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REVIEW: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS ADORA
By Thomas Wheeler

It sounds almost contradictory, but this particular addition to Mattel's amazing line of Masters of the Universe Classics figures is based on a well-known character from the overall concept, who has never before appeared as a figure at all, and who technically represents a toy line other than Masters of the Universe.

The figure in question is ADORA, sometimes known as Princess Adora. She is daughter to King Randor of Eternia, and brother to Prince Adam, who is perhaps better known as He-Man. Princess Adora herself is likely better known as She-Ra, Princess of Power!

Obviously I'll delve into the character in greater detail shortly, but here's ultimately what it comes down to. With the Masters of the Universe action figure line at its height in the mid-1980's, Mattel realized that there were girls that enjoyed the toys just as much as the boys. Precisely how this realization came about I'm not entirely sure, but this was nevertheless the impetus for the creation of something notably unusual in the world of toys -- an action figure line that distinctly emphasized female characters, and was, despite being very obviously an action figure line, directed largely towards girls.

One of those lines is the line between action figures and dolls. Barbie may have had several boyfriends over the years, but nobody expects much "action" out of Ken, and Barbie has had countless incarnations over the decades of her existence. Similarly, the number of female characters in the average action figure line is distinctly minimal. Take a look at G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Although most of the female characters in that line are well-known and fairly prominent -- Scarlett, Baroness, Lady Jaye -- they are also distinctly small in number, not quite reaching the two-digit number as far as distinct characters are concerned (not different editions of the same character), in a line featuring several hundred characters and trooper types.

So for Mattel to develop a female-based action figure line was quite a risk. What's just as amazing is that it actually worked for several years.

Doubtless a strong media presence helped. Adora/She-Ra was introduced in a theatrically-released animated movie from Filmation that featured both He-Man and She-Ra. And during the course of their respective animated series, He-Man and She-Ra made more than a few crossovers into each other's programs. It also likely helped that the main villain in the She-Ra animated series was Hordak, a character specifically released in the Masters of the Universe line. The remaining villains were a split between Horde characters from Masters, and assorted female villains from the She-Ra toy line, which interestingly enough had only ONE prominent MALE figure, a heroic archer named Bow.

These days, She-Ra is considered pretty much part of the Masters universe, which is not an unfair description. She actually made it into the 2002 Masters of the Universe action figure line, as a convention exclusive. They even gave her real rooted hair.

But there has never -- not in the original Princess of Power action figure line, nor in the 2002 Masters of the Universe line -- been an action figure of She-Ra's "secret identity" -- Adora.

How sought after did this figure turn out to be? Word is that she sold out on MattyCollector.Com in 27 minutes. That's not a typo. Twenty-seven minutes. Tickets to WrestleMania don't sell out that fast. In fact, no previous Masters of the Universe Classics figure has sold out that fast. This is even more remarkable when you consider that the production runs on these figures have been increased since the days when somebody might well sell out in, say -- an hour-and-a-half.

So, who is Adora? Well, apart from being She-Ra, she does have a distinct identity of her own. However, snipping through that on Wikipedia proved to be an interesting challenge, since the entries for Adora and She-Ra were one and the same. But I'll give it a hopefully well-edited shot.

Princess Adora is the alter ego of She-Ra, and the twin sister of Prince Adam (He-Man). She was intended to appeal to young girls in the same way that He-Man appealed to young boys.

She is introduced in the animated movie "The Secret of the Sword" as Force Captain Adora, an agent of the Evil Horde that rules the planet Etheria. She discovers that she is the long-lost sister of Prince Adam of Eternia, having been stolen by the Horde's leader, Hordak, as a baby. She is granted the Sword of Protection, which parallels He-Man's Sword of Power, gaining the power to transform into She-Ra, Princess of Power.

King Randor and Queen Marlena of Eternia had been blessed with twins, a girl they named Adora, and a boy, named Adam. At the time of the twins' birth, the Evil Horde had tried to invade Eternia. The Horde were unable to beat The Royal Guard or the Power of Castle Grayskull.

Their leader Hordak, along with his pupil Skeletor plotted to kidnap the twins because of "something" the twins were destined for (though Hordak did not know exactly what). Hordak was able to successfully kidnap Adora, but they were confronted by Man-At-Arms before the boy could be taken. Hordak escaped, leaving Skeletor behind. As payback, Skeletor revealed to Man-At-Arms that the Horde were based at Snake Mountain, and Man-At-Arms went with the Sorceress to retrieve Adora. When confronted, Hordak ran through a portal into another dimension, which closed up before they could follow.

Adora was raised under the care of a Horde servant called Shakra, who was able to provide Adora with some goodness during her early life. When Adora was old enough to begin to serve the Horde, Hordak had Shadow Weaver put Adora under a spell so that she would follow the Horde and not question their ruling methods. Hordak saw great potential in Adora and made her the Force Captain of The Horde.

On Eternia, the Sorceress begins having strange dreams reminding her of the time when Adora was taken from the royal nursery. She awakes to find a sword floating above her bed. She sees that the Sword is similar to Prince Adam's sword that she had given to him not long ago. The sword seems to beckon to the Sorceress, so she rises from her slumber and follows the sword through the passages of Castle Grayskull. The sword stops before a door which opens to reveal a previously unopened portal, and the Sorceress knows the time has come and summons Adam and Cringer to the Castle. When Adam arrives at the Castle she explains that the time has come for the sword to be claimed by its rightful owner, with this Adam and Cringer walk through the portal into a lush green forest.

The planet they travel to is called Etheria. Adam and Cringer travel to the village of Thaymor. At the inn they stop for lunch, but Horde Troopers enter and cause trouble. Adam confronts them, Bow joins him and they beat the Troopers. Adam and Bow return to The Whispering Woods, and Bow says that Adam is an ally to The Great Rebellion. Later when Adam tells The Rebellion that they should fight The Horde, they head off to Bright Moon. The rebels begin their fight with The Horde, and appear to be near to defeat, until He-Man arrives.

Adora flees and He-Man follows her. He confronts her in a room with the sword the Sorceress gave him. The sword begins to glow, and He-Man realizes that the sword is meant for her. He is then knocked out by a Horde laser and Adora picks up the sword and He-Man is taken to the Horde prison on Beast Island.

Adora visits He-Man in his prison cell and tells him that she feels drawn to the sword, as if it were made especially for her. He-Man confirms this, but tells her it is for a person who fights on the side of good. Adora responds by telling him that she serves The Horde, the lawful rulers of Etheria. He tells her she is wrong and to go and discover for herself the evil acts that are being carried out against the innocent people of Etheria. She tells him he is mistaken and she leaves the island with her steed Spirit to prove him wrong.

While riding through the villages of Etheria, Adora discovers that He-Man is correct and that The Horde rule with brutal tyranny. Adora rides back to the Fright Zone, where she challenges Hordak and Shadow Weaver with the truth. She tells them she has seen for herself that The Horde are cruel rulers. Shadow Weaver discovers that the sword Adora is carrying is somehow weakening her own magic. She puts Adora into a magic-induced stupor and takes the sword.

Adora awakens from her slumber without the memories of the previous day's events. Later that day, she and The Horde capture rebels and place them in a glass chamber which will drain their energy to power Hordak's new invention. He-Man sneaks into the Fright Zone disguised as a Horde Trooper. When he asks her if she now knew the truth about The Horde she arrests him and Hordak takes him to drain his energy. Adora expresses her dislike of this, but Shadow Weaver uses her magic once again. Later that night an echoing voice wakes Adora, once more she silently walks into the room where He-Man is being drained of his energy. She is drawn to the sword again. The face of a woman appears in the jewel embedded in the sword. The woman is the Sorceress. She reveals to Adora that she was kidnapped by The Horde when she was a baby and that she had a twin brother. When it is revealed that He-Man is her twin brother she is amazed. The Sorceress tells her "For the honor of Grayskull", then her image vanishes from the stone.

Adora lifts up the sword and repeats the Sorceress' last words, in a swirl of lights and magic she is transformed into She-Ra. She releases He-Man from his chains and gives his sword back to him. With the sword in his possession again his energy is restored by the sword's magic, while He-Man battles the Troopers She-Ra jumps from a window and crashes into the Horde stables and lands atop Spirit. The magic that transformed Adora also changes Spirit into Swift Wind, a winged unicorn. They fly ahead to warn The Rebellion. He-Man fights Hordak and She-Ra comes to help. Both safe, She-Ra tells a stunned He-Man that she is his sister.

He-Man is amazed that he has a sister. She-Ra tells him about the woman she saw in the sword. He-Man realizes she means the Sorceress and uses She-Ra's sword to summon her. She appears to them and explains everything. She-Ra cries when she finds out what happened when she was taken from her true family, and she and He-Man hug. Adam and Adora return to the rebel camp and Bow thinks that Adam had captured the Horde captain. Adam informs him that Adora is his sister and she was being controlled by Shadow Weaver's evil spells. Adora announces that she would like to join the rebels in their fight against the Horde.

Later, Adora feels she can now return to Eternia for a time. She, Adam and Cringer pass through the portal back to Eternia. Hordak sees them and follows. Adora and Adam arrive in Castle Grayskull and the Sorceress takes them to the Royal Palace. Randor and Marlena are overjoyed at the return of their daughter.

While the Royal family rejoice that their family is finally together again, Hordak and Skeletor attack and take Adora prisoner again. She tricks Beast Man and taking her sword transforms into She-Ra. She battles Webstor and defeats Skeletor.

Later at the palace Adora tells her parents she must return to Etheria so that she can help free the planet from Horde oppression. They are saddened by this decision but understand that this is what Adora must do.

Adora, having been trained by the Horde her entire life, assumes leadership of the Great Rebellion. The epic battle to free Etheria from the grip of the Evil Horde rages on, spreading across the corners of the planet.

So, how's the figure? Let me put it this way. On the Wikipedia entry for She-Ra, there is an image of Adora, taken directly from the animated series. This Adora figure looks like she stepped right out of the animation and into three-dimensional plastic form.

About the only thing the figure doesn't have is rooted hair, but who cares? Honestly, while rooted hair may work for larger-scale dolls such as Barbie, it's honestly not that effective on smaller scales. Fine with me. At least I know her hairstyle will stay put.

I wasn't kidding when I said she looked like she stepped right out of the animated series. The uniform is fairly straightforward in design, and featured a red tunic with slightly flared shoulders and some tan trim over the shoulders. Adora's uniform has a white front and neck, and white sleeves. She has high red sleeve cuffs, almost gauntlets, really, and a black belt with a gold buckle. She also has a second belt with a holster. Add to this red boots with flared tops and you've got it.

I'm convinced that Adora's design was intended to come close to duplicating Prince Adam's traditional garb, while looking more like a semi-military uniform. Prince Adam also wore a red tunic -- although it tended to be colored a sort of dark pink -- with a white long sleeved shirt underneath it, and pale purple leggings. Adora doesn't have the leggings, which is pretty amusing, since they'd probably look better on her.

However, there is a certain similarity between the two that I'm convinced was deliberate. And while I can't confirm this, I'm reasonably certain that the design for Adora likely came from Filmation, rather than Mattel (although if this was the case I'm sure that Mattel had approval), since (a) there never was an Adora figure in the original Princess of Power line, and (b) she's really not fancy-looking enough to have fit into that toy line anyway.

Action figure line it may have been, but the Princess of Power series didn't tend to skimp on the decorative aspects of it.

As one would expect, articulation is superb. This was one thing that the Princess of Power toy line had in common with its more masculine counterpart, and which was carried over to the 2002 Masters line -- rather limited articulation. If there's one thing I'm pleased to see tossed out the portal... especially when the design is so superb -- thank you, Four Horsemen!

Adora is poseable at the head (somewhat -- the hair is a hindrance), arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, legs, knees, boot tops, and ankles.

Paint work is excellent, although by nature of the design of the character, it's relatively minimal. However, there is certainly no shortage of painted detail on the face, and this has been superbly carried out. Eyes, eyelashes, eyebrows, lipstick, and a few teeth visible in a slightly open mouth. All have been very neatly painted. The overall design of the face is superb. The expression is serious without being grim. Sometimes I wonder if a female face is harder to sculpt than a male one. I would think it might be, but in any case, the job that the Four Horsemen carried out on Adora is superb.

The most detailed part of her uniform is likely the second bolt, that has the pistol holster on it. It has a more leather-like look, with a gold buckle in the back, and some gold trim and decoration on the holster. It MAY be removable, but I'm not planning to find out the hard way that it wasn't supposed to be. It is, at least, a separate piece.

As to her accessories, Adora comes with a small pistol, which is quite likely the smallest accessory I've yet seen in the Masters of the Universe Classics line. I personally recommend stashing it either very securely in the holster on the figure, or in a Ziploc bag.

She also comes with her sword, which looks like a somewhat more slender version of He-Man's sword, but with a blue jewel in the center. This has been very nicely crafted, in silver plastic, with the blue jewel -- one on each side, actually -- separately made from a very bright transparent blue plastic.

She does have a full character profile on the back of the package card. It's more or less a summation of the character's history in accordance with the animated series, but with a few other details to better merge the character with the Masters concept and history as it presently stands. It reads as follows:

ADORA - Leader in the Great Rebellion

REAL NAME: Adora of the House of Randor

When Adors and her twin brother Adam were born, the Sorceress recognized they were the twins prophesied to wield the Power of Grayskull. She therefore magically clones the Sword of He, enhancing it with the Stone of Protection so that each twin could have a key to unlock the Power. But Hordak also learned of the twins and arranged for his Eternian pupil Skeletor to abduct the infants. Man-At-Arms prevented Adam from being taken, but Adora was stolen away to the planet of Etheria deep in the Dimension of Despondos. There she was raised by Hordak, until the day her brother returned, handing her her sword which she held aloft to become She-Ra, the most powerful woman in the universe!

One additional, and in my opinion very interesting, packaging note, is that on the front of the package, on the plastic case, along with the expected "Masters of the Universe Classics" logo, is a sticker lower on the card, with the original "Princess of Power" logo. Hard to miss, too, since it's in its original color of yellow-orange and purple up against the more subdued background of the Masters package. Boy, does this thing look 80's. Still, it's nice to have it on there.

The artwork on the bio card is interesting, as well. It has a far less "rough" look to it than those of the Masters' characters. It almost looks like it's somewhere between the animated series and a storybook image. Most of the artwork that has appeared on the character cards has been designed to look like it came from the original mini-comics. Well, to the best of my knowledge, the Princess of Power line never had those, and a slightly different art style is not inappropriate.

So, what's my final word here? Now, I'm not going to say it'll be easy to track down this figure. Like I said at the top of the review -- it sold out in twenty-seven minutes. It took me about seven of those just to get past MattyCollector.Com's automatically-refreshing "hold" screen to order mine. But, as I tend to say on any number of toys that I would like to own that are either off the initial market or otherwise hard to find -- it exists. That means it's not impossible to acquire. Difficult, perhaps, but not impossible.

And if you're at all a fan of Masters of the Universe, then you really will want to add this figure to your collection. Will we get She-Ra? I can't imagine that we won't at some point. In the meantime, here is the first-ever figure of Adora, She-Ra's secret identity. Even He-Man got an Adam figure before this. And it's an exceptionally impressive figure in an already exceptionally impressive action figure line.

The MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of ADORA most definitely has my highest recommendation!