This HoF article will not be about a specific toy, rather a group of specific toys all of which come in the form of arguably the coolest Masters of the Universe character ever. (sit down, Skeletor you scumbag) I speak of course of everyone’s favourite: that blue-skinned, cybernetic freak-factory with the metallic mandible…TRAP-JAW!
Now I should make a brief disclaimer here: this article will focus on the three versions of Trap-Jaw from 1983, 2002 and 2010. The 2016 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (Filmation) Trap-Jaw figure will not be featured in detail because a) I don’t particularly care for it and b) due to the reasons outlined in ‘a)’ I don’t own a copy of it.
Anyway now we’ve cleared that up, lets carry on.
TRAP-JAW was first set loose on unsuspecting children in 1983 as part of the second wave of Mattel’s Masters of the Universe line. As stated in previous articles, I wan’t massively into MoTU back then. I had a passing interest. But when I laid eyes upon this vividly coloured bad-ass with a steel jaw and right arm of death I knew I had to have him. Look at that cross-sell artwork: its pure evil. What 10 year old kid doesn’t want that?
In the early ’80s MoTU was proving to be white-hot for Mattel. They had a huge hit on their hands with this new toyline and characters were hitting the shelves thick and fast. Around this time another of Mattel’s toylines was winding down: Big Jim, Mattel’s answer to G.I.Joe. A number of Big Jim accessories would later be re-painted and included in the MoTU line: namely Big Jim’s Tiger (Battle Cat) and and his Eagle (Zoar/Screeech).
There can be little doubt that TRAP-JAW was the result of a re-used concept for an un-produced Big Jim action figure: IRON JAW who also had a steel mouth and a right arm with interchangeable weapons.
Also, in the mid ’70s there was a short-lived comic book released by Atlas Comics called IRONJAW (no relation to the Big Jim version). I’m not sure if this character was an actual inspiration for Mattel’s TRAP-JAW but he bears more than a passing resemblance to our pink-jawed pal and given the vintage of the comic it’s certainly possible.
So despite not being hugely into MoTU back in the early ’80s, I knew I wanted a Trap-Jaw. I have no recollection as to how I got him, but got him I did. Here’s that very figure:
Pretty friggin’ cool for 1983. Apart from the killer weapons and grotesque grin, one of the things I really love about Trap-Jaw are his garish colours. I mean green, blue, pink and black. Should that work? Hell yes. It works it’s arse off.
I’m pleased to say my original Trap-Jaw is still complete with all his accessories. Most kids weren’t as fastidious as myself when it came to looking after weapons and stuff. Thankfully that pre-pubescent OCD has finally paid off. While most adult collectors are lamenting the loss of their Trap-Jaw’s hook or claw, I’m sitting pretty knowing my Traps is all tooled up and ready to create carnage . Unfortunately my old Trappy is suffering from a bit of discolouration in the torso. But its fair to say that at 33 years of age, most of us tend to go a bit iffy in the chest department.
Trap-Jaw featured a eyelet or hole at the top of his helmet which was intended to be used for sliding him down a zip-line. You’ll notice my Trap-Jaw has a groove carved into the eyelet as the result of a few too many zip-line rides. Even at a young a age, I soon figured out that Trappy should perhaps retire from sliding down bits of string lest he lose that head-hole forever.
Trap-Jaw’s next incarnation came as part of the ill-fated 2002 Masters of the Universe re-launch. Mattel had tasked the sculptors at The Four Horsemen Studios with bringing Traps and the rest of the Masters into the 21st Century with seriously updated looks and attitude. Like the 2002 He-Man and Skeletor before him, this new Trap-Jaw had his aesthetic roots firmly planted in the ground of the early ’80s original but was bigger, better detailed, better proportioned and more in line with the action figure trends of the time.
This new Trap-Jaw sported battle wounds, head-stomping boots and a cybernetic arm from the gates of Hell. His mechanical arm was so massive that Traps was clearly suffering from some spinal issues as a result, causing him to perpetually lean toward his right under the weight of that metallic monster limb. Fantastic little details such as this are what the Four Horsemen brought to this awesome sculpt.
Annoyingly however, despite 20 years separating this new Trap-Jaw from his original counterpart, the amount of articulation was pretty much the same. This new Trap-Jaw had no elbow* or knee joints, no ab-crunch and only slightly improved shoulder and leg articulation. So while being a great looking figure, his pose-ability suffered. Sadly this was yet another reason (among the many outlined in my Man-E-Faces article) as to why this new Masters line failed, especially with adult collectors.
*actually, his mechanical arm did have a spring-loaded bend at the elbow. So I may have slightly bullshitted.
Thankfully, Trap-Jaw managed to get a re-painted variant released before the 2002 line was cancelled. This new version was based upon his debut appearance in the 1983 mini comic ‘The Menace of Trap-Jaw’.
I really dig both these 2002 versions of Trap-Jaw. I love the blue version for its faithfulness to the ’83 original. But the green variant does have some nice paint details and I am a sucker for anything green, especially with a bit of purple thrown in.
Finally we come to the 2010 Masters of the Universe Classics version of Trap-Jaw. Once more the Four Horsemen Studios took the reins of this Masters line and put a very different but equally awesome spin on these new sculpts. As expected, the Classics version of Trap-Jaw is an absolute stand-out in this long-running toyline and is my favourite incarnation of the character to date.
The Classics version of Trap-Jaw, aimed squarely at adult collectors, embodies all the best elements of a modern action figure: superior paint detailing, fantastic proportions, sharp sculpting and approximately seventeen points of articulation. The build quality is superb.
Classics Trap-Jaw has a more refined look than his 2002 incarnation and is primarily based on his ’83 form. This Trap-Jaw also comes with a non-cybernetic right arm and alternate head so you can swap out those parts to turn him into his pre-Trap-Jaw persona: Kronis. Yes Trap-Jaw, like many before him, was once the victim of Skeletor’s brutality having lost his arm and lower jaw to that bone-headed bastard at some point in time.
And while on the subject of that lower jaw, the Four Horsemen again brought something new to Trap-Jaw when designing this version of him. Open his mouth and you can see what remains of Kronis’ organic gob before that metal jaw was bolted on. Mmmm… tasty!
This for me, is the definitive Trap-Jaw. A celebration of one of the greats of Masters of the Universe. I think it’s fair to say that Trap-Jaw is the Boba Fett of MoTU in that his popularity is universal, he continues to sell out no matter what era he is sold in and he just looks so damn cool. I love the character.
Now it would be negligent of me not to touch on the 2016 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (Filmation) version of Trap-Jaw which is based upon his appearance in the 1980s Filmation cartoon.
This version uses the same base body as the Classics incarnation but opts for a more stripped-down, austere design approach in line with the simplified aesthetic of the cartoon. As mentioned earlier, I’m not a fan of the Filmation aesthetic when it is transposed onto an action figure. The design choices are too simple and I find the lack of detailing a real turn off. Also, the colours don’t work as well. Those red boots and arm are just too funky. Don’t get me wrong: I get what this version of Trap-Jaw is about, it’s just not for me. But hey, if someone threw one at me I’d take it, if just for the sake of having a complete set of Trap-Jaws. I’m just not prepared to drop the $80+ it takes to get one of these. Plus there’s no elbow joint on his robot arm! Anyway, here’s some pics I found on the Fwoosh website:
So there you have it. A look at one of my favourite characters in modern pop culture and one of the coolest action figures from the last 30+ years. The ranks of Tonk’s Hall of Fame are starting to swell now. So be sure to check back here soon for another awesome entry.