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REVIEW: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS 30th ANNIVERSARY SIR LASER-LOT
By Thomas Wheeler

2012 commemorates the 30th Anniversary of Masters of the Universe, and in conjunction with that, Mattel is producing a special series of Masters of the Universe Classics figures, most of them entirely new characters, by notable creators.

This special group started with the first-ever figure of Fearless Photog, a character developed by a youngster named Nathan Bitner -- 25 years ago at the tail end of the original Masters of the Universe line. The figure was never produced. Hey, better late than never.

Fearless Photog was followed by Draego-Man, the creation of the Four Horsemen, the sculpting and design studio responsible for Masters of the Universe as well as DC Universe figures for Mattel, and then by The Mighty Spector, who was created by Scott Neitlich, the brand manager at Mattel.

Now we have Sir Laser-Lot, who was created by Geoff Johns. Sound like an unusual choice? Not really. Johns is one of the top people at DC Comics, which Mattel has certainly had a good relationship with for quite a few years now, with lines based on several DC Universe movies, animated series, and of course, the all-encompassing DC Universe Classics line, also doing business as the DC Universe Signature Series on MattyCollector.Com, where Masters of the Universe Classics are found.

So, why not give Johns a chance at creating a new Masters of the Universe character?

Since Sir Laser-Lot is an entirely new character, and as such, there's no real historical background for me to go into here, except for what's on the character's bio card, I thought that instead, I'd go into some of the background on Sir Laser-Lot's creator, Geoff Johns, since he has certainly had a major impact in several realms of pop culture entertainment in recent years.

Geoff Johns is best known for his work for DC Comics, where he has been Chief Creative Officer since February 2010, in particular for characters such as Green Lantern, The Flash and Superman. He is also a television writer, who has written episodes of Smallville,

Johns was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in the suburbs of Grosse Pointe and Clarkston.

As a child, Johns and his brother first discovered comics through an old box of comics they found in their grandmother's attic, which included copies of Flash, Superman, Green Lantern, Batman from the 1960s and 1970s. Johns eventually began to patronize a comics shop in Traverse City, recalling that the first new comics he bought were Crisis on Infinite Earth #3 or 4 and Flash #348 or 349, as the latter was his favorite character. As Johns continued collecting comics, he gravitated toward DC Comics and later Vertigo Comics, and also drew comics.

After graduating from high school in 1991, he studied media arts, screenwriting, film production and film theory at Michigan State University. After graduating in 1995, Johns moved to Los Angeles, California.

In Los Angeles, Johns cold-called the office of director Richard Donner, whose films Johns adored, in particular The Goonies and the first two Superman films, which Johns felt captured the essence of that character, and were, in Johns' view, among the best films of all time. According to Johns, who called Donner's office for an internship, he was transferred until Donner picked up the phone by accident, leading to a conversation, and the internship Johns sought.

Boy, talk about your happy accidents...

Johns started off copying scripts, and after about two months, was hired as a runner, or production assistant for Donner, whom Johns regards as his mentor.

While working on production of Donner's 1997 film Conspiracy Theory, Johns visited New York City, where he met DC Comics personnel such as Eddie Berganza, reigniting his childhood interest in comics.

Berganza invited Johns to tour the DC Comics offices, and offered Johns the opportunity to pitch ideas, which led to Johns pitching Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., a book based on the second Star-Spangled Kid and her stepfather, to editor Chuck Kim a year later. Johns expected to write comics "on the side", until he met David Goyer and James Robinson, who were working on JSA. After looking at Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., Robinson offered Johns co-writing duties on JSA in 2000, and Johns credits both him and Mike Carlin with shepherding him into the comics industry.

That same year, Johns also became the regular writer on the ongoing series The Flash. John's work on The Flash represents one example of his modeling of various elements in his stories after aspects of his birth town, explaining, "When I wrote 'The Flash', I turned Keystone City into Detroit, made it a car town. I make a lot of my characters from Detroit. I think self-made, blue-collar heroes represent Detroit. Wally West's Flash was like that. I took the inspiration of the city and the people there and used it in the books."

After writing The Avengers United in 2001 and Avengers Icons: The Vision in 2002 for Marvel Comics, Johns oversaw the re-launch of the Hawkman series and in 2003, and the re-launch of the DC title Teen Titans.

Johns was responsible for the return of Hal Jordan in 2005 as the writer of the Green Lantern: Rebirth mini-series and subsequent Green Lantern ongoing title, helming its critically acclaimed "Sinestro Corps War" storyline.

Johns was also the writer of the DC Comics crossover event Infinite Crisis beginning in 2005, a sequel to 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths. Following this, Johns was one of four writers, with Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, and Greg Rucka, on the 2006-2007 weekly series 52.

In 2006, Johns reunited with Richard Donner on the Superman title Action Comics, with Donner co-plotting the series with his former assistant.

In August 2007 Johns and cowriter Jeff Katz re-launched the new Booster Gold series. At the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con, DC Comics announced that Johns would be teamed with artist Ethan Van Sciver on the miniseries 2009 The Flash: Rebirth, which centered on the return of Barry Allen as the Flash.

He also wrote the Final Crisis one-shot Rage of the Red Lanterns with artist Shane Davis, and retold Superman's origin story with his former Action Comics artist Gary Frank in 2009's Superman: Secret Origin.

Johns was named DC Comics' new Chief Creative Officer on February 18, 2010.

In a 2010 interview, Johns named Steve McNiven as an artist he hasn't yet worked with who he'd like to do so, J. Michael Straczynski's run on Thor as his then-favorite ongoing comic book, and The Flash as his favorite of all time, as he owns every issue of it. He also credits reading James Robinson's The Golden Age as the book responsible for his love for the characters in that book, and for his decision to accept writing duties on JSA.

In September 2011, following the conclusion of Johns' miniseries, Flashpoint, and the crossover storyline of the same name, DC Comics instituted a program called The New 52, in which the publisher canceled all of its superhero titles and relaunched 52 new series with #1 issues, wiping out most of the then-current continuity. Johns and artist Jim Lee, DC Comics' Co-Publisher, were the architects of the relaunch.

In 2006, Johns wrote the Justice League Unlimited episode "Ancient History", which starred Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Vixen, Shadow-Thief and the John Stewart Green Lantern.

"Recruit", a 2005 episode of Smallville, on which Jeph Loeb was a writer-producer, featured a villain by the name of Geoff Johns. In 2008, Johns wrote "Legion", the 11th episode of the eighth season, in which he introduced the three core members of the Legion of Superheroes. At the San Diego Comic-Con 2009 he announced that he was writing another Smallville episode, titled "Society," based on the Justice Society of America. The success of his first episode and the ambitious nature of his follow-up episode enabled the producers to transform it into a two-part story, which subsequently aired as a feature-length episode titled "Absolute Justice".

Johns is the principal writer of the DC Universe Online role-playing game, and served as a co-producer for the 2011 Green Lantern film directed by Martin Campbell and starring Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan.

Well, you learn something new all the time. I didn't know until I researched this that Johns is from the same area where I started out. I was also born in Detroit and spent most of my childhood in Grosse Pointe.

For myself, I've greatly enjoyed most of Johns' work. Speaking as a longtime fan of Green Lantern, I especially appreciate what he did here. He restored Hal Jordan to his rightful place as Earth's primary Green Lantern, he came up with a plausible explanation for Jordan's time as Parallax that allowed him to assume the role of hero once again, he expanded upon Green Lantern's origin, without disrespecting the core of it, to allow for the introduction of Atrocitus, which led to the development of the Red Lanterns, and he also devised the Sinestro Corps, the Blue Lanterns, Larfleeze the Orange Lantern, and much more, leading to such epic stories as the Sinestro Corps War, the conflict with the Red Lanterns, and much more, all leading up to Blackest Night, one of the biggest epics in the DC Universe in years.

I also enjoyed his work on bringing Barry Allen back as the main Flash of the DC Universe.

Unfortunately, as stated, Geoff Johns was one of the primary persons behind the "New 52" at DC Comics, and his Aquaman stories unfortunately reflected this wholesale overhaul of the DC Universe, so these days, my opinion of Geoff Johns tends to be a rather mixed one.

I'll never for a moment deny that the man has a ton of creative talent. Not for a second would I ever say that. I just severely question the use it's being put to these days...

However, this is not the DC Universe, this is Masters of the Universe, so let's see what we have with Sir Laser-Lot.

So, how's the figure? Really very cool, and quite unlike anything else I've encountered previously with the Masters.

As his name might well imply, Sir Laser-Lot has the look of an armored knight, with a high-tech edge. Now, it can readily be argued that the entire world of Eternia fits this description. The animated series especially presented Eternia as a world with decidedly medieval overtones, with no small amount of "sword-and-sorcery", but at the same time, many of the machines and vehicles that the characters used were clearly highly advanced.

One thing that did tend to be lacking was any sort of armored knight-type character, which was something of a surprising omission. Arguably the closest the concept ever came to this was Man-At-Arms, King Randor's captain of the guard, who wore a certain amount of protective armor as part of his uniform, but the armor was clearly very high-tech in its design and details, and Man-At-Arms was not exactly cast in any sort of traditional knight-like appearance.

Sir Laser-Lot looks like a knight. Interestingly enough, given his creator, most of his outfit is a dark blue, and he has a red cape and boots. I find myself wondering, just a little here -- if Geoff Johns got to pick the character's color scheme, if there's a slight nod to Superman here? But that's purely speculation. I really don't know.

However, the color scheme is a rather uncommon one. I can't think offhand of very many Masters characters that used dark blue as their dominant color, and then threw in no small amount of red trim. This certainly sets Sir Laser-Lot apart as a new and distinctive character and figure, regardless of who else's colors he might or might not be imitating.

Sir Laser-Lot's entire head is encased in a helmet. The helmet definitely does an effective job of combining the medieval with the modern. Most of the helmet is dark blue, but the protective visor that most people associate with a traditional suit of armor is red. However, that visor only covers the lower portion of Sir Laser-Lot's face. His eyes are concealed behind a smooth, silver visor embedded in the helmet, a distinct contrast to the heavily ridged lower visor that juts outward a fair piece. There's also a small device attached to the left side of the helmet, which looks for all the world like some sort of laser sighting device, and that's probably exactly what it's intended to be.

Many knights -- especially in elaborate movie productions -- added a certain flourish to their armors by having feathered decorations placed on the top of their helmets. Sir Laser-Lot has similar ornamentation, sculpted with precisely the sort of exacting detail that one would expect from the Four Horsemen. However, it's a distinctly transparent red. Is it meant to be an energy manifestation? A hologram? Either way, it looks more than decorative. If this is some sort of coalesced energy, it might have the same potential impact as a lightsaber. Touch it and lose a few fingers...

Most of Sir Laser-Lot's armor is dark blue, except for the gloves and boots. As one would expect, the figure uses the traditional male body molds found in the Masters of the Universe Classics line. What's surprising, however, is the number of new parts created for this figure.

Although the gloves are fairly standard issue, and the trunks are the same as those used for Trapjaw and a number of other characters (you didn't really expect a knight to be wearing a furry loincloth, did you?), Sir Laser-Lot is wearing an entirely new chestplate. It's fairly plain in detail, mostly mimicking the musculature of the torso itself. But it does have some metallic blue trim at the neck and shoulders, silver painted clasps, and a red embossed triangle in the center of the chest. It's also the means by which Sir Laser-Lot's flowing red cape is secured.

Also new are Sir Laser-Lot's boots -- at least I certainly don't recall these being used before. This is especially surprising, as entirely new body parts such as this are a relatively rare occurrence, and Sir Laser-Lot not only has new lower legs, but new feet, as well! The boots are nicely detailed, with angled, segmented flares at the top as their most notable feature.

Of course, the figure is highly articulated, as one would expect, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, knees, and ankles.

Any complaints? Just one, and it's a problem that I've been encountering too often on Mattel's products lately. There's this crease in Sir Laser-Lot's molded head that goes right across the silver visor, making it look like there's a crack in it or some such. This isn't the fault of the mold, or the design, it's the fault of the factory, not properly preparing and liquefying the plastic before they inject it into the mold!

I encountered this same problem to an even worse degree on the DC Signature Series figure of Rocket Red -- in the same place, even. Unfortunately, there's something about metallic-finish paint, like silver, that makes it much more obvious. BUT -- it's something that shouldn't be happening in the first place, it's a quality control issue, I'm seeing it more and more, and it's something that Mattel needs to seriously fix.

Fortunately, Sir Laser-Lot is otherwise intact. But it's still a problem that has happened more than once now, and it needs to be stopped.

Sir Laser-Lot comes with plenty of accessories. He is equipped with a transparent blue shield, with some ornate silver detailing on it, part of which, if you look at it right, looks like stylized human eyes firing lasers beams at a target. He also comes with a spiked-ball club, or made, and the spiked ball is transparent red, and he comes with a fine sword that also has a transparent red blade. Lightsaber, indeed! The handle to the club is dark metallic gray, and the hilt of the sword is metallic gold.

So, now we come down to -- What's this guy's story? His package bubble has a sticker on it reading "The Powers of Grayskull", which would've been used to distinguish the "Preternia" characters and concepts from the rest of the Masters of the Universe, had that concept picked up any sort of steam in the late 1980's if it hadn't been for the entire line's cancellation. So, what's that sticker doing on this guy's package? Read on -- here's his character profile.

Heroic Knight of Grayskull
Real Name: Unrevealed

Across the continent of Preternia, the mightiest of King Grayskull's Knights was Sir Laser-Lot, a master of weapons and hand-to-hand fighting techniques. He wore an enchanted suit of armor powered by the great Gem of Tamadge, which enhanced his strength and let him unleash powerful energy blasts. So legendary were his deeds that the future King He-Man sent one of his loyal Time Agents into the past to bring Sir Laser-Lot forward to his time. Here, Sir Laser-Lot became the King's new Man-At-Arms, training both the Royal Guards and the King's young son Dare in ancient battle techniques. Sir Laser-Lot uses his energy blade to fight for chivalry and justice in any time.

Okay, wow. There's quite a bit to deal with there. Sir Laser-Lot clearly started out in the Preternia environment, but ended up in the future, when He-Man becomes king. One would at the very least hope that King He-Man's "loyal Time Agents" have the good sense to somehow check on Eternia's history to make sure they're not messing around with something that they shouldn't be. Let's assume they found some moment in history where Sir Laser-Lot was recorded as having gone missing in the midst of some great battle and his body was never recovered. That would be a reasonable point to pull him forward in time.

So he becomes the new Man-At-Arms, and among his responsibilities are -- training He-Man's young son Dare!? Okay, THERE'S a story that needs some elaboration! Let's hope a some point we get it.

So, what's my final word? Regardless of my opinion of Geoff Johns' current efforts at DC Comics, the man certainly has boundless creative talent, and it's been given a very impressive outlet here. Sir Laser-Lot is a cool character, a very cool figure, and certainly adds some interesting insights into both the past and future of the Masters' universe.

If you're thinking of passing up this figure because he doesn't represent an established character, I implore you to give Sir Laser-Lot a chance. He's an abundantly cool figure that works superbly well with the rest of the Masters characters, and is an excellent fit in their Universe. I'm convinced you'll be extremely pleased with him.

The MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE 30th ANNIVERSARY CLASSICS figure of SIR LASER-LOT definitely has my highest recommendation!