These vintage Masters of the Universe-inspired figures caught my eye from the second I saw them at Toy Fair or SDCC or wherever they were first shown off.
I’ve mentioned before how I never actually cared for the style of the original Masters line, but the franchise was still a huge part of my early childhood and as such it seems to hold a special place in my fandom. Despite not loving the minimally articulated, overly muscled aesthetic as a kid (though I did love the character designs), something about this style speaks to me now. I’m finding Super 7’s Filmation figures to be damn near irresistible, and if they show up in stores where I don’t have to pay shipping, I’ll probably succumb to their charms.
Meanwhile, Funko has a foothold in basically every brick-and-mortar establishment from Target to GameStop to Kroger. Heck, I think I saw Pops at Quick Trip the other day. What that means is that when Funko launches a new thing, they have plenty of outlets to distribute it to.
Mortal Kombat is one of those things that I enjoy more as an idea than I do in practice. I’m not super at video games and I’m absolutely terrible at fighting games. But I love ninjas, monsters, and hot women, so the concept of MK aside from the whole game thing is very appealing to me. That’s why I’ve ended up buying figures from just about every MK toy line that has ever existed.
At first glance it might seem odd for Funko to launch a new aesthetic with a three year old video game; in video game years that’s, like, fifty. But Mortal Kombat has proven to be an evergreen franchise and even more than that it might line up with the ideals of Masters of the Universe better than any other single concept. Warriors, magic, technology, cyborgs, monsters, good versus evil; those terms all work as descriptors for MK and MOTU. The characters of Mortal Kombat could very easily live on Eternia.
Like most non-Pop Funko products these have ended up on clearance in various locations, so I grabbed a set as sort of a primer for the upcoming Savage World horror figures. Funko offered a pretty good first wave – Liu Kang, Raiden, Kitana, Sub-Zero, and Scorpion; with a variant each for the latter two. Finding the variant Sub-Zero at Target was actually what set me off on buying these. I’m a sucker for translucent variants.
Note: I had the entire wave of Savage World horror figures preordered from Amazon. They were due to arrive on 9/14 and were even marked as “shipped” on the 12th and 13th, but then the morning of the 14th I received a message stating that I had to approve a delay that would move arrival back to somewhere between 10/17 and 11/24.
What the eff?
Our pal Ryan Cadaver experienced the same issue. We both decided to cancel and look elsewhere. I found the whole set at GameStop just a couple of days later. Brick and mortar FTW!
These come on simple blister cards, as they should.
The cards are as bare-bones as it gets, featuring drab, generic art that’s the same for each figure. Honestly this might be part of the reason I didn’t grab these sooner. It’s pretty ugly. The back does feature the entire wave, though, which is a leg up over Hasbro’s sorry cardbacks these days.
As much as packaging generally doesn’t matter to me – I open almost everything I buy – it does factor into my opinion of a toy line’s overall quality.
It’s obvious from the first glance that the paint and sculpt on these are far superior to the line they’re inspired by. There’s far more individual tooling and as much painted detail as you might expect from a collector-oriented line.
Okay, well; except for Sub-Zero. But the regular version has all of that.
Each figure features six points of articulation, the same as vintage Masters. The difference is in the hip joints, which are ball joints rather than being attached with elastic bands. This is, obviously, an improvement.
It’s interesting to me that Funko chose Mortal Kombat X, because this meant the ninjas needed to be distinct rather than just repaints with minor tooling differences. Scorpion and Sub-Zero are very different sculpts, though if they continue with MK, they can probably manage Smoke, Rain, Noob Saibot, Reptile, and Ermac with parts from these (I think). It would certainly be a way to carry on the MOTU tradition.
The sculpts on the figures are great, but the paint is what really makes these stand out. The details are fairly simple, but all of the clothing, hair, buckles, or whatever is individually painted. It’s like someone with OCD was attempting to recreate the Masters aesthetic, but just couldn’t bring themselves to leave things unpainted.
I can relate, as the biggest stumbling block for me for Masters and later on the Ninja Turtles line was the unpainted details.
The basic joints are all quite functional, though I was slightly disappointed to discover that there was no waist gimmick – where you pull the arm back and the figure “punches” forward thanks to a spring. It would be an unnecessary feature and there’s no reason I should’ve expected it, but I sighed audibly when Raiden failed to “power punch”.
Raiden is probably my favorite of the wave. The combination of the hat and the tabard (is that the right word?) makes him stand out.
Scorpion looks great and seems to sport the most detail thanks to all of those neat straps. His countenance also manages to look super mean despite the fact that only his eyes are visible.
Sub-Zero (who I cannot think of without thinking “Now plain Zero!”) has the more basic MK ninja sculpt, but still his unique MKX design. The translucent blue plastic looks great and is sturdy. It’s not the kind that’s going to shatter if it falls off the shelf or if you have the gall to want to, I dunno, move a joint.
While the guys are all big, buff stud muffin types, Kitana is almost sort of kewpie cute. The figure follows the MOTU female aesthetic, but manages to look more like a cute Japanese chibi toy. It still works, though.
Liu Kang is not in any way a bad figure, but just isn’t as interesting as the rest. His dragon gi looks great, but he is a Plain Jane among badasses. Also he doesn’t come with any accessories.
Four of the five figures come with accessories. Two of those four can hold them worth a darn.
Sub-Zero has ice-themed weapons that fit nicely in his hands and look great. Raiden comes with two lightning effects that clip on to his hands mostly okay but look much cooler than I thought they would when attached.
Kitana has fans she can barely hold and Scorpion comes with two swords that he can hold but doesn’t seem to want to. These weapons are a nice steel color with painted details. They look great and work… sort of.
Liu Kang comes with nothing. They could have at least given the guy a fireball.
I wouldn’t have paid the fifteen dollar MSRP for these – not even the icy Sub-Zero – but for ten bucks or less they totally work for me.
I’m not saying they aren’t worth fifteen. That’s just not the price point that gets them into my collection.
There’s no denying that the upcoming slate of Savage World waves from Funko gives the MK wave greater value. On its own its just a novelty, but when you add the horror icons, Conan, and Thundercats it becomes an exciting new collection.
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