ReAction re-imagines He-Man figures…and fails

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I was not the biggest He-Man fan growing up. Sure, I had a few figures – for some reason I had 3 Lockjaw figures – but my action figure of choice was GI Joe. I found their “more like real life” story more entertaining than He-Man and his fantasy friends. I preferred laser guns to swords, tanks to Battle Cats.

He-Man vs. GI Joe

The He-Man characters I did have were often just fodder for my GI Joes. He-Man’s giant stature made them ideal to be mutated monsters from failed Cobra science experiment…but as you could guess, they were always defeated. I didn’t hate Masters of the Universe, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

He-Man and Friends. Big and colorful but limited.

So when I saw this post about Super7 releasing some 3.75″ Masters of the Universe figures as a way to propose some sort of “what if” alternate history, it made me think for a moment. On one hand, the smaller figures were definitely what I liked to play with but if He-Man had never been the oversized figures they were, then my action figures adventures would have been much less exciting. Not to mentioned I wouldn’t be able to have heated debates with my best friend, who I think had every He-Man figure ever made.

Obviously, Masters of the Universe needed to make themselves stand out in a crowded action figure market filled with GI Joe and Star Wars figures, amongst others. It worked. There were no other figures like He-Man on the pegs and if you were a kid that enjoyed the fantasy theme, you had something truly unique. That had to feel good…even if my Cobra HISS was cooler than your Roton.

ReAction figures miss the mark

There have been an influx Super7 ReAction figures in the recent past, making figures some of the most loved franchises in pop culture – Back to the Future, Alien, Terminator, Karate Kid, Goonies, Gremlins and even freaking Jaws just to give you an idea. The figures all model themselves after those from the 1980s (even if the license is modern), when the smaller 3.75″ figures were all the rage. And while I get the nostalgia here, these action figures are horrible.

ReAction Figures

Poor Biff. Their idea of “fully posable” is quite different than mine.

So I understand that many of these movies/shows didn’t have action figures at all and thus ReAction is trying to give us a line of “what if” toys. What if Jaws had had action figures? Well, I’ll tell you they would have been better than these ReAction versions.

All the ReAction figures are poorly modeled, expensive, and have almost no articulation. Now before you go off on the “well, I’d of rather had a bad Goonies figure than none at all,” argument…lets look at these new figures even in comparison to figures from the 80s, namely GI Joe.

Sure, GI Joe figures started out pretty limited but by 1984 they had more articulation than anything on the market…and they looked good to boot! Great colors, great molds, great accessories…everything they had was just perfect. And they had tons of clones too.

I can tell you with confidence that if you take a 1985 kid and put them in front of a GI Joe figure and a ReAction figure of Mr. Miyagi, the kid would choose the Joe, even if Karate Kid was their favorite movie. That’s what I would have done. Hell, I was a huge Star Wars fan as a kid and loved it more than anything, but I still recognized that GI Joe had better toys. Having Luke Skywalker was cool but unless he could kneel, he wasn’t any fun.

In many ways, these were the same gripes I had with original He-Man figures. Yes, they were colorful and well sculpted but they could barely move. I wouldn’t call anything a He-Man figure could do a “lap” and to fight all they could do was twist at the waist. They didn’t even have elbows! Even if I had been into the wizards and warriors genre, I still would have been disappointed in the action figures.

If this is He-Man in an alternate universe, then I’m in this one.

Retro for retro’s sake a bad idea

So here’s Super7 with the idea to reimagine Masters of the Universe figures. On paper that sounds like a fun idea but all they did was really just shrink He-Man without any thought going into what would have made them fun at that size. Even as small figures, they don’t have elbows. But this falls in line with the rest of their ReAction line which means it’ll sit on the pegs as an overpriced, uninspiring toys for collectors. I think ReAction is trying too hard to be retro. The licenses alone are retro enough – Jaws, Karate Kid, Alien – so how about giving us some awesome figures and let us dream for a minute how much it would have been a kid again.

Oh…and one more thing. Don’t even bring up the fact that the packaging of the ReAction figures says “Adult Collectible – Not a toy,” because that is easily the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. Yet one more reason to dislike this line.

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Brian is a staff writer at TMA. He races Hot Wheels at RedlineDerby.com while watching cartoons with his kid. You can follow @morningtoast on Twitter.

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