Masters of the Universe vs. The Snakemen
Roboto, Hiss, Zodak, Fisto, Rattlor

I do a terrible job covering Masters of the Universe.  Really terrible.  So it's always great to get a terrific guest review like this one.  Wakko steps up today to pinch hit on the new releases.  It's all yours, Wakko!

Wakko here with a guest review of five of the newest figures in the Masters of the Universe line. Four of these figures are from the new “Masters of the Universe vs. The Snakemen” line, while Roboto is the lone all-new figure in the elusive Hero Wave 6. While none of these figures are perfect (each one seems to have its own set of minor issues), they continue the quality of sculpting and production that fans of the line have come to expect.

Packaging - Roboto ***, everyone else *** ½
Since Roboto is shipping with Hero Wave 6 at this point, he comes with the same red card that we’ve been seeing since the launch of the line. The other four figures are shipping on new “MOTU vs. Snakemen” cards, which predominantly feature green and purple on the packaging. The new design is quite striking, if not necessarily groundbreaking.

Sculpting - King Hsss ***, Zodak *** ½, everyone else ****
I have to continue to give props to the Four Horsemen for their work on this line. Many fans argue that since The General and King Hsss were sculpted by the 4HM based on Mattel’s own designs, they are therefore more cartoony than the rest of the line. I have to strongly disagree, as every reptilian scale is present and accounted for, and these two figures appear to fit in seamlessly with the rest of the line.

Starting with the best of the bunch, The General is a large, imposing villain, with a rather regal look to his face, a scaly loincloth, and wrist cuffs that look like the spine of some unfortunate creature. He’s big and intimidating – quite fitting for the General of a large reptilian army.

As an android, Roboto represents a real change of pace from the usual humans and monsters of this line, and the sculptors really rose to the challenge. This figure is not lacking in intricate gears (from inside his translucent chest to the soles of his large boots), and easily blows away his classic counterpart from the 80’s line.

Battle Fist and Zodak are the first all-human characters the line has seen since Teela a year ago. Some may feel Fisto’s right hand is proportionately too large for his body, but I have no problem with its scale, and really appreciate the detail that went into it. He does share Ice Armor He-Man’s legs and torso, but given that the 80’s line was all about reusing molds, I have no problem with it on occasion with this line. Zodak is also an excellently sculpted and detailed figure, but his permanent downward glance and his inexplicably diminutive stature are detracting factors.

Finally, there’s the troublesome King Hsss. Standing alone on the shelf in his human form, he’s a four-star figure, with a perfectly evil face and nicely detailed armor. (Note that his hands appear to be coming out of the mouths of snakes.) Remove that human form to reveal the nest of snakes within, however, and he becomes a laughable 2-star figure at best. It’s a necessary evil that these “hidden” snakes be small in order to fit inside his human shell, but the stubby arms and tiny head of his snake form are more comedic than frightening, and ultimately Hsss is much more imposing in his human form.

Paint - ****
I figured I’d be giving these figures a *** ½ score at best on paint application, but as I looked them over, I couldn’t find a single issue on any of them. The paint quality control is top notch with this lot. Perhaps a little more detail would’ve been nice in some areas, or perhaps a wash or two might’ve brought out more detail, but honestly I see no room for complaint on any of them. I’m particularly impressed with the clean application of Zodak’s tattoos.

Articulation - Hsss ** ½, Zodak ***, everyone else *** ½
This group is a bit of a mixed bag, and only Zodak sticks to the “typical” list of MOTU articulation: neck, ball-jointed shoulders, waist, wrists, and ball-jointed hips. This is a fine amount of articulation for lots of posing, although you should never expect any of your MOTU figures to be able to sit (their legs are usually hindered by their choice of leg-wear).

Fisto has one additional joint at his right elbow, allowing for more posing of his fist, while Roboto’s extra bit of articulation is in his jaw. The General lacks waist articulation, but has an articulated tail and jaw as well (excellent for “striking” poses).

Again, Hsss suffers the worst in this category. In his human form, all he has is neck, wrist, and leg articulation. In snake form, he has jaw articulation on three of his snake heads, as well as arm articulation.

Accessories - Zodak, General, Hiss *** ½, Roboto ***, Battle Fist **
Again, a mixed bag. Zodak is the winner here, as he comes with removable chest armor (check out those abs!), a removable helmet, staff, and gun with firing missile. The armor and helmet fit perfectly, and the staff is cartoon accurate. The gun… whatever. It’s a reuse from a He-Man figure and is unnecessary.

Coming in second is The General with a snake staff and firing missile, removable chest armor, and a removable kilt. (Yes, your General can go au naturale.) I’m not a huge fan of the design of his chest armor (fluorescent green?), but it’ll do. King Hsss comes with a snake staff and firing missile as well (kudos to Mattel for using different sculpts for these staffs) and a shield that clips easily onto his arm. His loin cloth was apparently designed to be removable as well, but instead is glued permanently into place.

Roboto comes with removable chest armor (and frankly, the figure looks better without it, and it restricts his neck articulation), a claw and a gun with a firing missile. (Mattel loves their spring-loaded weapons!) The gun looks cool mounted on his back, but unfortunately there’s no such way to fasten his claw when it’s not being used. I deducted a little more from Roboto’s score here, since his 80’s counterpart came with an axe that this figure lacks.

Finally, poor Battle Fist. At least he comes with cool removable armor. In keeping with the anti-Snakemen motif, he comes with a snake-catching clamp that he cannot even hold in a convincing manner, and doesn’t really fit well into the back of his armor. What really bites is that this useless clamp takes the place of the large sword he was originally supposed to come with. Grrrrr.

Action Features - *** King Hsss & Zodak, **** everyone else
I’m firmly of the opinion that action features are completely unnecessary, and often hinder the posability of a figure. But there are some exceptions here: Battle Fist’s fist launches forward with the push of a button on his wrist, which is kinda cool, while the General’s head launches forward to simulate a striking snake with the push of a small, unobtrusive button on his lower back. The General also has a tail you can rattle. Turn Roboto’s waist, and his inner gears move, as does his jaw. These are the kind of features that add to the playability of a figure without detracting from its posability.

Alas, poor Zodak features an unnecessary karate-chop action that requires a long, unsightly button to protrude from his back. He also has a spring-loaded waist that eliminates otherwise useful articulation. Remove King Hsss’ human shell, and you can make three of his snake heads pop up with the push of a button. It doesn’t so much add coolness as it does comedy to his already laughable snake form.

Value - ****
With all my criticisms, these are still excellent figures of beloved characters. I scored four of them for $6.99 at an Aldi’s market, which is a great deal, but I honestly didn’t mind paying $7.99 for Roboto at Kmart, either.

Overall - ***3/4
I’m giving a near-perfect score across the board for these figures, even though some (The General, Roboto, Battle Fist) are clearly better than others (King Hsss, Zodak). For die-hard fans of the line like myself, these figures do not disappoint.

Where to Buy - 
Aldi’s markets received a boatload of the snakemen figures this past week, which is where I found The General, Hsss, Battle Fist, and Zodak. If you live anywhere between the middle east coast and the Ohio area, chances are you have one near you. Otherwise, you may have to wait until the post-Thanksgiving rush to begin seeing these at major retailers. Roboto, on the other hand, has been appearing mostly at KMarts of late.

Figures from the collection of Wakko.

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