Masters of the Universe Classics

Mer-man Masters of the Universe Classics action figure by Mattel

Traditionally, a Mer-man was a male version of a Mermaid, not to be confused with Mermaid Man.

But long before that guy was patrolling Bikini Bottom, another Mer-man was prowling the watery depths, working for the evil Skeletor. This Mer-man is the latest release in the Masters of the Universe Classics series.

When Stratos sold out in record time in March, the folks at Mattel figured they better up the production numbers on Mer-man. They did, but the shipment of figures ended up getting split, so that they could get some up in time for the April 15th sale date.  That shipment sold out in minutes, but fear not - the second batch of the production run will be going up for sale on Wednessday (the 29th), at noon EST, so you still have a chance.

Like the rest of the line, he'll run you $20, plus almost $9 in shipping in the U.S. This isn't a cheap line to collect, but thank God it's a good one.

Packaging - **1/2
The packaging style for Mer-man is identical to the previous releases, so I skipped a package photo this time. Check one of my earlier reviews in the 'Related Links' section below if you are not yet familiar with it. It's got a great retro feel to it, and in fact looks quite a bit like the old vehicle and playset packages. It's not collector friendly in the sense of being able to take the figure out without destroying the surrounding confinement, but it's damn attractive for the MOCers nonetheless.
Mer-man Masters of the Universe Classics action figure by Mattel
Mer-man Masters of the Universe Classics action figure by Mattel
Mer-man Masters of the Universe Classics action figure by Mattel
Mer-man Masters of the Universe Classics action figure by Mattel
Mer-man Masters of the Universe Classics action figure by Mattel

Sculpting - ****
I've pointed out before that I'm not an old school fan of MOTU. So for me, the characters that have the most unique and unusual designs are likely to be my favorites.

That's the case here, where we get the funky cat-like Mer-man head sculpt. This head sculpt is very much like the original, but done up with the usual exceptional detail that we've come to expect from the Four Horsemen.

Even better, we get a second head sculpt that looks just like the old card art. This is important, because while the card art looked more like this mutated frog, the figure never did. It's a really nice touch that they've given fans this unique head sculpt as a nod to the old artwork.

Of course, much of the body is re-used from other figures. You'll recognize the feet and armored legs from Skeletor, who also had the same gauntlets. But Mer-man does get new hands, and I really like the splayed fingers on the left hand. I suspect some folks would prefer another gripping hand to hold both weapons at the same time, but I like the gesturing pose.

While Mer-man's loincloth is the same old same old, his chest and shoulder armor is brand new. It looks very much like real bone, even with the funky corn color. It's easy to remove (you don't even have to pop the head off), but most folks are going to leave it on.

It's also worth noting here that they've added a fish-like neck piece to Mer-man, which you can clearly see in the very first photo. It restricts the neck articulation a bit, but I like the looks of the addition.

Mer-man stands great on his own of course, and the sculpt works great with the articulation.

Paint - ***1/2
Out of the figures released so far, Mer-man has the most detail and best paint work, no doubt about it.

Both head sculpts have plenty of fine detail, especially the extra head that's sculpted to look like the old design art. It does have one eyebrow (if that's what it is) slightly rubbed off on mine, and it could be a smidge cleaner around the eyes themselves, but it's still great to see this level of detail on these figures. Those itty bitty white teeth on the cat head look amazing!

While most of the body and armor pieces are merely cast in the appropriate colored plastic, at least these various parts are consistent in color, tone and finish. To add some pop to the body, there's a black wash that's been added. There's a dark wash added to the chest armor and loincloth as well, and while I think they might have gone overboard a bit with the amount, I'm happy to see it included. It certainly brings out the detail in both of these pieces of his outfit.

Mer-man has the most paint ops of any of the series so far, and it's much appreciated.

Articulation - ***1/2
Like the rest of this line, Mer-man has excellent articulation.

The ball jointed neck is a bit more restricted this time, due to the sculpt. It turns alright, and tilts back and forward a bit, but tilting to the side isn't something that works too well.

The pin/post ball shoulders and hips work great though, just as always. There's single pin elbows and knees that are a bit restricted, but still allow for better posing than most other figures out there in this scale. The cut wrists give you basic hand articulation, and pin ankles finish off the legs.

There's a cut waist and an ab crunch to complete the overall articulation picture. The basic body, which is being re-used over and over in a variety of ways with this line, is extremely well designed. The few issues that are here are fairly minor, and there's no need for Mattel to change a thing.

Accessories - ***1/2
The figure that had the best set of accessories previous to Mer-man was He-man, but the double M beats him least for me.

He comes with a truly unique sword, with serrated edges like shark's teeth. The blade itself has sort of a corn cob look, because of the square pattern down the blade and the corn yellow color, but it's still pretty damn deadly looking.

He also has a cool staff, which has a bony claw-like appearance. The sculpt detail on both these weapons is above what we've seen on most of the other accessories in the series so far, and hopefully we'll see this kind of work in future accessories.

But while those accessories are great, it's his extra head that has me sold. I already talked about the sculpting and paint on both in the previous sections, but the inclusion of such a cool extra gives this category an extra boost.

I wanted to point out that his chest/shoulder armor is removable as well. I don't count it as an 'accessory' because you aren't going to pose him without it - it's an integral part of his appearance, just like the cat-like head sculpt. But if you're so inclined to consider it an accessory, than you'd be even happier than I in this particular category.

Fun Factor - ****
These are sweet toys. In fact, there's almost no lines at your local Toys R Us that are as good of toys as these are. It's unfortunate very few kids will ever get their hands on them, or that other lines they will get this summer won't be of a similar quality.

Value - **
As much as I love these figures, I can't ignore the twenty dollar price tag.  That's a hefty price for any action figure in this scale, specialty market or not.  Add in the fact that there's a TON of reuse across this line, and the value isn't there.

Things To Watch Out For
Not a thing. 

Overall - ***1/2
I was *this* close to going four stars here, even with only the Sculpt and Fun Factor getting full marks. Why? Because this figure is my favorite of the series so far, and in hand, really impresses me with it's quality and design.

But in the end, it's still tough to say it's worth a whopping twenty bucks plus shipping. Getting full marks at that price is going to be tough, although it is possible with the right group of accessories.

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

Where to Buy -
Usually, I have to tell you to hit ebay at this point, because these sell out so fast. However, Mattel has a second batch arriving that will go on sale at Matty Collector on Wednesday the 29th. They usually go up at 9am PST, so you best be ready!

Related Links -
I've stayed up with the line so far, looking at He-man, Skeletor and Beastman in one review, and Stratos and Faker on their own.

Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

Reader Ratings!
Here's your chance to weigh in!  Select your rating for this figure(s) to the right.  Yea, it's a five star system and not a four star system like mine, but it's the best I've been able to come up with so far.  You can only rate once from any particular IP.  My score converted to a five star system for comparison: 4.34

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Mer-man Masters of the Universe Classics action figure by Mattel
Mer-man Masters of the Universe Classics action figure by Mattel

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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