Review > Eternian Palace Guards (Masters of the Universe Classics)

So, I came home last week to discover a rather large box from Mattel on my doorstep. And what was inside? Toys, of course! Wonderful, wonderful toys! Including the 12″ Christopher Reeves Superman, the Gentleman Ghost/Hawkgirl and Superman/Parasite 2-packs, several of the Retro Action DC and Ghostbusters figures, and perhaps best of all, the Eternian Palace Guards!

Which means that, for the first time ever, you get an official PGPoA review of a MOTUC product before you can actually buy it. I have no idea whether this is a one-time deal or will become an ongoing thing. In any event, I’ll be reviewing everything over the next few weeks, starting with the Guards today.

“Army builder” action figures are figures of generic characters, often in uniform, who can be bought in bulk without making it look like you have a dozen of the same exact person. The classic example is the Star Wars Stormtrooper, and good lord there are collectors out there with a lot of Stormtroopers. In the vintage Masters of the Universe line, the only real army builder figure was the Horde Trooper. But after a big year of firsts for MOTUC–Battle Cat, Tytus, and 200X-created characters like Chief Carnivus, Mattel wraps it up with their first Army Builder 2-Pack. The set was scheduled to go on sale in December, but it’s been delayed to January. It will sell for $40.

Packaging: The set features the two Guards side by side, one with an open helmet, the other with the faceplate attached. The shields (which we’ll eventually see on Stinkor) are featured prominently, as is the revised mace and the new Grayskull halberd.

If I were a MOC collector–and I’m very much not–I would have liked to have the other two heads and chest plates featured in the packaging itself.

Design & Sculpt: As one might expect, the Guards bear a strong resemblance to Man-At-Arms, with the significant difference that they have armor on both their left and right arms and legs. I love the symmetrical armor, and one of the first things I did was put it on my MAA figure to create a Filmation Man-At-Arms (see pic on the bottom right). I think it looks great, and when I removed the extra armor, Duncan looked kind of weird–half-naked, as it were. One wonders why the vintage figure didn’t have matching armor–budget issues, I suspect, rather than a design choice.

But getting back to the Guards: the body sculpts are the standard human male body, with Keldor boots. The Guards were actually delayed so that Mattel could rework the bodies with the Keldor boots rather than the standard He-Man-style leather boots, which is a bit odd, since Man-At-Arms wears the leather boots. Furthermore, due to the tall, projecting, pointed peaks on the shins of the Keldor boots, the shin guards ride a little high and are difficult to strap on. That said, one advantage of the Keldor boots is that even without the shin guards, the Guards’ feet look armored.

While the arm and leg armor is identical to Man-At-Arms’s, the chest armor is a brand-new sculpt. The armor features removable chest plates, much like Battle Armor He-Man, and two clips on the back to hold weapons. There are four plates: an “eagle” plate (is this a reference to something?), a plain lined plate, and two damaged plates–one with a single slash, one with two slashes. One thing to mention is that the chest armor is a real pain to take off, particularly since the tabs feel a bit brittle and should be handled with care.

While the portrait on the bio is from the 200X cartoon, the heads of the figures themselves have been properly “Classics-ized.” There are four heads:

  • A human head that I think is supposed to be Clamp Champ;
  • A feline humanoid head, presumably a Qadian on loan from Chief Carnivus;
  • A reptilian head, which may or may not be a reference to a proposed 200X cartoon storyline in which Man-At-Arms becomes a Snake Man permanently (and looks a hell of a lot like Grig from The Last Starfighter)
  • And a second human head, with a sculpt based on Mattel’s MOTUC brand manager, Scott Neitlich.

I love the idea of the guards being from different races. I’m especially fond of the reptile man, but the sculpts for all four heads are great. The removable faceplates are a great touch too, and have just the right Classics touch when compared to the 200X version in the portrait.

Plastic & Paint: The figures are molded primarily in green paint, and there are minimal paint applications on the bodies, since there’s really not much to paint aside from the loincloths and belts. The armor has some shiny touches here and there that help to bring out the detail in the sculpt.

I really like the color and texture of the plastic used for the armor–a kind of matte yellow tinged with orange. But as with Man-At-Arms, I noticed that the plastic used for the chest armor isn’t all that durable, which means that when you place the weapons on the clips in the back, they bend a bit and you can see a white line where the plastic has bent. So far it doesn’t seem to be a major problem, even after repeated replacement of the weapons.

The most paint work on the figures can be found on the heads, and as you can see from the pics, it’s pretty well done this time around. The reptilian head, with its multi-hued green skin and gleaming red eyes, looks the best.

Articulation: These boys get the standard MOTUC articulation: a ball jointed head; ball joints at the shoulders and hips; swivels at the biceps, wrists, top of the thighs, waist, and top of the boots; and hinges at the elbows, knees, abdomen, and ankles, with a pretty decent rocker motion on the ankles as well, although it may prove problematic for some (see the Quality Control section below).

Accessories: The Guards come armed to the teeth with two halberds, two shields, a mace, and an axe. The halberds are from the Grayskull weapons set; the mace is similar to Moss Man’s but a brand-new sculpt; the shields are the “basic shield” seen in the vintage Weapons Pack and Stinkor; the axe will be seen again this month with Buzz-Off.

While this bounty of weapons is more than welcome and adds a lot of value to the set, the sculpts themselves look a bit “soft,” for lack of a better term, in person. I’m not sure if this is due to the production process or if the silver paint is rather thick. It’s not a big problem, but it’s worth nothing. Also, the shields are a bit difficult to fit on the Guards’ arms due to the yellow forearm armor.

Quality Control: I got the first big QC issue of my MOTUC collecting career with this set. One of the figures’ feet was stuck solid, and when I tried to move it, it snapped right off. I glued the foot back on, and the other figure’s feet are fine. Still, for a perfectionist like me, it’s a bummer.

Overall: So let’s summarize what you get with this $40 set: two figures with full armor, four heads with removable faceplates, four interchangeable armor plates, and six weapons. When compared to other MOTUC figures, I think that’s a standard-to-pretty-good value. It certainly offers plenty of incentive to buy a second set or even a third and fourth set, as the four heads and four faceplates offer 16 unique looks.

If not for the broken foot, I’d have given this set five ravens, but that–and MOTUC’s general ongoing QC issues–do cost them that half-raven. The good news is that those of you who buy these off Mattycollector can send them back and get a replacement.

As for whether I’m officially recommending getting them? Put it this way–I’m thinking of buying a second set myself.

[raven 4.5]


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Pic of the Day


  1. Damien

    @Poe: For the record, there is lots of historical precedence for limb protection on only one side of the body.

    Since it was common, especially in the Classical era, to face an enemy with your shield-side forward, aligning your body sideways behind the shield, it became common for greaves to be worn only on the shield-side leg (typically – left), since only that leg was directly exposed to the enemy.

    Romans were known for wearing a sort of scale-armour 'sleeve' on the sword arm, to protect it while attacking, but didn't bother to wear one on the arm that would hold the shield, since that was more than heavily protected already.

    Coincidentally, if Duncan follows this type of battle-dress, that would make him left-handed (as his left arm is protected, implying his right arm will hold a shield — unless his arm protection serves -as- a shield, in which case he's following a more Greek/Iberian tradition of armouring his 'shield side' more heavily.

    I love the guards. Every picture I see makes me want them more — and makes me wish I could afford to buy more of them than I can.

  2. Scottaaaaaaaaaaaaay


    Yeah that makes it now what, 8 sites that get review figures? And this one and maybe one other are the only ones who give good reviews. Go figure. 🙂

  3. FakeEyes22

    Congrats, Poe!
    Long overdue. I'm jealous since I'm not into a $30 Parasite as I play catch up. I did explicably find the single Hawkgirl at my Target this week.

    Good review as usual! I'm thinking Man-at-Arms' one sided armor is similar to that of some gladiators where you've got your defensive side all covered while your striking limbs don't have any restrictions on reach or flexibility. That's what I've always assumed.

    I find it odd that there are reviews of this delayes set available while most Buzz-Off impressions are coming from current sub arrivals.

  4. nerdbot

    Y'know… If you want help reviewing the Retro Action DC figures, I'd be happy to help out… 😉

    Seriously though, you deserve to get review samples as much as any site out there. I'm looking forward to a review of the Reeves Supes.

  5. RageTreb

    Also, you do know that you don't have to send figures back to get a replacement, right? Mattel is very forgiving in that respect– just email or call to tell them what's wrong with the figure, and they'll send a new one free of charge, no proof needed or questions asked.

  6. RageTreb

    Pretty sure Duncan only has armor on one side for the same reason you only hold a shield in one hand– you defend with one side, and attack with the other.

  7. Poe

    I honestly have no idea why I got samples all of a sudden. This came out of nowhere. As I said, it seems to me a few sites that don't usually get samples got them, and from what I've heard, some sites that do get samples got even more samples than usual in December, so it seems possible that Mattel's marketing department was in a particularly seasonal mood this month.

    As for compromising my integrity, I will do my best not to let that happen. I was upfront about the QC issue with the foot, but the truth is that I really do think this is a great set, even at $40, and I would have given this same review even if I'd had to pay for it (I might even have given it five ravens, since I could have returned the set to get an unbroken one).

    But I won't necessarily be giving the rest of the items a positive review. I'll review them as if I bought them myself. That may cost me future samples, but I still have a hunch this is a one-time thing anyway. As always, the onus is on the company to create quality products at reasonable prices.

    That said, if they send me a set of DCUC16, I might be a bit more tempted… 😉

  8. bmnbinc


    excellent review!

    man i envy you..getting a royal guard two pack early at your doorstep…have you been extra good off late??

  9. dean

    Congratulations on the free review figures. It is about time.

    I am surprised with your level of honesty toward Mattel policies, practices, and quality that they dared send you samples.

    With that said, however, please do not become a Matty shill like many of the other sites that receive samples.

    I like my review sites objective, and have stopped frequenting some great sites because they provide advertising for various companies under the guise of "reviewing" free samples.

    If one gets hundreds to thousands of dollars in free product every year from any one company, one is no longer an objective observer but a paid employee of said company.

    Before anyone jumps all over me for the aforementioned statements…I am not accusing Poe of being a shill at this point…I am politely asking him not to become one in the future, and providing a reason why I am cautiously against review samples.

    I know it is only plastic, but integrity applies to all areas of life…even toys.

  10. Mecha-Shiva

    Congrats on the advance items!What ,no Matty head?Starting my Motuc collection today also.

  11. Dead Man Walking

    PS I wonder how many people will use Lt. Spector to take out their Matty-fueled rage on. He's definitely getting the two slashes armor in my collection, but that's about the extent of it.

  12. Poe

    @Mysterious Stranger: I guess they're a tad lighter, but it's not something I noticed until you mentioned it. It's not like when I was taking photos I thought, "Wow, they're a really different shade of yellow."

    @Mountain-man: Thanks for the comment on the photos. I often fret that my photos aren't very good, that the lighting is bad, that they're too bright or too dull. Drives me crazy sometimes. Good to know that at least part of it may just be in my head 🙂

  13. Dead Man Walking

    @Poe: I think your MAA will be more Filmation-accurate if you put MAA's head and chest armor on one of the guards, then lose the leg armor. You can see that Filmation MAA's shin armor look a lot more like Keldor's shin armor than the removable type, or the He-Man boots.

    Personally, I prefer the asymmetrical look that MAA sports. It makes it seem as though he has a very intentional reason for only wearing half–like maybe he doesn't want to encumber the dominant side of his body with the extra weight. Or maybe MAA is the type to forgo the armor all together (like some nfl players won't wear hip, shin, thigh, or other pads), but now he has to wear them on one side due to an injury he sustained.

    Anyways, I'm glad someone else likes the idea of different races being guards. A bunch of people don't like the idea of a Quadian guard, and nearly everyone is up in arms about the Snakeman. I swear some of these guys on the org have virtually no imagination, and are content to perpetually suck at the Filmation-teat that dried up 25 years ago.

    I like the idea that a few Snakemen-of-conscience defected to the goods guys' cause. Though it would be nice to swap out the two beast/men's hands and feet with the appropriate versions.

  14. Mountain-man

    That's pretty cool to be getting early product for review. I like your figure breakdowns, good quality still photos with nice lighting, and now early product. Nice!

    This set looks great with all the accessories and the extra heads are awesome, but I'm still only getting one.

  15. Jeff Cope

    I'm really excited for these guys. I think they look terrific! There's no way I can afford two sets at one time, so I really hope as army builders they get a reissue at some point as I'd like to display all four head options.

  16. Mysterious Stranger

    Pixel Dan mentioned that the color of the Guards armor doesn't quite match Man-at-Arms. How does it look to you? It does appear a bit lighter and more on the yellow side in your pics but its hard to say for sure.

  17. De-Man

    @Poe: Yeah, like I said, I'm not sure.

  18. Poe

    @De-Man: Well I know the reason Filmation gave him both was so they could switch the direction of the animation–no doubt about that.

    But why did the original MAA had only one side of armor? I can't think of a historical analogue for it.

  19. De-Man

    I'm not sure, but I think Man-at-Arms only having armor on one side WAS a design choice. It was Filmation that gave him armor on both sides. They did it so they could switch the animation cells left or right, to save money.

  20. Very good review, and congrats for finally getting samples – it's great to have another great reviewer being able to tell about these figures before they are available, and your reviews are top notch!

    The one thing I don't like are the orange feet. If those were colored brown, the figure would be perfect.

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