The King Hssss Shoulder Swap

As you will know if you’ve gone anywhere near in the last few days, King Hssss, like the first-release He-Man and Roboto before him, has reversed shoulders. Like Roboto, the shoulders were assembled correctly at the factory; the problem is the left and right shoulders were incorrectly stamped “L” and “R” (i.e., the right shoulder was stamped with “L”).

First off, a mea culpa: I didn’t notice the shoulders in my review of Hssss. What’s more, if I hadn’t read about it online, I’m fairly certain I never would have noticed. This is arguably a fault of mine as a reviewer: I’m more of a “big picture” type of person when it comes to toys, rather than getting into the minute details of the aesthetics of a sculpt. When I do get into the nitty-gritty, it tends to make me feel like one of those stereotypical nitpicking nerds you see on The Simpsons or Saturday Night Live. It also makes the reviews run really long, and long articles are something I try to avoid (this post being a bad example).

But that’s partly just me making excuses; I’m clearly not being observant enough, and that’s something I’ll work on. I can certainly say I’ll be going over every figure’s shoulders with a fine-toothed comb from now on. (Sy-Klone’s shoulders were reversed at NYTF, but at the time Scott Neitlich assured us it would be fixed in production. Cross your fingers.)

Anyway, after finding out about the Hssss reversed-shoulders problem, I decided to try the fix outlined by customizer He-Bro. I want to note that the most daunting part of He-Bro’s fix, the sanding, can be avoided easily; you can pry the differently-sized discs off the end of the shoulder pegs and swap them. The discs have some tiny pegs of their own anchoring them to the shoulder pegs, so you’ll end up breaking those off and you’ll need to super-glue the discs back on. I did have to use an X-Acto knife to snip off a tiny nub in the center of one of the pegs, but that’s easy enough.

This is a very important point, by the way. Why? Because Mattel has claimed (at least with Roboto) that they can’t fix this error without new tooling. In the case of King Hssss, unless they’re referring to that tiny nub, you can fix it without new tooling. You swap the peg-discs and tell factory workers to reverse the “L” and “R” on this particular figure. In fact, I can’t think of a reason you would have those removable discs unless you wanted to be able to swap them.

Getting back to the fix, the process isn’t quite as hard as you might think. And thanks to the rubbery torso armor, there’s a margin for error. For instance, my figure’s torso cracked slightly near the bottom when I was splitting it, but the armor covers it entirely.

Here are the before and after results.

What this photo doesn’t tell you is that my corrected King Hssss has two new problems: his ab joint is now wobbly, and he has a touch of the bobblehead, which he didn’t have before.

There also seems to be more of a gap between the shoulder and the biceps. I’m not sure why that is, though I could speculate (perhaps it has something to do with how the peg-holes in the biceps were drilled, if they were drilled after the “L” and “R” error).

So what’s my personal verdict? The perfectionist in me, once he was made aware of the error, is glad I did the swap. It looks better, but not night-and-day better, in my opinion. I can certainly understand those who can live with the reversed shoulders. And note that I never bothered with the Roboto shoulder switch (the risk of cracking the clear torso was too much for me to risk it).

Check back in tomorrow for more thoughts on Shouldergate II, as well as an industry member’s perspective.


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  1. Poe

    Jean-Pierre wrote:

    The wobbly efect on the ab joint is because yoy probably miss a small piece that acts like a spring. I almost lost it when I open the torso because it’s not glued.

    Nope, I saw that part and made sure to put it back in. It's the little green tab just above the ab joint, right?

  2. Jean-Pierre

    The wobbly efect on the ab joint is because yoy probably miss a small piece that acts like a spring. I almost lost it when I open the torso because it's not glued.

  3. THE PR0F3550R

    Mattel just sending another lovely "FU" to adult "nerds" everywhere. If this was a normal line with children and their overactive moms purchasing these "toys" from regular "retailers" instead of an exclusive "adult collectable figure" directly from the company's "membership exclusive" website then they might give a damn. But a bunch of grown men and woman who will buy these figures simple because they have expendable income will never sway Mattel as much as angry moms who complain to regular retailers like Target and Walmart who in turn take their complaints directed to Mattel CEOs.

  4. stack32

    So, the problem is likely in the tooling, right? And the last two figures that had shoulders that required new tooling were… Hssss and Roboto? That doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

  5. Barbecue17

    Do King Hssss' shoulders bother me in and of itself? Not really. It seems a little harder to pose him, but I'm not noticing it too terribly much. If he is standing sideways, it is more noticeable as the scales don't line up right.

    What does bother me is two things:

    The first is that it really seems indicative that Mattel really has problems making changes in the line in dealing with problems. I really hope this doesn't happen again: It seems like with Hssss they really tried to make sure that the problem didn't occur, but it still happened. I understand this is a small line, but it also an expensive, collector focused line, which would make me think that the types of problems we are having should not be happening. I know that the old adage is largely myth, but sometimes I wonder if Mattel isn't unlike the proverbial frog who sits in boiling water until he finally perishes. I love the MOTUC line, but there is always the fear that the lines difficulties might finally cause it to go under.

    The second being that even when we see these figures, such as at a comic convention, we aren't seeing the individual figures before we buy them. There is a trust between Mattel and the buyer and when things like this occur, I don't think I'm engaging in reductio ad absurdum to speculate how far Mattel will allow QC issues to go with no action being taken. So far we have had loose joints, wrong backer cards, and bad paint issues which were ignored. I can accept those to some degree. Then we have swapped shoulders. More of a problem. Then we have cracked torsos, exploding figures, and missing accessories. None of these were widespread (the Goddess is debatable), but what would happen if there were a widespread serious problem? What if a shipment of figures came with every figure missing an accessory, missing a limb, or being defective in some way: How can we expect Mattel to fix a major problem in light of how they have fixed previous issues?

  6. Lovable-Bill

    I think its more funny that they aren't doing a better job of double checking the molds since that has been the culprit in both instances. Also, I didn't take TG's comment as being mean to reviewers but commenting on the fact that even they missed the error. I am sure had they noticed it people wouldn't be so bent out of shape with receiving a figure they didn't know would be goofed up.

  7. I've had a weird QC issue with a few G.I. Joe figures before. Over the years I've gotten three figures with two left hands. The first two, during the 2006 line, I was able to just buy another of the same figure. It was annoying, but they were less than $5 at the time so I wasn't out too much cash. The third one was during the 25th Anniversary line and I noticed it before I took it out of the package, so I just returned it and got a new one.

    Although it's strange that the three figures shared the exact same defect, they were just a single figure out of the many thousands produced. Plus the cheap cost meant replacing it wasn't that big of a deal. This also lead to my habit of always checking the hands of my Joes before I buy them.

    Then I read stuff like this where an entire run of a figure has essentially the same defect for two (or three?) separate figures. As a casual collector of MOTUC this makes me nervous about the few figures I do buy, especially when the figures can basically cost $30 each. I hope Panthor doesn't wind up with reversed paws or a backwards tail.

  8. misterbigbo

    The only fig I have with shoulder issues is 1st release He-man, and as he's MOC, I couldn't care less and I really can't tell. My bigger issue with him is his very loose-looking knee.

    This is just the road we're going to have to travel on with this line, and there isn't much incentive for Mattel to fix things quickly, or at all. QC, sales, distribution; virtually everything has gone wrong with this line that could, but the toys sell out month after month.

  9. Snarf! Snarf!

    I think it's Sad when Toyguru shoots the "We gave reviewers some early samples and they didn't noticed it" line. Because even if Pixel Dan, Poe or any other reviewer had noticed; it would be useless because of the "once we show the product it's finalized and no changes can be made" line.

    My beef is more with the way Mattel handles the situation by blaming everyone else, than the shoulders themselves.

  10. americanhyena

    Meh…count me amongst those that can live with it.

    Stupid? Yes.

    Did I notice it? Nope.

  11. toyman2581

    @ Zach:

    Exactly. The shoulders themselves aren't a huge issue, but Mattel still not having their shite together IS. If I'm paying 20 clams for a fig, it damn well better be done right.

  12. dlia

    From the reactions I have seen on other sites with big Masters Classics threads, its really a subjective issue. But yeah, like most say I wouldn't have noticed it if you mentioned it in the first place. Some are angry, and others really don't care.

    Maybe should have a poll or something that tallies votes. Someone already made a poll I bet in the forums. Them and their stupid polls.

  13. dayraven

    technically, wouldn't this be shouldergate 3?

    again, any one issue of shoulder swap would be no biggie, but we're rolling on three, and one of those was the very first "regular" figure of the series… and here we still are. i don't understand what the problem is, every company has QC issues here and there, one figure at a time… this is a systemic issue for mattel. this line has really been a balls up for them, in terms of execution, it seems every third or fourth character released has some discrepancy or flaw across the production run. why?

    when i bought my ml gambit, the head wasn't fully on the ball in the package. i bought a QC defect… no problem, it was easy to fix. did EVERY gambit has a head that wasn't inserted? nope. i haven't seen a line as consistently crappy QC wise (other than DCU) since that last wave of SOTA sf figs. instead, the "perfect" motuc fig is a golden goose.

  14. As someone who missed Hsssss because I've generally forgotten about MOTUC these days without my sub… I'm torn on ever picking this guy up. While Mattel has basically said they're not making another one… I'm almost inclined to wait for when they make another one.


  15. jackstatic

    I'll have to see just how much this bothers me when I receive my Hsss later in the day. I made the roboto adjustment because a, i had 2 roboto's, and b, one had a cracked torso and the good torso was never glued and litterally popped open on me very easily, I have never been able to notice the issue on he-man, and we will see how hsss is in person. Roboto was an issue because of the circuitry being reversed and out of place, hsss scales may, to me, not be so much of an issue

  16. Motorthing

    It, as they say, is hardly and end of the world issue. It's not as bad as frozen or loose joints or exploding lower torsos but it is indicative of a wider perception that Mattel are basically quite lazy when it comes to QC, they have had numerous examples of this very problem and how long/how many does a Company like them actually need to fix it?

    Answers on the back of a Skeletor with two left-legs…….

  17. quartz

    If you read the comments in the org thread what else is there really left to say? It is a legitamite complaint though. But Matty probably wont fix it with a refund or replacement. The amount of antagonism in that thread is a bit much. I'd recommend not reading it in one sitting lest you wanna put you're fist through a window.

    Blaming reviewers also is another poor decision on Mattel's part. You wanna get them turning on you too?

    Roboto's reason for not working was the gears and here comes two more complex figures in Sy-Klone and Manefaces. Sy-Klone had backwards shoulders in Pixel Dans review. The uproar will be louder if its the same backward shoulder problem for his release. And they certainly "lose their shirts" if Man-E-Faces is bungled too. More or less the final death blow.

    Me, I didn't care for the vintage King Hsss and think the 200X version is superior. Using the same mold for the 200X release won't help things unless they make corrections first. If MOTUC continues past 2012…

  18. Zach

    I don't care much about the actual shoulder problem, much like I didn't care about Roboto's shoulders. What bothers me is that Mattel promised to not spew out anymore faulty product, and it was only a matter of months before it happened again…

    Also, instead of saying anything before the sale, they say nothing and wait until people buy the toys and realize the mistake…that's like a restaurant cooking spoiled food, realizing it after the fact, then waiting until the customers start puking to mention it.

    Oh well.

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