which cover the legs unnecessarily. has anyone of the customizers out there yet taken a photo of the motuc hip/thigh area without the loin cloth on? i haven't seen one, but my point is, the thighs mostly cover the ball joint. as in, if they'd just given us a piece that only and exactly wrapped the hip piece to make it look like a crotch, that would have been fine. it didn't need to dip down enough to cover the tops of the thighs (and thus nearly eliminating front extension) not to mention, my piece didn't fit together correctly anyway, there's a huge gap across the bottom of the crotch anyway. i cut that glued bit apart and now have a bow who can at least kick high enough to part another master's twins with his nike… which i expect he'll have to resort to often, as he has no close quarters weapons and an arrow that fires like a kid's safety bow.

    oh, and thanks to the bow-riffic hands, there's a slew of weapons from earlier weapons paks and such that our intrepid hero can't hold… guess guns and swords are icky, eh "special friend?"

    fortunately, my fodder bins have tons of stuff from other lines, some of which he could hold, and his extra long wrists accomodate the eternian guard sheilds quite nicely, so we tossed the cape and hit the fodder bit there too, and he's a respectible entrant into the he-man catalog now… no help from mattel. needless to say, bow's my last she-ra purchase, outside of Ra 2.0 and swiftie for the wife. lesson learned mattel, sorry, i mistook you for competent toy makers… won't happen again.

    seriously, when in the this line is mattel going to just get honest and send each of us a Lament Configuration in a motuc box? cuz every time i shell out another 30 bucks for these things, i feel another part of my soul sucked off to hell anyways. they may as well just come clean about what they're after and have Pinhead deliver the toys… it'd be cheaper than the postal service.

  • I'm gonna end up using my extra Bow head for a custom… at some point… if/when I actually make time for it.

    Both heads are, like you said, almost not even the same character and it'd be a shame for it to sit in my extra parts bag with the Palace Guard heads.

  • Cool, new format is nice. Too bad they messed up the arrows in the satchel.

  • Poe, do an online search for "lily harp" and "baby harp"

    Bow's is most like a Baby Harp, but a Lily Harp is even smaller still.

  • Also, you have Bow's quiver strap pushed up at the back of Bow's head in every photo, yet you don't mention it once?

    Looks like a serious design flaw to me…

    …and the new review formatting is great! =D

  • I passed on Bow. I love the freedom of not being locked into a subscription anymore. Now I only buy what I want.

    I read the review and thought maybe I screwed up.

    I read the comments and am undecided again. Seems like he has more issues than I thought.

    DAMN YOU BOW!

  • @RM

    Yup. The rope goes around the neck. I beleive ToyGuru mentioned it as well. It looks a bit like it's strangling him, so maybe Poe prefers it behind his head?

    @Dayraven

    You bring up quite a few valid points. Bow beats out most figures so far in the number or details that seem odd or off somehow. I admit, I still like him anyway because he looks way cooler than Bow should. It balances out for me.

    I'm finding myseld oddly preferring both optional pieces in toy mode. The circle is a repeated element throughout his outfit and accessories and the vintage head is a cleaner sculpt and deco on mine.

    The new crotch piece looks nice when he's standing, but he's not going to be kneeling or doing much of anything when he shoots an arrow. It was a good choice for Bow's look, but I appreciate Adora's "skirt" more now. I think moving Bow's legs at all is going to damage his underoos.

  • @RM: I didn't even notice that about the quiver strap in the photos. When I took Bow out of package I just assumed that it was supposed to go around his neck and that was how I have him displayed. It is a tad tight, but I can live with it.

    I think people are being kinda nitpicky about the arrows, but it is a valid point. I will just say that I prefer them showing head side out, it’s more visually interesting than just a bunch of tails/feathers, IMO. The individual arrow, yeah, maybe it could have been a half an inch longer.

    Being an archer requires some dynamic posing, some of which DCUC articulation simply cannot accommodate. I don't see that any reason to hold it against the figure. They gave us the added wrist articulation, so that was something at least. I think had they given him double joints it would have thrown the look off when posed with other figures.

    Overall I'm happy with Bow. He's not perfect but he's a solid entry. As a fan of the Filmation POP series and an owner of the vintage figure, Bow was one that I was actually looking forward to. The extras like the two heads, added articulation, and the instrument add even more value and make him a fine addition to my collection.

  • All:

    I didn't realize the rope was supposed to go around his neck. If that's the case, obviously it's not going to work well. That said, since the quiver is attached to the cape, I didn't even notice.

    As for the arrows in the quiver: they were done that way to match the vintage toy's quiver. Whether you think that was a good decision or not, that's why it was sculpted that way.

    @RM: It's funny…I did try to give the whole harp thing the benefit of the doubt and did a lot of searching for small harps, and I didn't even come across those. Thanks!

  • Bow looks good. I wish the 4H had taken the same approach towards designing She-Ra and Catra that they took towards designing Bow.

    Bow seems to be a great mix of the Filmation design, with a bit of the toy design thrown in and then given extra "wow" factor. She-Ra and Catra both look okay, but they're incredibly "plain/dull" when compared to Teela and even the male MOTUC figures (including Bow).

  • Great review Poe, and I dig the new format. I had the vintage Bow and I always liked him for some reason so I'm partial to the MOTUC version as well. He'll be one of the few MOTUC figs that I display with the non-vintage head. The 70's pornstache/cartoon head is just too good. Can't wait to string that bow too!

  • Great review, and like the new format! I was pleasantly surprised at how well Bow turned out, and it is a very striking figure that fits in well with the rest of MOTUC.

  • I'm glad the Horsemen are giving extra attention to the lesser desired characters, I wasn't excited about Bow or Vikor when they were announced, but the quality of the figures has really made me a fan. As for the issue with the actual bow, no matter how it's done it still can't fire without my manipulation, so I don't really care how "functional" it is.

  • @Poe: It's no biggie.

    It wasn't until I went searching for a small harp for my daughter's first birthday last December that I discovered the many smaller types that exist. =)

    On the quiver strap though, didn't you at any point find it odd that there was a big loop of "rope" pushing at the back of Bow's head?

  • @RM: It's not pushing at his head, though–it's just sort of sticking out straight up over his back.

    Look, POP was a very fashion-oriented line…I guess I figured it was just some sort of stylistic touch. Mea culpa.

    Now that I look at the official toy photos, I see it. When my apartment is back in order (more on that later), I'll take more photos.

  • Has anybody mentioned the Heart-crotch yet? It's there…

    I used the non-stached head for my Vikor figure. It works well with the brown beastman armor mixed in there.