Stan Lee’s ‘Masters Of The Universe’ Action Figure Gets It All Wrong [Opinion]
While top talent -- as in, Moebius, Bruce Timm, Stan Sakai, just to name a few -- have elevated Mattel's Masters of the Universe toy, cartoon and movie franchise to something special, so far the closest thing a comic book creator had come to getting their own MOTU figure was sometime He-Man scribe Geoff Johns' childhood creation Sir Laser Lot being produced. But, thanks to the magic of... being Stan Lee? Stan Lee, who has co-created scores of iconic Marvel super heroes in addition to curiosities like Stripperella -- but has never had anything to do with MOTU -- has received a new alter ego in the realm of Eternia by the name of Standor.
Standor, who is billed as a "cosmic creator of power" on Masters of the Universe Classics toy packaging, is a powder blue barbarian clad in glittery armor.
Here's how the action figure's box reads:
Before time began, the great Gods of the multiverse convened in the Hall of Power to create all that was and all that will ever be. Head architect of this great task was Standor. A cosmic being of unlimited imagination, Standor helped lead his fellow deities by fueling their energies with raw creative force. After creation was complete, it was Standor's great magic that cast the aura of the Gods across the universe as a wave of power, giving rise to all forms of life and intelligence. With his infinite energy, Standor reaches out into the cosmos and across the dimensional gateways to power all who would become Masters of the Universe for good or evil.
Even when he's part of a pantheon, notice how Standor is basically God with a capital "G"? Collaborators are mentioned, but... hmmm... what were their names exactly? Not a good look.
A painted prototype bearing the nearly 91-year-old writer and former editor's likeness was displayed at San Diego Comic-Con this past summer before the figure debuted in full this past weekend at Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles, now sporting Lee's signature sunglasses and a helmet that looks like it could've been designed by Jack Kirby. You know, like much of the arguably Fourth World-inspired MOTU franchise? Also, not a good look.
The figure was for sale at the Mattel booth and has since made its way onto auction sites and third party online retailers, along with the Comikaze programming guide that bears a cover showcasing He-Man shaking hands with Standor. There's some implication that it will also be available at future events, although it hasn't surfaced on the official MattyCollector online store.
Lee officially met his Eternian action figure counterpart and announced Mattel's new partnership with his Pow! Entertainment company during the MatteyCollector panel at Comikaze as documented by Mattycollector on Facebook. For his part, Stan didn't seem egotistical about the release in video captured by The_Con_Fluence Covers. If anything a (joke?) question to the panel moderators about the "dor" prefix on "Standor" only served to further underscore his detachment from the entire MOTU franchise. To his credit, Lee was self-deprecating and kind when talking about the people who worked hard to design the toy. The man is charming as ever.
It's not fun to see Lee incorporated into the MOTU mythos with a clearly Jack Kirby-influenced action figure, though. In a toy line beloved for inspiring fun and imagination, that's a cardinal sin. There's just no reason Standor should exist, especially in this form. Lee has never worked on any aspect of the MoTU franchise. The closest parallel that you can draw is that he was working for Marvel when the comics arm of the company published a 13-issue MOTU comic under its Star imprint. The figure doesn't honor Lee's creative legacy, it kind of just makes one up to shill the Smilin' Stan™ brand and a convention that's already employed some of the most brazen promotional efforts we've ever seen. The whole thing is tone-deaf, and it could've been avoided.
Mattel could've commemorated a partnership with Pow! by releasing a more honest figure. Instead of being billed as a more or less solo cosmic creator, Lee could've received a figure with the power of personality, charm or even some kind of cute play on ubiquity. Instead of appearing as a clearly Kirby-esque creation, the toy could've sported more of a conventional (i.e. slender, non-Kirbyized) Lee look. Such changes would have played to Lee's strengths as a shameless promoter and movie cameo king and made the figure stand out that much more in a toy line dominated by godlike warriors and monsters without evoking a man who should never have been in his shadow. Instead collectors are presented with just one more thing that insists on being purchased even though all of its true appeal -- a cool sculpt by the Four Horsemen, a design influenced by Kirby, a fun toy mythos 32 years in the making -- has pretty much nothing to do with Lee himself.