Evil Horde

Multi-Bot – Evil robot of a thousand bodies (1986)

Multi-Bot was a figure I don’t recall ever seeing as a kid. The concept is familiar enough – take the transforming body idea from Modulok and turn it into a robot. It certainly makes more logical sense for a robot to be able to swap around its body parts, as opposed to an organic creature like Modulok. Then again part of the fun of Modulok was the gruesome fun of imagining a monster that could do such a thing.

Design & Development

Modulok and Multi-Bot apparently originated with the same concept idea by Roger Sweet, called Modular Man (source: The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog). Ted Mayer did the visual design work for both figures in June and July, 1984. We can see two of Ted’s designs for Multi-Bot below. They’re similar, although the right head and left yellow arm designs differ.

Modular Man, by Ted Mayer. This one has an organic green face on the right head. Image source: Power and Honor Foundation/Dark Horse
Modular Man, by Ted Mayer. This version has a robotic right head and a hammer shaped left yellow arm. Image source: Power and Honor Foundation/Dark Horse

Both of these designs, although different from the final look of the figure, were ported into the minicomic and the She-Ra cartoon, respectively. As was often the case, animators and comic book artists needed more lead time in order to meet deadlines, resulting in a mismatch between what was on the shelves and what was on TV screens.

Concept character vs animated look. Image source: Dušan M.

Production Toy

The cross sell art for the character reflects the finalized design of the toy, albeit with some slight differences in the exact color shades used:

The toy design is closer to the Ted Mayer concept design that was used for the minicomics, particularly in regard to the green and black head. The color choices are generally retained, although switched around a bit. The torso design has been reworked quite a bit, and the figure was given a second torso, giving him greater flexibility to work as two fully independent figures.

Generally speaking, Multi-Bot about the same height as Modulok, but he’s significantly bulkier. And of course depending on how they are configured either figure can be made to be either short or tall. The 1985 wave of Evil Horde figures was generally filled with monsters, while the 1986 wave was mostly comprised for robotic characters, including Horde Trooper and Dragstor.

Left to right: Multi-Bot, Modulok, Hordak
1987 German MOTU Magazine. Source: www.he-man.org
1986 Mattel catalog. Source: Battle Armor Dad

Multi-Bot and Modulok are compatible with each other, and can be mixed and matched to create “Mega-Monster” (also known as “Megabeast”).

Image courtesy of Øyvind Meisfjord

Packaging

Multi-Bot came in a box very similar to the one used for Modulok, down to the size, shape, and art style. The back features a number of ways to “build” the character, as well as an action scene depicting Multi-Bot transforming while battling Evil Warriors and Snake Men.

There are two versions of the packaging – the blue background, as shown earlier, and a silver background version, shown below (thanks to Thorsten G. for pointing this out):

Minicomics

In The Menace of Multi-Bot, we find out that Modulok invented Multi-Bot. He gives Multi-Bot enormous strength, and the ability to reassemble himself when damaged. Multi-Bot is sent to Eternia to challenge He-Man (with a secret plan to attack Hordak after He-Man was defeated, allowing Modulok to take charge).

Mult-Bot is at first a formidable foe, but he is defeated (and turned on Hordak) in the end with the use of some magnets:

Star Comics

In issue 5 of the Star Comics Masters of the Universe series, a (more or less) toy-accurate Multi-Bot is used as a kind of antenna to summon Monstroid:

Later in the story, Multi-Bot tussles with Extendar, but in the end Orko forces him to save Extendar from drowning. Notice that Multi-Bot is given a goatee, which seems to stem from a misinterpretation of the source material.

Animation

In the She-Ra animated series, Multi-Bot was again the invention of Modulok. Multi-Bot is not frequently used, but he seems to have the ability to transform his body into anything at all:

Other Artwork

Multi-Bot makes a minor appearance in this Eternia poster by William George, as “Megabeast” (combined with Modulok):

Multi-Bot in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has graciously shared the following images and video of Multi-Bot in action!

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7 thoughts on “Multi-Bot – Evil robot of a thousand bodies (1986)

  1. Excellent write up! A very good history lesson on the character and a few things I didnt know so thats an extra bonus!!

    Love the call back to the Marvel comics series.

  2. yeah.. like Modulok.. the advertising department seam to be .. mm.. a bit weak? I kinda felt they could make a lot of modes but.. truthfully, most weren’t that.. good..

    but they say that have over 1,000 modes on the front, then the back claims you can make hundreds IF you buy more then one.. so.. if you buy more then one, you can only make 100s? instead of 1000? mm.. ^_^

    1. Yeah, I think the part swapping feature loses a lot of its fun when it’s just a robot. What was kind of grotesque in Modulok is just kind of silly in Multi-Bot – a robot with mixed up parts. Not sure how they were making their calculations, but I’m sure marketing was playing a bit fast and loose there :p

  3. While I totally agree that Modulok is more suited for that kind of gimmick, I always liked Multi-Bot for a number of reasons; one of them is his ability to split into two complete figures. Another one is that being a robot he could be made explode or ripped apart by He-Man without any moral issiues during my plays XD

    Just a piece of advice: always ask to the seller if his Multi-Bot is made in malaysia. If is made in malaysia don’t buy it because the material used is prone to a chemical decay, becoming slick and sticky (and I suspect likely toxic to some extend).

  4. I thought of Multi-Bot as a sort of Frankenstein-ian attempt by Modulok to create a life form in his own image, something that was strengthened in my childhood mind by the green skin on one of the heads. That made him far more interesting to me. I always saw the helmet on the green head as a robotic 19th century bartender beard, haha. That made me assume that head had an English accent. One of my friends used to insist it was a mouth guard, but an antiquated style of facial hair seemed so much cooler to me!
    While I did think the monstrous Modulok was cooler overall, I did find Multi-Bot more fun to play with because his various parts snapped together far more easily that Modulok’s did. This was particularly noticeable when mixing and matching parts between them.
    Mutli-Bot was also notable for being the only toy whose package /i was allowed to keep. I was always trying to get my Mom to let me keep the cardbacks from the figures and such,but she would never allow it. I talked her into letting me keep Multi-Bot’s box because I could use it to store his and Modulok’s pieces. (The occasional loose Modulok part lying on the floor had been a regular occurrence in the months I’d had him) That was enough to sway her, and I still have the box with both figures’ pieces stored inside it to this day.

  5. As a boy, despite my main MOTU love – as I always say – being firmly rooted in the pre-Filmation “barbarian” mythos, I truly loved Modulok as a toy. So alien looking, and so many endless construction possibilities. Although my mother didn’t really like be playing with “horrible” monster toys, she seemed to quite like Modulok too, as it was (supposedly) a bit more creative to play with! So it sticks in my memory that we were in town one Saturday and say the new Multi-bot on the toy shelf, not knowing about him before, and she allowed me to buy it straight away. No “save your pocket money”, no “maybe next time”, no “if you do this and that”… again because she liked the more ‘creative’ side of it, I think!!

    Either way… I kinda enjoyed Multi-bot, but not as much as Modulok; and on hindsight, I think I saw MB subconsciously as a bit of a disappointment in some respects. Great toy don’t get me wrong and still great fun to play with, especially when combining bits with Modulok, but it never felt to really nail potential of this mass-parts-transforming robot; in fact, for a robot, most of the parts felt a bit ‘rushed’ in design and pretty uninspired to me. MOTU did sometimes have the “how can we do a re-hash of a previous idea” mindset, and where Modulok had deservedly been so very popular, much of MB’s origins felt a little “Quick, do more of the same” and a bit rushed as a result.
    The parts just felt like the could have been a little bit cooler, with too many basic black joining blocks for my liking, and whilst it was nice to have two torsos, they particularly the second (ie. less commonly illustrated one), felt very basic and uninspired… and even worse of the rear side; basic design and not even any pain highlights. The legs and arms, whist maybe being slightly more creative, also feel a bit generic and uninspired, especially the six legs.
    BTW, I was one of the many confused/mystified over green-head’s ‘mouth guard’, which I too (mis)took to be some sort of weird ancient goatee. In fact, for some reason, I also somehow presumed that green-head was an organic living part due to his overall appearance… I never actually questioned this even though the rest of MB was all robotic!!

    As I say, I don’t HATE him, and do have some fun memories playwise, but overall Modulok is the iconic one, MB is a rushed ‘more of the same’ add-on that maybe waters the original concept down a little.
    By the way, my original MB suffers from the plastic deterioration problem that DarkAlex1978 mentions, having gone rather sticky over the years.

  6. Another great read from the MotU Universel! 😀 Multi-Bot is a true gem. The figure is awesome and cooler than Modulok. I totally was into the robot thing back in the day (it was the time of the Tenonator, Robocop etc.!) and MB just came at the right time. The split-Jekyll-Hyde thing is scary to a 10 year old! Quality wise my figure wore quickly, though (Bad Joints, Paint wearing off).
    I fabricated MB in my fan fiction story, making him more of a tragic figure: https://wolfstor.com/2017/02/25/the-death-of-roboto-a-masters-of-the-universe-short-story/
    Great post, Battle Ram!

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