5½″ FIGURES WAVE 1
Super7 released a wave of 5½″ figures in 2018; firstly as limited-edition two-packs and then later as individually packed figures. (The individual figures were sold as a set of four.) The characters are the faction leaders – for want of a better term – who were featured in the Filmation cartoons. So we have He‑Man, Skeletor, Hordak and She‑Ra. They are therefore Filmation versions of the original MOTU figures, and styled as such.
Or are they? Well, at first glance the similarity to the figures from the 1980s is fairly obvious. But I'm not convinced they achieve their goal of looking like the animated figures, which was really the whole point of the exercise. The males, for instance, have all been given trunks in the original MOTU style, not the plain cartoon versions. I'll talk about the individual figures in a moment.
Now, I'm not much of a Filmation fan as regular visitors to my site will know. But I wanted to take a look at these figures because of the hype. Some fans always wanted 5½″ figures in the 1980s which looked like the characters they saw in the cartoons, but they never got them. I wanted to see if these new versions lived up to their promise. Filmation fans may disagree, but I don't think these toys hit the mark.
Remember how the originals' legs were fixed together with a thick rubber band? Well, that's gone and has been replaced with a jointed design. But it barely moves and – presumably unintentionally – the new build preserves and exacerbates all the instability which plagued the originals, making these new figures less easy to pose than their predecessors. The plastic is very hard too, and less precisely moulded – particularly for the hands.
If you can get them to stand up they look wonky, which was never an issue with the originals. There are issues with He‑Man's and Skeletor's armour too – the harnesses are quite hard and have no chance of fitting together properly unless warmed up gently with a hairdryer first. The same technique is needed if you want to put the weapons into the figures' hands. There are numerous stray paint splodges on these figures as well.
The included trivia cards – scanned below – are probably the most interesting feature of this set, but they just serve to show how unlike the Filmation drawings these figures are. The artwork is of a high standard though. For me these new toys miss their target. While they're quite fun they are pricey and don't appeal enough to collect future waves, particularly while the 7″ figures are still in production.
There's actually some revisionist history going on with the text on the cards though – it's implied that the toys followed the cartoon when they obviously did not. Yes, some people met He‑Man via the cartoon first, but the toys and minicomics established the canon; Filmation then altered it drastically, and not for the better. Sure, some people love Filmation MOTU far more than the barbarian origins, but let's keep our facts straight.
HE‑MAN is something of a mystery. There are some Filmation touches, such as the plain bracers and boots, but the face is much more like the original toy than the illustrated cartoon character. The hair is more detailed than I'd expect it to be, further emphasising the disconnection between the figure's purpose and its realisation. He leans badly to one side, and his shield is prone to come apart. This isn't a Filmation He‑Man.
SKELETOR is the figure most like his animated self, but the bright blue paint on the limbs and torso isn't remotely accurate. He also suffers from the tilt effect. I don't particularly like the bright pink used for the staff either. Credit is due for the head sculpt because it does a fair job of replicating Filmation Skeletor's face, and the colour is almost spot on. He's likeable enough but not great.
HORDAK is holding a position as my favourite of this set – for the time-being at least. And I say that as someone who much prefers his Hordaks with grey skin (because that's the way the original toy was made). He tilts backwards as well as to the side. Mine had an oily residue on the armour. The arm cannon (not photographed) is dull. A true Filmation Hordak would have a more angular face; this one's actually broader than the original.
SHE‑RA is where this average set goes horribly wrong. The face sculpt is pretty but pouty. The cloth
cloak is a mistake and likely to get torn. But it's the legs which ruin this figure. It's almost impossible to
stand her up. (That's why I didn't photograph any of her accessories.) For some unfathomable reason the designers
have tried to give her a pose, but that's clearly not viable with a female 5½″ figure, and they've just
made her legs look deformed. And, to make things worse, they've then made one boot heel taller than the other to
compensate for a mistake of their own making. And, of course, she doesn't look much like cartoon She‑Ra.