It's that time of the year again! Time to roll out the best of lists (and the worst of lists) to help us all put the year into perspective. I've got plenty of other toy related lists coming, but I wanted to start with Masters of the Universe Classics because it is without a doubt my favorite toyline to collect and I actually rank the figures throughout the year as they arrive and I review them. 2013 really was a fantastic year for MOTUC. Besides getting a ton of figures (34 if you count Kowl) we also got a weapons pack, the Jet Sled, and Castle Grayskull. So here is my list of the top ten MOTUC releases this year, followed by the five scalawags sitting on the bottom of my list. Oh and since we just mentioned it, here's Castle Grayskull.....
#Honorable Mention- Castle Grayskull
Let's be honest: if Castle Grayskull were eligible to compete in this competition, it would automatically win. It's an unstoppable juggernaut and allowing it to battle for a place on my list would be like inviting the Harlem Globetrotters to compete against your church's peewee basketball team- lots of fun to watch but ultimately pretty unfair. That being said, 2013 saw the release of a mother flippin' MOTUC Castle Grayskull. End of story. The rest of the countdown is after the break.
Lord Dactus - Club Eternia Release- October 2013
While I love the design aesthetic of MOTUC figures sharing so many parts, it's always refreshing to see a character that's extremely unique. Lord Dactus is one of those unique looking characters. While his look does highlight his roots in the Mike Young Productions animated series, it also gives him a fantastically detailed and modern appearance. With massive wings, great armor, and a fantastic sword, Lord Dactus is an excellent addition to the Heroic Warriors.
#9 King He-Man - Club Eternia Subscription Exclusive 2013
No action figure this year inspired me more to try my hand at storytelling than King He-Man. From his various scars and wounds to his damaged and worn sword, everything about this figure just hinted at stories waiting to be told of He-Man's journey from a young warrior and protector to an old, wise king.
Castaspella - Club Eternia Release- August 2013
I'm a huge She-Ra fan but it's no secret that many of the Princess of Power releases have been flawed in some way. Not Castaspella here. She has a unique and colorful appearance, a gorgeous head sculpt, a cool nod to her vintage toy with the wheel on her back, and a great magical blast effect. There were a few good female figures this year, but only Castaspella made it onto my top ten list.
Snake Face - Club Eternia Release- April 2013
Snake Face was a vintage figure I never owned as a child and have never picked up during my collecting endeavors, so it was quite exciting to get this updated version. A great addition to the Snake Men, Snake Face came loaded with accessories and the ability to replicate his vintage action feature through an alternate head and detachable plastic snakes.
#6 Mantenna - Club Eternia Release- September 2013
Mattel surprised us with another out of this world and nearly completely new figure with Mantenna. While the vintage figure sculpted Mantenna's four seperate legs together as only two separate legs, the MOTUC Mantenna has four seperate legs. Oh, and interchangeable eyes. He's really an amazing figure, even though he doesn't have bloodshot eyes.
#5 Horde Troopers- Club Eternia 4th Quarter Bonus 2013
Since these two guys are essentially the same figure with only a simple paint difference, they're both getting included here. Mattel nailed these guys. Unique sculpts, loads of cool new accessories, and packing them two to a set really made for an item that everyone wanted. These guys sold out faster than anything else from MOTUC that I can remember in recent memory.
Sky High with Jet Sled -September 2013 Non-Subscription Item
If there is one MOTUC toy from 2013 I find myself picking up and playing with more than anyother, it's Sky High and the Jet Sled. I'm operating under the assumption that the Jet Sled is an accessory for Sky High and if that's the case, it's the most amazing ever. I really like the figure himself, but the Jet Sled is truly a thing of beauty. Both the Wind Raider and the Jet Sled have been som amazing that it's a shame more MOTUC vehicles haven't been made.
Galactic Protector He-Man -Club Eternia 3rd Quarter Bonus 2013
Two He-Man figures on my top ten list? I know, I'm kind of surprised as well but let's be honest- He-Man figures just usually turn out really well. Galactic Protector is an incredibly unique interpretation of the most powerful man in the universe and a great addition to the New Adventures roster. Not only does he include the armor, harness, and an alternate head for two unique looks but he has great weapons and enhanced hand articulation. Bring on NA Skeletor, She-Ra, and Teela!
#2 Ram Man - Club Eternia 1st Quarter Bonus 2013
Not only was Ram Man the first true action figure review I wrote for The Epic Review, but he is also the figure I believed would take the top spot for most of the year. He's just... perfect. He's exactly what I wanted from my Ram Man figure in MOTUC and was a figure that if he hadn't been made, I would have been crushed. While I really want characters like Rio-Blast, Queen Angella, and Gwildor, with Ram Man on my shelf everything just feels like gravy. Except for Imp. Mattel must make Imp. I'll be crushed if Imp never materializes in the line.
Fang Man - Club Eternia Release- March 2013
Fang Man was my favorite figure released this year. I'm not the biggest Filmation fan in the world. I have never clamored for a Fang Man figure in my life (the guy only appeared one time). But you know what? This figure is amazingly well done. From the cool articulated tongue to the three artifacts/ weapons directly from the Filmation cartoon, Fang Man is a winner. I love his color scheme and his unique appearanceachieved through his extra neck piece and his "hunchbacked" outfit. He's just a fun and brilliant example of what MOTUC is capable of when it's firing on all cylinders. And there were many times when I felt like the line was firing on all cylinders this year.
Of course, addressing the good makes me want to address the bad. Maybe bad is too harsh of a word? In previous years, issues like quality control, questionable likenesses, and flaking paint plagued those figures appearing on the bottom of the list. Not so this year. Mattel's quality control was excellent this year. I had no problems that I can recall, which is a good thing. Mattel is definitely at the top of their game right now and the only reasons these guys are at the bottom? A.- Someone has to be, and B. They're just a bit plain compared to everyone else. Anyways, here are my bottom five....
#5 Strong-or/ Strongarm - Club Filmation Release- December 2013
I was actually looking forward to Strongarm, but when I got him in hand he just kind of bored me. I love his teleportation ray and the swappable arm, but I think the head sculpt is a bit weak.
#4 Dawg-O-Tor from The Fighting Foe Men - Club Filmation Second Quarter Bonus 2013
I have no ill will towards Dawg-O-Tor, it's just that he's a bit plain. MOTU is filled with bizarre humans and creatures, so it's tough to stand out. It's probably not you, Dawg-O-Tor, it's probably me.
#3 Standor - Stan Lee's Comikaze Exclusive 2013
Standor is actually the only MOTUC figure I didn't buy this year, and that's just because he's so dull and has a very caricatured Stan Lee face. While the body and helmet are kind of cool, the head sculpt just kills it for me. Throw in the fact that he doesn't include any accessories and you have an easily skippable exclusive for anyone except diehard Stan Lee fans (BTW, Stan Lee has absolutely nothing to do with MOTU).
#2 Nepthu- Club Filmation Release- October 2013
Here's another figure that has no technical flaws (decent paint, good articulation, good quality control), but suffers from the one two punch of being an unimportant character and a boring figure. For being a bad guy, nothing about him really looks evil. He's duller than mummy dust.
#1 Spirit of Hordak - 2013 Chase Figure
I don't dislike this figure, but it's simply a clear red Hordak with fewer accessories. It was also sold in the most obnoxious way possible. Not only did you have to be on line at the right times, but Mattel neither announced that the figure would be coming nor did they release him on a sale day so that you could add him to an already planned shippment. Yup, basically Mattel just got us to pay extra over-inflated shipping costs. I hope nothing like this comes back next year.
Happy New Years MOTUC fans! Let's hope that 2014 is as fantastic of a year as 2013 was for this toyline!