Mattel’s Masterverse line started off a little slow, with a handful of engineering issues and subpar stylistic choices, but has really settled into a fantastic groove. These are no longer afterthought figures that I pick up if I happen to see them deeply discounted, but instead are rapidly becoming highly anticipated versions. Man-E-Faces has always been one of my favorites, and I’m very happy to say this might be the best version of the character to date.
Man-E-Faces is a simple concept at the core. You take a humanoid male, and you give him three faces: human, robot monster. Simple, but the play value afforded by such a concept is immense.
I have to say upfront that the engineering on Man-E-Faces is impeccable. The double jointed elbows and knees are fantastic, and he can get a full split. There’s a ton of wiggle room in the hip area that really opens up the poseability. And the upper torso wobble joint has a very wide range as well, allowing full tilts, swivel and back and forth. Everything about how this figure moves is very impressive, In fact, the only area that I can find fault with is his helmet.
The retro=styled Origin figure managed to keep his spinning head gimmick while also allowing his helmet to move independently, but the head on the Masterverse figure is static. Now some of that is down to the helmet being removable so you can swap face plates, But I do wish they had found a way to have both. Still, With everything else so well done, I can complain too much.
The figure retains all the science-fiction elements of the original design, with the tubes and the armor and overall containment suit feel. A strong design never needs much embellishment, so keeping it simple and streamlined enhances the strengths.
The face-switching gimmick works just like with every other iteration of the figure. The knob itself is smaller than on most other figures, which does make it a little harder to turn. However, the design team included a neat feature: the barrel of his laser gun can slot down on the knob and aid in turning the faces.
In addition to the standard human robot and monster heads, Man-E comes with a briefcase with some extra face plates. The briefcase itself can be held or attached to his back (as can his gun when not in use). There’s no hinge, so you have to bend the plastic to close the case. The plastic obviously whitens on first bend, so how sturdy this will be long term is questionable.
Having extra faces is not a new idea with this figure. The MOTU Classics figure included an extra drum with some new faces, which limited you to “this three” or “these three.” This time around, the all the faces are separate plates, allowing a larger degree of mixing and matching.
The extra faces are an alternate take on his human face. A roguish blue-skinned face that looks a little like Keldor, and a skull. I dig the skull quite a bit. It feels like it fits naturally alongside the robot and monster.
In addition to the face plates, Man-E-Faces comes with his standard aforementioned laser blaster. He comes with two sets of hands: trigger hands and fists. I would have loved some expressive grr arrgh hands for when he’s a monster, but the fists do well enough for that.
Overall, I think this is my favorite version of Man-E-Faces to date. The articulation, build and play value all hit just the right notes. I almost want to get a second one to keep the secondary face plates on that one permanently. But that is the path to madness.