The following is a guest review. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Poe Ghostal or the staff of PoeGhostal.com.
By the time I began to collect as an adult, the 1990 He-Man toy line was largely forgotten, and only really remembered by the truly hardcore. I’ve owned tons of He-Man toys, figures, books, stamps, comics, Mexican bootlegs, rubber figures, even party napkins- but never owned a single figure from the New Adventures of He-Man.
While I am a huge sci-fi fan, for some reason with Masters of the Universe, I am always more interested in the fantasy figures, more than the science fiction character aspects of the series. I love the mix of science and fantasy in MOTU, of course; it’s the juxtaposition of these two somewhat disparate genres that make MOTU unique, its presentation of a post-apocalyptic future, a savage-dominated planet with its technological past as mysterious as the magic it coexists with.
I was first introduced to He-Man through the original minicomics that came with the 80’s figures, a short while before the TV show hit the airwaves, and these comics tended to treat science and technology as a very rare thing to find in the MOTU universe. It was much more like a Golden Books version of the 1970s fantasy movement than anything else aimed at small children at the time, and the incredibly detailed Alfredo Alcala art captured my imagination at a very young age, and never let go.
So while I love science fiction, I just have little interest in a mostly-science-fiction New Adventures of He-Man series or toy line, despite the cartoon’s cool Japanese Anime art style. So combine my disinterest in the show with my disinterest in He-Man variations, and that’s not a lot of excitement for this version of the character. So when the new Galactic Protector He-Man figure from the Masters of the Universe Classics line arrived on my doorstep in July 2013, I was nowhere near as interested in him as I was other figures. But it looked pretty cool from the promotional photos, and I’ll give any unloved toy a chance.
Let’s take a look at New Adventures He-Man (or NA He-Man for short), which is a highly anticipated figure for NA fans, and the main character behind the Galactic Protectors faction (Classics code for “New Adventures Good Guys.”)
Packaging: The figure comes packed in the traditional green-cobblestone-wall-style package, again in the white mailer as many figures before him. As on many 2013 figures, the bubble is made of a thin plastic that is easily damaged by the figure’s feet. My NA He-Man arrived in perfect, dead-mint condition, but your mileage may vary.
Design & Sculpt: The figure shares many parts with the previously released Bow, and since there was quite a bit of forethought as to part sharing, the boots and wrist guards closely match the original figure. He seems more influenced by the vintage 1990 toy than by the cartoon. The new head, harness, and hip-covering/belt piece are quite well done, identifiable as being from New Adventures, but clearly in the Classics style. He also includes an extra armored head and vest.
The face is clearly He-Man. It looks like it is gently inspired by the original 1982 figure in expression and mood, but now with the cartoon ponytail haircut. This makes him feel much more part of the original ’82 line, rather than the leaner 90’s line. The chest harness also closely matches the original figure, but now with an added red iron cross to further tie him into the traditional mythos. The waist piece looks great, but the codpiece in the front pops up slightly in some poses. This seeming minor nitpick got worse the more I handled him. Maybe it is just my example, but this piece popping up makes him look like he’s wearing a diaper or underwear over his blue pants, instead of it being one pair of blue tights as obviously intended.
The armor vest is again quite close to the original figure source material, but now with an incredible amount of dials, folds, wires, and buttons. It has a really cool space football player vibe to its design. There’s some really cool Apollo 13-style space padding on his abs, and it’s also featured Man-At-Arms-style on the cutoff sleeve edges, to protect He-Man from space-chafe I suppose. There are also three red squares just like on He-Man’s original power harness on the top left shoulder. The helmet has a great early-1990s-sci-fi-movie style to it, with an awesome vent port on the back. The sculpting is impressive as usual, and there was obvious effort to further incorporate this version of He-Man into the Classics line.
Plastic & Paint: The paint work is a step up from some of the other figures in 2013. The gold is overall well done and not sloppy. His legs have nice shading and the details on the bracers and armor are well done and clean. There’s a stray gold mark on He-Man’s butt that is obvious and a little annoying. It’s not such a big deal for me, as it’ll never be seen on display, but it has to be factored into the final score. It’s still great work overall though. There are a lot of little details, like the clock, or the buttons on the armor vest, that are clean and well done. This figure is a great example of how good, simple, clean paint work can really add a lot to a figure.
Articulation: The figure has all of the standard MOTU Classics articulation with one critical addition: ball-jointed wrists, just like Bow. This much-requested additional point of articulation lets the figure achieve the classic sword to the sky, “I have the power!” pose. But the hands are slightly too big, and are a little softer than normal, so he holds his sword loosely. This kind of kills the purpose of the ball-jointed wrists to me. If He-Man can’t grip his sword tightly and hold it to the sky, why bother holding it to the sky to begin with? Something more like the standard hands would have been much more welcome here. I’d love to see ball wrists on Classics figures, but not done like this. The big hands and floppy grips just aren’t worth it.
Accessories: NA He-Man includes a bunch of accessories: an extra helmeted head, an armored vest, a translucent yellow Power Sword, and a translucent yellow shield. Having the option of the bandoleer or the armor, and the helmeted and un-helmeted heads adds quite a bit to the package. The weapons are nice quality, stiff but not brittle like many other translucent parts in other lines. Also of note, the annoying white “China” markings that have messed with the aesthetics of other weapons are happily nowhere to be found.
Quality Control: As mentioned before, NA He-Man has a little bit of gold paint slop on his butt, and his codpiece pops up ever so slight enough to look a little weird in some poses. Both are a little bit ugly, and it’s a shame to see it on a figure that cost me $37 with shipping. I took off half a raven (star) in this category for these issues, it’s a minor nit to me, but your mileage may vary. This may be a bigger issue for some, especially if you’re a perfectionist, or you are in Europe and paying all the increased shipping and customs fees.
Overall: Galactic Protector He-Man has been one of the more demanded New Adventures characters for several years, and his Classics figure won’t disappoint hardcore fans. On mine there was a little bit of slop on his butt. The over-sized hands can’t hold weapons tightly and this might bother some collectors – if the sword falls out of his hand at the slightest bump, then why bother doing the ball wrists at all? It would be great if they worked on this a little bit more and retired these hands permanently, and made something a bit closer to the standard weapon-holding hands.
These issues are really minor when you look at the overall package though. The addition of the vest and helmeted head adds quite a bit of value to the package, and the new additions made by the Four Horsemen, like the cross on the harness, make NA He-Man feel more like part of the He-Man mythos than he once was. He truly is a future chunky version of our favorite hero, rather than the skinny orange-haired stranger from the original 1990 line. An excellent figure with some minor issues, Galactic Protector He-Man represents the New Adventures series version of the character well, and may change many people’s minds about future releases in this faction.