Mattel’s newest Masters of the Universe Minis come six months after the San Diego Comic-Con 2013 Mini-Masters set of He-Man and Skeletor. When the 2014 collection was introduced at New York Comic Con, there were some unfavorable changes to the scale and execution. As we get into mid-June, the Masters of the Universe minis will arrive at the halfway point of their 6-piece “Castle Grayskull” collection. As they are, they are fun interpretations of our favorite characters. They do exude a charm all their own, and I think the He-Man fan can find a place for them at their office or work desk.
The sculpts are charming. They take on a cartoony feel that can best be compared to last year’s He-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe. Four Horsemen Toy Design, who sculpted the minis for Mattel, took the vintage aesthetic to a skewed level, with a humongous upper body, stylized faces, truncated lower legs, and signature weapons for the various characters. Another advantage the figures enjoy in this new style is it frees them of the trappings that the Classics characters have with regards to accuracy. Super-deformed characters normally hit the main points of how the characters looks without getting to busy in the details. They all look clean and sharp.
The paint on the Mini Masters is very well-applied. They are as bright and vibrant as their predecessors, and it pops more in their compact size. Individually, they are nicely-done. However, it’s not until they are displayed together as a group do they really stand out. In this case, the whole is truly great than the sum of their parts. Scareglow is a standout in his glow-in-the-dark deco contrasting with a richer black than the original toy, color-transitioning cape, and expressive face. Moss Man also has brighter green flocking, giving him a sprightlier vibe.
The articulation is a point of contention in this series, but not if you haven’t purchased the original SDCC 2013 set. Let me get the bad part out of the way first: these figures are scaled smaller than the original set. This hurts their value a bit because the SDCC Mini-Masters set is now a one-off piece versus ushering in a new line. Also, with He-Man and Skeletor already done, the Battle Armor versions were done as a way to avoid redundancy. It’s sensible, but we are still left without the title characters in their original looks. The ball-jointed shoulders of the original set were also replaced with a basic shoulder swivel. Wrist swivel was also omitted. That hurts characters like Stratos, who would have benefited greatly from these basic additions. Again, ignoring the first set, the Masters Minis are nice. They have the same uniform head swivel, shoulders, and waist. It works fine on a basic level. They can hold their weapons and the immobile base keeps the top heavy figures from falling over. Just be aware that Stratos may have slight balancing issues due to his jet pack.
Where articulation took a hit, the accessories redeem the figures. He-Man, Skeletor, and Mer-Man come with the main essentials. He-Man’s axe was missing, but I am sure a future variant (or a release in the original outfits) can include one. Scareglow also did not get his reliquary, which is fine, since the glaive and deco match the vintage figure. I would have preferred Stratos to have the comic staff of Avion over the Filmation one personally, but it is nice to see him come with an appropriate accessory for once. Moss Man, however, is a particular surprise. He does not have his seed satchel, but the tree trunk shield is a fantastic after-thought for the Horsemen, and one I would love to see make its way into the Classics line in a future weapons pack. Each set also comes with a piece of a Castle Grayskull façade, but as stated before, it’s really meaningless until all six sets are released.
The value is a tough one. Masters Minis cost as much as the San Diego Comic-Con Mini-Masters set, and they are scaled down already with removed articulation. This really questions the new mini’s $20 price-point when comparing them to the original sets, other Masters figures, or even other retail figures. The limited availability, comparatively low production and inclusion of the Grayskull façades assured their price point. As stated previously, they are fantastic when displayed together. Also, their smaller size appeals to those of us with limited display space. Masters Minis are the perfect answer to those of us who display our toys at work or home office. Displaying expensive Masters of the Universe Classics at work is a questionable choice for many of us. Masters Minis do not take up space, won’t overpower your display, and are really fun to look at. It adds the right amount of character, and is a fantastic alternative to the larger Classics figures. If you have children and raising them on the toys you grew up with, these are a great way for them to enjoy He-Man without wearing out your prized collectibles.
Masters of the Universe Minis is a collection that needs to be filled out more to be fully appreciated. Looking at my Classics display, the timing isn’t really there fro me to collect a second He-Man line at $20 per set, at this time. On the other hand, if you have always wanted to bring a few of your favorite characters to work and stare at them lovingly while typing away at your desk job, these do the trick. They are fun, ready to battle, and are visually dynamic, both individually and as a set. Masters Minis have the capacity to branch out into other façades, locales, or incorporate vehicles seemingly impossible in the Classics line. The possibilities are more varied, and now may be the time to jump on while the line is at its infancy.
The Masters of the Universe Minis Mini Scareglow and Stratos figures go on sale June 16 on MattyCollector.com.