Review > Battle Armor He-Man (Masters of the Universe Classics)

Almost as long as there have been action figures, there have been variations of action figure characters. But it was Star Wars–with its Tatooine Luke, Dagobah Luke, Luke in X-Wing Outfit, Bespin Luke, Jedi Luke etc.–that proved kids and collectors were willing to buy the same character over and over again. Unfortunately, while the various Lukes made perfect sense, toy companies decided to create completely ridiculous variations of main characters in hopes that kids would still bite. This tendency would reach its nadir in the mid-1990s with the rise of Arctic Batman and so forth, but it still happens today.

But sometimes there’s an exception that proves the rule. Even I can’t deny Battle Armor He-Man had one of the coolest gimmicks ever seen.

It was functional, the designs looked great, and the result was a He-Man figure many kids preferred over the standard version. Mattel even imported the feature into their other famous boys’ brand, Hot Wheels.

When the time came to introduce Battle Armor He-Man (BAHM) into their adult collector-oriented Masters of the Universe Classics line, Mattel had to find a way to replicate the action feature without having to go through an expensive retool process. Their solution was to make three removable breastplates. Some fans were pleased, others not so much.

So the question, then, is this: Is Battle Armor He-Man still cool without his iconic action feature?

Packaging: The usual. I like that they chose the “one-damage” chest plate for MOC display, splitting the difference.

I also like the way they worked the battle armor into the growing body of MOTUC lore. Seriously, think about that–Mattel is really going out of its way to make a kind of unified history for MOTUC, tying together threads from all the various incarnations of the franchise. They don’t have to–I’m willing to bet that sales would be almost identical without these bios. So while not all fans are going to love every bio, I think it’s commendable they’re even doing them.

Design & Sculpt: Since the original figure’s charm was largely based on its action feature, it’s the design that makes or breaks this figure. And I’m happy to say I think it works. I was already sold on the design from the first prototype images. The truth is that the battle armor just looks good. In fact, I think there are plenty of fans who prefer the battle armor over the standard He-Man harness, and I understand that completely.

In terms of the actual sculpting, the Four Horsemen have done their usual trick of updating the original look to the MOTUC style. That means sharper edges and a bit more detail here and there. Nothing too fancy, but that’s what is to be expected from this line. To allow for the battle armor, the figure has the somewhat controversial “flat abs” lower torso section. His entire chest (beneath the armor) is silver.

To replicate the results of the original action feature, the armor features three interchangeable breastplates. The battle armor has snaps at the shoulders and ribs, and each breastplate snaps into the armor nice and tight. I have some concerns that the shoulder and rib snaps could get worn or break over repeated switches, but I suspect I’ll probably display him with the undamaged breastplate most of the time.

Plastic & Paint: Aside from the battle armor, the figure is the same as the regular He-Man, so I’ll refer you to that review if you’re curious about that. The one thing I’ll mention is that the face paint apps seems a bit sharper here than on the reissue.

The battle armor is made from a dark silver plastic that resembles galvanized steel in its look and texture. Very cool. But the paint applications on the “H” of the breastplates leaves something to be desired. It’s very uneven along the edges of the H and the border.

Articulation: See the fourth photo down for a list of articulation. Due to the size of the armor, the figure can’t bring his arms in as close to the body as the regular version. With the regular He-Man, if you squeezed his left hand around the section just below the head of the axe, you could get him to hold it in both hands; not so with BAHM. His mighty pythons just won’t let you.

There’s also something odd about the way the head works. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but the head seems to be able to float a bit higher on the neck, making the unarmored He-Man look a bit giraffe-like unless you deliberately push the head down further onto the neck. I’m assuming this was done because the battle armor is so big; it preserves the ball jointed neck articulation even when the armor’s on. So they go out of their way to fix this–which I appreciate, don’t get me wrong–but most DCUC figures lose this joint entirely?

Unlike the reissue He-Man, BAHM’s ankles are nice and tight. This must have something to do with the way they’re packaged–the regular He-Man’s in-package “battle squat” must be what causes those loose ankles.

Accessories: The interchangeable breastplates are arguably an accessory, but the only true accessory is the axe. Given that the original BAHM also came with a sword, and that an extra sword wasn’t included with the Goddess, it would have been a nice touch here, and helped make the $20 for a He-Man variation a bit easier to swallow.

Quality Control: No problems.

Overall: My three favorite He-Man figures are as thus: the classic He-Man, Ice Armor He-Man, and Battle Armor He-Man. I now own two of those three in MOTUC style (and have my fingers crossed for Ice Armor–though he has to include a blue translucent Ice Axe). BAHM is already destined to ride Battle Cat in my display.

So personally, my answer to the question I posed at the beginning of this review is yes, Battle Armor He-Man is still pretty damned awesome even without his action feature. Whether you agree is entirely up to you.

[raven 3.5]

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20 Comments

  1. dayraven

    @tornado: sorry it took a bit to get back to this tornado, but yes, all the male armors are swappable across all the male bodies. this is MOTUC after all… despite the naysayers, it does preserve most of the old play patterns.

    @mark: i guess i missed what's he said on transformers… what statement should i be in agreement w/?

  2. PrfktTear

    If you were to look at actual play, I think Transformers are worse. Yes, half the fun of Transformers was actually changing them from robot mode to vehicle mode and back again. That said, during play in the midst of a giant battle or raid it certainly would hinder the story to have to sit there and Transform a dozen or so robots and then continue.

    Shellformers are annoying, but some are a necessary evil, and when incorporated into the design, almost cool/fun.

  3. Willis was deffinently right about the Transformers, surely even all the Mattel/ MOTUC/ 4H fanboys could at least admit that.

  4. I'M still undecided on BA He-Man. I'm kinda disappointed that they didn't use the prototype's belt colors for the final figure. And while I ain't missing the sword (he's gonna get the 200X sword anyway), I know am the not-so-proud owner of three He-Man axes, all looking exactly the same. (Yeah, I still can't get over Mattel missing the chance to pack bluish minicomic-esque accessoires with The Goddess).

    I was surprised when I saw that this figure got vintage-esque 2-part armor. I guess the softer armor material (as used on Man-At-Arms and Randor) wouldn't have held the breast plates in place well enough. Or whoever designed the figure always wanted his BA He-Man to have clip-on armor in childhood.

    I still totally dislike the smooth belly. It looks better on He-Man than on Hordak, but I still prefer how they executed He-Ros' and King Randor's armors.

    Concerning the Shortpacked! strip, I think that Willis completely ignored that the actionfeature would've been worth nothing if the figure's design wasn't so good.

  5. I actually had Arctic Batman.

  6. Thomas B

    @Poe:
    Man-E-Faces
    i’d assume they will go with a tri-sided head on a regular body. the armor would go over the torso and head.

    seems pretty easy to execute as far as MOTU action features go. MEF could actually have his feature intact since it is really just a point of articulation and not something that would need a tooling overhaul like a spring loaded chest.

  7. Andrew

    I think that Shortpacked strip is either far more tongue in cheek than any of you give it credit for, or far more representative of what all of you are actually thinking than you're comfortable with (see: Mark agreeing with it completely).

    My re-issue He-Man has tight ankle articulation (my Hordak has a real loose ankle and in comparison with my other figures in the line, the re-issue's just as tight as the tightest ankles on any other). I guess I lucked out.

  8. Ebonhorn

    this is where I quietly admit I wanted Arctic Batman

  9. Reverend Ender

    @clark: Mine has the big forehead thing too! I totally thought it was just me, and some kind of illusion causes by the armor! Now I need to take a second look.

  10. clark

    Maybe I should have picked this guy up, from your photos I like him more than I thought I would. Although BA He-man was my favorite as a kid, this one looked like the armor was too big on his body, but now it just looks great. It looks like his hair is sitting a little too high on his head, giving him a big forehead. My regular He-man arrived like that too, but his was pretty easy to peel off and then superglue back into place.

  11. tornado

    Just curious, does the armor fit various motucs body types? I know, except females. Thanks.

  12. dayraven

    @Mark: actually, i'd be fine w/ that provided it looked as good as these plates do set in place (& they've have to anchor securely.) i would think the nature of the head armor would make plates trickier than they were head, but again, if they looked good, i'd take plates for man-e quite happily.

  13. PrfktTear

    Pink Batman? WTF?

    Several years ago, over at OAFE, someone posted a really nice custom pink "Tranny" Batman to be auctioned off at the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

  14. Now I know why you were looking for that dumb Joe variant the other day on Twitter.

    As an aside, I loved Artic Batman. There was a yellow SCUBA Batman, that I thought was particularly stupid and I believe I pink Batman as well?

    Artic Batman was awesome though (As were most of the Dark Knight Kenner figures actually) because that was an outfit I could see Batman putting on to face Mr. Freeze. Which is exactly what he did when I was a kid.

    Oh, and He-Man! He looks cool. Maybe someday I'll get mine out of the box.

  15. PrfktTear

    I didn't notice that about the ball joint with my BA He-Man. I'll have to check again. If anything, the one thing I did notice was that his head articulation was cut down while wearing the armor, really only being able to move it side-to-side.

  16. Dark Angel

    As far as the neck is concerned…

    BA He-Man has a slightly longer "barbell" between his neck and head, that is all. The only purpose it serves is to get the keep his head from dragging on the armor.

    It seems a little odd that Poe's has some up/down play, but a couple of my other figures have that with the regular-sized barbell, so I'd chalk it up to manufacturing variation.

    Lastly, it vexes me to the point of distraction that he didn't come with a power sword…I wouldn't even care which version…

    Excellent review, Mr. Ghostal. Keep up the good work.

  17. PrfktTear

    I wonder if he'll have a 100% unique sculpt, or if they'll just mould armor off of the existing male buck. Then his head will fit inside the armor which rotates via the little knob. Then they'd just have to take Optikk's groin, Trap Jaw's legs, and Cronis' arms, and you've got Man-E-Faces.

  18. Poe

    @Mark: Actually I'd be fine with a Man-E-Faces with different face plates, particularly if it allows for a bit more detail in the sculpt.

    I'm really curious how they'll execute it, though.

  19. @Griffin: I only had the original but I always thought Flying Fist was cool.

  20. De-Man

    My vintage Battle Armor still works fine. It holds the undamaged "plate" position great.

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