Review > Scareglow (Masters of the Universe Classics)

scareglow_artIt seems like every geek franchise has at least one mysterious, badass-looking character who gains a cult following despite having done hardly anything or had any characterization at all (at least at first). Star Wars’s Boba Fett is the classic example, though the franchise also produced Darth Maul, who had even less screen time. In the world of G.I. Joe there was originally Snake Eyes, but now he has more history than you can shake a stick at; fortunately, the likes of Mercenary Wraith and Agent Helix have filled that void. Meanwhile, Marvel Comics has gotten so much mileage out of this sort of character it’s become something of a joke (it began with Wolverine in the 1980s, followed by Cable in the ’90s and then a plethora of characters since).

But when it comes to toy lines, the reason an obscure character becomes so popular is often because they have so little background. Henry Jenkins, a media scholar and a professor at the University of Southern California, has made a living examining the social trends of what we’d call geeks. In his essay “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars?”, during a discussion of fan filmmaking, he notes

Fans, for example, note that the Boba Fett action figure, far more than the character’s small role in the trilogy, helped to make this character a favorite among digital filmmakers. The fans, as children, had fleshed out Boba Fett’s intentionally murky character, giving him (or her) a personality, motives, goals, and conflicts, which helped to inspire the plots of a number of the amateur movies.

In Masters of the Universe, the role of the mysterious-yet-badass character is filled by Scareglow. A late addition to MOTU as it lay dying in 1987, few fans ever owned him, having moved on to Transformers or G.I. Joe or some other fad by then. He was produced in smaller quantities than earlier MOTU figures, and so between that and the utter lack of characterization beyond a single minicomic appearance, Scareglow became somewhat legendary among MOTU fan circles.

There seems to be a contingent of fans out there who hold it against such characters that they’re popular, considering them to be cheap fanboy sops undeserving of the attention. To those fans I say: lighten up–and maybe think about using your damned imagination, for a change.

But I digress. In what was arguably a crime against fanity, Scareglow never received an updated figure in the 2002 MOTU line–hell, he never even got a “staction.” And so the Masters of the Universe Classics Scareglow arrives amidst much anticipation.


Packaging: Mattel has heard our requests and is now packaging the figures in non-dynamic poses, while keeping the logo high enough that MOC collectors can see the faces of the figures. For MOC display purposes, I think Scareglow is one of the best examples yet.

I wonder if the bio, which makes him a bounty hunter, was intended as a deliberate reference to his Boba Fett-like status in the MOTUniverse. I’m still not clear on what the deal is with his “reliquary,” but it’s one of the most imaginative accessories I’ve seen on a figure that wasn’t tied to a movie, comic or TV show.

Design & Sculpt: As I’ve mentioned before, I hoped we’d get a Scareglow with clear plastic skin over an internal glow-in-the-dark (GITD) skeleton, a la Blight from Hasbro’s Batman Beyond line. But I knew that was incredibly unlikely outside of an SDCC exclusive (and even then it would probably be too expensive to do). The articulation alone would have made it too complicated.

So I’m not too disappointed that what we get instead is an updated version of the original figure. We’ve seen most of this body before–in fact, everything except the head and cape is identical to Skeletor. The left hand, it should be noted, is the looser-gripped hand of the first Skeletor release, not the tighter grip seen on Zodac and next month’s Skeletor re-release; however, the looser grip works perfectly with the reliquary, so it’s not a problem unless you want to put a weapon in his left hand.

The newly-sculpted head features a grittier, more gaunt skull than Skeletor’s, with crueler features. Though the paint work doesn’t show it, there are several smaller cracks and fissures in the skull. More intricate paint work (like the prototype) would have brought them out nicely.

The cape also has some nice features, including stitch lines around the mantle and a frayed, holey edge at the bottom.

Plastic & Paint: Given his relative lack of new tooling, Scareglow relies heavily on the plastic and paint applications. As you know, he’s molded almost entirely in glow-in-the-dark plastic. The black detailing is intended to make it look like he’s a skeleton, in the same way that those black bodysuit Halloween costumes are supposed to. That particular effect doesn’t really work, but it does give Scareglow a kind of stark, two-tone appearance that is equally eye-catching.

The cape is molded in a translucent material and painted a deep purple, matching his boots and loincloth. The purple fades away near the bottom in an effect similar to Gentleman Ghost.

I have mixed feelings about the paint work on the head. On the one hand, I like the deep-set glowing red eyes and the black etching around the teeth. On the other hand, I wish they’d given him at least a very light wash to bring out some of the little details of the sculpt, as seen on the prototype. I suspect they skipped the wash so as not to mute the glow-in-the-dark effect.

Articulation: Scareglow features the usual MOTUC articulation: a ball jointed head, ball jointed shoulders and hips. hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles and abdomen, and swivels at the biceps, wrists, waist, upper thighs and the top of his boots.

The head movement is somewhat limited by the cape, and the chain holding the cape together tends to slide up over the jaw in certain position because the cape is actually longer than Scareglow’s body unless he’s standing straight up.

Accessories: From my research, I think Scareglow’s weapon most closely resembles a Lochaber axe, though one could argue it was a voulge or just a simple halberd. It’s not a scythe, despite that tool’s association with the Angel of Death, nor is it a staff like half the other MOTUC figures. The blade glows in the dark, while the shaft is molded in green. As usual, the weapon features more detail than the original version, including GITD spikes on the back and little knicks and scratches along the length of the haft.

More interesting is the “Grayskull reliquary.” It’s a black tube attached to a chain, at the end of which is a removable handcuff. The top of the reliquary is shaped like Castle Grayskull, and it can be popped off to reveal a skeleton key. Both the reliquary and the key are painted black, but if you look closely you can see some very light copper drybrushing–a nice touch that could have been emphasized more.

The reliquary is by far the most interesting new accessory we’ve seen in MOTUC, and it alone bumps Scareglow up a half-point.

Quality Control: There have been reports of Scareglows arriving without the key or even the entire reliquary, and some with two left legs or missing a painted black rib. My Scareglow is intact, so my rating reflects that.

Overall: Despite having relatively little new sculpting, Scareglow is easily one of the best-looking and interesting MOTUC figures so far. While the lack of a wash on the head is disappointing, it’s offset by the awesomeness of the reliquary accessory. I’m not going to dock him any points for not being the Blight-style figure I wanted, because that’s not fair–he should be judged against his MOTUC peers, not some personal ideal version.

Scareglow is one of my favorite MOTUC figures thus far, right up there with Skeletor, He-Man, He-Ro and Man-At-Arms. While the price point continues to be a burden and Mattycollector’s comedy of errors continues, the figures themselves have yet to disappoint me.

[raven 4]


Pic of the Day


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  1. Poe

    @monkey boy: Well, it's hard for me to stop buying when, as I said, I'm not even having these problems.

    The other issue is that if people stop buying, Mattel will simply cancel the line and go back to their CARS, Toy Story, Hot Wheels and Barbies. This is arguably little more than a prestige line–a small, if unquestionably profitable, side project to help maintain top of mind awareness of one of their once-great in-house properties (probably in hopes of getting a megahit movie a la Transformers).

    All that said, I do think fans have some effect, particularly in regard to MOTUC (vs. DCUC). Look at the way they went to fans regarding Moss Man. And they respond fairly quickly to MOTUC fan issues, even if they continue to bungle them somehow every month.

    But the lack of exchanges is a relatively new thing, and a big problem. Once we get an answer to the question, it will be worth following up if it turns out Mattel just isn't holding back any stock for exchanges.

  2. monkey boy

    poe, what i'm saying is pretty much precisely what you're saying. we have $28 figures, either the QC issues need to be reigned in or mattel needs to address the issues through adequate customer service. they're doing neither of these things. there may well be the same error issues in mass market figures, but the difference there is if you're buying off the pegs you can decently inspect your figure before purchase. no dice with MOTUC. that's what i'm not diggin'.

    i don't think your views are "apologist", poe, in fact they're quite reasonable…however, as often as you might point out mattel's blunders, it's doubtful that you'll stop buying. and i don't think mattel is going to do anything to address customer concerns unless people stop buying, unfortunately.

  3. Poe

    @d. verburg: They've said they'll be re-releasing King Grayskull. I'm not sure about Faker, but that's definitely been rumored.

    @monkey boy: I'm sure this could be interpreted as "apologist," but because this line is sold exclusively online, it's possible a higher-than-usual percentage of its collectors participate in online collecting communities. So the percentage of QC errors within a given MOTUC production run may be the same as standard industry error rates, but due to the relatively small production runs and the higher percentage of online collectors, we hear about it more often.

    Put another way, for every collector who gets an error figure, how many collectors get figures that are perfectly fine? Aside from a few loose joints, I haven't had any major issues with my MOTUC figures.

    Now, whether the same industry standard error rates should apply to $28 figures is a different discussion. And there's no question Mattel should be offering exchanges. Period. I've already added a question about it in the next Q&A.

  4. I certainly hope they re-release Beastman… his leg is so loose! I'm also pining for a King Grayskull re-release too.

    I had the MOTU film figures: Blade, Saurod, and even Gwildor. They were all pretty good. Blade was I think of course my favorite of the bunch. My Saurod still makes the sparks from his mouth when you push down the lever on his back. I loved the smell of that.

  5. Emerald

    The comparison to Boba Fett is a good one. I was uninterested in MOTU by the time he made his debut but liked the iconic design and tried to find him. And although the character was kind of lame, I looked for a Blade figure as well. Here's hoping the New Age MOTU gets around to even Ninjor….yes I said it.

    Although this is offtopic I'm curious about the chance for more re-releases. Since I joined this new line late, I wonder whether there are improvements in Stratos, Beastman, and Faker that could be made in a re-release?

  6. misterbigbo

    I was gonna make a crack about this creepy creampuff being the "badass" character of MOTU, but then I realized they're all a little silly. He just might be the toughest of the lot.

  7. monkey boy

    …especially considering there is no way to purchase these figures in stores, you HAVE to get them sight unseen. so you're rolling the dice pretty hard when there are so many QC issues. at least if it's a star wars figure on the pegs, you can leave it there if it's missing a helmet or has two left hands.

  8. monkey boy

    it may be a cool line, but to me it's ridiculous that mattel can still sell out of these toys at the price point they're asking, when we hear so many reports of mis-assembled parts, easily broken joints, and missing accessories with this line. you don't see this many errors in a mass market line that sells for half the price. at the very least, they should have figures and accessories set aside for replacement if your figure is misassembled/broken/incomplete right out of (or still in) the packaging. not being able to provide adequate customer service at this price point is pretty inexcusable. mattel either needs to step up in its response to the multiple issues with this line, or slap its factories back in order. it's sick to me that they're surviving solely on the fan's love of the brand, and using that to cheap out on quality. they have enough people shrugging and saying "eh, that's life" when they should be saying "if you don't produce a quality product we will stop buying." yet mattel has enough he-man superfans and brand apologists to basically release figures in whatever condition they choose and still sell out and basically say screw you to the fans at every turn.

  9. d. verburg

    i'll get over it. it's a really cool line of toys, he-man has something for everyone: barbarians, sabertooth tigers, rayguns, mutants, necromancers, spaceships, etc, etc and the thing it had for me was a satanic glow in the dark skeleton warrior with a neon green spear and a sweet elvis cape.

    do any of you dudes know if the 'king grayskull and faker are being reissued' rumors are true or just horse apples?

  10. Thats just piss poor planning. They should have a certain amount set aside in case of replacements. Also, as far as the accessories go, I see no reason why they should not mail out a replacement. What are they going to do, as someone else prevously posted, announce they have a box of reliquaries and give them away on Fwoosh?

  11. Poe

    @d. verburg: That sucks, D. All I can say is I would try again–maybe call them, or send another email. The response might change if you deal with a different person.

    That said, I believe I did read something about that they didn't have any extra Scareglows this time to swap for broken/screwed up ones. Which is, of course, inexcusable.

  12. monkey boy

    when you're paying $20 + mystery fee for figures, you expect your figure to be relatively flaw-free, and at the very least COMPLETE WITH ALL ITS ACCESSORIES WHEN YOU GET IT. if not, customer service should be able to solve your problems. especially if you're ordering direct from the manufacturer. i'm sorry but mattel is just ridiculous.

    having said that, i remember my old scareglow fondly. i was just a kid, i had no idea he was rare or difficult to come by, i just remember my mom giving him to me as a "rainy day toy"…basically i guess something to shut me up when the weather was too dreary to play outside, i guess. he was a cool figure, but i've long since garage-sold him. this new one doesn't really entice me though. in the new era of good sculpting and articulation, i feel we've moved beyond painted-on glow in the dark bones.

  13. d. verburg

    i got a response from mattel today about my scareglow's missing reliquary, which was basically 'sorry, you're fucked'

    i am glad my money went to such a dedicated team of people interested in spectacular customer service

    scareglow is fairly radical though

  14. Mark

    Very cool figure, maybe if I can get one cheap enough I might pick it up.

  15. Mario

    Poe, this is totally out of context, but If you don't already know, the latest issue of Previews has the Dante figure solicited for purchase. Hope that quells your worries.

  16. Dead Man Walking

    It looks odd to me that SG's head and cape seem sot ragged but his body is so clean and "perfect." It's very incongruous. He's still one of the better figures in the line.

  17. Fortunately my Scareglow is in good condition, five fingers, five toes, two arms, two legs, etc. and even came with his reliquary. Next to He-RO and Zodak, he is the third MOTUC figure whom I did not own the original as a kid, so therefore there is little nostalgic value in that, however, being the legend that he is, it feels somehow rewarding to finally have him!

    I agree that the reliquary is probably the most interesting accessory that we've gotten thus far in MOTUC. It isn't really a weapon so it serves no other purpose than to expand his backstory. I think they've carved out a nice little niche for him, rather than being the actual ghost of Skeletor, which still would have been cool, I guess, I think making him his own character is a lot cooler.

  18. Nicholai

    I like the figure quite a bit and while odd the reliquary is fantastic. The only thing I don't care for so much is the lime green on the weapon as it stands out so horribly.

  19. dayraven

    what detractors? i've heard a lot of gripes about him from people who didn't buy him… but i've yet to hear one person who took the chance regret it. everyone i've spoken w/ who chanced to own one now loves it, even if they weren't sold on the idea originally and talked into buying it.

    it's that exact power which has driven this line thusfar, even the designs that folks are less-than-enthused about have turned out awesome once in hand. motuc has proven the power of the TOY to me, that it inspires, it invigorates, it energizes the mind once in hand. that's a powerful force, inspiration.

  20. Oh Scareglow, how I wonder where you are. Hopefully, my Scareglow will finally show up today.

    I've always been a big fan of Scareglow. I've loved his look since I first saw him. He's easily going to end up right in the front of my shelf when he does get here.

    Great review as always, Poe, and thanks for championing him against his detractors!

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