MOTUC Director’s Commentary – Tri-Klops

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#11 Tri-Klops originally posted 04.03.2012

[box style=”doc”]Tri-Klops

My first introduction to MOTU was getting a boat load of figures for my fourth or fifth birthday. This included Castle Grayskull, He-Man with Battle Cat, Man-At-Arms, Skeletor and Ram Man from my parents. I also received Teela with Zoar from a friend at my party a few weeks later.
I didn’t have too many of the bad guys from the first or second year (Beast Man, Mer-Man, Zodac, Evil-Lyn) but I did get both Tri-Klops and Trap Jaw for Hanukah a month or so later (my birthday is in November). So that really helped flesh out the conflict play, giving me more of an even number of players on both sides.

One of the really cool things about MOTU is you can often tell a good guy or a bad guy based on the visuals of the figure. You look at He-Man and you instantly know he is the hero. Skeletor, clearly the bad guy. This doesn’t always work, but the general archetypes have always been there. And while it will change from fan to fan, for me the bad guys were always way cooler.

Trap Jaw was definitely way cooler to me vs. Tri-Klops. He had swappable arm attachments, a moveable jaw and removable belt. But best of all, he had that little loop thing on his helmet so you could run a piece of string through it for him to slide down on. I think this showed up in a TV spot eventually, but I was really proud of myself for coming up with a feature (what I thought) all on my own! Yeah sure, millions of kids came to the same conclusion, but hey, I thought I was a genius.

When it came time to expand MOTUC beyond the first six and then eight figures, Trap Jaw was who I wanted to do most. But… we had a very tiny budget for tooling and after Hordak we were tasked by management to work out an entire year of monthly figures. We knew we wanted to get females into the line and that meant a new 100% tooled figure at some point (this would eventually be Teela). It is much easier to get a 100% tool’d figure approved and through the system when we know the parts are reusable (which is why Teela is an easier sell vs. Ram Man, who is also 100% but has little reuse outside of a few obscure Filmation monsters that might use a larger buck).

Anyway. So with so much tooling saved for our only 100% tool figure for the year (2009) we knew a character like Trap Jaw, who needed a lot of tooling (even if it could be reused later) needed to wait. And while that was initially disappointing, it did give us a really strong character for the start of Year 2, which would get a new budget (assuming the line would get that far!).

With Trap Jaw clearly off the table for Year 1, Tri-Klops became the obvious choice for the next figure after Hordak. He was a vintage toy, a main Skeletor villain in the animation and toy line, and had very few new parts.

Tri-Klops to me was always just “okay.” I liked the whole spinning visor thing, but only liked the red eye (on the vintage toy). I thought the blue eye and the green eye was just not “villain” enough and didn’t look evil. But the sword and armor was very cool and gave him a cool Samurai vibe.
So with a plan in place, Tri-Klops was slotted in as our next figure. He was basically Man-At-Arms with a new head, armor and accessory. To plus him up a bit more, we wanted to provide some additional accessories. The Doom seeker from the 200X series (with stand) was an obvious choice. The Horsemen also came up with the idea to add the old Grayskull decoder ring as a bonus accessory.

From a marketing standpoint we decided to make this a “mystery accessory,” which almost remained a mystery all the way to release. Some fans in Europe got a hold of a stolen sample from our factory and put it up online, spoiling all the fun for the rest of us.

Many times, fans and customers write in asking if we will change plans after a spoiler has been revealed. Usually 99% of the time we simply can’t do this without affecting schedule. The bottom line is you just can’t have it both ways. If you don’t want things spoiled for you, don’t read spoilers! That is all I can say.

Originally, I had assumed the Doomseeker would be done in 200X colors with silver, but it was the Horsemen who went in a different (and I think better) direction to do the Seeker in a green Tri-Klops color. This really made it pop and I applaud them for the change.

The sword was also done in green but I also really wanted the cross-sell color sword. Luckily, a year or so later we were able to deliver this in our first weapon pak with a simple redeco. The sword would also go on to get (correctly) reused on Fisto in 2012 (much as the vintage toy used this same accessory between both figures).

The Horsemen also added a neat sculpted feature where if you pulled the headpiece up a bit you can see the eye mechanism that attaches the helmet to his human eyes – a great example of the kind of detail we don’t ask for, but the Horsemen just do. I remember early on fans and customers asked if the helmet was moveable and I thought they meant can you take it off to see this feature. I answered “no” and that sent off a firestorm because what the fans were really asking was could the helmet turn and we had said there would be no action features.

I quickly corrected this and confirmed that yes, of course the headpiece will turn 360 degrees. When we said “no action features” what we meant was no features that would break up the sculpt, like a lever or switch like many of the 200X figures had. If a feature was just added articulation, like making the visor rotate, that was a no-brainer. But yet another lesson for me that everything I say had the potential to be misinterpreted. I really had to remember to watch what I say and be as specific as possible, leaving very little room for interpretation.
Tri-Klops was also one of those figures who fell into the “did his mom give him that name” category and clearly she did not. So we wanted to give him a real name. Fortunately, he is also one of those figures that had a “real name” in some of the early stories.

In early, early MOTU stories (I believe the Halprin bible used to construct Filmation and the 1983-1984 lines) Tri-Klops was cast as one of the other astronauts that goes with Marlena to Eternia from Earth (the others being Beast Man and Evil-Lyn). In this storyline, he was called T.E. Scope (as an inside joke for “telescope” since his power involved the eyes). As a nod to this storyline (which is what Classics is all about), we decided to expand on this using the initials T.E. as part of his “real name” and, for the first time, revealing what the T. E. stood for.
Although this part of the cannon was essentially dropped early on, one of our designers actually had an old black and white coloring book/story book that was based on this concept and it had a few illustrations of the human form of “Biff Beastman,” “T.E. Scope,” and “Evilyn Powers.” For the life of me, I can’t seem to locate this now, but if anyone out there has this book, it is a really neat part of MOTU lore since I believe this was the one and only time these characters were shown as they looked on “Earth” before the magics of Eternia made them evil and transformed them into Beast Man, Tri-Klops and Evil-Lyn (or whatever cockamamie rationale was used in the day to explain this.)

Beyond this, that was pretty much Tri-Klops. He was a great seller like the figures before him and helped pave the way for the longevity of the brand. Although not one of my favorites as a kid, I did own the vintage counterpart, so that always made the Classics versions a lot more special for me, especially since we had just done Beast Man, Mer-Man and Zodac, who were three characters I did not own as a child.

Until next time![/box]

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