Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Snake Face (Masters of the Universe Classics)

SnakeFace-SnakesOut

Hey, for once I’m on the ball when it comes to timing! Snake Face is Mattel’s April offering for Masters of the Universe Classics. His sale day was a week ago, and he actually lasted a decent amount of time – but if you’re not a subscriber and you didn’t try to risk Matty Collector for the sale, right about now is when you’d be considering buying one on Amazon or eBay or Big Bad Toy Store or who knows where else. I got a hookup from a Personal Friend who happened to have an extra subscription, so I got mine just a few days after most subscribers saw theirs in the mail.

SnakeFace-Toy

Snake Face was one of the Snake Men (gee, big surprise) in the original He-Man line. He stood out because he was a little more humanoid than the others (excepting King Hsss’s disguised form), and his theme linked directly to mythology. Whereas other Snake Men spat venom or had an extendable neck or a floppy tongue, Snake Face’s theme focused around the Greek Medusa. You know, the one I reviewed about a month ago. As an aside, Snake Face was sculpted by the Four Horsemen. Curse of the Spawn Medusa sort-of was – her first sculpt was designed by Eric Treadaway of the 4H, but the design was finished by another McFarlane employee. So really, the two are kind of related…

Anyway, the deal with Snake Face is that when his Face Snakes come out, anybody looking at him turns to stone. This kind of makes him into King Hsss’s nuclear option, and his new Masters of the Universe Classics bio reflects that by making him into Hsss’s right-hand man:

***
 Real Name: Cyltho Ssstavvve
 Originally a minor training officer in the Unnamed One’s Serpent Army, Cyltho Ssstavvve drew King Hssss’ attention after he was enchanted with the ability to turn his enemies to stone by the Great Black Wizard. Quickly brought into Hssss’ inner circle, Snake Face™ often acted as the Viper King’s second in command during the Great Wars with Grayskull™. He was trapped with the entire Snake Army in the Void for five millennia, but eventually was called forth by King Hssss™ to do battle once again after their release – this time against new enemies – He-Man® and the Masters of Universe®! Snake Face™ slithers after his enemy, then turns him to stone!
***

Snake Face previously appeared in the old mini-comics and the 2002 cartoon (I’ve said this before), but not the original cartoon (said that, too), as he was produced after the show had ended. Merchandise-wise, he has his vintage figure, a Staction from the 200X era, and this new toy now. Obviously, the Staction was meant to represent his appearance in the 2002 cartoon, whereas the MOTUC figure is slavishly devoted to emulating the original. But enough about logistics, let’s talk about the toy itself!

SnakeFace-Packaged

PACKAGING: ****

Same as the other MOTUC packaging, but let me explain it for any newbies here:

Masters of the Universe Classics figures come in several layers. First there’s the big brown mailer box, which is standard USPS stuff. Then you get a white box with the name of the figure on the front, and inside of the white box is a blister pack, set up just like something you’d see on a store shelf! It’s even got other toys cameoing on the back, which is kind of funny for a line with the release structure this one has (you won’t be able to purchase those offered figures outside of eBay). But it’s cool, I like his filecard, and the “Snake Men” logo just adds to it. He’s using his snaked-out head in the package, but there is enough clearance to keep the snakes from getting damaged.

SnakeFace

SCULPT: ****

In a line that prizes reusing as much as possible, it can get pretty amazing how well MOTUC figures recycle old pieces and turn them into something new. Snake Face reuses the generic Skeletor’s legs and feet, and Whiplash’s generic scaly torso. Notice how small that list is – Snake Face actually contains a lot of new tooling! His arms are brand-new, with scales, fins, and snakes wrapped around his wrists. His loincloth is a unique, scaly mold… and well, of course his head is new. Personally, I think they should have gone with Whiplash’s upper legs, since his legs have ridges similar to the ones on Snake Face’s arms, but it’s closer to the vintage figure this way. Still, minimal reuse is a nice thing to see.

SnakeFace-Face

As for the new parts, Snake Face skews much closer to his vintage design than his 200X design, but that’s to be expected. The 2002 cartoon took his somewhat clunky figure and tried to make him seem more sleek and natural. Although this figure sticks to the aesthetics of the original, it seems to keep enough of the 2002 aesthetic to make him look a lot less awkward than his old figure. His face is very detailed and expressive, even for this line, absolutely brimming with venom and malice in either normal or snaked-out mode. His helmet is pretty nicely-detailed, and clearly hides his gorgonesque snake hair, which seems to have been woven into the helmet like a hair weave. If you look, Snake Face has a tiny little “ponytail” on the back of his head, but it’s actually just the tails of the green snakes woven into his helmet! That’s a nice little detail, and it makes his design seem a little more three-dimensional. Snake Face’s armor is interesting, as apparently they had some trouble keeping it thin and sleek enough despite the action feature (more on the feature later). As it is, it’s standard for MOTUC armor. It’s not too bad, but he can’t really hold his arms down the whole way… but then, neither could Draego-Man, or Fang-Man, or Stinkor, or Horde Prime, or just about anybody else with a full breastplate. It’s pretty nicely detailed, and sits naturally over his shoulders. I appreciate the new scaly loincloth, which doesn’t get in the way of his articulation.

SnakeFace-SnakeyFace

The snaked-out parts take Snake Face’s old action feature, and make them better – his face snakes aren’t just little red pegs, they’re really stretching out there! I feel that this is the only direct nod to his 200X incarnation, in which his snakes were pretty lengthy. They are also made of flexible rubber, and let me say THANK YOU.

THANK YOU, MATTEL.

See, NECA Toys is a company that usually outdoes Mattel on sculpting, paint, quality control, price, and so on. But one of their figures is the Tracker Predator – remember that guy? He was in the new movie, and he had a pair of tusks strapped to his mask. Well, those tusks were sculpted from stiff, brittle plastic, and glued in place… and usually got broken in the package. Mine has broken his tusks three times, counting the initial snap. I was really worried about Snake Face, but his face snakes turned out to be good and durable enough to withstand getting crushed beneath a throw pillow and a tabby cat without any damage (Hoopy is a naughty kitty). So, good job, and kudos to Mattel for this! They really knocked it out of the park!

SnakeFace-Shirtless

PAINT: ****

Snake Face is painted mostly in a series of cool greens and purples, with yellow and red for his eyes, and red for his bonus snakes. His arms and torso are a very light lavender with a mild green wash that makes him look green in general, and not overly gray-purple. He looks quite snaky, and mine came without any slop that I could see. The paint keeps him distinct, and brings out the details of the sculpt – isn’t that what we want? Sure, I could have done with some details on the red bonus snakes, but paint in this small scale probably would have seen some errors.

SnakeFaceVsVikor

ARTICULATION: ***1/2

Snake Face has absolutely standard MOTUC articulation, which is solid. He’s got swivel/ball-jointed shoulders, pegged elbows, swivel wrists, an ab crunch, waist rotation, ball-jointed head, ball-jointed hips, pegged knees, swivel shins, and “rocker” ankles and feet. Like with everybody else in this line, you can really put him in a lot of poses – but since his armor restricts his arms a bit, it costs him. Way too many figures in this line run into the Arnold Schwarzenegger problem – he had to lose some muscle mass to film Conan the Barbarian because his arms and pecs were too thick to wield a sword properly. So, yeah, Snake Face will never hold anything two-handed, and he is outclassed by his shirtless brethren in the line. but other than that, he’s fantastic.

SnakeFace-Accessories

ACCESSORIES: ****

You never know what you’re gonna get in this line. One figure might only come with a cheap, repainted club. Another might have spare heads, two sets of armor, and artifacts from the cartoon! Snake Face has his alternate head, spare snakes for his armor’s action feature, the armor’s removable panels, and a giant snake staff and shield patterned after his vintage accessories.

I’ve already handled Snake Face’s heads, and they’re fantastic. Concerning his armor, the original figure had two panels on his breastplate which could swing down on a hinge, allowing his chest-snakes to come out. This figure has two removable panels, revealing sockets for the spare snakes to peg in. Some reviewers didn’t know about the removable panels, and I have to say that it’s not intuitive – see, they look natural on the armor, not like something hastily stuck in place. This is good, but Mattel should have included some instructions! Personally, I don’t remove the panels at all – I dislodge them from their snake-holes and rotate them a little out of the way so that they can stay on after I’ve plugged in his torso snakes. That way, there aren’t any bare patches on the armor, and it LOOKS like the panels move to the side to allow his snakes to come out when they need to. I’m glad that you can do this, because it really looks cool that way.

Snake Face’s staff is standard for all Snake Men (the original had one, too) – it was cool when King Hsss got one, but now it just seems generic. It’s half a Caduceus, and probably cumbersome to bop people with. You know, since he’s a medusa monster and all, I’ve been thinking – people like to arm Medusa with a bow and arrows (so she can shoot people who aren’t looking at her), but why not give somebody like Snake Face a big sledgehammer? You know, so he can crush people he stones, just to make it so that nobody can ever turn them back again! Maybe that’s what his staff is for.

SnakeFace-AccessoriesCloser

Snake Face’s shield is a callback to his vintage toy, which only came with that. This makes sense, as he really doesn’t need offense with his super-duper stone gaze, but defense is always welcome. Though it has a cool design, I’m sorry to say that the shield looks kind of cheap and small, and is cumbersome to snap onto his wrist without scraping those wrist-snakes. I would have appreciated it more if it were larger or a little mroe ornate, like on the 200X staction figure. but this is a minor quibble, and it looks okay in his hands. The thing is, what Snake Face NEEDS are his alternate head and those snakes – everything else is just gravy!

SnakeFaceVsCastleGrayskullman

FUN FACTOR: ****

Snake Face is one of the most “Fun” of the MOTUC figures out there. He’s got a nice gimmick, a good approximation of his old action feature, and he’s a pretty awesome male medusa. You know, I think he and that Curse of the Spawn Medusa might have a nice future together, if they can just get past Snake Face’s fear of commitment, and Medusa’s obsession with children and finding a good neighborhood to raise them.

SnakeFace-Meet-Medusa

VALUE: **1/2

Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown. I mean, it’s Mattel. On Day of Sale, you could expect to pay $27, and then $10 for shipping, and then sales tax. Nearly $40 for this figure, when NECA charges half that for bigger, more detailed stuff. It’s a necessary evil, considering MOTUC’s low production runs and the massive profit margins they NEED in order to impress stockholders and keep the line going, but it still stings. And the secondary market is always more expensive, so assume $40-$50 for this guy. I’m really grateful that I got him pretty much at cost+extra shipping – he also came bundled with another figure, and ultimately I saved some money (the other figure would have cost more on the secondary market). But yeah, these guys aren’t cheap, and it hurts when you think about it. There are over a hundred MOTUC figures so far, and the cost of a full collection is enough to smash the completionist out of anybody!

SnakeFace-Medusa-HappyCouple

OVERALL: ****

I’ve gotta say, Snake Face is one of the best Masters of the Universe Classics figures I’ve played with – up there with Mer-Man, Draego-Man, and some others. He’s fun, he’s creepy, he’s well-made, he’s not just a cobbled-together kitbash of old parts, and he even has his old action feature! And he goes really well with McFarlane’s Medusa. Hmmm, yes, indeed… Am I unhealthily obsessed? That’s for the courts to decide!

SnakeFace-Medusa-Kiss

3 responses to “Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Snake Face (Masters of the Universe Classics)

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