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Grizzlor

Masters of the Universe Classics
by Poe Ghostal

I never owned Grizzlor as a kid. I do recall thinking that, like Moss Man and Panthor, there was something uncool about the fact that he had fabric parts. Fur, flocking, and fabric clothes were always a turn-off to me as a kid, I think because it made the toy seem perishable. Flocking could wear off; fabric could tear or get filthy; fur could fall out. Plastic, on the other hand, was forever (or so it seemed to a kid, anyway).

Originally a peaceful creature from the planet Jungulia, at the young age of 428 Gur'rull was kidnapped by the Horde Empire who erased his memories so he would serve loyally in their armies. Renamed "Grizzlor" he traveled with Hec-Tor Kur to Eternia in search of He-Ro. His ferocious attacks were so frightening that even after being banished to Despondos along with his master, Grizzlor's legend lived on, becoming a myth told to young Eternian children. Prison Guard for the Horde, Grizzlor is ready to unleash his fierce claws to attack the forces of Eternia!

I'm fairly sure I was never interested in Grizzlor, and though I recall seeing him in friends' or cousins' collections, I don't have a lot of nostalgia attached to the character. However, I've re-familiarized myself with Grizzlor, as with many MOTU characters since the advent of the 2002 line 10 years ago (remember, the announcement came in 2000, even if the figures weren't on shelves until two years later). And now I think he's kind of cool. That mostly comes from my love of monsters. Grizzlor is a big, hairy, classic-looking monster, and while the fur may have turned me off as a kid, as an adult I find it charming. Yes, on one level he's a ridiculous furball with hair like Cher and the face she would have if hers weren't 90% polypropylene, and if you can't roll with that, you're probably not going to like him. But on another level, he's a really fun addition to Masters of the Universe Classics.

It's worth noting that Grizzlor's head hair looks absolutely ridiculous on card, due to the way the bubble fits around his head. Grizzlor looks a lot like a Troll doll - or Don King on his worst day. The hair is somewhat covered by the big MOTUC logo, but that's hardly comforting for MOC collectors.

In his vintage toy incarnation, Grizzlor was truly a big furball - he looked a bit like those novelty Koosh balls with faces and arms from the 1990s. The 2005 ministatue - an action figure-sized piece - updated the character, minimizing the hairiness and making him look more like an actual warrior - or a Wookie, or perhaps Ookla the Mok from Thundarr the Barbarian. The ministatue also came with a bevy of weapons: his trademark Horde crossbow, sword, a machete, an axe, a dagger, and six crossbow bolts. MOTUC Grizzlor is based primarily on the vintage figure, with a little bit of the ministatue thrown in.

In terms of sculpting, much of Grizzlor is a re-use from earlier figures - the arms and legs are from Beast Man and Chief Carnivus, while his boots are similar to Hordak and Keldor's. Grizzlor's face is new, obviously, as are his hands.

The face is very reminiscent of the vintage figure, which means it of course resembles any number of other 1980s B-movie monsters like Critters or Hobgoblins. While definitely old-school, it has a lot of character. The face is glued on, but it was originally designed to be removable, as the Four Horsemen sculpted a second face in the style of the ministatue. Unfortunately, Mattel decided not to include the second face, disappointing many fans. Personally I don't like the 2005 head - the yellow headgear makes him look like a contestant on American Gladiators and diminishes his beast-like nature, like a horse with a bridle. But obviously it would have been a nice pack-in for fans, and it's a shame Mattel didn't give it to us. (Still, we're happier with the extra weapons.)

The figure is mostly molded in brown plastic, but there are some paint applications on the face, bracelets, fingernails, and boots. The paint apps are satisfactory for the most part, though the white on the teeth looks just a tad sloppy. There is a stray bit of yellow paint on my Grizzlor's arm - not something that annoys me all that much, but worth noting.

The fur is sort of a big furry potato sack that's sewed around his body. It looks good, though; the color and texture of the fur works. There have been reports of significant fur shedding on Grizzlor, but not on mine. That doesn't mean it's not happening, but it's not like the fur is absolutely going to peel away in your hands.

Grizzlor is way ahead of the pack when it comes to accessories. He comes with a removable loincloth, a removable Horde armband, an axe, a machete, a longsword, his trademark Horde crossbow, and a removable harness that can hold all his weapons. The loincloth is a reference to the statue. The skull shape on the loincloth is visually similar to the Four Horsemen logo, though that's just a coincedence: the Horsemen have stated that it is not an intentional reference to their logo - myth busted! A lot of fans don't like the loincloth, claiming it doesn't really work with the thicker body of the vintage Grizzlor. You can see their point, and I assumed I wouldn't want to use the loincloth when I got him. But after messing around with the figure a bit, I decided I liked it; rather than looking wrong on the thicker body, it defines the figure's shape a bit more, giving him the illusion of hips and making him look just a tad less like a giant ball of fur.

Contrary to what some think, the crossbow is not identical to Hordak's - it has a slightly different head. It's still in the same green/teal color of the vintage figure's weapon. It also has some minor paint apps. While the crossbow is neat, what most fans are excited about are the other weapons. They're all silver, with some darker silver highlights here and there. Each one looks great, and every weapon can be snapped on to the harness on the back. As you'd expect, the weapons are a bit less detailed than their NECA counterparts, but that's because they've been "Classics-ized" by the Horsemen. This was a brilliant way to work in some millennial features to the figure, and hey, who doesn't love getting lots of accessories?

I don't have much nostalgic fondness for Grizzlor, and I tend to hate fabric on toys, so I wasn't particularly excited for him. However, he's won me over with his furry charm. The fur of Grizzlor and the flocking of Moss Man gives your MOTUC collection a welcome variety of presentation (unlike, for example, rows upon rows of DCU figures with the exact same bodies - which is less the fault of the toymakers than the superhero designers).

-- 12/13/10


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