During the 2002 relaunch of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, there were many promotional variants with the initial release of the figures. Some figures came packaged with a VHS cassette, starting with select Filmation episodes and as the new series by Mike Young Productions aired; episodes from the new cartoon.
One instance with variant releases was the Kmart-exclusive Art Cards (or as they are referred to in the packaging, Trading Cards). The following figures came packaged with their respective card:
- Beast Man
All the cards have a foil treatment, which sadly doesn’t translate well in the scans. According to the Toys of He-man and the Masters of the Universe guide, the cards were produced by MVCreations, and “it is speculated that a thousand of each existed”. Looking at the cards, the artwork was done by Emiliano Santalucia with colors by Val Staples.
The style on the cards is still a very early version that Santalucia used when illustrating the characters. The easiest example comes in the Skeletor trading card. The pose appears to be based on a page from the pack-in comic that MVCreations produced for the He-Man and Skeletor Target exclusive 2-pack, with some edits on hand poses and the added weapons. That comic was done in the span of just two weeks and it helped the studio to get the ongoing comic deal with Mattel. The “toony” art style here is based on the early Mattel presentation images by Ruben Martinez. (But for the ongoing comic, Santalucia established a less angular, yet more detailed style.)
A Special thanks to he-man.org member Cilman for these scans of the cards!
He-Man’s pose and the background of Castle Grayskull in the distance appear to be inspired by the promotional poster art by Mike Young Productions (which itself was based on the 2001 poster by Ken Kelly). The back of the card features the figure’s accessories Power Sword, Battle Axe and Battle Shield.
Man-At-Arms stands battle ready at his workshop. The back of the card features the figure’s accessories Battle Club, Hand Cannon and for some reason, they include Removable Chest Armor (when many figures had their armor as removable).
Stratos appears flying in the sky, possibly near the Mystic Mountains. The back of the card features the figure’s accessories Arm-mounted Wings and Sky Pack.
Skeletor stands in front of his throne inside Snake Mountain. The back of the card features the figure’s accessories, including his Double Blade Sword and his Havoc Staff, described here as Battle Staff.
Beast Man is ready with his whip inside one of the caverns at Snake Mountain. There are some nice little touches on the ground with small bones and a skull. The back of the card features the figure’s accessory, referred to as his Beast Whip.
Mer-Man is in his element underwater, looking up ready to strike. The back of the card features the figure’s sword and trident accessories.
Hope you enjoyed this little look at the 2002 Masters of the Universe exclusive Kmart Trading Cards!