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Masters of the Universe Classics
by Poe Ghostal

Mattel was nothing if not thrifty with the original Masters of the Universe line in the 1980s. The mold for Battle Cat was borrowed from a Big Jim playset from the 1970s, and Panthor was obviously a repainted, flocked Battle Cat. Mattel is just as concerned with saving money through mold re-use with Masters of the Universe Classics today as they were in the 1980s (if not moreso), so there's not a whole lot to say about Panthor that I didn't say about Battle Cat.

During his exile from Eternos Palace, Keldor saved a young dylinx cub from a hunter's pit in the Corridors of Lithos. The cub remained fiercely loyal to Keldor, who named him "Panthor" after a tribal story his Gar mother told him as a child. The purple skinned feline remained with Keldor even after he was transformed into the Evil Lord of Destruction by Hordak's magic. Finding a new home in Snake Mountain, Panthor is forever at his master's side, carrying him into battle or curled up at the foot of Skeletor's throne, loyally growling at any who disagree with the Overlord of Evil.

I'm glad Mattel decided to forego the flocking this time. Many fans really wanted it (and were vocal in making their perference known), but flocking just sucks. Without it, you can admire the sculpt, which looks just as good with Panthor's purple coloring.

The upper part of the head is a new sculpt that offers a somewhat sleeker and more appropriate panther-ish look than the heroic Battle Cat. The ears are back and outward, giving the character a somewhat demonic look. There's a lot of character in the face.

The body has a dark wash to it that looks great in most parts, but a bit too obvious on the back and flanks - fortunately, they're usually covered by the saddle. Perhaps they're meant to be shadows, cast by the big blue armor?

The only other accessory is the helmet, which, again, many fans didn't like, but I think is fantastic. It offers another bit of symmetry between Battle Cat and Panthor and it has a very vintage look to it. And if you don't like it? Take it off, duh.

During development of the Filmation cartoon, Panthor was going to be black with purple armor - including a copy of Battle Cat's helmet, so take solace in the fact that things could always be worse. If nothing else, the ram horns on this release parallel Skeletor's staff.

Articulation is the same as Battle Cat. Panthor's head is sort of a balljoint, though the range is very limited; there's a joint where the neck meets the chest that moves up and down, allowing Panthor to look straight forward or down on the ground. There's another swivel/hinge joint in the middle of the torso which is similar to an ab crunch, but it's restricted by the armor. Each leg is attached at the hip with what is basically a swivel/hinge joint. The back legs simply have two hinge joints, ending in the swivel/hinge joint of the paws. The front "elbows" are the swivel/hinge combo, as well as the swivel/hinge paws. Finally, the tail is attached with a swivel/hinge joint and the jaws are a hinge, of course.

I wish there were more to say about this figure, but it's just not that different from Battle Cat. I also have no nostalgic stories to impart - I never owned a Panthor as a kid - and he didn't get much characterization on either cartoon, so there's nothing to talk about there. He's still a cool figure, of course, and for many fans a necessary counterpart to Battle Cat. Personally, I love the new helmet. But at the end of the day, he's just a repaint, without enough new material to make him a really "wow"-worthy piece.

-- 02/20/12

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