REVIEW: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS KARATTI
If there is one foundational statement that can be made about the Masters of the Universe Classics line of action figures available from Mattel through their MattyCollector.Com Web Site, it's that you never know which aspect of the Masters universe the next figures are going to come from.
Not only is the original Masters of the Universe concept and all of its characters available for use, but so is She-Ra: Princess of Power, characters created by Filmation for the animated series, the 2002 Masters line, obscure concept materials, and yes, the New Adventures of He-Man.
I'll admit -- I'm not the biggest fan of the New Adventures. The toys were -- adequate, if not especially spectacular. I thought the animated series was distinctly inferior to the Filmation show. And I suppose one thing that really bugged me was the character design. Most of the good guys were human, distinctive only by their costumes, specialties, and whatever built-in features their figures might have. The bad guys, on the other hand, seemed generally uninspired. They were strange, mutant-like creatures, but there wasn't anything all that special about their appearance, for the most part.
Where were the distinctive character designs of the original line? Where were Stratos, Buzz-Off, Mer-Man, Beast Man? Instead, we have a bunch of relatively ordinary-looking guys going up against rejects from a Hollywood monster make-up studio.
Granted, I might have gotten off on a bad start with the animated series. I watched the premiere, but between a radically different animation style that at the time just didn't sit well with me, coupled with the introduction of a trio of "scientists" that seemed to be taking their comedic cues from the Three Stooges, I just didn't think I was going to be able to stick with it. I mean, compared to them, Orko was Shakespearean theater.
And, in fairness, some of the characters were perhaps not all that bad. It was an intentional new direction for the concept, and maybe I just didn't see it as well as I should have. The heroic "Galatic Protectors" still seemed more like a sci-fi, He-Man version of G.I. Joe, and I missed the character diversity. And the bad guys were perhaps a bit more interesting than I thought. Even so, if you're going to name one of your villains "Butthead", don't expect people to take you seriously.
Regardless, the characters have been incorporated into the Masters of the Universe Classics line, and figures have been coming out from time to time. Interestingly enough, the first one was one of the few bad guys from the original line that I thought was decently unique -- Optikk. To date, the only good guy from the line has been Flipshot, renamed Icarius, but I'd like to think we might get Hydron at some point, and maybe a few others.
And we have added a new villain from the Space Mutants to the Classics line, a rather unpleasant-looking fellow who goes by the name of KARATTI.
Let's briefly consider the "New Adventures" concept, how it's been incorporated into the modern Classics concept, and then have a look at this figure.
The New Adventures of He-Man was an animated series which ran in syndication in the fall of 1990 while Mattel released the toy line He-Man. The cartoon series was intended to be a continuation of Filmation's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series.
He-Man, legendary defender of the planet Eternia, has been summoned to the futuristic planet of Primus to defend the planet from the evil Mutants of the neighboring planet of Denebria. But his old adversary Skeletor has followed him and allied himself with the Mutants in his fight to conquer the whole universe. Together with a team of Galactic Guardians, He-Man fights to defend Primus and all its power resources from the continuous attacks by Skeletor and the Mutants. The majority of the cartoon episodes were written by Jack Olesker.
In the New Adventures minicomics packaged with the toys, the story is slightly different. When Prince Adam and Skeletor travel to Primus, Adam becomes He-Man in front of Skeletor, revealing his secret identity and giving up the identity of Prince Adam to remain permanently as He-Man. The "explosion" from the transformation damages Skeletor, and he has to become a cyborg in order to survive. Also, in the comics Skeletor does not fake allegiance to Flogg, but takes command of the Mutants.
The element of the transformation from Adam to He-Man is retained from the first cartoon series, as the makers felt it would be unwise to abandon it given that the transformation sequence had been one of the most popular elements of the original series. However, in this series, one word in the transformation line is different - instead of "By the power of Grayskull... I have the power!", he says "By the power of Eternia... I have the power!"
Worth mentioning is the fact that, in the animated series, before he leaves for Primus, Adam does admit his dual identity as He-Man to his parents. I've tended to feel that the He-Man concept was an attempt to move He-Man, Skeletor, and the others away from the "sword-and-sorcery" type of adventures they'd had, and into something closer to science-fiction. In its own way, I suppose it worked to a degree.
The mini-comics that have been presented in some of the Classics toys have reworked the backstory slightly. Skeletor is gravely injured by Hordak during the Second Ultimate Battleground. Instead of accepting medical assistance from He-Man and She-Ra, he mystically uses the cybernetic parts of a Bionatops that He-Man has brought back from the Preternia time period to heal himself and transform himself into a cyborg. Having also stolen Hordak's powers, he leaves Eternia to conquer the stars.
Eternia is seemingly at peace, and He-Man and She-Ra have actually become a trifle bored. At the end of the story, a starship from Primus, carrying Icarius and Hydron, arrives on Eternia, requesting He-Man and She-Ra's help against Skeletor, who has been attacking their world. Declaring themselves ready for some "new adventures" (ouch!), the two depart Eternia. Really, it was a rather clever way of incorporating the concept and storyline into the current Masters universe.
Which brings us around to Karatti. Like the rest of the so-called Space Mutants, he hails from Denebria. If there's any explanation as to why this planet has given rise to a race of such bizarre mutants as we've seen, I'm not aware of it. The mutants are led by a character with the rather dubious name of Flogg, but one can assume that Skeletor is just looking for a chance to take control at some point, and will likely succeed.
So, how's the figure? Very impressive -- and really ugly, but he's supposed to be. Karatti has bright green skin and a face that I doubt even his mother could love. Of course, if she's a mutant, his mother might be just as ugly as him for all I know.
Karatti has a somewhat ridged forehead. He's no Klingon, but there are definite ridges present. He has a prominent brow and cheekbones, and exceptionally deepset eyes. There's something of a nose ridge present, but as to what his actual nose and mouth might look like, that's anybody's guess, as the entire lower portion of his face is either armored, or is a metallic cybernetic implant. Guy must be taking fashion cues from Trap Jaw.
The lower half of Karatti's face is a dark metallic gold, comprised of an upper and lower jaw. The upper jaw has two nostrils above it which presumably allow Karatti to breathe. There are narrow ridges, or perhaps teeth, visible in Karatti's artificial mouth.
Karatti's eyes and eyebrows are somewhat uneven, I assume intentionally. The Four Horsemen sculpting and design team doesn't make those kinds of mistakes. It would appear that his eyebrows are designed to look as though they're painted on, and not some actual outgrowth of hair. This could be attributed to some sort of warpaint designed to make Karatti look more ferocious -- like he really needs the help. The black, deepset eyes are not as extensive as they appear. He actually has all-black, normal-sized eyes within those large black areas. Mattel has cleverly painted his "real" sculpted eyes a glossy shade of black, and the black warpaint around them a more matte color. Nice touch, really!
Karatti's hair takes the form of thick, red-orange dreadlocks. These are superbly detailed and impressively painted.
Karatti's torso is armored in a rather hodge-podge fashion. He looks like he scavenged a junkyard to cobble this mess together, and then painted most of it the same dark gold as his jaw. "Armor by Dreadnoks", might be the fashion statement here. The back piece shows more extensively technological details than the front, although the front is notable for several lengths of black cable, as well as some purple trim, which on the mid and lower torso looks designed to correspond to Karatti's musculature to a fair degree. The armor is an entirely new design, and is very impressively done.
Karatti has armored pieces on his arms, especially around his wrists and hands, but these have appeared on other figures in the line before. That's not a complaint, merely an observation. Similarly, his high, armored boots, also molded in the dark metallic gold, have seen previous use, but all of the parts brought together nevertheless made for a most impressive Masters of the Universe Classics rendition of the character.
Of course, Karatti is superbly articulated. He is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivels, elbows, wrists, mid-torso (somewhat hindered by the armor), waist, legs, upper leg swivels, knees, lower leg swivels (I can't really call them "boot tops" this time), and ankles.
Karatti comes with two weapon accessories. One is a wicked-looking black knife. The other is a sort of axe and club combination with interesting handle placement. Both weapons have a definite high-tech sci-fi look to them, in keeping with the concept that Karatti comes from. It's also worth mentioning that his package bubble has the "Space Mutants" logo on it, on a sticker.
Karatti's bio card on the back of his package card reads as follows.
Karatti has a head as hard as the rocks of the desert regions of Denebria where he lives. Unfortunately for the other evil mutants, he also possesses as much brain power as one of those rocks. Although armed with a laser axe, it is the terrible bone-crushing karate blows that make him so fearsome. Fortunately for the Galactic Protectors, he is as cowardly as most of the other inhabitants of Denebria, and will only attack those whom he knows to be weaker than himself. He gladly allied himself with Skeletor, who offered promises of power and wealth to all who aided him in mutiny against the Horde. Karatti uses his combat moves to fight the Galactic Protectors.
How somebody this dim managed to master a martial art is beyond me, but that's his business. I'm not going to be the one to challenge him on it.
So, what's my final word? This is a cool figure. He's a pretty ugly piece of work, and he might not be quite as distinctive as, say, Mer-Man, Clawful, or Stinkor, but he's interesting, and certainly a worthwhile addition to the Masters of the Universe collection. Let's hope that the Galactic Protectors get a bit more input into the Classics line. I know that the "New Adventures" version of He-Man is expected soon, but I would also welcome Hydron and a few of the others. In the meantime, I'm glad to have Karatti.
The MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of KARATTI definitely has my highest recommendation!