Sunday, 27 October 2013

Review: MOTUC Horde Troopers

How did we cope?

When I was little I had one stormtrooper. There was never any thought to owning any more. Even if I had, my parents would have answered with a resounding "No!" upon being asked to purchase a second. "You already have that one," they would have said, "Why don't you have a figure you haven't already got?" Which would have made complete and total sense. In many ways it still does. But in many others, it really doesn't. Stormtroopers come in packs, in units, in legions in hordes.

I never owned a Masters of the Universe Horde Trooper when I was little. I had most of the other Horde members, in fact the Horde was by far the largest faction I had He-Man figures for, but never a Trooper. And even if I had, I'd only ever have thought of owning one.

In more recent years, upon collecting those figures I was missing as a child, I've managed to pick up a Horde Trooper. But only one. Others, however, have hundreds in their collections, which is probably why the price of a Horde Trooper is generally more than the rest of the Horde characters. The trooper is the main army grunt, the stormtrooper of the Masters of the Universe world. There needs to be more than one to be an effective and imposing force of terror.

How did we ever manage playing with one?

The Horde Trooper figure in Masters of the Universe Classics has been a long time coming. It is, really, the last army building character released. We've had Eternia Palace Guards and Snakemen, but the set people really wanted was the trooper.

And now it's here. And I ordered a few.

In the end I went for 3 packs. Since 'fast' shipping somehow becomes 'cheap' shipping when you order more than one figure at the moment, these packs arrived the other day. My subscription figures for October (which includes another pack of troopers) won't arrive for a few more weeks...

I was one of the lucky ones. I managed to get on and place an order. Many didn't. There's lots of ranting and raving at Mattel for not making enough, but is there anyone who can really say they didn't see them selling out as fast as they did? Mattel aren't going to do a second run of these, certainly not with the line due to (effectively) end in 2015. It's barely scraped by for the past couple of years, so Mattel were never going to over-produce these guys.

If you missed out on getting extras, I'd recommend waiting a few weeks as I fully expect many people to have bought loads to try and resell on ebay. The prices will inevitably drop once ebay is flooded. Sit tight and don't panic!

The troopers are a completely new sculpt. No reused parts for these guys! (although their parts are being used in the future - Flogg being the prime example). They retain all the regular articulation. On the whole, joints are tight, although a few of mine are a little loose at the elbow, meaning it's difficult to get them to hold up the crossbow.

The eyes are a point of concern for a lot of people. Yes, it would have been better if you could see less of the bottom of the visor, it'd make them look more menacing and evil. You can, sort of, push the armour up a little and tilt the helmet slightly down to achieve this but it's far from great. But in all honesty seeing the full arrow-shape doesn't bother me much and I'm happy with them as they are.

They're decorated, mostly, in various shades of grey with some black bits and silver trim. A Horde emblem, which evokes the old button-pressing exploding armour gimmick of old, adorns their chests. While it doesn't explode, the armour can be removed (like all the other armours in the line) to reveal a new chest, which looks like the robotic body of the 80s figure. The two troopers in the pack are near identical - only two small 'blast' marks, one on the helmet and one on the shoulder, distinguish the 'clean' trooper from the 'battle damage' one.

In addition to building an army, one of the reasons people want multiples of the troopers is so that they can swap heads and make the famous 'He-Man in Horde disguise' and 'Adora-kidnapping Hordak' characters from the Filmation cartoon. Mattel thought ahead and thus there is enough room to fit other heads within the collar of the armour. However, the neck peg is slightly larger than usual so getting other heads on requires some effort. You also get a bit of a bobble-head effect as it flops forwards and back. I wonder if this makes the troopers female...

Most people will have a spare He-Man head from purchasing Adam (and Orko), however most won't have a spare Hordak head kicking about. I'm hoping that either a full Hordak variant is coming at some point, or at least Mattel manage to stick a spare Hordak head in with some other character.

These guys come with weapons aplenty - two of each one, so you can arm your troopers the same if you wish. They come with the updated staffs from their 80s counterparts, new shields based on the Horde logo, their stick thingamajigs from the Filmation cartoon, plus newly designed crossbows. This means that now every Horde member, besides Catra, Mosquitor and Shadow Weaver has a crossbow (and Cy-Chop, but he's probably best left ignored).

The right hand is sculpted in a crossbow-holding pose, while the left is a regularly shaped gripping hand. Any of the weapons can be held in either hand, however. There is a problem in that the hands are many of extremely hard plastic and it is tough to get them to open enough to get the weapon in. The plastic Mattel uses for hands varies wildly and so it's always hit and miss what will be used for a new figure.

Posing the troopers is a lot of fun. My pictures were taken pretty hastily as the rainclouds were beginning to roll in, but even then I had a lot of fun posing these guys; lining them up behind Hordak and ready to take on She-Ra. It gets even more fun when you involve the entire Horde, the Princess of Power characters, plus any others you fancy involving in the fight for control of the universe.

The Horde Troopers are a great pair and, should you be able to, I'd highly recommend building an army of them. They really beef up the Horde and ensure everyone on Eternia and beyond lives in fear! The real question is 'how many do I buy?' I ummed and ahhed over this one in the days leading up to the sale. I knew I'd immediately lose a pair for He-Man and (hopefully) Hordak, so how many 'real' troopers did I want? These things, after all, are expensive. After having had a play with these guys, I think I made the right decision over numbers. I have just enough to be a satisfying army, without having gone overboard. 3 is the magic number - or four pairs if you want variants.

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