aWhen it comes to Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics line, my typical buying guideline has to do with “what figures did I own as a child”? Keep in mind, in general, I am notoriously non-nostalgic. While I’ve been collecting G.I. Joe for over thirty years, I’d much rather see new and exciting takes on the old formula rather than the same old designs used ad infinitum to cater to the stuck in the 80s pop culture geeks. But, I can also say fairly certainly, that I’m not nearly as attached to Masters of the Universe as a concept as I am G.I. Joe, so that toyline hits me much harder in the nostalgia nether-regions.
Nearly every figure I’ve tip-toed into MattyCollector to purchase has been because of some connection it had with my childhood.
Along with Masters of the Universe, I had a fondness for Galaxy Rangers and Bravestarr, two 80s infused brands that were exceptionally similar in concept (space cowboys) but nearly polar opposites in execution. Where Bravestarr was your typical Filmation regurgitated footage kids moral compass tale, Galaxy Rangers felt a lot more serious and a lot more focused on animation as a story, not a morality lesson. That being said, there was obviously something about the space-western concept that I found appealing, even though the typical Cowboys and Indians stuff didn’t really float my boat.
That’s the only reason I can think of why I was so interested in Rio Blast. Heck, I wasn’t interested enough to even know when he went on sale, I just know I stumbled across MattyCollector, and there he was, in stock, so I bought him. I think that’s the first time that happened, too.
I never had the classic version, and, in fact, knew nothing of the classic version until I had seen the new version, and I’m not afraid to say, Rio Blast is one heck of a fun figure, and is nicely different from your prototypical MOTU fare. With his bushy mustache and bowl-shaped haircut, he seems pretty reminiscent of the familiar western heroes of old, complete with stirrups and a silver badge. But under the surface, Rio Blast is pure laser-firing cybernetic crazy sauce. Various components of the figure can fold down or open up to reveal attached laser weapons, and he also has an elaborate backpack with twin cannons that flip over his shoulders as well. It’s a pretty crazy combination, but one that I think is extremely interesting. It would appear that Rio Blast was designed to be robotic, however, with Mattel’s funky secondary on the torso, the opening flap does not look at all like it comes from the figure itself, it looks like it’s an article of clothing, which is somewhat unfortunate. I know Mattel has to walk that line between new and existing tooling, but I do think using the vest to represent this reveal into a cybernetic chest hurts the overall impact of the figure a little.
All of the weapons fit their slots and holes quite nicely, and once Rio Blast is all loaded up, he’s a very fun looking figure, and as most MOTU figures are, a real caricature of the source material. If I have any complaints, I wish the goggles sat a bit closer to his eyes (and a bit further down) when he had the cannons flipped forward, but that’s probably a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things.
Considering Bravestarr and He-Man’s shared film studio, galactic back stories, and shared toy production companies, I would have loved to a see a movement towards some type of shared universe, but no indication of that exists here that I can see. Regardless, Rio Blast is a very fun, and very different figure that manages to fit the MOTUC aesthetic nicely, but also appeal to a slightly more gun-happy crowd. I dig it.
UPDATE: If you want to find this figure, you can still pick him up at Big Bad Toy Store, you can find him on Amazon, and you can always pop on over to eBay and search around for a deal on this MOTU Classics Rio Blast action figure.