REVIEW: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS DEKKER
I believe it can be very fairly said that some of the choices to be brought into the Masters of the Universe Classics action figure line from Mattel could readily be classified as -- unusual. Not inappropriate, certainly. And the result is generally a very impressive and cool figure, but some of the choices are just a little odd.
Such is the case, I believe, with this individual, by the name of DEKKER. When I first saw this figure's name on the list of upcoming releases, my immediate response was, "Um, who?"
Okay, so I'm not as much of a walking lexicon on Masters of the Universe history as I am on some other concepts. And it's not like there's been any shortage of affiliated media, which I will admit my expertise in is somewhat limited. I essentially paid no attention to the mini-comics. I watched the original Filmation series fairly regularly, but that was quite a long time ago. I watched the She-Ra series occasionally, but not often. I was barely able to stomach the premiere episode of the New Adventures. And while I did enjoy the 2002-era series, I was having some trouble with my Cable TV system at the time that resulted in a picture quality that -- well, I'm pretty sure NASA was getting clearer images from their robotic rovers on Mars. There was only so much of that I could put up with.
So, I was reasonably certain that Dekker was in there somewhere. I didn't believe he was someone that had just been made up by Mattel. Characters like that, such as Draego-Man and Cy-Chop, were reserved for the 30th Anniversary line, to which Dekker did not belong. So, he had to be in the continuity someplace.
As it turns out, Dekker turned up during the 2002-era series. This tends to be rather evident if for no other reason than the illustration of the character that is on his bio card on the back of his package. It's rather obviously from that series, given the design.
And, that bio card is really the best way to get to know the character, so let's see what it has to say.
Originally a mercenary from the Dunes of Doom, Dekker switched sides during one of the early battles of the Great Unrest and fought with King Miro against Marzo's tyranny. His wisdom and courage quickly led to his appointment as Miro's Man-At-Arms, leading and training the royal soldiers. Throughout these battles Dekker took a young prodigy named Duncan under his wing, traveling throughout Eternia, fighting evil together. In time, Dekker retired to Orkas Island, passing his title and duties to his former apprentice and sidekick. Although he now enjoys the simple life of a fisherman, the ever-present forces of evil occasionally call him back to fight for justice alongside the heroic Masters of the Universe.
Duncan, of course, is the real name of Man-At-Arms, and the reference to Marzo would be Count Marzo, a bad guy who had a single appearance in the original Filmation series, but appeared far more often in the 2002-era series, and was produced as an action figure, in his 2002-era likeness, some time back in the Classics line.
As for the episode itself in which Dekker appeared, thanks to the popular Masters fan web site, He-Man.Org, I was able to track down a synopsis written by one James Eatock.
The episode was titled "The Island", and was written by Dean Stefan.
On Orkas Island, two crab creatures known as the Claw Guys, the same species as Clawful, overhear Dekker tell an old man that Man-At-Arms, his former student, is paying him a visit. Claw Guy I sends a coded message to his cousin Clawful in Snake Mountain. A short while later Skeletor delights in the news that he has the perfect opportunity to capture Man-At-Arms.
Meanwhile, Man-At-Arms tells Prince Adam and Teela he is pleased that the pair of them will finally have the chance to meet Dekker. Unbeknownst to those on board, the Claw Guys attempt to board the Water Raider. Approaching an obstacle in the water, Teela manages to jump it, inadvertently losing the Claw Guys.
Arriving on the island Man-At-Arms begins to suspect that there is something wrong, as Dekker does not meet them. Teela notices footprints on the ground, with Man-At-Arms determining that they show signs of a struggle. The three follow the footsteps into a large cavern, Teela rushing ahead much to Man-At-Arms' displeasure. Suddenly Man-At-Arms, Adam and Teela are confronted by the Claw Guys. Adam runs off with a few of the Claw Guys in pursuit, while Man-At-Arms and Teela surrender upon seeing Dekker held hostage.
Man-At-Arms awakens to find himself tied to a rock with his mentor Dekker. Man-At-Arms asks why they have been captured, prompting Claw Guy I to tell him that his cousin Clawful works for Skeletor. Claw Guy I leaves Claw Guy II in charge of the hostages. Man-At-Arms asks Dekker if he remembers the battle on the Isle of Blakely, prompting he and Dekker to start having an argument. Claw Guy II releases Dekker and Man-At-Arms in the hope that they will fight for his amusement. Dekker throws sand in Claw Guy II's eyes and they both knock the villain to the floor.
Dekker explains to the confused Teela that what she just saw was a little strategy they developed back in the old days when they were ambushed by a group of bandits on the Isle of Blakely. Suddenly Dekker, Man-At-Arms and Teela are surrounded by a group of Claw Guys, and at the same moment Adam manages to transform into He-Man.
As Dekker, Man-At-Arms and Teela appear to be defeated, He-Man crashes through the side of a cavern wall. Soon only Claw Guy I remains, and standing atop a rock he summons four giant jellyfish-like creatures, each possessing a lethal toxic sting. The four heroes manage to defeat the creatures, but Man-At-Arms suddenly falls to the ground, realizing one of the spikes did penetrate his armor. Man-At-Arms, finding it harder to speak, utters to someone to "remember lessons."
Dekker, thinking that Man-At-Arms is referring to him, cannot remember the specific lesson that Man-At-Arms is referring to. Teela thinking hard to herself immediately realizes that it was a lesson that Man-At-Arms had taught to her, concerning the antidote for the poison. As He-Man searches for the cure, Man-At-Arms in fragmented sentences tells Teela that he is proud of her, and that even though sometimes he is hard on her, it is only because much is expected of her. Teela embraces her dying father telling him that he means everything to her.
He-Man hurriedly swims back to the island with the cure in hand. Teela pours the liquid within the pod into Man-At-Arms' mouth, and almost immediately he regains his senses. Looking at Claw Guy I, Dekker tells Teela that he has a plan.
Much later, Skeletor and Clawful stand upon a very small remote island waiting for the arrival of Clawful's cousin and Man-At-Arms, not knowing for a second that they have been tricked.
So, how's the figure? Very impressive, and amazingly distinctive for a character that basically had a lone appearance, even if that appearance tied him very closely to the histories of some of the most prominent characters in the concept.
What's especially notable is that Dekker has two different heads. This isn't the first time this has happened in the Masters of the Universe Classics line, of course, but the nature of the heads in this instance is quite interesting. One of them shows Dekker in his battling prime, arguably when he was still active as King Miro's Man-At-Arms. The other head represents an older Dekker, with gray hair, and an eyepatch over his left eye. Somewhere along his career, Dekker obviously paid a rather nasty price for his loyalty to the good guys.
Dekker is black. (I hesitate to use "African-American", since Eternia doesn't have either an Africa or an America.) His younger head has long black hair, combed back from his forehead and tied off in a topknot on the top of his head, with more long hair in the back. He has brown eyes, fairly thick black eyebrows, and a mustache.
The older Dekker head -- well, I have to say that the man has aged well. There's not a lot of wrinkles on his face. He is wearing the patch over his left eye, and there is a considerable scar visible, running partially down that side of his face where the patch is. His hair has turned a very pale gray, although interestingly, the hair and the topknot are the same sculpt as the younger head. His hair is about as long in the back, although he now has two long braids hanging in the front, and his mustache is mow also accompanied by a goatee.
So, which head do I prefer? I'm honestly not sure. He looks decidedly formidable with either one. Arguably, the older head is the more contemporary, and I think it makes the character look a little more distinctive. But really, either one works well, and consider the fact that the time periods covered by the Masters of the Universe Classics line are all over the place these days.
What I find especially remarkable about Dekker, however, isn't the heads. It's the rest of the figure, and the amazing number of distinctive, unique parts that were crafted to bring this character to plastic reality.
As one would expect, for the most part, Dekker uses the established male body of the Masters of the Universe Classics line. However, he is wearing a two-part tunic over the upper and lower torso, and has very unusual boots, that resulted in quite a bit of extra effort for this figure.
Only Dekker's arms are really exposed. His wrists use the standard wristbands of most Masters of the Universe Classics male figures, in this case painted dark blue with light blue borders.
However, his entire upper torso is wrapped in a light olive tunic, designed along the same principles as some of the torso armor that any number of the Masters figures wear, but not looking especially armor-like in this instance. The tunic is accentuated with strips of dark blue straps that go over the shoulders and have light blue borders, and a certain Asian look to them, definitely in keeping with the near-anime style of the 2002-era series. These straps are accentuated by horizontal straps on the front, and combine behind the head into a single wide strap on the back.
Instead of the usual loincloth, the lower torso continues the tunic, with a dark blue fabric-looking belt around his waist, also with light blue borders, and the straps from the torso continue below the waist on both the front and back.
Effectively concealed on the back are the two vertical clasps that hold the tunic in place on the upper torso. The end result is an extremely effective and unique-looking Masters of the Universe Classics figure.
Dekker's legs are molded in a dark olive green, to make it look as though he is wearing green leggings. His legs use the same leg molds that most of the Masters figures use, until we come to the boots.
Dekker is not wearing the standard fur-topped "barbarian boots" that many of the Masters figures have. Instead, his boots appear to be more sophisticated, and more leather-like. They have downturned cuffs at the top, circular clasps in the front, and a small length of laces below the clasps. The feet are ordinary enough, but I've never seen these particular boots before. As far as I can tell, they are unique to Dekker, and who knows when, or if, they'll ever turn up again?
All of the painted detail on this figure is superb, and I would say the amount of it is above average, especially on the tunic. And, of course, the painted detailing on both of the heads is done with great precision and accuracy. Details on the figure, such as buckles on the straps, and the circular clasps on the boots, have been painted extremely well.
Dekker comes with one accessory (other than the second head) -- an orange club identical to the one traditionally carried by Man-At-Arms. Well, now we know where and who he got it from.
Of course, Dekker has the same superb level of articulation as any Masters of the Universe Classics figure, although the tunic does hinder the mid-torso articulation. It's still there, however, and overall, Dekker is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, boot tops, and ankles.
So, what's my final word? Well, once you get past a bit of a "Who's this?" factor, and realize that this character has been carefully integrated into the background of several very prominent characters in the Masters universe -- and was prominently featured in an episode of the most recent television series, you realize that what you have here is an immensely cool and distinctive action figure, and a very worthwhile addition to the Masters of the Universe Classics collection. On the whole, he may not be as prominent or as well-known as some others, including some who have yet to have their turn in this line, but Dekker is still a very cool figure that showcases the considerable talent, imagination, and expertise of the craftsmen at the Four Horsemen, and a willingness on the part of Mattel to add this interesting character to the figure line-up.
The MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS action figure of DEKKER definitely has my highest recommendation!