Review > Preternia Disguise He-Man (Masters of the Universe Classics)

I covered the origin of Preternia Disguise He-Man pretty thoroughly in an earlier post, so I won’t rehash that here, aside from mentioning that he’s based on the characters appearance in the 1980s minicomic “The Powers of Grayskull – The Legend Begins!”

PD He-Man is the 2011 subscription exclusive figure, a decision which made most people happy, since people who bought the subscription are generally big enough fans to want the figure, while those who didn’t were happy not to get another He-Man variant; and those who did buy the subscription but didn’t want PD He-Man could easily sell him to those who didn’t buy a sub. Which is an incredibly complicated way of saying yes, he was a good choice for a subscription incentive figure.

The “Powers of Grayskull” concept came about very late in the MOTU line in the 1980s, just as the movie was flopping. As such, it makes use of some of the movie’s ideas, including the Cosmic Key, a device which can open a portal to other worlds–including Earth, which conveniently lets you film 90% of your epic fantasy movie on the streets of Los Angeles. Mattel got a bit more creative with the concept, sending He-Man back to the time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth–I mean, Eternia.

Packaging: The figure comes in the standard MOTUC packaging; I like the pose with He-Man cradling the Cosmic Key. The rifle is crossed behind his back, and my only regret about that is it looks so awesome I wish there was some sort of holster on his back so that he could actually carry the rifle that way.

The factory forgot to slap on the “Powers of Grayskull” sticker, so it was included as a loose sticker in the box.

Design & Sculpt: Only the head and tunic of Preternia Disguise He-Man are new parts; the legs and arms we’ve seen before. The forearms are the ones with the narrow bracelets from Tri-Klops, rather than the asymmetrical ones we usually get on our He-Man (which is accurate to his comic depiction).

The new head is great, with the hood sculpt shadowing He-Man’s face and the raccoon mask covering his eyes. As I was inspecting it, something occurred to me: given how interested Mattel is in re-using sculpts, PD He-Man has a fairly significant amount of new tooling, what with the head and tunic. But the face isn’t attached to the hood…and doesn’t that hood, coming down as it does past the chin, look an awful lot like the hood of 200X Skeletor? It’s hard to say whether this could be part of a planned bonus-figure 200X Skeletor or an abandoned extra head for a previous Skeletor release, but I’ll keep my hopes up for the former.

Plastic & Paint: The tunic covering the chest and legs is made from a nice, pliable material, and the reddish-brown coloring matches the comic. His boots are more reddish than the standard He-Man as well, again capturing the look of the comic art (which was inked by Bruce Timm, incidentally).

The one negative is the gray belt, which is poorly painted with a lot of uneven edges between the dark and light gray parts, and some slop around the part where it meets the tunic.

Articulation: PD He-Man features the standard MOTUC articulation: ball joints at the neck, shoulders, and hips; swivels at the waist, wrists, biceps, top of the thighs, and top of the boots; and hinges at the abdomen, elbows, knees, and ankles. The ankles are the old exposed-joint type, rather than the hidden-joint type of Vikor, which makes the ankles a bit loose (but not floppy, at least for my figure). There’s no “bobblehead” effect on the neck joint, most likely because it’s the old neck joint, not the new one we saw with Vikor.

Accessories: The accessories are my favorite part of this figure. In addition to the standard Power Sword, PD He-Man comes with a large laser rifle based on the one he wields while riding Bionatops in the “Powers of Grayskull” minicomic. I love the gun, but it’s a shame it doesn’t have any paint applications. It’s also slightly warped from its placement in the package.

But the real appeal here is the Cosmic Key. The sculpt is based primarily on the device’s look in the movie, but the Four Horsemen added a handle a la the Cosmic Key that came with Gwildor. My understanding is that Mattel does not own the rights to the movie, so I’m not sure why they can get away with such an obvious movie-based accessory, unless there’s some sort of loophole due to the Gwildor/minicomic appearance.

The Cosmic Key looks great, with detailed bronze paint apps on the “keys,” chromed “forks” and a blue metallic sheen on the rest. The forks can spin. Clearly, the accessory budget went to the Cosmic Key. The Key, like the rifle, is a tad bent due to the packaging, reflecting the softer plastic they’ve been using for MOTUC (I’m wondering if they’re saving money by using a regrind plastic mix).

Quality Control: No problems with my figure–he’s assembled correctly, no major loose joints, no glaring scrapes or damage.

Overall: I know a lot of fans were underwhelmed by Preternia Disguise He-Man–a figure based on an obscure appearance of the character in an unfinished storyline from the minicomics. But for whatever reason, I really like him. He reminds me of the “Bruce Timm era” of MOTUC, the post-Filmation cartoon period when the world of Eternia, thanks partly to Timm, began to look and feel more modern and cohesive (at least to me).

It’s a shame we never got to see where the Powers of Grayskull might have gone in the 1980s–if it had been given a chance, He-Man, like G.I. Joe or Transformers, might never have gone away.


Comments now closed (42)

  • You're right that hood is very 200X skeletor, it's also similar in the way it squares off.

  • Sorry, but dude looks ridiculous. He looks like a tootsie pop with that huge upper body and that tiny belt cutting off his circulation. And what's with the man boobs? While I'm not a fan of this line for a lot of reasons, I can usually respect the design and look of the figures. In this case, not at all. I keep checking those pics to see if theres some appeal I'm missing but..nope, he looks like an awful custom. His upper body reminds me of violet from willy wonka and the chocolate factory.

  • I think he generally looks terrible. This is the first time I really think the Four Horsemen just flat out failed. He was a big part of the reason I skipped the subscription and I dunno, something about him looks worse now than he did in the protos. It still looks like crossdressing He-Man to me.

    A cloth cloak probably would have worked better me thinks.

    The Cosmic key looks great, though. Hopefully Gwildor gets one as well. I really like it, though I'd prefer a slightly more muted color scheme.

  • am i seeing that correctly, that his upper body robe has pins (hence, it removable?) and it appears he has a brown under armour on under that? that might be how i end up displaying him…

  • I'll be opening mine up this evening, but I'm not seeing anything about this figure I don't like, either. The accessories just seem fantastic.

  • Like King Hssss the torso is far to wide. Just awful. Of all the He-Man variants, (including 200X) this is the worst…..although the Cosmic Key is cool-ish.

    Whats with the mask, who is going to recognise him in Preternia?

  • Not a fan of MOTUC, but I like this guy, he has a Kirbyesque vibe to him and would work (for me anyway) as some Silver Age Morrison like proto-hero or something.

    I'm sure that made sense to someone….

    Um, basically I would probably buy him if I saw him at a reasonable price.

  • I can understand not being interested in the figure or just flat not liking it, its not really for everyone, but I think that’s the point. If it was a must-have character or variant, everyone would get pissed, so they made a figure only die-hard fans will like, and people still grumble.

    That said, I don’t really see how the 4H “failed” for taking the basic buck and then creating a tunic for it. I can see the “man boobs” but as @Lemonjuice_McGee pointed out, it is much better in person. If anything it looks more like he’s just huffed & puffed and is gonna blow your house in.

    I realize in essence we’re paying for the bonus figures, they're not "free" but let me just say Preternia Disguise He-Man was not an incentive for me to buy in on the subscription. To me the incentive of the subscription (in theory) is not having to login to Matty Collector on the 15th of each month to get the figures.

    Anyway, the real prize here is the Cosmic Key. Anyone with a soft spot for the film is going to love it!

  • Guess no one's going to be campaigning for a Bionatops anytime soon. He has enough trouble as it is staying on Battle Cat.

    And yeah, here comes Gwildor in the next year or so. "By mid-2012 you'll have a good picture of the MOTUC storyline" or something like that.

  • I think he looks neat. I have a soft spot for the historical or obscure figures like him. I wonder why his torso piece is painted brown?

  • Fengschwing wrote:

    I like this guy, he has a Kirbyesque vibe to him and would work (for me anyway) as some Silver Age Morrison like proto-hero or something.

    That's what he reminds me of. Thank you.

    Anyway I like the figure much better in hand. It's the cloak combined with the little racoon mask that sell the figure to me. I don't know. I just really dig the Saturday Morning/Comic book goofy feel to it.

    Also he comes with an extra power sword and the kick butt cosmic sword.

  • @Lemonjuice_McGee:


    I think you guys are right on the money here. I wasn't all that excited for this figure when it was shown. I liked the idea but the pictures didn't look exciting enough. Having him in my hands makes a world of difference.

    The draw of the sub has always been having goods show up at my door with no effort involved but it's nice to get these exclusives, and this guy was surprisingly cool once he arrived.

  • I enjoyed the protos of this guy, but now seeing him in this review…well…the hourglass shape of the tunic just looks wierd. I can see Monkey Boy's tootsie pop reference.

    And the Cosmic Key looks like stupid whiffle ball bat with that handle


    To me the incentive of the subscription (in theory) is not having to login to Matty Collector on the 15th of each month to get the figures.
    –Perfect Tear

    I think Poe sums it up nicely.

    Mattel really needs to start offering an opt-in feature for subscribers for non-sub items. They ask subscribers to commit to spending hundreds of dollars on toys sight unseen, then negate the single advantage subscribing offers–not having to worry about visiting Mattycollector–by not including the items most likely to cause a frenzy, i.e., the brand-new stuff like large beasts (in 2010) and display items/vehicles (in 2011). It’s maddening.


  • I love that from SDCC to today people still don't like this figure.

    I think he was a great sub figure, obscure choice for the hardcore fans and not too important for sparse collectors. I was excited at SDCC and was excited when he showed up.

    I am currently displaying him with my villains since he's disguised, Undercover He-Man.

  • It's a good figure but I would've preferred that the Horsemen went the extra mile on the tunic by having places to store the accessories. That would've propelled the figure into a solid 5 out of 5 for me. As it stands, this He-Man is a 4/5.

  • @Harlan Rosen: A slot for the sword would have been nice, perhaps similar to what Adora has and what Adam was supposed to have. Then PD He-Man would have been able to hold all of his accessories at once.

  • This figure has definitely grown on me. And I hope you're right Poe about 200X Skeletor, although if they make him I hope they resculpt the face, the 200X one looked much more menacing than the classic figure did.

  • I really think people are giving this figure the benefit of the doubt because its MOTUC. Imagine this figure in some other line in a discount store. It wouldn't be desirable at all. I suppose maybe the 4H were limited and HAD to sculpt the tunic around the standard buck, but I just can't for the life of me understand how anyone doesn't find that thing to be WAY too bulky and oversized. He seriously looks like he's going to fall over. Also, if you're gonna bulk out the torso, compensate by giving him a larger belt. As it is he's really cinched tight at the waist, and it accentuates how unrealistic the tunic lays. I know I know cosmic key this and cosmic key that, but is a cosmic key worth $30? I know everyone has their own opinions, but I really can't see anything positive about the awkward, patchwork execution of this figure.

  • @Barbecue17: i'm wondering if we should ask the horsemen on this, to see if PD he-man was sculpted to include one like adam was… somehow, i bet so.

  • This figure s proof that some accessories need to be made of fabric.

    Also I got to say the face sculpt is awful, just like the other MOTUC He-Man figures it doesn't look right at all, not even like the vintage art work.

  • @Mark: See, now I really like the soft plastic tunic. I hate fabric in all its forms on toys smaller than 12". Different strokes and all that, I suppose.

  • @Poe: I always loved cloth cloaks, capes and coats etc. I think it would have really heped this figres as he looks as if part of the his disguise included eating a turbodactyl 🙂

    What about Han Solo's trenchcoat, jedi robes, the super powers cloaks, wrestling figure robes. etc. Those were all done well.

    There is no way you can say you prefer the plastic cloak of the 90's Star Wars Darth Vader over a cloth one 😉

  • @Mark: I don't remember those figures. But yes, I still prefer plastic cloaks.

    At any scale below 12" (and even 12", honestly, in my opinion), the fabric just looks too large and coarse to me. It doesn't scale.

    The only cloth coat I might be willing to say worked better than a plastic one would is Trenchcoat Blade/Marvel Legends Blade. Fake leather tends to look all right, because there's no stitching to look way too big in comparison to the figure.

    But that's really the lesser issue–the bigger problem to me is the perishable nature of fabric. It can get dirty and be very difficult to clean, it can be torn, it can unravel, it can get wet and then hot and shrink, etc.

    Again, though, just my personal preference.

  • @Poe: dude, plastic discolors in sunlight, grows brittle with time, and is easily susceptible to the same changes in temperature and humidity that can hurt fabric… i submit to you, how old is your favorite t-shirt? i have one that's 20 years old, and three others over ten… and trust me, they've seen more wear and tear than any figure's jacket ever has.

    and i'm sorry homes, but you're jaded. i have some great cloth pieces, all the way back to kevin matchstick's jacket and duffelbag. methinks, before condemning the cloth, one must not only get honest about how fragile plastic truly is (and how often it isn't executed well) but also, one must try out the next 1/12 3A offering, to see how the modern masters make soft goods work.

  • i love this figure. it is def better then wun-dar and seems like we get more for our money at least.

    I may be wrong but i thought the gun had paint aps. it is subtle but it is there. I may be wrong though i will have to look when i get back home.

  • @Fengschwing: Makes sense to me. Definitely looks like he should be in a Devil Dinosaur comic. I also think he has a bit of Hanna-Barbera going too, which of course, I'm down with.

  • I don't begrudge those that like him, but to me this is by far the worst figure of the line so far.

    The robe not only looks awful, and awkward, but also cheap as well, with obvious mould lines, and also being way too plasticy thick. The laser gun looks like something you'd find in the blister of a cheap $2 knock off toy, with it's single moulded colour scheme not exactly helping matters either. The cosmic key looks ridiculous with that giant, and unneeded, handle strap thing on the bottom of it completely spoiling the overall look. And the head sculpt looks more like some third-rate DC hero, or knockoff of one, than it does He-Man in a mask, and just doesn't feel MOTU at all.

    I actually really liked Wun-Dar, that to me was a perfect variant in that he was kind of cool for fans, and really well realised, but not a character that most casual collectors would feel like they had to own lest their collections feel incomplete. This, on the other hand, even most of the true hardcore 'want everything' fans that I know think is a complete lemon, and waste of plastic, with the best compliments seemingly being "well, he's not [i]that[/i] bad…". Honestly, if that's the best compliment you can get, it probably indicates that nobody should have bothered in the first place. Especially if it was going to look this half assed.

  • Golly, people are really getting worked up in this thread.

    After opening up this figure last night, I have to say that out of Bow, Shadow Beast, and PD He-Man, PD He-Man is probably my favorite. Yes, he does look a little silly, but most MOTU figures tend to.

    And Poe: I know everyone is ragging on you about cloth on action figures, but you have to admit that a good number of the Star Wars Vintage collection figures manage to have cloth outfits that look really nice. Seriously, with the incredible cloth outfits on the SW figures and the insanely detailed little weapons on the POC G.I. Joe figures, I am quite confident that Hasbro has hired a team of magical elves to sculpt toys for them.

  • @Barbecue17: Exactly, Hasbro GI Joe and SW figures are brilliant and cloth bits and pieces realy make them all the better. 😀

  • I think cloth goods almost have to be judged on a figure by figure basis. Some work out, but others end up looking like s**t.

    Personally, I can do without it since it breaks up the cohesion of a line unless all figures have cloth goods.

    No question though, 3A Toys has perfected the art of cloth goods on figures. Damn Ashley Wood and his expensively awesome toys! 🙂

  • @Poe: personal preferences are fine… but the complaints you levy on soft goods are likewise true of plastic goods, if treated in an ill way. how else am i supposed to read that?

    i've never had a fig w/ a cloth cape that has difficult to balance because of the weight of it, but that doesn't mean cloth goods automatically "win" either. but i'm not off-hand rejecting an entire classification of goods, plastic has it's points… no one is advocating that MAA gets pants or anything.

    my point was simply that under modest care, some figs soft goods came out just fine, and better in some cases, then if we'd gotten plastic versions of the same pieces. i don't know why you're knee-jerking cloth goods, but as it was brought up here, i do think perhaps a soft goods tunic would have been in order. as my wife was quick to point out the other night when discussing the she-ra debacle, she likely wouldn't need a fix at all for swiftwind if she'd been given a soft goods skirt… and it certainly couldn't have looked worse, and w/ plastic prices on the rise (we're told) they most certainly would have been more cost effective… so why weren't soft goods employed there?

  • @Lemonjuice_McGee: seriously… best soft goods work this side of hot toys… and ash is working in 1/12 scale. for reals, i'm going to be hurt come next year's poppies if most (if not all) of the judges haven't treated themselves to at least 1 3A toy over the course of the year. if the "folks in the know" disagree that they make incredible pieces, that's fine, but don't knock it till you've tried it, right?

  • @dayraven: I own three WWRps (they were a gift from a friend). I still dislike the soft goods. On the WWRps–at least mine–the pouches tend to become loose and fall off. Could be a one-off thing, could be something they've improved upon, I don't know, I can only speak to my experience. And the fabric still looks too coarse–in my opinion.

    3A is a definitely a great company making great toys. I do not actively collect those toys because a.) I'm not really interested in any of the licenses, which is generally the biggest draw for me for a toyline, and b.) the toys themselves are too expensive for me to collect, unless that's all I wanted to collect.

    If it makes it easier to accept, ignore my complaints regarding the perishable nature of soft goods and the coarseness and so forth, and just understand that, in general, I don't like soft goods on toys. Just not my thing.

  • What original MOTU figures had cloth? Randor, Ninjor, and Scareglow, right?

  • MOTUC figures would be better with cloth capes. According to what I have heard Classics Mumm-Ra will have a coth cape. 😉

  • I don't see what’s wrong with having an opinion. One way or the other it’s a personal preference, you shouldn't have to site examples, and it’s simply what you favor. Just because someone else’s opinion is different than yours does not make it any less valid. Also, remarking that an opinion is made "because it’s…" is kind of dismissive and a little insulting (but nobody's taking this personally right, these are just toys.). Moreover, even if one is looking at something through rose-tinted glasses, it’s their prerogative to do so and does not negate their opinion.

    @Barbecue17: Prince Adam also had the cloth vest, and a lot of the POP figures had cloth capes, like Bow, She-Ra (if memory serves me).

  • I like this figure. I like the execution and the accessories.

    I think the real key to it is nostalgia. Sure, anyone can easily say "I like Beast Man" – who doesn't like Beast Man? After all, 90% of the people who ever collected MOTU had a Beast Man.

    But this figure taps a button for some of us who collected MOTU until the end – a plastic representation of that final mini-comic that promised we would finally learn mysterious secrets in the far-flung past of Eternia. When I saw the slide at SDCC of this He-Man, I was shocked, really – I had completely forgotten the story. But now, it is a figure I am completely happy they made.