While the 1980’s had a lot of toy commercials pretending to be cartoons, the one that was the most thought out (and produced on the cheap) was Masters of the Universe, a series that came from a failed Conan: The Barbarian movie series toy deal. The cartoon was a very weird and low budget, yet always carried a message about kindness, bravery, stranger danger, and other life lessons so that the company didn’t get sued into bankrupt by the FCC. But what was wonderful was the series of mostly-the-same-body-mold toys based around He-Man and his friends and foes. Held together by rubber ropes glued together inside the figure, these things are remembered fondly by kids of all ages… or at least those who knew them in the 1980s through current year.
Unlike previous Toys on a Tuesday, I can’t source much of a modern resale for a lot of these figures as they are either too old, were limited run, or exclusives. Basically, bend over and say good bye to your wallet since these things are not cheap to pick up. An original He-Man loose with all accessories goes for a minimum of $55 on eBay (Though Taiwan knock-offs go as low as $20) to $200+ for a carded version and $600+ for a carded slabbed version. Even the more modern Master of the Universe Classics versions go for a minimum of $100 these days. If you can find these figures on the cheap and in good condition, then buy them. Otherwise, just walk with me down memory lane…
He-Man: The Most Powerful Man in the Universe!
Man I remember these guys, the mixture of rubber heads on plastic bodies that all come from the same mold. Yep, you heard that right, the same body mold. Just about every character from the main line, both hero and villains, got the same body mold unless they had a special gimmick like Stinkor or Mek-neck. All of the heads were made of rubber, or at least the 1982 versions where, the later series remakes had plastic heads since they were more cost effective. Another thing that made this series stand out was the inclusion of the Masters of the Universe mini-comic series (which can be found in collected format on sites like Amazon), which were all original stories set in the he-man universe. Not many other toy sets outside of the early MARVEL Legends line did this with giving you a comic book along with the character you were buying. This gave kids a blueprint of how the character would talk and act inside the universe.
I have no idea what Mattel was thinking at this point in time. I think they just got sick of ripping off the Star Trek: The Animated Series backdrops (True story. Filmation, the company behind Masters of the Universe, reused animation and backgrounds from other series to keep them all being made on the cheap) and just decided to send He-Man into space. I have no idea other than that if this was true or not, but damn it produced some of the worst looking, badly made and cheap everything action figures on the market. Now during this time, the toy market place was changing to a cheaper made product all over, which probably is why once again everyone used the same base mold, though a much slimmer one than previous versions of the characters did. The less said about this, the better.
He-Man: The Most Powerful Man in the Universe!
In 2002, a lot of shows were getting the reboot treatment. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thundercats and more were getting new shows (Both good and bad) and new toys based around the same ideas of the original show. So why not return Masters of the Universe to the cartoon landscape? Well that is exactly what happened. Known as Masters of the Universe 2002 by fans, this line of toys were more based around the animation of the show, leading to some awesome sculpts of the toys, especially Skeletor. Probably the cheaper of the toy lines since a lot of kids owned these ones and are more willing to sell, some of the main figures might be worth a pick up.
He-Man: The Most Powerful Man in the Universe!
In 2008, the collector exclusive market was in full swing. Higher quality and more pose-able toys were hitting the market from places like Japan using some of their favorite lines. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the line, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles released cartoon accurate, highly pose-able collectors versions of their line. Not to be out done, using their own special subscription only service “The Matty Collectors Club” and the Matty Collectors website, Mattel took one final attempt at bringing the He-Man and The Masters of the Universe line back as a collector line. At first the figures were only available through the subscription only club, but some of the more main line figures like He-Man, Skeletor, Hordak & She-Ra were given a second wave release through the Matty Collectors website for others to buy at least the mains from each show. Featuring one of the most show accurate sculpts to this point while keeping the original look of the 1982 toy intact, this version of one of the best versions out there on the market. Still very affordable too.
Ever wonder about He-man of the past? Like the true origin of the man himself? Well look no further than King Greyskull, the original He-Man. Guardian of the real power of Greyskull, known as Orb of Power, King Greyskull was the first man to be given the ability to take up the Sword of Power… Hell, he forged the damn thing! Pouring his own life force into the sword, he is the reason for the phrase “By the power of Greyskull!” is the transformation phrase. Using the Forge of Eternity, King Greyskull created the weapons now weilded by He-Man to fight off the original invasion by Hordak into Eternia before falling in battle, leaving his sword, axe and shield behind for a future King to discover and bring peace to the land.
He-Man (Galactic Protector)
Following a huge battle with the forces of Skeletor, Adam leaves Eternia to case down his eternal rival though a Laser Gate that leads him into space and teams with the Galactic Protectors to finish his quest. Allowing himself to shake off his identity as Prince Adam of Eternia and become He-Man full time, this allowed him to have three times the power, three times the wisdom and three times the everything that the powers of Greyskull gave him. Toy wise, this is just a higher quality version of the original New Adventures of He-Man version of the character with the sculpt looking more in line with all the other Masters of the Universe classics line of toys. Sold exclusively though the Matty subscription club, this version of the character was later in the line so it gets a bit harder to find on the open market.
King He-Man: Heroic Ruler Of Future Eternia
Ever wondered what would happen to Adam when he became King officially? Well now you know. King He-Man shows the future of Eternia where after his sister defeated Horde prime, the threat of Adam’s old enemy Skeletor once more called He-man to one final battle. In an epic duel on the JawBridge of the great Temple of Power on Trolla, He-man at last defeated Skeletor in single combat. Recovering the Vortex Key, He-man could now return to his home world. There he found hisqueen mother keeping the throne and mourning the passing of King Randor. Taking his rightful place as his father’s heir, Adam became King He-man ruling over all Eternia with his wisdom and strength. He married Teela and together with their son Dare took over his father’s legacy as the new He-ro, defender of Eternia and the wielder of the Sword of Power. This is probably one of the better looking “What If?” figures the Masters of the Universe Classics line ever produced. What gives me a chuckle is that this version of He-Man is using the 2002 version of the Sword of Power, a nice nod to that series that never got to see a toy line.
He-Man & Skeletor (Movie 2 Pack)
Now I know this is a bit of a cheat since this is a custom only figure through Barbarossa Custom Creations in the Europe but I had to include this one of two live action movie versions of the characters of He-Man and Skeletor. These versions do their best to capture the look of the characters from the movie through custom head sculpts, but also using a version of the old school 1982 He-man body molds. While these are not available anymore (The guy produced a limited 500 piece run that was quickly sold out) it’s worth adding just because they are just so bad they are good… And yes, there is a God Skeletor version of the toy too.
Through all the years and a few dozen toys, the fans cried out for one thing: A Filmation accurate version of the characters they grew up with in toy form. Well since they were running out of original toys to remake from the original toy line, Mattel and their last ditch effort “Club Greyskull” subscription service put out a small run of these toys. Leading with the man himself and his nemesis Skeletor, the two kicked off a line of about 10 or so toys that reproduced the characters for the final time with cartoon accurate bodies and heads. Shame this was at the end of the line and also through the very high priced Club Greyskull because collectors snatched these up so fast that they are going for close to 1982 figure prices as they are that rare and sort after.
Filmation He-Man: The Most Powerful Man In The Universe!
Super 7 came onto the scene and took the line over from the now bankrupt Matty Collectors company. Starting out with small G.I. Joe type figures and a return of the M.U.S.C.L.E. rubber toy line, Super 7 then decided to go more down the collectors route by recreating the original 1982 line (or at least parts of it) with a more Filmation accurate coloring to them. Sold out pretty much right away, these figures are IMPOSSIBLE to get at a decent price point. However it was nice to see exactly what people were asking for in the original toy look… Then they wanted one more thing.
Prince Adam – Laughing
Of course you knew this was coming… This fucking meme. Based on the “Laughing He-Man” video meme set to the song “What’s going on?” by Four Non Blondes. This figure was created by Super 7 exclusively for San Diego Comic Con, this figure comes exclusive with a pink Sword of Power, since the whole thing seems to be based around the notion that He-Man is one of the gayest cartoons on the planet (Which is hard to disprove, but yeah let’s leave people and what they want to call themselves alone). Coming in a glitter covered box didn’t help matters either. But this is one hell of a sort after collectors piece. Hell I’ve only seen one in the wild and that was commanding a $500 price tag here in Australia, and the damn thing sold!! It just goes to show that collectors are ravenous beasts who will do anything to finish that collection.
So there you go, a look at He-Man through the ages along with some background on the character and the toys. Just the thing to get you either reignited into the collecting world, starting a collection or just wanting to see something different. All of this just shows us all that no matter the brand, no matter the company producing the toys; there is always going to be something out there that defies the path of time, and this time it’s He-Man. May he forever have the power.