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By Thomas Wheeler

I suppose I'm glad that toy companies like Mattel care enough that their products arrive safe and sound to their intended destinations, whether it's a standard toy department or toy store, or right to my door via MattyCollector.Com

Okay, so I just freed KING RANDOR from the MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS collection from his -- restraints, and I'll admit that this can sometimes be a little frustrating. Randor's hardly the only one, either. Batman, Superman, any number of others. If he or she has a cape, I know I'm in for a hassle, and I just finished with one. It's a careful balance between wanting to get the figure out and not wanting to hurt the figure in the process.

One of the newest additions, as of this writing, to Mattel's very successful and extremely impressive line of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure, available exclusively on the Web Site MattyCollector.Com, is KING RANDOR, the benevolent monarch of Eternia.

In a sense, Randor is to the Masters of the Universe line what the Baroness was to G.I. Joe -- and no, I don't mean that Randor looks good in round glasses and armored black leather. I mean that King Randor is a character within the concept whose prominence was somewhere other than the core toy line, and whose presence actually preceded his placement in the toy line by a rather considerable margin.

King Randor was most prominently featured in the Filmation animated series, and arguably, he wasn't really that active a player. He was there to give counsel and guidance to the more active heroes, as well as a sense of order to the good guys. Prince Adam, He-Man, was his son; Man-At-Arms was his captain of the guard, and most of the good guys tended to hang around his kingdom to one degree or another. Later, when the She-Ra: Princess of Power concept got started, it was revealed that She-Ra, as Princess Adora, was Randor's long-lost daughter.

For the most part, Randor ruled benevolently, but his kingdom was not without its woes. There was always the threat of attack by Skeletor and his minions, and when that wasn't an immediate threat, Randor generally spent his time wishing that his son was more heroic (since he never quite caught onto the fact that Adam was He-Man despite a considerable and obvious resemblance), and that the primary form of entertainment available was Orko.

But for quite some time in the Masters of the Universe toy line, there was no King Randor figure. Mattel finally got around to it, in the later years of the line, but Randor almost seemed like an afterthought. He wasn't exactly released at the same time as the major players.

In the 2002 animated series, King Randor was definitely a more active ruler, a king with plenty of battle experience in his past and a willingness to take up a sword even now if there was justified cause to do so. Unfortunately, the 2002 line never got around to a King Randor figure. So we finally had a Randor that was more than willing to take names and kick Eternian tails if he had to, and he never got the chance to do so in the toy line.

Fortunately, it looks like King Randor has finally gotten one. We're just past a year into the official MattyCollector releases of the Masters of the Universe Classics line, and here comes Randor. And although, as befitting the theme of the Classics line, this Randor is based more on the classic version than the 2002 version, between the heightened detail and certainly the heightened articulation provided by the Classics line, while Randor may not look quite as warrior-ish as he did during the 2002 series, he looks more than capable of handling himself in a fight if need be.

So, who is King Randor? For this, I turned to Wikipedia:

In early material, the character of King Randor is called King Miro, this was later given in the Filmation cartoon series as King Randor's long-lost father's name.

Randor is the good and noble King of Eternia, and the father of the series' hero He-Man, or rather his alter ego, Prince Adam, and (introduced later) Princess Adora, a.k.a. She-Ra. He is often annoyed and disappointed by Adam's seeming laziness and reluctance to take any real responsibility. Not realizing his son's dual identity, he is still very proud of his honest and kind-hearted son. Sometimes he is shown trying to teach his son lessons, as presumably Adam will become King one day. Although Skeletor, the line's main villain, is initially said to be "from another dimension", late on in the original line it is heavily implied, but never officially confirmed, that Randor's long-lost brother Keldor became Skeletor. However, the writer of "The Search for Keldor", the mini-comic in question, has since confirmed that this was the intent. In the 2002 series, Keldor also becomes Skeletor, although through different circumstances.

Randor appears regularly in the original series, but it is uncommon for him to be directly involved in the action. However, he features heavily in the storyline of the episode "Prince Adam No More", in which he displays both his love for his son and his prowess at battling Skeletor's robots. The rest of the 1980s incarnation of the franchise mostly sticks with Filmation's version of a bold, middle-aged, brown-haired king, but some of the franchise's other material presents him as a much older, white haired, almost wizened ruler.

King Randor appears alongside Queen Marlena in the first episode of the New Adventures of He-Man series. Before Adam leaves to travel to the future, he visits his parents and tells them of his mission. Randor watches in amazement as Adam transforms into He-Man before his eyes, and tells his son he is very proud of him. Randor is one of the few characters to appear in both the original series and the New Adventures, and his costume and voice are very accurate to his original portrayal.

In the 2002 series it is made apparent that in his youth, Randor was known as Captain Randor, a brave and steadfast warrior before being crowned King of Eternia by the Elders, although in the 1983 series, he is portrayed as having taken over the throne after his father, King Miro, disappeared. He even aids the Masters in a couple of episodes in their battles against Skeletor and his Evil Warriors and even the Snake Men. Apparently, after King Grayskull's death, the Council of Elders was formed to rule Eternia. But after Keldor's transformation into Skeletor they made Randor king as they became one with Castle Grayskull.

He is also tied more closely to the origin of Skeletor, having battled Skeletor when he was still Keldor during a war the Eternians call The Great Unrest. That war ended when Keldor and his forces attacked the Hall of Wisdom, home of the Elders, and Keldor and Randor engaged in a deadly duel that ended with Keldor hurling acid at Randor, only to have Randor deflect the acid with his shield, splashing the acid back at Keldor and burning his face, which led to his transformation into Skeletor. It is revealed by a writer that in this continuity Keldor and Randor are half-brothers, but it is never revealed if either knew that.

After the Council of Evil incident, King Randor established an Eternian Council consisting of himself; Chief Carnivus of the Qadians; Lord Dactys of the Speleans; the Kulatak Elder of the Kulataks; Queen Andreeno of the Andreenids; King Taurius of the Mintaurans; Hawk, representing the Avions, and some other unnamed council members.

And there's a lot of Masters fans out there who wouldn't mind seeing some of these Eternian Council characters as figures in the Classics line, especially Carnivus, who was a feline-like humanoid that looked like he could've beaten up every last one of the ThunderCats before lunch if it suited him.

So, how's the figure? Excellent. What we have here, in a sense, is a third-generation King Randor figure, setting aside for a moment what he looked like during the 2002 animated series. I tend to be of the opinion that as King Randor was designed to appear in the original Filmation animated series, there was little thought given at the time of him actually being a figure. As memory serves, he was not as muscular as He-Man or most of the other Masters.

When Mattel did get around to making a figure of King Randor for the original line, they used, as one would expect, existing molds, especially for the main body. Of course, King Randor had a distinctive head, as well as other details, but he also looked far more muscular than the character as he had appeared in the animated series. The basic colors of Randor's clothing were carried over as best as possible, though, as well as other pertinent details.

So what we have with the Masters of the Universe Classics King Randor is a figure that is based on an earlier figure that is based as closely that th at figure format allowed on a character design from the animated series that wasn't necessarily intended to be a design for a figure. Everybody follow that? Good, explain it to me, because I think I lost track of that sentence about two-thirds of the way through...

King Randor is a fairly colorful figure, due in large part to the fact that the animated series in which he was predominantly featured tended to be very colorful in and of itself, and one would suspect that Filmation pretty much designed the color scheme for Randor on their own.

Randor uses the same muscular body that most of the Masters use, but in his case, it's not intended to represent the skin tone of the character. Rather, one has to suppose that King Randor has gotten a good deal on some superhero spandex or some such. He is wearing a red top, orange leggings, and blue boots. Well, the guy's a king, not a fashion expert. He also has a red furry-sculpted loincloth.

You know, I know those things are pretty traditional for most of the Masters, but honestly. It makes me think that since King Randor is wearing one, then it's required for as many subjects in the kingdom as possible to wear them. Makes me wonder if the only reason Skeletor wears one is that it's the only thing he could find. Somebody should launch an investigation -- find out what King Randor's interest is in the Eternian fur and loincloth trade.

King Randor is wearing some heavy chest armor, as well. This is a separate piece, attached during assembly, and as with a number of other figures wearing such bulky chest armor, it makes it a little difficult for him to put his arms all the way down at his side. However, the armor piece is impressive in and of itself. It is mostly the same color red as Randor's shirt, with some copper-painted trim along the sides, and a huge raised gold section around the shoulders and down the front of the chest, with a large blue gemstone in the center. The metallic blue was a good color choice. Sets off the boots well.

Randor also has metallic gold wristbands and belt. The fur trim along the top of his boots is white, and the blue boots have black straps.

King Randor is also wearing a cape. It is a slightly lighter shade of blue than the belts, and is "posed" in a slight wave, but not that severely. It looks good, and is a distinct sculpt. The other caped characters in the line to date -- King Grayskull, Hordak, and Scare Glow -- all have capes that to one degree or another show a certain amount of wear and tear. This, in my opinion, would not have been appropriate for King Randor, and indeed, his cape is designed to look neat and clean.

The headsculpt is excellent. King Randor has hair about the same length as He-Man's, perhaps slightly longer. It is dark brown in color. He has a full mustache and beard. The face has a noble dignity to it, and the only real sign of age beyond most of the other characters are a few tiny wrinkles around the eyes. He is wearing a three-pointed crown that is not particularly ornate in and of itself, but it serves its purpose. As best as I can determine, the crown and the top of the head were molded separately and secured into place during assembly. They are not removable.

The sculpted detail on the head is superb, especially with regard to the hair. The mustache, beard, and hair all have different textures to them, just as they would on a real person. This was especially impressive in my opinion.

Of course, articulation of the figure is excellent. King Randor is poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, boot tops, and ankles. This is one of the things that really sets the Masters of the Universe Classics line apart from any of its predecessors, and is certainly one of the interest factors in my book. The figures are also superbly well designed to accommodate the articulation.

Any complaints? The only one I can think of that's even remotely worth mentioning -- other than the de-packaging procedure -- is that the loincloth looks a little crooked. I'm not sure how these figures are assembled, but I tend to prefer a certain symmetry. It's not off by much, but it's there.

King Randor comes with two accessories -- a staff and a sword. Both the top of the staff and the base of the sword have a design motif that reflects that of King Randor's chest armor, including the metallic blue gemstone. The sword is indicative that King Randor is certainly prepared to fight if need be.

Another of the things I appreciate about these new Masters of the Universe Classics figures, is the background bio presented on the package. I am reluctant to call it a "file card", akin to G.I. Joe, because it looks like something entirely different than a file card. It's printed on an image that looks more like a medieval scroll. Very nicely done, really. But somehow, "file scroll" doesn't sound that good. Anyway, King Randor's reads as follows:

KING RANDOR - Heroic Ruler of Eternia
Real Name: Randor of the House of Miro

King Miro's second born son, Randor, came of age during the Great Unrest, a time when conflict returned to Eternia following the Count Marzo Uprisings and subsequent betrayal by his half-brother Keldor. After the disappearance of his father, Randor was appointed Captain of the Guard and lead Miro's troops in battle against Keldor's growing rebellion. Randor eventually ended the battles by fatally wounding Keldor and locking his evil warriors behind a Mystic Wall. For this act he was appointed King by the Council of Elders. King Randor raises his staff, exulting his rule over all Eternia.

Interesting backstory. It seems to take what it can from what was established, if not necessarily openly presented, in the original series, and then borrows heavily from the 2002 series, including that line about sealing the evil warriors behind a Mystic Wall. I'm impressed that Miro is mentioned, as well as the connection between Randor and Keldor, and Randor serving as Captain of the Guard. The mention of Count Marzo is a shocker, since he was a villain specifically developed during the 2002 animated series. There was some demand for a figure of him, but it never happened. Interestingly, most of the names on the file card have a "TM" or "(R)" after them as needed. Marzo doesn't. Might be Mattel is having trouble securing the name from a legal standpoint, but that's strictly a guess

So, what's my final word here? Some fans may say, "Look, I want the action characters. I want He-Man, Stratos, Man-At-Arms, Skeletor, Beast Man -- why would I want a king who just sits on a throne and puts up with Orko when he's not trying to encourage his son to be more than he seems to be?" Well, that sentiment overlooks the fact that this is a very cool and very impressive figure, and while he might not have been the most active character in the animated series, he was a crucial part of it. Enough for Mattel to eventually include him in the original action figure line, and enough for Mattel to get around to him in the Classics line not much over a year into it.

If you're a Masters fan, then you should really want to include King Randor. Besides, somebody's got to keep an eye on the rest of them when you're not around. Who better than the ruler of Eternia?

The MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of KING RANDOR definitely has my highest recommendation!