There are few characters in the Masters of the Universe world that would be instant buys for me, sight-unseen, and almost all of which are the colorful or bizarre characters like Snout Spout who I reviewed last week. Swiftwind, She-Ra’s magical rainbow-winged horse, is one of those few. While I’ve never been overly fond of the classic He-Man cartoon, the tone and world of the She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon appealed enough to me that I want toys of many of the quirky secondary characters from it like Swiftwind, Kowl, Imp, and so forth. So when Swiftwind went up for sale at noon on November 15th, I was ready and waiting at my keyboard. Is Swiftwind the magical toy steed of my dreams?
I really wasn’t sure what to expect along the lines of the articulation for a toy of a horse, but with 20 points of articulation Swiftwind is probably the most-articulated horse in the history of action figures. Swiftwind has 3 points of articulation on each leg (top, knee, and hoof) that allow it to pose walking, standing, or even rearing up. He has a neck joint that lets him look left or right as well as a head joint to look up and down, giving him character and allowing him to look all around his world. His tail has both a ball joint and a hinge joint, allowing “the wind” to blow his tail freely, and also supporting his weight when rearing up. And his wings can expand to their full wingspan or rest at his sides in flying position. This is one articulated horse.
I was terrified that Mattel would make Swiftwind pink to match the vintage toy, and overjoyed when fans at San Diego Comic Con 2010 voted for a Filmation-inspired white Swiftwind. Paintwise, the colors chosen for Swiftwind are bright, whimsical, and absolutely authentic to the cartoon source material. This is the first truly accurate Swiftwind toy ever made, as the vintage Royal Swiftwind wasn’t even close. To my knowledge, this is the first horse ever sculpted by the Four Horsemen, and they really did a superb job. The proportions and anatomy are accurate, and the resemblance to the on-screen cartoon version of Swiftwind is uncanny.
As a nice surprise, the Horsemen sculpted Swiftwind’s headpiece as a removable piece with the horn attached, such that you can remove it to see the handsome visage of Spirit, Adora’s faithful steed. I’ve heard some grumbling about Spirit’s chestplate not being removable and the holes in the side of him when the wings are removed, but this toy was intended to be a perfect Swiftwind–not a perfect combined Swiftwind/Spirit. When and if Mattel releases other horses like Arrow without retooling this mold to make it appropriate (and with Matty, it’s probably a matter of when), then I’ll complain. For now, I’m fine with just having the Spirit head as an extra added bonus.
While the original She-Ra figure can’t fit on Swiftwind properly due to her poor lower-body articulation, the new and improved Bubble Power She-Ra released the same day as Swiftwind can easily fit on his saddle and looks natural riding into battle atop her noble stallion. For a Princess of Power fan, it’s thrilling to see the magnificent sight of She-Ra riding on the best Swiftwind toy ever made.
The result of all of the fantastic work scupting, adding abundant articulation and choosing a perfect color palette is a Swiftwind toy that’s absolutely breathtaking for fans of the classic cartoon to look at and one of my favorite-designed toys in the whole line.
And that brings us to the downfall of this figure–Mattel’s famed shoddy quality-control. There have been rampant reports from disappointed collectors whose Swiftwinds arrived defective. Apparently, a large portion of the run of Swiftwind were assembled with two right front legs from the knee down. Consequently, these defective Swiftwinds have a left leg that looks strange and may have trouble standing up. In addition, many collectors have received a left wind with a defective peg that either breaks or won’t fit snugly into Swiftwind’s body and falls off easily. Three years into a highly-successful toy line you would expect these problems to be rare, but horrendous quality-control is like Matty’s signature.
I was lucky enough to receive a Swiftwind with the proper legs, but Swiftwind’s left wing is still sadly loose and falls off his side if I try to move it around much–or at all. I don’t think I can push any harder onto the peg to lock it into place without breaking the peg off of him and thus completely ruining the toy, so I guess Swiftwind is gonna have a bum wing permanently. In addition, the hinge-joint on Swiftwind’s right wing is far too loose, causing the wing to drift backwards any time you try to pose Swiftwind with his full wingspan.
As frustrating to me as the poor quality of the wings was, I’m just as letdown by the sloppy job done actually painting Swiftwind. There are highly apparent splotches of blue on the bright pink paint of his chestplate, yellow splotches on the blue of his saddle, and even black paint residue on the white of his neck. I’m especially OCD about paint on my action figures, but paintwork like this would be distressing to any collector.
“Where Can I Buy It?!”
Here’s where things get tricky. Mattel has officially stated that no Masters of the Universe Classics toys released after September 2011 will be reissued. What this means is that supposedly what’s been released is all that will ever be produced. So with MattyCollector’s official site sold-out, all that leaves now is online stores and the secondary market forever. That seems strange and a real shame for a crucial character like She-Ra’s horse, but Matty’s decisions haven’t made sense in a long time.
BigBadToyStore has Swiftwind available for $47.99, which isn’t a terrible price since there’s no sales tax and you can combine shipping on orders with the Pile of Loot. In addition, they have tons of other MOTU Classics in-stock including She-Ra to ride Swiftwind and more.
CMDStore also has Swiftwind available for $54.95.
Amazon has Swiftwind available from many different sellers starting at $53.99, although toys go in and out of stock rapidly at Amazon.
Overall: Swiftwind is a textbook example of a fantastic toy that’s brought down by Mattel’s chronic quality-control problems. Swiftwind is wonderfully proportioned and has a terrific color-scheme, along with an exceptional sculpt and ample articulation. Unfortunately, Swiftwind falls short of perfection due to sloppy paintwork, poorly-engineered wing pegs, and some pesky loose joints. Yet despite those shortcomings, I get a huge, dopey grin on my face every time I look over and see She-Ra riding her winged rainbow horse. This Swiftwind looks absolutely incredible, and is vastly beyond any toy of the horse I ever dreamed we’d see. For fans of She-Ra, Swiftwind is an absolute necessity–you need this horse, no questions asked. For casual MOTU Classics collectors that aren’t instantly sold based on the character, this is still highly recommended as long as you can get past the shoddy Mattel quality-control.