I have to say that I am having a lot of fun getting all kinds of first-time figures in the Masters of the Universe Classics line. Filmation has been a great beneficiary of the line’s attempt to incorporate all aspects of the MOTU property and there are so many characters out there that NEED figures from those shows, so hopefully those numbers continue. However, sometimes it is really refreshing to get a figure of a character that just feels like old-school He-Man, and by old-school I mean the vintage mini-comic era. If you are not initiated in that lore, you should take a chance to check them out at some point; there are a lot of really cool characters, concepts, and storylines in those small pages and hopefully there is still plenty of room in the Classics line to bring those guys to our shelves.
One of the more memorable characters from the mini-comics is the “laugh at your pain” and downright evil Geldor. He is so memorably evil, in fact, that it was enough to carry him to victory in the first Fan Choice character slot in the line. See, MOTU fans always have a soft spot for the baddies. He finally arrives in November, and he is armed with that old-time MOTU feel that will make him a great addition to the collection.
If you have ever seen the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, you will probably remember politician, huckster, and flour magnate Pappy O’Daniel and his penchant for all things “old timey.” Loose comparisons aside, Mr. November (any Kids in the Hall fans here?) here is case in point in bringing about that “old timey” Masters of the Universe feeling. I think that he, more so than any other non-vintage character released in recent memory, feels like he actually had a vintage figure, even though he didn’t. Does that make sense? His look and adaptation into Classics is so perfectly vintage, it is like he was one of the original Evil Warriors. His design, costume, weapons, everything just feels very in tune with guys like Tri-Klops, Trap Jaw, and the rest; it is almost as if he was buried in the bottom of the old toy box with the rest of the vintage crew. Now, I am all about getting my PoP, NA, Filmation, and new characters in MOTUC, but there is something so perfectly vintage about Geldor that it is almost comforting, even though saying that sounds a bit sappy.
Sure, Geldor’s origin might be steeped in ancient Masters lore, but I don’t think that is necessarily an automatic qualifier for feeling vintage. His Roman-esque armor, menacingly simple ax, and amazing hair/mutton chop/mustache style make a pretty perfect storm that makes it feel like he is one of He-Man’s oldest and most persistent adversaries. Like a lot of the Filmation characters, most mini-comic characters were “one and done” in terms of appearances, but if I would have owned a theoretical vintage Geldor figure, he would have been a constant thorn in the side of the Heroic Warriors and would not have gotten along well with Skeletor either. He just strikes me as a self-made and self-reliant evil guy that will fight He-Man to prove his worth, but also just because it happens to be Tuesday. Oh, and if he sees you as an enemy, or even someone not particularly useful, he will probably just chop your head off.
Geldor is perfectly appropriate to that era that existed prior to when MOTU changed its voice on the Filmation show. The mini-comics are more ruthless and Eternia is more barbaric, and vanquishing foes was a part of everyday life. I know that there is a strong departure from a lot of those principles as the property progressed, but I take those times as a valuable piece of the history and integrate them into my own MOTU mythology, just like everything else. So while I do agree that 99.99999% of the time He-Man would never use lethal force on an enemy no matter how villainous, he is still charged with being the protector of Eternia, and in that role, you have to be a pragmatist. To me, Geldor is the type of guy that would test He-Man’s mettle in those rare situations just for the sake of doing so. That is just the type of guy that he is. I mean, in his only mini-comic appearance he took time to boisterously laugh at someone’s physical and emotional pain, so daring He-Man to chop his head off because he feels he has to seems right in line with his persona. I don’t shy away from MOTU’s more brutal side, and Geldor is a great conduit for that for me.
In addition to its pre-Filmation status, I think a lot of people, especially American fans that grew up with the cartoons as part of their daily lives, tend to underestimate the popularity of the mini-comics, especially in other parts of the world. My time spent in this fandom has taught me that there are many places where the cartoon was not so ubiquitous and mini-comics reigned supreme in terms of Masters media. I know Germany is one such place and I know my German MOTU friends are rabid supporters and historians of the comics, and that diversity of preferred media is just reason number 429,236 in the list of things that make MOTUC great. But as strong as the German fanbase is, on its own it is probably was not enough to tip the entire fan vote, so I am glad to see that there are lots of mini-comic and Geldor fans all over the world.
Really, Geldor makes for a pretty prefect fan-vote winner. He does not have a ton of unique tooling (one of the requirements of the vote), and he is not one of those omnipresent characters that would get a default monthly spot, so I think all of this worked out pretty perfectly. Now, our German friends did qualify to make him their selection in final voting, but the moment I saw that he was a finalist, I knew I would be voting for him. Outside of He-Man and Skeletor, I don’t think any character is universally loved by all MOTU fans, but it was cool to see such an old and slightly obscure character take the vote. I know we don’t have a heck of a lot longer for this line in the format that we know it (but I hope I am wrong), but I would love to see another fan vote for a spot in the 2015 line-up that can be open to all subbers, not just those that travel to conventions.
As for execution, Geldor is a quality figure. I know I keep belaboring the point of (mostly) great quality in the 2013 figure lineup, but I feel that getting a premium figure is the only thing to justify paying a premium price. Let’s face it, even Toy Guru has said on countless occasions that reality dictates that action figure prices are going to continue to increase, and even though it can be a tough pill sometimes, if I am getting quality product, I am usually willing to pay for it. Plus, messing up the FAN CHOICE figure would be nightmare, so I can say that this particular sample has strong and appropriate plastic, clean paints, tight joints, and, of course, spot-on sculpting from the Four Horsemen. The plastic is sturdy in his limbs, but nice and pliable in his outfit, just as it should be to make good use of his articulated frame.
While Geldor could just as easily be seen as a regular in a whips-and-chains club as he could an Eternian despot, his style and costume has been carried into Classics quite well. I am not sure what the heck too so long in getting us a figure of a Masters character with a Mohawk, but I am relieved that the wait is over. Geldor’s grey hair seems to be indicative that he is no spring chicken, so the fact that he still sports his hair/facial hair style with his continued spry fighting prowess qualifies him for automatic Eternian bad-ass. His facial expression is strangely appropriate; he is kind of gnashing his teeth, but kind of smiling all at the same time. So it’s like he is charging at you with his ax flailing just taunting you to try to stop him. I know I would not want to play a game of Eternian chicken with the dude. The Horsemen have done a great job of bringing out a lot of personality in a figure that several might have prematurely dismissed as boring.
He has a mostly monochromatic getup, but the fact that it is red kind of adds to his persona. He has some armor up top and new and unique boots, so from head to toe he can attack in a blurry fury of blood red. Skeletor can no longer boast that he is the only hip cat on Eternia to sport the Romanesque pants (Geldor’s are NOT the same part, though), and the Big G looks good doing so. I like that his outfit is visually interesting while staying pretty simple in design. That is one of the major hallmarks that make him feel so vintage to me; all of those original 8-Backers are amazingly cool, but amazingly efficient in their designs. Seriously, Photoshop Geldor onto one of those old card backs and tell me he doesn’t gel rather seamlessly.
For accessories, Geldor comes with two and both of them are completely unique. One is his gratuitously large and slightly ridiculous ax. Now, it matches the source material, but only someone as brash, evil, and conceited as Geldor could possibly pull it off. When he is not out pillaging and acting rude, he uses his ax as a paddle in his job as a part time pizza cook. Geldor gonna make-a-you a giant-a pizza pie! He also comes with the titular drink from his starring mini-comic, “The Secret Liquid of Life.” Obsessed with immortality (his tagline even says so), this was the key cause of his ruckus with He-Man, and the Horsemen have included a shot glass-sized vial of the stuff for Geldor to shoot before locking horns with the Most Powerful Man in the Universe. He is gonna need it! I don’t know if it just me, but there is something positively satisfying about having a figure of a half-dressed barbarian sporting a Mohawk with an attached mustache wielding a giant ax while taking a shot of an immortality elixir on my shelf. Find me something more awesomely MOTU than that. I dare you.
I was excited when Geldor won the Fan Poll, but I had kind of put him away in my thoughts since then, so I am really glad that he is finally coming out in November. Frankly, I think he is actually one of my new favorite figures. Sure, he might get a little lost in the fray of Mantenna, the Horde Troopers, Club Filmation, and frikkin’ CASTLE GRAYSKULL, but he is so appropriately vintage MOTU, and that makes him a lot of fun. MOTU fans, you picked him, so this Bud’s for you, but I think he will surprise a lot of people and will be widely regarded as a successfully fun and evil figure.
*Thanks for reading and thanks to Mattel for making Geldor (and for sending along this sample) and the fans for picking him for the line. Worry not, we still have more MOTU madness to bring you.