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First Look – Zombihamma’s Mino-Tor and Interview

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As promised, we are back another Zombihamma Masters of the Universe Classics conversion kit creation! While we previously featured two new versions of the most well-known Heroic Master of the them all (and as you can see, they are really, really cool), I think I am even more excited about the subject of this feature. Let us present to you an all-new character and concept that I cannot believe has never before found its way into the official Masters mythos: Mino-Tor. Yep, like so many that have come before him, the name says it all, and this three-piece kit gives you the chance to turn a willing MOTUC body donor into a badass half man/half bull.

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Since this is a double feature of sorts, I am going to keep this pretty brief because I can assure you, the craftsmanship and skill in this set is second to none. The sculpt work is probably the best of all of the Zombihamma sets that I got, and I think the animal/monster form plays really well to his strengths. Plus, I am all about getting new characters via these great “third party” kits. I love that MOTU is so fluid that there is room for this kind of thing and I think it really plays well to the designers’ sense of creativity to be able to design an original creation.

The set comes in three pieces: the head, the furry neck overlay, and the giant battle axe. I personally think this set looks best on the Vikor body (pictured), but you can use any standard MOTU body with the “human” chest. Now, I am sure we will see a variety of painted versions pop up online in the coming weeks, but I don’t think you need to do anything to the donor body to make this set work well. I got the fully painted set, and the detail lines up well with official MOTUC figures, so the aesthetic is maintained. I think that is the most important thing with these kits because MOTUC has a VERY distinct style, and when you introduce something original into the fold, it has to align with the foundation; Mino-Tor does a great job.

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The neck overlay and head pop onto the base body extremely well, and I am actually surprised how snugly it all comes together. This set does not need any Blu-Tack or other help to stay on securely. I absolutely love the horns and the shading make them look really cool, so I appreciate that the head retains the functional articulation of the neck peg so you can pose the figure in a “charging” stance.

The included axe is also a beast, and I think my Evil Warriors ran in terror at just the sight of it. Oh, right, yes, I think of Mino-Tor as a heroic character, but you can have it your way. The blade is notched and the handle is long enough that it allows for a variety of two-handed poses for some intense pit fighting. The handle might be a *little* thick for the standard MOTUC grip, but you can get both hands around it with little effort.

If you have not put in an order with Zombihamma yet and you are thinking of only getting one set, I would recommend this one. There is just something fun about the originality of Mino-Tor and it is a very well constructed set that can introduce a new character into your MOTU mythos.

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As an added bonus to this feature, Mr. Mat O’Toole, Zombihamma himself agreed to sit down for a quick interview about himself, his customs, and his love for MOTU!

Fwoosh: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us!

Mat: Thank you.

F: First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

M: Sure, I’m from the UK,  but married my lady, who’s from the USA (12 years anniversary a couple of days ago). I started work doing creature fx about 18 years ago and have being doing it ever since. We have a 6-year-old girl, who’s amazing (and an action figure fan), and we moved to the USA a year or so ago to New Orleans. The job is great, but sketchy — rags one minute, riches the next, haha. I’ve worked on massive blockbusters to tiny low budget stuff since I moved here. I’ve glued a silicone crotch pad to a dwarf in a goblin makeup who we all affectionately referred to as tripod! (true story). I’ve also sat in the makeup chair next to Arnold Schwarzenegger, (work for ‘Maggie’, Arnie’s upcoming zombie flick ) chit chatting, he said “You look pumped. Do you work out?” I gave the usual response, “Cheers, yeah, a bit,” but inside my mind just screamed … bucket list!! bucket list!!  Haha, that was a cool one to do.

F: Have you always been into action figures?

M: Oh yeah, since I can remember. I was big in to Action Force as a kid, but always hated the ‘Star Wars’ articulation. Back then it was Baron Ironblood and the Red Shadows, but as the line continued more and more of the articulated figure started to get used, mainly figures that came with vehicles: Quarrel with her bike, Steele with the tank, and Stalker with his jeep all come to mind (Quarrel and Stalker were GIJoes Scarlett and Snake Eyes), but then He-Man came along and it was all over, hahaha!

F: Do you get much time to be able to use your professional skills for your action figure hobby?

M: I guess. I’ve always been ‘arty,’ but the job showed me ways of making things in a more professional way, with moulds, liquid plastics, finishes, etc. … The funny thing is, unless it’s to be seen very close up on screen, to make a toy look good, it requires more work than most movie effects.

F: How long have you been a He-Man fan?

M: Right from the moment they first came out in England.

F: What appeals to you about He-Man the most?

M: I guess it’s the same for a lot of us: young, artistic kid into barbaric fantasy. Fell in love with Frank Frazetta, then He-Man comes along and I just thought he was amazing, some magical combination of the sculpt (in comparison to other action figures of the day), the packaging, and, of course, the timing. Also, he was blonde, so I could relate (being a blond kid … with somewhat of a wet hay colour as an adult, haha).

F: Do you have a favorite character?

M: He-Man.

F: Why?

M: He was the first one I got, the hero of the piece. Mine was the bloody savage He-Man who dispatched Beast Man, Mer-Man, and many others multiple times, The weird thing I remember was the only thing I thought was off about him was his name — He-Man. I wanted him to be called … I don’t know … “Thandor” or some such.

F: What is your favorite MOTU era? Are you more of a fan of mini-comics? Filmation? 200x or Classics? All of it?

M: I would have to say mini-comics, although there are things from all eras that I like.

F: Why?

M: I think it comes, from the ‘lack’ of information that was given. In the same way that action man was a soldier, and you made up all your own stories. He-Man, to me, was just a barbarian whose adventures were mine to create. Not to sound like a old fart, but social media and all-access movies, with a built-in franchise, tend to hijack the imagination, forcing a certain type of play patten on a kid, so you can imagine the look on my face after watching The Filmation MOTU cartoon for the first time, haha! I’ve since grown to appreciate them for what they are, though. They’re fine with a nice moral lesson … just not ‘my’ He-Man.

F: You really made a name for yourself in MOTU world with your incredible Castle of Power. I have one and I still cannot believe how amazing it is. What made you decide to make a stone-for-stone recreation of the vintage facade?

M: I think, to be honest, it was the core of the idea of MOTUCs. To take this great toy line and then upgrade it. If I remember correctly, I think I started to ask a few questions there on the forums, things like, ‘Should the skull be wider than the original to make it more proportional?’ Then I started to think we’re all adults; all we need is a backdrop, kinda like a kid’s paddling pool, just a simple vac form. At the time I was working on Warhorse (Spielburgs WW1 flick), with the kind of fat budget where waste of materials is the norm,
so in my lunch hours and sometimes after work I would sculpt the castle. I had my vintage one (just the front) there with me as reference, and I guess I just re-fell in love with the early ’80s roughness of it.
Well, when the sculpt was done, I had a chat to my buddy (he was supervising that job) and he said, ‘Go ahead and use what you need, silicone, fiberglass, all that stuff. You know it will end up in storage at the end of the movie, never to see the light of day.’ He then explained that the guy we all worked for had just bought a urethane spray system, a massive thing with two big tanks, that needed a forklift to move it, and he said that maybe we could use it (you could have pulled about 50 castles out in a weekend, maybe more).
Well, I was just finishing the moulding process when we heard that it had been moved on to a different job, so that’s why there were not many made. I had to do fiberglass, which is great, but takes 2-3 hours to lay up each one, as opposed to the 15-20 seconds to spray with the system.

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F: It has been very popular even in the face of the “official” release. What do you think of the response? What do you think draws people to the Castle of Power?

M: Cheers, yeah it did well, but for the work involved I couldn’t charge what I needed to make money on it, but when I made the Castle of Power Facebook page I was all set and feeling positive about it, and
then Mattel announced they were doing one, and it just took the wind out of my sails, haha! Bittersweet, you know? Because I really wanted an official one. I guess people liked it because I think subconsciously when you totally enjoy what you do, people pick up on it and feel the love, and that’s why I think the Horsemen are such a success. They’re fans, are awesome at what they do, and it shows … (that and we’re all pushing that big, fat nostalgia button).

F: So you are jumping into the awesome world of “3rd party” add-ons and accessories, so what made you want to start sharing even more of your talents?

M: Haha, I think partly just wanting to put stuff out there, and partly to make a little extra spending money — moving countries is expensive business.

F: What is your inspiration for these?

M: I love the property, and it’s well known amongst the fans there are a few key things missing in the line, not just cannon stuff, but generic fantasy stuff. I guess I just want to put them out, then sprinkle in my own stuff into that great, chunky MOTUC style the Horsemen do so well.

F: What made you start with the vintage and cartoon versions of our favorite muscle man?

M: The vintage one came about from just thinking, ‘He just isn’t my He-man.’ Don’t get me wrong, I love the classics sculpt, but there was something not right. Then, at about the same time, I saw a thread over at the org about it, where Eamon Odonogue had done a photoshop alteration, which I thought was great. He talked about a kind of ‘Mongolian’ quality to the face, and I thought, ‘Yeah! That’s it — almost  brutish!’
The Filmation one was great to do to; a real exercise in trying to translate the simple design into 3D. That, and  there’s a big Filmation hole were He-Man’s head should be for a lot of MOTUC fans out there.

F: How did you come to make General Sunder? He is my favorite Filmation character and I just love this kit, especially the unmasked head.

M: Haha, the simple answer is your article here at the Fwoosh. I read it and thought, ‘Yeah I agree, he’s awesome.’ If Mattel don’t put a Sunder head in the Horde Trooper pack, I’m gonna do it. So cheers!  Haha!

F: Mino-Tor is an original character, where does his inspiration come from? Why a minotaur character?

M: picking back up what I was saying earlier, i think MOTUCs needs more classic fantasy guys. The Horsemen did great with Draego-Man; I just think we need, you know, a minotaur, centaur, old wizard, (come on, Eldor) — that kind of thing, so when Alvis Underground started doing conversation kits, I thought, ‘Yeah, a minotaur would work well in this style (he’s been a best seller).

F: Do you have plans for more kits and original characters?

M: I do, sir!

F: Care to drop some hints or previews of what is coming our way?

M: Yeah, I’m try out a battle-face He-Man, some Horde captains, Skellicon, and Angry Keldorvamong a few other things (thing is, with battle face He-Man, the minute you move back his fringe/ bangs he look nothing like He-Man, so I might end up doing him as a generic guy, for Sky High or a royal guard).

F: How has the response been to the kits so far? Are you able to keep up with demand?

M: Haha, I try to be very organized. I’m just about on top of it. I normally do it in batches, then do a big posting session. The woman at the post office hides when she sees me coming, hahaha.

F: You have been a Fwoosher for a long time? Why Fwoosh? How do you normally Fwoosh?

M: Love this place, man. Feels like home to me. Growing up, I liked Marvel, but I liked to dip in to DC every so often. Well, Fwoosh is Marvel, and all the other sites are DC. My fwooshing (haha) is normally done for about an hour at night on the trusty old iPad when the nipper is asleep.

F: Any parting shots?

M: Parting shot: me on the set of Warhorse pondering the Castle of Power.

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F: Thanks for taking the time, man. I cannot wait to see what’s next, and whatever it is, put me down for one of each!

M: Thanks very much, cheers. I’ll hold you to it, haha, Merry Christmas.

And for even more fun, Mat sent one more little sneak peek. It is a work in progress, but THIS is a cannon capable of taking out all of Skeletor’s Evil Warriors!

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