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First Look – Masters of the Universe Classics Clawful

William Shakespeare had the pleasure of several centuries of getting his post-mortem jollies watching scholars and lay people alike consider the wider meaning and existential truth of his famous question, “What’s in a name?” For the longest time, the importance of one-dimensional titles were often cast aside to revel in the deeper truth of what something is, rather than what it is named. Down with superficial labels! The sweet smelling roses and all that! That is until the early 1980s came along and the practice of product marketing to the young male demographic was at the height of exploitation. That’s right, Masters of the Universe was not just about selling brightly-colored, half-naked freaks and barbarian men to an entire generation, it was about shifting that long-standing Shakespearian paradigm; there is a hell of a lot in a name. You never considered to what true depths MOTU rocked our collective culture did you? Well then, we present to you our current First Look Exhibit A: Clawful.

Vintage Card Back Styling

How can a name be trivialized so when the handle is something as mind-blowing as CLAWFUL? That might be the greatest name given to anything ever. There is no possible successful argument in support of holding his name in any less reverence to his character, especially when it achieves so much. Sight unseen, even as a child you knew the deepest essence of what Clawful was and everything he would ever be simply by considering his amazing moniker. He is a crab and he is awful. That is not calling out weak a character; it is celebrating a strong name. Would he be given a ridiculous title such as Crabtastic or Crabby Hayes? Nay, Clawful in title and being would stand strong and show the amazing power of a name, but also blaze a trail for future Masters characters to delight in their personality puns and over-obvious descriptions. “Clawful” is genius in character AND name, and I say that without an ounce of intentional or implied sarcasm. Add this as item 1,624,893 in the list of “What makes MOTU amazing”.

Clawful Bio. Clickety-click-click

But you have had almost 30 years to consider his name (hopefully you have more considerations after that ridiculous rant) so I will move on; we now hope to provide you with some evidence to consider his brand-spanking new Masters of the Universe Classics figure, available on July 15th. Indeed, it has been that same 30 years since the last time the Eternian crab man had a new action figure. That is quite the drought, especially for one that likely spends most of his time underwater, and his absence surely provided Eternian fishermen with a poor counterpart to our own Deadliest Catch – Emptiest Catch? Absent-iest Catch? Unemployment-iest Catch? I dunno, but the crab fishing on Eternia has been lousy for a long time. Leave it to the Four Horsemen though, they are making up for three decades of no toys (I realize there was a Staction) with a single giant claw of awesome.

Clawful's Close-Up

At this point I think it is extraneous to mention that the debut of Clawful (at NY Toy Fair 2011) was met with mixed reaction and hot debate. See: ALL Masters of the Universe Classics figure reveals. Fan, um – passion? runs high as regularly as the releases themselves in this line and there is always some argument in which you can take a side. In this case it has been (again) the interpretation of the design of the character. I could write an entire treatise on what the MOTUC line “is” as far as mission and design, but I will save you that rant. For now. Simply put, what you do having coming to you now is the Classics take on Clawful that matches the same vein and spirit of Mer-Man, Beastman, Buzz-Off, Whiplash and countless other prior figures. Again, this IS the Classics Clawful. At least it is so far as what the line is right now, if that has a shift in ideology in the future, I am sure we will have different crab cakes to enjoy.

Club Charge

For all of the reasons to love Clawful that I have already outlined above, strangely enough, he never got a ton of attention from me as a child. Sure, he was always there, never left in the toy box or left out of a battle, but he did not garner the same love as say, Mer-Man or Whiplash. I don’t know why to be honest, but maybe it was because he was another “water guy” forever destined to stand in the shadow of my beloved Mer-Man. On the imaginary field of battle, Clawful would usually lock his spring-loaded grip on some unfortunate good guy early on and stay that way until the mandatory retreat. He was the bad version of Buzz-Off for me: always there, never really highlighted. Well, he now draws another comparison to old Buzz (aside from a lot of part-sharing) in that I now have an appreciation for the figure as much as I do for his handle. I have not been able to put this figure down since he arrived and I have mulled him over so thoroughly that I can attest to the unfortunate truth that he does not taste as good as he looks, especially for being a [usually] tasty, tasty crustacean. The reality is that he is made of solid plastic. Tastes terrible. Even with butter. Anyway…

Craggle Back and Crusty Claw

As you know by now, much like his vintage incarnation, Clawful shares several body parts from various previously-released MOTUC figures – namely Buzz-Off and Whiplash. Only in a universe this vivid does the crab man share structural similarities with the bee guy and lizard monster. He has the standard male furry underwear and uses the shoulders, torso and legs common with Whippy and Buzz as well as the left claw hand of the latter. Right away, this part-sharing actually adds a lot of dimension to the figure – that is strange for reuse, right? But the leg fins and “cracked” shoulders are so nicely detailed and executed that they add a ton of visual depth to the figure. Those, coupled with the dark blue of the boots (hooves? Stompin’ stubs?) and the red of the shell makes for a design scheme that really stands out, even amongst the Evil Warriors. The paint application on the craggily shoulders is also some of the best work done in the line to date and the detail it adds to the sculpt hints at background to Clawful’s character. I imagine his skin got that way due to him spending excesses of time out of water, hanging out on the beaches and rocks of the Sea of Rakash with his Karakoni brethren.

Generations of Claw

The part comparison also made me recall my initial quibble with the reveal of the figure – I thought for sure he was using the wrong feet! See, the vintage figure actually had two different versions, one with the “Whiplash” feet and one with the “Skeletor” feet (and the subsequent reissue around 2000ish had the latter as well). Guess what? My original figure was the “Skeletor” version and I had no idea the other even existed until recently, even though apparently my version was rarer. Huh, the things you learn. Well, I am personally glad that the Horsemen went with this version as I think these feet are much more visually dynamic and fewer figures have utilized them. That kind of makes me sad though, unless I am mistaken (and I very well could be), Clawful represents the last of the vintage guys that had these legs to come into the Classics line. With the current rights and permissions this might be the last time we see them, unless they are used to translate some New Adventures or 200x character designs. Maybe Prahvus or Dactys, I could see that; or better still, there are certainly some FilMation characters that might use them… Just sayin’.


For the more crustaceous portions of Clawful, there are a lot of new parts and a lot of things to really enjoy about those pieces. First, he has a new take on his “armor” that turned out very nicely. It is instantly recognizable as being a vintage update, but I cannot help but think that it also has cues (especially in the paint) from the more recent era as well. It is subtle, but the shape of the armor is just slightly different than the vintage version so maybe that is what is throwing me, but I think it looks different. Either way, I really like it and I appreciate that they kept it as “armor” rather than blending it or outright changing it to be his actual torso. That would lose the spirit of the figure in my opinion. Clawful would not be a crab man without a set of pinchers to chase the tushes of the babes of Eternia, and he proves once again that there is great beauty in asymmetry. It has been said that the only thing a Karakoni uses his right pincher for is actual pinching so keeping up that tradition, he borrows his left claw from Buzz-Off. This is good because that grip has been tested and proven to be able to hold a weapon, but we will get to his secondary weapons later.

Shield and Mace

I say secondary weapons because let’s face it – Clawful ain’t named Clawful for no reason (see what’s in a name? See???) and his primary source of Evil Warrior mayhem stems from that big ass pincher on his right arm. See, he has to be ripped as hell to carry around that thing (that’s what she said?) since he is lacking a fully chitinous exoskeleton. It is an impressive specimen and has tons of undersea-like and barnacle-esque bumps, divots and crags to really dial up the detail. It is certainly reminiscent of the old figure in spirit but this version is much more detailed and shaped to resemble a real crab claw. It is also removable. Yum. The claw itself does retain the movement to “grip” that Clawful figures have always had, including the spring-loaded action feature . However, I suppose you know that means that the vintage lever has been left in past so you have to oull on the claw itself to get it to open, but it is nice that it retains its aesthetic value. Personally, I think this is the best part of the entire figure and actually, I think this claw is what MAKES the figure. It sets him apart, makes him unique because unless Mattel gets really esoteric and goes in for some of those other crab dudes from the 200x series, no one else will have this. Clawful has his claw, Whiplash has his tail and Buzz-Off has his sting- er, um, his wings.

Crab Fest!
Crab Fest always ends deliciously

The last piece of the figure itself is the red dome that sits between his craggily shoulders. There has always been a bit of an imaginative style in the execution of what a half-crab, half-man’s head would look like and Clawful’s head styling has certainly been very memorable since his debut so long ago. The simple truth of this figure is, if you like/prefer the vintage figure likeness, the MOTUC figure version should be exactly what you are looking for. Everything about the original design is intact – from the shape, to the bright white eyes to the awesome eyebrows; the details have just been heightened and updated to fit the feel of the Classics line. This is, of course, my preferred look for Clawful even though I actually liked his 200x cartoon design too (but death to the “writer” of the show for making him so dumb, and death to the voice actor for thinking that tenor was a good “artistic choice” and fiery death to the director that let it all happen. Ugh). I know this has split the fan base as many are wanting a second head fit their preference, but I am confident you will get it eventually, you will just have to wait a little while, and pay for it, of course. Strangely enough, I never liked the look of the FilMation version so if the rampant rumors of Matty procuring those rights turn out to be true, I am not going to be demanding a FilMation Dragonful. Probably. Maybe.

President of the Eternia Hiney Pinchers Society
It's Christmas in Snake Mountain

Finally, Clawful does have two secondary weapons to go along with that huge vice grip of his, something old and something new. Funny, one is also barrowed and one also has some blue. Huh. Anyway, the old is his classic mace that I previously thought was shared with the Eternian Guards. However, as you can see it is actually larger than those released before and it has a cool crustacean-like lobster tail fan embellishment on the end. Nice touch.  It does come in the light green we all remember. You know what you are getting here but is worth noting that since this figure can actually hold his mace upright (unlike the vintage) the little holder loop is gone and easily forgotten. The second accessory is a brand new Horsemen-designed shield. It’s not like Clawful was not pretty armored-up before with his chest shell and all, but now he can lead the charge devil-may-care against the entirety of the Eternian Army (with a mess of Skeleton Warriors behind him). I really like the sculpt of the shield and it looks like Clawful probably picked up the carcass of dead relative and thought, “He won’t be needing this anymore, Ima use it for sword-stoppin’”. It is convincing and has a nice sheen to it thanks to the plastic and the paint that was used in production. It fits snuggly on his left wrist so that is good but it also presents a bit of a problem for me: he looks kind of awkward with his mace and shield on the same arm. I know, that is a trivial thing, and I am THRILLED that we are getting extra accessories, but I will probably only display him with the mace. Everything just looks cleaner in the simplicity of it. However, I really do like the shield a lot and I am trying to find a good alternate use for it. I’m taking suggestions on that by the way.

Crabby Action!
Offering He-Man some bad ad-vice. Hyuk, hyuk, hyuk.

2011 has quickly become a massive monster of a year for MOTUC. I cannot believe the character selection that we have seen and the overall quantity of figures so far. Can you believe that Clawful is the 64th unique item we have gotten to date (not counting reissues or Comic Con variants)? Wow! From the looks of it, we are not slowing down anytime soon, and that fits me just fine. I have to admit that way back before Toy Fair 2011 I did not give a ton of thought to Clawful. I mean, I knew he would be coming eventually but I had a lot of Evil Warriors that were much higher priorities for me at the time. However, now that he is here, he might be in my new top five for the line. I know that changes every other month, but he is going to be very meaningful for fans of the vintage figure. He is colorful, dynamic and has the best name in all of MOTU-dom. I might just have crab legs for dinner tonight to celebrate him in a weird, backwards and morbid kind of way, but it sounds like the perfect dinner to remind myself of the importance of “What’s in a name”.

Deadliest Catch Eternia - We All Knew It Would End This Way

*Clawful will be hitting Matty Collector on July 15th, just before Comic Con. Thanks to Toy Guru, Fangirl 2.0 and Rhobyn for sending him along, I know it is the busy season.

Additional Links

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