A couple of years ago at Comic-Con, sculptors The Four Horsemen showed off a prototype of a resculpted Battle Ram vehicle, scaled to Masters of the Universe Classics figures. As fans themselves, it was something they wanted to do, but Mattel kept saying it was cost-prohibitive and the resources of the line could be better spent elsewhere.
And then fans proved they’d buy a $300 Castle Grayskull. So here’s your $110 Battle Ram.
Yes, the price tag feels excessive. But anybody following the toy industry can break down why it is what it is. Firstly, this is a limited-edition item made with no preorder, so the quantity made is likely quite low, and could probably only be done because tooling for the front part of the vehicle already exists, as it was released last year as a bonus item. Also, the Man-at-Arms figure offsets costs in other ways, by being almost entirely reused parts, thus allowing for more use of original tooling throughout the rest of the line. Take out the figure, resculpt the front entirely, and you’d probably be looking at a $200 item. Or more.
You may notice this Man-at-Arms does not come with a bio – normally, I’d expect to see one justifying his slightly different look, such as “After the Third Great Battleground, Duncan shaved his hair into a ponytail to honor the fallen warrior Ninjor, who switched sides at the last minute to turn the tables on Evil Spector and Gorpo.” NO. Let’s just be honest here – this MAA is the equivalent of a cloned human grown for spare parts. The body is Filmation-style symmetrical armor (so designed in order to let animators conserve cels simply by reversing them), while the head is 2002-style unhelmeted. I thought at first that this figure also deliberately has a more Asian, anime look, but no – every MAA in Classics has the same basic face sculpt (except the Snake version, obviously).
You can switch heads, but it’s worth noting that this head goes on the peg super-tight, and it’s all paint-over-plastic. While the head itself is painted flesh and brown, the folks at Mattel, who’d previously been chastised for doing this with black plastic on the bodies, have cast the head in aqua, Mer-Man colored plastic and painted the whole thing. To avoid peeling, I don’t recommend a lot of head swaps. Other heads go on this body a bit looser.
Here are the heads on appropriate bodies:
This Man-at-Arms comes with his signature mace, small pistol, and silver Clawful mace. They fit on his back, though the Clawful mace does not stay well, and may impeded the missile firing on the Battle Ram.
The detachable Jet Sled front of the Batlle Ram has a new animal head on the front, but aside from that, it is the same as the previously released version – sculpt, paint and all. I wouldn’t be surprised if they literally repurposed unsold stock.
The missile fires: not very hard, but in a decent arc.
A nice improvement to the Battle Ram feels GI Joe inspired – it has footpegs and handles on the back. The various differently placed pegs allow a male or a female figure to take charge, which is a nice touch over and above what was necessary. Because both men and women should enjoy the insane psychedelic mask painted on the back.
This allows for the back part of the vehicle to be driven separately.
Aside from that, the wheels roll just fine.
Bottom line: if you weren’t already collecting these toys, the price tag may seem ridiculously steep, as a similar item in a mass retail store would be $50 at most. It’s a toy for fans who were once told there was no way to even make this item affordable. If you’re in the line this deep, it’s fairly essential; a labor of love by toymakers who wanted to improve their own favorite childhood vehicle to a level they could enjoy now. It’s still available online, and I’d wager it will be for a while.
I may have to find Vykron’s old tank parts and see if they’ll work on this Manny. Anybody done that yet?