Mattel’s April Masters of the Universe Classics figure is Snake Face, the Medusa-esque lieutenant of King Hsss! If you weren’t a subscriber and didn’t want to risk Matty’s awful hassle-filled site, this is the time when you’d be deciding if you want him.
As one of the Snake Men, Snake Face is a serpentine monster (gee, ya think?), though he stands out because of his surprisingly humanoid features. Other Snake Men could be giant cobras or rattlesnakes or purple frogs (just what is Tung Lashor, anyway?), Snake Face is clearly based on the Greek Medusa, even though the original Gorgon was a girl. Speaking of such, Snake Face does look kind of good next to the old McFarlane Curse of the Spawn Medusa. And yes, both were sculpted by the Four Horsemen… sort of. Snake Face is all 4H, and Medusa was rough-sculpted by Eric Treadaway, though her sculpt was finished by another McFarlane employee You can see some of the 4H’s work in Medusa, though, especially when you notice that she and Snake Face have similar scale patterns.
Snake Face has a pretty decent gimmick – when Snake Face’s Face Snakes come out, he can turn people to stone (like Medusa). The original figure sacrificed some articulation for it, but the mechanism was great. In He-Man lore, the stone gaze is powerful enough to make him into King Hsss’ nuclear option, which his new bio reflects by turning him into Hsss’s right-hand man.
Packaging: Snake Face is packaged just like everybody else… but you know, maybe a reader or two hasn’t seen these guys before, so here you go: Masters of the Universe Classics packaging is like a big cardboard nesting doll. You’ve got your standard USPS mailer, and then a plain white box with the figure’s name, and then a blister pack designed to fool you into thinking that these toys are sold in stores. Seriously, they’ve got peg hooks and pictures of other figures in the line, which is funny because you can’t buy them from Matty anymore! Snake Face’s package looks fine (heh heh heh), and he’s packaged with his snakes-out face. There’s enough clearance between the snakes and the bubble that they shouldn’t be damaged, though.
Sculpt & Paint: It’s amazing how well MOTUC figures recycle old parts and make original characters from them. Snake Face actually doesn’t have much reuse – just Skeletor’s legs and feet, and Whiplash’s scaly torso. He has new arms with scales, fins, and snakes wrapped around his wrists, a new, scaly loincloth (chain mail?), and of course a new head. I personally would have preferred if they used WHiplash’s thighs, which have ridges like Snake face’s shoulders, but this way is closer to the vintage figure.
His face is detailed and expressive, brimming with creepy malice in forms. Snake Face’s big helmet hides whatever snake hair he has (maybe he’s bald. male D&D Medusae are bald), and has a nice little detail of its own – his little green “ponytail” is actually the tails of the green snakes woven into his helmet! Little touches like this are what make these toys better than mere ’80s homages.
Apparently they had some trouble keep Snake Face’s armor thin and sleek enough to work, but thick enough to fit his action feature. As it is, it’s standard for MOTUC armor – not bad, but just a little thick, and he can’t hold his arms down flat against his sides…’course, neither can Draego-Man, or Fang-Man, or Stinkor, or Horde Prime, or just about anybody else with a full breastplate. The details are cood, and it sits nicely over his shoulders.
His Snaked-out face expands on the vintage figure’s action feature – instead of tiny red pegs, these are huge snakes streaming out of his face, ready to bite! They are made of flexible rubber, which causes me to say: THANK YOU, MATTEL.
Seriously, NECA usually outdoes Mattel on everything, but they had the Tracker Predator, whose mask-tusks broke more often than not, and rarely lasted longer than that. Mine has snapped three times, because they’re brittle plastic. Mattel has apparently learned from another company’s mistakes, because Snake Face’s Face Snakes are soft rubber, and can even survive getting stomped on by a very naughty kitty! I give Mattel a hard time when they screw up (which is often), but this time they really hit it out of the park.
As far as his paint goes, Snake face is mostly cool grays, greens, and shades of purple, with some yellow and red for his eyes and the face snakes. His arms and torso are gray-or-lavender, with a mild green wash. The colors are distinct, bring out all the details of the sculpt, and help him stand out on the shelf while still clearly belonging with the Snake Men. The only thing this figure really lacks would be some paint apps on those red face snakes, but would you really trust Mattel to paint on that small a surface?
Articulation: Snake Face’s has the MOTUC standard – swivel/ball-jointed shoulders, pegged elbows, swivel wrists, ab crunch, rotating waist, ball-jointed head, ball-jointed hips, pegged knees, swivel shins, and “rocker” ankles and feet. Unfortunately, his armor restricts his arms a little bit, but that’s typical – way too many figures in this line run into the Arnold Schwarzenegger problem. Arnie actually had to lose some muscle mass to film Conan the Barbarian because his arms and pecs were too thick to wield a sword properly, and that’s Snake Face’s problem. He’ll always be outclassed by his shirtless brethren, though he’ll fit right in with Mekaneck, Castle Grayskullman, Battle Armor He-Man…
Accessories: Snake Face is pretty well decked-out for this line, with two heads, spare snakes for his action feature, removable panels on his armor, a big snake staff, and a shield designed to look like his vintage accessory.
The vintage figure had two panels on his breastplate which were hinged to swing down and allow his chest-snakes to come out. This figure has two removable panels, which hide sockets for his spare snakes to plug into. The panels blend in so well that some reviewers didn’t know that they could be removed! I have to agree that Mattel should have included some instructions, because you don’t usually tear yor toys apart to make them work. I’ve found that you don’t have to remove the panels completely – Personally, I dislodge them from their snake-holes and swivel them out of the way so that they can stay on after I’ve plugged in his torso snakes. This way, there aren’t any bare patches on the armor, and it looks natural that way.
Snake Face’s staff is the same half-a-Caduceus that comes with Every Snake Man. It was cool when King Hsss had one, but now it’s just generic. You know, since Snake Face is a medusa monster, I kind of wonder what he could be armed with. You usually see Medusa armed with a bow and arrows so she can shoot people who aren’t looking at her face, but what about something like a sledgehammer? Turn somebody to stone, then smash the statue, and see if they can turn their friends back! The Snake Staff could conceivably work like this, since it looks big and heavy.
Snake Face’s shield is exactly like the one that came with the vintage toy. It’s a nice design, but this one is small, looks cheap, and is hard to snap onto his wrist without scraping his green wrist-snakes. I would have appreciated it more if the shield were larger or a more ornate, like on the 200X staction figure, but this does match the vintage toy.
Quality Control: Surprisingly, nothing comes to mind – the rubber snakes can withstand abuse, all of his joints seem pretty solid, and the only thing I can think of is being careful not to scrape his wrist with that shield. Kudos to Mattel for proving that they can make sturdy, quality toys.
Oh yeah, and the price is horrible. Hurtful. Painful. But forget it, Poe, it’s Mattel.
Overall: Snake Face is one of the most “fun” MOTUC figures outside of the main core cast. He’s got a good gimmick, a nice approximation of his old action feature, and he’s just creepy and cool all around. Snake Face is one of the best Masters of the Universe Classics figures I’ve played with, up there with Draego-Man, Mer-Man, and Castle Grayskullman! He’s creepy and menacing, has a fun action feature, and really stands out on the shelf. He’s durable without any QC problems, too! And you just know that he and the McFarlane Medusa have a bright future head of them, but only if Snake face learns to deal with his fear of commitment Maybe Medusa shouldn’t nag him so much about finding a “real” job, but he needs to learn to compromise, you know?. They could always go for marriage counseling, and… What’s that? Am I obsessed with this? Well, that’s for the courts to decide!