Boom! With one striking blow, twenty-some-odd years of personal collection injustice are being set to rights. As a kid, I was never really into variants of characters in action figure form, heck I am not really that into them today. I like my standard, iconic looks for most of my characters and I can generally leave most variants by the wayside. An occasional important era or costume variant will find its way on to the shelf, but most of them end up in the variant bin. Somehow though, I have been roped into requiring a variant shelf for my Masters of the Universe Classics collection. Battle Armor Skeletor, Kronis, blue Mer-Man and the rest are just too cool to not show off. The latest addition to the variant shelf comes in the form of the Q1 (now technically Q2) A-list variant – Thunder Punch He-Man. I never owned this figure as a kid; I am not sure why that is because even though I was not really into the variants, I always seemed to acquire most of them. Maybe it was because of the cap feature? My mom would not let us play with toy guns so that might have carried over. I am not completely sure, but once again, Classics is making up for vintage injustices.
I am not ashamed to admit that I am completely over the moon about the other April-shipping figure, Draego-Man. Like I said before, I am automatically not as taken with variant figures in any line, but Thunder Punch He-Man offers a lot of “firsts” for a He-Man figure and is pretty, ahem, striking on his own. When you consider how faithfully updated some of his accessories are, it is easy to see that the Horsemen do not trivialize anything when it comes to “classicizing” these figures, so it doesn’t take an all-new dragon dude to get them to really commit to giving a figure their all. Hey, He-Man IS Masters of the Universe and even if Thunder Punch was his third incarnation in the vintage line, he still packed a wallop (sorry, I will stop now) with the kids.
Like I said, I don’t have any real nostalgic stories to bore you with regarding TP He-Man since I did not own him. I was very much aware of him as my best friend cherished his figure, but I never really played with him. I was more in-line with the bad guys and since I never had any toy guns, I was inexperienced with caps. Okay, that is just my way of saying that as a 5 year-old, caps kind of scared me. I can admit that. Well, seeing as this figure is now minus the action feature, he comes with a “slug” cap recreation, but without the “bang”, so I won’t flinch like a little a girl. Actually, my three-month-old daughter doesn’t get easily rattled so I retract my previous statement as to not insult little girls.
So, what do you when eliminate the action feature from an update to a figure that was created completely for an action feature? Well, this line has a lot characters with that conundrum, but somehow it always works out in the end. For Thunder-Punch He-Man, a good start is being the very first Classics He-Man with a fist. That seems kind of strange right?
It’s funny for a line that is comprised mostly of characters that run around and punch the crap out of each other, there are very few figures with actual fists. Fisto, of course and Tytus has a fist too, but never a He-Man? That just seems odd to me. Well, we need not fret over that aspect anymore because this alter ego of Adam has a fist all ready for Thunder Punchin’! I am not sure what to say about it other than it is, well, a fist. It is a well-sculpted fist and it looks great breaking the maws of countless Snake Mountainites, but other than it being the first standard-sized fist in the line, I am not sure what else to say. I love that we now have a He-Man with a fist and I wonder where it might show up again; it might be a great base for customizers to cast so they can give Fisto a pre-metallic meat hook hand. What other characters would make good use of this? Well, all of them, I suppose, at the right moment.
But since this is THUNDER PUNCH and not regular old punch He-Man and his caps were taken away from him, we needed a way to recreate that feeling of strength of knuckles that will send you to outer space with a single swipe. Enter: the energy effect. Fans jumped on this request the minute the first pictures of this figure hit the internet back in July. What a perfect and very appropriate suggestion to compensate for the lack of sound effects. I know there have been requests for a lot of different “effects” in the line for a long time, like eye beam blasts, magic beams, etcetera, so it is great to finally get one, especially for such an important recreation. Kudos to the movement, I love it when this kind of thing comes to fruition. The effect is cast in the same [very] pale yellow plastic as the Power Sword (just like you remember!) and snaps onto the fist fairly snugly. Since it seems to share a tool with the Sword (though I am not certain past the same plastic being used) the effect is not as soft in terms of plastic as I would have imagined. If it is a choice between a semi-rigid effect or a rubbery sword, I will take the rigid effect every day of the week, so I am glad the erred on that side of caution. I have tried out the effect on a normal MOTUC hand and while it kind of stays on if you have the angle just right, it is not really meant to serve any fist but the Thunder Puncher.
He also brought all of his refashioned vintage weapons with him. The sword is pretty straight forward (but completely appropriate) as an update to the pale yellow vintage counterpart. I am glad that they went for a different color than the DC Two-Pack Skeletor sword as it continues to add variety to the weapons mix. He also has his shield that has been finished in a s shiny silver vac metal. Now, the look is great but I am always weary of vac metal in any incarnation and I know there are reports out there of Hurricane Hordak’s armor chipping so I would advise all of the same caution with this, even though it seems like it is slightly sturdier. The shield holds the cap slug for storage (just like you remember!) and when it is in place, it makes for a dynamic look. The issue I have with the shield is that it is made of a rigid plastic and anytime I have to snap an accessory into place with a clip (like the one on the back) I get a little nervous about breakage. The clip does not fit super tight over the left wrist so you don’t really have to force it (but then again, this one slides around a bit so that can be annoying too) but I would still exercise caution when clipping it on.
The backpack/Thunder Punch rig is the coolest part of the figure though and for being a (essentially) castrated action feature harness, everything but the audible “bang” has been built in. Red is a good color for He-Man and he wears this get-up well. The vac metal accents really pop and even if he is going to hang out with the variants on your shelf, we will still stand out. The harness is NOT removable and it opens in the back so you can load the “cap” into place. The disk inside still spins and I can be turned via the knob on the outside of the backpack. I realize that some people don’t like the sculpted in dials and what not, but I think a lot of care was given by the 4H to realize this one faithfully and I think most collectors will appreciate it.
The He-Man figure itself (aside from the fist) is the one we have known for awhile now, with a few noticeable differences (again, past the fist). First is that he has those new boots with the hidden ankle joints. This is the second figure this year to use those boots (along with Fisto) so it looks like Mattel is making good on their promise to integrate them going forward. I am also a big fan of the white fur at the top of He-Man’s boots so I prefer these even over the standard editions. The second issue is that this one is a bit of a step backwards as his loincloth is pretty rigid. It is not so much like the original first edition He-Man, but it is much harder to move than the last few figures we have gotten. This has become a pet peeve of mine for any action figure line and since this is a reemergence of something that had been corrected before, I REALLY hope this is a one-off issue.
The other big difference that you have probably noticed is He-Man’s complexion. Now, years and years of toys and FilMation cartoons have conditioned me to expect that He-Man comes standard with an Eternian man tan at all times. Well, Thunder Punch here is breaking that wall down because this guy looks like he has not seen the sun in awhile. At first I thought that maybe the vintage figure was lighter of skin, but I do not recall that being the case. I mistake maybe? Hmm… I wonder since the He-Man figure that is permenently available has the tan. So why? Fortunately, my hero Matthew K pointed out on the forums that TP’s bio states that he has been living [literally] underground for quite some time since Skeletor took over the Eternian throne. Okay, if this was done on purpose to serve the bio, that is pretty frikkin’ ingenious, but now that I have a good reason in my mind for it, I am satisfied if it was just a happy accident. That being said though, it is still kind of jarring to look upon such a pale-faced He-Man and I certainly would NOT want this to be his coloration for variants going forward.
Finally, he also includes the first of the three-part mini comic saga that is being released this year with the first three quarterly figures. The comic is securely placed in a plastic bag behind the figure. By now everyone has seen the cover and that is all I am going to give you in this First Look because I will not play spoiler to the story. That has happened quite a bit already. I am interested to see where this story goes and how it will supplement the Classics continuity.
BANG! SNAP! POW! Even though we have gotten several He-Man figures in the Classics line already, the new Thunder Punch is a well-conceived figure and has the color and metallic highlights to really pop on the shelf. The complexion is a little jarring to me still, but in accordance with the bio, it makes sense. Again too, and I might be harping now: do not make the tougher furry shorts common again. Please! I am not as googily-eyed over this figure as I am with Draego-Man, but c’mon, very few things can touch that figure. As far as He-Man variants are concerned, I like this one just as much as the Battle Armor edition we got a couple of years ago, and that one was my favorite. TP He-Man is a fun variant and I REALLY hope that Mattel does not break tradition and will give us Dragon Blaster Skeletor next to go with this figure. I cannot wait for that. The most powerful man in the universe looks good in red and if you are a subscriber, he will be in your collection soon.
Oh, and just to show that I did not afford Fisto any unfair treatment, here is Thunder Punch He-Man punching a bunch of the Evil Warriors. Get your fill!
*Thanks for reading and thanks again to the MOTU crew for sending this sample along. We have a quick intermission from MOTUC to feature Voltron up next, but when we get back to Eternia, something will have gone completely rotten… Stay tuned!