The original line's Snake Men concept didn't quite do it for me-- largely because, in part, I thought the first Snake Man was way cooler than the rest, and this translated to the MOTU line in 2002 in which they decided to kill and resurrect King Hssss like every third episode rather than give me what I want: more Skeletor all the time. I did dig Venom-Spitting Khan as an update to the classic snake of the clan Kobra, because it was such a great idea for a snake figure. Pop off his head, pour in some water, and blammo-- fun, non-invasive action feature. Or it would be, if the kids of 2002 didn't actively mock He-Man on toy store aisles resulting in the last of the 2003 figures being damned to Aldi's shelves and the He-Man.org online store. And Europe, but who cares about Europe?
While not as stunning as the 2012 Kobra Khan, as a toy figure, this would have been a great release. His big hands have articulated wrists, and his hip joints have a great range of movement. He feels sturdy, and he has ball joints for shoulders. As redesigned by the Four Horsemen, he got a swell snake hood added to his head, plus arguably the best head redesign in the entire line. The golden eyes are piercing, the white fangs are striking, and oh yes-- he had a swell hinged jaw so he could spit venom in He-Man's eye. It seems like the only thing this figure didn't get was his name-- for either trademark or suit-related reasons, the figure went from being "Kobra Khan" to the more descriptive "Venom-Spitting Khan" which places him in a category with Battle Fisto (Fisto) and The General (Rattlor) and, to a lesser extent, King Hssss being the new spelling of King Hiss. But I digress.
The sculpt is packed with detail, with big scaley sections and mutltiple flavors of metallic paint, with golds and other kinds of golds bringing him to plastic life. It's difficult if not impossible to dislike this figure, it's just too dang fun. He also sports a rocket launcher, modeled loosely after the original toy's Zodac gun but now featuring a little snake head on the projectile. Oh, and his hand is well-designed to carry the gun, which helps.
He's a sizable figure, but not huge. If you like your He-Man toys with action features, he's a giant pile of fun and it's sort of sad to see that Mattel's failure with this brand came out of an insanely bright crop of people working with the biggest action toy brand of the early 1980s. They assembled the Four Horsemen, the amazing ex-McFarlane Toys crew. They hired some wonderful animators to do a genuinely fun cartoon. The toys were big and colorful, featuring some cool action features which actually worked. And the entire line was basically dead in about a year and a half. There are many factors to blame, but indifference from kids, an inconsistent timeslot for the cartoon on Cartoon Network, and some of the worst case assortments you may have ever seen couldn't have helped things.
Today, this figure is actually kind of expensive. Don't be surprised if he costs you $25-$35, slightly more than his Snake Men brothers of his day. He's easily the best of them, so if you're only going to get one, get Khan. Or get the new Khan, as that's a pretty good figure too, if you don't like dipping into the great toy backlog of the world.
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