Masters of the Universe Classics

Man At Arms Masters of the Universe Classics action figure by Mattel

I've been more fortunate than many of the folks collecting the MOTUC series, as I've been able to pick up each of the figures when they were available at Matty Collector. Until Man At Arms.

I know some folks are pissed because they feel Matty isn't making enough, or the way they are selling them online isn't what they want. But I actually think Mattel is doing a pretty decent job of figuring this out as they go along, and trying to hit the right number of figures to produce with a purely collector driven line can be tricky. They still have a way to go - the figure shouldn't sell out in under an hour - but they're trying.

No, my problem in getting this latest release was purely a technical one, and that's something Mattel needs to fix now. There's no excuse, no gray area, no 'trying to figure it out'. The service they are using for their e-commerce through Digital River simply blows chunks, and that's not something that requires any real brain power to correct.

My problem was simple - I needed to change my credit card info because my last card was compromised. When I tried to do this as part of the ordering process, I was repeatedly met with an authorization error. I tried many times, until finally the figure was sold out. I trotted off to ebay and bought one for a small premium.

The reason this is an issue is because it is so fixable, and to not do so is just foolish. Yea, I get that some aspects of selling these figures are marketing decisions that require some tweaking, but the basic technical user experience has nothing to do with the figures or lines themselves - it's just technology. Mattel needs to either tell Digital River to get their act together, or find a new e-commerce provider.
Man At Arms Masters of the Universe Classics action figure by Mattel
Man At Arms Masters of the Universe Classics action figure by Mattel
Man At Arms Masters of the Universe Classics action figure by Mattel
Man At Arms Masters of the Universe Classics action figure by Mattel
Man At Arms Masters of the Universe Classics action figure by Mattel

Packaging - ***1/2
Since I bought this off ebay, and I found better deals (free shipping) if I went with a loose version rather than a carded one. So I'm only guessing here on the package, but I'm betting it's pretty much the same as the previous releases, and I liked those quite a bit. My only past issue has been with the ability to see the figure clearly in the bubble, but Poe says that's improved, and I trust him.

Sculpt - ***1/2
Since I babbled on about Mattel's e-commerce problems in my intro, I didn't get to say much about old Man-At-Arms. One of the good guys, Man-At-Arms was adviser to Prince Adam and a military man. The term 'man-at-arms' goes back to medieval times, and meant a professional soldier, and Mattel absconded the term for his moniker.

MAA wears sculpted armor, and while it is removable, I'm not counting it as an 'accessory', but part of his main sculpt. The armor looks terrific, covering his torso and neck, left shoulder, bicep and forearm, and left knee and shin. The armor has a fairly complex sculpt for this series, where the animated style tends to imply a simpler look.  The sculpt is a little soft in some places, with some of the details of the torso armor lacking the kind of sharp edges you'd see in some other lines, but it's a minor nit.

As I said, the armor is removable, and my biggest issue was keeping the covering for the left forearm, elbow and wrist in place. It tends to slide down the arm, and pushing it up too far tended to pop the little snap that holds it together wide open. I found it mighty frustrating, but I may just have gotten one that's too stretched out to fit perfectly. I do like how the upper section of the sculpted forearm piece fits over the lower part of the bicep armor, so that when the elbow is full extended, the lower armor can pass over the upper armor.

The design of the armor is sort of a cross between actual military gear and a space suit, making it a very unique look.

There are two head sculpts included with this figure, mirroring the two looks of the original character. He comes wearing a clean shaven face, much like the original MOTU action figure. The helmet looks a little too squat to me, but that's only an issue if you're expecting these to match some previous incarnation exactly. Instead, they are looking to emote the originals, not reproduce them, and I think the helmet and head sculpt do that extremely well.

The second head comes wearing the funky 70's 'stache that the character had on the filmation cartoon. They were going for an older, wiser look, and guess they figured making him look like Ron Jeremy was the way to go. Both head sculpts have nice detailing, and show off the skills of the Four Horsemen quite well.

He stands about 7" tall, like the rest of the series, which isn't surprising since the body parts are re-used quite liberally throughout the series.

Paint - ***
I've heard that some folks had serious issues with their MAA figures, but I was spared most of that.

There is a bit more slop here than you'd like to see, especially around the blue belt and dark fur loincloth. While there's lots of smaller sculpted details, the paint ops that highlight them are often sloppy or thickly applied, reducing the appearance of the excellent sculpt. 

Articulation - ***1/2
If you've been buying these figures, then you know the drill. Ball jointed shoulders and hips, pin joints for knees, chest and elbows, ball jointed neck, cut joints at the waist, calves, biceps and wrists, and a combo joint at the ankles that allows for forward and backward movement, as well as slightly side to side movement.

The ball jointed neck works much better than I expected, with little restriction from the armor. Of course, the armor does hide the face in some poses, but that doesn't mean the head can't tilt forward, back and side to side.

The rocker style joints in the ankles are nice for putting the feet flat on the ground in extreme stances, but I found that all the joints in the legs - hips, knees, and ankles - were a bit loose.

Accessories - ****
I love when they give us a ton of extras, and Man-At-Arms does even better than Hordak in this respect.

I already mentioned the extra head, which is a huge plus, but there's also four additional weapons! There's a small sword, his traditional club (which is actually designed based on the artwork for the vintage figure), and a pistol. These all fit in the back pack of his armor for easy carrying.

Finally, he comes with a large, ornate sword based on the 2002 version. This Power Sword looks excellent, with a great sculpt and better paint work than usual, making it a nice add to the display. Give it to He-man and he'll be happy.

Fun Factor - ****
These are great toys for kids, especially if you've gotten them indoctrinated with the old cartoons.

Value - **
Yep, he's a cool figure, but I'm still saying he's not quite $20 cool. As prices on other figures continue to rise, my tune may change.

Things To Watch Out For
If you're stuck buying this off ebay, you might ask the seller for an actual photo of the one you'll be getting. The paint ops seem to be highly variable, and you wouldn't want to get stuck with one of the bad ones.

Overall - ***1/2
Mattel has managed to do an excellent job with the actual figures in this series, and I'm really looking forward to the future releases.  MAA is one of the key characters in the world of MOTU, and they managed to do him up right.

If you're going to get into this line, I really do recommend looking at the club membership. If you're going to buy them anyway, you might as well do it with the least effort and trouble.

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

Where to Buy -
Matty Collector was your original choice, but it sold out in under an hour. Next up is Tri-klops, coming August 15th.

If you really expect to collect this series as a completist, then you should sign up for their 2010 Club Eternia membership, where you'll be guaranteed one of every figure next year, no hassle, no logging in, no ordering. But you only have til August 7th to join the club, so don't delay if you're really interested. Yep, that's what I did.

- so now you have to hit ebay. Don't miss out this month!

Related Links -
I've covered the entire line so far:

- Hordak was the most recent, and before that was ZodacFaker, Mer-man and Stratos, starting out with He-man, Skeletor and Beastman together in one review.

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Man At Arms Masters of the Universe Classics action figure by Mattel

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

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