I last reviewed a Ram Man figure over ten years ago, on September 14, 2002. So, if you’ll excuse me for a moment…
HOLY **** WHERE THE HELL DID THE TIME GO?!?!?! ohmygod i’m so old DEATH APPROACHES…!
Anyway, after nearly five years, Mattel has finally given what we’ve all been waiting for to finish our “core group” collections: the lovable lout with the second-most-suggestive name in Eternia, Ram Man. He solves problems with his head – specifically, but hitting them. With his head.
Due to the need for all-new, all-unique tooling, Ram Man is a large figure and cost $30 rather than the usual $25 for a regular figure (or something like that. I get confused between the sub and day-of prices). He’s also the very first Ram Man figure ever to be able to move his legs around at all.
So, how did he turn out?
Packaging: I know this is going to come as a shock to you, but Ram Man comes in a package that uses the same aesthetic we’ve seen on this line since its inception – except in this case, it’s bigger. Because he’s big. Anyway, it gives you a good view of the figure, which is nice for you MOC collectors out there.
Design & Sculpt: Ram Man was one of the first figures made for the line, and as such, he has unique vintage cross-sell art that differs from the figure itself. The Four Horsemen based their sculpt on that art, rather than the comics, the Filmation cartoon, or the Millennium figure. This technique worked for figures like Mer-Man (who still came with a vintage toy head) and Skeletor, but I think it may have gone a bit astray here. I actually prefer the John Candy-like head of the Millennium version to this one; the open eyes gave it a bit more character.1
Head (“portrait”?) aside, the sculpt is yet another example of 4H excellence. As I’ve noted before, sometimes it seems like Mattel reigns in the Horsemen, and sometimes it seems like they let them loose – and they definitely left the gate open for Ram Man. There’s a ton of great detail here, from the chains on his shoulders to the folds in his clothing to the fully-sculpted soles of his boots.2
As others have noted, the skirt of his tunic is pliable to allow the articulation to move a bit, but it could be greatly improved if they had added a few cuts here and there. Of course it would be relatively simple to just use an X-acto knife to cut between the leather strips and allow a fuller range of motion, but given that I only own one Ram Man figure, I’m not doing that.
One matter of personal preference is the size of the figure. The vintage Ram Man was on the shorter side; he was also depicted as fairly short on the Filmation cartoon in the 1980s. He was very large in the 2000s Millennium cartoon, however – although the action figure was, again, rather short, due to that line’s draconian cost-saving measures. Personally, I prefer the stout, fireplug version of Ram Man, but my hunch is that a smaller figure would have disappointed many fans and especially the more casual collectors. And I certainly understand the appeal of a big, chunky figure. In any event, I won’t dock the figure any ravens for it.
Plastic & Paint: I’m very pleased by the plastic and paint work. The red torso, parts of the green legs, and flesh-toned arms are molded in their respective colors. The silver used for the armor is perfect, and has a very light spray of black to give it some tone. The paint work isn’t too complex on this figure, but what there is looks good, without much slop.
Articulation: Ram Man has a ball-jointed head, ball joints at the shoulders, swivels at the biceps, hinges at the elbows, swivels at the wrists, a hinge at the abdomen, a swivel at the waist, ball joints at the hips, swivels at the top of the thighs, hinges at the knees, swivels at the top of the boots, and hinges at the ankles. The figure’s a bit too heavy to pose in a straightforward “ramming speed” position, with head forward and down – I did the best I could approximate, with the help of a Grayskull stand, in the photo at the bottom of the review.
I did have a little problem with the right leg popping off (see Quality Control, below), and I would have liked some good rocker motion on the ankles, but I can’t really complain about the articulation. This is the first Ram Man who can move his legs at all!
Accessories: Ram Man comes with two accessories: an interchangeable bare head, and his trademark axe.
The bare head is a mix of the vintage cross-sell artwork (for the face) and the Millennium cartoon (for the riveted kufi-like cap and blonde hair). It’s always nice to get an alternate head, although since I’m not a huge fan of the face sculpt, I don’t know how often I’ll be using it. I call it his “just walked out of a really dark temple around noon on a clear day in the Sands of Time” head.
The cap makes me wonder, too…did Man-At-Arms do a little tinkering to reinforce Ram Man’s skull? Was he scalped at some point and this was some village doctor’s rather primitive attempt to repair the damage? Because if so, well, ouch. What a tragic way to become Ram Man. On the other hand, other characters like Mekaneck and Fisto are defined by their deformities, so maybe that’s just part of the Eternian tradition of making lemonade out of lemons.
His other accessory is his trademark axe. I love the sculpt; unfortunately it’s molded in soft plastic and was warped in the package a bit, so the blade is off-center when viewed from the front.
The axe can clip to his back, as shown above. I thought perhaps it clipped at the thin part of the haft just below the blade, but it didn’t fit easily and I didn’t want to force it.
Quality Control: If you look carefully at my figure, you might notice the breastplate is a little off-center (shifted toward Ram Man’s right side). It’s not all that noticeable – I don’t feel the need to replace the figure because of it – but it’s worth mentioning.
You might also have been alarmed by the photo of Ram Man with his leg missing. That happened while I was trying to bend the knee for the first time. Fortunately, it pops right back on. Unfortunately, it tends to pop off whenever I try to bend the knee, so I have to pop it off, bend the knee, then pop it back on. It’s reminiscent of some of the QC issues with the Four Horsemen’s FANtastic Exclusive Elephant Soldiers. It’s not a big deal for someone like me, who’s just going to display the figure, but I can imagine it getting pretty annoying for a kid trying to play with it.
Overall: He loses a half-raven for the QC issues and the restrictive skirt, but without them I would be happy to call this a five-raven figure. While some design decisions were made with this figure that aren’t the way I would have done it (the face based on the vintage cross-sell art and the large size), those are both personal preferences so I’m not counting them as negatives.
For all of Mattel’s other issues with MOTUC, they and the Four Horsemen did right by fans with Ram Man – he’s a great action figure of one of the most iconic characters from the line. He’s also one of my favorite characters (and toys), and it’s great to finally add him to my MOTUC collection.
Where to Buy:
1 The Classics head reminds me strongly of Lee Marvin, especially the bare head. I’ll admit, I like the thought of Ram Man gunning his way through Eternia, wandering through psychedelic nightclubs and beating up thugs, demanding his money from them until he finds out it was the Winter Warlock all along. (Bonus points if you know why I went with the Winter Warlock.)
2 One consequence of Ram Man coming so late in the line is that we’ve already seen a few custom versions – for example, here’s Joe Amaro’s take. It’s quite similar to the final product, except for some proportions here and there.