Friday 27 October 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Masters of the Universe Masterverse 'He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021)' Skeletor

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Release Date: August 2022
RRP: $23.99/£23.00

There were two new Masters of the Universe projects released on Netflix in 2021 - and the best one isn't the one that got all the publicity. Despite seeming like a radical departure from the He-Man we all know and love on first glance, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021) is a wonderful reimagining of the franchise with a great spin on the characters and lore. Its Skeletor, voiced by Benjamin Diskin, is a particular highlight - the perfect blend of comedy and menace that makes for a truly memorable villain. So when Mattel announced the series would be joining the Masterverse line-up I jumped at the chance to add him to my collection. Thanks to the line's woeful distribution in the UK Masters of the Universe Masterverse He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021) Skeletor took some time to get here, but better late than never.

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"Prince Keldor once tried to take over Castle Grayskull, but the dark magic Havoc cursed him, slowly devouring his flesh. Now freed from his stasis shell, the mad prince once again craves power - this time embracing his curse as a blessing, allowing the magic to consume and transform him into Skeletor, the Dark Master of Havoc."

Skeletor comes in standard Masters of the Universe Masterverse packaging, sporting a black and blue gradient colour scheme and nice big window on the front to show off the figure itself. The front also features the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021) logo in prominent place at the bottom, displaying just which series this is from in case you didn't know. One side of the box simply sports the character name (along with a badass "Dark Master of Havoc!" title), while the other has some absolutely gorgeous artwork of Skeletor posing dramatically. A different (but equally beautiful) piece of art is showcased on the back, alongside a short character bio and images of the other releases in this wave of Masterverse figures. Open the box up and Skeletor you'll find Skeletor taking up quite a lot space on his moulded plastic tray, together with his accessories.

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Even before taking him out of the box you can fully appreciate the collosal difference in size and proportions between this and previous incarnations of Skeletor, and Mattel have done an amazing job translating that top-heavy frame to figure from. The mainline He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021) figure did a good job too, but at this scale you can really appreciate just how beefy this Skeletor is. The sculpt on this figure really is top notice, with a lot of the body emulating the smooth appearance of the CGI model while areas like the hood and chest piece carry finer detailing. The head sculpt and skeletal left hand are particularly good, that toxic yellow standing out nicely against the more traditional blue and purple colour palette. The green veins of Havoc energy running through the neck are a really nice touch too.

Unfortunately QC on this figure isn't the best, at least on my copy anyway. There are bits of mould flesh dotted around the figure (most notably on his right collar) and the left side also has a blotch of white glue on it as well. They aren't super noticeable in most poses and maybe I just got unlucky with this copy, but it's always a little disappointing when you spot these things that could have been easily avoided.

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The box boasts that the figure has 30 points of articulation, and while that may be true how many of them you can get full usage out of is another question entirely. Altogether Skeletor features;
- Ball jointed head torso and hips
- Swivel hinge shoulders, wrists and ankles
- Double hinge elbows and knees
- Bicep, forearm, waist, thigh and shin swivels
Upon opening the figure I was a bit worried that it wouldn't have any head articulation, so it was a pleasant surprise to see have full movement under that plastic hood. It's not a great deal of movement thanks to said hood, but it's much better than having him be stuck looking directly forward even when his body is turned. Overall it's a nice array of articulation but (mostly due to the character design) there are a fair few points of restriction. The shoulders don't have much in the way of upward movement because of the way the hood drapes down on them, while the elbows having double joints is fairly pointless because his arms are so big bending only one of them results in the two parts hitting each other. Comparatively the bottom half of the body is much better, although the soft plastic loincloth does put limit hip movement. Also bear in mind that given how top heavy the design is, balancing isn't always the easiest thing despite him having big, flat feet for maximum coverage. All of the joints are pretty stiff too, which is common on all three Masterverse figures I own. You can get some fairly decent poses out of him (especially when it comes to villain grandstanding, which Skeletor does in spades), but overall this is much more of a looker than a poser.

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Skeletor comes packaged with an alternate pair of closed fists as well as the Havoc Staff, which much like Skeletor himself is considerably larger in this iteration. It's a long thin staff with a stylised goat skull sitting atop it, along with a (metal) chain hanging from it. Said chain is meant to wrap around Skeletor's wrist whilst his holding it, but truthfully it's a little too short to be done properly so just ends up slipping off. That said, the sculpt of the staff is very well done, and much like the figure itself captures the shape and colours of the animation model perfectly. Unfortunately the swappable hands prove to be another bit of a QC issue, with the right hand particularly being difficult to plug into the wrist securely on my copy. Then even if that isn't a problem on yours, the sheer weight of the staff means the figure struggles to hold it up without it twisting under the weight.

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Visually Masters of the Universe Masterverse He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021) Skeletor is an absolutely fantastic representation of the character - nailing the exaggerated proportions of the CGI model with a sharp sculpt and bold colours. While the design captures all the main features that made Skeletor both iconic and instantly recognisable, it's also a pretty bold redesign that definitely stands out from the crowd. Even though some of the articulation points feel a little redundant, the figure still cuts a mean silhouette and the look of said sculpting is more than enough to make up for it. But alas, that pesky Mattel QC strikes again - and even though they're certainly hitting the range with the Masterverse line the quality isn't quite up to the level of their competitors. Still - fans of the series should absolutely love this figure, and as possibly my favourite interpretation of the legendary villain it's more than earned a place in my collection.

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