He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. A cartoon that ran from 1983-85, which existed solely to promote the exceedingly popular (the most popular even) toy line of the same name. It spawned a corny live-action adaption that starred Dolph Lundgren (who was surely robbed of the Oscar that year) and Frank Langella, as well as young Courtney Cox. The cartoon was rebooted in 2002 but managed to only run 39 episodes. An action figure line from that series was produced, then later a line of mini statues. Another and now a current line of figures are produced by Mattel and sold on their collector’s website. The property is licensed to a number of other vendors as well, such as Funko, Super 7, Entertainment Earth. All of which are finding that the nostalgia for He-Man and The Masters of The Universe is as strong as ever. Out of every outfit capitalizing on the sentimentality felt by children of the 80’s, none are perhaps as hard-core as Sideshow Collectibles. Their line of collectible statues inspired by the popular 80’s cartoon are the earnest of representations, and completely unlike anything that has come before them.
No better show of display, than by checking out the very first in their 1:5 statue series, the one and only He-Man – the most powerful man in the Universe.
So, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Can’t imagine what Sigmund Freud would say about those obsessed with a blonde haired muscle-bound hero in a fur loin cloth wielding his powerful sword. And yes, with characters like Beast Man, Ram-Man, and the truly unfortunately named Fisto (who has, you guessed it, a giant fist), the entirety of He-Man and all the Masters of the Universe seems like a gay BDSM fueled fever dream. Sideshow Collectibles, however, and much like many fans, have ignored such homoerotic overtones that have been joked about since its inception. Choosing, instead, to see the franchise as a sword and sandals, sorcery vs technology type adventure with broads in metal bikinis, wizards, cyborgs, and skull faced demonic overlords. Boy, if they didn’t go all-in with that perception.
This impressive premier statue from Sideshow Collectibles features an intricately sculpted costume and armor details. The statue dons a removable fabric handcrafted cape and iconic sword of power and is displayed on a Grayskull themed base. That’s what’s billed on the ticket but let’s get a closer look. Starting with the box.
The He-Man figures of old, the vehicles and play sets, in particular, came packaged in these big vibrant boxes with gorgeous and slightly terrifying Frank Frazetta-esque artwork – stunning illustrations depicting the titular heroes and villains battling across the Eternian landscape. As far as first impressions go, it is a little disappointing that the box of this collectible figurine/statue does not share some semblance to colorful illustrious work of classic He-Man packaging. It’s rather plain looking actually, with dark colors, so dark that the He-Man logo lower front is barely visible. The front and rear of the box puts focus on the depicted statue, and rightly so. He-Man stands stoically, having been assumingly transformed by the Power of Grayskull, with the metamorphic “puberty lightning” crackling off his sword, held aloft of course. Unsatisfying to see the rest of the box isn’t as dramatic. But, hey, the box is just going to get tossed aside anyway for a cat or kid to play in, right? Onward to the goods!
This interpretation of He-Man was commissioned by artist Stjepan Sejic, known for the likes of Sunstone, Death Vigil, IXth Generation, Rat Queens, Ravine, and covers for seemingly dozens of different books. Also on the design team, Alex Pascenko, Zane Yarbrough, Ian MacDonald and Zac Roane. Sejic and the rest of the Power House team didn’t so much re-imagine the muscular hero as much as they took inspiration from all best versions of He-Man. There is a clear homage to Dolph Lundgren depiction of He-Man from the 1987 live-action movie, the 2002 animated series, as well as Sejic’s own fan-art. Altogether, representing how fans remember the idea of He-Man – the concept of this awesome sci-fi barbarian with a power sword re-interpreted in the most hyper-realistic of ways.
Standing an impressive 23″ tall, Prince Adam of Eternia holds aloft his indestructible magic Power Sword as he transforms into He-Man, the mighty champion of Castle Grayskull! The intricately detailed piece, is decked out with armored pteruges, boots and gauntlets, his strength-magnifying breastplate and power harness, and a magnificent removable cape. For a character that is practically half naked, he is most certainly well adorned.
In terms of sculpt, shape and form, Sideshow delivered a heroic strongman with a true He-Man-esque physique (the term “He-Man” having been around long before this character ever came to be), featuring accentuated muscles in the abs, arms, and legs; there is no doubting this is the body of the universe’s most powerful man. The detailing throughout the body is further defined by pores on the skin and bulging veins. The imposing form is complimented by a truly stellar paint job. The coloring is near perfect to human skin, and the shadowing/wash gives prominence to He-Man’s bustling muscles (*fawns self with Orko’s hat).
The head sculpt features an unfamiliar but welcomed new likeness. Gone is the blonde bowled haircut and good mannered face. The new portrait is a strong-jawed and battle worn, with L’oreal approved golden locks bristling in the cut of the wind, along set a pair of piercing blue eyes gazing like they were locked in a 72-hour sword fight. This ain’t yo Daddy’s He-Man.
There’s an abundance of great detail in the minimal armor He-Man’s wearing, more than can be appreciated upon first inspection. From the tattered fabric cape that gives him an air of regal nobility (and, really, what outfit isn’t dramatically improved with a cape?), the refined and bold looking Iron Cross centered in the power harness, the classic fur boots with ornate golden-winged shin guards, intimidating skull themed pauldron (shoulder armor), and bracers that so are well detailed it would be easy to not mistake them as real and fastened leather. And, replaced are those silly fur/manbush undies with Peteruges – a decorative skirt of leather made of strips of leather with studs on them worn around the waist. It’s like a kilt but, you know, not gay.
The rendering of the shield and sword are definitely on point. The sword is both reminiscent of one featured in the classic animated series and the one Dolph Lundgren wielded in the live-action movie with gold hilt and pommel. Yet, it is still a design all its own, defined by Triskelion-esque inscribing across the blade. The sword is solid metal. At the very least, it makes for a totally boss (albeit expensive) letter opener! He-man’s power sword is accompanied by an elegant eagle-themed golden scabbard fastened to his back. The markings on the sword are also and more prominently ordained across the underside of the shield.
He-Man stands atop the open drawbridge (or would that be Jaw-bridge?) of the famous Castle Grayskull. The base itself, conversely to the He-Man figure, is equally detailed. Stalactites and stonework fastened into intimidating teeth, varied in size, circled around a decorative stone floor with more Nordic-like markings abound.
From the tip of the sword down to the green stone floor, the whole piece has a strong (no pun intended) imposing presence, like it should be the on the cover of an Iron Maiden album or an issue of Heavy Metal.
CRITICISM (The Not So Good Stuff)
The skull armor on the left shoulder is obnoxiously large and serves no purpose other than to be a visually assertive reference to the front façade of Castle Grayskull. There is no need for it. He-Man does not require any sort of protective armor. He’s the most powerful man in the universe, he’s as a strong as invulnerable as Superman. So again, why? Same could be said about the usefulness of the shield, but for battle purposes, it makes for an auxiliary weapon just as much as it serves as a deflecting tool, but the point is, armor, don’t need it.
The positioning of the wrist on the right arm has the power sword at an odd angle, resulting in a cockeyed view of the sword. Had the wrist been tilted upwards further, the sword would be held more aloft, and the statues pose would look more like the classic transformation sequence from the opening of the cartoon.
Only other quibble, is regarding the statues diorama display base. If it’s supposed to be drawbridge themed, why is it circular, why do the teeth go all the way around? Suppose it’s just better to imagine it as an inner level within the walls of Grayskull, rather it being the lower mouth of the jawbridge.
It could be said that statue is an artifact that harkens back to a simpler time, a time of youth, imagination and daring adventures with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Only it’s way more than that. Sideshow’s design for the main protagonist of the Mattel toy line stays true to the core, while offering enough artistic interpretation to make it a wholly unique piece….a masterpiece of the universe! If Hollywood ever gets around to making a new He-Man movie, this, fucking THIS, is what fans want, need, and expect to see.
You can still purchase the statue by clicking HERE. There are two versions including an exclusive which features a switch-out Power Axe and Sheathed Power Sword. The price is $399.99 and can be purchased with payment plans for as little as $51.43. He-Man is the first in the line, followed by Skeletor, with Evil Lynn being the most recent edition.