Wikipedia has a page for “Reptilians,” which states, “The idea of reptilians on Earth was popularized by David Icke, a conspiracy theorist who says shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining political power to manipulate our societies.” I love the idea that there are people who think half-human half-lizards are running the world.*
Reptile-men have a long history in folklore and fiction. Some people may think the Reptilian Conspiracy Theory stems from the 1980s television series V, but the idea is a lot older than that. My personal favorite appearance of reptile-men comes from Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian. Conan had a fictional predecessor, Kull (whom I like more than Conan, actually). In the 1929 story “The Shadow Kingdom,” one of my favorite heroic fantasy stories, King Kull battles a conspiracy of Serpent Men who have infiltrated his court and are masquerading as humans. Killing them, of course, reveals their ophidian nature.
Marvel produced a Kull comic in the early 1970s, and one issue adapted “The Shadow Kingdom.” And then of course, Conan the Barbarian featured a snake cult led by Thulsa Doom, who turned into a snake (the film borrowed as much from Howard’s Kull as his Conan stories). If anything influenced the creation of Masters of the Universe’s Snake Men, I suspect it’s their use in Howard’s stories and their derivative works.
The Snake Men showed up pretty late in the original Masters of the Universe run; unlike Skeletor’s warriors or the Evil Horde, the Snake Men never appeared in a cartoon show (well, Kobra Khan, Rattlor and Tung Lashor did, but not as official “Snake Men”). Their only development in those days came through the minicomics.
The Millennium cartoon show spent a lot more time and energy on the Snake Men, going so far as to rename the series Masters of the Universe vs. the Snake Men. I seem to recall this emphasis on the Snake Men was a mandate by Mattel, who produced a huge number of Snake Men-branded MOTU toys in the second year of the toy line.
In Masters of the Universe Classics, the Snake Men have received about as much attention as any other faction. We’ve already had Kobra Khan and King Hssss (and Rattlor, whom I haven’t reviewed yet), and now there’s the subject of this review: the Snake Men 2-pack.
This the second “Army Builder” pack (the first was the Eternian Palace Guards). I don’t believe they’re based on any pre-existing character designs; that said, there were a lot of random Snake Men in the Millennium cartoon so it’s possible the Four Horsemen used some sort of reference. The figures are put together from a variety of existing parts, though it’s worth noting that the mustard-colored figure, who shares most of his body with Rattlor, actually came out before Rattlor did (though who knows which was sculpted first).
Hang on, these guys need names or else I’ll have to keep saying “the yellow one” and “the orange one.” In the tradition of General Rattlor, the brighter yellow one will now be known as Lieutenant Simpson; the other will be Colonel Mustard.
Col. Mustard has a fantastic sculpt with excellent detailing. It’s one of the best sculpts we’ve seen in the line and manages to be evocative of a snake even while it’s arguably more alligator-like in its ridges. Lt. Simpson is smoother, and we’ve seen most of his parts before (except for the head), but again, he comes out looking great. I prefer his armor to that of Col. Mustard, as I find it more interesting with its asymmetrical design.
Lt. Simpson is molded entirely in yellow. He looks sharp, while Col. Mustard seems to be slathered in glossy mustard-yellow paint. It’s not really a problem, in my opinion, but it does look painted. Lt. Simpson has some very nice paint work on his chest and neck as well; it’s lighter than the rest of his body, like the underside of a snake. The only real problem with either figure’s paint is that the heads don’t quite match the bodies, particularly since the bodies are glossy while the heads have a matte surface. Again, though, it’s a minor issue.
Both figures have standard MOTUC articulation, including fully functional rocker ankles.
The figures come with four unique weapons: a mace, a short sword, a spear, and a shield. All have an appropriately snake-like aesthetic. Even better, they all have multiple paint applications, which is very much appreciated.
By swapping the heads and armor, you can easily make four unique Snake Men from these sets, if you chose to buy two; even six if you use two without armor, and more if you use armor from the Weapons Packs. With great sculpts, great accessories, and interchangeable heads, the Snake Men are some of the best figures of the 2012 subscription.
* If we assume there are indeed reptoids that have infiltrated the highest levels of government and industry, and we also assume that some are better at hiding their reptilian appearance than others, here are my top three candidates for reptile people: Larry King, Michael Douglas, and Pat Riley.