REVIEW: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS EVIL-LYN
I think there is a certain irony, in that while female characters tend to be relatively minimal in number in any given boys' action figure line, those same characters often rise to considerable prominence in whatever spin-off media is based on the given action figure concept, since the producers of such media want to offer as much diversity of cast and character interaction as possible.
Take G.I. Joe. Despite a literal cast of hundreds, the number of female characters can be counted on the fingers of two hands, and two of those characters, Scarlett and Baroness, are among the best-known in the entire concept. Transformers invented their own female. Arcee, even though there was no official Arcee robot toy for years, and they have yet to do one that is a precise match for the original Arcee from the Generation One series.
Then there's Masters of the Universe. Dozens of characters, many of them quite bizarre and strange, and yet there were three prominent females that are all well remembered and who all received considerable media time -- the heroic Sorceress, brave Teela, and the villainous Evil-Lyn.
Fast forward to the superb Masters of the Universe Classics line of action figures. Teela came along fairly early in the series. Sorceress has yet to be produced, but I can't imagine that she won't be at some point. The line has also given us the mysterious green Goddess, as well as a figure of Adora, She-Ra's secret identity, with She-Ra pending as I write this review.
And we also finally have EVIL-LYN herself. The character has an interesting history, as far as her animated appearances are concerned. Let's see what some online research turned up about that:
The only female member of the Evil Warriors, Evil-Lyn is an evil witch who aids Skeletor as his second-in-command with her powers of darkness. She is vastly more intelligent than Skeletor's other minions and often comes much closer to defeating He-Man than anyone else. (It has been suggested that she is more cunning than even Skeletor himself and is merely a member of his ranks while it suits her own purposes.) She regularly uses the crystal ball atop her wand to aid with her magic.
Evil-Lyn's appearance in the cartoon series by Filmation is somewhat modified; her helmet and clothing are black and purple rather than blue and includes a black cape, and her skin a pale yellow tone rather than bright yellow like the action figure. In one episode, "The Witch and the Warrior", it is revealed that she has white short hair under her helmet.
Introduced in the pilot episode "Diamond Ray of Disappearance", she is quickly established as one of Skeletor's main accomplices, capable of using all manner of magic spells to battle against the Heroic Warriors. She also frequently employs the use of magical disguises to trick the Heroic Warriors, in episodes such as "The Shaping Staff", "The Curse of the Spellstone", "Evil-Lyn's Plot" and "The Royal Cousin".
She is also shown to frequently branch out on her own and conduct her own schemes away from Skeletor in episodes such as "Ordeal in the Darklands"; also using her services to aid other villains in "The Defection" and "Eternal Darkness". There seems to be a kind of rivalry between her and Teela, based purely on the fact they are the only women in their respective armies. Although she is seen to have a similar feud with the sorceress Sybiline, as seen in "The Defection".
This is brought to the forefront in the episode "The Witch and the Warrior", in which she is forced into making an uneasy alliance with Teela when the two of them are stranded in the desert together. As well as showing a degree of respect for Teela's skills and intelligence above the levels of pure evil, she also reveals in this episode that she is only working for Skeletor so she can overthrow him once he conquers Eternia.
With her intelligence, fearlessness and her formidable magic skills, Evil-Lyn is generally Skeletor's most powerful minion. She is often left in charge when he is away from Snake Mountain.
Although her background is never mentioned in the series, the series bible explains she was once a scientist from Earth called Evelyn Powers, who was on board Marlena Glenn's spacecraft before it crash-landed on Eternia. Evelyn had been insanely jealous of Marlena for being chosen over her to pilot the shuttle. When the ship crashed as the result of an explosion from Skeletor's homeworld of Infinita, Evelyn wound up on Infinita, where the evil powers of that world turned her knowledge of science into sorcery to aid Skeletor. This origin is used in a storybook, New Champions of Eternia, but it was unpopular with the show's writers and therefore never alluded to in the cartoon.
Evil-Lyn returned for the 2002 relaunch of the Masters of the Universe toy line and cartoon series. While her portrayal in the new show is very much in-keeping with the original series, her background is expanded upon in the new series. She is revealed to be the daughter of a mysterious sorcerer known only as The Faceless One, who lives in isolation amongst the ruins of Zalesia and is the guardian of a precious object called the Ram Stone. The Faceless One disapproves of his daughter's servitude of the evil forces and hopes that someday she will learn the error of her ways. The episode "Lessons" indicates that she still feels a familial bond with her father when she returns the Ram Stone to him after it was used by Skeletor in an attempt to breach Castle Grayskull.
The show's second season expands considerably on the theme of her disloyalty to Skeletor, as well as showcasing her origins. Unbeknownst to Skeletor, Evil-Lyn forms a secret alliance with Kobra Khan to free King Hiss and the Snake Men, whom she believes will grant her greater power than Skeletor. After the release of the Snake Men, Skeletor seeks to punish her by banishing her to the Forsaken Realm in the episode "The Price of Deceit". This episode features a flashback to the time she first met Skeletor, when he was still in the form of Keldor. The young Evil-Lyn had managed to impress Keldor with her great knowledge and power, had fallen in love with him and played a part in saving his life. After his injury at the hands of King Randor, she had taken him to the altar of Hordak, who gave him new life by turning him into Skeletor. After the transformation, Skeletor became more and more twisted and evil, ceasing the love between him and Evil-Lyn and inspiring Evil-Lyn to overcome him rather than work alongside him. This episode also indicates there are sparks of good left within her as she considers defecting to the side of good after He-Man saves her life following a call for help from her father.
Later, in the episode "The Power of Grayskull", Evil-Lyn learns that Skeletor promised to free Hordak from the dimension of Despondos in return for having his life saved, but chose instead to destroy his sanctuary, knowing that Hordak could easily destroy him. She therefore chooses to free Hordak by herself in order to gain the power that she needs, and once again concocts a scheme behind Skeletor's back, allying with Count Marzo in the episode "History" to free Hordak from Despondos. Failing in her scheme, she vows to continue until she has freed Hordak. This plot was going to be expanded upon in the show's third season, but the cartoon was cancelled before any further episodes could be produced.
Believe me, some of that contradictory backstory between the original series and the 2002 incarnation will come into play in this review.
So, how's the figure? Very impressive, really. I'll admit there's some part of me that wishes that the more subdued color scheme of the 2002 figure had been used, and I wouldn't mind at all if Mattel decided to do a 2002-era repaint at some point. But I can understand wanting to maintain the "Classics" aspect of this line as much as possible.
The character's color scheme has, as was noted somewhat in the online material, been somewhat up for grabs. The original figure, as with the Classics version, has rather bright yellow-orange skin, and her costume is a combination of dark blue and light blue. The original Filmation animated series modified this somewhat by darkening the uniform colors and making the skin color somewhat less yellow.
The 2002 series -- and the 2002-era figure, which like many of the supporting cast was a nightmare to find, especially given the popularity of the character -- went even further, giving Evil-Lyn a costume that was purple and black, and a skin tone that looked more pale than yellow. For the sake of comparison, it's worth noting that the color scheme between the two incarnations of Evil-Lyn were different enough so that when Four Horsemen Studios were doing a series of figure-sized statues after the demise of the 2002 line, they actually issued an Evil-Lyn statue in her classic color scheme.
Generally speaking, most of the villains in the 2002 animated series were nastier customers than their classic counterparts, and this was also true of Evil-Lyn. But I think her higher intelligence relative to most of her companions made her more of a schemer in both incarnations, and gave her the ability to see that there were times when maybe she went a little too far, or when it was in her best interests to play down her villainous tendencies.
Interesting observation about her short white hair. Although the helmet isn't removable on the figure, this was kept consistent in both series, as well.
The Evil-Lyn figure, as one would expect, uses the same body, except for the head, as Teela. This is actually the third use of the body, as it was also used for the Goddess figure. It's an excellent design, nicely sculpted and highly detailed. It lacks mid-torso or waist articulation, which has been a point of mild contention to some fans, but honestly, the figure looks so good, and truly, these figures are so much more articulated overall than either the original or 2002 figures, that it's very hard to complain.
The headsculpt is excellent. Evil-Lyn has a face that manages to look scary without being at all ugly. Frankly, if she turned up in the 1940's, she'd probably get a job in Hollywood as one of those seductive screen actresses that looks great even though you can also tell that she's going to be a -- well, it rhymes with witch, and that's what Evil-Lyn is, so let's leave it at that.
Evil-Lyn has expressive, upswept eyes that have been very neatly and extensively painted to feature the whites of the eyes, bright green irises, black pupils, a reflective dot of white (that's just enough to make her eyes look very dangerous), very upswept black eyelashes around her eyes, arched eyebrows, and green eyeshadow. There's a bit of pink around her lips. The expression is relatively neutral, but there's something about the expression in the eyes, that -- I'm not sure quite what makes me think of this combination, but makes her look like she could want into a room of the nastiest Disney villains and clear the place just by staring at them. I know what it is -- there's a degree to which she reminds me of the Wicked Queen from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". Beautiful appearance, but as nasty as they come.
Evil-Lyn's headpiece is a tight-fitting, dark blue helmet with a jagged, fan-like fin running over the top of it. The fin alternates between light blue and dark blue, with metallic blue highlights in the light blue sections, and a small light blue skull (species indeterminate) in front of the fan on the very top.
Evil-Lyn's costume consists of a dark blue sleeveless tunic with light blue ornamentation, some of which it might be presumed is armored. The uniform is identical to Teela's, but obviously colored in different colors and even painted somewhat differently pattern-wise. The light blue ornamentation has some light blue metallic trim in it, which is very striking and impressive. Additionally, Evil-Lyn has light blue arm bands and wrist gauntlets which have similar metallic light blue trim.
Her boots are very dark blue, with dark blue fur cuffs at the top, and black strapping on them, that's rather hard to discern in anything except fairly bright light, such as indirect or direct sunlight. As a little bit of additional trim, her fingernails are painted black.
Of course the figure is superbly well-articulated, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, boot tops, and ankles.
Evil-Lyn comes with quite a few accessories. This includes a long staff and a shorter staff. Both have flared tops with a peg at the top, to which can be attached a separate piece which is a claw-like appendage grasping a spherical blue crystal, one of the items she uses for her powers and abilities. The long staff is about six inches long (without the crystal topper), and the short staff is about three inches long (sans topper). She also has a very nasty-looking jagged dagger, with a little skull at its hilt.
Additionally, Evil-Lyn comes with Screeech -- and yes, I spelled that right. Three "e"s. Back in the original line, there were two large birds of prey offered in the Masters of the Universe line -- a heroic bird named Zoar, which turned out to be an alternate form for the Sorceress, and an evil bird for Screeech, which had no direct affiliation to Evil-Lyn, but was really just a reason to reuse the molds.
Screeech has been appropriately colored here, in dark blue and reddish-purple, and comes complete with the armored weapon harness that the original bird wore. The bird is well made and nicely detailed, although I might have painted the eyes (and still might, at least on mine). The overall detail work is excellent, especially on the feathers, and Screeech actually has some articulation. His wings can be posed along their main axis, and the feet pivot. Screeech is about two inches in length and has a four-and-a-half inch wingspan. He also comes with a perch on a post. This piece is so well made it's actually assembled with a screw in its base. The perch actually has a fair amount of weight in its base, which is probably needed to support the bird.
One of my favorite features on the Masters of the Universe Classics line is that Mattel has finally gotten around to presenting something along the lines of a "file card", a backstory of the character. This was a trend started by G.I. Joe, and carried on by Transformers, but Masters never used it -- until now. Evil-Lyn's is -- interesting reading...
EVIL-LYN - Evil Warrior Goddess
Real Name: Evelyn Morgan Powers
Raised by her father in the ruins of Zalesia, Evelyn left her home in a fit of teenage rebellion. Taking the name Evil-Lyn, she traveled Eternia, learning from many of its great masters the ways of magic and the dark arts. While searching for new ways to increase her power, she met and fell in love with an ambitious alchemist named Keldor, and agreed to join his cause. After Keldor was transformed into Skeletor, he lost all emotional attachments to Evil-Lyn, and she began to scheme against him. In a series of miscalculations, she helped release both King Hssss and Hordak from their inter-dimensional prisons. Evil-Lyn uses her crystal ball to foresee the evil future!
What we have here is a backstory that tries to pull a bit of a compromise between established information, and almost gets away with it. When I first encountered this card, I was unaware of the backstory that was proposed, if never used, for the Filmation series, that Evil-Lyn was actually from Earth, like Queen Marlena, and I thought that a name like "Evelyn Powers" was pretty unusual for a resident of Eternia. Then again, there are some other Earth-sounding names in the line-up. There's Prince Adam, although that might have been affected by Marlena. However, Man-At-Arms' real name is Duncan, which isn't that unusual. But "Evelyn Powers" seemed a bit of a stretch.
However, apparently Mattel decided to carry over the name, at least, from the proposed Filmation backstory, and one might suppose that in as wild and diverse a world as Eternia, such names are certainly not impossible. The rest of the backstory, however, seems to be almost entirely based on the 2002 incarnation of the character. Although the Faceless One is not mentioned by name, that first line, "Raised by her father in the ruins of Zalesia" is pretty much a giveaway, as are most of the other story elements. However, some of them, especially the part about scheming against Skeletor, works just as well for the classic incarnation of the character.
So, what's my final word here? I'd still like to see a 2002-colored repaint of this figure sometime. However, I have absolutely no complaints about Evil-Lyn. The figure looks great, certainly has a good take on the classic color scheme, is well detailed and well painted, is very well-articulated, and the face sculpt and paint job thereof is truly superb. And certainly the character has considerable prominence in the concept. Once the Four Horsemen had designed Teela for the series, it was only a matter of time before Evil-Lyn came along, and I'm sincerely pleased that she has, and I'm glad to have her.
The figure, as usual, sold out in record time on MattyCollector.Com, but there are -- other sources -- and Mattel seems to be doing occasional second releases of popular characters. Hordak was available for the second time in the same month as Evil-Lyn, and as prominent as she is, she might turn up again sometime. If nothing else, she's out there. It might just take a little more effort, but she's definitely worth it.
The MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of EVIL-LYN definitely has my highest recommendation!