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King Hssss - Masters of the Universe Classics
Mattel

King Hiss Masters of the Universe Classics MOTUC action figure by Mattel


In the last few weeks I've had a lot of folks ask me if I would still be reviewing Masters of the Universe Classics, since I'd skipped February, and March was still MIA. Fear not, the reviews will continue, but for me, Digital River was a total nightmare this last month.

While this series has had it's share of issues, and Mattel has done better and worse in some areas, most of those problems I can live with, if not always understand. But coming from a background in IT and customer service, I simply can't understand or abide by their seeming unwillingness to do something about the atrocity that has been their relationship with Digital River, the company that provides their e-commerce for Matty Collector.

I've lost track of the number of specific issues I've had with the ordering process on all Matty offerings. I even went with both the MOTUC and Ghostbusters subscriptions this year, hoping that would help. Sadly, it did not.

Both my subscriptions were canceled in March when they came due. Why? Because the credit card failed. But there's nothing wrong with the credit card - I check with the CC company, and there should have been no problems with the charge. I discussed the issue 5 separate times with different customer reps from Digital River, most of which did not understand the issue and most of which were almost impossible to communicate with. Countless emails were passed back and forth, and finally, after the fifth phone call, the subs were re-billed successfully and re-instated. I did manage to get my March figures, albeit a couple weeks behind my normal shipping time.
King Hssss Masters of the Universe Classics MOTUC action figure by Mattel
King Hssss Masters of the Universe Classics MOTUC action figure by Mattel
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King Hssss Masters of the Universe Classics MOTUC action figure by Mattel
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King Hsss Masters of the Universe Classics MOTUC action figure by Mattel
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King Hsss Masters of the Universe Classics MOTUC action figure by Mattel
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King Hsss Masters of the Universe Classics MOTUC action figure by Mattel
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King Hsss Masters of the Universe Classics MOTUC action figure by Mattel
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Mattel needs to stop ignoring this issue and drop Digital River. If you did your job as poorly as they've done theirs, you'd have been fired long ago - this situation is costing Mattel customers. Why is it allowed to continue?

Enough of my whining about the ordering process, and time to talk about the figure. This time around it's King Hssss, secret leader of the Snake Men!  I'm not sure how much of a secret it is, since he has a sculpted snake on his armor, he carries a snake wrapped staff, and there's a big snake on his shield, but maybe everybody just pretends for his sake.

I don't know much of anything about this guy, other than the fact that he was not part of the old cartoon. If you're looking for better Masters of the Universe history, you should check out my friends at Poe Ghostal or It's All True.

Packaging - ***1/2
The packaging remains the same, although there's the new sticker on the bubble mentioning the Snake Men. The back of the card gives some detailed information about his origin and allegiance, and the usual graphics are as attractive as always. I appreciate the consistency, and I'm betting that many MOC collectors do as well.

Sculpting - ***
Let's start by discussing the elephant in the room. Those shoulders. Yep, they're swapped...again. Now, I wouldn't have noticed (or at least not right away) had others not noticed first and made it well known across the geek wire.

The swapped shoulders don't bother me a whole lot on their own, since it's not a huge issue for this particular figure from either a visual or mechanical perspective. Collectors that are more particular will find it more annoying.

However, I do find the repeated nature of the problem upsetting. How many figures in this series have had assembly problems? Why does it continue to happen over and over? That's a much bigger issue for me.

The overall sculpt is solid work, with nice sharp cuts on the detailed armor. The snake parts are pretty realistic considering the cartoon style, and the non-snake version of the character fits in pretty well thematically with the other figures in the series.

The hands are sculpted to hold the accessories, and he stands great on his own, just as you'd expect.

Paint - **1/2
Some of the paint work is great - other areas, not so much.

My favorite paint detail here is the slitted eyes, done to resemble a reptile. It's that sort of small detail that can make a huge difference in the overall look of a character.

Not so good is some of the slop, particularly around the snake logo on his chest. There's also a dearth of other paint ops, with most of the figure cast in the major colors. The shield has some silver added to the belly of the snake, but that's it, and it really needed a few more ops to allow the snake to pop.

Articulation - ***
The body has the usual MOTUC articulation, although it seems as though the swapped shoulders limits the arms a bit, particularly in how close they can come in toward the body. The ball jointed head is also a bit restricted by the helmet, and the new ankles have too much gapping for my tastes. The issues that are here are minor, but drag him down about a half star below the norm for this series.

Accessories - ***1/2
Hssss has several cool extras. There's his large staff, with a deadly looking serpent wrapped around it. It fits nicely in his hands, and works with just about any pose.

There's also the shield, complete with sculpted snake logo and clip on the back to attach it to either forearm. It really needs a bit more in the paint department, but I already complained about that in the Paint section.

The third and most unique extra is the snake upper body which can easily be swapped at the pelvis. This new upper body is made up of one large snake, and four other smaller versions, all rising up from his pants. And yes, I know how bad that sounds.

The two longest snakes are bendy, and can be posed in arm-like ways. The other three are not, and are pretty much stuck in the pose you see. The jaw is also a pin joint, allowing you to open or close the large mouth.

There's something weird about this whole concept that just creeps me out. It's a bizarre design, and doesn't get any less bizarre in the execution. I may display him with the snake torso just for the conversation it's obviously going to spark.

Fun Factor - ****
While he might be weird, he's still fun. This whole series has captured the best of old school action figure concepts and made them even better.

Value - **1/2
At $20, these are a hard sell, but at least this guy gets two unique accessories plus the extra head/torso. There's also a ton of newly sculpted surfaces here, making this a better value than usual.

Things to Watch Out For -
Nothing really. All the joints were tight and solid, and this would make a great toy for kids to play with.

Overall - ***
I doubt that poor King Hssss is going to be the number one figure from this series for any collector. In fact, a lot of folks will be pretty lukewarm on him, largely because he was never in the original cartoon and they have less nostalgic connection. But I'm glad I picked him up, if for no other reason than the unique nature of the snake option.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ***
Paint - **1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ****
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
As always, the place to pick this guy up was at Matty Collector. Since their entire shipment didn't show up on time, there is going to be more offered very soon at their site, or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
Other MOTUC reviews include:

- last up was Vikor, and before that the very yellow Buzz Off.

- Grizzlor was November's release.

- the previous month was the swapped shoulders Roboto.

- Gygor makes other big monkeys look silly.

- another character with animal instincts is Chief Carnivus.

- just before that was Whiplash.

- Orko was the SDCC exclusive this year.

- just before the Con, Matty sold out of Count Marzo.

- before that was She-Ra, Princess of Power, and the large scale Tytus.

- I've also looked at the cool custom swords and shields you can get from SpyMonkey Creations.

- prior to that, I looked at the other May release, Optikk.

- seems like it was just yesterday that I covered Evil-Lyn.

- prior to that it was Moss Man.

- check out the cool MOTUC Display stands.

- just before that I covered Battle Cat and Trap Jaw, and prior to that was Adora.

- I really liked Scare glow, although he's not exactly what you'd call a key character.

- She-Ra isn't the first girl in the series - Teela has that honor.

- before that there was Webstor, one of my favorite, and Tri-klops, another one of my favs.

- prior to that was Man-at-armsHordak, ZodacFaker, Mer-man and Stratos, starting out with He-man, Skeletor and Beastman together in one review.

Discussion:
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King Hsss Masters of the Universe Classics MOTUC action figure by Mattel


This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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