Joined: 18 Dec 2005
|Posted: Sun May 13, 2012 1:36 pm Post subject: Masters of the Universe Classics: Shadow Beast
|Greetings fellow He-Fans and She-Ravers,
Once again I was taking pictures of a particular figure anyway so I figured why not go ahead and do up a review of him? This guy should be slightly more recognizable to the cartoon fans; Shadow Beast!
Shadow Beasts were familiar sights in the old Filmation cartoon as not only did they make several appearances themselves, but the character model was used a couple times to create other monsters in the world of Eternia. They were so well known that they managed to make it into the 200X cartoon as well. Though like most characters they underwent a redesign, becoming larger and more ape like. Also they now had two horns on their heads and their aversion to light was played up dramatically.
But the Shadow Beasts never managed to make it into any toy form, until now. Honestly once Gygor came out many fans expected the mold to be reused for Shadow Beast, but the end result did slightly come as a surprise.
Shadow Beast comes in the same style large window box as Gygor did, which is understandable since it's the same basic mold. Right away though fans can notice that this Shadow Beast is much more Filmation inspired. In fact it's almost straight up Filmation! For further proof look at the back of the box, which as always shows off other figures in the line and offers a bio for the character. You can see the picture on the bio is of a 200X style Shadow Beast.
I'm honestly not fond of the idea that Shadow Beasts were created by Count Marzo. It feels like a desperate attempt to play up Marzo, which only results in downplaying the Shadow Beasts. Exactly what was Marzo thinking making a creature that can only come out in complete darkness? That's a pretty major design flaw there. I mean all you have to do is pull out a flashlight, or just light a match, and they pull back. It makes far more sense for them to be creatures naturally adapted to total darkness that are basically enslaved and forced to fight. Also, "stealth like appearance"? Uhh... no. Moving in darkness may give stealth like tactics, but there is nothing stealthy about the appearance of a twelve foot horned gorilla.
But getting back to the figure itself, this is clearly Filmation inspired. The single horn, the upright stature, the three fingers and toes instead of five, and mainly the facial features especially in the jowls. Those cheek folds and chin spikes are unique to Filmation and not seen in 200X. Thing is Mattel did not yet have the Filmation license when they made this guy. Mattel's answer was basically that they had the rights to do Shadow Beasts since they were in the 200X show, but that when you take away the "hyper anime detail" the result is what you get in the Classics. Yeah that's a nice rehearsed lawyer speech but clearly the truth is the Four Horsemen went with the design they wanted to and hoped Classic Media wouldn't push the issue. Of course now that Mattel has the Filmation license it doesn't really matter.
Shadow Beast is largely a repaint of Gygor. He's done in a brown tone and does not have the major difference on the chest like Gygor did. I have to admit I kind of feel the color was not done quite cartoon accurate. Really I always remembered Shadow Beasts as being more grey in color. However looking back at screencaps is really seems to depend on the episode and lighting. Sometimes they seem more dark and other times more brown so really this isn't a bad color scheme.
Shadow Beast and Gygor share the same body, arms and legs with the same articulation. Ball joints in the shoulders, swivel joints in the biceps, wrists and ankles, jointed elbows and the cut joint at the hips. Once again having the ability to pose him in a gorilla like, walking on knuckles pose would have been cool, especially since 200X Shadow Beasts were often seen this way, but it still would have driven up the cost more than it's worth. Strangely I noticed Shadow Beast's body is not quite as squishy as Gygor's. There's still some rotocast give, but not as much. Perhaps they used a thicker plastic in the mold? I'm not sure and it doesn't matter since, do you really want a squishy beast?
Shadow Beast does have a brand new head. It features the same articulation as Gygor, but I found I could not get mine to come off. I tried pulling but it wouldn't pop and I was afraid to push it anymore since I didn't want to risk breaking the neck peg. Shadow Beast also has new feet with three toes, and new three fingered hands.
As you can see, these hands are better suited than Gygor's were for gripping a heroic warrior, however they do tend to not have the best grip on his large club weapon. Another problem is that the club is very heavy. It tends to stay in position well if you pose it hanging down or dragging on the ground, but any higher and Shadow Beast will either drop it entirely, or the weight will pull him off balance and cause him to fall over.
Now the club itself is very nicely detailed. It looks as though it was fashioned out of a large tree branch with great sculpting depicting the grain of the wood and the tree rings on the cut end. Add in some metal looking spikes and a black leather looking grip wrap and you've got one nasty weapon to bash heroes with. Trouble is, aside from the balance issues I mentioned, Shadow Beasts weren't ever really depicted using weapons in the cartoon! And who made them? The beasts themselves are depicted as savage animals, not exactly up to fashioning weapons. If it was just a broken tree branch then that would be plausible, but the bolted on metal spikes and leather wrap indicate a higher mentality. Did Beast Man take the time to make weapons for them? Another thing to mention is many people have reported getting their figures with the club loose in the package. If you're an opener it's no big deal, but mint in box collectors should take note.
Shadow Beasts are classic monsters from the beloved cartoon and a welcome addition to the line. Since they are often seen in packs, this technically is a potential army builder as well. You do of course only get one per package and the higher price tag may dissuade people from buying multiples. But there's no denying it's cool to have the option of creating a large army of monsters for Beast Man to lead into battle.
Shadow Beast is currently sold out on Mattycollector.com so check the secondary market for this guy. Good luck and until next time, Good Journey!
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