When I think about MotU vintage action features, a lot comes to my mind: awesome character design, vibrant colors, decade-proof production quality. But sometimes one of the most awesome features about vintage MotU might have taken a back seat in our remembrance, but they were more than important back in the childhood days when it came to actually playing with the figures. What I’m talking about are the action features that came nearly with every figure. This is the story about my top ten action features. Let’s count them down…
If you pulled the cord on Dragstor, a wheel mounted on his chest would transform the guy into an (Transforming) evil warrior vehicle (as the box promoted it). He would then race over your carpet, your tiles or whatever was on your floor back in the day. I would spend hours to set up as much heroic warriors as I could find and would then have Dragstor dart at them, knocking the good guys down in one single blast….
#9 Rio Blast
The Heroic transforming gunslinger was brought home to me by my parents who spent a vacation in the US. Here in Germany, I had never ever heard about this MotU character before (remember: this was way before the internet ever came into existence). Being a 10-year-old, my secondary school English skills would not really enlighten me on what the terms transform or gunslinger (which were printed on the box) really meant in my native language. But wow: Once I had opened the box and had learned that Rio could eject-flap secret weapons out of his arms, legs, chest and back, I was very much awed by this cool western dude.
It was only in 2013 that I would learn about this Evil-energy drained insectoid. In Germany, this figure was never released. I got mine on eBay and the blood-pumping mechanism (by pushing on a button of the figure’s back, you red-colored fluid saturates Mosquitor’s Horde-shaped chest) still worked. It is quite amazing how the figure creators came up with that in the 80s – I think it is quite a daring feature for a toy and it has some scariness about it (it is very dracula-esque). If I find it a very cool feature today, I wonder how cool I would have found Mosquitor to be back in 1987!
I found Mantenna the second most funny character – Orko being number 1. Of course I understand that Mantenna was never meant to be funny but rather scary – but come on, a figure subtitled the Evil Spy with Pop-Out Eyes has an inherent comedic potential. I mean this in a respectful way – Mantenna’s pop-the-eyes-using-the-small-lever-on-the-back action feature is awesome! Back in the day I would create obstacles (wood, stones, cardboards…) for him so he could just watch over those, his eyes being then fully elevated. Within the Horde, I would consider Mantenna to be the member providing a good laugh when life just seemed a bit to gruesome…
I just loved the blue-and-yellow coloring of this Heroic fist-flinging tornado. What I loved even more was his tornado-twist-merry-go-round action feature that could be set off by turning the small wheel on his hip. As with Dragstor (see #10), I would love to set up dozens of evil henchmen just to have Sy-Klone blast like a tornado through them…
#5 Battle Armor He-Man
I just loved the original vintage He-Man figure. When they released the Battle Armor version, I was a bit skeptical at first (how could you improve the already perfect?). But to me the battle armor made this figure more “dynamic” – I could now lead He-man into battle and the almighty hero would be able to show signs of battle. This made the gameplay more dynamic, more modifiable – this is why I loved the rotating-drum feature of BA He-Man so much.
What to say about our Heroic Court Magician? You either loved or hated him. I loved him in the Filmation cartoon, so he was a regular when I played with the figures. That pull-cord was used again by me to burst into dozens of evil henchmen, creating a big fuzz. I sometimes imagined that Orko would have created that chaos by one of his failed spells (as in the cartoon) – which made the play even more enjoyable.
Roboto is the king of cool. With his translucent body, his clockworks (incl. the heart) and his opening-and-closing visor he was such a fun figure to play with. I loved that the Heroic Mechanical Warrior additionally (!) came with spare weapons (an axe, a claw, a gun) that you could mount to his right arm. Being a fan of characters like Robocop and the Terminator, Mattel made my day when Roboto was released (also see my full-detail Roboto Review here in my Blog).
#2 Laser Light Skeletor
As with Mosquitor, I was unaware of this Skeletor version as a kid as it was not released in Germany. Which was a shame because we were often on vacation in Spain and Italy back in the day – these countries would have been the right places to buy that figure (as it was mainly released in Southern European countries). It was only later in my 30s that I learned that this figure existed (again thanks to the Internet). I was looking for it quite some time on the web to find a figure that I could afford to buy and at the same time was in a decent condition. I scored in 2014 when I got hold of a Laser Light Skeletor from a guy in France. It came without cloak, staff and battery cover, but is in a good condition. And, most important of all: the wiring and the lights still work! The figure’s illumination concept is what I love most about the Evil Master of Light Energy (next to its scary design which took the Skeletor concept to a higher level): the red-color illuminated eyes and the right hand are just pure awesomeness.
#1 Power Punch
Many of the first-released MotU vintage figures like He-man, Skeletor, Mer-Man etc. did not only share some parts (e.g. upper body, arms, legs etc.), but also one great distinctive action feature: the Power Punch. Once you would retract a figure’s upper body, a spring mechanism would be set into action. If you then released the figure at once, it would forcefully rebound in its original position. This power punch would take devastating blows to your (toy figure) enemy. If you had He-Man carry a sword or something in his hand while performing the power punch, it would also be launched at your enemy if you were lucky! 😉
The power punch is my #1 feature because it is a simple function which was heavily promoted with the first and second wave figures (Figure twists for a power punch!) but kind of took a back seat with later figures which then carried additional action figures on top of the power punch (e.g. Stinkor or Moss Man’s scent, Webstor’s climbing piton, Fisto’s iron-hand punch).
Also, what I find truly amazing is the quality aspect: All of my vintage figures’ power punch mechanism still works up to this day – that includes years of rough childhood playing incl. dropping, drowning and much more I could come up with.
I hoped you liked my Top Ten list. Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoyed this post. Make sure you post your thoughts in the comment section.
All of the above-mentioned action features can be seen in motion in my YouTube video.