In the 1980s Filmation cartoon, Count Marzo appeared in three episodes, including the memorable ep “The Eternia Flower,” where the titular blossom served as a marijuana-like drug that Marzo pushed on Eternian youths. In those days, Marzo was a reedy-voiced, fey version of Shakespeare, complete with a yellow doublet and paned hose. He became something of a fan favorite simply by virtue of being a recurring, non-Skeletor villain–a rarity for the Filmation cartoon.
For the Millennium cartoon in the early 2000s, Marzo was re-imagined as a muscled-up badass sorcerer with a face like Rob Zombie and a voice like the lead singer of Gogol Bordello. Unlike his Filmation incarnation, Marzo was very much a force to be reckoned with, nearly on par with the likes of Skeletor or King Hiss–as long as he had his precious amulet. He’d been so troublesome the Council of Elders had, after many battles, taken away the amulet forced him into the body of an old man.
Count Marzo represents the first fourth character in MOTUC who has never been made as an action figure before, after King Grayskull, the Goddess and Adora (I don’t count He-Ro because he at least had a well-known vintage prototype). I must admit I tend not to think of those figures as “new” characters, even if there are, because KG is basically He-Man with a cape and braids, Adora is arguably a guise of She-Ra (and I seem to recall there was a vintage She-Ra figure that “changed into” Adora), and the Goddess is just a repaint of Teela.
Anyway, since Mattel doesn’t have the rights to the Filmation cartoon, we get the Millennium Marzo which, let’s face it, is just as well. I’d have a hard time explaining to my friends why William Shakespeare was standing next to Skeletor.
Packaging: It’s the usual MOTUC packaging we’re all used to. Ordinarily I’d include a discussion of the bio here, but now that I’ve started the regular bio discussion posts, I’ll save that for later.
Design & Sculpt: Count Marzo’s newly-tooled parts are his head, armor & cape (which is made from one piece), his left hand, and his loincloth. While that may seem minimal, the new sculpts are so extensive as to make Marzo quite a unique-looking member of your MOTUC collection.
There’s been much discussion of his head, which apparently just squeaked past Mattel’s higher-ups, who have mandated that the new line have no Millennium elements. The head’s hair looks windswept, making it appear pre-posed, which was a common feature in the Millennium line. The hair and facial features are also a bit more detailed than we’re using to seeing on a MOTUC figure.
The Horsemen have been quite faithful to his cartoon appearance in sculpting his armor and loincloth. The left hand is sculpted so that he can hold his precious amulet, the source of his power. I don’t mind the open hand; it also allows for other good poses, such as “conjuring magic,” “casting a blast spell” or “balancing for en garde.”
I do have one quibble with the sculpt: the gauntlets. The cartoon Marzo had two long bracers. Up to this point, we’ve exclusively seen that only on He-Man figures and guises, so it’s a little weird to see it on Marzo. I think it would have been better and more cartoon-accurate to use the He-Ro bracers.
Plastic & Paint: Plastic-wise, Marzo’s torso, arms and hands are fine; in fact, the plastic used for his hands is quite strong, making it difficult to get his sword in his hand. The plastic used for the loincloth is pliable and doesn’t limit the articulation. However, the hands appear to be molded in black and painted flesh, so when compared to the flesh-colored plastic of the arms, they look a bit, um, dead. Also, the amulet-gripping hand suffers from the same over-detailing as the face.
The plastic used for his legs and feet is quite rubbery. My figure’s hips are fairly loose, and though my figure’s ankles are tight, loose ankles are apparently a common problem for Marzo.
But my figure does have one flaw: club feet. My figure’s feet are slightly curved, rather than being totally flat, a result of the rubbery plastic warping in the package. This problem can only be marginally corrected using the heat-reposition-freeze method. My figure’s feet are good enough now that I don’t feel the need to get a replacement, but it’s still very annoying.
The paint work is mediocre. The gray paint work is sharp on the loincloth, but sloppy and uneven on the gauntlets. The black trim on the cape is also fairly uneven, completely missing the edge in some places. The worst part are the silver rivets on the armor, which are quite splotchy. The paint work on the face also looks a bit thick and glossy, although the eyes, eyebrows and facial hair are fairly sharp.
Articulation: Marzo features the standard MOTUC articulation. Ball joints: head, shoulders, hips. Swivel/cut joints: Biceps, wrists, upper thighs, boot-tops. Hinges: Knees, elbows, abdomen, ankles, plus “rocker” ankles. As I mentioned above, my figure’s hips are a bit loose, but his ankles are, thankfully, tight.
As you can see, the sword’s sculpt is close to the cartoon version, although the colors are a bit different. Personally I like the red of the toy sword; it both matches the cape and offers a nice contrast to all the black and gray. My sword is ramrod straight, with no package warping at all. But be careful getting it out of the package–the little red barbs on the tip can be bent very easily.
The sword sheath is on the left hip of the cartoon Marzo, which is exactly where it should be for a right-handed person. On the figure, the sword is sheathed on the right hip, for some reason. Marzo’s going to have a hell of a time getting it out in a tight situation.
The amulet is translucent and fits perfectly in Marzo’s hand, and can be fitted in a holster in the small of his back. Both accessories are great, and aside the odd placement of the hip sheath, the ability to place both weapons on his person is a nice touch.
Quality Control: As mentioned, my figure had slight club feet and loose hips. I’ve heard loose ankles have been a big problem for this figure too. Both problems are due to the cheaper plastic used on the legs.
Overall: While some fans weren’t excited, I was ready to give Count Marzo the benefit of the doubt. But the quality control problems, the oddly-placed sword sheath, the use of the He-Man bracers, and the paint issues ended up bringing him down to an average rating. He gets an extra half-raven for the great accessories and the fact that they can be holstered.
Some fans and reviewers have said Marzo looks out-of-place next to the other figures. I wonder if part of that is due to Marzo being a character so strongly identified with the Millennium era. I think over time, collectors who place Marzo alongside their other MOTUC figures will find he eventually blends in as they get used to him.