Webstor, not to be confused with 1980s TV character Webster, was a figure I never had as a kid, but always coveted. His looks weren’t as striking to me as characters like Clawful or Whiplash, but his action feature was endlessly fascinating.
Webstor, or Black Widow as he was originally known, first appears in writing in the December 1982 Masters of the Universe Bible by Michael Halperin:
BLACK WIDOW* – as his name suggests, this creepy individual has no scruples whatever. His chief asset is the ability to spin a strong web line in order to climb, snare and imprison those against whom he seeks revenge.
Update: Rebecca Salari Taylor recently shared some early concept art by Mark Taylor. The artwork below was created around the time Mark was working on concepts for both He-Man and Conan. If you look closely at the head/face, all the design details for Webstor are there, minus his additional eyes. The coloring is, of course, quite different, and this character doesn’t have a spider theme. The artwork appears to be undated, but this would have been done early in 1981. My understanding is that this was not created for the Masters of the Universe line.
It seems possible that Roger Sweet used the face/head from Mark’s drawing, and repurposed it for Webstor. Combining the head from Mark’s green henchman and the body from Mark’s Skeletor design, Roger added new armor and modified the color scheme to help set the character apart. According to The Power and Honor Foundation Catalog, Roger intended for the figure’s differential pulley system to run through the body of the figure itself. To save costs (and perhaps because a grappling hook from a figure’s head doesn’t make a great deal of sense), engineers moved the mechanism to the back of Webstor’s armor.
Other than the engineering change, the above concept is remarkably close to the look of the final figure. One difference that stands out is the flares over the shoulders on his armor, which did not make it into the final toy. Webstor’s hook is also quite different from the concept – Mattel ended up reusing the grappling hook from the Big Jim Pirate Boat instead:
Webstor doesn’t look particularly spider-like to me, other than the fact that he has four eyes and a black widow marking on his armor. Aside from those details, he could pass for some kind of blue orc.
A hand-painted final prototype of the figure appears in a 1984 Mattel Germany catalog. For some reason they have him holding Trap Jaw’s blaster attachment:
We can see a hand-painted version of the figure on the cardboard cutout below, which came from a promotional display. In this version he appears to be holding the version of the Castle Grayskull rifle that came with specially marked Man-E-Faces figures:
Aside from the reused grappling hook, Webstor was also given another recycled accessory – the rifle from the Castle Grayskull weapons rack. In most cases this was molded in orange plastic, but some rare examples came with a blue rifle. Both versions appear in early catalog photos as well.
Update: according to Springor Spanior, who had a blue gun version since childhood, the blue gun is marked with a “3,” while his orange gun is marked with a “4.” However, I should note that my orange Webstor gun is also marked as “3.”
Webstor’s cross sell art depicts him with the orange gun:
Webstor’s action feature allowed him to “climb” his own string when you pulled it from the bottom. Due to the complexity of the internal pulley system, it is pretty common to find examples where the string has gotten tangled internally. That was the case with my figure, but I was able to get mine working again using He-Bro’s method.
Aside from his single carded release, Webstor was released in the following gift sets:
- Battle Armor Skeletor/Webstor/Mer-Man
- Battle Armor Skeletor/Webstor/Stinkor
- Webstor/Battle Armor Skeletor
The scene on the back of Webstor’s card was illustrated by Errol McCarthy, who for some reason omitted the black widow symbol on Webstor’s chest. Errol would go on to portray the character in several other illustrations for use by licensees, as well as in the 1987 Style Guide.
The style guide described Webstor like this:
This beast is inordinately strong, and is closely allied with Skeletor. He is probably one of the cleverest Evil Warriors outside of Skeletor, and that is how he gained the evil leader’s trust. His hook and winch allow him to climb and crawl in spaces where other warriors couldn’t go.
Webstor first appears in the excellent Clash of Arms mini comic, alongside a cavalcade of villains like Clawful, Whiplash, and Jitsu. However, Webstor is taken out of the fight early with a vicious kick from Stridor.
Webstor also appears in Eye of the Storm, which came packed with Snout Spout. In the story he aids Skeletor in a plot to cause chaotic storms all across Eternia.
Webstor teams up with frequent collaborator Kobra Khan in the mini comic, Rock People to the Rescue (hat tip to Øyvind Johannes Meisfjord):
Webstor also appears in the Golden Books stories, Power From the Sky and The Rock Warriors. In the latter he helps create a diversion for Skeletor, and in the former he helps his evil compatriots climb a cliff face as they journey to launch an assault on the palace of Eternia:
Webstor was portrayed as one of Skeletor’s more intelligent minions in the Filmation cartoon. His design was generally consistent with the overall look of the toy, albeit with a few simplified details. The two most notable appearances, for me at least, were in “The Cat and the Spider” and “Disappearing Dragons”.
In “The Cat and the Spider” Webstor comes up against Kittrina, a member of the cat folk. This is Webstor’s debut episode and he’s on screen for a good chunk of the running time. He also flies a strange-looking version of the Wind Raider that has spider legs attached to the sides:
In “Disappearing Dragons,” Webstor teams up with Kobra Khan as they aid Skeletor in kidnapping Eternia’s dragons. They battle against another pair of characters that frequently work together – Buzz-Off and Mekaneck.
Webstor also made several appearances in poster artwork by William George and Earl Norem:
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11 thoughts on “Webstor: Evil master of escape (1984)”
They really missed a great opportunity with Webstor. They could of had the figure spray silly string from his arse like a real spider.
Like everyone else my Webstors string got tangled and ended up making useless. Had no idea his body was a Skelly re use.
Nice idea – thought if it literally was to be silly string, that would involve chemicals which,even in those days, would have been ver un-toy-friendly.
Great research once again. I NEVER came across a Webstor in my entire life that was working properly. 🙂 darn Hook mechanism is a pain… got some fact on the character from the German Audio Tapes (Hörspiele). In one of them, Webstor takes beastman to his Spider Realm. He then commands a Spider to bite beastman. It is then revealed that Beastman once was an intelligent scientist Skeletor experimented with. Fact is that Webstor is portrayed as some kind of “beastman” himself, commanding spiders to do things for him…
I wonder if this Beast Man origin ties in with the origins of Beast Man, Evil-Lyn and Tri-Klops that was mentioned in the Filmation series bible but thankfully never used, of the three of them being scientist astronaughts on Marlena Glenn’s ship that crashed on Eternia, causing them to mutate. I’m glad they never really followed through with this, and I gotta say, in Beast Man’s case, I don’t like him being anything other than a life-long ferocious savage, Skeletor’s earliest follower.
A blue orc… Yeah, it fits his look perfectly 😀 I still like Webstor but the hook mechanism though clever was not very good: the rope was thin and very prone to form knots, blocking forever the mechanism. I tried to replace the rope, but I never succeeded to do that in the right way.
I was able to fix mine, but it was VERY tricky. Not an easy fix!
Your blog is awesome. A couple of points:
1. I’ve only seen one MOC blue rifle Webstor. His packaging is marked Made in Taiwan, with the “New!” at the top corner of the card. Every other sample of Webstor is orange rifle, no “New!”, and marked Made in Malaysia on the packaging.
2. The Taiwan Webstor mostly appears similar to the Malaysia Webstor, but his belt is a slightly brighter shade of red. Would have to confirm this with loose samples to see if it holds true across the spectrum for all Taiwan Webstors.
2. I’ve seen the long barrel and short barrel version of the orange rifle, but I’ve only seen the blue rifle with a short barrel.