OPTIKK. A character whose very name instills in collectors everywhere an overarching sense of: Whaaa...? Optikk was part of the New Adventures of He-Man line from '89, a line that re-imagined the well-known barbarian into a cheesy space man. As you might imagine, the line was quickly forgotten by most, and is kept alive on life-support today only because of the fascination of MOTU collectors for oddities. Why Mattel decided to mine that line for MOTUC characters is anyone's guess, but for the first New Adventures character, they picked its coolest and most distinctive dude: Optikk.
Optikk, being a robot with a gigantic eyeball for a head, is certainly a figure with a great concept. While Mattel has proved itself capable of enhancing the coolness of inherently cool characters (like Trapjaw), it has also totally screwed up figures that one would think would be un-screw-uppable (Scareglow). How does Optikk fare?
Size: 7" tall
Price: $20 at MattyCollector.com
Packaging: Carded (within a mailer box)
Optikk certainly has a distinctive look. That weird gigantic eyeball staring back at you makes this figure one that will pop on the shelf. The sculpting of the torso armor is pretty nice too, with plenty of wonderful little details to enjoy. I love how the armor creates a "peak" of machinery on the shoulders at which the eyeball sits. The arms and legs come directly from Trap Jaw, which although not representative of the original Optikk figure, work nonetheless. The drastically different coloration of the parts distinguish him from Trappy so you can display both without the display seeming repetitive. Still, there's no new sculpting, so you won't find much to keep your interest.
The "crotch" area is similar (but not identical) to the design of Man-E-Faces, so hopefully Mattel is planning on reusing that part for him soon. Like the loin cloths of other MOTUC figures, it is really just a "skirt" that fits over the crotch.
Optikk has two big problems with his looks, though. The first is his monotonous color scheme. He's gold, and that's pretty much it. He would have looked so much cooler if the interesting contrast created by the black under-armor that you see on his thighs continued into more of the figure. Also, the gold color is flat. Trap Jaw, by contrast, has sections of cool, shiny paint apps on his arms that give the figure visual variation. Areas of gold variation on Optikk would have given the figure depth and made him come alive.
The second major problem is the eyeball itself. It's way too smooth and generic, resembling more a ping pong ball than a real eyeball. A texture, shiny finish, or veiny paint apps would have gone a long way to make him look cooler.
Without the chest armor, you can see that Optikk has the same body as other MOTUC figures. The circuitry on his stomach is actually a separate piece over the figure's "six-pack".
Optikk uses the same anatomical design as the rest of the MOTUC line, so his articulation is very similar: ball socket neck, ball hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinge elbows, swivel wrists, hinge chest, swivel waist, ball hinge hips, hinge knees, swivel shins, and hinge ankles. While that's a very impressive range, the design of the figure limits its movement. The chest armor eliminates the movement of the chest hinge and the loin "armor" limits the effectiveness of the hip articulation. The eyeball also doesn't have much, if any, vertical movement, which is very disappointing. But the biggest disappointment is the ankles, which are so loose that they tend to make Optikk fall flat on his eyeball.
Side rant: My most hated point of articulation is the ankles. How many figures do I have whose display stability is severely compromised by loose ankles? (I'm looking at you, DST Star Trek.) I'd much rather not have the articulation at all if they can't make it tight enough.
Optikk comes with three accessories:
- Orange eye: This eye is actually closer to the eye color of the original figure, so brownie points were scored there. But it's the exact same eye with a different color, so it's not all that interesting. EDIT: Justin correctly pointed out below that the original eye was green, although I was thinking that the orange eye looks closer because of the prominence of the red "flames" in the eye of the vintage Optikk.
- Space Rifle: I love the design of the rifle. It doesn't feel like MOTU to me, but it works with the Space Mutant theme.
- Shield: I usually associate shields as companion pieces with swords rather than with rifles. The design works well with the character, but since the original figure didn't have a shield, I'm left to wonder if it was first conceived as an accessory for some other figure.
I'm sure you're quite familiar with the exorbitant price tag of $20 each (plus $8 shipping) for MOTUC figures. It's a very difficult price to justify, especially for a figure like Optikk who sports significant reuse of parts, limited paint app variation, and quality control problems with faulty ankle articulation. For that sort of premium price, I expect a premium figure. Optikk isn't it.
A simple head swap with Scareglow yields an interesting result: Space Skull!
Optikk is a figure who you'd think would have coolness that is un-screw-uppable. A robotic space mutated eyeball? How can you possibly screw up that idea?
Here's how: drop the ball on the primary aspect that makes him cool, namely his eyeball. As I mentioned before, Optikk's eyeball-head is pretty much just a ping pong ball with an iris and a cornea. To make it really cool, they needed to play up the disgusting nature of the eyeball (like Oculus Orbus from the Madballs line) with veins wrapping around the eye leading to an optic nerve in the back. Maybe the iris of the alternate eye could have been a different shape, too. A vertical cat shape would have been awesome, but maybe a horizontal horse shape would have been even more so.
Optikk's design is cool enough to keep him from totally tanking, but like Scareglow, there are so many missed opportunities that could have made him so much cooler.
The eyes have it!
Optikk's freaky concept of an eyeball android from outer space unfortunately falls flat with a disappointing execution. While the sculpt of the robo-suit is strong, the lack of color variation makes the armor less interesting than it should be. The ankles are too loose, which is my #1 pet peeve regarding articulation. And the lack of imagination on the execution of the eyeball, which could have been so awesome with cool disgusting details and different shapes, is ultimately what makes the figure just meh. All that great goodwill that Mattel fostered in me with the awesomeness that is Trap Jaw has been put into question once again. I'll be taking another MOTUC sabbatical until they can make something cool enough to lure me back. Like, maybe a yellow and green gorilla. ;)