Almost every great toy line has a few major gaps. The 1980s Star Wars line lacked Grand Moff Tarkin (who finally got a figure in 1997, and will get a new one later this year). The vintage Masters of the Universe needed a Queen Marlena (last year’s SDCC exclusive). Perhaps most famously, Playmates never produced a Maude Flanders for their late-1990s Simpsons line.
The 1980s Princess of Power had Shadow Weaver.* Shadow Weaver was the antithesis of Eternia’s Sorceress: a powerful wizard who worked with the bad guys instead of the good guys. With her vast powers, mysterious appearance, and hefty role in the cartoon (she appeared in 52 of 93 episodes), Shadow Weaver was a very notable absence from the 1980s toy line. And since she was created by Filmation and never had a vintage figure, Mattel didn’t have the rights to produce a toy based on her until the deal with Classic Media came through last year.
But now she’s finally here, as the 2012 Club Eternia incentive figure. I have mixed feelings on her being the incentive. On the one hand, many fans viewed it as extortion, being forced to buy the subscription in order to get such a wanted character.
On the other hand, Mattel is under no obligation (legally or ethically) to sell these figures separately, and making Shadow Weaver the incentive worked perfectly in bringing on people who might not have subscribed. I get why people don’t like it, but I also think it was a smart strategy on Mattel’s part and may have helped ensure the quality (in terms of new tooling) and prosperity for the line.
Design & Sculpt: Shadow Weaver isn’t the first Filmation-style character we’ve had in this line – that distinction should go to Orko. So the Four Horsemen already have experience translating Filmation designs into the Classics style.
From a sculpting standpoint, I think the Horsemen did an excellent job as usual. There’s maybe a very slight touch of the Filmation style in the figure, but it fits with the rest of the toy line.
There are two designs aspects to discuss. The first is the way the cape is engineered. In order to allow the articulation to function but still allow for the classic Shadow Weaver arms-out pose, the cape was attached to the upper arms. It looks great when the arms are spread apart, but when they’re folded in it looks awkward, with the cape sticking out far behind her. Cloth could have easily solved this problem, but as everyone knows I hate fabric on action figures; yet I can’t help but think there might have been a better way of handling this.
The second design decision is, of course, the solid lower body. Shadow Weaver is a “salt shaker,” meaning there are no legs inside the robe; it’s just a solid piece, with a transparent plastic stand so that she can appear to hover over the ground. While I generally dislike salt shaker figures, I’m not sure sculpting articulated legs in there would have been worthwhile without a fabric robe, and besides, there was never any indication Shadow Weaver actually had legs on the show. So ultimately, I have to say the lack of legs doesn’t bother me that much.
Plastic & Paint: Shadow Weaver is molded mostly in dark red, but there’s a wonderfully executed wash all over the figure that leaves it looking fantastic.
Articulation: Shadow Weaver has a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel wrists, a swivel waist, and a hinge at the hips so that she can hunch a bit.
It’s not bad articulation for a salt shaker figure, but here’s what I would have preferred: remove the hinged hips and hinged waist and replace it with a ball joint in the torso just under the breasts (to allow for better spell-casting poses), and then make the clear stand work on a ball joint like Orko’s did.
Accessories: I’m sure Shadow Weaver was a fairly expensive figure to produce, due to the entirely new tooling (which can’t really be re-used) and the licensing of the rights from Classic Media. As much as I hate to say it, we should probably be thankful we got anything.
Shadow Weaver comes with a wand and a Book of Spells. The wand appears in the POP episode “The Caregiver,” while the book is from the Lovecraftian-named episode “The Eldritch Mist.” It’s pretty cool to get accessories that are straight out of Filmation episodes.
There are two other accessories I would have liked to see: an alternate “Light Spinner” head (Shadow Weaver’s pre-Horde identity), and Styrax, her pet vulture-thing. But neither omission is that big a deal. Styrax appeared in only one episode, while the face of Light Spinner was seen in a single panel of a UK comic.
Quality Control: No problems this time.
Overall: Shadow Weaver is a great addition to the line and, with any luck, the first of at least a few Filmation figures (come on Robot Knight two-pack!). I never watched Princess of Power, but I can recognize a cool character when I see one, and I’m happy to have this one in my collection.
Where to Buy:
- BBTS is sold out, so your only bets are Amazon and eBay.
* Yes, and Adora and Sea Hawk and Octavia, but Shadow Weaver was clearly the most-wanted. Even more than Adora.