Since first reading about the idea (I can’t remember where) that the Masters of the Universe premise was similar to Jack Kirby’s New Gods, it’s become fun to try and equate various characters. Darkseid is Skeletor, of course; Kalibak is Beast Man; He-Man is Orion; Teela is Big Barda; the Sorceress and King Randor share the duties of the Highfather; Stratos is Lightray; Man-at-Arms is Himon; Granny Goodness is Evil-lyn, and so on. Obviously some of the comparisons work better than others, but none are quite so similar as Zodac and Metron. Both were depicted as cosmic observers who followed the battles between good and evil and occasionally interceded (usually on the side of good). And they both were fond of flying space chairs.
While his original packaging described him as an “Evil Cosmic Enforcer,” most of the 1980s MOTU fiction established Zodac as a “neutral” character, someone who observed the battle between good and evil from a cosmic perspective. What exactly Zodac’s role in these events was a lot less clear. There seem to be a few different types of “neutral cosmic observers.” There’s Metron himself, who seems content to observe from afar but occasionally interferes–usually by helping the good guys. Then there’s Marvel’s Watcher, who’s actually sworn not to interfere but does so anyway, all the time, always by helping the good guys.
Zodac’s a bit more complicated, since he is usually described as a Cosmic Enforcer, suggesting it’s his job to make sure good and evil–or perhaps more logically, order and chaos–are in balance, helping whichever side seems to be losing. By this logic, Zodac should spend a lot of time helping Skeletor, but I can’t think of a specific instance in which he interceded on Skeletor’s behalf. At most, he might not help He-Man as much as he could have. And since Zodac often delivered the moral at the end of cartoon episodes, he was more or less understood by kids to be a “good” character. Personally, however, I would have liked to see a MOTU story in which it turns out the mastermind behind a plot against He-Man was actually Zodac, not Skeletor…a kind of He-Man R.I.P.
The biographies on the packaging of Masters of the Universe Classics seem to be trying to meld the more popular and interesting elements of the various MOTU mythologies, and Zodac is no exception.
I do like the way the bio gives Zodac a bit more of a background and explains why a “neutral” cosmic enforcer gets drawn back to Eternia so much. I’m not as fond of the idea that the Cosmic Enforcers are selected and supervised by the Overlords of Trolla (Orko’s race)–seems an awful lot like a certain group of emerald lamp enthusiasts and their short, blue-skinned bosses. However, this does seem to indicate it’s likely we’ll get an Orko down the line.
Packaging: Since I’m not a mint-on-card collector, I often have a hard time stopping and thinking about how well a figure is presented to someone who is. MisterBigBo recently pointed out to me that the current MOTUC packaging partly blocks the character’s face.
While I love the aesthetic design of the packaging–the old-school artwork, the bios, the cross-sell, and the lightning bolts on the blister–I have to admit that if I were a MOC collector, the fact that the face is obscured would be maddening. Mattel should definitely consider shrinking the MOTUC logo so as to make the face visible.
Sculpt: For a line with as many bizarre character designs as MOTU, Zodac has always looked a bit out-of-place. Even when I was a kid, something about the character struck me as haphazard–as if he’d been mostly tossed together from existing MOTU parts and given a new head, rather than being designed as a character from the ground up. He has the hairy Beast Man torso and the clawed hands, feet, greaves, and spiked forearms of Skeletor/Mer-Man. His only unique parts are his head, armor, and laser pistol.
I like what the Four Horsemen did with the armor, jazzing it up a bit and adding some “bullets” along the lower strap and a kind of futuristic backpack. But I find the head sculpt a little disappointing. It’s rather soft, especially around the exposed mouth, and it lacks a certain stylistic punch. I know it’s not really any more or less faithful to the original design than, say, He-Man or Stratos, but I can’t help but wish there had just been a little something more here–perhaps some more Kirby-esque detail on the helmet.
Plastic & Paint: Zodac is molded primarily in flesh color. There’s some very subtle wash work to bring out the musculature, and while it’s so light you almost can’t see it, there seems to be a very light reddish-orange was on his torso (perhaps Zodac is a redhead under that helmet?).
The gray on the boots, with the darker gray trim, is nicely applied, and the paint apps on the head are clean, though there’s a spot at the top of his head where the red paint has rubbed off a bit, revealing gray underneath (probably due to the packaging, as usual). The gray of the loincloth looks good and the lighter drybrush is sharp. However, the white belt is messy, with some significant slop and spotting, and this seems to be a common complaint. While I’m not the type to rant and say this sort of thing is worth quitting the line for, for $20 plus $10 shipping, it’s definitely fair to call Mattel on this. I appreciate the effort to make the belt more interesting (rather than just making it plain white), but maybe something like casting it in a metallic light gray would have worked better.
Articulation: Zodac has a ball jointed head with a decent range of movement, slightly limited by the nature of the helmet. He also has peg-and-post ball jointed shoulders and hips, swivels at the biceps, wrists, waist, and top of the calves, and hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles and abdomen. Like the other claw-toed characters, he also has excellent “rocker” (side-to-side) range on his ankles, allowing for good wide stances. While there’s nothing new here, the range and tightness of all the joints are as good as we’ve seen in this line.
Accessories: Last month’s figure, Mer-Man, came with two heads, a sword, and a trident. Next month’s figure, Hordak, comes with a staff, a crossbow, and a bat. July’s Man-at-Arms comes with a dagger, a blaster, a mace, and the 2002 Power Sword.
Zodac? He’s got his laser pistol. It’s almost identical to the blaster of the original figure. It does have a nice metallic luster and some minor paint apps, but it’s still just a pistol. Call me crazy, but I think it would have made more sense for Zodac to come with the 2002 Power Sword…
Quality Control: Aside from the aforementioned paint issue on the belt and the rub on his head, no major issues.
I’ll be honest–my own fondness for Zodac’s character and design is giving him an extra half-raven he probably doesn’t quite deserve. He’s a thoroughly average figure in terms of design, heavy on the re-use, and he only comes with one small accessory. I’m not surprised he took quite a bit longer to sell out than his predecessors, and frankly, I can’t really imagine another character who could be this unpopular (at least until we get to the lesser She-Ra characters).
All that said, I’m happy to have Zodac in my MOTUC line-up.