Thursday, August 3, 2017

I Think I'm Sy-Klone Now

From the very start of the toyline known for numerous action figure gimmicks, the one defining gimmick that almost all Masters of the Universe characters had was the ever reliable “power punch”. It was a pretty simple but effective gimmick really, just wind back the upper body of the figure and let go. With the help of some elastics in the waist, the upper body would snap back into place, and if you had the arms positioned just right, it could create a “power punch” to knock down any unfortunate enemy who would be in the way.

Anyway a couple years down the line, toy designers were busy trying to come up with new action figure gimmicks to keep the line fresh. They eventually decided figured out...why not build up on the whole “power punch” gimmick and go beyond the one trick punch? Using a simple gearing system, they devised an action feature wherein by continually turning a dial on the waist, you could make the upper body turn around...and around...and around….well, you get the picture. Thus was born the heroic fist flinging tornado, Sy-Klone.

By the time Sy-Klone made his debut in 1985, I was already kinda losing interest in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, but I remember seeing his toy commercial for the first time and the toy definitely making quite the impression on me. The watching him mow down Skeletor’s rank of evil warriors made him instantly cool for me. While it wasn’t enough to make me go out and buy the toy, I did earmark him as one of my favorite heroic warriors moving forward.

As far as back stories go though like most Masters of the Universe characters, Sy-Klone has different versions depending on the media he is featured in. In most early versions such as the Golden books and UK Comics, Sy-Klone has a pretty typical origin story common with most Masters. He starts out as a regular “human” being who through different circumstances is endowed with cybernetic parts turning him into Sy-Klone. It’s through these cybernetic parts that he is able to generate raging winds and tornadoes from his arms and upper body. He is also characterized as a boisterous, brash and boastful individual....which I guess was their way of matching up his personality with his wind based powers.

It was years later in the 200X cartoon reboot by Mike Young Productions that Sy-Klone was given a more unique character origin. In the reboot, Sy-Klone was introduced as the lone defender of the Legacy Stones, a treasure belonging to an ancient race called the Gar, he resided in a now abandoned remote island called Anwat-Gar. Anyway as the story goes, Skeletor sets off to find the said stones and He-Man foils his plans by ultimately destroying the stones. Of course this is after a long drawn out battle wherein both He-Man and Skeletor take possession of one stone each and do battle with super powered suits, granted to them by the stones (NEW toys everybody!). In the end, He-Man manages to destroy both stones, and with nothing else better to do I guess, Sy-Klone accepts He-Man’s invitation to join the heroic masters and the rest is history.

One thing worth mentioning about this re-imagination of Sy-Klone was that it basically explained his most obvious unique physical trait, he basically looked human except he had blue skin. This was the most defining physical trait of his people, the Gar who themselves have quite an interesting and infamous history. See the Gar were originally described as being a noble race of philosophers and craftsmen. They were also notably loyal allies to the ancestor of He-Man, King Grayskull. That is until a Gar faction, acting on a supposed prophecy that Grayskull’s future progeny would be the cause of widespread death and destruction, lead a coup that ultimately led to the assassination of King Grayskull. It was because of this that the race as a whole moving forward was unfairly viewed with suspicion and hatred by most of the other races of Eternia.

I think this is worth mentioning because there is another important character in the Masters of the Universe universe who also had blue skin….Keldor was the half brother of King Randor, father of Prince Adam whom we all know is He-Man. While, they shared the same father, Keldor’s mother was a Gar servant. Because of this, Keldor possessed blue skin like his mother and while older than Randor, was passed over as his father’s successor to be King of Eternia. This drove him to practice the dark arts and lead a failed coup attempt against Randor resulting in his face being burned by acid and...well….he turns into Skeletor.

Ok so I know I went a bit off tangent there but the point is I think the shared racial ancestry with Skeletor makes the Sy-Klone character a little more interesting and compelling than your typical heroic warrior. I think this would be something worth exploring in any future iteration of the Masters of the Universe.

Anyway, I never had the original toy which beside the cool action feature, had a little bit of a plain visual look. He basically looked like a blue He-Man with a very primary colored space suit. The 200X series redesigned his armor adding a huge disc like blade to his back that could be used as a weapon (or a hula hoop) and generally making him look more like a samurai.

Further endearing him to me more was that they kinda made him...Asian? I know, I know, giving him slanted eyes and changing his personality from the original loud and brash individual to one who is cool, calm and zen like and who would frequently recite eloquent phrases of wisdom is kind of stereotypical, but I think it worked in making him more unique, and I’m Asian so if it doesn’t offend me, it shouldn’t offend you :P

My first Sy-Klone action figure was the one based on the 200X design and I was pretty happy to have it, but when Mattel started their Classics line in 2008, I was definitely excited to see what they had in store for Sy-Klone. As a whole, the Classics line was meant to be a modern update to the original vintage line, but early on Mattel had made it a habit of throwing in some design elements from the defunct 200X line to keep fans of that series happy.

For Sy-Klone, they played it pretty much by the book keeping his vintage (and more boring in my book) look intact. They did throw in a bonus for 200X fans by including his “ring” weapon that stored neatly on his back. But even with that, it still seemed….lacking. Fortunately, a few years later they finally gave us what we were hoping for, which was a proper 200X head to complete his updated look!

He may not be one of the more recognized comrades of He-Man. And his original design has always been a little plain, but with a pretty cool action feature and his racial connection to Skeletor, Sy-Klone has always stood out for me as one of my favorite heroic warriors.