REVIEW: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS SNOUT SPOUT
I've said it on any number of occasions when reviewing Masters of the Universe Classics figures -- the diversity of sentient life-forms on Eternia would likely be enough to drive an anthropologist right out of his mind. Along with standard human-types, you've got bird-men like Stratos, bee-men like Buzz-Off, cat-men like Carnivus, fish-men like Mer-Man, skunk-men like Stinkor, as well as some life-forms that just aren't that easy to categorize.
Eternia could drive a zoologist to distraction, too, as far as that goes. You've got green tigers with orange stripes -- and they talk -- an ill-tempered green-skinned gorilla with yellow fur, a purple panther. Heck, you want Eternia's version of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster? Try the Shadow Beasts (or maybe Grizzlor), and we know that there are dragons on the planet.
"Weird" seems to be the order of the day on Eternia, a world whose culture has definite medieval overtones, and yet whose technology in more than a few instances surpasses the best Earth can presently muster. You've got He-Man running around in a furry loincloth brandishing a magical sword, but one of his allies is a sentient humanoid machine named Roboto.
Even so, on a world where it seems anything is possible, where any life form may exist, and probably does, where green tigers talk as well as people, where magic and technology exist side-by-side -- with all of that -- you've still got to wonder about a guy with a robot elephant head.
And that brings us to SNOUT SPOUT, the latest addition to the Masters of the Universe collection.
Snout Spout was a fairly late addition to the original Masters of the Universe collection, and as such, he never turned up in the Masters of the Universe series. Like a handful of other characters, he instead was transferred over to the She-Ra: Princess of Power animated series, in order to give the character a certain amount of screen time, as well as bolster the male population for the otherwise almost entirely female cast of the toy line.
I discovered a small amount of information about the character in some online research: Snout Spout is a cyborg with a human body and a metal elephant head. He serves the Heroic Warriors as a firefighter, his main power being to spray jets of water, stored in a special pack on his back, from his trunk, which he refills periodically from rivers and lakes. In various episodes, he was also referred to as Hose Nose. Unlike many of the male characters in the series, Snout Spout's body-design is looked more appropriate for the He-Man series, as he wore little clothing, save for boots, a furry loin-cloth and wrist bands. This was because the character was originally designed for the He-Man toy line.
Now, that's obviously not a lot of backstory to work with, and indeed, backgrounds and origins were not a priority with the original Masters of the Universe line. However, the Classics line has gone to great effort to present solid backgrounds and histories for the characters.
Even so, when I learned of this character's impending release, I really wondered what was going to be said about him. It was obvious enough what Snout Spout was, but how in the world did he get that way? The bio card reveals the details. It reads as follows:
SNOUT SPOUT - Heroic Water-Blasting Firefighter.
A peasant from Etheria, Jaxton was one of three athletes abducted by Hordak and cast into his experimentation matrix. There, like the others, Jaxton was grafted with cybernetic parts, giving him both amazing powers and a bizarre form. After crossing through a Laser Gate to Eternia with the Evil Horde, Snout Spout escaped and joined with the renegade Masters of the Universe. Self-conscious about his appearance and called "Snout Spout" for his abilities to blast water from his cybernetic trunk, Jaxton often feels that everyone is always laughing at him. But when the Snake Men slither out and enemies attack, Snout Spout blasts them back with a super jet-spray!
Let me address one thing here -- there's a growing untold story of the Masters unfolding here. This is not the first time that they've been referred to as "renegades". That reference also turned up on the card for Swiftwind, She-Ra's horse, who was also available in the same month as Snout Spout. It would appear that there has been some sort of invasion of Eternia, probably by Hordak and company, and it was actually successful this time. Throw in continued problems with the Snake Men, who are referenced on this bio card -- and I think I speak for quite a few Masters of the Universe fans when we say we'd love to get a look at whatever notes or plotline or whatever the writers at Mattel have planned out for whatever's going on, and we'd dearly love to see some new animation or a comic book here.
As for Snout Spout: You sort of have to feel sorry for him. He didn't ask to be thrown into Hordak's experimentation matrix. He didn't ask to be transformed with a cybernetic elephant head. And I would hope that the Masters are kind enough not to really be laughing at him..
Still -- it's a little hard to take this guy seriously. It does seem as though most popular concepts of this type have at least one character who is something of a goofball, who just doesn't fit in, who you almost can't help but make fun of, or just outright dislike.
Consider G.I. Joe. Crystal Ball? An evil hypnotist? Really? Larry Hama refused to use the guy for years. Raptor? A guy in a bird suit? Hama did use him, and I'm amazed he worked as well as he did. Still, most of Cobra thought he was a few eggs shy of an omelette. How about Transformers? A little harder to really pin down an oddball in this concept, since there were so many of them, but let's just pick one. How about Wheelie? A rhyming kid with a screechy voice who used a slingshot. And he's how many people's favorite? And Star Wars -- Jar Jar Binks, anybody?
Then there's the matter of Snout Spout being a firefighter. Okay, from a functional standpoint, I guess it makes sense. Even so, if I've got a fire and I call the Eternian equivalent of "9-1-1", and this is what shows up...! Okay, sure, he can put out the fire well enough, but this isn't exactly a look that inspires a lot of confidence.
So, how's the figure? Very interesting, and not just because of the head. Which is certainly -- interesting.
I don't recall if actual elephants were ever seen in the Masters of the Universe or Princess of Power animated series. Certainly they had some animals that were analogous to animals on Earth. They had horses, large cats -- if oddly colored ones -- and birds, at the very least. They also had some animals that we've never had. But I don't know about elephants.
Nevertheless, the headsculpt certainly looks like a robotic elephant. The head is gray and very mechanical-looking, and very angular in appearance, except for the trunk, but it is also unmistakably very elephant-like. The head has a somewhat sloping forehead, a fairly prominent brow over two relatively small eyes that are spread fairly far apart, and huge fan-like ears out to the sides that one can only guess at their actual function. It'd be no wonder if Snout Spout is a little paranoid about people laughing at him or talking behind his back. With ears like this, his hearing range must be astounding.
Of course, most prominent is the nose, or trunk, to be precise. It is just as mechanical-looking as the rest of the head, and is ridged in ten sections. However, the entire nose is made from a flexible plastic, and has a wire inside. It's basically a large "bendie" attached to the otherwise solid head, and indeed, it can be posed accordingly.
The snout does NOT have the squirting function of the original. Most such "built-in actions" have been removed from the Classics line, due in large part to the higher reuse of parts and the difficulty in accommodating some of the functions. Personally, I don't miss the spring-action waists one bit. But the presence of a special function depends on the character, and the ability to accommodate it within the existing figure parameters.
For example, Tri-Klops has his rotating visor. Man-E-Faces certainly has his changing faces. Trapjaw has interchangeable bionic arms. But in order to accommodate Snout Spout's squirting ability, it would have been necessary to rig it through the backpack, which was the original water reservoir for the figure, and then route a hose through the torso, up through the neck, and into the head and out the trunk. That just wasn't going to happen. Not a major loss in my opinion.
Shout Spout is wearing a silver chest harness with a large red backpack. As I said in the last paragraph, in the original Masters line, this was the reservoir for his water supply. And some of the details, including an apparent plug, are present on the new backpack, but they're strictly decorative.
Snout Spout's overall coloration is interesting. I've never been entirely certain whether this was meant to be his skin color, or a tight-fitting body suit such as some characters like Man-At-Arms wear. The gray cybernetic head doesn't allow for much in the way of evaluation here. The main body color is a deep orange, which at the very least is a very strange offset to the gray head. Now, I see three possibilities here. Either this is Snout Spout's natural coloration -- and there's certainly no shortage of unusual skin colors on either Eternia or Etheria; this is in fact a body suit and not Snout Spout's natural coloration; or on top of being stuck with a cybernetic elephant head, Jaxton here has the single worst case of sunburn in the history of Eternia.
The reference to the animated She-Ra series in which Snout Spout appeared seems to be of the impression that this is Snout Spout's natural coloration, but it also makes reference to Snout Spout wearing a standard loincloth, wristbands, and so forth. What's interesting about that is that these are things that the figure is not wearing. His accouterments are anything but typical.
Now, in fairness, the animated series used a lot of stock footage, based on a technique called "rotoscoping", which involved filming a live actor performing certain moves, and then basing the animation on that footage. It was an impressive technique, but it did result in a lot of stock footage. And I suspect that Snout Spout, not exactly a major player, was illustrated by simply tracing some of the existing footage of any number of characters dressed in loincloths, and then adding the cybernetic elephant head, which was probably enough of a challenge as it was.
Nevertheless, the original Snout Spout, and of course his new Classics version, had quite an atypical body, doubtless in order to accommodate the squirting function of the original. As to the new Classics figure, although the figure does use the traditional body, arms, and legs that most Masters of the Universe Classics figures have, he does not have the usual loincloth, and his boots and gloves are entirely different from anything I have yet seen in the line.
Basically, he's wearing a blue Speedo. It's has some loincloth-like properties, in that it hangs down a bit in the front and the back, but it's definitely not the usual furry loincloth. He also has a black belt around his waist, which itself is different than the usual armored-looking belt of most Masters figures. This belt is smooth, with a wide silver buckle, and an emblem that looks like two crossed tusks.
Snout Spout's gloves are a dark reddish-purple, and they have thick cuffs, and the gloves themselves are ridged. Similarly, the boots, which are black, have very thick cuffs at the top, and the rest of the boots are ridged.
I don't recall seeing these gloves or boots on any prior Masters of the Universe Classics figure, which means they have been crafted specifically for Snout Spout. It doesn't mean that we won't see them again, but I'm impressed with the Four Horsemen and with Mattel for going the extra mile with Snout Spout and creating all these new parts.
Certainly Snout Spout is very well articulated. The figure is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, boot tops, and ankles. And, of course, there is also the flexible trunk, and his ears move just a bit, too. It's worth mentioning that the figure feels somewhat heavier than the average Masters figure. I'm inclined to attribute most of the weight to the trunk.
Snout Spout comes with two accessories, that certainly exemplify his firefighter occupation. One of these is a large silver axe. The other item is a "jaws of life" type of device, typically used by real-life emergency personnel to extract an injured person from a situation in which they're trapped, such as a wrecked car. This piece, silver with black trim, actually has some articulation of its own, as the "jaws" can move outward. A very nicely designed accessory.
One additional item came with Snout Spout. It's a sheet of stickers, with what I would describe as assorted "sub-logos" for the Masters of the Universe line. There is one logo each for the Evil Horde, the Snake Men, and the Galactic Protectors, which is what the good guys from the "New Adventures of He-Man" line have become known as; two stickers with the "Princess of Power" logo, and three with the "Power of Grayskull" logo on it, which is used for characters from earlier eras, such as King Grayskull and his contemporaries.
I suppose these stickers are meant to be used on the package bubble, assuming you choose to leave Snout Spout in his package, and want to assign him some sort of allegiance. Really, though, the only two that make much sense are the Evil Horde, who according to the origin story are the ones responsible for Snout Spout being what he is, and Princess of Power, which is the animated series in which the character appeared.
Honestly, I doubt that many of these stickers are going to be used by their recipients. Speaking as a graphic artist, it's kind of nice to have such clean samples of these various logos, however, although I'm not sure what I'd use them for. Still, it's a nice bonus.
So, what's my final word here? Okay, there's no question that Snout Spout is one of the more bizarre entries in the Masters of the Universe line. He's not really an "elephant man" the way characters like Stratos, Buzz-Off, and some others have actual connections to various animal species. It's a cybernetic attachment, and a very strange one. And the file card is understandable, if a little unfortunate. This is a character that it would be a little hard to take seriously.
Nevertheless, Snout Spout is a legitimate character in the Masters' universe, and is just as deserving of being brought into this superb Classics line as anybody else. And certainly, the Four Horsemen and Mattel have done a really excellent job doing so. If you're a fan of the Masters of the Universe, you'll certainly want to add him to your collection.
The MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of SNOUT SPOUT definitely has my highest recommendation!