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



When DC Comics announced a new Masters of the Universe revival, the fans were elated – until they learned that the comic was written by people other tan them, and contained a version of He-Man different from their mental picture.  There has been much strife, pain, and screaming.  Any time something seemed different from personal canon (even if in-line with other media), it was denounced as evil.  All costume changes were bad, despite being the same principle as the toys.  The one exception?  Despara.


Look, guys, I love the show as much as you do, but we all have to admit that the old cartoon was kiiiiiinda hokey at times.  Case in point:  Adora.  Always a good person from the start, Adora simply had no idea that Hordak and The Evil Horde were evil.  Naw, the name didn’t tip her off, the slavering man-eating monsters didn’t tip her off, the stormtroopers and oppressed peasants didn’t tip her off, the H.R. Giger-themed bedroom didn’t tip her off… yeah.  Instead of that, the idea behind Despara is Adora – you know, She-Ra before the Sword chose her – being evil, or at least mind-controlled and memory-influenced. As far as she knows, she is Horda’s true daughter, and fights for the Evil Horde.  Despara is terrifying, ruthless (she killed Flutterina!), and ultimately redeemable and forgivable, since she’s not in her right mind.  Kind of like that time in the cartoon when Superman was brainwashed by Darkseid.  In MOTUC comic-canon, Despara is what happens when She-Ra defeats Horde Prime, and gets possessed.  She’s really just a design cameo, though.


Despara is the 2016 subscriber bonus figure, and was supposed to be here a month or two ago – ah, well, here she is!  Despite the flak new things tend to receive in this line, Despara is indeed fan-demanded, so now it’s time to ask: how is this figure?  Let’s find out!



This may be one of the last times we will see this package style, after all these years.  No bio, sadly.


SCULPT: ****

Despara is She-Ra.  Keeping that in mind, she also totally isn’t.  This is Adora not as a cute, stylish (yet oddly furry underpants-wearing) lady.  She cannot be reimagined as a Barbie doll like this.  None of her accessories double as a comb.  This is Adora with a short military buzz cut, and armor that makes her look like a monster.


Despara’s mask resembles her “father,” Hordak, albeit a little feminine.  In the comic, it was more clearly a mask, but the MOTUC version used this face design – and MOTUC figures are almost always moified slightly for that “classics” look.  She also has pants, a rarity for She-Ra (unless she’s protecting the galaxy), and a lightly-armored catsuit for clothing.  But yes, she very much looks like gender-swapped Hordak fan art.


Now, try as she might, she doesn’t totally have an athletic figure – but it’s the fault of genetics, not her training.  Those childbearing hips, amirite?!?!  Actually, the figure’s proportions seem more slender with her cape.  Without it, her hips are huge, and her neck is obscenely long.  But Despara is sculpted to wear that part of her costume, and there really is no need to take it off.


PAINT: ***

Despara’s paint is fantastic… wait, no.  Rather, it is fantastic, but the quality control is inconsistent.  On the plus side, she is more detailed than she seems – note the shading and red marks on her mask – and very clearly matches the source material, even including the anti-glare makeup beneath her eyes.


And now for the “wait, no.”  Mine is fine, most of them are fine, but a few figures have crossed eyes, uneven eyes, or eyes painted on her cheeks!  For an exclusive figure, that is terrible.



Despara has typical MOTUC lady articulation, meaning that she’s really flexible, but lacks a bit.  Less leg articulation than usual, for example.


She also has the new hinged ankles, which are not unsightly in this case.  Unfortunately, mine has one ankle entirely fused together, and unable to move – I’ve tried, it seems to have been glued intentionally.  Poses aren’t impossible for her, but they have to be better-planned now.



Despara comes with her staff, a unique design similar to Hordak’s.  It’s an impressive piece, though just slightly too thick for her hands – funny, considering the issue with her swords.  She can hold it well enough, though, if you line it up right with her hand.  The handle is high enough on the staff to ipose limited variety on hwo she can hold it, but it does look all right like this.


She’s also got two awesome swords, which can be stored in her cape or hands.  The swords are too thin for her hands, and remain loose in her grip.  It takes work to get a good pose out of them, or perhaps some tiny rubber bands.  You can squeeze the hands closed enough to hold them, but that may not be a permanent solution, either – and mine gained a stress mark on one of her hands, too.



If you already have her, it’s becauseyou bought this year’s sub, and paid last August.  If you don’t, then enjoy some of the highest prices on the secondary market.  Exclusives are a pain.



Mine gained a stress mark on one hand, so be careful when you try to get her to grip her weapons.



As the subscription exclusive, you really have to go to the secondary market and pay horrible prices for this figure.


OVERALL: ***1/2

Almost.  Almost there.  This figure is so close to being flawless, but then you notice the hands, or the limited articulation, or the occasional awful eye paint.  These flaws are a shame…


…But they are limited.  And frankly, only a few have bad eye paint.  Everything else is manageable, and ultimately Despara is a good figure.  You might need to rubber-band her swords to her hands for a permanent shelf pose, though.


Overall, on its own merits, it’s a good figure.  It isn’t perfect, but it’s good.  The frustration comes from the minor changes that would have propelled it to absolute greatness.


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