KHAAAAAAAAAAAN! Yes, that is the immortal bellow of the one and only James T. Kirk to his enemy (and arguably the best Star Trek villain of all time) Khan Noonien Singh. Everyone knows it. I am not even a Trek fan and I know it. But when I was a kid, even the suave demeanor of one Ricardo Mantolbán was not enough to make me want to believe that that utterance applied to anyone but Kobra Khan. As far as I was concerned, there was no other (and possibly STILL no other) Khan. Kobra Khan is He-Man and that makes him the winner. Man, would I ever love to hear Alan Oppenheimer give us a good shout of “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!” in his Skeletor voice. There is no way that would not be amazing. Anyway, the evil Snake Man that is so evil he has to play for both Skeletor and King Hssss is arriving this month with his entrance into the Masters of the Universe Classics line. He has a lot to live up to with the release of the amazing Fisto figure last month, but as you can probably guess, he is going to slither right to the top tier of excellent MOTUC figures.
Growing up, Kobra Khan was always kind of the evil equivalent of Buzz-Off in my adventures. He was there pretty much all the time, but he really did not get a lot of play due to being overshadowed by the likes of Mer-Man, Spikor and Whiplash. Plus, since he had the sic version Cobra in his name, he was one of the few characters that you could draw a direct line to a real world comparison. Let’s face it, for all of the neat qualities the vintage figure had, he did not really look much like a cobra. The FilMation facsimile fared better and seeing him on the show actually made me like him more, but by that time I was rounding out the Snakemen and already set in my ways of them being my least favorite evil subset in the vintage line. But in that broken record fashion I seem to be upholding in these near-monthly ramblings, Classics and Four Horsemen have made me find an all new appreciation for a character and toy that was always just kind of “there”.
I suppose if I were to list all of the things that I was excited for MOTU-related being at SDCC last year, I guess it would pretty much cover everything. I suppose then I have to look it from the standpoint that Kobra Khan fell into the “he looks so much cooler than he has any right to be” for me. Fisto HAD to be perfect since he was one of my all time favorites, and Draego-Man was shiny and new while being independently bad ass, but I noted Khan because I instantly liked him more than I ever have. I suppose that should be one of the driving tenants of Classics, but I still love it when it really hits home. Like Fisto, THIS is how an update to a classic character should be done. The figure offers so much in terms of options it almost makes needing multiples a requirement. Just getting the vintage head as is, but also as it should have been is such a fun prospect and in a single stoke, Kobra Khan is looking downright Kobra-y.
It is funny, I think Khan has been portrayed with his “hood” in every MOTU incarnation he has ever appeared in, save for the actual vintage toy line. I would love to pick the brains of the original designers or maybe the guys at the Power and Honor foundation as to why the choice was made to realize Khan in his “relaxed” mode, but for a 4 year-old, it was good thing he had Kobra in his name, so I knew what I was dealing with. So it seemed like a no-brainer for me at first that I was going to display my Khan figure with his hooded head, and with King Hssss and the Snake Men. I still plan on doing the latter since there are less named characters in that faction than any other (and Snake Mountain is getting pretty crowded at this point), but I have had a change in heart about what head I want to display with this figure.
Maybe it is due to nostalgia (but I don’t think so) that I have found a new appreciation for the vintage head, but more than likely, I think it is a new found appreciation for the quirk of the appearance in that it is part of what makes a Kobra Khan figure. Let’s face it, with exception of Rattlor and Hssss’ horrid form, none of the Snake Men really look like snakes, so if you are going to display him with that group, he kind of fits right in – in a backwards kind of way. Also, there was a certain bad ass Snake Men two-pack that was revealed at Toy Fair last month and that thing has me hook, line and sinker. Yeah, I am already going buy my limit of those on sale day and I have a certain Fwoosh painting all-star lined up to help me customize an army of crazy snakes for my display. So, I think that the hooded Khan head will work its way into that set up so I will still have the opportunity to display it. Win/win for me. Like I said, there is just something about that vintage head that makes Khan Khan to me.
Having to choose between the heads is a good problem to have though, and I am sure a LOT of fans are going to be buying multiples of this figure on sale day to do just that. I am included in that group so I am already nervous about the 15th. Both of them are wonderfully realized in their modern updates by the Horsemen and why the look is undeniably KK as he appeared in the 1980s, he has a fearsome update to all of the details. I think some people are calling the hooded head “modern” or even “200x”, but I cannot say that I agree with that. The hooded head is still very reflective of the vintage design, just as everyone envisioned it would have been. At first I thought that maybe the jaw was hinged on both heads, but that is not the case. The hood and neck piece are made from a soft plastic but they are going to inhibit the head movement some just by nature of their shape and build. Much like Leech though, the inner detail of his mouth is fully rendered and you can even see where the water spray action might have been, if action features were included in this line.
A funny aside to that point, I know it was common (at least amongst my friends) to use Kobra Khan as a sort of canteen for refreshment way back when. There is nothing like a cooling snake venom mist to keep you going in your summertime outdoor adventures. My Kobra Khan suffered a much more dubious fate I am sad to say. When my MOTU collection was moved to my dad’s house in the late 1980s (by that time they were not getting a lot of play) I one day noted that my Khan figure was sitting amongst all of the rafts and other things that we used in the pool. I did not think anything of it until several weeks later when my brother and I arrived at his house for the weekend. When we got there, my now-stepmother was relaxing on a raft out in the middle of the pool. I notice that Khan was now occupying the cup holder not being used for her drink. I watched for a few minutes and then witnessed the fate poor Khan was suffering with his lack of play: he had been reduced to being a mister that she used to keep herself cool in the hot summer sun. No more glamorous battles. No more venom-spewing surprises – just a water mister from keeping my dad’s then-girlfriend from getting too hot in the summer heat. I still salute Khan’s Kourage. Anyway.
The detail does not stop just in the head sculpts and he has the all-new torso (probably exclusive to him) and new “monster” shins (hopefully not exclusive to him). I really like these new shins as they will provide more variety in our base body library and I think there is probably a lot of potential for them going forward, especially as we dip into more FilMation characters. The new shins also use the hidden ankle joints that began with Vikor. He is (as you can see) a VERY vivid green and even though that color is not uncommon on the MOTUC shelf, this green is certainly unique. He is somewhat shiny, probably due to being cast in the base color of plastic, but something about him being a snake really works for that. He shots are also new and are very flexible so they will not be hampering posing in the least. I do want to note that Khan has some of the tightest joints of any figure we have gotten so far in the line. I mean he can REALLY hold a pose. His elbows and knees are of the most note but I think they are really nice since they will clearly not promote floppiness and plastic is very strong and sturdy stuff as well. There has been some speculation to whether or not Mattel recently switched vendors, but if they did, they are building some solid Khans. But I am sure there will be some variance. If I had one nit about the construction of the figure is that he seems to use the original Skeletor left hand, the once that is open pretty wide, so he won’t really be able to hold anything with that hand. It might just be this sample, but we will see in a couple of weeks once the subs start arriving.
Aside from the alternate heads, KK also has his blaster and lizard buddy. While in the vintage line the former was just a reuse of Zodac’s ray, this one is all new, and I REALLY like it. I think it is much more dynamic than the Zodac version and something about it makes it seem more “evil” in nature. Kudos to all for taking a bit of creativity that made of a sensible, yet unique update to a classic accessory. The really fun accessory comes in the form of Khan’s lizard collaborator from the 200x series. I am not going to question why a snake man had a lizard buddy because as with most things MOTU, I just go with it. This accessory was really unexpected (for me anyway) and when I realized what I was looking at during SDCC 2011 it made of one of those “oh, that’s f&$#ing awesome!” moments. We can all be assured that we can call him by name now since Toy Guru dubbed him Pixel (I think something like Pix-el or Pix-Ill is more MOTU-y) during his Toy Fair walk through with Pixel Dan. Hahaha, once those word were spoken on camera, that is like carving them in stone! We might have to ambush Toy Guru at SDCC or on a Fwooshcast and get him to commit to calling a MOTUC entiry Fwooshy or Fwoo-Shur or something. Anyway, Pix-Ill fits right on Khan’s shoulder and should he ever get locked in the Eternos dungeon, he has got someone to spring him loose.
It’s funny that a line can continue to get stronger and stronger as time goes on, but man, 2012 is looking to be the best year yet. Kobra Khan is certainly contributing to the strength of this year and I love getting a new-found appreciation for a character. What can I say? The Four Horsemen have done it again. I am not sure I am even going to be able to handle myself once Stinkor and Spikor and Frosta come out. As you can see below, Khan is the last of the vintage Evil Warriors to be trotting down the mountain in the Grayskull poster so will take this chance to put in a request for Jitsu now, because I am really starting to feel sorry for Ron. Kobra Khan will make a great addition to your shelf whether he is with Skeletor or Hssss (aren’t double agent possibilities fun?), hooded or no. The possibilities are certainly there and in the end, that is what makes a great MOTUC figure a lot of fun.
*Thanks for reading and thanks to Toy Guru and crew for sending along this slithering snake. Much more still to come!