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By Thomas Wheeler

Thank you, He-Man.Org! This very popular fan-based Web Site for all things pertaining to Masters of the Universe was able to acquire a generous supply of this recent convention exclusive figure. Mattel offered She-Ra, a character whom fans had been screaming to be added to the new Masters of the Universe line, as a special exclusive at both the San Diego ComiCon and the Wizard World Chicago Convention.

Better still, by going through the He-Store, as it is called, one was able to avoid Mattel's asinine methods for buying exclusives at Conventions. If it's anything like the method they used at a Hot Wheels Convention I attended in 1998, and it sounds like it is, then it's a ridiculous cross between a lottery drawing and a Russian bread line. You take a number, wait around for your number to be called (and it won't necessarily be called sequentially), and as such time, if ever, as it is, you hope to heck that there's still a supply of the item you wanted left. Gee, what fun!

Probably just as well I wasn't able to attend either of these shows, although I would like to someday. Patience is not one of my strong points. Neither is tolerating stupidity.

Anyway, we should be grateful to Mattel for bringing us this figure, even though their stance on the Masters line itself seems to be unclear, if unfortunately leaning towards the negative despite the presence of a number of new figure sculpts at these conventions. But we can hope. And meanwhile, we can enjoy the addition of SHE-RA to our collections.

The She-Ra character was first introduced back in the 80's in an animated movie produced by Filmation that actually saw a theatrical release. Entitled "He-Man and She-Ra: The Power of the Sword", the storyline saw He-Man being sent by the Sorceress from Eternia to a new world called Etheria, which was under the iron hand of a tyrant named Hordak. He and his Evil Horde made Skeletor and his minions seem almost cuddly by comparison, and clearly, since they were the ruling power on this planet, they'd been a good bit more successful, too. (It's worth noting that Hordak was one of the new figure sculpts, and he has turned up in both the new Masters animated series and comic book).

One of Hordak's minions was a young woman who didn't seem to fit in all that well, although she certainly wasn't especially pleasant, either. Her name was Adora, and she was Hordak's captain of the guard. It would also turn out that she was Prince Adam's (He-Man's) long-lost sister, who had been taken to Etheria as an infant by Hordak. Adam was ultimately able to turn Adora away from the path of evil, as well as give her a second sword, much like his own, which enabled her to turn into the powerful SHE-RA, just as Adam's allowed him to become He-Man.

Essentially, the She-Ra toy line was a complete spin-off from Masters of the Universe. Officially called PRINCESS OF POWER, it was an attempt on Mattel's part to take advantage of the popularity of Masters, and see if they could market an action figure line to girls. For a couple of years, it worked. And really, there was only one male character in the toy series, a heroic archer by the name of Bow.

Hordak and company were, in reality, part of the Masters of the Universe toy line. But somewhere along the way, the decision was made to make them the main enemy of She-Ra in the animated series. This not only allowed for a greater male presence in the show, as well as a more dominant villain, it allowed for a fair bit of cross-promotion, and a number of crossovers in both the She-Ra and Masters animated series. You never knew when Hordak might pop up in Masters, or He-Man might decide to pay a visit to Etheria in She-Ra's show. It made it all quite interesting, really.

There's also something to be said for the fact that putting Hordak in the Masters show would've made for just too many villains, and Skeletor and Hordak probably would've spent most of their time going up against each other. Toywise, more characters can be a good thing. Storywise for an animated series, it can be a stretch. Look what they did with Transformers...

One of the first questions asked when the Masters of the Universe line returned for the 21st century was, "Is She-Ra going to be part of it?" And based on a response in ToyFare magazine around the time the line first got going, there were no specific plans to introduce She-Ra. There is still a bias against female characters in the action figure world.

However, with the line's future in dispute, and wanting to offer an exclusive figure that basically every collector wanted, apparently someone at Mattel changed their mind.

And for a figure that is essentially part of a toy line whose present status is, at best, a mystery, the good people at Mattel, including, I assume, their masterful (no pun really intended) team of sculptors known as the Four Horsemen, really knocked themselves out on She-Ra!

Although the figure is technically a reworking of Teela, you can't tell very easily. She-Ra has an entirely new head sculpt, a plastic molded skirt, additional armor, and many other special features.

The face-sculpt manages to be both powerful and elegant. The paint work, especially around the eyes, is truly amazing. I have to wonder if this just might have been handled by the girls' department. The figure has rooted hair, blonde and very long. This can't have been easy on a relatively small headsculpt. Granted one of Mattel's strongest lines of all time is Barbie, but this is no Barbie. Among the accessories is a small comb.

She-Ra is wearing a red fabric cape that has been infused with sparkles. Both the chest armor and the sword have faceted, mirrored gemstones in them. This is certainly in keeping with the background of She-Ra, especially with regard to the sword. She-Ra also comes with a small shield. Additional armor pieces have been placed on the boots, which are really the only "obvious" connection to the Teela figure. It's worth noting that two different shades of gold paint are used on this figure.

There's a bit of background information on the figure's box, which is pretty much a summary of the character's original origin. "Years ago, Princess Adora was stolen away from Eternia by the Evil Horde. She grew into a strong and beautiful woman, but remained unaware of her secret past. That is until the day she lifted her magic sword in the air and called upon the power of Grayskull. It was then that she fulfilled her true destiny: to be SHE-RA, siter of HE-MAN, and the most powerful woman in the universe."

Shorn of a lot of the storyline details, that's pretty accurate, although technically, Adora's cry to become She-Ra was "For the honor of Grayskull", as opposed to Prince Adam's, "By the power of Grayskull", which transforms him into He-Man.

One curious note about the packaging -- if this figure is a convention exclusive, never to be made available at retail, then why is there a UPC product bar code on the bottom of the box...? I'm tempted to take this box into a Target, wave it under one of their price scanners, and see what happens...

About the only complaint I have about this figure is that she does not stand up easily. The flexible plastic skirt does not allow for a lot of leg-posing, and the position of the feet are such that they can't really be moved into a point where the figure will stand. Teela's outfit was different and did not include a skirt, so she can be stood more readily. Apparently Mattel was aware of this, because the box even reads, "Figure cannot stand alone as shown". However, it's not impossible, either. When I took She-Ra out to the uneven surface outdoors that is my usual place for photographing Masters figures -- well, I wish they were all that easy to stand up.

I strongly recommend the He-Store through He-Man.Org for acquiring She-Ra. I also recommend He-Man.Org as the single best Masters fan site out there. However, I have noticed that a few other online stores have also acquired She-Ra figures. However you purchase her, if you're any sort of Masters of the Universe fan at all, you will most definitely want SHE-RA. There is no way in the world you will be disappointed with this figure. I hope this isn't the last Masters figure. I hope we get figures from those scupts that mysteriously turned up at the San Diego ComiCon and Wizard World Chicago. But if She-Ra does turn out to be, unfortunately, the last new Masters figure, at least the line certainly went out on a high note!

Thank you, Mattel, for SHE-RA!