Are we ready for some New Adventures, or will this be our Final Battle?
Ah, two on-the-nose references in the first sentence? A little much? Probably, but then again, nothing is all that subtle when it comes to Masters of the Universe. We are heading into some difficult times with the arrival of the always stressful sub-selling season, and the new uncertainty about the line’s ultimate future has certainly cast a shadow, but all we can really do is give focus on what we know is happening, and come August, Intergalactic Skeletor is happening.
They say that “the devil is in the details,” and if that is believed to be true, I think there is a pretty good chance that the New Adventures version of Skeletor might just be Satan himself because the amount of detail put into this figure is absolutely beyond anything we have seen before in this line. Don’t worry, we will get into all of them in just a moment, but there is always something that strikes me right away about every new figure, and with NA Skeletor, it is the amount of detail work that has gone into every facet of his sculpt and design. I am not really one to ever be that into variants as a rule (especially anything past vintage MOTU line variants), but when I first clapped eyes on this figure in its prototype stage, I was overcome by a sharp turn of “me wantee.” No, not at all eloquent, but certainly accurate as I knew that this figure had the potential be one of the best of the year if he made it all the way through production without any design issues. Ah, but then we arrive once again at that whole “devil in the details” thing.
That brings me to a point that I don’t really like to get to when I am of two minds on a particular figure, and, thus, a review. It is so much easier to just love, or even just hate, a figure, but when you are internally divided, things get messy fast. If you checked out the previous First Look at the SDCC Hordak, you know that I am divided on that figure as well, so having to face the same situation on two previews in a row can be tough.
I am being honest when I say that there is a lot to love when it comes to this figure, so things like sculpt and paint make up the good details. However, there were some very strange design choices made by the now-departed Ruben Martinez, so those are the not-so-good details. I know that Mr. Martinez has been” villainized” around the MOTU community for a long time for just about every choice made by the design and engineering team at Mattel, but I have tried to remain objective and take each choice on an individual basis. So please know that I am doing that again here. But I want to start with the positives.
So what are the positives with this figure? Well, pretty much everything that the Four Horsemen, or in this case, the FIFTH Horsemen, put into this figure. If you have been collecting this line for a while, you are probably familiar with Djorje, a very talented sculptor that does a lot of work for the actual 4H Design studio. He has brought us guys like Tri-Klops, Fisto, Bow, and Jistu in the past, and Intergalactic Skeletor is his latest offering. He has a penchant for adding a bit more sculpted detail to a figure than some of the other 4H offerings, and that sometimes goes with varying degrees of success. For this figure, though, what he has been able to bring out from the source material is simply outstanding.
If you are following the MOTUC canon, you know that the previously dubbed “New Adventures” are now just a continuation of the battle being fought on Eternia. Skeletor’s look changed a lot between the vintage and NA era, and we finally have a canonical explanation for it. See, Skeletor was fighting He-Man and Hordak, and in a moment of near-defeat, he willingly infected himself with the same techno-virus that killed He-Ro. It made him even stronger, but also infected him with all of these crazy cybernetic parts, just like what was there in the vintage NA figure. Well, let me tell you that all of those techno bits were just the gateway that Djorje needed to go buck wild, in the best way possible.
I am not even sure where to begin in describing all of the amazing detail on this figure. There are tubes and sensors and wires running everywhere, and it is hard to tell what is organic and what is not at some turns, and I mean that in a very complimentary way. I suppose the best thing to do is just let the pictures speak for themselves, but my personal favorite points of the sculpt is along his spine (covered up by a freakin’ cape!) and the tendrils going into the back of his skull. There is definitely an air of H. R. Giger going on here, and every little point is very well done. I would argue that for most figures, all of this would be a little too much, but for this incarnation of Skeletor, everything feels just right.
Skeletor’s, well, skull is another big highlight of the figure as well, and it shows how the techno-virus is essentially burning through him, causing his organic body to waste away. I love how the head sculpt is slightly asymmetrical and all of the lines are rough, as though they are going through decay. It seems like taking this form would be one of constant pain, and that is apparent in everything from the teeth to the deep-set eyes. This is certainly not how I would want my iconic version of Skeletor to look, but for this version, it is pretty damned impressive.
I also want to take a brief moment to shower praise on his two accessories: his helmet and staff. Both carry the same great detail as the figure itself, but since the helmet is something so uniquely new to the entire concept of Skeletor, it is worth noting. At first I thought that the sculpt was lopsided, but, as it turns out, you just have to get it to sit on the head correctly. The staff is pretty marvelous as well, and I think it might be my favorite Skeletor staff yet. It makes the regular Havoc Staff seems a little boring, and it also elicits cues from the MOTU movie staff that I love so well. At any rate, it is cool to see Skeletor’s weapons evolve along with him as his story progresses. I should note that his hands are pretty rubbery, though, so getting him to hold onto the staff can be a trick at some angles.
So like I said, there is a lot to love about this figure. The design detail that really gets me, though, is the fact that they decided to make his chest an overlay, and, again, he has reversed shoulders. The shoulders are not all that noticeable (at least to me), so I will mention that they are, in fact, reversed and let it affect you as much as it will. However, I have a feeling the overlay chest will be enough to turn several people off of the figure entirely, which is a shame. Not for the fact that it will, just because it probably could have been avoided.
I am not saying I don’t understand why then new chest details were made as an overlay and not an actual new chest. New parts are expensive and having a new overlay is probably not as expensive as making an all-new chest. However, in the translation, IG Skeletor got, well, a little fat to be honest. I know we have been seeing this in the past with armor and the like, but since this is a full cover from waist to neck, it becomes pretty pronounced. So, if some of the “puffier” looks from armors past have bugged you, this will probably really bother you. I personally don’t hate it and I don’t think it looks all that bad. It is reasonable to think that Skeletor got bigger with his new sickness. However, since the overlay runs all the way to the base of his skull, it does inhibit the neck articulation. The sticker about that is the “chest” is glued down, so even if you wanted to remove it, you will have to get past the glue first.
It does make it a bit of a tough nut when you have so many things going for a figure and a couple of design choices make the overall product anything but a home run. I will say that none of these things really bug me all that much, and I will be enjoying this figure for a long time. I think most people will be of a similar mind once he arrives in August. However, for those who will see the faults first and foremost, I think they will stand out more than usual.
Finally, IG Skeletor comes with a nice little bonus: a battle-damaged Faker head. Fans have been calling for this for a long time and it seemed like a missed opportunity with the Battle Armor Faker set that was released a few years ago, but Mattel made good on the demands. I have absolutely no nitpicks about this head and I think the Horsemen nailed it. It is cool to see the robotic form under that Smurf-blue flesh, and the moment I opened the box, this head went right on that BA Faker body where it will stay for good. This is a great little addition that many will be happy to get after all this time.
Hey! It is always good to get another addition to the NA roster, and, overall, I think that Intergalactic Skeletor is a good addition. His sculpt and design are completely top-notch, I just wish that some of those design choices (errors?) were avoided so that this figure could have been a home run. Like all MOTUC figures, this figure will draw lines in the fandom fast, so check out the pictures and see, but wait until you have him in-hand to make your final decision. He goes on sale at Matty Collector in August.
*Thanks for reading and thanks to Toy Guru and Mattel for sending IG Skeletor along for a First Look. We will have more Comic Con previews coming soon!
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