REVIEW: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS PROCRUSTUS
It has long been proven that the world of Eternia is a wildly diverse environment with an astonishing range of sentient life forms. Darwin would probably have gone stark raving mad trying to figure out the place. Bird-like people, several types of insect-like people, cat people, fish people, dragon people, snake men, intelligent talking green tigers, and no shortage of beings and creatures that aren't quite so easy to categorize.
It's not easy to be surprised, once you start getting used to the place. I mean, once an orange-furred, green-skinned gorilla wearing battle armor shows up, you sort of start rolling with it and figure that just about anything is possible.
And then somebody like Procrustus is brought into the collection, and you realize the weirdness bar just got raised a few notches again.
Procrustus is the third of a group of seriously supersized humanoid figures in the Masters of the Universe Classics line. I'm not really counting characters like Gy-Gor or Granymyr, because they're something other than strictly humanoid. Gy-Gor legitimately looks like a Gorilla. Lose the armor and paint him black and you could sell him in a gift ship in a zoological park. And Granamyr is one whopping big dragon, but he is distinctly a dragon. He's not even a human-like dragon such as Draego-Man.
The first two "giants" in the Masters of the Universe Classics series were Tytus and Megator. Both of these characters had some established history in the Masters of the Universe concept. There was the intention to sell these twice-as-big-as-everyone-else figures in the United States, but the original Masters of the Universe line came to an end before this could happen. A somewhat limited production run of the figures was released in Europe, and the original figures remain highly collectible to this day.
One of the advantages of the Masters of the Universe Classics concept being an online exclusive through MattyCollector.Com is the fact that they can produce large-scale figures like this without having to try to persuade retailers like Walmart and Target to carry them. They go directly to the collector. And so, over the course of the Classics offerings, both Tytus and Megator, both something on the high side of 13 inches in height, have joined the line.
But Procrustus!? I'd never heard of him. I had to do a little research, and check with a friend of mine on this. It seems that Procrustus appeared in a couple of panels of a DC-published mini-comic titled "The Magic Stealer". Seems a bit of a stretch to base one of these giant figures on, especially since the figure is entirely new from the lower torso up. That had to be pretty expensive. On the other hand, he's certainly unusual and interesting, and maybe the Four Horsemen team of designers and sculptors wanted the challenge.
Although I usually save this sort of thing for later in my reviews, I think one of the best things we can do at this point is to have a look at Procrustus' backstory based on the scroll-like bio card on the back of his box.
After the gods created the five dimensions, they hid their secret magic in the form of a star inside the core of a small planet in the center of the dimension of Eternia. Naming the planet after the dimension it resided in, they assigned the immortal four-armed giant Procrustus to remain there and guard their magical secrets. Over the millennia, the magic began to seep out, and many wise magicians learned to tap into these powers for both good and evil. In time, the ruthless warlock Hordak attempted to break apart Eternia using a spell of separation in order to access the magic's source. Although his spell was thwarted, Procrustus was now forced to literally hold the planet together, remaining forever at the planet's core!
That's what I call job security. I suppose in his own way, Procrustus is like the Eternian version of the mythological Atlas, who in his particular pantheon was believed to carry the world on his shoulders. Procrustus is holding his world together at its core. Some of these guys just can't catch a break, can they?
So, how's the figure? Well, he's -- big. Something like 13-1/4 inches in height. This in a like where the average height of an individual is roughly seven inches. Of course, given the task set forth to this guy, I think we even need to question that scale. I've never seen the mini-comic in which he appears, so I can't say how large he was really portrayed as being.
Of course, one of Procrustus' most notable features is the four arms -- even moreso considering their placement. I've got any number of four-armed, otherwise humanoid action figures here. Goro from Mortal Kombat. Predacon from the Lunartix Aliens in the G.I. Joe line. A Star Wars figure whose name escapes me just now. Four Arms from Ben 10 -- aptly named. And when I was a kid, I had Antron from the Micronauts. He was, I'm quite sure, the first four-armed action figure I ever had.
All of these figures have one thing in common -- the placement of the additional two arms. They're invariably positioned further down on the torso, out to the sides, essentially directly under the arms that emerge "normally" from the shoulders. The only prior exception I have to this is Spiral, a character from the Marvel Universe, and she's actually got six arms. I have her Marvel Legends figure, and the arms all seem to emanate from the same general region near the shoulders. I hear she's doing underarm deodorant commercials for Mojo's entertainment empire on Mojoworld these days.
Procrustus -- is a little different. His additional two arms do not emerge from further down the torso on the sides. Nor do they somehow share the same arm socket as the more typically-placed arms. Rather, they emerge from the back, near the shoulder blades!
From a practical standpoint, it's difficult to see any great advantage to this. I mean, yeah, he can probably scratch his back better than any normal humanoid could ever expect to. But there's any number of logical reasons why our arms are placed at our sides, and move forward. If nothing else, our eyes are in front of us, and it helps to be able to see what we're doing. If we had four arms instead of two, I would expect that those arms would be placed, and move more along the lines of someone like Goro or Predacon, rather than Procrustus.
The articulation is interesting. While the side arms move forward and backward normally, the way the back arms are mounted -- they rotate! Really, this is in some respects more practical, since it allows Procrustus to raise his arms over his head, and the elbows still move forward.
Procrustus is not an especially colorful individual, but then he's not supposed to be. He has a somewhat statue-like appearance. Frankly, given the light tan coloration, he looks like a rather rocky sand sculpture -- a very impressive one. It would appear as though most of his body has been molded in a tan color, and then given a very extensive dry-brush coating of a lighter shade of tan, to give him a rocky texture look to him. Normally I dislike such practices, since they're frequently used to dirty or weather a figure, but in this case, it works out astoundingly well.
Procrustus' headsculpt is reasonably human in appearance -- from a sort of "unfinished sculpture" standpoint. That is, his features are human -- which is more than can be said for a lot of the inhabitants of Eternia. He has blank, pale blue eyes -- about the only real spot of color on him, and his "hair" is designed to look rather long and shaggy, and he also has a "mustache" and "beard". These are all presented in the form of what look like chiseled slabs of rock. Here the creativity of the Four Horsemen certainly comes through. They're masters at sculpting fine detail such as hair and fur. But sculpting something to look rock-like? Or moreover, sculpting something to look like rock that's formed to look more or less like hair? Somebody had an interesting challenge...!
Procrustus' chest is human in appearance, with only a hint of his rocky hide in evidence. This guy isn't Ben Grimm, folks. There's a couple of embedded "pebbles" in his chest, and a "crack" on one side that I initially mistook for a mold defect until I realized it was part of the design.
His back is another matter. Here the rocky texture is much more pronounced. The standard musculature of a human-type back is there -- allowing for the extra arm sockets at the top -- but the overall look of the physique is more along the lines of what I'd expect to see as part of the mountain ranges that surround Tucson, Arizona, where I reside. Except the mountains have more trees in them.
Procrustus' four arms are all equal in size, and yet all four are distinctive sculpts. The back arms are not just repeats of the side arms. Much like the front and back of the torso, the arms look more humanoid on the front, and more rocky and chiseled on the back. The two back arms need to be snapped onto the figure when he is removed from the box. I found this to require a fair amount of carefully applied force, but it did work.
All four arms have an excellent range of articulation. They are poseable at the shoulders, upper arm swivel, elbows, and wrists. This actually puts Procrustus ahead of Tytus and Megator, who because of the nature of the plastic used on them, lacked the upper swivel arm feature.
Procrustus' four hands are all unique, and all feature highly detailed sculpts. His front arms feature hands that are fairly open, with all fingers separate from the rest. His right hand is a little more closed than the left, but it's a sort of fingers spread out sort of pose.
His back arms have hands that are a bit more closed than the front. Interestingly, the left hand is more closed than the right. The left hand is almost a fist, but is somewhat open. The right hand features fingers that are increasingly folded in along the way. All four hands are superbly designed.
In keeping with the standard design of many Masters of the Universe figures, Procrustus is wearing a wide belt and a loincloth. The belt has the circular decorative "knobs" on it that many Masters of the Universe belts have, but Procrustus' are a little more uneven and rocky-looking -- sort of alike a Flintstones' version of a Masters belt.
Speaking of rocky, there's the loincloth. It's not furry. It's rocky. Much like the "hair", Procrustus' loincloth has not been sculpted to look furry, something else the Four Horsemen are expert at sculpting, but to look like uneven slabs of rock that just happen to form a loincloth around Procrustus' waist.
Procrustus' legs have been seen before. They were used previously on Megator. Mattel has to save some money somewhere on this big and complex a figure. I can't faule them for it, and the legs are a decent match, even if they lack any sort of rocky detail, and end in some rather odd feet with fairly large toes and clawed toenails. However, they've been molded in the same color of tan as the rest of the figure, and have been given some airbrush detail that helps them blend in with the overall figure.
For that matter, Procrustus' hands have been given rather claw-like fingernails, and all of his nails -- fingers and toes -- have been painted brown.
There isn't a lot of painted detail on Procrustus, besides the texturing, but there is some. Along with the nails and eyes, his belt and wristbands (all four of them) have been painted brown, with little rocky knobs on them painted tan. The detail work on these is just as impressive as the rest of the figure.
Overall, Procrustus' articulation is impressive, if in some respects not to the same levels as a standard Masters of the Universe figure. He lacks the mid-torso articulation, as well as upper leg swivels, and his ankles aren't articulated. That's probably just as well, as this guy is a bit top-heavy, and all it would take is one loose ankle joint and I don't think he'd stand up on his own all that well.
However, Procrustus is nevertheless fully poseable at the head, arms (all four of them), upper swivel arms, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, and knees. Not too bad at all, really.
Procrustus comes with a small accessory. It is a translucent yellow globe, about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. According to the box, this is the "Star Seed Orb". This was not part of the mini-comic in which Procrustus appeared. Rather it appeared at one point in the Filmation cartoon. Precisely what Procrustus is doing with it is unclear. Learning to juggle, perhaps? I mean, we don't really know how many of his arms are required to hold Eternia's core together, and it's got to get a little boring down there, and I hear Cable reception stinks. He's got to have something to do...
So, what's my final word? This is an impressive figure, if admittedly based on a very obscure character in the Masters universe. But, what the heck. He's still very impressive. And given his limited and distinctive color scheme, I can think of any number of interesting opportunities here. Since he's so much larger than a standard Masters figure, he's not likely to be taken for one at first glance. Set him on a display stand and put him on a table, and tell people you found him at an art show. Or, tell them your great grand-uncle discovered him in an archaeological dig but was afraid to reveal him to the world for fear of throwing off several established cultural mythologies. If they notice the articulation points, just say, "Wow! Those ancients were more sophisticated than I thought!"
Or, you could just let him hang around with the rest of your Masters of the Universe collection, which is probably your best bet. Certainly he's an impressive, imposing, and distinctive addition to the line, with an above average level of complexity, and some very well produced detailing. The character may not be that major a player in the Masters universe, but the figure should be a welcome addition into any collection. I'm glad I have him, and I'm sure you will be, too.
The MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of PROCRUSTUS definitely has my highest recommendation!