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Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Mattel, 2013
Day #658: May 13, 2013
Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action FigureJitsu
Evil Master of Martial Arts

Masters of the Universe Classics Action Figure
Item No.:
No. Y3186
Manufacturer: Mattel
Includes: Sword, twin axes
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $27.00
Availability: February 2013
Other: One of Few Asians in MOTU

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Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action FigureWhen Jitsu came up as a possible future candidate among a conversation with other collectors last year, I think the first thing that came up with "that's totally racist." As I didn't have the figure as a kid (nor do I remember seeing him as a cartoon character as a child, but I did see him more recently) I was kind of taken aback because I'd never given the fact that most of the 1980s toy lines in the USA ran on archetypes, stereotypes, and ridiculously unoriginal nicknames. Got a giant fist? Your name is Fisto. Do you look like a pile of molecules? Then you shall be known as Mo-Lec-U-Lar. And what if you're the commander of an organization called Cobra? You see where this is going. Jitsu is sort of an Asian-ish Eternian character that received one appearance on the cartoon long before the release of the toy because, if I'm reading this right, Filmation was tiptoeing around this as well, one I don't know if it would be helped or hurt had Mattel went with a preproduction name of "Chopper" for this guy. (This is listed as his real name on the bio.) Diversity in male action toys has never been subtle, and I don't envy anyone tasked with addressing this issue at a toy company. Does Eternia have Asians? Or an Asia? If so, why are they a pastiche of kung fu, samurai, and ninja tropes? Or did this guy raid Quentin Tarintino's 1970s martial arts exploitation film collection? I have no idea. I'm rambling. Let me say that I dig the figure, but I do think Mattel and the Four Horsemen put more thought into him than his original counterpart received.

Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action FigureAt about 7-inches tall, Jitsu is given a ton of new parts including a vaguely samurai-esque head with lots of wrinkles, giving his face a more realistic look than some of the more toy-like figures in the line. While the original 1980s figure had armor that would be later shared with King Randor, the 2013 Jitsu has an entirely new set of armor inspired by his vintage ancestor with a few upgrades, not the least of which is superior deco. A surprise addition is a pair of axes which can be stored in the back of his armor, which the vintage figure lacked and while cool is sort of unnecessary here. I appreciate the extra gear, but three weapons and only one functional hand seems like a good reason to reduce, not increase, a figure's weaponry stash. The giant hand itself is pretty awesome, a matte gold glove rather than the frequently shiny vac-metal original. It matches the figure and line in general, plus vac-metal is not always done right these days. So as it is, I like it.

As Fisto's rival, it makes sense that Jitsu would share some parts like the newer boot pieces and the bulged-up biceps. His skin color is slightly darker than much of the rest of the line, and the paint job is fairly clean overall. His bladed weapons have metallic orange paint which make them look more expensive than the single-color sword of the original, but again I don't necessarily think the bladed axe weapons do anything to improve the figure. I would have been totally cool had Mattel just decided to leave these out and make a few extra cents (bucks?) profit on this one.

Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action Figure

Action figure lines in the USA are typically a white male affair, with few women, generally fewer non-whites, and nearly zero obese people. (See: Hutt, Jabba the. Blob, The. Skipper.) I assume someone out there is writing a fascinating paper about this for college right now. Seeing the popularity of things like ninjas with kids of the 1980s, it would be foolish to have a catch-all space/fighting/sci-fi/swords & sorcery line like Masters of the Universe without characters like Jitsu and the delightfully preposterous Ninjor. As I write this I have a hard time naming 1980s toy characters (other than Tunnel Rat) who are Asian and not a ninja or minor background character of some sort (Bespin Security Guard, maybe.) It's probably not a topic worth touching on too much in a toy review but it does raise a lot of questions like "did this come up organically at Mattel originally or was this part of a mandate?" and "are there any recent lines that don't basically star young white teens or preteens?" I should just move on and let the experts argue this one.

Anyway, I like this figure enough to suggest going after him because giant gold hand equals funny. It's the kind of glove Thanos digs. Skeletor always needs more stooges, even if it's a bit of a throwback to a less self-aware era of toy marketing. Like Fisto, I do miss the action feature because a guy with a giant hand would be tons more fun if he could have a button that lets fly a mighty action slap.

--Adam Pawlus

Additional Images

Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action Figure Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action Figure
Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action Figure Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action Figure
Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action Figure Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action Figure
Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action Figure Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action Figure
Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action Figure Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action Figure
Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action Figure Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action Figure
Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Jitsu Action Figure

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