Note: I recently acquired my own copy of this catalog. I’ve updated this article with all-new, high resolution scans. Please allow a moment or two for the images to load, or try refreshing the page if some images are missing. Open images in a new page if you wish to zoom in and see fine details.
Here is the 1982 Mattel Toys dealer catalog (or at least the portion relevant to the MOTU line). Intended for retailers, the catalog debuted at Toy Fair, February 17, 1982. Mattel’s dealer catalogs showcased all the latest and greatest releases, along with existing merchandise. Because the Masters of the Universe line debuted in 1982, this catalog has the smallest amount of space devoted to the line (only three pages) compared to subsequent years. What’s valuable about this particular catalog is that all of the MOTU items are prototypes (albeit late-stage prototypes, with a few exceptions), rather than factory-produced examples. The sculpt on most of these items is the final sculpt, with the exception of Teela, Wind Raider, Zodac’s armor, Castle Grayskull’s jaw bridge (specifically the locking mechanism) and Man-At-Arms’ armor. There are earlier prototypes of figures like He-Man and Skeletor that don’t appear here – so these photos represent a snapshot of what had been finalized at a particular point in time, very close to the debut of the line in stores.
Note that Battle Cat has orange paint around his mouth and a striped tail, which appear to be applied by hand. A few pre-production examples with this paint scheme are known to exist, although the production version lacks those details. Most of these figures appear to be hand-painted. That is most apparent on Castle Grayskull, which has a much finer paint job than any of the production versions I’ve seen. This hand-painted version pops up in product photography several times.
The prototype Teela that appears in this catalog is my absolute favorite version of the character. The mass-produced toy didn’t have nearly as much depth. I’m also quite fond of the prototype Wind Raider that appears here, which has a number of key differences from the final toy. I discuss those in greater detail in the toy features that focus on those toys.
I’ve included shots of all three pages plus closeups of each individual item.
As a side note, the photo spread on the first two pages was used as a basis for the line art that went into the Castle Grayskull instruction booklet. That line art also showed up on the back of the first version of the Castle Grayskull box.
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7 thoughts on “1982 Mattel Toys Dealer Catalog”
Hi. I have a question. I keep seeing these promo ads with He-Man riding Battle Cat and the Power Sword is affixed to the saddle. Now, it’s been nigh on 25 years since I last held the original BC, but I don’t remember any method of holding the sword that way. Was this a feature that was considered but discarded or did the photographers just tape it on there for display purposes?
That’s a good question. I don’t know why. If the tab (where it connects with the other half of the sword) on that particular version of the sword were thick enough, I can see it staying put on top of Battle Cat’s saddle. It doesn’t stay put on mine, though. I assume the photographer just through it was a good way to show off the sword.
hi, excelent blog!! have you noticed that man at arms on this catalog has no painted boots?
Thanks Leandro, I did notice that. But, only recently when I was able to scan these images myself. Later versions of this prototype do have the painted boots, so I assume this was an oversight. https://battleram.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/061.jpg
This is SO off topic for your awesome blog…but hopefully you can understand. The film Megaforce for me, is kinda like He-man is to you. In this 1982 dealer catalog is rumored to be a page showing Megaforce toys. I am wondering if you can confirm, and possibly scan the page for me if its actually in there.
Hi Bob, thanks for the kind comments. I did find a page on Megaforce in the catalog. Here’s a link. Enjoy!
Yes I agree that most (if not all) of the figures from the 1982 catalog were indeed hand-painted. The level of detail is just astounding!!