King Hssss arrived this month along with another storm of controversy relating to miss-assembled shoulders. I have the subscription, so I don’t have much choice in the matter, but he’ll be available for sale again next month, so check out some pics and maybe get a feel for whether or not this mistake will affect your purchase!
King Hssss – Dreadful Disguised Leader of the Snake Men
Real Name: Hssss of the Viper House
A servant of the Unnamed One, Hssss was chosen to lead an army of Snake Men to the planet of Eternia to plunder its magical secrets. He ruled Eternia for three centuries until a rebellion formed under D’vann Grayskull. Soon afterwards, the Horde invaded and Hssss was drawn into a three-way war. All three sides agreed to a temporary truce in order to construct the Three Towers, but Hssss was betrayed by Hordak and in time was banished to the Void by the Elders and Zodak. For five thousand years he and his army waited until Evil-Lyn and a Snake Men descendant named Kobra Kahn opened the Snake Pit to free them. King Hssss often tricks foes by appearing heroic but then transforms into a seething mass of serpents and leads the Snake Men into battle!
This mention of a temporary truce to build the towers makes me wonder what the heck inspired them to do that. Was it a political manuever by one side of the conflict to get some breathing room? Perhaps the Horde and Snakemen were using a truce to gain better footing to crush the rebellion? I don’t know, but I’m curious if there is more to the story or not.
I have to say, I was never a fan of the Snake Men growing up. They were after my time with the He-Man craze, actually. I have gained appreciation for them over the years through the MYP show (they eat people!) and I think ‘King of the Snake Men’ is probably my favorite mini-comics of them all (as you can probably tell by some of the images here). I also just like the idea of Snake Men. They tap into our primal fears of snakes and feel like they belong in a dark fantasy world that much of the MOTU characters fit into. Hssss himself has a great wolf in sheep’s clothing feel and also calls to mind evil sorcerers and their familiars or were-beasts of myth and fantasy tales.
Hsss comes with a Staff, shield and a secondary Snake form upper body. The staff is nice and chunky as per usual with MOTUC weapons, but it misses the mark for me a bit. It’s a little bit too chunky and the details like the snake head are a little plain. That’s probably because they are going for the look of the original accessories, and that’s usually fine with me, but for some reason it doesn’t work as well for this one. I think the bright green plastic doesn’t really help it much and makes it feel a bit too toy-ish for my taste. The shield is also a bright red plastic, and while I like the sculpt and shape of it, the plastic gives it a more of toy feel than I usually like. I think a wash or some shading could have helped knock that feel down a bit.
I kind of wanted another accessory for Hssss. I know it has no precedent in canon, but a cool sword with some snake iconography would have been really nice to see. Another thing I would have loved was an alternate mini-comics head sculpt without the mask, maybe one with a more malevelont expression. He seemed to be screaming a lot in those mini-comics.
The snake form and the upper body snap on and off easily and stay secure for the most part. I had issues when I tried to use Hssss’s ab crunch as the top half would pop off when I tried to arch his back. It didn’t seem like such an issue with the snake form. The Snake form feels a little too tame for my taste. I was hoping I’d like the ‘arm’ snakes more once they had the bendy articulation posing in them, but I really don’t love them. A couple more snakes would have been great.
I fell in love with this figure’s head sculpt at SDCC last year. I love the evil grin. The scales of Hssss’s armor are nicely detailed, but still big and chunky and fitting with the MOTUC aesthetic. The chest piece is an overlay on the regular He-Man torso which is a little odd because when you arch Hssss’s back, you can see a little belly button peak out. It’s like he’s wearing a belly shirt.
I guess this is as good a place as any to mention the shoulders. Apparently they were miss-labeled during tooling and designed in such a way so that they can only be assembled incorrectly. Consequently all of the king Hssss figures from this run will have backwards shoulders. The scale pattern doesn’t quite flow as well in the final figure as it was intended in the prototype as a result. I had a hard time seeing the difference at first, but I can see it now. I can’t say I’m too fussed about it, it’s a bummer to be sure, though. On one hand, my toy philosophy is that I want to see these figures come out as close to the 4H sculpts as possible, so any deviation from that kind of ticks me off a bit. In practice, I don’t think it’s terribly noticeable and he still looks pretty neat. I think if I had the choice to buy one, knowing what I know now, I’d still make the purchase rather than wait for a re-issue. Since I have the subscription, though, I have no choice in the matter and that’s a little irksome. There is a recipe for a fix and you can see that and pics of the fix here. I still haven’t decided to fix mine yet and I’m thinking I’ll leave it for now. It doesn’t bother me personally, but I can see why it would annoy people.
The snake form also has some beautiful scale work (as you would imagine). I absolutely love the texture depth and detail and hope to see a lot more scale work soon from the 4H in future Snake Men. I don’t love how thick the main two teeth came out on the main snake head, though. They are little too thick and look more silly than dangerous. The arm snakes are a little thin and work great for wrapping around figure limbs, but look a little slim on their own. I could definitely go for a couple more snakes in there.
Hssss has the standard MOTUC articulation with a couple of modifications. Unfortunately the modifications make him a little more stiff than the normal MOTUC figures and less poseable. First of all his chest has an overlay piece and this tends to make the figures bicep hinge less useful as the overlay bumps into it when you are turning the arm. The figures’ arms also don’t quite rest at his sides, giving him a bit of a pumped up look. I actually don’t mind it much with armored characters(though I would love it if they could figure out a way to fix that issue), but Hssss’s chest is supposed to be his body, so it bugs me more here and actually seems more severe than in the rest of the armored characters.
Secondly, the crotch piece is all new and it’s also one solid hunk of plastic. There is no give there, so the forward leg movement is severely hindered. I was able to get the thigh to move forward by shoving up under the crotch piece, but it dented the scales on the upper thighs a bit. I wouldn’t recommend that. It all adds up to a more stiff posing figure than usual for MOTUC. It’s also disappointing that he can’t really be posed in a seated position as I tend to think of the faction leaders as doing a lot of scheming, ordering henchmen about and brooding from thrones. The forward ab movement is restricted somewhat by the chest overlay as well.
The snake form has a poa in the jaw, but mine won’t really move due to the soft rubber. The two main snake arms are bendy articulated and it’s pretty fun playing with them and posing them grabbing He-Man. The main snake head does not have any movement beyond the jaw. it would have been nice if we could have got some side to side movement on the main head. I wonder if they had placed a bendy wire in there if we would have got any movement.
There is some shading on the main green scales on King Hssss that add a nice dimension to the sculpt. The human form jaw seems to also have a bit of dimensional shading and it’s not overdone to look like a spray tan as can sometimes happen. I have one errant glop of green paint that kind of ruins the snake emblem on Hssss’s chest for me so I think I might go in with some silver paint and clean that up a bit. The snake form has a wash to help highlight the scale texture along with a gloss coat which gives it an appropriate slimy look. The gloss did leave the figure slightly tacky and I was thinking it might attract dirt and dust that way. Time will tell.
I have to say, this is one of the rare near misses for me in this line. The reduced pose ability in the legs and arms affect my enjoyment far more than the shoulder issue. He’s a decent vanilla poser, though, and it’s nice to get started on the Snake Men faction. The killer head sculpt saves the whole thing for me. I love that face! Pure evil! I would love to see another Snake Man this year as Hssss is pretty lonely at the moment.