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Wun-Dar

Masters of the Universe Classics
by Poe Ghostal

Wun-Dar was offered as an incentive to those who subscribed to the 2010 Club Eternia plan. But who is Wun-Dar, you ask? His origins lie in the mists of time, when Masters of the Universe was still in its infancy. Fans have attempted to piece together his story, but no definitive answer has ever been found.

Here's what everyone agrees on: sometime in the early 1980s, probably just around the time Masters of the Universe first debuted in toy stores (and two years before the cartoon), a promotion was offered whereby those who entered received a He-Man action figure. The figure came in a baggie, possibly with a small paper insert for other Mattel products. Unlike the normal He-Man figure, it had brown (not blonde) hair, black boots, a black belt, and a more brownish loincloth, giving it a decidedly Conan-esque look.

Despite what you may have read, he did not come with any weapons. Over the years, various weapons and armor became associated with the figure, for unclear reasons: the black Zodac armor and gun from the Weapons Pack, the axe and sword from "Man-E-Weapons" (a rare variant of Man-E-Faces that came with multiple weapons). There is no evidence that the "Savage He-Man" came with any weapons at all.

One hundred years before Prince Adam was born, Wun-Dar, a warrior from deep in the savage underground city of Tundaria, rescued a young woman who turned out to be the Goddess of Eternia. Providing him with cosmic battle armor and a sophisticated ray gun that could tap into almost unlimited power, the Goddess tasked Wun-Dar to protect both halves of the sword of He and keep them apart so as not to fall into the hands of evil. Like many warriors before him, Wun-Dar became known as "The He-Man," battling in a savage way to keep evil from obtaining the key to the great power hidden inside the long-forgotten Castle Grayskull.

Along with the weapons, at some point the figure acquired an association with Wonder Bread. Wonder Bread did offer at least one MOTU-related promotion in the 1980s, but it was for collectible cards, not figures. That doesn't preclude the possibility that Savage He-Man came from a Wonder Bread promotion, but given the uncertainty, it does make his longtime nickname "Wonder Bread He-Man" misleading.

While some fans have suggested Savage He-Man was a mass-produced bootleg of some sort, the most reliable examples of the figure have a level of detail that suggests they came out of the true Mattel mold very early on (over the years, as a mold is re-used again and again to make new figures, the details tend to soften a bit - and when a bootleg is made by making molds from an actual figure, the details are softened even more). Moreover the paint on the figure, especially the head, is what you'd expect from a factory. The result is a highly sought-after, very expensive, and often faked He-Man figure (so if you're thinking about getting one on eBay, caveat emptor).

To this day, no one knows where Savage He-Man came from. Even Mattel's own research was unable to come up with any answers, though they seem willing to believe they produced it. And the sheer number of Savage He-Man figures out there suggest it was a fairly widespread promotion. It's possible the answer to the mystery will come to light one day, but in the meantime, fans can content themselves with Wun-Dar, Mattel's tongue-in-cheek salute to the brand's most famous legend.

Despite what you may think, Wun-Dar is not supposed to represent the barbarian He-Man of the early minicomics. Instead, he gets a brand-new and somewhat odd bio that raises more questions than it answers. For instance, did Wun-Dar ever actually use the Power Sword halves, or was he just tasked with protecting them? Where were they being kept, anyway? And what's the point of splitting the sword into two halves if you're evidently keeping both halves in the same place anyway? I do love the phrase "battling evil in a savage way" though. The art on the bio makes him look like David Cassidy; I would have preferred a more Schwarzeneggerian look, myself. The art is brand-new, by the way, not a re-working of existing art.

Not much to report here that you haven't seen in He-Man and Zodac, so I refer you to those reviews if you want an in-depth look at the sculpting. (This is why the preamble to this review is so long - the mystery is more interesting than the figure.) I do wish the He-Man head resembled the vintage head a bit more. I suppose the MOTUC look is more evocative of the cartoon version, but an alternate head more closely based on the original figure would be great (perhaps as the head of the aforementioned "blonde barbarian He-Man").

Wun-Dar continues the odd trend last seen in the He-Man vs. Superman two-pack whereby the figure actually has nicer paint applications than the first release. I'm referring to the belt and gauntlets, which are black with silver dry brushing, giving them a great worn metallic look. Aside from that, he has brown hair and black boots with gray straps. The paint work on my figure is fairly clean and neat. Wun-Dar is wearing a black version of the Zodac vest and carries a black Power Sword and black Zodac pistol. At the bottom of the back of the armor is a white circle with three colored dots, a reference to the Wonder Bread part of the figure's legend.

I'll be honest, as soon as I'm done with this review I'm ditching the black Zodac armor for the Beast Man armor from the Weapons Pack. I'm ditching the pistol too. I don't much like the more sci-fi aspects of Wun-Dar, myself. The sci-fi stuff is for Man-At-Arms, Trap Jaw and the Cosmic Enforcers.

Incidentally, the reason the Weapons Pack comes with the electric pink Zodac armor and gun, rather than the black set from the original, is because they were included with this figure. Wun-Dar also has an "Eternian baked good" - a loaf of bread, another nod to the Wonder Bread myth. It's a cute addition. As for the sword... I know Mattel seems dedicated to giving any He-Man repaint a Power Sword and a half Power Sword, but in this case, given the weapons Savage He-Man is usually associated with, it would have made much more sense to include the short sword that came with Man-At-Arms (which is the MOTUC version of the so-called Grayskull sword, which came with the Castle Grayskull playset in the 1980s - as well as "Man-E-Weapons").

The half-sword came out very bent - a common problem apparently, owing to the way it was held in the package. Fortunately, I don't care about the half-sword at all, but it is annoying. He also has a "mole" just under his nose, but that will vary.

On the one hand, Wun-Dar is arguably a repaint with a loaf of bread. On the other, he's very much a nod to diehard MOTU fans, representing just how dedicated to MOTU lore Mattel is on the Classics line. And he's fun. I don't think Wun-Dar is a must-have figure, except for completists (although there are a lot of completists on this line) and fans of the whole "Wonder Bread He-Man" thing. But the colors do give him a more barbaric look; take away the armor and you basically have Conan.

-- 10/04/10


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