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REVIEW: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE 30th ANNIVERSARY CLASSICS CY-CHOP
By Thomas Wheeler

Some years ago, there was this movie, called "Edward Scissorhands". You've probably heard of it, and maybe even seen it. In the movie, the title character, played by a very pre-Pirates of the Caribbean Johnny Depp, is an artificial man brought into existence by a crackpot scientist who for whatever bizarre reason has given his creation temporary hands made from a wide variety of cutting implements.

I've heard of working with whatever's available, but come on, already. Unfortunately, just as the scientist is about to attach a pair of far more human-looking hands to his oddball creation, he dies, leaving the hands skewered and useless on the ends of the blades that this character is now forced to live with. He has to go make his way in the world attached to more cutlery at the ends of his wrists than a Ginsu steak knife commercial.

Personally, I found the movie ridiculous. But the saddest and most horrific scene in the entire film for me was that scene of those perfectly normal, human hands, skewered and danging useless at the ends of those knife hands. Now, I realize that the very title of the movie, "Edward Scissorhands", means that this guy is going to be stuck with the blades. He's not going to get the hands. But that one scene -- that one scene from the movie stayed with me.

I suppose part of my reaction to it is -- I am very reliant on my hands for my work. I typed this review -- and every other one you read in this section of MasterCollector. I have been a graphic artist, before I sort of got out-technologized from that job. I sometimes have to touch up the paint or otherwise repair some of my action figures. And I'm one of the neatest hand-letterers you could ask for. Ask anybody who's ever received a package from me in the mail. All of these things require a good pair of hands in proper working order.

I know there are people in this world who have lost the use, or even entirely lost, one or both of their hands, and they find ways to get by. I think it would be a horrible struggle for me to do so. So something like that scene in "Edwards Scissorhands", as ridiculous as the concept and the movie was, didn't sit well with me.

What's all this got to do with reviewing the latest entry in the Masters of the Universe Classics 30th Anniversary Collection? Well, with the addition of this new character named CY-CHOP, it looks like the Masters universe has its own version of Edward Scissorhands -- except I think even Eddie would be hard-pressed to compete with what this guy is waving around at the ends of his wrists.

2012 was the 30th Anniversary of the Masters of the Universe concept, and to celebrate, Mattel has crafted a special adjunct to their amazing and highly popular Masters of the Universe Classics action figure line, a series of six figures, with very unusual backgrounds.

The first figure out of the gate was Fearless Photog, a character created some 25 years ago by one Nathan Bitner, who won the "Create a Character" contest held for the original Masters of the Universe line. The character was supposed to be turned into an action figure, but the Masters of the Universe line came to an abrupt end before Photog could be made. Hey, better late than never.

Subsequent figures have included Draego-Man, designed by the Four Horsemen, the sculpting and design studio responsible for the amazing figures crafted for Masters of the Universe, as well as DC Universe; The Mighty Spector, a character designed by Mattel's Scott Neitlich when he was a kid; and Sir Laser-Lot, an individual designed by DC Comics' Geoff Johns.

Now, we have CY-CHOP. Cy-Chop is the creation of Terry Higuchi, one of Mattel's top designers, who works on the Masters of the Universe Classics line. His name has already appeared in the Masters line, as it was the designation for the rifle that came with the San Diego Comic-Con "Captain Glenn" figure, also known to us as Queen Marlena.

Since Cy-Chop is an entirely new character, although I tend to save the character bios, printed on the back of the package cards on an elegant scroll, in this case, I'm going to present it now, since it's really the only information we have on the character:

CY-CHOP
Evil Horde Bounty Hunter
Real Name: Scychor

Originally a partner with Kronis, Scychor roamed the galaxy as a mercenary and professional thief. Eventually Kronis betrayed his friend, throwing Scychor from a Boa Jet while escaping from Horse Patrol Units. Falling hundreds of feet to the surface of a small moon, Scychor was healed by rogue scientists by preserving his organs in a robotic chest and his brain in a cyborg skull. After serving the scientists for twenty years, he became a freelance bounty hunter, willing to steal, kill, or betray anyone for the right price. During the Second Ultimate Battleground, Cy-Chop was hired by Hordak to bolster his forces against the Snake Men and Masters of the Universe. Using his robotic scissor blades, Cy-Chop strikes out, but only for the right price!

And, indeed, Cy-Chop's only official "media" appearance is on the Second Ultimate Battleground, as seen in the third issue of the recent mini-comics produced by Dark Horse Comics. That third issue was packaged with Dragon Blaster Skeletor.

So, how's the figure? Well, very interesting, if you study him close enough. Obviously, in the world of toymaking, it pays to reuse parts whenever possible. Both the Masters of the Universe Classics and DC Universe Classics/Signature Series lines take considerable advantage of this philosophy. This lends a level of consistency to both lines that I sincerely appreciate.

Ask any toy company executive. The single most expensive part of toymaking is creating new molds. The fewer that have to be made, the less expensive the figure will be to produce. There are surprisingly few entirely new parts in Cy-Chop to result in such an unusual-looking figure. That's not a criticism. I'm impressed.

The head is entirely new. It's painted entirely in silver. The face is quite human-looking. There's something of a Destro riff going on here, really. Destro, as I'm sure most of you reading this know, is one of the most popular enemy characters in the G.I. Joe concept. An enemy weapons supplier, he works mostly for Cobra, but generally has a better sense of personal honor than most of them. Unlike Cobra Commander, who frequently wears a helmet with a featureless silver faceplate,. Destro wears a ceremonial helmet that has human features. It's been shown in both the animated series and comic book that the features of the helmet move with Destro's own face. In more recent times, this has been explained reasonably well as being accomplished through nano-technology.

It may be reasonable to assume that Cy-Chop has a similar capability, since his lone appearance in the mini-comic shows his mouth open in a grimace. The figure's mouth is closed. Granted, that's speculation based on a single comic panel, but what the heck. Frankly, the face even looks more than a little bit like Destro.

The rest of the helmet -- not so much. There are angled armor plates on the sides of the face, and the ears are covered by raised circular discs. There's a short ridge rising up from the bridge of the nose that goes up over the forehead to the top of the head, and most notably, two short horns out to either side. There's two little knobs at the end of the horns.

The eyes have been painted a metallic blue, but the rest of the head is entirely silver. This tapers into a silver ridged neck, which then merges with a transparent torso whose origins are readily apparent -- it's Roboto's.

Roboto is one of the more interesting Masters of the Universe characters. He first appeared in the original line, and also had a 2002 incarnation. This robotic individual is known for a distinctive transparent torso, within which a series of colorful gears can be seen, and they turn when the figure's torso or arms move. This feature has been present in all of Roboto's figure versions, including his Classics version, but obviously, the figure required a unique torso -- not to mention all those internal gears. And Roboto just wasn't a figure whose torso could be used on anyone else.

Until now, of course. On Cy-Chop, the torso has been molded in a transparent blue, rather than clear. And he doesn't have Roboto's internal gears. Remember that line from the character profile, that the scientists who repaired him preserved his organs in a robotic chest? Well, there's a sort of mechanical-looking disc in the top of the torso, but the rest of the torso, around the abdomen, has this rather mushy-looking pink -- stuff -- in it. It doesn't move when the figure is moved -- thank goodness -- but this is obviously intended to be what's left of Cy-Chop's internal organs.

Is it just me, or is this just a bit General Grievous here, that wheezing, coughing cyborg who made Jedis lives so miserable during the Clone Wars in the Star Wars saga?

Cy-Chops legs, and his upper arms, are definitely not robotic. Within the story, the scientists who rebuilt Cy-Chop must have had some impressive knowledge in grafting organics to technology. Cy-Chop is seriously piecemeal in this respect. Cy-Chop's legs and upper arms are furry! They're the same pieces used. Most notably, on Beast Man and Stratos, but they've turned up on a number of other figures, as well, over the course of the line, and their use here certainly sets Cy-Chop apart from Roboto, and the dark turquoise color of the limbs also sets them well apart from any previous use of these particular limbs.

Cy-Chop has the standard furry loincloth of many of the Masters figures, and in Cy-Chop's case, that loincloth is brown. The belt that is part of the lower torso mold has been painted a dark gray-blue, with yellow highlights. However, Cy-Chop is wearing a second, wider belt, over the one that's part of the body piece. This belt is orange, coming to an upper and lower point in the center, with small, rivet-like indentations along the perimeter, two loops on the sides, and a gold Horde emblem in the middle.

The belt is extremely similar to that worn by another character -- Trap Jaw. This is no great surprise if you consider the fact that Trap Jaw's real name is Kronis, Cy-Chop's former partner in crime and mayhem.

The belt, however, is not identical. Trap Jaw's belt curves upwards and downwards in the middle. It doesn't come to points. The rivet pattern is different, and Trap Jaw's belt has a skull and crossbones in the middle. It probably would have been possible to modify the Trap Jaw belt with a Horde emblem, but this is not what was done Cy-Chop's belt is entirely new.

Then there's the distinctive part of Cy-Chop from which he earns his name, and my Edward Scissorhands comparison. Cy-Chop has these distinctive, tech-looking lower arms, that culminate in rotating wrists, each of which has two long, vicious-looking, 4-1/2" long blades, which can open and close like scissors -- or maybe a couple of really nasty hedge clippers given their size relative to the figure.

I don't know why this guy is still working as a mercenary, bounty hunter, and whatever. He could make a fortune as a gardener.

Now, remember what I said about the expense of crafting new parts? It's interesting to note that all four of the blades are identical. Now, they're very cool. They're very high-tech in appearance, and very mean-looking. But they're all identical. Granted, I don't know for certain, but that tells me that only one mold needed to be created for all four blades. Fortunately, the overall design works superbly well. The blades are so long that the figure literally can't lower his arms all the way. They'd drag the ground.

A couple of observations. Cy-Chop is slightly shorter than most Masters figures. Not by much, but it is noticeable. I think the reason for this is the use of the Roboto torso. It's not a big deal, but I wanted to mention it.

Now, let me ask -- and try to answer -- a question. Could Cy-Chop have existed in the original Masters of the Universe line -- with those hands? Some of the other figures would be fairly easy fits. Fearless Photog was intended for the original line. Mighty Spector, Sir Laser-Lot, I can see fitting in. Draego-Man might have been a stretch, or at least wouldn't have been nearly as detailed as the masterpiece that the Four Horsemen turned out.

Cy-Chop? Hmmm -- maybe. I suspect his blades might not have been quite as long or lethal-looking, but there was no shortage of swords and other bladed weaponry in the line. And I suspect Cy-Chop could have been produced in the original line much the same way he was produced for this one -- using established parts as much as possible.

The Masters of the Universe line is filled with an amazing range and variety of unusual characters. In many respects, this is what sets it apart from other action figure lines. G.I. Joe was mostly devoted to a relatively realistic, military theme. Transformers was all about robots. ThunderCats focused on the feline-humanoid native of the planet Thundera, as they tried to make a new home on Third Earth.

But Masters of the Universe, for all its basic premise as a fantasy-sword-and-sorcery concept, went a lot farther and wider in the development of its characters than any of the other concepts of the time. In this respect, I am quite certain that Cy-Chop would have been a good fit in the original line, and he's a good fit in the Classics line.

The figure comes with no accessories. I half-expected some normal-looking hands, but he didn't come with any. Once again, there's that comparison to Edward Scissorhands. But I guess if you've got blades like these on the ends of your arms, what else do you need? One can only guess how he agrees to any bounty hunter contracts he takes. I doubt it's with a handshake.

Paintwork is excellent. The figure uses a relatively minimal color scheme, but it's an interesting one. Turquoise, silver, and orange are the dominant colors. I don't recall another Masters of the Universe character offhand that uses this particular color scheme.

Any complaints? Just one. The head has a number of what I call "mold creases" in it. As I understand it, this happens when the plastic is not sufficiently liquefied before being injected into the mold. I've seen this turning up increasingly lately -- the DC Signature Series Rocket Red figure was particularly notorious for this -- and it's really a quality control issue that Mattel needs to deal with. Someone like Cy-Chop can sort of get away with it. But imagine if it had happened on a face like Frosta? Come on, Mattel -- Masters deserves better than this, and so do we collectors.

So, what's my final word here? Cy-Chop is a cool character, and an interesting figure. He's an impressive addition to the concept, he works well within the action figure line, and as a figure, he makes very clever use of both existing and new parts to create a distinctive new character for the Masters of the Universe. And if you're a fan and collector of these superb modern figures, then you'll certainly be pleased with him.

The MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS 30th ANNIVERSARY figure of CY-CHOP definitely has my highest recommendation!