Masters of the Universe Classics Serpentine King Hssss…and the Fiasco
Oh, Serpertine King Hssss…where to start with you? You’re probably one of the most controversial figures released in the realm of Masters of the Universe Classics. People coming here to see photos and my thoughts on you probably already know the history and controversy surrounding you, but for those who don’t, I’ll have to give them a quick recap. So stay put until I get to you, this may take a while.
In 2015, Mattel and Mattycollector.com released the Snake Armor He-Man vs. Battle Armour King Hssss. When first previewed, brand manager, Scott “Toy Guru”Neitlich (SP), had announced that the snake torso that was shown wouldn’t be packaged in with the two-pack but we WOULD get it later on in the year. Neitlich left the company mid-way through the year and everything went quiet as the new team took over (which is a whole other issue in itself). People asked about the torso, but there were no answers.
Supposedly the torso was supposed to come with the Buzz-Saw Hordak, but because of the hollowed out torso that the blade could fit in (something Rio Blast should have had), the money was gone to allow them to put the torso in. What did Matty do? They said it was coming, although there’s speculation that the new team totally forgot about it.
The forums over at He-Man.org blew up. Matty’s own forums lit up. The fans wanted answers and the collectors wanted what was promised to come with the subscription. Matty finally announced the torso was coming BUT to get it, you had to buy a whole new figure. I was pissed, as were many others. This was clearly a breach of what we were told we were getting and promised and I don’t care what excuses the other side gives.
As I’m writing this, I’m stating that I’m not going to be one of those reviewers/bloggers that praise everything Matty does and not call them out of laziness or shitty quality control/decisions regarding figures. I’m not being sent free figures like others on the web and I’ll keep my integrity. Matty screwed up badly here. Period. I think they should have bagged the torso and sent them free out to all the subscribers.
Matty got early samples in from China and the quality was awful. They had placed a “China” stamp right in the middle of the neck, so Mattel told them they had to redo the figure and it was pushed back. Months with no communication went by again until it was announced that subscribers of the 2015 line would be sent an email with a link to buy the figure and it would only cost the subscribers (like me) $20 US. While that sentiment for a less expensive figure was nice, with shipping and a crappy Canadian dollar, it still cost me a lot to get what was originally promised so I could display Hssss how I wanted and to complete my collection. The rest went up to the public for April’s sale and are now sold out.
The package for the figure is the standard Masters of the Universe Classics window-box. I’m actually surprised that there’s a bio on this figure, seeing how the new team has gone away from having them. I wonder if it’s because Neitlich is gone and that’s the real reason they’re not on the box anymore.
As for the figure itself, it’s a really cool torso with, how I see it, many extras now thrown in to justify a new figure being sold. The figure has torso that was promised without any “China” stamp on the neck (whew) on top of a repainted set of legs that we saw with the Snake-Men army builder sets. I didn’t have any issue with the legs on the figures from those sets, but the knee joints on my figure are REALLY loose and with the figure being top heavy, I couldn’t get him in some poses I wanted because he’s prone to falling over.
The snake “arms” on the torso have a little bit of give to them and they are able to bend ever so slightly to pose. Unfortunately, they’re not as pose-able as I would have liked. It would have been nice to see them make them as bendy as the vintage Snout Spout trunk. That being said, the head on the snakes and how they rise out of the middle of the torso is done really well and when you compare it to the old King Hsss figure, you can see how the update really makes Hssss even more sinister and menacing and how the old one, while good at the time, now seems puny in comparison.
The head is another hit and miss for me. I really like the viciousness portrayed by the head sculpt, but the mouth doesn’t have any articulation. I would have to have the option to open and close the mouth, but with the large tongue sticking out, it probably wouldn’t have looked that good. Speaking of the tongue, I think it is too long and should be red, not pink.
Serpentine King Hssss also comes with an abundance of weapons in a new colour scheme. We’ve seen all these before with the Snake Men two-pack, but I think I actually like the colours on these weapons (and shield) a lot more than the originals. The snake heads can hold the weapons very loosely, and the shield can be placed on one of the snake hand/heads, but they will all fall off very easily.
Lastly, Hssss comes with a mid-transformation head that can be placed on your other King Hssss figures. I think I’ll be picking up another loose Hssss off of Ebay so I can keep one of the figures with this head on my shelf. I’m just unsure whether it will be the original King Hssss from MOTUC or the Battle Armour King Hssss from the two-pack. I’m curious as to what many fans will be doing. The first time I saw this head, it actually reminded me of the transformation of Thusla Doom from man to snake (portrayed by the excellent James Earl Jones) in one my favourite movies of all time, Conan the Barbarian.
One of the cool things about grabbing this figure is that you now have multiple display options. With the original MOTUC King Hssss, the Battle Armour King Hssss and Serpentine King Hssss figures all having swappable torsos, you can mix and match until your heart is content. I took some pics using different variations below.
If you’re skipping down the wrap up paragraph here, this figure has its ups and downs. I’m happy with the sculpt, the add-ons, and the option to pose your King Hssss figures numerous ways now. I’m unhappy with the lack of bending in the snake arms, the long, pink tongue, the weak knee joints, and that there’s no articulation in the jaw.
You do get a lot for $20US, but this fiasco should have been handled better and the consumers should have gotten what they were promised for free and that’s the biggest sticking point with this figure. The extra time to get the figure corrected from the production errors is appreciated, but the Matty team needs to understand how to communicate information to their audience/collectors in a better fashion and a timely manner. Nothing frustrates a rabid fan base more than silence. Am I glad I bought the figure? Yes. Should I have had to buy this figure in the first place? No. I hope lessons were learned.