This review was sponsored by friend, editor and webmaster Poe Ghostal, who sent me a toilet and a dumpster, oddly fitting items for the review subject.
Batros is one of the worst, most ridiculous and most bewildering characters in Masters of the Universe, a place where bewilderment and ridiculousness flourishes. So it’s fitting he’s got one of the worst, most bewildering action figures in Masters of the Universe Classics – but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
To prep for this review, I watched the specific Filmation episode from which the action figure originates, “The Great Books Mystery.” In the episode Batros (a character who exhibits no bat-like traits whatsoever) decides to take over Eternia by stealing all of its books. A winning plan if there ever was one! Why swiping all of the books would immediately plunge Eternia into ruin and force the kingdom to make Batros ruler goes unexplained. I don’t know, it seemed to me like no one would have even noticed if Orko hadn’t gone looking for his book on unicorns.
Batros apparently suffers from numerous psychological issues, including Dissociative Personality Disorder (multiple personalities for all you non-Psych folk), because he frequently stops to congratulate himself on his plan. Skeletor is equally admiring – despite the fact that no one understands how Batros’s plan is actually supposed to work. Regardless, Skull-head sends his villains to recommend to Batros that they join forces. Apparently this means “attacking” Batros, and it all ends in tears as Batros fights them using bat-magic while congratulating himself on a job well done. Sadly, his diabolical plan falls apart when He-Man throws him to the other side of the planet, ending his book-stealing, empire-destroying ways (until he presumably flies back, since he can bat-wings and can fly, right?). As our heroes rejoice, Orko is finally able to give Prince Adam a book on unicorns for his birthday.
It’s hard to say for sure, but I think this is the single worst episode of what is, in my opinion, a generally awful series. Rarely does the cartoon draw attention to its blatant inadequacies, such as having the characters comment on how little sense anything makes. And okay, I understand the “books are magical and take us to new places and you should all read!” moral, but in what way is the central conflict resolved by throwing the bad guy to the other side of the planet?
The design of Batros, while interesting, has nothing to do with his character or abilities. You could substitute him with any other design and it’d make just as much sense. He has nothing at all to do with bats. Or being a bat. Do most bat species steal literature? No. no they don’t. By the time it’s revealed the he has magic powers, the general sentiment of the writers seems to me “screw it, why not?” He proceeds to use these powers not on He-Man, where they might be vaguely effective, but on the ground He-Man is standing on. It might behoove Batros to consider he may not be the flawless strategist he thinks he is.
Anyway, so it’s the design that’s the biggest draw for this figure, the third entry in the Club Filmation sub-line of MOTUC. Numerous people told me they thought the design of Batros was cool. Before I saw the figure in person I might have agreed with them. But, with the figure in hand I can say this is among the worst in the MOTUC line.
Batros looks ridiculous. He’s a big purple bat guy. Okay, that in itself isn’t reason enough to call him ridiculous (on a side note, does anyone else think marketing missed a major opportunity with the new Riddick film? “This year, things are about to get Riddick-ulous!”), but everything about him makes no sense. Let’s start with the head. He’s wearing this blue hood thing that hovers slightly above his body, which is stupid. It’s the un-sculptable design of the figure that makes the hood not quite connect with his body, which I feel could have been avoided, and it includes big stupid furry ears that make him look like a Furby gone wrong. Since his face peers out from the robe, it seems like his ears must be underneath the robe, so whoever created the robe for him also stitched the exact same shape of his ears into it? What?!
Moving down to the body, he has the same kind of harness over his chest that a lot of the Masters do, but in this case it looks more creepily BDSM thanks to the dark leather over the buff purple body. This combines with the leather studded bracelets on his wrists to make the usually family-friendly loincloth seem considerably more sinister. No one is denying the homo-erotic undertones in MOTU, and I have no problem with it, but this guy looks like he stepped out of a gay club at 3am on a Saturday night. On my shelf of re-imagined children’s toys that’s a bit odd.
He’s got the Ugg boots to go with the outfit – complete with studded leather strap! And the leather harness features a red Horde-like logo which has nothing to do with the Evil Horde because – screw it, I stopped trying to make sense of this paragraphs ago.
Because he’s a bat (I guess? I don’t know, whatever) he’s got wings molded onto his upper arms. These are nicely sculpted and painted, black on the outside and red on the inside, matching his not-Horde logo, but are unfortunately sculpted in such a way that they look ridiculous if you try to move them outside of a couple of specific poses. It’s like the Sorceress, but worse. Much worse. You do it wrong, and it looks like they’re coming out of thin air, or his butt. That’s weird, but, er, maybe oddly fitting.
The paint and articulation are both fine, exactly what one expects from MOTUC. Actually, trying to pose him in ways that weren’t Riddick-ulous I noticed there’s something really frustrating about the figure’s fists. Batros’s hands are always in a fist, which doesn’t look good in the kinds of “flying” poses you want for him. One of them even has his index finger pre-posed as if on a gun’s trigger, which is completely baffling – bats don’t use firearms!
He really needs open hands, or alternatively, a point of articulation here so you can get both, or even interchangeable hands. This is something I wish MOTUC seriously considered, especially for characters who are magic users like Batros: having pre-posed hands limits their ability to hold accessories, but having them closed makes them look ridiculous if they have nothing to hold and don’t tend to fist-fight.
To make up for the obscenely high price of a MOTUC figure, Batros comes loaded with accessories. Ha! Just kidding. He has a goofy black and red spiked club, a repaint of Spikor’s mace. It’s very bat-like, you see. There’s no good way for him to hold it without making his wings look dumb, so it’s a win on every front. Not sure why he didn’t come with a stack of books instead. The mace isn’t a terrible accessory, it’s just random and unrelated to the character.
Batros is not very good, neither the character nor the action figure. The problem is that the toy’s design is simply not up to scratch. I feel a lot of the MOTUC action figures have elevated the weaker characters, whereas Batros has major flaws even for a MOTUC version of a silly Filmation one-shot villain and is not worth the expense to own. He’s not fun to play with and I’ve struggled to find even one pose I like. I’ve been hesitant to move him into my MOTUC display, and that’s never a good sign.
Supposedly there was heavy fan demand for this character as a toy, although I can’t imagine a sane person who saw “The Great Books Mystery” and thought, “Gosh, that was a great character, I really want a toy of him!” Imagine what that person is like, what their personality is like. Where I work, there’s this big scary balding guy who can’t control the volume of his voice and isn’t too bright. He calls up companies and yells at them for not fixing his dishwasher, claiming they hire the homeless and break his cabinets and that sort of thing. I think he’d really like Batros.