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First Look – Masters of the Universe Classics Leech

For most people, one of the cornerstones of the Masters of the Universe Classics line is that it foots that nostalgia bill unlike any other toy line out there at the moment. That is certainly one of the reasons I am having a ball with this line, but nostalgia for me is more tied to character. From an overall action figure standpoint, I am very in-touch with my modern sensibilities when it comes to sculpt, paint, articulation and consistent style. The September 2011 Club Eternia figure is Leech, the latest Hordesman to enter the Classics fray and while his figure does offer a lot of modern day sensibilities (can I daresay improvements without causing a ruckus?), the fact that he is one of the original four members of the Horde from the vintage line means a lot to me. As it stands, recalling Hordak, Mantenna, Grizzlor and Leech makes for the only reason I can think of that the JC Penny department store has had any relevance in my life.

Vintage Stylings

You see where I am going with this? EVERYONE has a story about how vivid the experience of getting “Action Figure X” was for them in their formative years. It is fun to hear the sweet, often funny and sometimes strange ways people came upon their toys. I have a funny one that I might have already told that involves Moss Man and Fisto, I will have to check on that, but if not, I will save it for the coming February. But man, the whole saga of getting the original Evil Horde when I was a kid is so etched in my brainpan, I swear I was 4 years old yesterday.

Leech Bio

See, my mom used to get the JC Penny holiday catalogue for me (you know – the one with page after page of amazing toys?) to “Help Santa with some ideas” for what might be left under the tree for any given year. Man, every December Santa did not know what hit him because my lists were multiple notebook sheets long and even included the exact catalogue page and item letter where the particular items could be found. Hey, I knew what I wanted. So, the year that the amazing Horde preview commercial was on TV (all of the old MOTU commercials did their job with amazing precision when it came to me. And a lot of other kids), I knew that they were going to be at the top of my list. So, after spending several days wearing out razor-thin pages of that catalogue, making a list befitting a spoiled-rotten brat and dreaming about how Christmas was going to change my life for the better in the most unimaginable ways, I was sure to sit down with my list, my catalogue and my mom so I was sure she knew exactly what I was referring to in every line of composition, just in case Santa had questions. She was there to help him out after all.

But early November of 1985 was different, and I had no idea what childhood miracle was in play that year (at the time) but for some reason, after my mom and I did our normal run down of my list she said something that made me hit the ceiling – “Well, let’s pick out one thing now and we can order it today so Santa’s list isn’t so long”. Seriously? I cannot imagine the blank face I must have made. See, I found out later that she had started me in Kindergarten a year early because she thought I was ready. I knew I had to take a test to start school, but I did not think anything of it. Now, while this caused me to be significantly younger than everyone else for the rest of my public school days (which, if you had a similar experience you know it SUCKS), because I made such and eager go of it in that first fall, I got Leech (and the rest of the Horde) BEFORE Christmas of ’85. It was all still worth it to me.

Leech Close-Up

I remember my mind going in 100 different directions because I wanted to pick something FAST just in case the offer was in danger of being rescinded. Then I remembered my wits and knew that it HAD to be the Horde. HAD to be. But the offer was only for one thing! There were four of them! What to do? Ahhh! Okay, pick the one I want the most. Which one? They are all awesome! Um, I think it is… Hordak! No! Uh, maybe… um… MANTENNA! Okay. Yes, let’s go with Mantenna. Whew. Mom got the phone and sat on the couch (me RIGHT next to her) and she was dialing, I knew this thing was going through. But wait! While she was waiting for the “order-taker” she found a problem. A problem? Oh no! What was it? Oh man, the Horde members were NOT sold separately in the catalogue, they were a package deal. AHHHHHHHHH! I was already dreaming about Mantenna coming to scope out Eternia before the rest arrived. Uh oh, mom is talking to the order-taker! What is going to happen? Well, I am still in debt to JC Penny’s 1980s stellar customer service because that order-taker answered the phone so fast there was nothing to it – the whole set had to be ordered. Sorry mom, no time to find something different today. Did I mention I was spoiled? Yeesh. So, after what seemed like an hour-long phone call she hung up and all was set into motion. At the time, I had no real concept of time, I don’t think any child does, but the harsh lesson for me was that the term “4 to 6 weeks” went on to be a haunting description of the longest amount of time humanly possible to wait for anything for the rest of my childhood. We always bought toys at the store (or got them as presents) so the whole catalogue thing was new to me but I can tell you this: the wait for Christmas of ’85 took a major back seat to the arrival of the Horde that year. In the end though, the wait, the anticipation and anxiety made me love (and my Masters fear) the Evil Horde even more.

Armband and Shoulder Armor

Even before I got the figures I knew that the Horde would be game-changers in my Masters of the Universe world. They were (and still most certainly are) the baddest of the bad, the absolute definition of hopelessness and utter defeat in the world of little plastic men. When the Horde came to my collection, the time was wrought with anxiety, anxiety for He-Man, Skeletor and for me. See, He-Man and Skeletor knew their days were numbered so they needed more time, I wanted time to speed up. But when they arrived just a couple of weeks before Christmas, things got REAL on Eternia. It wasn’t just He-Man and Skeletor clashing swords anymore, the Horde brought DEATH to the game. That was serious for me, it never happened before. Now when guys would die, I would not play with them for weeks on end. Sure, they would all come back eventually, but if you tangled with the Horde and their Slime Pit, you were gone. No chance. No hope. The Horde really did usher in a more serious tone to my Masters adventures, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. Okay, so that last sentence sounds like Kevin Arnold in my own head. I wonder if I could get Daniel Stern to read this out loud to me… Home Alone was a long time ago.

Leech Accessories
Leech Crossbow
Horde Crossbows

Anyway, if I have not bored you to tears yet, this all ties into the fact that Leech, yes, Leech, with his life-draining powers was the first figure in my collection to KILL another figure. Poor, poor Buzz-Off – you spent months at the bottom of the toy box. Tragic, I know. The Masters had a funeral and everything. I told my mom about it and she seemed sad for poor Buzz. I was too, but everyone knew the risks and when you get caught in Leech’s suction hands, not even He-Man can save you. But that threat just added another layer to a world that incorporates ideas, personas and events that, on the surface, seem to have nothing to with each other and weaves them all together into one of the coolest fictional mythologies I know. So, dear Leech, you disgustingly awesome and dangerous freak of plastic, welcome to your next life in the Masters of the Universe Classics line.

Leech Net
Does it stick to smooth surfaces?
Indeed it does!

Leech comes as the first addition to my shelf since I got a chance to talk to Eric Treadaway of the Four Horsemen at Comic Con. I don’t think we discussed Leech specifically at the time, but there is nothing like talking to an artist with the reigns to one of your favorite properties and hear him geek out. It is contagious in the best way possible. I mean, even in the third year of the line, I still get that sense of urgency each month when a new figure is about to see release, but I have been DYING for a fix of new MOTU since SDCC. Lucky for me, Leech certainly provides satisfaction in a lot of great ways.

Nets are for capture!
Or to wear like the 1980s Jim McMahon-syle Football Jersey

I feel fortunate that the current design aesthetic is my favorite incarnation of MOTU. There has yet to be a case where I have gotten a new figure in this line and it has not been my favorite version ever. I have some STRONG attachments to the vintage Mer-Man, Moss Man, Spikor, Fisto and Horde figures, but I know when I have an impressive figure. Since I have not had a Leech figure since the 1980s there has been over 25 years to really do him justice (I know there was a Staction) and it is great to have Hordak’s “big guy” back in action.

So long, Skeletor!

I call him the big guy because he, along with Grizzlor, made up the bruiser squad in my Horde. Leech would hold you by the head and Grizzlor would tear ya up, it was vicious and I could not be happier to be able to recreate that today. And the new Classics Leech is a big boy! There is a lot going on with this figure and as you probably already know, he is one of the those 2011 figures that got the benefit of a lot of tooling dollars that were rightfully spent. He does borrow some basic parts here and there, like his thighs, but when you add him to your shelf he does not recall anyone else in terms of resemblance, and that is always very welcome when it is required. This has the spirit and the essence of the old Leech, but made so much better, and most of that has to do with the head sculpt.

Because I can.
Leech gonna raise the roof, y'all!
Gurrrrrrl! Psssht! Talk to the Hand! Or Suction Cup. Whatever.

See, Leech is, well a leech (or I guess a slugman(?) now) and for the most part, he sucks. His action figure certainly sucked back in the 1980s. By that, of course, I mean that the figure had a “suction” action feature as his toy gimmick; let me tell you something about that – I LOVED it when I was a kid. By sticking his malformed kisser onto a window or other smooth surface and pressing the button on his back, Leech could do something that no other Master even dare. He was a constant for bath time adventures too. So much fun. Of course, we know that action features are [mostly] gone from the Classics line (something that I am fine with) and Leech does not have the suckitude in his mouth or hands. However, due to the former, we finally get a good look at what Leech should look like without the function of the feature prevailing over the sculpt. And you know what – this is what Leech looks like without the suction cup. I know there has been some speculation on this, but look at pictures of the vintage figure, if you cover up the suction cup, you get a simplistic version or the head that we got on this figure. The Horsemen did a great job of taking the cup out of the equation and updating the actual look of Leech.

The Evil Horde!

Leech certainly has a giant noggin and there is a lot going on with it. The first thing that really stood out to me when I saw it for the first time is that he has got crazy teeth all over the place. That suction cup dominated the eye so much on the old figure that you had a hard time noticing much more than that, so it is almost like I am seeing Leech for the first time. His big red eyes are set back in what I always thought were his ears and he has a lot of detail inside of his mouth (which could possibly make you blush if you look at it just right… one might be able to see some Georgia O’Keeffe influence). Anyway…

Leech's inner, um... mouth?

Leech’s massive melon sits upon an appropriately barreled chest. I am delighted that Leech retains his unique chest sculpt, like he had in the 1980s. He was shaped like no other and his girth adds to his monstrous appearance and everything that makes Leech who he is. His vintage figure got shorted on a few of the paint applications that should have been present so it is nice to have a color style guide page for reference. What I always thought was some weird shoulder fin as kid is actually a piece of yellow armor that is unique to his left side. He also has the requisite Horde armband (I love this theme) and he retains his blood red Horde crossbow that is true to its individual sculpt. Leech also has the benefit of getting partial ball joint articulation in both of his wrists (think Bow) so you can position his hands around the head of any Heroic or Evil Warrior victim. I like the shiny paint used for the “webbing” suction cup between his fingers and toes and around his lips and how his mouth and palms have little holes in them.

She-Ra doesn't stand a chance
Gotcha again, Skeletor!

But Leech is not all updates, he does have an accessory that is entirely new in sculpt and concept – a capture net. What a GREAT idea for a perfectly appropriate accessory weapon for Leech! I mean, it just makes his life all the easier. He can catch a victim in the net and while they are struggling to get free – BAM! he comes along and steals all of their energy. It is appropriately shaped like a Horde bat and if you are mourning the loss of the actual suction cups on Leech’s mouth and hands, the net has some that are fully functional. I love that they included this and it is very thoughtful to a feature that has been retired from the figure.

Not the SLIME!
3/4 or the original Horde. C'mon, Mantenna!

Man! My vintage Horde is really coming together now, and that is a good thing since the acquisition of the FilMation license means we have even MORE Hordesmen and women to get to. I really hope that we see Mantenna next year just so I can completely embrace the holidays of 1985. Catra makes a great addition and Shadow Weaver will be here soon, but there is just something about putting Hordak, Grizzlor, Leech and Mantenna all together that makes me giddy. Don’t worry, you don’t have long to wait for him – Leech will be up for sale on Matty Collector on September 15th.

*Thanks to Toy Guru, Fangirl 2.0, Rhobyn and the Horde at Mattel for making this Look possible! More soon!

Additional Links

Horde Poster Project
PoP Poster Project

13 thoughts on “First Look – Masters of the Universe Classics Leech

  1. When I saw the reveal for this figure during SDCC, I was stupidly excited. He’s probably my favorite MotU toy from when I was a kid so getting the Classics treatment to him was something I eagerly waited for. I just got my figure in the mail last Thursday and I freaking love what the 4H did with his sculpt. I got into MotU around 1984-85 so I never had any figures older then the Horde guys (only had Modulok & Leech back then). I have a distinct memory of going to the store with my mom, getting Leech and playing with him in the car on the ride home. I too brought him in the bathtub with me, but I used to have him squirt water at my other figures which was a side-effect of the suction-cup mouth. I was glad the MotUC figure didn’t have the suction cup in the mouth, as I too always wondered what he’d look like without it when I was a kid. Kudos on an awesome review and photos dude! 😀

  2. that pink lion in the pop poster is awesome. hopefully mattel will release a updated version soon.

  3. Man, Leech is awesome! He brings back great memories of the time me and my bro got him way back then. This was the time hen I was still in the Phillipines and my Aunt sent me and my bro 2 MOTU figures. Hordak and Leech. And it was decided that I get to keep Leech because he’s fat and so was I. My bro got Hordak because he’s younger. Of course, I don’t really care. I had fun sticking Leech on mirros and stauff and just leave him ther for hours. It was good times! 😉

    How come you don’t considered Modulok as a main Horde member? I always thought those five are great together! 🙂

  4. Leech is perfection incarnate. He is my all time favorite toy. Period. Not just He-Man. But my favorite toy ever. Skeletor is my favorite He-Man character, but Leech is right there at number 2.

    Classics Leech is perfect. He’s like something right out of a B-monster movie. I love his headsculpt. I wouldn’t change anything about it.

    I’m a huge 200x fan. I hate Muppet Clawful and Buzz-Off’s stupid vintage heads with a passion. But I love Leech’s head sculpt. It is perfect. I wouldn’t say no to a 200x head, but this one is perfection.

    I’ve been waiting 25 years for a new Leech toy. This is truly a dream come true. I can’t wait for September to get here. Please hurry.

  5. love the updated look of leech he looks more giant lizzard like. plus the net will make it easier for him to capture unsuspecting victim nice to see fans do not have to wait long for a cool character like leech to show up in the line.

  6. Hello. Great, great, great review. I agree with you on many things. The Evil Horde was totally distinct from the rest of figures. Leech is certainly awesome and it was my favourite when I was a kid. Cheers.

  7. Wish Mattel incorporated those hinged wrists since the beginning. Don’t know why they wouldn’t. It only makes sense especially with He-Man.

  8. That net is pretty neat and it’s cool to see it in action. Oh man, I have to agree with everything you said about that JC Penny catalog. We wore that thing down and ripped it to shreds just poring over those magnificent toy displays. You know, I bet those catalog shots are a big part of why I enjoy setting up the pics as I do. They always had those toys in cool little sets.

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