Thanks for joining us for this little trip back to Eternia's insane asylum, with The Strangest Masters of the Universe Figures Ever, Volume II. The first time around, we took a look at ten of the weirdest, most senses-assaulting characters ever crafted by those dirty frogs at Mattel. But limiting the list to a mere ten is just cheating ourselves - every He-Man figure belonged in an alien zoo. They all inspired double takes, triple takes, Danny Thomas spit takes, and a whole lotta skull scratching. Today we venture back into the abyss to review ten more such figures...toys perhaps even stranger than the ones we looked at the last time!
I'm a little more connected to the choices in this article because I did indeed own each of these guys as a kid. I now look at them as a weird sort of lost childhood friends, partly because they were better conversationalists than the kids across the street, but mainly because I can connect virtually every childhood moment of mine to a He-Man figure. Every early Christmas, birthday...Halloween costumes, Easter baskets, you name it. Looking at these figures sends me down a spiral of memoria, taking me back to wonderful past times a whole lot faster and with tons more vividity than any photo album could. It may sound weird to some, but to a lot of you...I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about. So here they are - granted, this is mostly a comedy piece, but I hope this feature brings back as many memories for you as it does for me.
#1: Trap Jaw -- Skeletor's allies really didn't help his success rate any. A group of guys who could do nothing successfully aside from tripping over rocks and giggling at inappropriate times won't help him conquer Castle Greyskull, but at the very least, the big skull master must've had some great laughs at Snake Mountain. Plus, it must've been kinda therapeutic for Skeletor to surround himself with this band of idiots - comparatively speaking, it made him seem pretty damn normal. And that's the true merit of having a guy like Trap Jaw on your team. He's not going to be effective in battle, and I certainly wouldn't want him on my Trivial Pursuit team, but you know what? When he's around, I'm gonna feel a whole lot prettier.
Unlike many of the other villains, there's no discernible creature Trap Jaw's been modeled after. They truly broke the mold with this one. He can best be described as some sort of amputee devilface who enjoys football helmets. The neat thing about him is that, if you haven't seen the cartoon, Trap Jaw looks like he could kick some serious He-Ass. Armed with a moving steel jaw that could, I guess, bite his enemies into submission, Trappy's real coup are his interchangeable arm weapons. Nobody's sure where his original arm went, I can only guess he got confused and ate it. Turning that negative into a positive, now he's got an assortment of weaponry that attaches right into his electronic forearm - a laser, a hook in case he doesn't want to carry a bulky rod when he goes fishing, plus an ominous claw. Course, every kid lost these detachable weapons pretty soon after getting the figure, so Trap Jaw was doomed to an eternity of handless disadvantages during playtime. Personally, I used to stick miniature crayons in there and pretend he was the villains' stenographer. I even spelled most of his written words incorrectly to promote realism.
#2: Stonedar -- One of the mysterious and heroic 'Comet Warriors,' Stonedar suspiciously came out in 1986, the era of Transformers. I say it's suspicious because Stonedar is one of the extremely few He-Man figures who actually transforms. So while it'd appear that they ripped off another series, at least the guy didn't turn into a VW bug or a T-Rex. Instead, Stonedar turns into a big clunky stupid rock. Not entirely impressive, but at least he could disguise himself as scenery if any of his fans on Eternia wanted an autograph. I guess it also protected him from fire and rifle blasts, but really, it's not like any of these assholes from Snake Mountain or the Horde ever hit their targets.
Before the figures came out, they were advertised by admittedly cool teasers at the end of regular MOTU commercials. With that marketing mystique, it was a pretty big deal to kids when they finally hit store shelves. For a time, they were incredibly popular...so popular in fact that I could never find any of 'em at Toys R'Us. It would've been a crushing blow if one of my friends didn't trade me the toy for a few handfuls of MUSCLE figures. (The same friend would later sell me all his old Star Wars figures for a dime a piece - a move he still complained about till a few years ago. We no longer speak, mostly because he ran out of toys I wanted. Don't think I'm cruel...he was one of those close-talkers)
#3: Roboto -- I don't remember Roboto being anything special to most kids, but for me, he was one of the absolute best. I've always had a big affinity for anything bearing the robot moniker, but I really can't put my finger on why I like the guy so much. I think it was just odd and somehow cool that they threw a robot into the line for no other available reason other than the fact that they already had figures crafted after lobsters and skunks, and figured...'why the hell not?' A hero character, Roboto mimicked Trap Jaw's special feature -- he too had interchangeable arm parts, more or less the same ones. Instead of a hook, Roboto has an ax. Why? Man-At-Arms built the thing because he was sick of gathering firewood himself.
Yeah, yeah, go ahead He-Man experts...e-mail me and start in about how Man-At-Arms didn't really build the thing. The truth is right in front of us. Only a complete tool like Duncan would build this super cool machine and ruin everything by giving it such a clever and subversive name like 'Roboto.' I'm sure hours went into that choice.
One time long ago, I ended up with this bootleg He-Man figure who had Prince Adam's head, but Roboto's body. It was actually pretty nifty since the see-through chest cavity with all the gears could be filled with water, letting the mechanics float around aimlessly. Don't ask me why, but I thought it was the greatest feature ever invented. You can't fill the actual Roboto figure with water unless you rip his head off. I know this because it's something I used to do regularly. My parents had to buy a lot of Roboto figures. :/
#4: Mosquitor -- One of the later figures added to the Evil Horde series, Mosquitor is indicative of the time in the toyline where Mattel was really, really trying. Action figures were becoming more and more impressive, and the earlier He-Man figures looked real obsolete by comparison. Because of this, most of the final few sets of figures were much more details and were forged using much better material. It ended up being too little, too late: unlike the early figures, which literally flew off the shelves as soon as they were put up, guys like Mosquitor were either bought purely by chance or by the few die-hard fans left. Making matters worse was the ingrain thought in some kids' heads that they couldn't buy Horde figures. See, technically, they were She-Ra's enemies, and rode the line a little too close to being thought of as 'girl' toys. Having someone like Mosquitor was a calculated risk for a child. Your friends might think you're hiding Frosta and Kowl at the bottom of your toy chest. Then the rumors start...you have Barbies, EZ Bake Ovens, you were lacy panties....c'mon guys, you know how it works. Sucks too, since the Horde figures were easily some of the best in the entire line.
So, what's special about Mosquitor? You could 'suck' the blood out of the hero figures, letting it flow through the figure's chest, which was full of a bright red liquid that may have been toxic, but I can't say for sure since it's one of the few figures I didn't chew on regularly. And again, here we see a totally derivative name. What's with all these figures that just have a letter tagged on to the thing they're based on? Well, I say this figure's way too nice to lump a stupid name on. So I'm gonna rename him: Bludsukker. Hmmm. That's even worse. This is pretty tough, no wonder they stuck with the basics.
#5: Mekanek -- Why? Because while He-Man was indeed the most powerful man in the universe, he was rather short and SUCKED at volleyball. Mekanek took Eternia to new heights with that sport, using his head to spike the ball before doing this weird celebratory touchdown dance. Hey, it's better than assuming a guy who's neck can grow larger is the secret to defeating Skeletor once and for all.
The poor guy had a son on the show, but the kid must've been adopted. Who was gonna lay this thing? As if the big gray neck wasn't bad enough, he's dressed like some godforsaken gaudy Christmas star, wearing these ridiculous triangular sunglasses obviously bought from one of those 'hilarious' novelty shops. This walking fashion faux pas might be able to see over a high fence, but he's obviously too tall to look into a mirror. Which isn't really a bad thing, since a guy who's biggest claim to fame is having a huge neck has enough to be depressed about.
He-Man: Hey Mekanek, I've heard a lot about you. What's your special power?
Mekanek: I know who's getting a bald spot at all times. I can report this to you or your superiors on a semi-regular basis.
He-Man: Hmmm. You know what, Stratos already kinda does that for us. Can you do anything else?
Mekanek: Nope. Nothing at all. I can cook rice if I try hard enough.
He-Man: ::looks at his outfit:: Hey...do you have any, uh, disabilities?
Mekanek: Sort of. I'm color blind.
He-Man: Thought so! Oh well, we've gotta uphold the equal rights bill at Greyskull. You're hired.
Mekanek: Terrific! As a token of my appreciation, I'd like for you to have my sunglasses.
He-Man: That's okay. Really.
#6: SSSqueeze -- The 'Snake Men' were a side group of villains not really aligned directly with Skeletor or Hordak, but they hated He-Man all the same. Jealous fucks. I mean, what did they really want from Eternia or Castle Greyskull, anyway? All these bad guys already had billion dollar equipment, obviously they were well off. Maybe they just sucked at interior decorating and wanted to move into a place that's already been furnished. These snake villains were lead by King Hiss, who is one of my top tier ultimate prestige figures of all time. (he was covered in volume I of this feature some time back) SSSqueeze is a bit different, though. He looks nothing like the other He-Man figures - he's not to scale, he's made of a different material, and his arms are 45 feet long a piece.
The deal here was, like a snake, SSSqueeze could grab and constrict the life out of his enemies. The ability didn't transfer well to the figure, since it was impossible to get those arms to stay around another toy without holding everything together with both hands, a foot, and a pair of pliers. Still, it was a must-have simply because the toy was so much different from any other He-Man figure. Fortunately, his weapon could be used to aid in the grappling feature, but that's irrelevant since every kid lost his action figure's weapons as soon as they opened it. If there's an afterlife for inanimate objects, Action Figure Weapon Heaven must have severe overpopulation issues.
#7 & #8: Battle Armor He-Man & Skeletor -- One typical method of increasing toy sales is to re-release the most popular figures with souped-up features. They've done this in every popular toy line ever, from Star Wars to G.I. Joe and everything in between. MOTU was no exception, but at the very least, the redone figures were nice. 'Battle Armor' He-Man and Skeletor were mostly the same as the originals, aside from an armored chest that'd display various stages of battle damage as you kept hitting it. On the first swipe, the figure would get a little gash, but on the second swipe, he'd look like he was just attacked by bear. It's doubly impressive because there were no bear-themed figures in the line.
The whole 'battle damage' thing was a big feature back in the time these figures came out - I can recall at least five other toylines off the top of my greasy head that utilized it. There was one slight problem though - kids hear the word 'battle,' and they start throwing around their toys like a redheaded stepbeastman. Pretty soon, the switching armor feature didn't work, and became permanently stuck on the one displaying the most damage. Poor He-Man and Skeletor were then perpetually injured shells of their former shelves, doomed to an eternity of having to explain the evil bear incident to everyone wondering why they're bleeding out the chest.
He-Man: That was some bear!
Skeletor: You're telling me. Look at our chests!
He-Man: Good thing we were both wearing identical armored outfits.
Skeletor: Yes. A very good thing.
He-Man: A very very good thing.
Skeletor: TRIPLE good thing!
He-Man: QUADRUPLE GOOD THING!
Skeletor: Sixteen hundred thousand times ten good thing!!!
He-Man: Seventy-five thou--
Skeletor: No backsies!
#9: Zodak -- I never quite understood Zodak. Different parts of He-Man lore listed him as different things - good, evil, neutral, male, female, drone...the guy was a true everyman. I've read comics where Zodak's totally indifferent towards He-Man and the struggles of good and evil in general, instead opting to talk cryptic and float around on a flying sofa. In other comics, he helps He-Man by giving him odd-shaped weapons. I guess he can best be described indeed as neutral - Zodac isn't actively heroic, but he realizes that the people of Eternia were rather boring and not worth trying to save all the time.
Oddly, he was one of the first figures ever released, though I'm not sure why. By no means a major player on the cartoon, his figure was made even before stars like Orko and the Sorceress. He's just kinda 'there.' The reason I'm including him on this list? Despite his alien heritage, despite coming from a place far away from He-Man's stomping grounds - the two guys share the exact same body. Doppelgangers! Who knows...if we could get that mask off, they may very well be twins. His packaging calls him a 'cosmic enforcer,' a strange title that doesn't really tell us much. What does a cosmic enforcer do? Make sure all the asteroids stay in line? In any event, Zodak's important to the line because he answers one of the eternal questions about Masters of the Universe continuity: fuzzy underwear remains prominent throughout the universe, not just in Eternia.
#10: Modulok -- My favorite He-Man figure ever. I talked about him in a very early X-E article, but I'm not gonna go back to see how shittily I relayed my little Modulok story back then. Instead, I'll tell it again. I really, REALLY wanted the Modulok figure. I can't think a single toy I ever pined for as much as this figure. I don't remember what it was exactly - whether it was because of clever commercials, word-of-mouth, or just an insane desire...I HAD TO HAVE THIS FIGURE. To get him, I did something I'd never truly done before: prayed. Now when I say pray, don't picture me calmly kneeling before bedtime, assuming God was checking around for action figure wishes. My prayer was in no way normal, calm, or in any way a proud moment. It happened early one morning, before my family woke up to go meet my brother's fiancee's family. I stood in our living room, quite literally throwing myself into the walls and furniture, SCREAMING to THAT DAMN JESUS to get with the program and grant me a Modulok. The solitary spectacle had to go on for twenty minutes easy, knocking the wind completely out of me and leaving me pretty bruised up. Sadly, Modulok didn't magically materialize from thin air into my little hands. I cried, and cried hard.
Later that day, my parents, one of my sisters, and myself were about to go into the car for the long ride up to meet my soon-to-be sister-in-law's family. Since it was a long trek up there, and I was never one for extended car rides without mass complaints or bouts with car sickness, my mother decided to nip the problem and present me with a new toy to hold my attention on the way there. And that's how I got Modulok. Now, I never once told anyone in my family that I was interested in this figure. And even if I did, there's no way my parents would remember the specific name of a He-Man toy. (they referred to Skeletor as Skull-Man) Was this an act of divine intervention, or a mere coincidence? I really don't know. I've tried praying for other things, like money and a DVD release of Teen Wolf, but it never works. So why did God believe that I truly deserved a Modulok figure? Simple. I wore crosses a lot. Little did he know I only did it because I thought it was fun accessorizing.
Now, about the figure...
A Horde figure, Modulok consisted of 22 interchangeable body parts that could be used to create hundreds, if not a thousand different creatures. With two heads, you could easily make two full-scale complete figures, but most kids opted to create one huge super-mutant with a big rifle. Unlike virtually every other figure, Modulok came in his own special box, which only added to the intrigue. This was like the Ferrari of the Masters of the Universe toys. So what if I lost half the pieces the same day I got him? It's still one of my favorite childhood memories. Okay fine, that doesn't say much for my childhood, but what can I say? I led a pedestrian life of toys and Cheeze Doodles. Sue me - so did you.
There's still dozens of figures to cover, so someday soon I'll be back with Volume III. How soon? I'm not sure. If you really want to see it quick, throw yourself into a few chairs and beg God to make it happen. Believe me, sometimes, it really works.
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