It’s funny how things sometimes work out, Masters fans. Here we are in the “last” year of the proper Classics line and we are finally getting what many would argue to be the very first He-Man for the first time in action figure form.
As a MOTU fan who also collects the Classics line, you have to be comfortable with a generous bit of revisionist history. Let’s face it, MOTU is one of those properties that has never really had a very tight canon and most fans got their first exposure to the property in action figure form, so just about everyone’s mythos is different depending on how they played with their original figures. Personally, I think that is great, but it has also allowed for many different “official” takes on the storyline over the years and everything from Filmation to old Star comics to the live-action movie has taken a swing the canon and when you pile that all together, it can make for a pretty complicated story, if you want to try to tie everything together.
With Masters of the Universe Classics, the “bio” canon is attempting to do just that and, depending on who you ask, it has been accomplished with varying degrees of success. This is where the story of “Oo-Larr” comes in, and in an attempt to streamline a mythos, Classics has actually made a very simple concept pretty complicated. See, this character is really considered to be the “original” He-Man by many, many fans as he was portrayed by the incomparable Alfredo Alcala. Sure, the Taylor sketches and Guerrero sculpt were first, but the “jungle” He-Man appearing in that first mini-comic from so long ago is the original media take on the character to help build a story and mythos.
Remember, this is before Filmation and the Prince Adam concept, so at start, He-Man was simply a powerful barbarian warrior tapped by the Goddess to be the Defender of Grayskull. So, until recently, this was just a first and savage take on He-Man that is beloved by many fans and while everyone has to reconcile different stories in their own way, that is one of beauties of MOTU. The Classics mythology is attempting to bring it all together and that is, in my opinion, a GIANT task, but once again, it is not being presented as something that everyone has to adopt, it just serves as another incarnation of the brand.
That is where Oo-Larr comes in. See, instead of balancing the Prince Adam and barbarian origins, Classics has simply made “He-Man” a title instead of a character, and starting all the way back with the first figure in the line, the “He-Men” have been defending the Powers of Grayskull for thousands of years. I am personally not completely adverse to the concept, and I have adopted some of this lore, but what that means is that Prince Adam remains the “standard” He-Man we have known for so long, while this savage jungle character becomes a new character: Oo-Larr, the Jungle He-man that existed right before the birth of Adam and Adora.
Now, I am all about expanding the mythos and having concepts be given a chance at characterization instead of being completely discarded. So, while I am comfortable with the idea of Oo-Larr being a separate He-Man from Adam, just like Vikor, Wun-Dar, etc., I will probably find my own stories for him, just like I do with all the characters. The name Oo-Larr does have a bit of a MOTU feel to it, but I think it is a tough go to get most people to believe that it was conceptualized as such, and not just a clerical error during the trademark filing process for the character of Mo-Larr. Ah, annals of MOTU history continue to be a weird place.
Anyway, at the end of the day, it is all about the toys, right? So that being said, I think this brand new Oo-Larr figure does a nice job in finally giving us that savage barbarian He-Man in action figure form. As you probably know, he is the Club Eternia 2015 exclusive figure, so the only way you are going to get him is if you signed up for the subscription; so when you compare this figure to past club exclusives, I am ready to proclaim that this is the best one since Shadow Weaver. Sure, he is not the most visually striking or adorned figure in the line, but to me, that is never the point, I am much more concerned with a figure being a great and true representation of the actual character, and this figure certainly accomplishes that.
So, before Oo-Larr went and got himself a shiny sword, furry boots and a power harness, he was pretty much just a strong dude in a loin cloth. So, it makes sense that that is what you are getting here: Oo-Larr is pretty much a standard He-Man figure, but with bare arms, legs and feet. This influence can be traced right to the panel in the original mini-comic, but with the Classics style aesthetic. So while he might not have any of the tech of a lot of the other characters, this figure certainly has the feel of that jungle warrior taking leave of his clan to be something bigger for Eternia. For being a mostly-nude dude, the figure turned out great and the one area I was worried about, the ankles, actually tuned out just fine. In some early pictures it looked as though the final figure would suffer from the dreaded “cankle” syndrome so prevalent in today’s society, but in the end, Oo-Larr keeps his chiseled form about him.
Bare feet aside though, the most important thing about this figure is that we are finally getting a He-Man head sculpt with the mini-comic’s long blonde locks. The hair sculpt is good and while the hair is decidedly different and longer than the “page boy” style, the Horsemen made sure that the hair would not inhibit the neck articulation completely. He also features a new face with some serious teeth-grit and raised eyebrows. Again, this helps further the whole savage persona and he certainly looks like he could save the Goddess from any vibrantly-colored beast in the wilds of Eternia.
Oo-Larr also features new “bare” forearms and feet. These are, of course, nicely done, but they are two of the tougher points about this figure being the subscription exclusive. As someone who makes a MOTUC custom from time to time, these parts would be very useful, so I would have purchased multiples of this figure had he been available for actual purchase. I am not complete sure who might feature bare feet in a future release, but as far as I am concerned the sky is still the limit when it comes to this line.
The Savage He-Man weaponry is also included with this release, so you get a brand new sword and spear that are both based on the same original mini-comic. Listen, this is Masters of the Universe so any time we get a new and interesting sword to add to the arsenal, I am all for it. This sword was last seen lying about in the Goddess’s cave, so it is nice to finally get it in plastic. Since I see Oo-Larr as one of the wielders of the Power Sword, this one will probably go to someone else, but it will look good with just about anyone. Also included is his spear that he is seen carrying as he departs his tribe in the comic. You know, we have lots of staves and swords and axes in this line, but not a ton of spears, so this is a nice addition and is impeccably sculpted. Just to note: I have included pictures of Oo-Larr’s axe herein as well. It might just be my favorite accessory for him, but due to a paperwork mistake at Mattel, it is actually included with Huntara, and not Oo-Larr, so just know that going in, but hey – at least you get to see it featured in two articles!
Okay, now for the big thing. This is probably the greatest part of this release and it is not even really a part of the actual figure. Included with Oo-Larr is a brand-spanking-new VINTAGE He-Man head sculpt. That is, this a PURE Classics update for the original He-Man action figure head and not a new interpretation. See, I have always liked the new take on He-Man’s likeness in the Classics line, but it actually strayed from the original vintage likeness a lot more than many of the other characters. Not so with this release: this is pure gold as far as I am concerned and it has taken me from being “okay” with the Classics He-Man, to LOVING him. This head sculpt is that perfect. Honestly, I popped this sucker on my standard Classics He-Man, and this head is never coming off. I really wish I could get a couple more of them, but who knows, maybe Flying Fists He-Man will feature it as well. It is just fantastic and maybe one of the best head sculpts in the entire line. THANK YOU Four Horsemen for giving this to us.
Finally, since this is the subscription figure, you also get the first (of three) of the new mini-comics being offered throughout the year and titled, “Homecoming” of the “The Fall of Eternia” saga. I have to tell you, it is really cool getting a mini-comic with a figure again and I would absolutely LOVE for something in the style of the vintage books (even reproductions) to be included with every figure. As for the comic itself, well, I am not going to spoil much, if anything about it at this point. I will tell you this: like all the comics that came before it, there will be things people love about it, and plenty of things people will not love about it. It was, of course, scripted by Toy Guru so if you are familiar with the Classics bios and previous comics, you are going to get much of the same writing style and plotting that you have seen before. There are some neat cameos (the guy in purple at the beginning made me smile for sure) throughout the book and there is a name drop at the very end that is sure to excite some contingent of the fan base.
I don’t know, there are some story points that ring a little hollow for me, especially with He-Man’s (lack of) relationship with a character that is prominently featured. Said character inclusion probably also cements a strong rumor about one of the final figures included with the 2015 sub, but you can see for yourself on that one. Additionally, some characters that feature prominently as Masters are not who I would personally pick to flesh out, but I do see why they were included since we are trying to account for everything in the stories. There are deaths that will cause debate and one pretty explosive climax that is sure to send a lot of people into a frenzy, so be prepared come late March.
I will say this: the art in the book is, as always, impeccable thanks to the extremely talented and giant MOTU fan Axel Gimenez. It is an absolute delight having him work on these books and even if the story does not do it for you, the art most certainly will. Axel is very talented and has his own style, but he is VERY respectful to the property and he treats it with reverence without trying to force anything else. The likenesses and Easter Eggs he provides are so much fun and even with the limited page space he crams so much into each frame; I am still finding new things upon my 10th or 11th viewing. As much as the Horsemen have meant to MOTU from a 3-D perspective, Axel is coming into his own in the 2-D world, and I would just love it if he could work full time on all things MOTU in some comic form. Maybe DC could do a “Classic” canon take on the property that exists alongside what they are doing now. Could you image Axel at work in that world? We are really lucky to have such a passionate and respectful (and EDUCATED) fan of the property working on these books and I would like to thank him very much for providing us with a living visual Eternia, even in mini form. So, for the art, this book gets a solid 5-Star rating, you will absolute love it.
After all this time – that is 33 YEARS – we finally have the Barbarian He-Man of mini-comic legend to stand on our shelves. I think this is a great release and I am betting the really old school MOTU fans will be over the moon to get him next month. The vintage He-Man that is included is also a great touch and see a lot of He-Man figures getting facelifts in the next month or so, maybe Mo-Larr has a plastic surgeon brother… Scal-Pull, or something. Anyway, if you have interest in this figure, I hope you subbed up because this is the only way you are going to get him without resorting to a third-party seller, not that there is anything wrong with that. Six years strong and 2015 certainly looks to be the year of He-Man again, we have now gotten the mini comic, vintage and 200X-styled heads in consecutive months, and we are still due AT LEAST two more He-Man figures (Laser Power and Flying Fists) before the year is over. WE have the Power!
*Thanks to Mattel for sending along this sample for preview and thanks to the Four Horsemen and Axel Gimenez for their continued work on this property, it is very much appreciated!