REVIEW: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS STINKOR
I imagine that most of us, as toy collectors, tend to focus rather strongly on the toy departments of the average large retail store, such as Walmart or Target. But sometimes, it can be fun to look around in other parts of the store. And fairly often, one of the questions that will come to mind, is "How the heck did something like that ever reach mass production?"
Case in point in the toy world -- whoever it was that said, "I've got a great idea! Let's make an action figure that smells really bad!" And thus was born STINKOR, easily one of the most unusual individuals in the realm of Masters of the Universe, and one of the most recent entries in the modern Masters of the Universe Classics line.
I don't often dread action figures. I very nearly dreaded Stinkor. I never owned the original Stinkor, and I'd heard more than a few colorful descriptions of what he smelled like. Actually, my first experience with scented action figures wasn't even with the Masters of the Universe. It was with G.I. Joe.
In 1993, one of the special teams for G.I. Joe was known as the Mega-Marines. They were specifically organized to put a stop to some of Dr. Mindbender's more radical genetic experiments. Those experiments took the form of the Mega-Monsters, a pair of larger, very bizarre action figures known as the Bio-Viper and the Monstro-Viper. A third proposed figure, the Plasma-Viper, never made it to production.
The Mega Monsters had a very distinctive feature -- they were scented. I've always felt like the Bio-Viper smelled like bad fish covered with lemon-scented furniture polish spray, and the Monstro-Viper smelled like stale ice cream of some sort. Whether that was Hasbro's intent, I have no idea.
"Stinking up the place" was something that the Mega-Monsters were doing very effectively, and I did my best to get rid of it. I washed them as thoroughly as I could. No luck. I actually lashed them down to a table on my porch during one of the worst monsoon thunderstorms of the season. This still didn't help. I contacted someone at Hasbro that I knew at the time, and was informed that the scent had actually been molded into the plastic.
Fast forward to the present day. Mattel releases Moss Man into the Masters of the Universe Classics line. I'd never had him in the original line, either, for the same reason. But, I'm trying to maintain a reasonably complete modern Masters line, so I got him, figuring that if it came down to it, I could just to do him what I did to the Mega-Monsters.
Holy cow. I couldn't get him into a plastic bag fast enough, and on the advice of a friend, even threw in some baking soda. The bogus pine-air-freshener smell coming off that figure literally made my eyes water. Two months later, he'd finally settled down to an acceptable level, and I tossed another plastic bag into the trash -- with the baking soda.
So you can understand that I might have some trepidation over Stinkor. Fortunately, I believe he's the last scented action figure I'll ever have to endure. And I will discuss his scent over the course of this review. But first, let's consider some history of the character.
According to some online research, Stinkor is an anthropomorphic skunk with mystical control over his own stench. His action figure used the same mold as Mer-Man, wore the same mold of armor as Mekaneck, and was one of only three scented toys Mattel produced (the others being Moss Man and also Perfuma from the She-Ra line).
In the 2002 version, Stinkor was once a Paeleezean named Odiphus who was mutated by an explosion he caused while meddling in Tri-Klops' lab. The mutations caused him to grow taller, muscular, and to be able to speak in a humanoid manner. His stench is so awful that a special armored suit was created for him to keep the smell as under control as possible. Some stink still escapes the suit, causing Skeletor and the other evil warriors to cover their noses and to send Stinkor out of the room as much as possible. Stinkor's stench especially adversely affects the dragons of Eternia.
The Sorceress tells that, in the time of the Great Unrest, Odiphus betrayed his people to an evil warlord named Prahvus. Upon the warlord's defeat by the Sorceress, Odiphus was captured and about to be executed. The Sorceress intervened and Odiphus' life was spared, although he was exiled. He is seen in the Eternian prison earlier in the series, although he is not named at that time. Stinkor was never used in the 80's cartoon because the idea of using him was ridiculed since his smell would give the bad guys away to the good guys.
And that's very close to the information on the bio card on the back of the package for this figure, which I'll relate in its entirety in a bit.
So, how's the figure? Extremely impressive, really. And this time around, he doesn't use Mer-Man's mold. As for Mekaneck's armor, well -- it was recently announced that Mekaneck will be the monthly Masters of the Universe figure for October 2012, but one can hardly blame Mattel for wanting to get as much use out of expensive molds as they possibly can, and honestly, I look forward to Mekaneck. He played a prominent role in the 2002 series, and as such is just a little overdue in my opinion.
Let's deal with the most obvious issue first -- Stinkor's scent. Stinkor's package has a little yellow explosion balloon on the front that reads, "Product has real smell -- it's fun!" I'd call that particular conclusion debatable at best.
To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd heard a wide range of descriptions for the original Stinkor's scent over the years, few of them complimentary. And somehow, despite attending any number of toy shows, I'd never encountered an original Stinkor, and despite the fact that the character appeared in the 2002 animated series, he did not receive a figure in the 2002-era line, although one might suppose that one was in the works before the line came to a rather abrupt end.
A friend and fellow collector of mine said that his modern Stinkor figure smelled like patchouli. This was actually corroborated by the online research which I quoted above, which stated that even the original Stinkor figure smelled like "patchouli oil". Now, maybe I'm just not trendy or hip enough with my fragrances or whatever, but while I had heard the word "patchouli" from time to time, I didn't really know what it meant. Time for more online research...
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth; also patchouly or pachouli) is a species from the genus Pogostemon and a bushy herb of the mint family, with erect stems, reaching two or three feet in height and bearing small, pale pink-white flowers. The plant is native to tropical regions of Asia, and is now extensively cultivated in China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, as well as West Africa.
The heavy and strong scent of patchouli has been used for centuries in perfumes, and more recently in incense, insect repellents, and alternative medicines. Pogostemon cablin, P. commosum, P. hortensis, P. heyneasus and P. plectranthoides are all cultivated for their oils and all are known as patchouli oil.
Patchouli grows well in warm to tropical climates. It thrives in hot weather, but not direct sunlight. If the plant withers due to lack of watering, it will recover well and quickly after it has been watered. The seed-producing flowers are very fragrant and bloom in late fall. The tiny seeds may be harvested for planting, but they are very delicate and easily crushed. Cuttings from the mother plant can also be rooted in water to produce additional plants.
Extraction of patchouli's essential oil is by steam distillation, requiring rupture of its cell walls by steam scalding, light fermentation, or drying.
Leaves may be harvested several times a year, and when dried may be exported for distillation. Some sources claim a highest quality oil is usually produced from fresh leaves distilled close to where they are harvested; others that baling the dried leaves and fermenting them for a period of time is best.
In several Asian countries, such as Japan and Malaysia, patchouli is used as an antidote for venomous snakebites. The plant and oil have many claimed health benefits in herbal folk-lore and the scent is used to induce relaxation. Chinese medicine uses the herb to treat headaches, colds, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Which, as much as I may support homeopathic treatments, strikes me as a bit much to expect from one meager plant.
Patchouli oil can be purchased from mainstream Western pharmacies and alternative therapy sources as an aromatherapy oil. Patchouli is used widely in modern perfumery and modern scented industrial products such as paper towels, laundry detergents, and air fresheners. And, apparently, at least one action figure.
All very fascinating, and if this stuff can be used to scent paper towels and laundry detergents, then it certainly strikes me that it wouldn't be too much harder to infuse it into Stinkor, but none of this information really told me what it smelled LIKE. The only real indications were that the source plant was from the mint family, and that it was known to have a "heavy and strong" scent. I didn't especially consider that second part to be good news.
So it was with a certain reluctance, and memory of the Moss Man experience, and keeping a small face mask nearby that I usually only have on hand when I'm going to be spray-painting something, that I opened Stinkor's package.
And -- well. Hmmm. Either patchouli isn't as strong a scent as advertised, or Mattel got an off batch of the stuff, or maybe I got a lot luckier than I deserved and got a Stinkor figure that somehow largely missed out on it or something, because it really wasn't all that bad. I've opened action figures where the scent of the plastic itself was more overpowering than this. Maybe that's what happened here and they canceled each other out. In any case, Stinkor's -- stink -- was well within a tolerable range, and unless the summer months make it worse, we might be able to forgo the plastic bag and baking soda this time.
The figure is very well made. The head is not at all based on Mer-Man. In fact, the figure comes with two heads, once based on, let's say a more individualized take on the original, while the other bears a closer resemblance to his 2002 animated incarnation. Personally, I prefer the original head.
Stinkor has two large, round, yellow eyes with slitted pupils, with black outlines but wider white circles around these. He has no visible nose -- lucky for him -- and his mouth is rather angular in appearance and is fixed at the end of a short muzzle. Two rows of small, sharp teeth are shown. He has two short, pointed ears facing forward on the top of his head. One can see how the original Mer-Man head could have been used, but I'm pleased that the Four Horsemen crafted an original head for the figure.
The second head is somewhat shorter, has larger eyes, a nastier-looking mouth, and the ears are more pointed, larger, and sweep out to the sides more. Neither version of Stinkor exactly looks friendly, but this second head looks not only more vicious, but less sane. If I want a crazy-looking action figure around here, that's what my DC Universe Classics figure of the Joker is for.
Masters characters that are humanoid versions of various animals is not unique to Stinkor, certainly. There's plenty of others, such as Buzz-Off, Clawful, and more. Stinkor certainly takes his resemblance to a skunk very seriously. The figure's body is mostly black, and the body molds used are those that give the figure a furry-looking body, such as Stratos, just as one example.
Stinkor has a white stripe going over the top of his head, which continues to taper down his back, at least as far as the top of the backplate of his armor. Additionally, he has broad white stripes running down his arms. There are no white stripes on his legs, nor does he have a tail.
Since black and white isn't exactly the most colorful combination around, Stinkor has made up for this with his clothing. His armored vest is bright orange -- which certainly set it apart from Mekaneck's -- with a small amount of red detailing, and a little bit of gold in the red. He is wearing an orange furry loincloth, otherwise identical in design to most of the furry loincloth wearers in the Masters universe, with a red belt. He has red gloves, and orange boots, that end with the strange three-clawed toes that a number of other figures, right up to and including Skeletor, are known to have, and in Stinkor's case, the claws are red.
But that's not the limit of colorful accouterments for Stinkor. His accessories are mostly a rather bright shade of blue. These include a fairly large round shield, a blaster gun of some sort, tanks that attach to the back of the vest (Oxygen? Concentrated stench?), and a small face mask that is designed to be used only with the second, 2002-style head. There's also a little metallic orange and red gizmo whose purpose I'm not certain of. It's been a while since I've watched any of the 2002 animation.
Of course, Stinkor is superbly detailed. Although his paint details are somewhat limited, they are exceptionally well done. I'm especially impressed with the neatly painted rows of sharp little teeth on both heads, and the red and gold detailing on the chestplate.
Naturally, Stinkor is also superbly well articulated, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, boot tops, and ankles.
Stinkor's official bio card on the back of his package reads as follows:
Originally a Pelezeean thief named Odiphus, Stinkor was banished from his village after helping a great warlord named Prahvus destroy their defensive weapons. Wandering throughout Eternia, curiosity led him to Tri-Klops' lab deep within Snake Mountain. There he caused an accident that infused his body with a horrid stench so powerful it drives away even Skeletor's Evil Warriors. After demonstrating how his stench power could be used as a weapon of warfare, Odiphus was recruited back to Snake Mountain and armed with a Power Vest Gas Mask created by Tri-Klops to funnel his stench directly at foes. Armed for combat and calling himself "Stinkor", Odiphus has the ability to stink and destroy with his odor of evil.
Interesting background, but I think if I were part of Skeletor's team, I'd be a little offended by that remark about Stinkor's stench driving away "even" Skeletor's Evil Warriors. I mean, just because they're bad guys, does that mean they all have poor bodily hygiene? All right, I hear it's a little tough to get Beast Man to take his weekly flea dip, but otherwise...
So, what's my final word? This was one figure that I wasn't entirely looking forward to. Not because of the character. I have nothing against the character of Stinkor, and certainly his overall design and appearance is one of the more dynamic ones in the line. I was, for obvious and justified reasons based on previous experience, worried about the gimmick.
Fortunately, those worries proved to be unfounded, and might not even be that much of a concern for you who are reading this. And in any case, this is yet another highly impressive entry in Mattel's Masters of the Universe Classics line, which continues to impress with highly-detailed, highly-articulated, modern incarnations of these legendary characters. That certainly includes Stinkor, and if you're a fan of the Masters, you'll definitely want to add him to your collection.
The MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of STINKOR definitely has my highest recommendation!