Mattel has never been shy about putting out release after release of a popular character. He-Man should feel lucky to be included in the elite club along with the likes of Batman, Superman, and Hal Jordan amongst others. Its no secret, toy companies use variations to keep the main stars of their toy line on the pegs and to keep retailers happy. Mattel went pretty much hog wild in recent years with the 200x MOTU millennium line and the 2003 Batman line, but once upon a time in the vintage MOTU line they did manage to strike a cord with variations of the main characters without flooding shelves with product that nobody wanted.
Enter: Thunder Punch He-Man
Growing up a lot of my toys were hand-me-downs or yard sale finds. In town there was a second-hand toy shop called The Toy Peddler where I got a great deal of my early MOTU figures. It was this spot where I believe I got my Thunder Punch He-Man. I must have had three standard He-Man figures, but Thunder Punch He-Man had the distinction of being the only variation of He-Man that I had. I immediately liked this updated Classics version right out of the box, of course being He-Man he does sort of have an unfair advantage (which is not necessarily always true, see Trick-Or-Treat He-Man. Once I had finished checking all his joints and posed him with his weapons and punch construct I couldn’t have been happier with the figure.
The original Thunder Punch He-Man’s gimmick was that you could place a cap gun ring in the backpack, once inside when you turned the waist a metal hammer would trigger striking the cap to make a loud “POP!” sound. Unfortunately I was never able to take advantage of the action feature; I’m not sure if it was because I didn’t have access to the right sized caps or if I was just too dim to make it work. It also could have been that my figure was broken (I did get it second hand after-all). Despite never having used the action feature as it was originally intended I still loved the figure. I’m sure there are many who will really miss it in the Classics entry, but in my case I can’t miss what I never knew.
Design & Sculpt: Anyone who has been collecting this line should be more than familiar with the standard human buck by this point.
Plastic & Paint: No major complaints here. Most of the paint apps are clean & crisp. There is a small paint blemish on the eyebrow, but I’m not going to freak out. My only gripe is the closed fisted right hand which appears to have been painted flesh color and just looks very sloppy. I guess the elephant in the room is that his skin tone is much lighter than previous releases. I’m curious if it was intentional or just the way the batch came out.
Articulation: He-Man features the standard MOTUC articulation and as previously mentioned is the same buck as all of the previous MOTUC He-Man figures: ball joints at the neck and shoulders, ball-and-hinge joints at the hips, hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles and abdomen, swivels at the biceps, wrists, upper thighs and top of the boots
Accessories: Considering we’ve got the same buck about half a dozen times already, TP He-Man is ALL about the accessories and fortunately this is where the figure TRULY shines. First and foremost He-Man ditches his standard harness for his “techno Thunder Punch harness”. Its not really techno, but that sounded good, didn’t it? The vest/backpack is a flawless update of the vintage figure and recreates it just as close as possible without actually having the action feature. While the vintage was sculpted right onto the torso, the Four Horsemen has sculpted the harness as a separate piece. He-Man just wouldn’t be He-Man if he wasn’t included with his Power Sword. Just like you remember it’s molded in a translucent yellow. Although the figure does not have the working action feature they included a faux cap ring, which really does help complete the figure’s aesthetic. You can choose to either place the ring inside the backpack or it will also fit on the shield. As with the harness, He-Man’s shield is a near perfect update to the vintage. In addition to fitting the cap ring on the shield you can also place his power sword in there as well. The shield clips onto He-Man’s arm.
The final accessory packaged in with Thunder Punch He-Man is the crackling-thunder punch effect which fits snugly on He-Man’s fist. The effect is molded in the same clear yellowish plastic as the power sword was. As to why we got this is anybody’s guess, maybe they had some leftover tooling dollars for this figure, maybe this is Mattel’s “mea culpa” substitute for not having an action feature — regardless, Mattel and the Four Horsemen have created something that works well. I was not expecting to like this but it quickly won me over.
One caveat about the accessories, I’m not usually greedy when it comes to them, but it would have been nice to include two faux cap rings so that you could keep one in the shield and one in the pack at the same time. I realizing having an additional ring would really serve no purpose since there is no action figure, but for appearances sake I’d like to have one to keep in the shield and another one to keep in the backpack, if only for the fact that I would know that its in there.
Quality Control: No overall issues with QC.
Overall: I don’t know if Thunder Punch He-Man is the most popular choice for a He-Man redeco, but he’s an excellent example of one.