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Moss Man

Masters of the Universe Classics
by Poe Ghostal

After all the headaches, Masters of the Universe Classics Moss Man has finally arrived - assuming you had a subscription or were able to order him in the first three minutes of sale on Mattel's site. Everyone else will have to wait until 2011 or hit eBay.

Thought of for many centuries to be an urban legend, the creature called "Moss Man" was, in fact, an ancient Eternian nature god and ally to King Grayskull. During the rise of Skeletor and the subsequent battles with the Snake Men and Horde invaders, Moss Man often joined forces with the Masters of the Universe, helping to protect freedom for all forms of life. He was instrumental in helping them win the Second Ultimate Battleground, using his powers over plant life and his "fur" of forest green to fool and frustrate his wicked foes.

Moss Man had a minimal role in the 1980s cartoon, appearing in a couple episodes with no real character development. That changed with the 2002 series, where he got a starring role in the episode "Orko's Garden." The episode made him into a kind of vegetative god, and there are some definite similarities - intentional or not - to Alan Moore's Swamp Thing. For MOTUC, Mattel has gone with the Millennium characterization, and it certainly makes the character a lot more interesting.

I never owned Moss Man as a kid, and since he was rarely featured in the cartoon I didn't even know much about him. To me he was no more than a green, furry Beast Man. To 6-year-old Poe, flocking - which seemed suspiciously like fabric, and therefore associated with dolls - was little more than a way for a figure to look beat-up and scruffy really fast. One trip through the Slime Pit and Moss Man was ruined forever. And so, I was skeptical about Mattel's decision to do a flocked Moss Man for the Classics line. Obviously I would have preferred a new sculpt, akin to the Horsemen's plans for the MO2K figure, but due to the cost-saving nature of MOTUC, the only options were flocked or a straight Beast Man repaint, which would have been even worse. Given that choice, flocked was the right way to go.

Don't let the flocking fool you - this is mostly a repainted Beast Man with a new head, but the new head is great. Inspired by the MO2K version of the character, it's sort of a cross between a teddy bear, the Hulk, and a moldy green pepper. You'll have to be a real diehard fan to want to display him with the original head. The heads pop on and off the neck peg with little trouble.

In terms of design, the big question is the execution of the flocking. Again, while I'm not fan of flocking - I'm very glad the first Panthor release won't have it - I have to admit it works well here. It's applied in patches around the articulation points to allow them to move, and somehow Mattel pulled it off without making it look like Moss Man has mange. The flocking material seems a bit longer and stiffer than the material used on the original figure. I haven't noticed any material flaking off my figure, but some collectors have reported it.

Oh, and then there's the pine scent. This is one feature we could have done without - Moss Man is pungent. He reeks of pine scent, and unfortunately, it's a very strong, industrial cleaner-type of pine smell, not the pine smell you get in one of those cloth bags at a country store. It will remind you of Pine-Sol, not a forest. It's cloying and overwhelming for the first hour or so out of the package, and even now, days later, I can smell him standing a few feet away. But it's not a dealbreaker, and I won't mark the figure down for it.

In addition to the interchangeable heads, Moss Man comes with his signature mace, a man-purse and a knife. The mace is sculpted to look as if it's made of wood, a great touch that is unfortunately made risible by the "metal" version in the upcoming Weapons Pak. The messenger bag medicine pouch, with its vine-like strap, gives Moss Man a lot of character. The stone knife fits in the sheath, while the mace can be hung from from a small loop in the back of the strap.

There's very little paint to speak of aside from the cuffs, belt, loincloth, face and a little around the toes. Most of it is clean and sharp, except for a little bleed around the eyes on my figure's "mellow" head. The eyes of the snarling head have been painted looking off to the left, in a tribute to the original figure's sly look. My figure's left foot is tilted a bit, so he can't stand with both feet flush to the ground - despite the fact that the rocker ankles appear to be functional. It doesn't prevent him from being able to stand, but it's mildly annoying.

Like Adora, I wasn't really excited about Moss Man, but he's won me over. The flocking worked out well, and the new head is so expressive that it gives Moss Man a charm the original figure never had. He's one of the biggest surprises of the line so far.

-- 09/20/10


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