Guest Review > Star Sisters (Masters of the Universe Classics, Mattel)

This is a guest review. Opinions expressed in this review (toy-related or otherwise) do not necessarily reflect the views of Poe Ghostal.

Doing these reviews for Poe lead me sit down and actually watch the She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon, something I’ve never done before outside of minor glimpses as a kid. I loved the Filmation He-Man as a child, and love it now because it’s totally stupid, but I never really gave She-Ra the time of day. And you know what? She-Ra is actually pretty good. The Horde represent more of a threat to Etheria than Skeletor ever did, and the heroic characters don’t just defend the world’s inhabitants from the Horde but teach them to rise up and fight for themselves.

Adora is an interesting, powerful, independent character who is handled well and isn’t dependant on a man – an excellent role model for young girls. Adora/She-Ra is the kind of character we could add to that very short list about of strong, interesting, non-misogynstic female protagonists. Even Bow, despite occasionally falling into a neat subversion of the “damsel in distress” role Teela took in He-Man, is well-executed. He’s not threatened by the powerful women around him; he’s a real man.

So basically, I want to make clear I have no anti-She-Ra slant, no misogynistic female-character-toy hatred, no anti-girl’s-toys sentiment – and despite all that, I still can’t bring myself to like these figures.

Everything about them is uninteresting, beginning with the fact that they’re barely featured – anywhere – in Masters of the Universe material. They were in the 84th episode of She-Ra, “Bow’s Magical Gift,” in which they were only featured for a couple of minutes with few lines and then were never seen again. Mattel planned to sell figures of Starla, Tallstar and Jewelstar in the 1980s, but only press photos and a poster were ever released.

Yet the Star Sisters (supposedly) have a cult following, and so we get this set in the Masters of the Universe Classics (MOTUC) line. The first problem is that these were made a part of the sub – the same sub that included important Horde character Shadow Weaver as an exclusive – and is fully priced for three basic figures. The fans dedicated enough to MOTUC to buy a subscription had no choice but to buy them, despite having little-to-no knowledge of the characters. The other problem is that these simply are very flawed toys, with problems in nearly every category.

NOTE: All photos in this review are of Poe’s set, so paint & other issues may vary from the description.

Starla, Tallstar, & Jewelstar

Design & Sculpt: The Star Sisters’s designs appear to be a mix of their toy prototypes and their Filmation appearances. They have a plain design and sculpt that doesn’t communicate much about the characters, nor look visually appealing.

Tallstar is the worst – she has an ugly color scheme, mixing palatable blue and purple with ghastly pink and orange. Her lower half has an enormous crotch that looks awful. Her gimmick is her neck, arms and legs can stretch a la Mr Fantastic, so there are interchangeable parts included – a neat idea utilized in the Fantastic Four movie figure of Mr Fantastic with ten extra parts. Here there are half as many, all very small and not adding much to make her look taller. The neck piece for mine is so loose that her head comes off frequently, where others have noted arms and legs falling off (oft causing the toy to collapse) when attempting to display her – a sign of poor design.

Starla fares little better, with a very bright color scheme of yellow, orange and red, but nothing to define her character or make her stand out. The vintage prototype toy came with a “star glitter backpack” that could have added some real interest here.

The most interesting is Jewelstar, a VERY pink figure with translucent “jewel armor” all over her body, including a ridiculously shaped crown that reminds me of those goofy hat things babies wear. There’s a large crystal piece attached to her back which makes no sense whatsoever, and her hair is in a crappy-looking ponytail whose light pink color makes her look aged. She’s the most unique of these figures but is hindered by some baffling design choices and the same unfortunate mega-crotch as Tallstar.

All of these figures are too bright and sickly to look at, especially together, where all of the colors contrast badly, as if someone has taken a big fluoro-sick. Further, the facial sculpts look too similar to distinguish the characters, making it obvious that they’re all very similar builds on the same female body without much to sell them as unique or worthwhile.

Plastic & Paint:  The plastic here is quite good, maintaining the MOTUC standard, and the paint application is fine. There are a few places of overspray on my figures but it’s not overly noticeable.

Articulation: Unlike the many She-Ra’s we’ve seen, these figures are sculpted as to avoid big hair getting in the way of movement, and the joints are nice and tight so as to allow pose and play of the figures. But the pivotal upper-thigh swivel articulation, allowing the legs to move outside of their standard ball-joint, is annoyingly absent.

Accessories: Other than Tallstar’s extensions, each Star Sister comes with a star-topped staff moulded in transluscent plastic containing sparkly glitter. I really don’t like the color choices here – AGAIN Tallstar’s is the worst, a bright vomit yellow that conflicts her already-conflicting color scheme moreso. Starla’s is fine but unexciting, and Jewelstar’s is too similar to the color of her crystal armor that it looks like just another part of her goofy attire. At least they’re made of hard plastic and will not succumb to bending like many other MOTUC accessories.

The other accessory is Glorybird, the goofy bright pink hawk sharing the sculpt of previous MOTUC birds on an all-new and ugly bright blue perch. It features a ridiculous-looking tuft of hair that can be removed.

Quality Control:  The only problem is that the left wing on mind is badly bent out of shape, and doesn’t want to return to the normal wing shape it should, making it look (more) ridiculous alongside the figures.

Overall: I really, really wanted to like these toys, but it’s really hard to find anything to like about this set. The characters are dull and uninspired, the toys are disinteresting and ugly, and at $60 the set is overpriced and was forced onto the collectors who have supported the line. While there is little to complain about in terms of the general quality, these characters are rightfully unwanted, having barely made an appearance in the MOTU universe and lacking anything worthwhile in their design and supposed personalities. Further, the price point is awful value; if these were individual figures in the MOTUC line they would have had more accessories to make that $20-$22 value, and subsequently wouldn’t have sold anyway.

And that’s the crux of all this: these toys couldn’t have been made if they weren’t a part of the sub, as few would have sold. But why make them in the first place? In my MOTUC and She-Ra display there is nowhere to put these figures – their nauseating DayGlo colors clash with that of She-Ra’s rebellion and the Horde, and they don’t look good anywhere near the main He-Man heroes or villains. They represent a low point in an otherwise exceptional series of action figures, and another solid argument against the subscription model.

11000

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Who is Doc Thomas? He is a lifelong toy collector and member of the international (i.e., non-U.S.) collector community. He enjoys making short films, non sequiturs, and dressing up in a bear suit at work.

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  • So….. did you like them?

    Just kidding – I totally agree with your thoughts on the Star Sisters. What annoys me even more is that certain members of the Star Sisters cult following (seemingly only one person banging the drum over at the .org) are incensed that they did not get 'toy colours' and is now requesting that Mattel follow up with a Star Sisters variant pack!!

    Far too expensive, far too bland and obscure even for this line. My sub will stay in the box in the garage for a very long time – they are not even worth selling at the moment.

    • I don't think any character is too obscure for a such a hardcore fanbase. Especially those who wish to finish off the entire roster of characters or get versions of characters that never came out or didn't originally fit.

  • they'd made decent custom bases… you could easily scrap tallstar to give her hips to the much maligned green goddess. and a new coat of paint would definitely help these trannies look more in sync w/ the rest of the universe… or, if so inclined, one would paint their faces up, give them really outlandish make-up, sculpt them in heals, and send them all to rupaul as gifts.

  • This is what happens when Mattel listens to the crybabies at He-man.org

    • I'd rather you didn't call people names, please.

      To be honest, I don't have a problem with Mattel catering to small but loud fan segments. What bothers me about this expensive set is that it was part of the sub, and thus forced upon many who would not have chosen to drop $60 on it.

      It would have been a perfect SDCC exclusive – fans who really wanted one could get it, but fans who couldn't get to SDCC might not have wanted it anyway – but unfortunately the days of non-must-have SDCC exclusives appear to be long gone.

  • Tallstar is the worst she has an ugly color scheme, mixing palatable blue and purple with ghastly pink and orange.

    See, I can't agree with that.

    Personally, I find Tallstar to have one of the most pleasing colour combinations in all of MotU Classics, much less the Star Sisters alone.

  • I really expected to really hate these, but was surprised to find that I just hate them.

    On the plus side, I think Dayraven has hit it on the head – they have good potential for converting, and the faces are not bad. Except Jewel star. Even her own mother…

  • Oh, Poe…you have a case of spambots! What's your wife going to say!?! 😉

  • I didn't expect to care a great deal for these gals, either…but they have grown on me. And honestly, are they any worse than cyborg elephantmen? Or cyborg cameramen? Or…well, needless to say, I could go on a while. I am convinced all they really need is a good coat of paint (and for Tallstar's connectors to be somehow tightened up).

  • "mega-crotch" sounds like the most terrifying Godzilla villain ever. Or, the best band name ever.

  • Personally I went through the five stages of grief… denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. They're not as horrific as people make them out to be. They are far from perfect but so is this line so I'll just roll with it. IF this gets me one step further to Ram Man Extendar or Gwildor, then so be it.

  • That's the nature of giving a big ol company your credit card- you agreed to sign up for the sub, with many of the products sight unseen. You're giving Matty free reign to do whatever they want, and are forcing yourself to buy everything they put out. I don't think it's fair either, these should have been a lot cheaper, but "I was forced to buy these" excuse is kind of rough. You can *choose* not to join the sub, and *choose* which figures you get (like me) and then you will feel a lot better- about MOTUC, about your collection, about life, love, pursuit of happiness, etc.

    I by no means like these figures, and really dislike the vocal minority who loves them, their attitude is pretty bad over there orging it up. But in their defense, people do say horrible things to them over and over again. I think everyone should get a chance to own the figures they've wanted.

    In one respect, think about the following few months before and after Star Sisters, and how much awesome that is, of course scheduled this way on purpose to alleviate hate on the Sisters: Demo-Man, Shadow Weaver, Sorceress, Fisto, Stinkor- and then the next few months later- Frosta and Spikor. I think Mattel (and the apologists) do a lot of harm to collectors, especially after the last six months of lies and problems (why bother listing them too many/too much time) but on the other hand, in 2012, subscribers are getting six of the most requested figures in MOTU history.

  • That's the nature of giving a big ol company your credit card- you agreed to sign up for the sub, with many of the products sight unseen. You're giving Matty free reign to do whatever they want, and are forcing yourself to buy everything they put out. I don't think it's fair either, these should have been a lot cheaper, but "I was forced to buy these" excuse is kind of rough. You can *choose* not to join the sub, and *choose* which figures you get (like me) and then you will feel a lot better- about MOTUC, about your collection, about life, love, pursuit of happiness, etc.

  • In all fairness, Mattel did reveal these figures before the subscription went on sale. Nobody was buying them blindly. Were they a good choice? I'll let the eBay prices speak to that. You can't sell this set for any more than $40 and they cost about $70+ with shipping as part of the subscription.

    The Star Sisters are far too obscure and unwanted by many. Certainly He-Ro, Vikor, and Demo-Man were obscure characters also, but those figures were excellent and they fit into the vintage MOTU theme much better.

    The reality is that POP is not nearly as popular as vintage MOTU and Mattel needs to tread carefully when selecting characters from that theme. Just look at the He-man.org fan poll where it was split right down the middle – 40% were looking forward to the Star Sisters, 40% were not, and 20% were indifferent. That's not much support for a $60 3-pack that many people purchased just to get a Shadow Weaver sub exclusive figure.

    • I suspect the Star Sisters will prove to be the first and last sop of this kind to POP fans. Mattel squeaked this one by, but the slow sales and terrible aftermarket value will ensure we don't get something like this again. Moving forward I'd expect the sort of POP figures we'll see to be main characters and Horde members like Octavia. And probably Sea Hawk.

      • I'd love to see the Horde trooper – I was hopeful it would be the army builder this year, but must admit the snakemen look very nice… Like a fair number of people, I imagine, the temptation not to bother with next years sub is very high. But I can't wait for Shadow Weaver – the secondary price might be high, but she is straight out of that packaging as soon as she turns up!

        Maybe I'll give her Jewelstar's head on a spike….

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