Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lobster Tales

I once read somewhere that it must have taken a VERY hungry man to eat the very first lobster.  Who would’ve thought that this oversized bony & spikey insect looking thing from the sea would taste oh so good!  But I'm getting off-topic….this isn’t a food blog afterall.  Meet Clawful, the Warrior with the Grip of Evil!

As part of the 3rd wave of Masters of The Universe figures, Clawful (get it? Claw-Full? Or Cl-AWFUL? Oh I just love those terrible He-Man puns!)  made his toy debut in 1984.  He wasn’t one of the figures I actually had since I really didn’t have many He-Man toys to begin with, but I do remember him making a strong impression on me through the cartoons.

Unlike most of Skeletor’s crew, he wasn’t THAT much of a bumbling idiot.  In fact, in many cases he was portrayed to as being smarter and more ambitious than most of his fellow evil masters.  At one point, he was even referred to by Skeletor as his “right-hand-man”.  Even back then, I knew that meant something special.  Anyway, as much as I enjoyed his character in the cartoon, since I didn’t have the toy, I didn’t really care much for it, add to the fact the toy looked nothing like he did in the cartoon.  

It turns out that it was the animators who where wrong as they based their drawings on an early Clawful design.   He basically ended up looking more like a red lizard or dragon.  Oh and here’s an interesting tidbit, although the toy design had Clawful sporting an oversized right claw, animators drew him with two similar sized claws.  The reason being why they made him symetrical was so they could easily flip the animation cell over should he need to face a different direction.

Anyway, in the 2002 reboot of the He-Man cartoon, Clawful’s design was made more faithful to the original toy…on steroids!  Seriously….look at how much this guy grew.  Unfortunately that wasn’t the only thing they changed.  Maybe it was all the steriods, but Clawful was no longer the intelligent right-hand man of Skeletor.  They made him into the stupidest of all his henchmen (no, really) and to add insult to injury, we find out in one of the few episodes to feature him that he is actually one of the stupidest members of his race (of crab/lobster people).  Talk about a major demotion.  But stupid or not, his new design made him look infinitely cooler and more imposing.  Unfortunately, for some strange reason, he was left out of the accompanying new toyline.  Although a sculpt of him was made, the line was cancelled before it could be mass produced.

Lovin the lobster tail
Fortunately, not long after the toyline’s cancellation, the Four Horsemen, who were the talented group of designers & sculpters for the rebooted line, started a “static action figure” line or “stactions” for short.  These were basically mini statues scaled to go along perfectly with the cancelled toyline.  Since they themselves where huge fans of the line, they used this method (legally they couldn’t produce poseable action figures) to release sculpts of characters that never made the toyline.  And first in line was Clawful!  Although he wasn’t an action figure per se, he was beautiful (as beautiful as a hulking red lobster looking monster could be).  They didn’t skimp out on any details and the paintjob done here even surpassed that of the regular toys.

When the Masters of The Universe Classics rolled out a few years back, Clawful FINALLY made his modern action figure debut.  Unfortunately, by this time, the higher-ups in Mattel had “retired” the amped up and ultra detailed look of the 2002 line and were going for a more faithful tribute to the original toy (hence the term “classics”).  So Clawful lost his super steroid look and went back to looking like his original self…albeit in a modern updated way.

Although the Four Horsemen (who are still the mastermind designers behind the Classics line) managed to sneak in a few extra details that the original toy didn’t have…namely a cool back carapace thingee and an additional shell themed shield that the orginal toy didn’t have, they had no choice but to faithfully update the original’s goofy looking head. 

This for me was the biggest drawback for the figure after seeing their cool update of his head in the 2002 design.  We were back with the big black bushy eyebrows that made him look more like a muppet than an evil lobster dude.

Long lost muppet....
Luckily, a fan sculpter based in Germany (I’m assuming) took it upon himself to sculp and mass produce 2002 inspired Clawful heads.  I didn’t think twice and ordered myself one.  So now my Clawful is complete! So there you have it, the not so “cl-AWFUL” history of one of my favorite Masters of the Universe.

No longer (cl)awful...