Masters Of The Universe Year In Review: 2012

By junior - January 15, 2013

2012 was a whirlwind year for Masters of the Universe! As far as the selection goes, it was easily their most diverse year, but how they spread those releases out was other story. The other hot-button issue this year was the spotty design choices now headed by Ruben Martinez. It certainly was another year of highs and lows for MOTUC, and this roller coaster ride is the only thing they have been able to keep consistent.

The first quarter gave collectors a barrage of headaches that did not let up immediately. The Sorceress was delayed until February, shipping with the impressive Fisto and Shadow Weaver (our first Filmation figure!).  But the strongest three entrants were proceeded immediately by the weakest three– the Star Sisters. As much as I do sincerely like them, and as they needed to be done in one shot, the grand majority could not justify a $60/$66 purchase of three Princess of Power concept characters with bad pelvis QC, an incorrectly loud palette based off of one poster, and split payment that was unintelligible on the invoices. When February rolled around, the beautiful Sorceress seen at Comic Con was changed to a pseudo-statue for the sake of an action feature that ruined her arm movement, bad hip movement, and giant drums pegged into her shoulders. This was exactly the opposite of what Mattel pledged, but sadly she wasn’t the only casualty.

Some fans hoping for solace in Fisto were shocked to find another Sorceress packed in the Fisto mailer box instead. After all the replacement stock was used to fix this issue, many other empty-handed fans were left with a sad truth– Fisto is no longer available in the truest sense of the term. Now subscribers were left with the possibility that their contacts would not be upheld, and nothing is guaranteed anymore. Kobra Khan was a nice March entry, with two important heads, a unique blaster and his ally Pixel. Lastly, 80’s contest winner Fearless Photog launched the six-figure side sub of all new MOTUC characters! While some were instant classics, others needed to go back to the drawing board.

The second quarter was a motley crew of mostly solid entries. It was kicked off by the darling of the 30th Anniversary characters, the Four Horsemen’s Draego-Man. Even losing weapons and paint due to budget could not hamper such a strong entry. Joining him was Thunder Punch He-Man with replica caps, vac-metal armor and shield, and our first energy effect, an energy rising up from our hero’s powered up punch. One can only hope more of these magical extras find their way into the line. May had three entries– Slush Head gave  Optikk some well-conceived Mutant support, though I do question some of the selected part reuse, especially since other NA characters could have benefited from unique Slush Head lower legs. Stinkor was an evil warrior getting the Moss Man treatment– new and old heads, upgraded weapons (sadly unpainted ones) and vintage armor. Unfortunately, he also came with his unique forearms reversed, a decision that was both unfortunate and unsettling in that it was deliberate, according to the Brand Manager.

In my opinion, it wasn’t noticed and Ruben was asked to take a bullet for PR, but with subsequent questionable design choices, one has the wonder. Apparently the attention to detail was dedicated to Scott Neitlich’s darling, the controversial Mighty Spector.  Scott’s entry in the MOTUC lore finds himself a Marty Stu, with fan favorites dying, per his personal canon, while his new creation can time travel and serves alongside the future king He-Man… the less said the better. June was fascinating with the first-ever Horde Prime (the original 2012 subscription figure), Snake Man-At-Arms (sporting fan-suggested limbs and 200x deco), and Beast Man’s favorite mode of travel, the rideable Griffin beast. Snake Mountain stands found their way out as well, but again, budget cuts forced less deco to be applied, and the long-awaited evil counterpart to the Grayskull stands were anti-climactic.

Quarter 3 started with Spikor, recreated perfectly from his vintage roots! San Diego Comic Con entrant Vykron proved to be the weakest SDCC offering to date. With cheap, substandard front-snapping armor and the first-noted case of “blastic” (a term for Mattel using black plastic for all parts to preserve cost and painting over all pieces, including joints and other areas of heavy rub), Design picked yet another fight with the fans. August fared no better with Sir Laser Lot, a rare misfire from one of DC Comics’ most creative minds, Geoff Johns. September was a month to rejoice with the Masters’ favorite lookout Mekaneck, with his signature mace and two different and impressive necks clocking in at 5″ and 2″. Thunder Punch He-Man got his adversary in Dragon Blaster Skeletor, with new armor, brighter colors, and a chained dragon (though not water spraying variety). The Snake Men received an instant army of Snake Warrior sets with a bunch of interchangeable heads, weapons and armor, a set almost as varied in possibilities as the Eternian Guard sets. Lastly, Power Con was graced with their first exclusive, the Temple of Darkness Sorceress. She improved on the original with better legs, clear wings, a whiter palette, and an all new display stand designed to hold King Grayskull’s Orb of Power.

2012 was rounded out with everything thrown at us.  The much-delayed Frosta arrived with back unpainted, gray color, with questionable design choices on all fronts, and the cherry on this sundae was swapped forearms. This release was so bad, Mattel offered an apology toy. Accountability? Finally!  Sadly, she is still the weakest release in 2012,  something the Star Sisters are high-giving about to this day. The Snake Men have their general in Rattlor. He lost some paint apps, but none on his colorful scaly frame or removable neck piece. He even got a Horde armband, denoting his tenure there during the Princess of Power series. The lower tier of 30th sub-series completed its hat trick with Cy-Chop, a decent idea marred in both budget and execution… just unfinished. November saw the arrival of Man-At-Arm’s trainer Dekker (with two heads and retro-tech mace), a King Randor variant in his royal vestments (cup in hand, and able to relax with last year’s Queen Marlena), and the awesome Create-A-Character contest winner Castle Grayskullman. The annual Weapons Pack was released, and Mattel heard the fans– lost weapons due to budget this year were recovered in this set, with other weapons ranging from necessary (bluish white falcon, green Clawful shield) to unnecessary (Teela armor in light red, and Clawful mace in identical green). December finished off the year on a much needed high note with Horde energy-draining Mosquitor, the Comic giant Procrustus with Filmation relic the Star Seed, and the almost unfathomable release: towering over all of 2012, the dragon Granamyr of Darksmoke.

As 2012 came to a close, the fans were left with a difficult decision about supporting a line with rampant paint issues, part swapping, bad design choices, questionable character choices, and a horrible business portal. Once again, however, the bad can be offset by the Four Horsemen sculpts, the visual charm of each new release, and a menagerie of color, shape, style, and coolness factor the a line like this provides. If fans can stick through another calendar year, the best may be yet to come!

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