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MOTUC Feature – Snake Man-At-Arms


Snake Man-At-Arms was July’s Masters of the Universe Classics quarterly variant figure.  Click through for more pics and thoughts on this new figure.

Snake Man-At-Arms body with regular Man-At-Arms head.

Bio: Snake Man-At-Arms®

Real Name: Duncan™ of the Viper Clan

Duncan™ heroically served King Randor® throughout their battles with Skeletor® and the Snake Men™ as Eternia’s chief war strategist and weapons maker. Exposed to the Serpent’s Ring, Duncan™ was magically transformed by King Hssss™ into a snake man permanently. Under this evil spell, he used his genius to create great and horrific machines of war for the Snake Men™ as they battled for control of Eternia®. Eventually, Duncan™ was forced to battle against Clamp Champ™, who had since replaced him as Royal Man-At-Arms®. In their epic final duel during the Second Ultimate Battleground, Duncan™ was mortally wounded, but not before momentarily recovering his humanity thanks to a spell cast by his daughter Teela®, the new Sorceress® of Grayskull™.

Spy Report.

For as long as we’ve known about the Snake Man-At-Arms figure I imagined that the bio would end with him transformed back into his human form to resume his duties as Man-At-Arms to King Randor.  We’ve been told that the Snake Man-At-Arms idea originated from never-produced 2002 series material (Duncan transformed would serve as a way for Mattel to introduce Snake Men vehicles and equipment), but I have a hard time believing that a children’s cartoon would have actually killed off Duncan the way they have here in the bio.  This type of stuff is usually way more conservative than that.

Hsss located.

On one hand, I don’t like to see death and destruction for this brand.  The heavily nostalgia-driven basis of this line and the bios are like an action-figure comfort food.  You just want to have all your old favorites around.

Flight Prep.

On the other hand, it does make story-sense to have characters locked in constant combat to die every once in a while.  I do think it’s pretty messed up that Clamp Champ offs Duncan just as he is transformed back to normal.  I suppose there is a certain tradgedy to that, though you have to wonder why Clamp Champ had to kill Snake Man-At-Arms.  Couldn’t he just Clamp him and set him aside?  Is Clamping fatal?  Either way, I think Clamp Champ has some ‘splaining to do.


Snake Man-At-Arms comes with the Serpent’s Ring, removable armor, and his mace.  That’s only two new pieces total, so this figure does not seem like the same value for your dollar that other MOTUC figures do.  What’s also odd is he doesn’t even come with the additional weapons the original Man-At-Arms release came with (pistol and short sword), so his pack is oddly empty in back.

That said, I do like the accessories included.  The Serpent’s Ring is the object King Hssss used to transform a few heroic warriors in an episode of the 2002 cartoon, so it’s really cool to have one of the magical macguffins from the show in plastic.  I like having stuff like that and would take more if they made them.

Secondly, the mace is much improved over the first Man-At-Arms’ mace in that it is made from a stiffer plastic.  The handle on the original has a tendency to bend, giving Duncan a severe case of saggy mace.  The new one stays (ahem) nice and stiff.


The new head sculpt is pretty cool.  We already have a snake man head sculpt in a Man-At-Arms style helmet from the Royal Guard two pack, but this one has a screaming/hissing expression that you really want from a snake man head sculpt.

Another nice feature is that it has some extra detail and paint that make this helmet look a little more like the helmet Duncan wore in the 2002 cartoon.  It would have been nice to get a regular Duncan face inside that more detailed helmet in addition to the snake face to complete the 2002 Man-At-Arms look, but you get pretty close with the Duncan head sculpt from the original release

The body sculpt uses various robotic parts from Man-E-Faces and Roboto to simulate the all-over techno-armor look Duncan had in the cartoon.  I think it does a pretty good job at emulating that look, though the shoulder armor has a hard time sitting on the Roboto bicep.  You really have to jam it on there, but it looks good when properly placed.

I was actually happy with the look of Snake Man-At-Arms when he didn’t have all the techno parts, so I had mixed feelings about it when the 4H announced they were reworking him.  I’m glad they did it as the robot parts and longer loincloth add a little spice to a figure that felt a little neglected in the “wow” factor.


Snake Man-At-Arms features the standard MOTUC articulation setup.  The longer loincloth is a little bit stiff and restricts poses somewhat, but I was able to get Duncan in the poses I wanted.  I think we need a MOTUC crotch-piece-articulation-inhibitor rating scale I can post here.


Paint is one area where this figure shines.  I love all the metallic gold hits all over Duncan’s armor, and I’m surprised at how much I like the blue tank/tube set up on the armor.  There is also a bit of a black overspray wash in the recesses of green armor bits on the legs, but a little more of a wash on those green areas might have brought out that techno detail a bit better.

I’m a guy who actually wanted a Snake Man-At-Arms before it was announced.  I liked the episode in the 2002 cartoon when they were all transformed, so it seemed like a cool variant to me.

I did feel like the execution of the figure was a little lackluster when shown last year.  There just didn’t seem to be the standard amount of cool stuff included with the guy.  The changes to the body type and extra paint hits do go a long way toward making this figure feel more essential, however.  I didn’t think I’d use him with a regular Man-At-Arms head at all, but I really like it and he might take the original release’s spot on my shelf.



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15 thoughts on “MOTUC Feature – Snake Man-At-Arms

  1. =sigh= cannot tell you how inspiring your dioramas are.. I am the better part of 40 years old and you pics just hold me in thrall like a bug-eyed 6 year old!! Thanks for helping keep the dream alive.. now do one for the snake men 2 pack!! 🙂 .In short, sir, you rock..

  2. Quite possibly your best photo shoot yet. Snake MAA really has a nice base body and very sharp paint apps.

    The Snakemen are such a cool faction. They are easily the scariest and creepiest faction.


  3. You took a figure that I had zero interest in, and made it look really cool. Awesome job, as always!

  4. I love the shot of SMAA with his Snake PG henchmen.. Now i think i need more Palace Guards.
    Great job Matt 😀

  5. Thanks, guys! The temple is a piece made by Triad Toys – they call them triaramas.

  6. Cripes! That is awesome, Matt. Love the shot of SMAA smacking Photog and when Duncan is hopping in the wind raider. Story told perfectly in pixels.

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