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Mattel: Masters of the Universe Origins He-Man and Skeletor Review

Well, my fellow Eternians — there is a new (He) man in town, and Mattel is set to roll out the next iteration of the most powerful man in the universe with their all-new modernly retro Masters of the Universe Origins line.

For some of us, Masters of the Universe is always a big part of our lives. Whether you grew up with the property by playing with the original toys and watching the cartoon, or if you continued on with the comics, movie, and more modern action figure lines or all of the above, MOTU has made an imprint on so many of us that has lasted a life time. However, He-Man is about to go front and center for a new generation of fans with movie rumors, and TWO animated series currently in the works. New media for a beloved franchise is always an exciting possibility, and for those of us who love action figures, that generally means new toys.

So, we are in luck as Mattel is bringing an all new take on He-Man and crew that still holds a lot of familiarity to the brand we grew up with. Their new 5.5-inch Origin lines matches that style and feel you know so well with modern sculpting and articulation sensibilities to give us something wholly new for our Eternian adventures. It seems like we first learned about this new line ages ago (the 2019 San Diego Comic Con even had an exclusive), but now the line is debuting at Wal-Mart this fall with a further rollout as we move into 2021. Like I said, the timing is great to align with the new shows, but it is exciting to get some of the line’s heavy hitters in toy form to help whet our appetites for lots more He-Man.

Now, the Masters have not been without modern toy takes before, with the 200X line starting the newer takes, and with Masters of the Universe Classics (my most beloved MOTU line) giving us the expansive character selection we have always dreamed about. But Origins has put the focus back on, well, the origins of the line, and how this property came to define that muscular, chunky style in the 1980s. Arguably one of the most successful toy ventures of that decade, Mattel is betting on making retro chic the crave of present day collectors and kids.

Of course the line is starting with the two main characters, the arch rivals locked in eternal battle – He-Man and Skeletor. Like before, these two are really the template around how the rest of the line will be based, and right off the bat, you can already see this will be a lot of fun. I am very much partial to the bad guys in this property, so Skeletor and his minions are already set to be highlights for me, but Mattel has been announcing and teasing new entrants to the line, and they are keeping the battle between good and evil well balanced.

I got my first look at this new base body with the aforementioned SDCC exclusive last year, and while there will be the regular body style variations within the line itself, the style and articulation foundation has been set. I would not call these “super articulated” as I generally reserve that for 25+ point range, but these guys are close, and do have quite a bit of articulation (between 18 and 20 points depending oh how you count them) that really does feel like are you able to pose those vintage style figures in a dynamic way for the first time ever. The ball-jointed heads and rocker style ankles are the highlights for me as they really help to express and balance these figures in ways that are pretty essential for todays kids and collectors. 

The best part about these figures for me, though, is that from they are very much feel and look like toys, and I mean that in the best way possible. So many things I collect put a lot of focus on making certain aspects of them as realistic as possible, and that fine, but with a property like MOTU, something whose entire, well, ORIGINS, is based on a toy line, this an execution remaining very true to itself. This is most apparent to me in the color palette and style on these. The colors are appropriately bold and bright (this is probably my favorite color base for Skeletor ever, the blue is amazing), and while the paint is not overdone, it does its work to bring out the important details and color transitions when needed. For example, Skeletor’s monochromatic harness is cast in purple plastic, but the differentiation between He-Man’s boots and boot cuff help match the source material and give a bit more variance in tones. I think Mattel has been able to balance this nicely here.

Additionally, He-Man and Skeletor come with their essential weapons/accessories, and the battle axe, shield, Havoc Staff, and of course, the two parts to the Power Sword are all accounted for. I believe a lot of emphasis in this line will be put back on the two parts of the Power Sword as that was really the original driver of the conflict between Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain, so I will be interested to see where that goes. Additionally, like the original 80s figures, you get a comic included with these figures, and that, to me, is one of the best parts. Yes, I mentioned that more media will be coming for MOTU soon, but not having to go past the package to learn more about the characters you just bought is a HUGE thing for new kids and fans to get them to latch onto the property, and for those of us who know it well, our adventures can continue. I will note that both He-Man and Skeletor come with the same mini-comic for this release.

After decades, Masters of the Universe is returning to its roots with this new Origins line. I will make it no secret that MOTU Classics was really the line for me, but as an overall fan of the property and a pretty active action figure collector, I am looking forward to the future of this line. As I mentioned, it is debuting at Wal-Mart for 2020, but will be expanding as we enter next year. I am positive there will be more news coming soon, and stay tuned right here, we will have another feature about the line coming later today, and a look at more of the new toys early next week. Until then, Good Journey!

*Thank you to Mattel for providing the products used in this feature.