REVIEW: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS MOSQUITOR
The next addition to Mattel's continuing line of Masters of the Universe Classics figures is MOSQUITOR, a member of the Evil Horde!
Now, Mosquitor himself doesn't have all that much history to report, so instead, I'd like to take a look at the Evil Horde as a whole. It's not all that often that a second entire enemy group is incorporated into an action figure line, although it has happened. After Cobra, the G.I. Joe line developed the Iron Grenadiers, and then later, to a lesser degree, the HeadHunters and the Lunartix Aliens. But G.I. Joe was a lot more prolific than the Masters.
And it's even less common for a second enemy force like the Horde to be created within one toy line -- and then see its characters implements as the enemy force for the animated series of a different toy line. Allow me to explain that.
By the time the Evil Horde came along, the Masters of the Universe animated series had already had a significant run, with Skeletor and his minions as the enemy force. It's reasonable to assume that the introduction of a second enemy force, appearing on a regular basis, would have been a little overwhelming, even though a distinct connection between Hordak and Skeletor was established.
At the same time, Mattel had just developed the Princess of Power action figure line, featuring She-Ra, He-Man's brother. This line was a rare attempt at creating an action figure line directed towards girls. Mattel's research had shown that many girls enjoyed playing with their brother's Masters of the Universe figures to some degree, so Mattel created this new line to try to accommodate them more on their own terms.
What the Princess of Power line lacked was a really strong enemy. Some of the characters weren't as nice as others, but when your main adversary, Catra, is described as simply a "Jealous Beauty", that's not the sort of world-conquering enemy that's going to sustain an animated series all that well. The toys were, shall we say gentler in appearance, lacking many of the freakish tendencies of some of the Masters' characters.
So it was decided to shift the Evil Horde over to the She-Ra animated series, and enlist some of the Princess of Power enemy characters as extended members of the Horde, while also providing the animated series with a more powerful adversary. For that matter, Hordak and his Evil Horde had been successful in conquering the planet Etheria, home to She-Ra and the other heroes of the Great Rebellion, whereas Skeletor, however much of a threat he was regarded to be, had not conquered Eternia.
Let's consider some of the history of the Horde, then, and proceed to have a look at the figure of one of its more bizarre members.
Unlike the cartoon's portrayal of a galactic empire in which Hordak is subordinate to the mysterious Horde Prime, the Evil Horde was initially presented in the mini-comics as a seemingly small group of formidable creatures of whom Hordak was clearly implied to be the supreme leader. Far less explicitly technological, the initial toys and mini-comics depicting the Horde indicated a more mystical background, similar to Skeletor and his Evil Warriors. Indeed, the later cartoon's version of Hordak as Skeletor's former mentor in spite of an apparently inferior command of magic (generally delegating mystical tasks to Shadow Weaver, although it should be said that Hordak's own "technological" abilities were quite likely magical in origin) makes much more sense in this original mini-comic's equivalent of the same mentorship. Here, Hordak is shown to be a sorcerer of equal or greater power than Skeletor, who is just as interested in plundering the mystical treasures of Castle Grayskull as his former pupil.
As originally depicted (and manufactured as a playset), the Horde's base of operations the Fright Zone was an ancient cave-like fort rather than a sprawling technopolis. Technological elements only began to appear in later waves of Horde toys, and their accompanying mini-comics depicted further discontinuities with the animated series, such as showing the legions of Horde Trooper robots as a new invention, as well as the introduction of later cybernetic characters such as Dragstor and Mantisaur. Nevertheless, Hordak's primary interest remained in magic and his place as supreme leader of the Horde remained unaltered even in the last mini-comics which involved the return of the ancient structure known as The Three Towers of Eternia, something he indicated having helped to build, suggesting either time travel or near immortality on Hordak's part.
In the cartoons, the Evil Horde is a vast, interstellar empire bent on the domination of various worlds across the universe. The centre of the empire is called Hordeworld. The Horde was summoned to Eternia by Morgoth, a giant wizard once imprisoned by the Ancients. The Horde sent a scout ship to Eternia and its crew aided Morgoth in taking control of a few towns and villages. One of these was the home of Teela'Na. To defeat the Horde, Teela'Na was told by an old man about Castle Grayskull. Teela'Na sought Castle Grayskull and became the new Sorceress in order to defeat Morgoth and the Horde. She managed to do so, but was trapped in her position for the rest of her life.
The Horde scout ship apparently managed to send a message to the Evil Horde's ultimate leader, Horde Prime, because soon, the vile Hordak and his Horde Troopers arrived in full force. While Hordak waged his war against Eternia and the city of Eternos, he took Skeletor under his wing, teaching him what he knew of dark magic. In time, the Royal Soldiers of Eternos and the magic of Castle Grayskull defeated Hordak. However, learning that King Randor and Queen Marlena's twin children both have a special destiny, Hordak and Skeletor kidnapped them. A young Man-At-Arms and Queen Marlena were able to halt the kidnapping of Prince Adam, but Princess Adora was captured. Skeletor, however, was captured by the guards. He then revealed the secret location of the Horde's lair: Snake Mountain.
Man-At-Arms and the Sorceress went to Snake Mountain, but were too late. Hordak had escaped with Princess Adora. Both were then seen on the planet of Etheria. Hordak and his minions captured many kingdoms, the last of which to fall was the kingdom of Bright Moon.
The She-Ra series is largely dedicated to the struggle of the Etherian rebels against the occupying force of the Horde. In each episode, Hordak has a new dastardly scheme to either destroy the Great Rebellion or make life worse for Etherians. Each scheme meets its demise at She-Ra's hand.
The comics largely follow this overall story as well, though where the cartoon Hordak has abandoned plans to invade Eternia, save for a few occasions, in the comics he still tries. Sometimes he works with, and sometimes against, Skeletor.
The Horde has bases planet-wide though its main headquarters is Doom Tower located at the centre of the Fright Zone. The Horde possesses vast resources and has a great deal of highly sophisticated technology.
The Horde portrayed in the 2002-era He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon has much more mysterious characters. The Horde had been a menace on Eternia long before the modern day. Hordak had been the nemesis of King Grayskull. He was also an enemy of King Hiss and defeated his army of Snake Men before putting his sight back on destroying King Grayskull. Upon its final defeat the Horde was sentenced to exile in the timeless dimension of Despondos. While imprisoned, Hordak's power and advice could be channeled through sorcery. By invoking Hordak, Skeletor is able to cast a spell to replace his head with the familiar floating skull. When Skeletor betrays Hordak years later by refusing to release him, Evil-Lyn and Count Marzo step up to the task. However, just as Hordak is about to emerge from Despondos, He-Man stops the spell.
Had the 2002-era series continued for a third season, the Evil Horde would have played a significant role, and presumably action figures would have followed.
And what of MOSQUITOR? I was able to track down some history for the character and the original figure.
Mosquitor was packaged as the "evil energy-draining insectoid." He is supposed to be a cyborg creature with a long, pointed metal head, with a needle on the end of the nose-piece which he injects into his opponents to drain the blood from them. He has a transparent metallic chest through which the blood of his opponent can be seen, filling him up to charge him with energy.
Frankly, given that this figure was released in the 1980's a time period when some people were rather touchy about what sort of capabilities or weapons action figures had, I'm surprised Mattel was able to get away with this one.
Mosquitor was introduced into the Masters line in 1987. He was one of the final figures to be released before the toy line's demise, and as a result is one of the rarest. The action figure's special feature is a switch on its back, which when pressed caused his chest to flow with "blood".
The figure came packaged with the mini-comic "Enter: Buzz-Saw Hordak!" The comic reveals him as a new minion of Hordak, and his main function in the story is draining the energy of the Sorceress, enabling Hordak to create a fake, holographic Sorceress from her life force. At a later stage in the story, he is set upon He-Man, and almost overpowers him. The comic also hints at a tension between himself and Dragstor, another recent addition to the Horde; after serving as a test object for Mosquitor's ability, Dragstor clearly resents Mosquitor's great power and his value to Hordak.
Mosquitor also appears in the Marvel comic based on the Masters, where he is able to fly and shoot beams from the needle of his nose-piece. I've got a bad joke here about post-nasal drip or something, but I'm not going there.
Given that he was released so late into the toyline's run, Mosquitor's exposure was minimal throughout the various story media and he never made an animated appearance in either the Masters or the She-Ra cartoons.
I never owned the original Mosquitor, but I certainly recall seeing a few of them in the stores, along with that bizarre action feature. Oddly enough, that "blood-flow" feature didn't actually have its start with Mosquitor. For that, we have to go back to the mid-1970's...
In 1976, Mattel released a large-scale action figure called "Pulsar: The Ultimate Man of Adventure". This figure, standing around 13-1/2 inches in height, making him a distinctly large human action figure, had a heroic expression on his face, whitish-blonde hair, thick black eyebrows, and very 1970's athletic pants in red and black, as well as a shirt, which he wasn't wearing in either the package display or the box illustration.
Pulsar had some rather unusual abilities. For starters, you could pop open the back of his head and insert one of two "holographic" mission discs. They didn't actually do anything, but it was an interesting technological development for the mid-1970's. These days, if discs that size were around, they'd not only work, but they'd probably be able to incorporate the entire contents of the Encyclopedia Brittanica -- to a full orchestra of music. Pulsar would probably use a USB thumb drive, though.
But more to the point, Pulsar also had a transparent chest, which revealed a representation of a heart, lungs, and something that looked like an intestinal system, but which acted more like some sort of circulatory system. Pump a button on his back, and it looked as though his heart beat, his lungs breathed, and his blood flowed through his circulatory system.
Although Mosquitor was far simpler, lacking the organs and just having the blood "flow" through him, the basic principle was still the same, allowing Mattel to gross out kids and parents with the same gimmick over a decade after it was first used. And I'm still surprised they got away with it.
So, how's the Classics Mosquitor figure? Extremely impressive, although he doesn't actually pump any blood. No big loss as far as I'm concerned. Personally, I hate mosquitoes. Granted, I'm not terribly fond of any insects. Ladybugs and grasshoppers get a pass from me, but not much else. Certainly not mosquitoes.
Admittedly, a large, muscular, humanoid mosquito-like being would be a significantly greater threat regardless of what state I lived in. And that pretty well describes Mosquitor.
His head is completely non-human. It doesn't even look terribly organic. Frankly, you could probably get a pretty impressive vehicle design out of his head. I can see something like this being used for either an aircraft or a submersible of some sort.
From the front, Mosquitor's head has a rather triangular shape, with a narrow top to the head, two bulging eyes out to the side, and the head tapers outward to a relatively flat bottom. Don't look for anything familiar such as ears, a mouth, or a jaw. They're just not here.
The head is mostly dark red, with two large white eyes with angled pupils, surrounded by thick black eyelids on the top and bottom. From the side, Mosquitor's head is -- well, even more interesting and bizarre. That narrow top to his head is actually a ridged crest with three large, curved scales. So are the outward ridges on either side of his head near the base. There's an additional little scale on the back of his head, pointing upward.
His most prominent cranial feature, obviously, is his nose. His head extends forward in a narrow snout, and then further than that with a silver, jagged, dagger-like needle. Given the length of the thing, I think I'd be less worried about having my life-energy or my blood drained by this appendage as just being skewered through something vital by it. There is some additional cybernetic-looking detailing further up the snout on the top and bottom.
Mosquitor is mostly black. His arms and legs are black, and so is his torso. His shoulders are brown, and ridged. He has further ridges on his upper arms, which are black and red. His hands, fairly normal in appearance, actually, are wearing brown gloves.
Mosquitor has a brown belt around his waist, with a triangular silver buckle. He doesn't have the usually "furry loincloth" common to many Masters figures. Instead, he has plain gray trunks.
His legs are black, and for the most part unremarkable. But then there's his boots. They are silver, and clearly have a cybernetic look to the,. The tops are thick and ridged, with large red triangles on the front. The remaining boots and feet are very angular and robotic in appearance, and one has to wonder if these are boots, or some sort of prosthetic robotic parts.
Mosquitor also has two insect-like antennae or legs or -- well, appendages, anyway, rising from the backs of his shoulder blades. These are black in color, and are mounted on an articulation point that rotates and has back and forth movement.
What amazes me about this figure is the number of distinctive, unique parts, especially for a relatively minor character. Don't get me wrong -- I'm certainly not complaining and I am impressed. But I'm also surprised. The head, and the torso armor, are more or less to be expected. The armbands, the trunks, and the boots -- not so much. I find myself wondering if there are other figures that Mattel has in mind that these pieces could be used for. The boots have a sort of "New Adventures" vibe going for them, and for that matter, so do the trunks. But they're also some pretty obvious footwear. I'll be interested to see when and if they turn up again, and on whom.
Then, of course, there is the torso. Mosquitor is wearing some very nicely detailed, high-tech-looking, black armor on his torso, the centerpiece of which is on the chest, a silver-outlined symbol vaguely resembling the bat-shape common to the Evil Horde. Within this symbol is an eerie, symmetrical shape that looks like it could be part organic and part cybernetic, and it is a sort of transparent red in color. Actually, I suspect what's transparent red is the smooth plate that's been placed over this shape, which was painted silver along with the frame. But hey -- it works.
It's no great surprise that Mosquitor doesn't have his original action feature, and as I said, it's no big loss as far as I'm concerned. This chestplate manages to get the idea across. Mattel said at the outset when they started this Classics line that most built-in action features would not be included, unless it was absolutely vital to the character. The first thing to go was the spring-action waist, and good riddance.
The pattern that I've noticed is that if a character's action feature has been incorporated into his head, he usually gets it. Tri-Klops and Man-E-Faces are good examples here. If the unusual features of a figure are part of the limbs, then there's also a good chance -- such as Trapjaw's robotic arm.
But if it's in the torso -- with the exception of Roboto -- forget about it. Either the action feature won't be included, or it will be adapted somehow. Case in point here would be the Battle Armor versions of He-Man and Skeletor. The original versions had a spring-action feature in their torsos that allowed "battle damage" to show on their armor. The Classics versions have small switchable plates in their detachable battle armor that can be changed out by hand. Thus the feature is acknowledged without having to expensively rework the entire torso for two figures.
So, Mosquitor gets a transparent red chestplate over a silver-painted sculpt of -- whatever this is supposed to represent. It works, and I'm fine with it.
Details on the figure as a whole are certainly well-painted, and of course, the figure is superbly articulated. Mosquitor is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivels, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, boot tops, and ankles.
Mosquitor does come with an accessory, a purple blaster pistol, nicely detailed, and with some metallic highlights on it.
His character bio on the package reads as follows:
A Kribleen insectoid vampire from the Gluubux Galaxy, Mosquitor joined the Evil Horde on his own accord, preferring the Empire to life in a mud hole on his home world. Looking like a normal insectoid, Mosquitor moves in on his prey, then stings them hard and sucks them dry. He is extremely vicious though not particularly brainy. You can't get blood from a rock, but Mosquitor has tried in his day. Mosquitor drains his enemies of their energy while his bionic stinger and chest ooze red with power. Even Hordak keeps his distance from the Evil Horde vampire!
And, really, who can blame him? There's some interesting things to note on the card. That second to the last sentence, "Mosquitor drains his enemies of their energy while his bionic stinger and chest ooze red with power", reads more like advertising copy, and I wouldn't be surprised if that's what it is, probably somehow related to the original toy, especially since his chest doesn't ooze red anymore, and how often do you hear the word "bionic" these days? We also seem to have a slight contradiction here, since elsewhere on the card, it describes Mosquitor as "looking like a normal insectoid". I'm a lot more inclined to go with the bionic stinger, though. That dart at the end of his nose doesn't look at all natural.
It's interesting to note that the illustration on the card, obviously from some original series artwork, does show him with an oozing chest. I'd almost forgotten how gross that looked. As for "preferring the Empire to life in a mud hole" -- well, I can't really blame Mosquitor for that. Obviously he's not that stupid!
So, what's my final word? Mosquitor may not be one of the major players in the Masters universe, but that's not really the point, is it? No pun intended there regarding his proboscis. He is an established character, and the fact that we're getting around to characters like Mosquitor shows how well established the Masters of the Universe Classics line has become. It is my sincere hope that it continues for a good many years. There's still plenty of interesting characters to work with that I would very much like to see in figure form in this Classics line, which I sincerely believe to be the finest Masters incarnation ever. And certainly, Mosquitor is a superb addition to the line.
MOSQUITOR from the MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS line of action figures definitely has my highest recommendation!