Note: The cartoon screen captures in this review are from 200X Screen Grabs by MegaGearX.
The 2003 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon (often referred to as “MYP,” short for Mike Young Productions, the company that produced it) added a few new characters, some quite important, to the MOTU mythos. Few were more interesting than the Faceless One, an ancient sorcerer who protected a powerful jewel called the Ram Stone in the realm of Zalesia. The show revealed that the Faceless One was in fact the father of Evil-Lyn herself.
The Faceless One is the sixth MYP-era character in Masters of the Universe Classics, after King Grayskull, Zodak, Keldor, Count Marzo and Chief Carnivus (seventh if you count the Eternian Palace Guards). So far the reception for the MYP characters has been mixed. I’ll admit that with the possible exception of King Grayskull (who came with that kick-ass display), I’ve tended to put the MYP figures on display and leave them there. I think part of it is because Carnivus, Marzo, and the Faceless One, as newer designs, feature more detail than the original figures, and thus don’t quite fit the aesthetic (whereas Battleground Teela, a creation of the same era as the originals, does).
So while the Faceless One’s armor does have an excellent sculpt, it does look just a bit too detailed against many other MOTUC figures. The armor comes off the shoulders very easily–almost too easily, as it’s quick to pop off. I rarely have an issue with the Four Horsemen’s sculpting, but I don’t like the way the inward edges of the cowl block his face (or lack thereof); if the sculpt looked more like the show (see below), that wouldn’t be an issue. It makes it difficult to move his head around.
Probably the biggest controversy around the Faceless One is the face sculpt. The Horsemen’s sculpt appears to have more defined features than the cartoon version. The gist of the complaint is, “How can be the Faceless One if he has a face?” But he does have something of a face, as the pic to the left shows. True, the face of the character is ill-defined and almost ghostly, but how do you represent that in three dimensions?
The only other option I can think of is this: the Horsemen could have made the entire cowl one piece and sculpted the face as a sort of bas-relief jutting out of the flat darkness behind (sort of like the head of a vintage Jawa). But that would have removed the neck articulation.
(On a side note, one could make the argument that not having a face doesn’t necessarily mean you lack the structural features of a face, just that there’s no distinctiveness to those structures. By that definition, the Faceless One’s name works.)
The articulation is standard for MOTUC–ball jointed neck, ball and hinge shoulders and hips, hinged elbows, knees, abdomen and ankles, swivel biceps, waist, wrists, top of the thighs and top of the boots, and rocker ankles. And for once, I get a figure with Keldor boots that doesn’t have bent feet–they stand flush with the ground.
Faceless One comes with two accessories, the Havoc Staff and the Ram Stone. The Ram Stone is painted green with a metallic sheen, but I would have preferred a translucent gem. That’s a personal preference, however. The Havoc Staff’s head is molded in translucent red and then spray-painted purple, as if it’s the midst of preparing to unleash a blast of energy. It’s a neat effect and well-executed.
I can’t say that the Faceless One was a figure I was anticipating, and getting the figure out and playing with it didn’t do make me like it much more. The Faceless One didn’t exist in the 1980s era, so I have no nostalgia for him; he didn’t receive much character development on the MYP series, so I never developed any interest of appreciation for him; and his design just doesn’t wow me. None of this is the fault of Mattel or the Four Horsemen (aside perhaps from their decision to make the character as a toy). But, as much as I love the variety of characters in MOTUC, I have to admit that, for whatever reason, the MYP characters are consistently the ones I have the least interest in.