This month, Masters of the Universe Classics released a two-pack of figures… but hey, you’re gonna get a bonus. Rather than review the whole thing at once, both toys are going to get the individual review treatment!
The 200X cartoon did a lot of good things for the He-Man franchise in general, but MOTUC seems to have gone out of its way to ignore it. And then this year, there’s the 200X mini-sub. And this two-pack of Snake Armor He-Man vs. King Hssss gives us our first decent action figure of Hssss’s 200X design. The other figure was marred by an action feature, and practically impossible to find, anyway. And the thing is, I always liked how he looked in that cartoon to his fairly goofy vintage appearance, so this one was an easy sell for me.
BATTLE ARMOR KING HSSSS: SLITHERING LEADER OF THE SNAKE MEN
REAL NAME: HSSSS OF THE VIPER CLAN
Beheaded by Zodak during the battle against Serpos, King Hssss slowly regenerated thanks to the darkness of his dungeon cell. Regrouping at Serpos’ destroyed temple deep in Subternia, Hssss lead the Snake Men to the surface to find Skeletor and a newly returned Hordak warring for the throne of Eternia. Sent into hibernation by Hordak’s magic, Hssss’ army waited and multiplied. Returning at last, the leader of the Snake Men brought his army to the Second Ultimate Battleground to determine once and for all rule of Eternia. But unknown to him, He-Man had journeyed into the past and learned the Snake Men’s only secret weakness. With this knowledge the Masters were able to defeat the Snake King and his army. Orko cast the Spell of Separation which split apart the mixed mutated DNA that held the reptilian ruler and his Snake Men together!
Viper? He’s pretty obviously a diamondback rattlesnake, but… oh, wait. Rattlesnakes are vipers. Never mind! Anyway, there you go. That’s how King Hssss (and probably all the other snake men) died. Maybe. The biting off his own head thing happened in the cartoon, but it’s the new toyline that had Orko genocide them all with a magic spell.
These guys came in a special extra-large package reminiscent of the beast designs, which shows off both figures nicely as well as leaving rom for their respective bios. It looks good, and fits in with the regular packaging, too!
King Hsss is a mixture of reused and new pieces, with the old ones coming mostly from his previous figure and Draego-Man. It all works togetheras a coherent whole, matching his appearance in the 200X cartoon so well that one must wonder how long this figure had been planned beforehand.
The head sculpt is where things are different – instead of a goofy-looking bandit man, King Hssss is now a stretch-faced pharaoh. Essentially, he just doesn’t look “right” as a human – he breaks into the uncanny valley, ad you know something is creepy about him. But who would expect the writhing mass of snakes underneath his fake skin>
Overall, his new sculpt is excellent. The armor is easily removable and replacable, and does not get in the way of his articulation. Hssss looks like the figure I wish we had gotten in the early millennium, and I am extremely satisfied with how he looks.
King Hssss’s paint is servicable – the colors are right, and everything is in its correct place. Note the inhuman minty paleness of his skin, for example, to underscore that whole uncanny valley thing.
The one downside is, his flesh is too flat – it needs something. Maybe a little shading, maybe a different tone, but it looks too much like a plastic toy when compared to the rest of the line. It’s odd how something can be technically perfect, but still not good enough.
King Hssss is articulated just the same as any MOTUC figure – ball-and-socket shoulders and hips, ball-jointed head, swivel biceps, waist, wrists, and shins, hinged elbows, knees, and hinged ankles. His armor does not get in the way of his movement, despite how it may seem. He pops apart at the waist – it shouldn’t be too difficult, but be careful not to break anything.
ACCESSORIES: ** OR ****
Every Snake Man comes with a staff, but King Hssss’s is the original. It’s two-toned brown and tan, and loks like a caduceus. Maybe it’s a weapon, maybe it’s just ceremonial.
Hssss also reuses his shield, though now it is in more of a metallic color. It makes his staff seem even more like a caduceus, and can in fact be hung from it to kind of simulate that whole (brown)blue cross/(brown)blue shield bit.
Okay, here’s the fun part: King Hssss’s deal was always that he was really a bunch of snakes hiding underneath a fake torso. The vintage toys split open, while the previous MOTUC figure of Hssss had a swappable torso. And so does this one… did… will. His snakes are sculpted and ready, but didn’t cost out in the two-pack, so they will be coming later with a cheaper figure. The only assurance we have is that it will be in the normal subscription… so although the absence of those snakes hits Hssss really hard, it is fixable later.
Expect this set to run you $60-$75 and up, which is hard to swallow.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
King Hssss seems pretty sturdy, but there have been some reports of breakage along the waist joint. be a little careful with it.
WHERE TO BUY:
This two-pack sold out on Matty after about three days, so run off to the secondary market!
OVERALL: ** OR ****
I knew that this figure would be good, and was not disappointed. I lack the original toy, but in a simple photo comparison the new one completely overshadows it in every way. This two-pack serves as an awesome preview of the 200X mini-sub this year!
I love the new Hssss design for a bunch of reasons described above, and this figure is almost – ALMOST perfect. He needs his snakes. WHen we get those snakes, he’ll be worth a full four stars. Until then, he’s more like two. We don’t know which figure will have the snakes yet, but here’s hoping!