REVIEW: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS TRI-KLOPS
Mattel's MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS line, available on a monthly basis on MattyCollector.Com, has proven to be a rousing success for Mattel, and a true delight for Masters of the Universe fans. Here, courtesy of the design work of the superb sculpting team known as the Four Horsemen, are what I have to regard as the ultimate Masters of the Universe figures of all time.
One of the most recent additions is the villain known as TRI-KLOPS. This particular character has been among the Masters from the start, and is readily recognizable thanks to the three-eyed visor encircling his head.
Let's have a look at the origin and background of this character over the years, with a little help from WikiPedia:
Tri-Klops is a character from Masters of the Universe. He is a minion of the evil Skeletor and enemy of He-Man and the other heroes of Eternia. He wears a rotating visor helmet with three artificial eyes fixed to it, each with a special type of vision. In some media this gives him the advantage of seeing in three directions at once, while in others he sees only out of the front eye and rotates his visor depending on which type of vision he requires. The exact function of each eye varies in different versions of the franchise.
Tri-Klops was one of the first characters to be designed for the Masters of the Universe toy line. According to the line's creator Roger Sweet, he was originally designed as a Heroic Warrior but wound up packaged with the evil characters.
The first story to feature him is the Mattel mini-comic "The Terror of Tri-Klops", which introduces him as a near-match for He-Man in terms of strength, summoned by Skeletor when he decides he needs a warrior with strength on par with He-Man's. He is presented as a skilled hunter and swordsman, and also a handy spy given that his helmet enables him to see all around him and thus be able to spot all attacks from behind. One of his eyes possesses night vision while another possesses Distavision, enabling him to see over great distances. The third varied in different stories, sometimes said to allow him to see through solid objects, and on other occasions said to enable him to see around corners. As well as his optical abilities, Tri-Klops is also an expert swordsman, and this skill alone makes him a formidable opponent. Although most of the Evil Warriors were presented in the mini-comics as being somewhat smarter than their later animated versions, Tri-Klops in particular is suggested to be a very cunning and formidable warrior.
Tri-Klops is introduced into the toy line's accompanying cartoon series by Filmation in the pilot episode "Diamond Ray of Disappearance". This episode continues in the vein of the mini-comics by presenting Tri-Klops as an almost equal match for He-Man in strength, although this is only hinted at during a brief duel at the climax of the story. In the cartoon his eyes, which are now different shapes (circular, triangular and square) possesses the powers of Gammavision, enabling him to see around solid objects, as well as Distavision. The clicking and whirring sounds that accompany the rotation of his helmet suggests that the helmet is possibly mechanical rather than magical as the mini-comics imply. In this animated incarnation, the character is also able to fire laser beams from the front-facing eye. However, unlike most of the other characters from his wave, Tri-Klops' appearances in the series are surprisingly sparse and he receives little in the way of character development, portrayed mostly as a generic bumbling henchman and consigned mainly to background roles.
His largest roles in the series come in the episodes "The Royal Cousin" and "Ordeal in the Darklands", in which he is paired alongside Evil-Lyn, although even in these episodes he is portrayed as little more than a bumbling sidekick incapable of thinking for himself. These episodes also indicate that he is a lot more loyal to Skeletor than most of his teammates. Given his lack of development, the notion of him being a match for He-Man is never built upon and he quickly fades into the background of the series, and by the time of season 2 he has been almost forgotten by the writers, though he does make one final appearance in the She-Ra episode, "Reunions". The character's voice and speech pattern varies quite significantly in different appearances, probably due in part to the character not being used often enough for a regular voice to be settled.
Tri-Klops was reused in the 2002 relaunch of the MOTU toy line and series. His design is slightly modified and his helmet is shown to be a cybernetic attachment, capable of firing a different-colored laser from each eye. In one episode of the cartoon, "Rise of the Snake Men, part 1", when the helmet is melted by acid we see that his artificial eyes are wired cybernetically into his real eye sockets.
The revamped figure has a window on top of the head which tunnels light in to light up the forward facing eye (which now look like jewels). When the figure was being designed, the Four Horsemen had considered the eyes to be lit up by batteries, but this was dropped due to production budget restraints.
The cartoon gives Tri-Klops a much bigger role than the 1980s one did, and he is depicted as a technologist and inventor, far removed from the original concept of the character as a more primitive warrior. He is Skeletor's main inventor and spends most time in his workshop coming up with all sorts of weapons and vehicles to aid Skeletor, one of his most notable inventions is the Doomseekers which are used to spy on He-Man and the Masters.
Shown to be considerably more intelligent than most of Skeletor's minions (which is more in keeping with the vintage line's original mini-comics), the cartoon also retains the portrayal of him as one of the more loyal of Skeletor's minions. However, he does finally branch out on his own and attempt to betray Skeletor in the episode "Roboto's Gambit", in which he attempts to use his latest invention to take over Eternia for himself after the invention is rejected by Skeletor.
The cartoon's accompanying comic series gives him an origin story, (reprinted in the trade paperback "Masters of the Universe: Icons of Evil", which I highly recommend if you can find it), which ties in with the original idea of the character as a medieval-style swordsman. He began as a noble swordsman, who bizarrely enough wore a bandana which concealed his eyes completely, who was blinded by a magic spell, and became the defender of a scientific research center, who used his senses of smell and sound to fight his enemies, now wearing a helmet over his eyes in place of the bandana.
Having been given this position by the building's owner, whose life he had saved, when the building came under attack by Keldor, prior to his transformation into Skeletor, the two began to battle. Keldor tricked Tri-Klops into believing the tower's owner had used the helmet to keep the spell on his sight intact for the sake of using him as his defender, and Tri-Klops helped Keldor overcome the tower. Keldor rewarded Tri-Klops by creating the mechanical visor he wears today to restore his sight, but the visor also secretly serves to keep Tri-Klops loyal to Keldor, and Tri-Klops has remained in Skeletor's services ever since, mistakenly believing that he saved his life.
Now, granted, when it comes to the Masters, sometimes it's a little tricky to determine just which continuity to follow, especially given that the modern figures tend to resemble, in their own way, the original figures. Okay -- they're taller, better detailed, better proportioned, and certainly more articulated. But they generally lack the more extreme, almost anime look of the 2002 line. So one sort of has to wonder how much of the 2002 storyline to incorporate into the backstory of the modern figures.
The new Classics figures have their own "file cards", backstories printed on the back of the package card on a fancy scroll design. Wikipedia observes that in more than a few cases, and especially in the case of Tri-Klops, Mattel takes bits & pieces from the different versions of the Masters of the Universe timeline to tell a new story, perhaps the Ultimate Version of the tale of the Masters.
I'm certainly inclined to agree with that "Ultimate Version" assessment. Tri-Klops' file card lists his real name as Trydor Esooniux Scope, and gives his origin as follows:
Originally an inter-dimensional bounty hunter and tracker, Scope was recruited by Skeletor during one of the final battles of the Great Unrest to bolster his weakened forces. As good with a blade as he is crafty, Scope took the name Tri-Klops after an accident left him blind and he was forced to wear a tri-optic visor which granted him expanded tracking abilities including Gammavision, the ability to see around objects, Distavision, a form of Far Vision, Night Vision, and the ability to generate optic blasts. Tri-Klops uses his three different eyes to spy for Skeletor!
At least part of his original name dates back quite a ways. According to WikiPedia, the series "bible" for the original animated series describes Tri-Klops as one T.E. Scope, who was among several individuals on board Marlena Glenn's ship when it crashed on Eternia. Marlena, of course, became Queen Marlena, wife of King Randor. Scope was somehow mutated, as were two other crewmen who became Evil-Lyn and Beast Man. However, this origin was discarded before the series started. The only carryover, obviously, is the name. And the new backstory works very nicely in my opinion, covering as many bases as possible.
So, how's the figure? Really extremely impressive. I have to say that it doesn't surprise me in the least to learn that Tri-Klops was originally intended as a Heroic Warrior. He just doesn't look QUITE as bizarre as most of Skeletor's minions. In fact, the visor is about the only really peculiar thing about him. And there are certainly Heroic Warriors with oddball features of their own -- just ask Meckaneck.
Tri-Klops has the same basic body as He-Man. Now, admittedly, this line, like the original, uses a lot of shared parts. I don't object to this at all since it helps to produce a certain consistency in the line, and the end results are so impressive. But the point is, Tri-Klops body doesn't have any of the somewhat unusual features of the average Evil Warriors. His feet are not three-toed and his hands are perfectly normal hands we see on many of the Heroic Warriors, and he has the same normal boots as many of them, as well.
His skin tone is a normal Caucasian skin color, the same as He-Man himself, really. Tri-Klops is wearing a black furry loincloth, with black "barbarian"-style boots (I don't know what else to call them). His belt and wrist cuffs are orange. There are green straps around his boots, which are a good match for the green color of his visor and chestplate.
The chestplate is nicely made, with upswept shoulders, an orange strap down the center, and a sort of secondary belt, in green, that looks like a fairly precise upside-down version of the standard belt that most Masters of the Universe figures have molded to their furry loincloths. The chestplate goes over the shoulders, and slightly down the back. It's notable for having a clip to hold a sword (more on the accessories shortly), and painted on are three small daggers, non-removable. There are ridges at the base of the front of the chestplate, which almost look like fringe.
Let me make one small observation about the 2002 Tri-Klops. For some peculiar reason, the 2002 Tri-Klops had a very squared-off chest. This made little sense, since Tri-Klops didn't wear a shirt. And the chest was really rather inhumanly squared off. I'm not entirely sure what they were trying to say about that edition of Tri-Klops, but I really feel it sort of detracted from the overall look of the character.
Fortunately that's not a case here, since Tri-Klops uses the same torso as just about everybody else, and while certainly muscular, it's not squared off anywhere.
Of course, articulation is excellent. The figure is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivels, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivels, knees, boot tops, and ankles.
The head is the most distinctive feature on Tri-Klops. Although the lower portion of the head is entirely human-looking, with a rather stern expression (or perhaps slightly pained?) adding further credence to the character originally being intended as one of the good guys, the head is molded as if to look as through it's wearing a very tight-fitting black helmet whose main feature is the large three-eyed visor.
Interestingly, it's possible on this figure to see underneath the visor where it meets the face, and Tri-Klops' original eyes, or where they used to be, anyway, are visible, mostly as two blackened eye sockets. It's actually a bit unnerving.
The circular visor has three eyes, set equidistant from each other around the perimeter. Each eye is very large, and different from the others. The large green eye is probably the most normal of the lot, although the center of it is slightly indented and clearly intended to look like a lens. The blue eye has a distinct cybernetic look to it, with the center area protruding somewhat. The red eye is especially malevolent in appearance, lacking the white exterior of the other two.
The visor itself is the same dark green in color as Tri-Klops' chestplate, and it does rotate, so that any of the eyes can be turned to face forward. Mattel and the Four Horsemen have indicated that any Masters character who is strongly dependent on a device such as this will have full function of that device -- which should be good news for Meckaneck and Man-E-Faces fans, whenever they get around to those characters.
Overall paint work on the figure is very good, although there are a few spots, mostly details on the belt and such, that I think may have been painted by hand. Very neatly, I have to say, but I still wish that this practice wouldn't occur in the first place. One of the eyes on the visor, the blue one, is a little sloppy on the white around it, and should have been done more carefully, but is nothing I can't retouch.
Tri-Klops comes with several accessories. First off is a sword. Longer and narrower than He-Man's power sword, it's also a little more futuristic-looking somehow, as if designed by and/or for someone with Tri-Klops' reported inventive streak. The hilt is dark green, with orange markings, and the blade is a metallic green in color. Really a very impressive sword, and it can be kept on Tri-Klops' back in a clip on the back of his chestplate.
Another item he comes with is unique to the 2002 animated series, and definitely showcases Tri-Klops' inventive tendencies. It's called a "Doomseeker", and it's a small robotic probe, a sort of roving "spy-eye" that can transmit images back to Skeletor and Tri-Klops. It's a strange looking thing, green and orange in color, resembling as much as anything a robotic bird's head, with two huge yellow and orange eyes, and small orange wings that almost look like fish fins, two out to the side, and a larger one in the back. The Doomseeker comes with a transparent display post and a black display base.
Finally, there's a kid-sized glow in the dark ring. I honestly find it a little unusual that the ring is kid-sized, and it definitely is. Technically speaking, the Masters of the Universe Classics line is not a kids' line of toys. The packages themselves say "Adult Collector".
So, what's my final word here? As I've said more than a few times, I believe these amazing figures to be the ultimate Masters of the Universe collection. They're certainly proving to be a considerable success for Mattel, and it is my sincere hope that the line continues, and maintains the level of quality that it has worked its way up to, for many years to come. Certainly, there's no shortage of characters to work with, especially when one considers that the line can encompass every version of Masters of the Universe that's ever been out there, not to mention She-Ra.
Tri-Klops is certainly a significant part of the Masters Universe, and this is, as one would expect, a truly amazing rendition of him. It's probably too late, by the time you read this review, to get him from MattyCollector, although Mattel has started re-releasing some figures. He-Man returned recently. No telling how long that will last, or how extensive it will be, and assuming you don't want to wait until Tri-Klops works his way BACK around, there is, of course, the secondary market, and a few other online stores that are carrying these figures, albeit at higher prices.
But in any case, the MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of TRI-KLOPS most definitely has my highest recommendation!