[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.
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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.
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.
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.
Bow’s accessories are:
- 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.
I had no significant problems with Bow, QC-wise. His joints were all tight.
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.