Thunder Punch He-Man is yet another one of those He-Man guises that I never had as a kid; I never even knew anyone who had one. It was a gimmicky figure, given its use of caps to create a “super punch” sound, and action features like that never appealed to me as a kid. The figure also came along a little later in the line in 1985, by which time young Poe was obsessed with Transformers.
The vintage TP He-Man was a bit unusual because he featured some brand-new sculpting, specifically his chest and arms, as well as (if I recall correctly) a solid head rather than a rubbery hollow one. He also lacked the traditional He-Man uber-tan, for whatever reason. Mattel also sold replacement caps for the figure separately.
The Thunder Punch outfit made an appearance in the minicomic “The Treachery of Modulok.” At one point, Hordak has erected an impenetrable barrier of magical energy around himself. It’s a thorny problem, best solved by a counter-spell or a psychological ruse or–
…well, there you go. Cunning strategy, He-Man!
Childhood lessons like this are why I solve all my problems with punching. My co-workers find it off-putting at times, especially when they say something like “Can you re-send me the link for that survey?” and I respond by punching them in the face.
Design & Sculpt: Thunder Punch He-Man has exactly one new sculpted part: his right hand, which is a closed fist.
He also features the narrowÂ Tri-Klops bracelets instead of the standard He-Man bracers, which is in keeping with the design of the vintage figure.
I’ll talk about his armor and backpack in the Accessories section.
Plastic & Paint: Here’s where this figure starts to differentiate itself. Like the vintage figure, the tops of the boots are white fur trim, rather than being the same brown as the rest of the boots. It’s something that probably should have been a feature on the very first He-Man figure back in 1982, as it makes more sense (for example), but was probably skipped for cost reasons; TP He-Man was the first time Mattel corrected it.
Also like the vintage figure, the bracelets are red. The benefits of red bracelets in aiding punching are well known to those in the punching community.
Probably the most controversial aspect of this figure is his pale skin. This was a design decision by the Four Horsemen and Mattel, and I agree with it. First off, it matches the vintage figure. Second, it does add some variation to all those versions of He-Man on the shelf. And finally, the bio even states that He-Man has been living in caves for a while, which arguably explains the pale skin. Personally, I really like the pale skin. It emphasizes how certain He-Man is that he will get his punches in before the other guy, therefore avoiding any easily-seen bruises.
Articulation: Thunder Punch He-Man has the standard MOTUC articulation:Â a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders and hips, swivels at the biceps, wrists, waist, top of the thighs and the top of his boots, and hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles and torso. None of it interferes with punching.
Accessories: The accessories are TP He-Man’s best features. They include:
- The armor & backpack
- A circular set of “caps”
- A translucent sword
- A chrome shield with a removable tray
- A translucent “thunder punch” effect
The backpack opens up on hinges so you can place the “caps” on the circular tray inside. Given that the caps won’t actually fire, this is another one of those odd cases where we get a feature that resembles the vintage version but is non-functional, like the dials on Optikk, Sy-Klone and Hurricane Hordak.
The shield is interesting. It’s chrome to match the vintage figure, and while I’m not really a fan of chrome in this line, it does make the accessory stand out. As with the original shield, the Power Sword can be stored in it.
The shield tray is molded in silver and pops right out, though its surface is rather scratched up. The red “caps” can be placed into the tray. The tray and the caps are a new feature not seen on the vintage figure’s accessory, and they’re a nice way to make use of the caps as a kind of symbol or design rather than having them sit unnoticed inside the backpack.
Then there’s the Power Sword and the “Thunder Punch” effect. Both are molded in translucent pale yellow, which matches the vintage figure’s sword. The punch effect is obviously the cooler of the two accessories, dragging a swirl behind it that represents either a kind of smooth force or perhaps it was originally sharper to represent lightning, but was smoothed over by the production process. I found it a bit tricky to fit the effect over TP He-Man’s hand, but once it’s on there it stays put.
It kind of looks like he’s punching with a glob of Vaseline on his hand.
Quality Control: My figure’s head had some paint scratched off the nose. Fortunately I’ve got two or three extra He-Man heads from various figures (like Prince Adam) that I can replace it with.
Overall: I ended up liking Thunder Punch He-Man much more than I expected. While he is yet another He-Man, his closed fist, paint variations, and accessories make him a fun and unique addition to the line.
Great review! I wish I had this figure now… well, I did before, but more so now.
I did have the original as a kid. Besides the fact I got a lot of the variants, this one just really seemed to call to me: Cool commercial, glowing sword, and most of all, He-Man in armor of my favorite color (at the time): Orange!
Oh, and the cap thing was neat, too.
This was my preferred He-Man as a kid, and may very well be the 2nd MOTUC fig I buy. (Only one so far is Skelletor).
To Poe's original point;
It could be argued that the TP harness gives He-man the ability to disrupt energy fields. That would be a good counter measure against something like the Ram Stone.
i guess to a degree i don't understand the backpack… like, in the real world, as i sit and play w/ the toy, i understand the backpack as a necessity to get the action feature to work… but then, from a narrative POV in-story, why does he-man have a giant backpack on? how does that assist his thunder punch?
and then of course, in motuc, once again, we have the action simulacrum, but why as customers did we buy all that plastic, that is driving up a cost, if it doesn't actually do anything? just to be enslaved to tradition? if there isn't some kind of story to the backpack, and it doesn't do anything, exactly why is it there?
the only thing that i can come up with, and it's a stretch, is that the harness w/ the bigger breastplate and techno-straps connecting to the backpack is that it's some kind of shock absorption system. like the thunder punch is so volatile, that he-man's chest would collapse and his heart and lungs implode if he were to eat that shockwave at point blank range, so instead, the PoG grant this harness which deflects the shockblast into the backpack harness where it's converted to sound and dissipated harmlessly (though loudly?) but then that would kind of imply that being the guy receiving the thunder punch is tantamount to a death sentence.
As a kid I remember coming up with the idea that the Elders/Ancients built the backpack (and color coordinating bracers) as a sort of weaponized Tesla Coil. It stand to reason since in the included mini comic He-man is drawing upon the Powers of Grayskull to protect the Hall of Forbidden Weapons from Modulok's thievery.
Siince the action feature isn't being used, I would have asked the 4HM to include some crazy looking "Kirby -Tech" inside the backpack. In this way the "caps" could have been a cog like key so to explain it's inclusion. Perhaps it could double as a weapon like Xena's chakram.
Thunderpunch He-man was my absolute favorite He-Man. I loved the loud sound and the smell of the
burned caps. Since She-Ra has extra powers, the idea that He_man has more armors with different properties it makes them feel a bit more even in that regard.
To your point about the shock absorption, I like that idea. To remove the fatality of it I'd argue that perhaps the surge of energy would leave the recipient with a temporary debilitating tingling sensation, whereas He-Man (because of the armor) would be immune from it. Think of it as the Powers of Grayskull besotting He-Man the ability to Hadoken someone.
for me personally, i play it as extremely powerful, but highly variable. so in his "normal" TP, it's a harder blow than he-man regular full power punch, but a max level TP would require him to be very pissed, or so badly dazed that he's essentially out on his feet and unable to check the power… and he would need that, since he's battling the likes of galactus and scarabus these days, and those dudes can shrug off an awful lot of power.
the funny thing is, back in the day, i always felt like he-man got the best "upgrades" and that it was kind of unfair to skeletor that w/ each new upgrade, he was falling further and further behind the curve… these days, he-man is sharing box/shelf space w/ some much cooler villains and so, in my own little toy world, he finally has a lot of ground to cover trying to be a good guy while completely outclassed by some crazy awesome and powerful villains. like just recently, i've had TP fighting strength, the big zombie guy from house of the dead, and let me tell ya… it's very hard to imagine a world where the thunder punch isn't kind of outclassed w/ a person-sized chainsaw and a hugely overmuscled zombie who wouldn't really respond to blunt force trauma that's not directed at his brainpan. that was a fun set of battles to play out.
Fantastic review, Poe! While the regular version of He-Man still stands on my shelf, I think I played around and posed this figure possibly more than any other in the line to date.– Probably due to my inherent love of punching…
I had been waiting for this one as my exit from collecting this line, and I am glad he's great. I had the original He-Man stolen from me as a kid, and TP was my default He-Man after that. As a kid I loved the cap feature and the color scheme, and as an adult I get strong nostalgic feelings from the new one.
Because I have to find fault with something, I don't like the right fist. I found the sculpted details too sharp in comparison to the rest of him, and the gloppy paint was full of _meh_. And why the hell is he pictured on the card back holding the sword with his right hand? Is that some nod to an original mistake, or just a new one?
And jeebus that mini comic was awful.
*gasps, clutches pearls* Awful? Awful? How can you say that? Did you not real the touching scene when He-Man tells Teela "Yeah, sorry about your mom. Oh, and your dad. But hey, I dig what you did with your hair!" That is goddamn art right there, you Philistine!!!
Fantastic figure. Had this variant as a kid, always liked it and probably used it more as my default He-Man than any other variant.
I like the backpack that you can load with the caps. It is one of those "this shouldn't make me like the figure more" moves they sometimes pull off.
I can see some threads around where people have lost "the excitement" for Classics. I understand this, because most of it is filling in blanks – it's not so much "will we get Ram Man", but more "when will we get him?" And the day he is announced, then the fans will pick some new character to ask for.
Thunder Punch actually had me playing with the figure for a solid couple of days before his banishment to the toy room MOTU display, something I can't say for a bunch of figures from recent days (Sorceress, Shadow Weaver, etc).
I know I don’t punch anybody without my red bracelets.
Wow… So I've really liked this figure for a while… In package. Haven't gotten around to taking him out. First I've seen of that horrible backpack. I thought he just had a cool new harness. The back just looks terrible. Really kills this figure in a lot of ways.
I kind of hate this sculpted on action gimmick stuff.
If I end up nabbing a job, I might be interested in buying him from you, if you'd be willing to sell. I have yet to nab a He-Man, and while the standard version would be the sensible one to pursue, I am finding myself intrigued by this version.
Very entertaining review, Poe! I wish I liked the figure as well as I do your writing.
You going to say anything regarding the mini-comic?
I've had a copy of that thing since SDCC and have even made gigantic hi-res scans for review purposes, but haven't written the review, because…I'm lazy?
I found the art rather disappointing.
…you are lazy, or it is dull? Hmmm.
*Hint: It’s dull. 😉
If you replace the head with one from another He-Man figure, won't the flesh tone be off?
Ha – you're absolutely right! Fortunately I was never going to do it anyway, since I don't care much about the nose rub.
You could always switch out the forearms/hands too, give him a farmer's tan…
Great review (LOL: "The benefits of red bracelets in aiding punching are well known to those in the punching community.")
I think that petroleum jelly glob of a thunder punch effect would have seemed more impressively "energized" if it was glow-in-the-dark translucent yellow plastic. Same goes for the sword, which needs more variety anyway!
As a fellow member of the face punching community, I approve of this review.
MOTU is full of cool stuff, but half the fun comes from appreciating and mocking how silly it all is.
I love how he’s got a sword that’s clearly powered up somehow, but still decides that his rad new backpack makes his fists the preferable weapon .
Dead Man Walking
So when He-Man becomes more powerful he becomes whiter, huh? Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, pale "master of the universe," ya say?
Well, at least the iron cross comes off.
I was really, really impressed with this figure. While its a quarterly variant of the same basic He-Man body with lighter skin and a new fist, the accessories really help to cement this as a worthwhile release. The accessories seem really interactive: The way the caps fit in the backpack or shield, the sword fits in the shield, and the punch effect fits on the fist really make this a fun figure. I was thinking about buying some ring caps over the weekend so that I could add one to his backpack: do standard ring caps fit with the figure? Anything think Mattel will ever sell a pack of just the "caps" for this figure like in the vintage line? Might be a funny SDCC giveaway or something.
Great review, Poe. Very lively while also getting across the merits of the figure. Kudos to you.
standard issue caps are too small, sorry to say.
I like the translucent pale yellow sword (the more sword colors the better) but I think the sword that came with Skeletor in the DC vs. MOTU 2-pack was closer in color to the original Thunder Punch He-Man sword. I'm guessing they went with the translucent pale yellow to match the punch effect. The punch effect would not look as good if it were a more solid yellow/gold color.
This is a great figure!
i was surprised by the QC on this fig, as mine is tight, solid… just very well done. the best overall motuc i've bought, maybe ever, from a QC standpoint. hope everyone else's was as well done.
It's difficult to believe that this blog felt strained not too long ago, when you were approaching burnout. You seem to have had a lot of fun writing this one. For a review, it has a lot of personality, and yet it's not just a tiresome exercise in self-indulgence. It still conveys the strengths and weaknesses of the figure, but it's damn entertaining along the way.
More like this!
I did have fun with this one. The blog has been a welcome respite from some stress at work lately (plus we're in the middle of buying a house).
I concur with Monte – this is possibly the best (or certainly my favorite) review you've written! Ragingly quotable and funny to the point I had to read in patches for fear of being too disruptive at work