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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Pic of the Day


  1. Mark

    MOTUC figures would be better with cloth capes. According to what I have heard Classics Mumm-Ra will have a coth cape. 😉

  2. Barbecue17

    What original MOTU figures had cloth? Randor, Ninjor, and Scareglow, right?

  3. Poe

    @dayraven: I own three WWRps (they were a gift from a friend). I still dislike the soft goods. On the WWRps–at least mine–the pouches tend to become loose and fall off. Could be a one-off thing, could be something they've improved upon, I don't know, I can only speak to my experience. And the fabric still looks too coarse–in my opinion.

    3A is a definitely a great company making great toys. I do not actively collect those toys because a.) I'm not really interested in any of the licenses, which is generally the biggest draw for me for a toyline, and b.) the toys themselves are too expensive for me to collect, unless that's all I wanted to collect.

    If it makes it easier to accept, ignore my complaints regarding the perishable nature of soft goods and the coarseness and so forth, and just understand that, in general, I don't like soft goods on toys. Just not my thing.

  4. dayraven

    @Lemonjuice_McGee: seriously… best soft goods work this side of hot toys… and ash is working in 1/12 scale. for reals, i'm going to be hurt come next year's poppies if most (if not all) of the judges haven't treated themselves to at least 1 3A toy over the course of the year. if the "folks in the know" disagree that they make incredible pieces, that's fine, but don't knock it till you've tried it, right?

  5. dayraven

    @Poe: personal preferences are fine… but the complaints you levy on soft goods are likewise true of plastic goods, if treated in an ill way. how else am i supposed to read that?

    i've never had a fig w/ a cloth cape that has difficult to balance because of the weight of it, but that doesn't mean cloth goods automatically "win" either. but i'm not off-hand rejecting an entire classification of goods, plastic has it's points… no one is advocating that MAA gets pants or anything.

    my point was simply that under modest care, some figs soft goods came out just fine, and better in some cases, then if we'd gotten plastic versions of the same pieces. i don't know why you're knee-jerking cloth goods, but as it was brought up here, i do think perhaps a soft goods tunic would have been in order. as my wife was quick to point out the other night when discussing the she-ra debacle, she likely wouldn't need a fix at all for swiftwind if she'd been given a soft goods skirt… and it certainly couldn't have looked worse, and w/ plastic prices on the rise (we're told) they most certainly would have been more cost effective… so why weren't soft goods employed there?

  6. I think cloth goods almost have to be judged on a figure by figure basis. Some work out, but others end up looking like s**t.

    Personally, I can do without it since it breaks up the cohesion of a line unless all figures have cloth goods.

    No question though, 3A Toys has perfected the art of cloth goods on figures. Damn Ashley Wood and his expensively awesome toys! 🙂

  7. Mark

    @Barbecue17: Exactly, Hasbro GI Joe and SW figures are brilliant and cloth bits and pieces realy make them all the better. 😀

  8. Barbecue17

    Golly, people are really getting worked up in this thread.

    After opening up this figure last night, I have to say that out of Bow, Shadow Beast, and PD He-Man, PD He-Man is probably my favorite. Yes, he does look a little silly, but most MOTU figures tend to.

    And Poe: I know everyone is ragging on you about cloth on action figures, but you have to admit that a good number of the Star Wars Vintage collection figures manage to have cloth outfits that look really nice. Seriously, with the incredible cloth outfits on the SW figures and the insanely detailed little weapons on the POC G.I. Joe figures, I am quite confident that Hasbro has hired a team of magical elves to sculpt toys for them.

  9. Poe

    @Izdawiz_is_a_douche: Why are you "Izdawiz is a douche"?

  10. Izdawiz_is_a_douche

    I don't begrudge those that like him, but to me this is by far the worst figure of the line so far.

    The robe not only looks awful, and awkward, but also cheap as well, with obvious mould lines, and also being way too plasticy thick. The laser gun looks like something you'd find in the blister of a cheap $2 knock off toy, with it's single moulded colour scheme not exactly helping matters either. The cosmic key looks ridiculous with that giant, and unneeded, handle strap thing on the bottom of it completely spoiling the overall look. And the head sculpt looks more like some third-rate DC hero, or knockoff of one, than it does He-Man in a mask, and just doesn't feel MOTU at all.

    I actually really liked Wun-Dar, that to me was a perfect variant in that he was kind of cool for fans, and really well realised, but not a character that most casual collectors would feel like they had to own lest their collections feel incomplete. This, on the other hand, even most of the true hardcore 'want everything' fans that I know think is a complete lemon, and waste of plastic, with the best compliments seemingly being "well, he's not [i]that[/i] bad…". Honestly, if that's the best compliment you can get, it probably indicates that nobody should have bothered in the first place. Especially if it was going to look this half assed.

  11. Mario

    @Poe: But that would be too simple, now, wouldn't it?

  12. Mario

    @Fengschwing: Makes sense to me. Definitely looks like he should be in a Devil Dinosaur comic. I also think he has a bit of Hanna-Barbera going too, which of course, I'm down with.

  13. Thomas B

    i love this figure. it is def better then wun-dar and seems like we get more for our money at least.

    I may be wrong but i thought the gun had paint aps. it is subtle but it is there. I may be wrong though i will have to look when i get back home.

  14. Poe

    @dayraven: I reject the "jaded" characterization and dare to say that I just have some goddamned personal preferences.

  15. dayraven

    @Poe: dude, plastic discolors in sunlight, grows brittle with time, and is easily susceptible to the same changes in temperature and humidity that can hurt fabric… i submit to you, how old is your favorite t-shirt? i have one that's 20 years old, and three others over ten… and trust me, they've seen more wear and tear than any figure's jacket ever has.

    and i'm sorry homes, but you're jaded. i have some great cloth pieces, all the way back to kevin matchstick's jacket and duffelbag. methinks, before condemning the cloth, one must not only get honest about how fragile plastic truly is (and how often it isn't executed well) but also, one must try out the next 1/12 3A offering, to see how the modern masters make soft goods work.

  16. Poe

    @Mark: I don't remember those figures. But yes, I still prefer plastic cloaks.

    At any scale below 12" (and even 12", honestly, in my opinion), the fabric just looks too large and coarse to me. It doesn't scale.

    The only cloth coat I might be willing to say worked better than a plastic one would is Trenchcoat Blade/Marvel Legends Blade. Fake leather tends to look all right, because there's no stitching to look way too big in comparison to the figure.

    But that's really the lesser issue–the bigger problem to me is the perishable nature of fabric. It can get dirty and be very difficult to clean, it can be torn, it can unravel, it can get wet and then hot and shrink, etc.

    Again, though, just my personal preference.

  17. Mark

    @Poe: I always loved cloth cloaks, capes and coats etc. I think it would have really heped this figres as he looks as if part of the his disguise included eating a turbodactyl 🙂

    What about Han Solo's trenchcoat, jedi robes, the super powers cloaks, wrestling figure robes. etc. Those were all done well.

    There is no way you can say you prefer the plastic cloak of the 90's Star Wars Darth Vader over a cloth one 😉

  18. Poe

    @Mark: See, now I really like the soft plastic tunic. I hate fabric in all its forms on toys smaller than 12". Different strokes and all that, I suppose.

  19. Mark

    This figure s proof that some accessories need to be made of fabric.

    Also I got to say the face sculpt is awful, just like the other MOTUC He-Man figures it doesn't look right at all, not even like the vintage art work.

  20. dayraven

    @Barbecue17: i'm wondering if we should ask the horsemen on this, to see if PD he-man was sculpted to include one like adam was… somehow, i bet so.

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