Before we launch into a review of the new Masters of the Universe Classics version of Hordak, let’s take a look back at the character’s history and significance. Way back in Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five, Mattel changed the landscape of their toyline and the story of Eternia forever. The addition of Hordak and The Evil Horde opened up the story in such a profound way, it’s hard to remember MOTU life before the Horde.
Due to character fatigue and occasional silliness (as depicted in the cartoon, especially), Skeletor was starting to lose his edge. You can get beaten up by a scantily-clad buff blonde boy for only so long, before people start to think you like it. Because they were new and unfamiliar, The Evil Horde arrived on the scene and seemed infinitely more sinister and dangerous than Skeletor and his crew. And yet the arrival of the Horde also succeeded in energizing Skeletor, making him work a little harder and creating a compelling dynamic between villains. As ruthless leader, Hordak possessed an air of aristocracy, what with his cape and weird Elizabethan collar/headpiece thing. And yet he was also terrifying: part vampire, part bat and all creepy. Skeletons are scary, yes, but vampire bat pigs are freakin’ terrifying! As a character and a villain, Hordak captured my imagination and fueled my own toy adventures for years. (Until the cartoon made him just as silly as Skeletor. Oh, Hordak! You lovable curmudgeon!)
But this isn’t a Skeletor vs. Hordak review. It’s all about his Hordeness. To paraphrase Patsy Stone, Hordak is fabulous on an international scale. Wherever Hordak is, is the place to be. (You’re not going to see a Patsy Stone reference in any other Hordak review on the net, by the way.) Online ordering issues aside, Mattel has yet to misstep with this line (knock on wood). Hordak looks great, with the right amount of nostalgia and modern innovation and detail thrown in. I love the addition of his staff and the updated look for Imp. His cape is now attached to his headpiece, which is more clearly detached from his skull, allowing his head to move independently. His armor is unsnappable, but not removable, since it won’t fit over his head. But I was never as interested in seeing Hordak’s bare torso as with other characters. My only complaint with this figure is the crossbow. The old-school version snapped into place on the figure’s forearm. This new version sits loosely in the figure’s grip and doesn’t rest well on his forearm at all. I hope they look into retooling the crossbow for the other Horde members.
So, all these years later, Hordak still commands respect, fear and admiration. Sitting on my shelf among the other characters, he looks ready to steal a baby and flee to Etheria. Actually, he’s so scary looking, he might just eat the baby. Which is fine, too.
On the FBOTU Scale of Fabulousness, Hordak gets 4 out of 5 vampire bat pig emoticons: