POWER-CON 2017 EXCLUSIVE FIGURES
Some of the best Classics figures in 2016 were released as Power‑Con exclusives, so there were high hopes that the 2017 figures would live up to the standard set by Red Beast Man, Camo Khan and Green Granamyr. Super7 had taken over the reins from Mattel, so there was some nervousness about how the chosen figures would turn out, particularly when the line‑up was revealed.
For those who don't know, Power‑Con is a He‑Man and She‑Ra convention organised by He-Man.org owner Val Staples. It draws fans and speakers together for a Masters of the Universe event featuring artists, toy designers and actors who have worked on the property over the years. More information can be found on the Power-Con website. It's a labour of love for Val and his team.
The sale of figures has become a means of supporting the event. For the last two years figures have been made available to both attendees and non-attendees. Generally characters are chosen that have some special significance in MOTU lore. Whether it's right to make such important characters convention exclusives – which does add a premium price tag – is a matter of debate. Those in favour of the selections believe that the chosen figures would not otherwise be produced.
After Red Beast Man in 2016 I was hopeful for at least one minicomic variant in 2017. As it turned out, two minicomic variants (Stratos and Trap Jaw) and one comic variant (Prince Adam) were chosen for a special three-pack. A second three-pack, featuring formerly unnamed characters from conceptual art, was also offered to fans. The characters were given the names Terroar, Plasmar and Lord Gr'Asp. They had been designed specifically to reuse parts during the vintage line but were never made.
I'm of the opinion that the six characters were excellent choices even if the execution wasn't perfect. The minicomic era doesn't often get the recognition it deserves, having long been usurped by the Filmation incarnation of the Masters of the Universe. It's also exciting to see concept characters, and hopefully there is room for some more in the future. It'll be interesting to see what comes up next year.
The figures aren't without some flaws. I'm disappointed that these expensive pieces were, in a sense, used as experimental products by Super7. I'll mention specifics below as I review the individual figures. Overall, though, the good outweighs the bad. Some nice artwork was created in support of these figures (it was featured on the back of each box), and the pictures are also shown below.
The art is suitably dramatic for battles on Eternia. Fans of the minicomic era will remember that the first time
Trap Jaw appears he uses a zip line attached to a rock by his clamp. It's nice that the detail is replicated in
the artwork here. The appearance of minicomic Tri‑Klops in the background is a good touch. You'll notice
another background character in the second piece too. A lot of good MOTU art has been presented over the decades
and these two examples continue that long tradition.
STRATOS. This is the version of Stratos as he appeared in the first series of minicomics. The body uses Beast Man's feet rather than the plain 'sock' design we normally associate with this character. The colours are great and the interpretation of the minicomic artwork is very strong. A new belt piece and collar were moulded for Stratos. Although you can see the fins of a jetpack in one of the panels, this appears to be an anomaly, and we don't consider this version of Stratos as using powered flight.
The Staff of Avion (shown here) does have a minicomic origin, but not of the same date as this depiction of Stratos. The accessory has been featured already in the Classics – from memory it was actually supplied with Goat Man. It's a bit unwieldly, and Stratos isn't really equipped for posing. The main flaw with this figure is the wings. They were produced in very soft plastic, which makes them flap around loosely and likely to end up damaged if handled without great care. It seems Stratos's wings have always been a problem: the first ones were stiff enough but were glued behind the forearms instead of alongside them. This time they aren't glued, but they spin around without any resistance.
I'm really glad this version of Stratos has finally been produced. I just wish the quality checks had caught the wings. Ironically, the same plastic is used for the collar and works well enough there. The figure also suffers from loose joints. It seems this Stratos is fated to just be a display piece; he's too delicate for regular handling. This was close to being brilliant. I'd very much like to see Super7 make a set of stiff wings available as replacement parts, perhaps in a weapons pack, but I don't see that happening.
TRAP JAW. Arguably the star figure out of the six, this interpretation of Trap Jaw captures the minicomic art incredibly well. Quite why it's taken nine years since the start of the Classics line to produce this figure is beyond my comprehension. I'll admit I was expecting a figure in plainer green plastic, but the lurid green-yellow combination works very well. Trap Jaw isn't a straight repaint – he's been given a minicomic-accurate head and shorts with the ram's head design.
The jaw doesn't move on this figure but I don't think it really needs to, so I'm happy with the solid moulding. There are no loops for the prosthetic accessories to be hooked into, but that's a minicomic-accurate detail as well, so nothing is lost. The figure is almost perfect apart from some misplaced glue spots (not visible in the photos) which spill out from under the shoulder piece. And then there's the bugbear which affects all six of these figures but is most prominent on Trap Jaw.
I am, of course, talking about the too-wide crotch piece which causes the hip joints to stick out further than they should. I'll admit I'm a bit flummoxed by this. In order to produce these figures, Super7 had to misdesign a new piece, but these figures were, theoretically, made using existing moulds. I know Super7 eventually caught this problem and changed it for a narrower piece for their regular wave figures. It's such a shame that the fault with these expensive exclusives slipped through. But I do love this figure and think he's one of the best from a decade of collecting.
PRINCE ADAM. Now it's well known that I'm not a fan of the Prince Adam / He‑Man transformation story. But this version of Prince Adam is something of a prototype, having originally been seen in the DC Comics (featured on this site) and having quite a different personality to the Adam on which the Filmation cartoon focussed. As such we have the Oo‑Larr head with its more aggressive visage. This is a warrior rather than a soft prince; the merry-making fellow who got into fights and caused his parents no end of despair.
The figure is a fairly basic repaint of the original Classics Adam. In the comics he appeared in a few different clothes. The figure's colour scheme is pretty accurate to one of those, if not the red and blue tunic that was worn in the comic referenced in his biography. The colour scheme was also used in some of the later minicomics, so it works overall. I'd better say this is a moot point – I think the choice of colours was the best option given the variables, and it does fit the character.
One thing this Adam can do which the first one couldn't is place his sword in a slot on the back of his jacket. There wasn't a strap on the original for that purpose, and it's a nice touch that Super7 thought to add it this time around. However, in order for Adam to hold the sword, the hands need to be warmed using the hairdryer technique. All of the figures were moulded in harder plastic than we've been used to. It's not the problem that some customers have made it out to be, and I'd rather have stiff plastic than soft.
TERROAR. And so we move on to the first of the figures which were put together from the parts of others. Terroar is bits of Rattlor, Mosquitor, Trap Jaw and, of course, Whiplash. He shouldn't work but he does, and does so brilliantly. Adding the neck piece does require heating up the plastic. I actually prefer Terroar without the neck extension, but he looks impressive either way. The silver dashes of paint on the mechanical arm are really good. I seem to recall the prototype had plain black parts – leaving it that way would have been a mistake. There isn't really much more to say about this figure – he's great.
PLASMAR. This figure could be as close as some fans ever get to owning a Fisto, but let's hope not. Plasmar is another mix of parts but he doesn't have the same presence as Terroar. He's meant to be a Latino but I don't get that from the skin colour. I think I'm put off by the inclusion of Rio Blast parts. That figure was lazily designed and a failure for the line. With Plasmar we also have the armour from the incredibly boring Sir Laser‑Lot, so that's another minus point. The anomalous legs come from Sssqueeze and look a bit strange. Not the most inspiring character unfortunately.
LORD GR'ASP. Finally we come to a figure that is so weird that it's hard to know what's going on. Lord Gr'Asp has Clawful's large claw, Scare Glow's cloak and Sssqueeze's head. The cloak was moulded from soft plastic which is generally good, but the 'cord' at the front is susceptible to tearing, making playing with this toy a risky proposition. I've never liked the way Sssqueeze's head was moulded (you can see it actually slopes down from one side to the other), and I think using Rattlor's head on this figure would have made it look substantially better. But Lord Gr'Asp is quirky and – somehow – oddly likeable.