Thunder Punch He-Man is yet another one of those He-Man guises that I never had as a kid; I never even knew anyone who had one. It was a gimmicky figure, given its use of caps to create a “super punch” sound, and action features like that never appealed to me as a kid. The figure also came along a little later in the line in 1985, by which time young Poe was obsessed with Transformers.
The vintage TP He-Man was a bit unusual because he featured some brand-new sculpting, specifically his chest and arms, as well as (if I recall correctly) a solid head rather than a rubbery hollow one. He also lacked the traditional He-Man uber-tan, for whatever reason. Mattel also sold replacement caps for the figure separately.
The Thunder Punch outfit made an appearance in the minicomic “The Treachery of Modulok.” At one point, Hordak has erected an impenetrable barrier of magical energy around himself. It’s a thorny problem, best solved by a counter-spell or a psychological ruse or–
…well, there you go. Cunning strategy, He-Man!
Childhood lessons like this are why I solve all my problems with punching. My co-workers find it off-putting at times, especially when they say something like “Can you re-send me the link for that survey?” and I respond by punching them in the face.
Design & Sculpt: Thunder Punch He-Man has exactly one new sculpted part: his right hand, which is a closed fist.
He also features the narrow Tri-Klops bracelets instead of the standard He-Man bracers, which is in keeping with the design of the vintage figure.
I’ll talk about his armor and backpack in the Accessories section.
Plastic & Paint: Here’s where this figure starts to differentiate itself. Like the vintage figure, the tops of the boots are white fur trim, rather than being the same brown as the rest of the boots. It’s something that probably should have been a feature on the very first He-Man figure back in 1982, as it makes more sense (for example), but was probably skipped for cost reasons; TP He-Man was the first time Mattel corrected it.
Also like the vintage figure, the bracelets are red. The benefits of red bracelets in aiding punching are well known to those in the punching community.
Probably the most controversial aspect of this figure is his pale skin. This was a design decision by the Four Horsemen and Mattel, and I agree with it. First off, it matches the vintage figure. Second, it does add some variation to all those versions of He-Man on the shelf. And finally, the bio even states that He-Man has been living in caves for a while, which arguably explains the pale skin. Personally, I really like the pale skin. It emphasizes how certain He-Man is that he will get his punches in before the other guy, therefore avoiding any easily-seen bruises.
Articulation: Thunder Punch He-Man has the standard MOTUC articulation: a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders and hips, swivels at the biceps, wrists, waist, top of the thighs and the top of his boots, and hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles and torso. None of it interferes with punching.
Accessories: The accessories are TP He-Man’s best features. They include:
- The armor & backpack
- A circular set of “caps”
- A translucent sword
- A chrome shield with a removable tray
- A translucent “thunder punch” effect
The backpack opens up on hinges so you can place the “caps” on the circular tray inside. Given that the caps won’t actually fire, this is another one of those odd cases where we get a feature that resembles the vintage version but is non-functional, like the dials on Optikk, Sy-Klone and Hurricane Hordak.
The shield is interesting. It’s chrome to match the vintage figure, and while I’m not really a fan of chrome in this line, it does make the accessory stand out. As with the original shield, the Power Sword can be stored in it.
The shield tray is molded in silver and pops right out, though its surface is rather scratched up. The red “caps” can be placed into the tray. The tray and the caps are a new feature not seen on the vintage figure’s accessory, and they’re a nice way to make use of the caps as a kind of symbol or design rather than having them sit unnoticed inside the backpack.
Then there’s the Power Sword and the “Thunder Punch” effect. Both are molded in translucent pale yellow, which matches the vintage figure’s sword. The punch effect is obviously the cooler of the two accessories, dragging a swirl behind it that represents either a kind of smooth force or perhaps it was originally sharper to represent lightning, but was smoothed over by the production process. I found it a bit tricky to fit the effect over TP He-Man’s hand, but once it’s on there it stays put.
It kind of looks like he’s punching with a glob of Vaseline on his hand.
Quality Control: My figure’s head had some paint scratched off the nose. Fortunately I’ve got two or three extra He-Man heads from various figures (like Prince Adam) that I can replace it with.
Overall: I ended up liking Thunder Punch He-Man much more than I expected. While he is yet another He-Man, his closed fist, paint variations, and accessories make him a fun and unique addition to the line.