Happy Easter, everybody! And now it’s time for a very special review done on a special day – I tried to do this one for Wednesday and Friday, but work was insane,and this little guy is kind of special. Remember the Snake Armor He-Man and King Hssss two-pack from about a year ago? And how King Hssss was meant to come with a snake torso, but didn’t, but it was promised that we would receise said torso for “free” (already paid for, is what they said), but didnt, and Mattel denied ever making the offer, and there was fighitng, and they claimed they would sell it to us for extra, and there were complaints, and the Better Business Bureau got involved, and dudes, this was crazy.
But anyway, the final solution was thus: After declaring “We will be transparentabout eveything,” Mattel got obtuse. if they had said, “Whoops, we missed it in the budget” rather than “We deny that anyone ever said the stuff we said, it would have been fine. But it wasn’t. In the end, they took the Hssss torso, gave it a bunch of extra parts, repackaged it as a figure, and sold it (are still selling it) to the 2015 subscribers at a discount rate. The remaining stock will see general sale eventually. Ultimately, I have the feeling it’s the best thye could do – they couldn’t make the torso free, so they gussied it up as much as possible, and did offer it to the subscribers first. If they had been more open from the beginning, this would have gone much better. But ah, well, such is life.
Okay. That’s done. Let’s talk about the figure!
SERPENTINE KING HSSSS
REAL NAME: KING HSSSS OF THE VIPER HOUSE
A servant of the Unnamed One, Hssss was chosen to lead an army of Snake Men to the planet of Eternia to plunder its magical secrets. He ruled Eternia for three centuries until a rebellion formed under D’vann Grayskull. Soon afterwards, the Horde invaded and Hssss was drawn into a three-way war. All three sides agreed to a temporary truce in order to construct the Three Towers, but Hssss was betrayed by Hordak and in time was banished to the Void by the Elders and Zodak. For five thousand years he and his army waited until Evil-Lyn and a Snake Men descendant named Kobra Kahn opened the Snake Pit to free them. King Hssss often tricks foes by appearing heroic but then transforms into a seething mass of serpents and leads the Snake Men into battle!
Yes, that’s the same bio as regular King Hssss. reused for this. But hey, a bio is a bio! And the reuse makes sense, as the King Hssss torso has been packed with a lot of re-used, repainted items. Let’s go!
The torso itself separates from its new set of legs much the same as Hssss’s normal torso (well yeah, same mechannism). It feels like it’s going to break, but dont worry. It’ll pop out. And given time, it will become easier and easier.
Those legs are repainted and cobbled-together from the SNake Men 2-pack (or maybe just Rattlor). As silly as it is to see a hydraesque snake monster wearing a speedo, it actually works for him. They look hilarious on the regular Hssss torso, too.
As for his snaky torso, it’s mostly bendable – bendy “arms” (smaller snakes), with a hard plastic swivel for the main neck. The MOTUC line has had its share of issues with endable materials, most notably Snout Spout’s trunk (which rotted), but these snakes seem sturdy. They have the appropriate holes in the rubber to allow for stress, and nothing seems overtly fragile to begin with.
As for the swivel neck, it is obvious whenever the head isnt looking straight ahead. But the sculpt and paintwork are fantastic, giving a simple snake so much personality! Hssss’s tongue is crazy long and pink, more than on the prototype, but this should be survivable.
And how does it look on the 200X Hssss legs? To tell the truth, the snakes feel a little small for his waist thickness. it works, but the size difference feels odd.
He’s also got a bonus head, restructured a bit from the generic Snake Men, with a portion of King Hsss’s armor. Now, this one gives him a rather nice effect, when you think about it. He’s changing in another way, not exploding into full snakey mode but just half-shifting. if you can ignore the contrasting hands and feet, it’s a really great bonus!
Best selfie ever. Seriously.
Serpentine King Hssss has weapons, as well – plenty of weapons! All repainted from that Snake Men 2-pack, but they might as well be new. Most figures in this line get a weapon or two, but this guy has three and a shield!
Hsss’s sword is nicely complex, with a little snakehead pattern on the handguard. It looks both fancy and vicious, and is small enough to be subtle, not gigantic and garish.
Hssss’s spear – more of a naginata – looks better in his hands than the big snake staff he came with. Seriously, he’s the king of a whole race. Why should his items be goofy?
Even Hssss’s mace is fancy and elegant, despite being a pure bludgeoning weapon. It’s slightly artistic in a way that certainly fits him.
As for his shield, it seems fairly basic, but it really benefits from the paint job – matching his other weapons as well as adding that little bit of royal flavor all his stuff has.
The weapons and the alternate head really dp nice things for this figure. You can claim he’s an armored snake trooper, or an alternate look for Hssss – but the simple headswap is a great toy on its own!
So, essentially, instead of just a torso for one alternate figure, we have the pieces to make a bunch of them. Serpentine Hssss as-is, using the 200X legs, or the 200X body with this new head. Those bonus pieces add quite a bit of play value, and make it into a full figure, even with the reused parts.
He cant hold anything well in his snake heads – enough for a photo, but not permanently. Bt when you’re using the snake parts, you really don’t need much more than his fangs. Serpentine King Hssss is really the torso we asked for years ago, which is good, because it almost wasn’t. The initial stock had CHINA stmaped on his chest, some badd paint applications, and was positioned in the package in such a way that it rubbed off its own paint. Mattel actually scrapped the first run, which cost them money and time, to get it right. That’s rather nice in light of everything else that went on.
I may not own theother King Hssss, but these snakes are majorly superior to those – you can even tell from simple photos. Mattel and the Horsemen really did some good work here.
So, he costs $20 before shipping to 2015 subscribers – about $30, in all. Chances are, he’ll be in the $25-$35 or $27-$40 range when the remaining stock comes online, and then end up crazy expensive on the secondary market. So you’re gonna wanna jump on this when you can.
Okay. We didn’t get the torso for free. We were never going to, anyway – the price was meant to have already been included in the yearly budget, just not the monthly budget. And the original idea had been to include it with Buzzsaw Hordak, but the post-Neitlich team did not know this, and when they saw that BS Hordak was a simple repaint, they beefed him up, which wrecked this figure’s place. Not to beat a dead horse, but if they had just said so at the outset – “Oops, we goofed!” – it would have been the most transpatenr thing ever, and a lot more people would have happily paid extra for their torso. But at the same time, it’s clear that they packed as many extras as they could to make it worth some money, anyway. And they even had the figure redone when some QC issues erupted in the first print run – that had to be expensive. So there’s a good sign, too.
Well, overall? Controversy aside, this is genuinely more enjoyable than 206’s other offering so far – and Masque is a good figure! Yes, they built it around one accessory, but they did good. I’m glad it came in, and glad it’s available. Lets just hope for more transparency in the future!