Friday 17 December 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Masters of the Universe Masterverse Revelation Skeletor

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Release Date: June 2021
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

2021 will be remembered as the year I finally got into Masters of the Universe, not just due to release of Kevin Smith's Masters of the Universe: Revelation but also because of the criminally underrated 2021 CGI reboot He-Man and the Masters of the Universe that also debuted on Netflix shortly afterward. Rest assured I will be checking out the previous iterations in due course. For toy collectors getting into a new franchise also means sampling some of the toys on offer too, and with Masterverse Revelation He-Man in-hand there was no way I wasn't going to get his mortal enemy as well. In fact Masters of the Universe Masterverse Revelation Skeletor was the main one I wanted to get from Mattel's latest line of MOTU collector figures, simply due to his status as one of the most iconic 80s cartoon villains and of course that brilliant character design.

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The MOTU Masterverse packaging is identical across the board save for the individual character artwork, so Revelation Skeletor comes in a chunky blue/black box just like the rest of his wave-mates. The front of the box features a large transparent window which gives a good view of the figure (very important for Skeletor – I'll go into why a little bit further down), with a nice big Masters of the Universe: Revelation logo situated just underneath with the character name. Whilst one side of the box simply features the character name, the other side along with the back sport some gorgeous artwork of the iconic villain newly produced for this packaging. The back also includes a short character bio alongside that artwork (depending on the region you purchased the figure that is – mine was bought whilst on holiday in Dublin and looks to be the Canadian packaging, which omits the bio entirely), as well as images of the other figures included in this first wave of Masterverse figures (Revelation He-Man, Moss Man and Evil-Lyn). Open it up and you'll find Skeletor and accessories neatly laid out on a moulded clamshell tray, against a rather fitting grey stone backdrop card.

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Skeletor's Revelation look remains relatively unchanged from his original design, though a few modifications have been made to give it a more "modern" animation aesthetic. Other than the more defined body shape and features, his (rather minimal) costume has been give additional detail and colouring. Mattel have replicated this pretty well for the Masterverse toy release, and what it lacks in shading and paint apps it manages to make up for with a variety of plastic colours. One minor detail I noticed was missing from the animation model was Skeletor's nipples, though I'm sure no one is going to lament at the lack of those (which are usually covered by the chest harness anyway). Like all MOTU figures Skeletor's sculpt has some excellent muscular definition, and the glossy finish works far better for his eerie blue skin than it did for He-Man's fleshy skin tone. It isn't perfect, but it is far less noticeable. Rather impressively Masterverse Skeletor sports a soft goods cape, safely fastened under the soft plastic hood/collar piece but easily removed if need be. It's also made of a nice thick material that shouldn't be at any risk of ripping. The hood collar, harness (which looks like it's attached to the collar but is a separate piece underneath) and skirt are all made of softer plastic.

The skull head sculpt poking out from under that hood is beautifully done, but at the same time the biggest thing to look out for on this figure as it seems the paint apps can vary dramatically. The promotional images you'll see online show it with the minimum amount of blackwash needed to bring out all of that detailing, however I've seen Skeletors in stores on both ends of the spectrum – one in particular having a head that was almost entirely black. Just compare my copy to some of the other reviews online and you'll see just how wildly they can vary. I know buying these figures in physical stores isn't an option for everyone, but if you have the ability you should definitely take it with this just to ensure you get the perfect one.

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Skeletor's body type is pretty much the same as He-Man's, giving the two figures (as well as most of the Masterverse Revelation figures) identical articulation. This means that altogether the figure has; 
- Ball jointed head, torso and hips 
- Swivel hinge shoulders, wrists and ankles 
- Double hinged elbows and knees 
- Bicep, waist, thigh and lower leg swivels. 
Skeletor might not be wearing boots as such, but he still maintains the same boot swivel articulation as He-Man at those shin pad sections. While He-Man had some rather notable issues when it came to how well the figure pulled all this articulation off, Skeletor actually fares a lot better. Some of the problems still remains – the joints are overly stiff (particularly the double hinged elbows and knees) and the basic waist twist is pretty unsightly, but overall the quality control seems that little bit higher than it was on He-Man. Of course Skeletor's (admittedly rather skimpy) costume brings its own restrictions, with both the shoulders and hips slightly limited by the soft plastic pieces around them. You might not get the most dynamic of action poses out of Skeletor, but you can certainly get all the dramatic bad guy poses you could ever ask for. Once again it could be argued that Mattel need a little more refinement when it comes to more-articulated MOTU figures like these, but they do at least seem to be on the right track here.

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Skeletor comes packaged with two alternate hands (a gripping right hand with the index finger outstretched/pointing as well as an open left hand – nicely complimenting his default accessory-holding left hand and closed right fist), his ram-headed Havoc Staff and the Shaping Staff. The Shaping Staff is moulded in yellow-gold plastic with no additional paint apps, which is a little bizarre given that this is colour it was in the Filmation cartoon rather than Revelation (where it was purple). Still, it's the kind of deep-cut reference hardcore MOTU fans will appreciate. Meanwhile the Havoc Staff is moulded in light purple, with a lighter shade again for the ram skull. The blackwash here isn't quite as pronounced as it is on Skeletor's own head, but it still brings out the moulded detailing well enough. A shame the mouth doesn't open like it does in the series, but maybe that would be asking for a bit too much. As always there are little things that could have been thrown in to make the package that little bit more special (effect parts would have been nice, although I probably have plenty of Hasbro ones by this point that'll do the trick), but overall it's a solid set of accessories that gives Skeletor everything he needs plus a little bit extra.

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Despite having mixed feelings about He-Man, Masters of the Universe Masterverse Revelations Skeletor is far more along my hopes and expectations for the line. Despite sharing some of the same flaws as his heroic counterpart, in Skeletor's case they don't seem to impact on the figure quite as much. While Mattel don't seem to have quite nailed down these more articulated MOTU figures yet, between Skeletor's great look and accessories this is a figure that'll look fantastic among anyone's toy collection. Just be sure to grab this one from a physical store if you're able, because the shading on that head sculpt seems to vary so much that it's not something you'd necessarily want to chance.

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