REVIEW: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS FROSTA
"Female action figures don't sell!" That's one of the frequent clarion cries from manufacturers in the action figures world (and probably retailers), which is why one seldom sees very many female characters in otherwise male-dominated concepts. It may also explain why those same female characters tend to take on a level of prominence in any media tie-ins related to those same concepts. Regardless of what may or may not "sell" in the toy aisles, producers of media entertainment like a certain amount of variety. As such, characters such as Scarlett and the Baroness are going to be strongly featured in G.I. Joe, Teela and Evil-Lyn are going to get plenty of air time in Masters of the Universe, and Transformers pretty much invented Arcee out of the ether, even though there was categorically no toy of her at the time, nor would there be for years.
But once, Mattel decided to go against this trend, and see what would happen. It was a spin-off line from their hugely popular Masters of the Universe concept. Research had somehow determined that girls were playing with these action figures, doubtless alongside their brothers who had begged for the likes of He-Man, Skeletor, and Castle Grayskull. Precisely what the appeal to girls here was is anybody's guess. Let's face it, Castle Grayskull was an impressive playset, but nobody was going to mistake it for a Barbie Dream House.
Maybe Teela and Evil-Lyn had done their jobs even better than expected. Whatever the case, Mattel decided to see how they could further this involvement. It's no great secret that at the time, with the exception of Masters of the Universe, Mattel wasn't exactly known for action figures, or even for having a great history with them. Their two previous hits in the category, Major Matt Mason in the 1960's, and Big Jim in the 1970's, had long since vanished from toy stores (although Big Jim continued for quite some time in Europe). With a decided action figure hit in the Masters, it made sense to see how it could be carried on, even if it meant carrying it in an unusual direction -- like close to the girls' toys aisle, which was certainly dominated by one of Mattel's long-running hits, Barbie.
Thus, He-Man was given a sister, or rather, He-Man's alter ego was. Her name was Adora, and she had been kidnapped in infancy by Hordak, and spirited away to the planet Etheria, which was now under his cruel dominion. In the theatrically-released animated movie, "He-Man and She-Ra: Secret of the Sword", the Sorceress dispatched He-Man to Etheria to seek out Adora, who was working for Hordak under a magical spell, and ultimately, convey upon her powers similar to his own. She became She-Ra, the most powerful woman in the universe -- and went on to lead the Great Rebellion of Etheria against the ruling forces of Hordak!
The animated series, "She-Ra: Princess of Power" took an interesting direction. Since the toy line was almost entirely female, with the lone exception of Bow, playing "Ken" to She-Ra's "Barbie", it was decided to introduce some characters from the Masters of the Universe line, specifically Hordak and his Evil Horde, figures that had been developed for the Masters line as a new enemy force separate from Skeletor and his evil warriors. This lent a sense of continuity between the two concepts that technically already existed, even if the two toy lines weren't really compatible with one another. I'm sure Mattel had no objection to the cross-promotion.
The original animated series ran for two seasons, totaling an impressive 93 episodes, from 1985 through 1986. Although She-Ra never appeared in either the "New Adventures of He-Man" series, nor the 2002 Masters of the Universe animated series, there were plans to introduce the character and at least some of the other characters from the concept had the 2002 animated series continued, and there was a She-Ra figure offered as a special convention exclusive during the 2002-era action figure line.
When Masters of the Universe returned as the flagship line for Mattel's new online service, MattyCollector.Com, one of the questions that rather quickly arose was, "Will She-Ra be a part of this?" The irony is not lost here. Just as girls playing with their brothers' Masters of the Universe figures led to the development of the She-Ra line in the first place, so longtime Masters fans were hopeful that the character and her friends and enemies would be a part of this new Masters of the Universe Classics action figure line.
And indeed, so it has been. The line has been staggeringly all-encompassing, including characters from the original Masters, the 2002 series, the New Adventures, She-Ra, Filmation characters, and a number of new faces, now all presented in one huge, nicely compatible action figure line, for the very first time.
Somewhat oddly, Adora was introduced first, looking as though she'd stepped right out of the animated series. She-Ra soon followed, and was subsequently followed by any number of others, including Catra, also looking very much as she did in the animated series, Bow, finally bulked up to Masters proportions, and others, including the never-released Star Sisters, and the never-produced Shadow Weaver character.
And now, we have another addition from the world of She-Ra, and her name is FROSTA.
Since the She-Ra toys, much like Masters of the Universe, were given little backstory when they were first released, unlike the "file cards" of Hasbro's G.I. Joe, or the "Tech Specs" of their Transformers toys, and since I'd like to save Frosta's new bio card until later in the review, let's see what some online research, mostly pertaining to the character's appearances in the animated series, has to say about her.
Frosta is a valuable member of the Rebellion. She is the reigning Queen of Castle Chill in the Kingdom of Snows, an area located at the northernmost pole of Etheria. This area of Etheria has only been attacked once by the Horde, possibly because of the extreme temperature there. Most of Frosta's people hold a great hatred for the Selkies, a race of seal-like humanoids who live in Galacia, near her own homeland who once warred against them. Frosta however, does not share her people's mistrust of them. When the Horde arrived, these two races called a truce to their feud, to unite against them. Frosta is able to lower her external and internal body temperature without harm to herself, thereby radiating intense cold from her body, most often as laser-like beams from her hands. Frosta is able to reach -105 degrees Fahrenheit within a few seconds, and is immune to sub-zero temperatures around her. In addition, she can freeze any moisture in the air around her into unusually hard ice, and thereby form simple objects such as slides, ladders, and shields. She can also freeze objects enough they will shatter when touched or simply localize a small area with snow. She also develops a crush on He-Man, who seems sometimes embarrassed due to her flirtatious behavior.
Well, that's what happens when you just put in occasional guest appearances...
So, how's the figure? Extremely impressive, but also well worth a comparison to her original counterpart.
Here's the thing about the original Princess of Power line. Mattel was essentially trying to create an action figure line for girls -- something that hadn't really been attempted before. Now, common knowledge said that a typical action figure line, that is, that would logically most appeal to boys, should feature highly-articulated, highly-detailed figures. Although Masters wasn't all that articulated, it was certainly well-detailed. And if you look at Hasbro's G.I. Joe, whether you're talking about the 12" or 3-3/4" line, they were certainly well-articulated -- and looked it, as well. Visible articulation points were apparent throughout the figure.
Girls, on the other hand, when it came to their -- well, I'll use the word -- dolls, seemed somewhat less concerned about their pretend friends being highly articulated, and instead wanted them to look good. And visible articulation points, plastic pegs and metal rivets, didn't look that good. Especially not if you're going to be hanging out around the pool of your Dream House in a bikini. So generally speaking, articulation points were cut in favor of looking good in swimwear, and being able to get your rooted hair styled by a seven year old who was probably going to brush it out so often that sooner or later, regardless of how good Barbie looked in a neon pink swimsuit, her hair looked like she stuck her finger in an electrical socket.
With She-Ra and her friends, Mattel more or less had to split the difference between action figures and dolls. And that can't have been the easiest task in the world to accomplish. Need it be said that the bizarre creatures and odd life-forms that populated Eternia, and as such the Masters of the Universe line, were pretty much out the door. Probably another reason why the Horde was brought in for the animated series. Everybody in the She-Ra line looked pretty much human. There weren't even any oddball skin colors. The characters were notable for unusual powers and abilities, which were reflected in their accessories, as much as anything, and/or their wardrobes, but the Princess of Power line was not one of strange and frightening creatures.
Additionally, the Princess of Power line took several other cues from the "doll" side of the fence. The figures were not as highly detailed in their physiques or their overall features. They were still nicely made, don't get me wrong. But how they look doesn't hold up all that well today, and they don't even compare that well to their Masters' contemporaries.
Secondly, the female figures at least, all had actual rooted hair. This was no great surprise, any more than it was any great surprise that the lone male in the line, Bow, didn't have actual hair. Mattel definitely gave these doll-figured a wide range of hair colors, including some not normally found in nature, although most of them can probably be found in wigs and oddball hair coloring kits these days.
Thirdly, at least some of the costumes on the figures were made of fabric of one sort or another. The figures were arguably too small, about the same height as a Masters of the Universe figure at the time, and as such barely half the height of a Barbie, to be given complete fabric costumes, but various aspects and accessories of the costumes could be produced from different types of fabric.
As such, the original Frosta has a very doll-like face, rooted blue hair, and a fabric cape and skirt. And as such, the original Frosta fits in very nicely with the original Princess of Power line of figures.
But hey -- this is Masters of the Universe Classics now. We're not doing rooted hair or cutesy stuff. Okay, one of the Star Sisters comes with a sparking pink bird. At least it's a hawk or a falcon or something, okay? Apart from that, we're not doing any cutesy stuff.
I'm convinced that the Four Horsemen, the design and sculpting studio responsible for the Masters line, has been taking as many cues from the classic animated series -- both of them -- as possible. And this is a good thing, Let's face it, the original Masters of the Universe line had some interesting notion about bodily proportions. Sure, they were muscular as anything, but what was up with those little bow-legs? The Classics line certainly rectified this, with far more agreeable bodily proportions, and certainly better articulation.
And on the She-Ra side of things, "cute" and "doll-like" has given way to something more along the lines of, "Yeah, we know we were once part of a girls' line, and we didn't have any weird monsters or whatever. Now, we're back, we're part of the Masters -- wanna make something of it?" We've definitely gone from hair-brushing and skirt-straightening to name-taking and sword-swinging.
Frosta is a superb example of this. She has a superbly sculpted face, with an entirely serious, even somewhat angry expression on her face. Her sculpted hair is amazing. This is an area where the Four Horsemen truly excel. Anything requiring really fine, natural looking details -- hair, fur, feathers, that sort of thing -- you'll find the best detailed work you can ask for right here. Frosta's hair is relatively straight, and flows down her back about to her waist. Although it's a little hard to tell initially, the hair is molded in a transparent blue plastic, which is an interesting effect.
Her costume largely matches her original, but has also been given a more serious look to it. She is wearing a dark blue sleeveless top with jagged, ornate, light blue trim around the edges, looking like elegantly sculpted icicles. An oval-shaped blue gemstone can be seen in the center near the top.
Frosta is wearing an extremely ornate blue belt, that appears to have the sculpted image of a snowflake in the center. This is followed by a somewhat jagged, light blue skirt. She is wearing dark blue leggings, but very high, pale blue boots, that are also jagged at the tops. And she has light blue gloves, and a blue cape that looks like she raided the Batcave to get it.
One thing that impresses me about this figure is the number of distinctive parts. The costume top, the belt and skirt, and even the upper legs with their distinctive boots, all had to be designed specifically for this figure, and they were done so exceptionally well. Most of the other parts could have come from common molds, and probably did. Personally, I greatly admire and appreciate both the consistency, and the distinctiveness, all rolled into the same figure.
I like the color scheme. Multiple shades of blue, all of them quite cool on the spectrum, as is appropriate to the character, are used here. Really, the only other colors one sees are Frosta's natural skin tone, and a bit of red lipstick. Even Frosta's eyes are a pale blue. Her eyebrows are a sort of gray-brown. Interesting choice.
Naturally, the figure is superbly well-articulated. She is poseable at the head -- although the hair is a hindrance to this -- arms, upper arm swivels, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, knees, and ankles.
Frosta comes with two accessories -- a small, transparent blue shield, and a staff with a transparent blue ornament at the top that looks like a large pinwheel. There will be more about this when I outline Frosta's backstory from her package bio.
Any complaints? None. Now, I do want to clarify one point. It's been mentioned, and Mattel has acknowledged this, that the lower arms of Frosta were put on in reverse. That is, the left lower arm should've been the right one, and vice versa. Apparently this is the second time this has happened recently. It happened a few months ago with Stinkor, but I didn't catch that because the paintwork was correct, and the furry detailed obscured the musculature slightly.
On Frosta, it's not that bad, because the female figures aren't given the same musculature detail as the male figures. If you know about it, you can sort of see it. And it IS a quality control issue that Mattel needs to correct, especially since this is the second time it's happened. What the saying about, "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me?"
If this had happened to anybody other than a female figure like Frosta, or a male furry figure like Stinkor, I think it would've been pretty glaring. But I'm inclined to cut both figures a certain amount of slack, as long as this sort of thing doesn't happen again.
As such, for myself, I have no complaints about Frosta. She is an extremely impressive figure.
Here is her backstory as presented on the back of her package:
The beautiful and exotic friend of She-Ra, Mackenzie is queen of the Kingdom of Snows, high in the mountains of Etheria. She possesses a magic wand that whistles like the wind and lets her conjure ice spells and freezing rain against her enemies. This power has given her a reputation as the Ice Empress of Etheria, although she prefers being called Frosta by her friends. With the exception of her magic powers, she is otherwise a normal human female. She is sweet, kind, and loyal to her allies. Together with She-Ra and other members of the Great Rebellion, she traveled through a laser gate to Eternia, joining with the renegade Masters of the Universe in the continued fight against Hordak's tyranny! Frosta freezes her enemies with her magic spells.
Right -- normal human female -- with blue hair. And I wonder where that name "Mackenzie" comes from and if it has any particular meaning within Mattel?
I believe that "magic wand that whistles like the wind" is this staff with the pinwheel-like attachment. It DOES turn, but not really fast enough to imitate a pinwheel. Possibly the original figure came with a staff that did so, I really don't know.
So, what's my final word? I'm sincerely impressed. Mattel and the Four Horsemen have done a superb job of integrating the Princess of Power characters into the Masters of the Universe line most effectively, turning out some amazing figures in the process, and certainly Frosta is one of these. I look forward to seeing more entries from the world of She-Ra as the line continues, and I sincerely believe that any fan of the all-encompassing world of the Masters of the Universe and its assorted spin-offs and sequels will truly enjoy this figure.
The MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of FROSTA, originally from the PRINCESS OF POWER series (just like the sticker on the box says) definitely has my highest recommendation!