Masters of the Universe fans, it is type to get HYPED. This is the Skeletor you have been waiting for: the one where you can finally and accurately refer to King Randor as a “Royal Boob.”
As the third figure in the Club Grayskull subscription, I think it is safe to use Skeletor an indicator that this line is a full-blown success. It is now three-for-three in terms of lightning-fast sellouts of the figures on the sale days, and the single-digit sellout times are something we have not seen with MOTU Classics for several years. It is not hard to understand why: in addition to being cool figures, this is the first time we have ever gotten plastic representations of these characters as they appeared in the famous Filmation cartoon. Skeletor is by far one of, if not THE most iconic representation of any character from that show, so this figure has a lot to deliver on.
As with all character designs, Skeletor’s look on the show was a streamlined and simplified version of the action figure with elements kept, changed, or left off for the sake of easing the animation process. However, so many characters took on new life with these changes to to their design, and it is safe to say that the Filmation cartoon is at least tied with the vintage action figure line in terms of the most recognized version of each character. Skeletor, though — I think I have to say that this version of him is the most iconic, and his characterization on the show is how most people will remember him.
That is to say, he was a stark contrast to He-Man, but like most of the villains of Snake Mountain, he had a GREAT deal more comic relief elements to him than any other iteration. It makes sense: the cartoon was created for young children and it was made to sell action figures, so if you were Mattel, you were not going to get many sales if kids were too afraid of a character to bring them into their house. That does not mean that Skeletor was a disposable character; he had many evil turns, and several funny lines and situations that still make me laugh to this day.
Now, because this version of Skeletor is so iconic, this figure had a lot to live up to in the hearts and mind of collectors, especially the die-hard Filmation fans. The head sculpt was going to be the make-or-break point of this figure as the cartoon look is so distinct and a very strong departure from the original action figure look, so while He-Man and Trap Jaw were more simplified interpretation of the toys, Skeletor really took on a whole new life. His face, and hood for that matter, changed almost completely, so this new Grayskull figure would give the Four Horsemen a good opportunity to revisit the character, but from a completely different angle.
Right from the first glance, it was easy to see that the Horsemen really nailed the sculpt of Skeletor’s iconic bright yellow face. The shape of the eyes, cheekbones, and jaw are all very distinct, but all of them have been captured well here. The hood, too, takes on its form well, and it is much larger than the toy version, and the bunching below the chin is also greater but perfectly accurate to the source material. The one misstep on the head is due to paint: the inside of the hood in the show was always black on the show, but here, it is left the purple color from the cast plastic. That might *seem* minor, but it does skew the look to the point of being noticeable, so I really wish the application would have been there. If you are even a rudimentary customizer, this will still be an easy fix with a few dabs of black paint, but it is a pity we even have to do it.
The rest of the figure is rendered pretty faithfully, and if you are familiar with the parts and articulation configuration in the Club Grayskull, Skeletor does not break rank. This means he has the additional articulation in his wrists and ankles executed in the same manner of both He-Man and Trap Jaw. Skeletor’s body had a lot more humanoid cues (rather than the beastly/reptilian/demonic influence) in the show than in the old toy, so this figure has smoothed-out forearms and booted feet to match the source. The armor and loin cloth are both streamlined version of the standard toy versions, so they are also successful here.
Finally, Skeletor comes with an interesting mix of accessories. As you probably know, the sword that came with the previously released Lizard Man and the axe that came with Plundor were really meant to go to this eventual figure, but they kept his most iconic weapon, the Havoc Staff, for this release. If I had to call out a fairly big inaccuracy, it would be this. The staff portion is repurposed from the previous staff, so right away, I find it to be too long compared to cartoon source. That is not a huge deal, but I have always found that staff to be too long anyhow, so it is more exacerbated here. The skull of the staff is the biggie, though, and I just don’t find this to match the source well at all. The shape and details are too narrow, and the entire thing just looks too small on top of the long shaft of the staff. Get your mind out of the gutter.
Skeletor also comes with a sword, and while including this sword with this figure is marketing genius, I have a feeling mini-comic fans are reeling that they had to throw down for this. See, this sword has nothing to do with Filmation Skeletor, but EVERYTHING to do with the original Skeletor, the mini-comic version, as this is the sword he wielded in some of the comics. It is AWESOME, and definitely one of my favorite accessories we have gotten lately, so if you have an Alcala Skeletor waiting, having to pony up for this figure is totally worth it.
So the Filmation/Club Grayskull line keeps trucking along, and Skeletor is nice addition. Even though I dig his head sculpt, I think Skeletor is actually my least favorite of the group, but that is more because He-Man and Trap Jaw are so strong; this is still a good figure overall. We have met the halfway point in this subscription with Beast Man, Evil-Lyn, and Clawful still coming as standard figures, and my much-anticipated Evilseed up in August as the exclusive, too. HOPEFULLY before then we will get good news that this line will be continuing into 2017, because a LOT of characters (*cough* Mer-Man *cough*) to get to.