Hello fellow He-Fans and She-Ravers,
When the 200X cartoon ended without a third season fans were very upset. Then some of the proposed story ideas for the third season were revealed and... well let's say many fans decided it was better the show ended before these ideas were brought to fruition. One of them was expanding on a one episode deal and making a major change to one of the most iconic characters in MOTU. The result; Snake Man-At-Arms.
In the season 2 episode "Second Skin" King Hiss uncovered an artifact called the Serpent's Ring which allowed him to turn people into Snake Men. during the episode Man-At-Arms, Teela, Mekaneck, Carnivus, and several civilians were all affected and became serpent people. In the episode's end He-Man destroyed the Serpent's Ring by throwing the entire giant tower it was perched upon into the sun. (Yet two episodes later he struggled to hold back a rock slide....) with the ring gone everyone turned back to normal. End of story right? Wrong.
The plan for the third season was King Hiss would return and capture Man-At-Arms revealing that once someone had been changed by the ring once before they could be turned back again. So he re-transforms Duncan who becomes a villain and was going to stay that way for a large part of the season! The 40th episode which ends with the transformation was actually scripted but never animated. On the whole fans weren't keen on this idea so, while the 200X exclusive Snake Teela figure was let slide, the reveal of a MOTUC Snake Man-At-Arms was not met with much enthusiasm. How does the final product hold up? Let's take a look.
Snake Man-At-Arms comes in the standard MOTUC package with his bubble displaying the Snake Men logo. The back of the box shows off other figures in the line.... all Evil Horde. Wait, what? Yes for some reason SMAA has only Horde members on his box. While there aren't enough Snake Men out yet to fill the box there is no logical reason to have only Horde showing. As always the back has a bio for the character in the new continuity.
Brand manager Scott "Toyguru" Nietlich did a preview video before this figure came out and when showing the box he said the back featured SMAA's "Awesome bio". Yeah, Scott you just gave a huge piece of ammo to those fans who say the MOTUC continuity is nothing but "Toyguru's over glorified fan-fiction" because there is absolutely NOTHING awesome about this bio at all!
First the real name, Duncan is not "of the Viper Clan" just because he was forcibly transformed. But that's the least of the problems. The transformation was never intended to last more than five episodes. Just long enough for the Snake Men to get some modern weapons and vehicles that Mattel could market as toys. Most importantly he was NEVER intended to get killed off! Especially to a D list character like Clamp Champ! And killed right as he regains his humanity? Salt in the wound much? I don't even need to go into the detail about Teela as a new Sorceress. I've already bashed that issue but it is connected in that these bios are drastically changing and/or killing off beloved characters and trying to build up less fan-loved ones, or even worse brand new Mary Sue ones like Mighty Spector. And this Mattel calls "expanding the story" I call it a big steaming pile of ****!
Is the figure awesome at least? In a nutshell; no. I will say that it is better than what we were going to get at first. The originally revealed figure was straight up the exact same Man-At-Arms figure as the first just with a new head and FEWER weapons. Fans were not happy. In fact they were downright pissed off. Mattel listened and made changes to try to spruce the figure up and make him a worthy variant.
His armor is the same as regular Man-At-Arms but with a lighter paint job. Also a lot of the rivets now have more metallic detailing and his air tank is done in blue. Notice also that his left hand and boot have been painted orange like the armor instead of green.
The general idea was to make him more like the teched out armor of the 200X look. He now sports the longer furry loincloth and his buck is not just the standard mold. He uses the shoulders of Man-E-Faces, biceps of Roboto, plus the forearms hands and upper legs of Trap Jaw. His boot tops are actually the newer peg hiding mold introduced with Vikor and his left foot is the Keldor boot mold while the right is still the standard. Stick the original Man-At-Arms head on this figure and you have a nice looking and more detailed Duncan. But that's about all you've got.
One thing to note is the new head's helmet is a bit different with a ridged rim around the bottom. While the face sculpt is very well done it's just not worthy of taking up a whole figure slot in my opinion.
For weapons he is lacking all that came with the first MAA except the mace, which is done in the same new detail as the armor and actually seems to be of a stronger plastic this time around. Not so with his only other accessory which is an out of scale version of the Serpent's Ring. On the cartoon it was not so big in comparison to the holder. The sculpt is done well and accurate but the plastic is soft and gummy. This is made all the worse with the knowledge that Mattel had said they were for a time considering making it out of dy-cast metal.
SMAA also comes with the second of the three part mini-comic. I'm still going to wait till the third part is released then review the whole story at once. I will say this much now; it is better than part one but still not up to par and contains some very upsetting details.
Variants are always a tough sell with me but this one I can't even recommend for people who missed out on the previous version. While the more detailed design makes for a better looking Duncan with the original head on the body, I still don't feel this validates the purchase price. If they had to use the plot idea it would have been better to just pack the Snake head in with someone else similar to how they did the Alcala Skeletor head. If you can pick one up cheap it may be cool in regards to a more detailed Duncan, particularly with the arm cannon coming soon, but even the most hard core completists will think twice on this one. Until next time, Good Journey.
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