When He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was on the air, the series often followed a pattern: a new character would be developed as a toy, then added to the cartoon. It was rare for it to work in the opposite direction, though it occasionally did: Prince Adam, Cringer, Orko, King Randor, and the Sorceress were all characters that were either created by Filmation or were best known through their depiction on the cartoon. It seems unlikely that Mattel would have created a Prince Adam or Randor figure–or perhaps even the Sorceress–without the character’s popularity on the cartoon to sell the toy; and Orko was created by Filmation, so he wouldn’t have existed at all.
There were a few glaring omissions from that list, though. One was Adora, from sister show She-Ra; and the other is Queen Marlena. Wife to King Randor, mother to Prince Adam, former astronaut and queen of all Eternia, Marlena appeared in many episodes of Masters of the Universe, yet she didn’t get an action figure until last summer’s San Diego Comic Con exclusive.
Each Masters of the Universe Classics San Diego Comic Con exclusive (phew) has been a fairly elaborate affair in some regard. First there was King Grayskull, whose packaging featured a talking display; then there was He-Ro, based on a never-produced prototype from the vintage line and featuring a large amount of new tooling; and in 2010 it was Orko, whose accessories included Prince Adam.
Queen Marlena may offer the most value of all the SDCC exclusives so far. For $25–five dollars more than the standard price of a MOTUC figure–you get:
- The Marlena figure
- A “Queen” outfit
- An astronaut outfit (w/ optional helmet)
- A staff
- A sword (reused from Battleground Teela)
- A laser pistol and holster (reused from Adora)
- A laser rifle
There were two types of packaging for Marlena. The one sold at SDCC referred to her as “Queen Marlena” and she came packaged in her Queen outfit; the one sold later on Mattycollector called her “Captain Glenn” and the figure was packaged in the astronaut outfit. Both came with all the pieces you need to make both characters.
It’s tricky to talk about a figure like this in terms of sculpting. In terms of the body, I believe the only new sculpting is on the two heads. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe the facial sculpt was based on her Filmation look, nor any specific version from a minicomic; if anything she reminds me of Kate Mulgrew circa early Voyager. But it’s a good head sculpt, full of character in both incarnations.
The two outfits are her imperial robe and her space jumpsuit. The robes are straight out of Filmation; in fact, given how close she is to the Filmation look (aside from the face), the addition of Cringer and what we know now about the Filmation rights, I think everyone’s wondered whether Mattel had the deal with Classic Media worked out even earlier than suspected.
Both outfits are made from a soft, pliable material and are removed via tabs on the back (more on that at the end of the review). The tabs are a little tricky to fit together, but once they are they’re very snug, with little of the seam showing. It’s disappointing that the robes are basically a rubber shell, which severely limits her movement, but this was probably the best solution within the costing range. The fact that they’re a separate shell does leave Marlena looking just a wee bit zaftig, but it’s not nearly as bad as previous such attempts have been on other toys.
I much prefer the astronaut outfit, which allows you to transfer Marlena into a Buck Rogers-ish space babe, complete with bubble helmet. The silver part of my helmet came off the “respirator” base–it looked like it was glued, so I wasn’t sure whether it was supposed to do that, but it doesn’t really harm the figure at all.
To put together the astronaut look, you first have to put on the respirator, then the silver bubble, then the head, and then the clear bubble. I tended to have some trouble getting the clear bubble to stick, but once it was in place it stayed there as long as you didn’t jostle it too much. It won’t stand up to regular play, however.
Marlena has the following articulation: ball joints at the head, shoulders, and hips; swivels at the biceps, wrists, waist, and top of the boots; and hinges at the elbows, knees and ankles, with rocker movement on the ankles as well. There’s also a semi-ball-joint in the mid-torso, but it’s not too useful due to the restriction of the clothes.
Two of Marlena’s accessories, the sword and the blaster, are just reuses from previous figures. But the laser rifle is, in an overused and inadequate word, awesome.
Then there’s Cringer. I’m not really sure how I feel about Cringer. A lot of fans were very disappointed in him; some didn’t like the overly-cartoonish sculpt, believing it was “too Filmation” for the more realistic MOTUC style, while others were bummed by the lack of articulation (he has cut joints at the head and tail). Unlike Orko, who was clearly the more interesting part of the Prince Adam set, I think Cringer is clearly just an accessory.
Even as a kid, I don’t remember ever really wanting a Cringer figure, so I’m not overly disappointed with this one; however, I certainly understand the perspective of those who want a fully-articulated, perhaps somewhat less cartoonish version. But as a bonus to an already fairly impressive set, I think he’s fine.
In terms of what you get for your money, I think Queen Marlena may be the best exclusive yet. It will be interesting to see how they can top this for SDCC 2012.
Lest you think I created this deliberately, let me explain how this came about. First, I wanted to take a photo to show how Marlena’s two external shells connected together in the back, so I figured I’d just take a pic with the back open.
Next, in what is probably the mild whim that caused this whole problem, I thought it would be funny to use her hands to hold it open, like she was taking off her suit. At this point, she was standing straight up.
With her standing straight up, everything was too covered in shadow, so the next thing I did was bend the figure forward to catch more light. It wasn’t until I clicked the shutter and saw the result that I realized what I had done.
Anyway, without further ado, I give you the MOTUC Goatse.