Review > Orko & Prince Adam (Masters of the Universe Classics, Mattel)

There are a few toys I distinctly remember getting as a kid, and one of them was Orko. I don’t remember where we found him, but I know we brought him back to my grandparents’ house on Burton Terrace, where I revved up his ripcord on the coffee table and sent him spinning around.

Even as a kid, I recognized the fact that most of the original MOTU figures didn’t look a whole lot like their cartoon counterparts. He-Man was far more muscled, and his face didn’t look anything like the friendly Filmation character. Orko, however, actually looked like his cartoon counterpart (no, not as much as the new one, but to a degree that was about standard for toys at the time). There was something really appealing about that.

It’s interesting that Mattel chose to pair Orko with Prince Adam, because I’ve always felt the same way about both figures: they’re interesting to me because they’re “story” characters whose toys were inspired by the cartoon, rather than the other way around. To me, Orko and Prince Adam made the cartoon more real in a way a lot of the other figures didn’t.

Some fans dislike Orko, some fans out-and-out hate him as representing the more childish aspects of their favorite franchise (which, just to remind you, is called “He-Man”). Others dislike Adam for similar reasons, preferring a more barbaric He-Man who never transmogrifies into the weak, Clark Kent-like Adam.

I love them both.

As everyone knows by now, Orko and Prince Adam were this year’s major MOTUC SDCC exclusive (alongside Mo-Larr). The Orko sold at the show had a “color change” feature, turning him clear when dipped in water. It was a nice gimmick, hurt only by the fact that Orko himself looked translucent when not dipped in water. I suspect most fans who got the color-change version still wanted the regular one. The set sold for $25, plus shipping from Mattycollector.

Packaging: The packaging for Orko is in the same style as the rest of MOTUC boxes, but larger so as to accommodate Adam at the bottom of the box. He’s hidden completely out of sight, confounding MOC collectors; this is because he’s intended to be an “accessory.” While the whole “accessory” conceit is cute, I do think Mattel should have just put Adam front and center and made Orko the accessory. Adam was still the big statue at the Mattel booth at SDCC, not Orko.

Design & Sculpt: The Horsemen’s Millennium Orko was…a little weird. He was largely pre-posed, and he was very tall (which may not have been the Horsemen’s fault–Mattel futzed with the scale on that entire line, what with the tiny Trap Jaw and small Beast Man and so forth). The big medallion on the Millennium Orko’s chest, combined with his hunched pose, made him look a bit like a rapper in the middle of busting a rhyme.

The MOTUC Orko is much more classic in its look. However the rights issues were worked out, this is basically a Filmation Orko. He’s finally in the right scale–about 2 ½ MOTUC heads tall. His sculpt isn’t too complex, but it’s another job well done for the Horsemen.

Prince Adam’s new parts include a pliable red vest and the “smirking” head. The vest is loose enough to allow Prince Adam’s ab joint to work, and it’s fantastic not to have to worry about keeping track of a little black belt or a yellow cloth buckle.  The smirking head offers just the right touch of that “naughty playboy” look.

Orko’s head is removable; the bandanna is a separate piece that fits beneath it. He plugs into a clear base with a ball-and-socket joint, allowing him a good variety of “floating” poses. And yes, you can swap his head with other MOTUC figures, to damned creepy effect.

Update: One thing I forgot to mention–the glaring omission of a sword holster on Adam’s back. This was apparently a design decision by the Four Horsemen, and I don’t know their reasons for it. There might be a good reason. But I will say I wish he had a holster on his back–at the very least, to provide some symmetry with Adora.

Plastic & Paint: Orko’s robe is made from pliable plastic, which is just the right feel for the figure.

There aren’t a lot of paint applications on Orko. The eyes are OK, and the “O” is tampographed on well. The orange chosen for the hat is a bit brighter than I would have gone with. However, the ears are painted very unevenly where they meet the hat. This showed up on the preview samples and Mattel promised they’d be fixed on the production samples; obviously, this isn’t the case. (What year is this again? 2010? What year did Mandarin Spawn come out? 1998?)

Prince Adam features his stylish purple tights and dark purple boots, as well as silver “Tri-Klops” gauntlets. The paint applications on him are fairly neat and clean, with little or no slop.

Articulation: Orko has the aforementioned “ball joint” where he plugs into the stand, a ball jointed head (which moves independently of the bandanna), ball-and-hinge shoulders, hinged elbows that also swivel (to make up for the lack of a biceps swivel), and swivel wrists. It’s all the articulation he needs, and allows for plenty of posing.

Adam has the standard MOTUC articulation: ball joints at the head and shoulders, ball-and-hinge joints at the hips, hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles and abdomen, swivels at the biceps, wrists, upper thighs and top of the boots, and “rocker” ankles.

However, Adam ends my epic run of MOTUC figures with at least one tight ankle joint. Both my Adam’s ankles are fairly loose, and one is very loose. The loose-ankle issue has become the (ahem) Achilles’ heel of MOTUC, and some fans are calling for the joint to be removed altogether. Personally I think that’s one of those “then the terrorists have won” sort of situations–there is no excuse for such an ongoing QC issue, and no reason we should have to sacrifice articulation just to resolve it. Unfortunately, we know from experience (see: DCUC) that Mattel is very, very slow to address QC problems in their factories.

Accessories: Orko comes with his wand (a Classics-ized version of his Millennium wand) and a spell book. Prince Adam comes with the magenta sword and the magenta half-sword, as well as an extra “regular” He-Man head.

The wand fits pretty well in Orko’s hand, though it’s a little loose. But he can’t really hold the spell book without bending the fingers back–the same goes for Adam. Orko can tuck it under his arm, though.

Does anyone like all the extra half-swords? They’re almost more like a collectible than an actual accessory at this point. I’m glad we got them with He-Man and Skeletor, but getting all these other half-swords just seems like a waste of plastic. I suppose Mattel felt they had to justify tooling the half-swords in the first place by reusing the mold over and over.

Quality Control: Loose ankles on Adam and poorly painted ears on Orko. Not cool, Mattel.

Overall: Both of these figures were favorites of mine as a kid. I love Orko; I think he came out well, despite the ears issue, and the ball-jointed stand was a great idea. I’m not quite as enamored of Prince Adam, though his smirking head is a great bonus.

When compared to the standard $20 for a MOTUC figure, this set is a fairly good deal; you get both a full figure and a good-sized, iconic character, plus five accessories. But the QC issues really annoyed me with this set. It’s well past time for Mattel to deal with these issues and get their factories to produce runs of figures where loose ankles and sloppy paint are the exception, not the rule.

[raven 3.5]


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  1. I don't get people that don't like Orko. I feel like they're taking the toy line a little too seriously.

    I too have a really loose ankle joint on my Prince Adam. Thankfully, he's riding Battle Cat because I don't own a proper He-Man, so he doesn't really need to stand on it.

  2. @PrfktTear: The standard head on mine came the same way. Just another little aggravation I could do without.

    My Adam also suffered from the loose ankles and Orko has the sloppy ears. Seems like these problems were sadly universal this time around.

    I still love the figures, even though they occupy space at the rear of the shelf. 🙂

  3. Thrawn

    Great review Poe. Worth the wait. A couple of comments.

    1. The loose ankles are the biggest problem with this line. Almost every figure I've gotten this year except for the women have loose ankles. I had not problem the first year. It started with the reissue Skeletor, and from then on it's happened.

    2. The lack of a sword holster on Adam is a colossal failure. Design choice or not by the Horsemen, they messed up royally. They should release him carded with Orko as the accessory with the added sword holder.

    3. Holy crap. 200x Orko does look like a lame hip hop rapper doesn't he? I never made the connection before. I can't get that image out of my head now.

    4. The half swords need to go away. They are not only a wast of plastic, but they don't work. I superglued my Keldor ones. Then aren't they giving us the half blue/silver sword with Vikor instead of a whole one?

  4. misterbigbo

    Being largely a MOC collector, this set is a bit of a PITA, but I grabbed it anyway. And you are right about all the silly half-swords, but i'm not sure about a scabbard on Adam's back. My memory of the Filmation cartoon is foggy (and I wasn't a minicomic reader), but I don't remember seeing one on him in the show. It struck me as odd to see this fellow whip a giant sword apparently out of nowhere to become He-Man. A bit like the Highlander. But I accepted it, and just assumed this toy was paying homage to that idea.

  5. Too-Man-E-Faces

    In my opinion, the ankle joints are becoming a major issue with this line.

    So far, She-Ra and Marzo were the icing on this bitter cake. The lose ankles could be found here and there throughout the line. But it seems to develop into some sort of questionable standard. Sad.

  6. Poe

    @De-Man: My memory is cloudy…it's possible it was a plastic button. Could have sworn it was cloth, though.

  7. Barbecue17

    My 200x Orko sits right next to my monitor on my desk at work. I think he is probably one of my favorite, if not my favorite, 200x redesign. He actually looks like somewhat of a combatant and definitely has the vibe of a black mage from Final Fantasy.

    I like the MOTUC Orko figure, but my 200x is still my favorite and default Orko.

  8. De-Man

    When you mentioned the small cloth buckle, were you referring to Vintage Adam?

    My vintage Prince Adam had a hard plastic yellow button on his belt. It was lost along the way though, so I guess it doesn't matter.

  9. toyman2581


    My god! I could never figure out what it was about the 200X Orko that didn't sit well with me and you nailed it! He really DOES look like a rapper in mid-rhyme. That medallion reminds me of Flava Flav's clock around the neck. *shudder*

  10. americanhyena

    Fortunately the Adams in both the SDCC and regular version are identical. My friend and I got one of each and two out of the four Adams won't even stand up. We lucked out at just the two I guess.

  11. PrfktTear

    @FakeEyes22: My TRU Skeletor's ankle is awful.

    A holster on the back of Adam's vest would have been nice, but I'm not going to complain about it. If I don't have weapons in my characters' hands, they're in the accessory bin.

    The hair on my Adam's standard head looks like it was placed a little high, so he's got much more of a forehead than my other He-Man heads.

  12. Grenadier

    What bothers me most about the loose ankle issue is that it's a total crapshoot. I know MOTUC isn't available at retail, but even if it were, you can't tell a joint will be loose by looking through the package.

  13. Poe

    @FakeEyes22: I forgot about the lack of a sword holster–I added that to the review.

  14. Wyngarde

    Any way to fix loose ankles? Or can I exchange it for a new one? This is the first problem I've had with these figures. Glad to see it mentioned here. While I'm a He-Man barbarian guy, I do have a soft spot for Orko & Adam.

  15. Yes, the Prince Adam in mine also had very loose ankles, a problem I have not experienced with any of the other figures in this line.

    I also miss the sword holster on Adam's back.

  16. Nicholai

    Loose ankles are definitely the big problem with MOTUC. My Skeletor has to lean back on something or he falls forward right off the shelf. I have a couple others who are pretty bad too. Too slow to address the problems.

  17. FakeEyes22

    Great review as usual!

    I have a few points:

    1) My mass market TRU Skeletor and He-Man ankles were all as tight as their other joints, which were perfect. So was the paint. Mission Accomplished, they sucked me in and now I have the whole collection due to bizzare false advertising about the QC.

    2) The lack of sword holster is the most glaring oversight in a very well thought out line. I do wish the vest came off for some pink Zodac armor action.

    3) The ears are in no way the Horsemen's fault, but in the future, sculpting a more defined line in an area where colors meet may be a good idea so that it's impossible to mess up. It stinks that their hard work ends up sloppy sometimes.

    4) No thanks on the half swords. They're only good for making the blade equivalent of a car with the mismatched replacement fender.

    5) The Adam statue is amazing! But since it advertised a figure and toyline that sells out regardless…I wonder how much it cost compared to a Grizzlor face, for instance.

    Nerd complaints aside, I like the set. I almost wish the spellbook was replaced with an homage to that stupid coin trick.

  18. Wow, I learned a new word today – tampographed. It's a verb, and I presume it's some form of printing, perhaps with a sponge like thing (tampon?) LOL.

  19. Snarf! Snarf!

    One thing that bothers me is that Adam's sword has a "Bad Guy" Color scheme.

    With the exception of He-Ro, all the "Good guy" Swords have silver blades with colored hilts, while the "Bad guy" swords have colored hilts with the blades in a metallic version of the hilt's color.

    It sucks that your Adam came with loose ankles cause weirdly enough mine had Super tight ankles… (Mo-Larr on the other hand, I had to use the clear bands on both of his legs.)

  20. It was well worth the agony getting Orko and Adam a few weeks ago; but I think the idea of getting rid of the ankle joints is crazy! Mattel's been aware of it from the start so I'm not sure why it's taken almost 2 years to begin addressing it. In fact, it seems to be getting worse. My first figures were Tri-klops and Webstor who stood fine (I resisted for a long time because the QC on the first figures was odd and the website seemed insane). It wasn't until I got the reissue He-man that he basically flopped on the floor when I tried to stand him. Has anyone noticed that one of Trap Jaw's ankles has a deeper joint cut then the other? He stands fine despite that, along with most of the evil warriors and the females (excluding She-ra anyway). For a line that's almost $30 per figure I'd like to think we could straighten out the paint and ankles.

    Also my Adam's smirking head came out kind of odd. It looks like the paint ran so his left eye is kind of sagging. Adora's got kind of a lazy eye so I guess they kind of match though.

    Both of mine came out of the package pretty oily especially Adam. Anyone else have this issue?

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