Poe’s Review > Snake Man-At-Arms (Masters of the Universe Classics, Mattel)

Do you remember when Snake Man-At-Arms was first revealed at NYCC last year? He looked like this:

Snake Man-At-Arms

Basically the original Man-At-Arms except with a snake head. This was easily the most obvious rip-off the line had ever offered us. I still don’t know what the thought process was here – did Mattel really think they could get away with passing a figure with a new head and accessory as a bonus figure? It was wrong and every collector knew it.

Of course, every collector also so the really obvious opportunity here: make it into something of a Millennium-style Man-At-Arms that you could pop your extra MAA head onto. Rather surprisingly, that’s exactly what Mattel did.

Except for the snake head and the Serpent’s Ring accessory, there is no new tooling here. However, his thighs and forearms have been replaced with those of Trap Jaw, his biceps with Roboto‘s, and his shoulders with Man-E-Faces‘s. All of this gives Duncan a more technological look a la the Millennium era. His right boot is the standard moccasin, but his left side is a Skeletor greave with a Keldor foot. He also has the longer Hordak loincloth.

His armor also have some nice gold detailing that, again, emphasizes the technological look. By painting his left hand the same color as the armor, it makes it look more like a gauntlet than armor over a glove.

The snake head is definitely creepy. It definitely resembles Duncan’s snake-ified look in the cartoon episode “Second Skin,” though what impresses me is that it also resembled the toy version of Duncan’s head – you can see it in the cheekbones.

The best part, though, is you can now plop your classic Man-At-Arms head onto the body for the aforementioned Millennium MAA. The swapped body parts do a surprisingly good job making him look different from the regular version.

On the left you’ve got a young Duncan, the newly-appointed royal Man-At-Arms. No longer a simple Royal Guard, he now has the authority to discard the right half of his armor, which he’s always found so limiting to his movement in battle. He’s still learning his duties as he and Captain Randor, a man barely out of his teens, deal with reports of unrest in Eternia. Duncan spends what little spare time on his burgeoning interest in technological innovation.

On the right is Man-At-Arms in his prime, older, wiser, mentor to the young Adam, trusted right hand of King Randor. He’s been tinkering with his armor for years, adding to it here and there, making small improvements and adding some on-board electronics to the green bodysuit.

The accessories are his standard mace and the Serpent’s Ring, a Snake Man artifact that turns humans into Snake Men. The Ring isn’t the most exciting accessory, but at least it’s show-related. The mace, while looking better with the gold detailing and made from firmer plastic than last time around, is still a bit disappointing, if only because this would have been the perfect opportunity to give us a more technological Millennium-style mace. (We are getting Millennium MAA’s signature arm cannon, but only as part of an upcoming weapons pack.)

Snake Man-At-Arms went from a disaster in his original design to a mere missed opportunity. He is and remains the most obvious cheap repaint in the line, a plastic representation of Mattel’s efforts to save as much money as possible. While the swapped parts and added paint apps do a decent job of giving us a Millennium-style Man-At-Arms that’s still in the Classics style, until Battleground Evil-Lyn and Snake MAA most bonus figures had come with some decent new tooling. If he was going to have so little new tooling, Duncan should at least have come with the following:

  • Snake head
  • Mustachioed head with new helmet (maybe a gray mustache to signify age?)
  • Serpent’s Ring
  • Updated techno-mace
  • Arm cannon

All of that would have gone a long way to making this figure more palatable. Now, all that said, this figure still has a lot to recommend it. It’s a pretty good take on a Millennium Duncan, and I think I may use him as my standard Duncan in my display (especially once the arm cannon arrives). But I can’t deny the obvious corners that were cut here, so he earns a below-average score.

11000

Comments now closed (21)

  • looks like your dude has some "battle scars" there on his puss poe.

    i really liked this figure, but am disappointed that we couldn't get either the unhelmetted duncan head or the arm cannon to cost out… neither of those seem enormously expensive for a figure that is essentially a pretty kitbash. the return on investment for this fig had be MEGA.

    • Well, lucky for you, you get the cannon in the weapons pack and the head with Dekker.

      Still waiting for Matty to help us put together a good Filmation MAA.

      • Is that the Millennium Duncan head with Dekker? I thought maybe it was supposed to be a "young Dekker" head, but I didn't look that closely at it.

        • I not sure whether it's official, but I thought TG mentioned it (maybe in Pixel Dan's walk through?) and it also placed top of MAA's mace in the display at one point, so I think it's meant to be. But I'm no 200X expert.

        • TG mentioned using the same moustache on Dekker – they used a compluter to lift it and put it on the head – a bit like a wierd hair transplant

        • yes, dekker comes w/ young dekker and old dekker heads, no duncan head. the mustache is the same, because it doesn't at all seem weird for two growed ass men to cut their 'staches into matching do's. i suppose i could put the YD head on duncan, but then duncan won't be able to drive the attak trak w/out getting pulled over by the LAPD.

  • Great review although I'll point out both Goddess and Zodak are actually even lazier releases from a production standpoint. The only new tooling for either is a single weapon (her spear and his staff). At least Duncan here got a new head AND a new weapon.

  • Surely an unhelmeted Duncan with the 200X ponytail would have sold better than this.

  • Initially I never intended on getting SMAA because I was had absolutely no desire to have one for my collection. I have no attachment to the storyline change to MAA & as pointed out it was essentially a re-release with alternate head. Once the "techno" updates to the figure were done I was interested since the changes just "fit" MAA in my view, 200X inspired or not. I honestly didn't appreciate this figure until I had him in hand.

    The snake head looks great & the updated helmet was nice considering the "re-use complex" could've stepped in & given us the same helmet from before. The gold accents give the figure a regal touch that's suitable for the king's right hand man. The circuitry/ tech added sets his armor/look apart from the standard Palace Guards. But what I like most is that his colors are toned down & match well with the Wind Raider. It's pretty obvious when MAA & SMAA are side by side that MAA's armor is excessively orange.

    • I do not like that he wasn't given his arm cannon. At the very least he should've had the short sword & pistol to fill out the back of his armor. A second mustached head (with a touch of gray like Poe suggested) would've been great. They could've cheaped that out if necessary by tooling the helmet to pop off like Vykron's so we could swap the inner "head" between the snake head & MAA head. I like adding another artifact to go alongside past ones like the Ram Stone but it shouldn't have been one of the only two accessories he received.

      He has his pros and cons, but as a figure I am very happy that with some part-swapping I can have my preffered MAA for my collection.

  • while I think it's cool that mattel did change the figure to make it much cooler (and looking at the comparisons, it is) I am still happy a co-worker of mine wanted the figure so I didn't have to keep it and get my money back on it too… it's one of those things that make subscribing such a chore… I still don't know what to do with the Star Sisters, I am strongly considering making them of my (many) Toys for Tots contributions

  • Well the "200X" Mace is coming with Dekker. the young Dekker head looks more like Duncan than Dekker, so I might give it a slight repaint for SMAA… (assuming my SMAA decides to arrive sometime this year)

  • I'm in the "wasn't excited about it until I get it in hand" camp. He looked okay (after the changes) but wasn't really wowing me like some of the other figures have. But once I opened him up I really noticed the details and how well it all came together. Could they have added some more new tooling? Sure. But as a straight repaint figure this one, in my opinion, is one of the best.

  • Gotta say, I really like your little story regarding Duncan's timeline. Works well, & of course, it makes total sense.

  • I would love one year of new MOTU figures to be based on tooling cost. "$115 for TWO BAD? WTH!"

    Anyway, I have no issues with this figure in this state. Doing a line of this type means we get some minimal tooled figures. I commend the fans for calling Mattel out on how cheap their first option was, to give me a figure I am happier to display as my MAA.

    • Wish granted! Every year of MOTUC figure prices have been based on tooling (or, actually, design and manufacturing in their entirety) costs – it just happens to be far lower than you estimate. When folks bought that new He-Man figure back in 2009 or whatever, Mattel wasn't giving them away. See, Mattel is a business, not a charity. The entire cost of creating those figures was built into that $20 pricetag. How many do you suppose they sold? 15000? 25000? 25000 times $20 is half a million dollars, son. Also, don't forget that the basic body parts for He-Man have now been used many, many, many times, but absent the initial creation costs. We as consumers have paid for those fur-topped boots and plain human body parts at least a dozen times over at this point.

      • DA, the point I'm making is in regards to fans who complain about "cheap repaints".
        Because the fans still don't seem to understand that the tooling on a Two Bad (and bringing that figure to people for $20-$25) is only possible when you lump it together with figures like this in one year of shared tooling budget.

        Your example is flawed. When they made that body for King Greyskull, they weren't breaking even on just that figure. It took into account that more figures were going to be made.

        • No, King Grayskull was a one-off (and He-Man got new boots and undies, regardless!). The only plan when He-Man et al. were designed was for 8 figures total, based largely on that existing buck but not in its entirety for every figure. You better believe the price point at least paid for the tooling of those 8 releases – everything using that tooling since has been icing on the cake.

          Do all those shared/"paid-for" parts help direct funding to new endeavors? Sure! But don't doubt for a minute that there is profit in Every. Single. Figure. Mattel sells, regardless of how much *clutch the pearls!* "new tooling" it requires.

        • Yeah, it's possible.
          We don't have enough info, just examples.
          If you believe this: http://www.custompartnet.com/partcost.php?pid=329
          someone in the US tooled a phone clip and it cost almost 65K.
          They could have broke even on one figure, it could have taken nine releases – we will never know the real answer.

          If it was no big deal though, why would they ever leave out anything that we would complain about? *shrug