We've talked a lot here about how Mattel loves its idiotic variations, mind-numbing repaints and unsellable case packs. About how the company is trapped in an '80s mindset that keeps them from actually making any progress in the industry. But not all the repaints are bad, not all variants are stupid. Sometimes they can be pretty good.
Faker is a good repaint. Green Trap-Jaw is a good repaint. Disco Rave Skeletor is a bad repaint. Very bad.
Very, very bad.
Stratos, the winged warrior of the He-Man universe, has gotten a fairly decent repaint, even if it's not a must-have.
I have a fond place in my heart for Stratos: I got the original figure ages ago after a trip to the doctor; I remember sitting very still and putting up with some inoculation needle to earn the right to get a new toy. Why, in particular, that memory is tied to Stratos, I have no idea. He was never my favorite MotU figure, nor even in my top ten. But I remember the circumstances surrounding his acquisition. Go figure.
True to Mattel's typical myopic fashion, Stratos was pretty difficult to find when the line relaunched. Add to that the silly wing-flapping action feature, and I wasn't searching very hard to find this flying monkey.
Incidentally, there's some discussion about the racial pandering aspect of making Zodak black, and why Mattel chose to do this. Yes, the Horsemen's original alien design was pretty cool, but Mattel's only other option for injecting some diversity into the otherwise-Aryan Eternia was with Stratos, which would never work: think, for a moment, about the connotation of making the monkeyman black.
"Sky Strike Stratos," is really not very different than the regular version: the paint scheme is a bit darker, and he has metal tips on his wings, but that's really it. No, the reason that people are snapping up Stratos isn't some great innovation of color, but the fact that the flapping wings are gone, replaced with the balljoints that the rest of the line has. Stratos is now as poseable as all his brothers.
As Poe pointed out,
there's no way a full-sized humanoid could achieve flight by flapping their wings, which is why Stratos wears a jetpack. I figure that Stratos's people, the residents of Avion, originally could fly under their own power, but eventually evolution took that from them, and the wings are now used more for steering and control than power. To help Stratos earn his "Sky Strike" classification, he now has two added features that the original figure did not: the aforementioned metal tips on his wings, and two ankle-mounted booster rockets to help keep him aloft (especially since he's now got two wings' worth of added weight).
Other than the removable boosters, Stratos has the same accessories as his normal counterpart. Or, well, accessory - a single rocket that can be fired from the jetpack. Meh. It's not the most exciting thing ever, but it could have been worse. The missile is 3 3/4" long and fires a pretty good distance. It's also top-heavy enough that it could be used as a decent club.
If you already own a new Stratos, this "Sky Strike" version isn't a figure that you must have at all costs. If, however, you passed before because of the flapping wings, you'll find this to be one variant worth seeking out.
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