HORDE TROOPER (Or Where the Woozle Wasn't)
The 2017 Horde Trooper made me think of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet's adventure in which they try to find a Woozle, hence the subtitle. Sounds odd I'll admit, but the connection isn't quite as obscure as you might think. The figure - released singly rather than in a two-pack - was supposed to appear in 2016 before the Matty Collector website shut down. But it didn't, and Mattel made no further mention of the figure. Many of us therefore assumed the Trooper had been abandoned. So you might say the Trooper Hunt turned into a Woozle Quest.
Fans speculated that Super7 - the new licence holder for MOTUC - might release the Trooper. The demand for this army builder was obvious, not to mention the bunch of extra heads from our General Sundar figures that needed somewhere to go. As it turned out, Mattel fooled us again. They really had produced a run of single-pack Horde Troopers. Fans were able to order the figures from Mattel's online shop, and the product was shipped out in the middle of June 2017. The Woozle was real.
You'll probably know that the original Classics Horde Trooper set had a battle-damaged figure and a clean figure in the box. The battle damage (laser blast burns) was a rather annoying design choice, particularly for an army builder. This time the damage effects were supplied on a sticker sheet, giving fans the option to use them or not. I'm not sure that the sticker designs (previously supplied with the Hover Robots) offer much that's useful, but perhaps some customizers will like them.
While the mould is no different from before, the new figure has a grubbier paint job. This dirt effect was used first time around, but now it's more obvious. I'm on the fence about this. I like paint washes that get into the nooks and crannies of a figure, but this is more dirty smudge than shadow, as if the toys have been kicked around the factory floor rather than styled carefully. I've noticed several dinks and paint blobs on my figures, so I think the quality assurance was lacking this time around.
The single figure included all the weaponry featured in the two-pack. The designs are great, and having four accessories in one box isn't exactly common in this line. There's actually a little texture on the shield's face which lifts it nicely from the bat wings. The crossbow continues the Horde theme, and the colour touches work well. One of mine was assembled badly with the yellow eye part twisted out of alignment, but most are fine.
I mentioned the extra heads which were included with General Sundar, and now they get the chance to be displayed. They fit well enough and look rather good, but there is a slight difference in the shade of grey, so you'll see a mismatch if you look closely enough. The other point to note is that Sundar's armour wasn't given the grubby effect, so these helmets look like they've just been cleaned in comparison. Different helmet designs were used in various MOTU media over the years, hinting at factions or specialisms within Hordak's forces.
The monster head was also one of the Sundar accessories, but you can use different heads if you have spares. The idea of heroic warriors disguising themselves as Horde Troopers to infiltrate Hordak's command has been used a few times. He‑Man is the obvious choice (shown here), but other characters like Fisto or Bow would work too. And why keep it to the good guys? What about Tri‑Klops or Beast Man on a mission for Skeletor?
In conclusion, it's great that fans were given another chance to build up their Horde Trooper stock. The quality of the figure isn't perfect but it's good enough and certainly not the worst we've seen in the Classics. A shout out for the online fan community is also due, because it was through them that news of the sale was circulated. Hopefully it reached everyone who wanted to buy the figure.