Review > Preternia Disguise He-Man (Masters of the Universe Classics)

I covered the origin of Preternia Disguise He-Man pretty thoroughly in an earlier post, so I won’t rehash that here, aside from mentioning that he’s based on the characters appearance in the 1980s minicomic “The Powers of Grayskull – The Legend Begins!”

PD He-Man is the 2011 subscription exclusive figure, a decision which made most people happy, since people who bought the subscription are generally big enough fans to want the figure, while those who didn’t were happy not to get another He-Man variant; and those who did buy the subscription but didn’t want PD He-Man could easily sell him to those who didn’t buy a sub. Which is an incredibly complicated way of saying yes, he was a good choice for a subscription incentive figure.

The “Powers of Grayskull” concept came about very late in the MOTU line in the 1980s, just as the movie was flopping. As such, it makes use of some of the movie’s ideas, including the Cosmic Key, a device which can open a portal to other worlds–including Earth, which conveniently lets you film 90% of your epic fantasy movie on the streets of Los Angeles. Mattel got a bit more creative with the concept, sending He-Man back to the time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth–I mean, Eternia.

Packaging: The figure comes in the standard MOTUC packaging; I like the pose with He-Man cradling the Cosmic Key. The rifle is crossed behind his back, and my only regret about that is it looks so awesome I wish there was some sort of holster on his back so that he could actually carry the rifle that way.

The factory forgot to slap on the “Powers of Grayskull” sticker, so it was included as a loose sticker in the box.

Design & Sculpt: Only the head and tunic of Preternia Disguise He-Man are new parts; the legs and arms we’ve seen before. The forearms are the ones with the narrow bracelets from Tri-Klops, rather than the asymmetrical ones we usually get on our He-Man (which is accurate to his comic depiction).

The new head is great, with the hood sculpt shadowing He-Man’s face and the raccoon mask covering his eyes. As I was inspecting it, something occurred to me: given how interested Mattel is in re-using sculpts, PD He-Man has a fairly significant amount of new tooling, what with the head and tunic. But the face isn’t attached to the hood…and doesn’t that hood, coming down as it does past the chin, look an awful lot like the hood of 200X Skeletor? It’s hard to say whether this could be part of a planned bonus-figure 200X Skeletor or an abandoned extra head for a previous Skeletor release, but I’ll keep my hopes up for the former.

Plastic & Paint: The tunic covering the chest and legs is made from a nice, pliable material, and the reddish-brown coloring matches the comic. His boots are more reddish than the standard He-Man as well, again capturing the look of the comic art (which was inked by Bruce Timm, incidentally).

The one negative is the gray belt, which is poorly painted with a lot of uneven edges between the dark and light gray parts, and some slop around the part where it meets the tunic.

Articulation: PD He-Man features the standard MOTUC articulation: ball joints at the neck, shoulders, and hips; swivels at the waist, wrists, biceps, top of the thighs, and top of the boots; and hinges at the abdomen, elbows, knees, and ankles. The ankles are the old exposed-joint type, rather than the hidden-joint type of Vikor, which makes the ankles a bit loose (but not floppy, at least for my figure). There’s no “bobblehead” effect on the neck joint, most likely because it’s the old neck joint, not the new one we saw with Vikor.

Accessories: The accessories are my favorite part of this figure. In addition to the standard Power Sword, PD He-Man comes with a large laser rifle based on the one he wields while riding Bionatops in the “Powers of Grayskull” minicomic. I love the gun, but it’s a shame it doesn’t have any paint applications. It’s also slightly warped from its placement in the package.

But the real appeal here is the Cosmic Key. The sculpt is based primarily on the device’s look in the movie, but the Four Horsemen added a handle a la the Cosmic Key that came with Gwildor. My understanding is that Mattel does not own the rights to the movie, so I’m not sure why they can get away with such an obvious movie-based accessory, unless there’s some sort of loophole due to the Gwildor/minicomic appearance.

The Cosmic Key looks great, with detailed bronze paint apps on the “keys,” chromed “forks” and a blue metallic sheen on the rest. The forks can spin. Clearly, the accessory budget went to the Cosmic Key. The Key, like the rifle, is a tad bent due to the packaging, reflecting the softer plastic they’ve been using for MOTUC (I’m wondering if they’re saving money by using a regrind plastic mix).

Quality Control: No problems with my figure–he’s assembled correctly, no major loose joints, no glaring scrapes or damage.

Overall: I know a lot of fans were underwhelmed by Preternia Disguise He-Man–a figure based on an obscure appearance of the character in an unfinished storyline from the minicomics. But for whatever reason, I really like him. He reminds me of the “Bruce Timm era” of MOTUC, the post-Filmation cartoon period when the world of Eternia, thanks partly to Timm, began to look and feel more modern and cohesive (at least to me).

It’s a shame we never got to see where the Powers of Grayskull might have gone in the 1980s–if it had been given a chance, He-Man, like G.I. Joe or Transformers, might never have gone away.

[raven 3.5]


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  1. I like this figure. I like the execution and the accessories.

    I think the real key to it is nostalgia. Sure, anyone can easily say "I like Beast Man" – who doesn't like Beast Man? After all, 90% of the people who ever collected MOTU had a Beast Man.

    But this figure taps a button for some of us who collected MOTU until the end – a plastic representation of that final mini-comic that promised we would finally learn mysterious secrets in the far-flung past of Eternia. When I saw the slide at SDCC of this He-Man, I was shocked, really – I had completely forgotten the story. But now, it is a figure I am completely happy they made.

  2. I don't see what’s wrong with having an opinion. One way or the other it’s a personal preference, you shouldn't have to site examples, and it’s simply what you favor. Just because someone else’s opinion is different than yours does not make it any less valid. Also, remarking that an opinion is made "because it’s…" is kind of dismissive and a little insulting (but nobody's taking this personally right, these are just toys.). Moreover, even if one is looking at something through rose-tinted glasses, it’s their prerogative to do so and does not negate their opinion.

    @Barbecue17: Prince Adam also had the cloth vest, and a lot of the POP figures had cloth capes, like Bow, She-Ra (if memory serves me).

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