Evil Warriors

Stinkor – Evil master of odors (1985)

Stinkor Graphic

My memories of playing with Stinkor as a kid are permanently etched in my brain, and for good reason. Smell, more than any other of the five senses, is associated with memory. For me a familiar smell is like a very brief trip in a time machine back to the past.

Stinkor quickly dominated my toy area. As soon as I opened the box where I stored my collection of He-Man and G.I. Joe figures, I was immediately hit in the face with the evil odor of Stinkor, a sharp and pungent reminder of his existence, even when he wasn’t immediately in sight.

Stinkor, an evil humanoid skunk warrior, was released in 1985, alongside such figures as Moss Man, Two-Bad, Roboto, and Sy-Klone. Stinkor, like Faker and Moss Man, was a new character made up entirely of preexisting parts. In Stinkor’s case, he was a repaint of Mer-Man with armor from Mekaneck and the shield from Castle Grayskull. However, it’s apparent from the cross sell art that Stinkor was originally intended to reuse Beast Man’s body:

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Stinkor cross sell artwork. Unlike the actual Beast Man body mold, this one has a closed left hand. Image courtesy of Axel Giménez.

A hand-painted prototype is visible in this 1985 Mattel Spring Program catalog. In the description it says “Stinkor is the master of stink and destroy! Heroic Warriors can smell his unique scent from 50 feet… it’s like invisible armor! Stinkor has a twist action waist with snap-on accessories and his own self-protecting gas mask.”

If I had to guess why Mattel opted to use the Mer-Man/Skeletor body instead of Beast Man’s body, it would be because they were already using it for Moss Man, and didn’t want both cheap repaints released that year to share the same body. Also, the Mer-Man body makes for more obvious and distinct gloves and boots. Fun fact: only Stinkor and Ninjor had painted gloves on this particular mold, which seems odd given the fact that the arms were reused many times and seem to imply the presence of gloves.

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Brothers from another mother
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I like to display Stinkor armed with the blue version of Webstor’s gun

It was suggested in Tomart’s Action Figure Digest issue 202 that Stinkor started out conceptually as some kind of stink bug character:

Stink Bug
From Tomart’s Action Figure Digest, issue 202

Stinkor’s distinctive smell is said to have come from mixing patchouli oil in with the plastic. I have a vintage example of Stinkor that still smells, and I have a bottle of patchouli oil, and to me they’re somewhat similar but definitely distinct from each other. To me Stinkor’s smell is sharper and less organic smelling than the patchouli oil. Perhaps the smell changed when the patchouli mixed in with the plastic, or perhaps Mattel used another fragrance entirely.

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Top artwork and instructions artwork by Dave Stevens, cross sell art by William George

While this is one of the unusual cases where Errol McCarthy did not do the cardback illustration (this one was done by Dave Stevens), Errol did create illustrate the character for the 1987 Style Guide, which had this to say about Stinkor:

Role: Evil Master of odorous warfare

Power: Ability to stink and destroy with his “odor of evil.”

Character Profile: This warrior literally reeks of evil. His powerful stench overcomes all who smell it. Most of the Evil Warriors have built up a tolerance for their foul-smelling friend. However, Stinkor can’t stand the fresh smell of his arch-enemy, Moss Man. The Stechn of Stinkor is so powerful that even he can’t stand it sometimes., so he is outfitted with a special gas mask armor.

Licence Kit stinkor 1986

In some versions of the French release of Stinkor, he came with a blue and orange version of He-Man’s shield rather than a blue Castle Grayskull shield.

Puantor He-Man shield

Stinkor was also released in several gift sets; a three-pack with Whiplash and Webstor, a three-pack with Battle Armor Skeletor and Webstor, and a J.C. Penny two-pack with Spikor (images via Grayskullmuseum.com).

Stinkor was also released in the form of a stamp and a zipper clip, for the fashionable third grader:

Stinkor (as well as Moss Man) came packaged with the mini comic The Stench of Evil!  In the story, Stinkor (illustrated with the cross sell artwork design), threatens Eternia’s wildlife with his rancid smell. Only Moss Man is able to overpower Stinkor with his pine fresh scent:

Stinkor also makes an appearance in Hordak – The Ruthless Leader’s Revenge! Stinkor is kidnapped by Grizzlor, and Leech and Mantenna react less than positively to the sudden appearance of the smelly fiend:

Stinkor was also the focus of a Golden Books story called He-Man Smells Trouble. In the story, Stinkor is exiled from Snake Mountain because no one can tolerate his foul smell. He teams up with Roboto, who left the palace over a misunderstanding, but things go awry when Stinkor tries to betray Roboto to get back into Skeletor’s good graces.

Stinkor was never a central character in the Masters of the Universe mythos, but he seems to be well-remembered. Stinkor has been featured in several articles in recent years, and from the comments even casual fans seem to remember the skunk-themed toy well.

A terrorized-looking Stinkor made an appearance in the packaging illustration for the 1986 Eternia playset:

Eternia

Stinkor is the only character released between 1982 and 1985  that never made an appearance in Filmation’s He-Man or She-Ra cartoons. In an article on the subject, James Eatock explains:

As Robert Lamb now explains Filmation were not all that happy with the character. “I remember Stinkor. I was part of the writing staff when Arthur Nadel and crew took a field trip to Hawthorne, California to Mattel headquarters. The She-Ra toy line was introduced to us by women designers who displayed how capes could be used as skirts on the dolls. It was kind of a “Barbie Goes Barbarian” thing. Then it was the guys’ turn and we got our first look at the Horde. The male designers introduced each character with great excitement, relishing every nasty attribute they could name. The only hitch came when Stinkor was introduced. Arthur immediately vetoed a character that was basically a walking fart joke. Only two skunk characters have worked in cartoons to my knowledge; Pepe Le Pew and Flower from Bambi.

If Stinkor had appeared in the cartoon, he probably would have looked something like this:

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Artwork by slyvenom

If Stinkor had been released as planned using the Beast Man body, he would have looked something like this:

Photo and custom Stinkor by Øyvind Meisfjord
Photo and custom Stinkor by Øyvind Meisfjord

Stinkor also makes an appearance in this poster illustrated by Esteban Maroto:

Esteban Maroto

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Evil Warriors

Evil-Lyn – Evil warrior goddess (1983)

Evil Lyn Graphic

My first introduction to Evil-Lyn was through the 1983 Filmation cartoon. When I finally saw the toy (which belonged to another kid), I was a little taken aback at how bright yellow her skin was in comparison to the character on the show. I remember thinking about it for a minute and deciding that they probably made her colors brighter to appeal to kids. I think 6-year-old me was probably right on that count.

Evil-Lyn probably has roots in Mark Taylor’s Sorceress concept, although the connections are somewhat tenuous. Mark Taylor intended the Sorceress (also known as the Goddess, and eventually fused with the Teela concept) to be a double agent and a changeling, playing both sides. The Sorceress wore a head piece under her snake armor that formed a V-shape on her forehead, a design repeated with Evil-Lyn.

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And of course from the neck down, Evil-Lyn is a repaint of Mark Taylor’s Teela:

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Having said that, Evil-Lyn was designed by Mattel artist Colin Bailey, who also designed Trap Jaw and Buzz-Off.

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Notice the reference to “Tee-La”. Her name is hyphenated, just as it was in the earliest mini comics.

There are a few things to unpack here. Notice the very short wand in the above concept illustration. The version that came with the toy was more of a short staff than a wand. The size was no doubt increased in order to reduce the likelihood of it becoming a choking hazard.

The artist mentions that Evil Lyn’s face should resemble Sophia Loren, or at least mimic her expression. Some of that did end up in the final toy’s face:

The original working name for Evil-Lyn was “Sultra”. It might be worth noting that the Sultra drawing is dated October 5, 1982. Mattel never filed a trademark claim on Sultra, but they did file one for the name Evil-Lyn on Jan 21, 1983.

The toy was packaged on the standard card, with a very nice illustration by Errol McCarthy on the back. Evil-Lyn’s wand was molded in glow-in-the-dark plastic. Strangely, there is no mention of this feature on the packaging, which seems like a missed opportunity.

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Note that in the above Errol McCarthy illustration, Evil-Lyn carries the short wand from the original concept art. In the black and white versions of the same illustration (below), you can see that Errol tried out a couple of looks for He-Man: one with a shorter neck, and one with a longer neck. The shorter neck version appears in the final colored illustration.

Errol also illustrated the character for one of Mattel’s licensing kits:

The cross sell art is pretty faithful to the final toy:

Evil-Lyn cross sell art. Cleaned up by Leon Mallett.

In early stories, Evil-Lyn is sometimes described almost as an old crone – certainly that’s the case in the 1983 Kid Stuff Masters of the Universe audio book.

In both the Kid Stuff audio book and the Golden Books story, The Sunbird Legacy, Evil-Lyn has the power to transform into Screeech, the barbarian bird:

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Evil-Lyn transforms into Screech, who in this image resembles a buzzard rather than an eagle or falcon. This ability gives the character some nice symmetry with Filmation’s version of the Sorceress.

Although Evil Lyn appears in the 1983 Mattel Dealer Catalog, she doesn’t show up in mini comics until the 1984 lineup.

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This version is likely a prototype – the details on her face seem more refined than the mass-produced toy

As I mentioned earlier, my first introduction to Evil-Lyn was through the Filmation cartoon. In the series, Evil-Lyn always reminded me a lot of Ursa from the 1980 film, Superman II (we watched this many times on the old video disc player).

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Remember this format?

In the Filmation Series guide, Evil-Lyn is very reminiscent of Colin Bailey’s concept artwork, including the short wand. I would guess that the colors in this depiction are what Colin originally had in mind, but the colors were altered at some point during the development of the toy.

Series Guide

The final design that Filmation went with was somewhat simplified. Evil-Lyn lost the skull on her helmet, and the decoration on her costume was simplified. Her wand looked like a cross between the concept and toy versions. She also gained a cape, which seems to suit her:

Style Guide

As James Eatock noted in his “50 Things About…Evil-Lyn” video, Evil-Lyn did sport a skull motif on her helmet in some early  animation cells in the series, but it was painted over in black and wasn’t visible.

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Image via He-Man Official YouTube Channel

In the 1982 Masters of the Universe Bible, written by Michael Halperin, Evil-Lyn’s real name was Evelyn Powers. She was a scientist from earth and part of Marlena’s crew that crash-landed on Eternia and Infinita. Evelyn was transformed in to Evil-Lyn via the evil magic coursing through Infinita, domain of Skeletor.

Evil-Lyn was a central character in the 1987 live-action Masters of the Universe movie. Early concept art for Evil-Lyn’s (played by Meg Foster) costume was very close to the toy design, but the final costume was much more ornate:

Evil-Lyn was depicted in posters, coloring books and box art by artists such as R.L. Allen, William George, Esteban Maroto, and many others. She remains a quintessential 80s villain and a fan favorite to this day.

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Esteban Maroto

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Commercials

Top Toys Commercials

Masters of the Universe toys were produced under license by various international toy manufacturers in the 1980s. One of those manufacturers was Top Toys, based out of Argentina.

In addition to manufacturing Masters of the Universe toys (including the famous “Kamo Khan”), Top Toys produced some high quality television commercials for the MOTU product line. Here are the five that have surfaced so far, which heavily feature He-Man, Mer-Man, Skeletor, Zoar, Battle Ram, Panthor, Man-E-Faces, Clawful, Spikor, Sy-Klone, Land Shark, Battle Bones, Snout Spout and others.

Special thanks to Andy W. for pointing out the “Top Toys He-Man Offer” video to me, and to “Anonymous” (in the comments below) for sharing the last two videos.

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Playsets

Castle Grayskull prototype – a closer look

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The prototype Castle Grayskull was not something that most fans had ever seen until relatively recently. Certainly as kids we were oblivious to its existence. It did, however, make its way into story books, mini comics, games, and cross sell artwork. Many of us wondered why the castle in the early mini comics looked so different from the one in our collections.

In my recent interview with Mark and Rebecca Taylor, Mark said:

“I [sculpted the castle] because Tony [Guerrero] was busy with the figures and the other sculptors kept making it too architectural.  I wanted it to the castle to be organic, coming to life to tell its story.  I made a wood armature and sculpted it in green clay. Ted [Mayer] helped with the plaster mold and vacuum forming, Rebecca did the labels…  The imaginative user applied labels themselves to offset the lack of interior walls.”

The exterior of the prototype Castle Grayskull was similar in many respects to the final toy, but there were many notable differences as well.

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Prototype exterior
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Prototype exterior
Front-facing view of another copy of the early prototype. Jawbridge closed. Image via Andy Youssi.
Prototype castle, facing the front of both halves. Image via Andy Youssi.
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Mass-produced toy exterior

There are several details on the prototype exterior that are missing or altered in the final toy that I’d like to draw your attention to:

Pawn
Pawn-like design on top of the helmet
Ledge
Ledge
Jaw bridge and teeth
Ghoulish, rounded teeth and small jaw bridge
Laser - front view
Laser turret made from Micronauts Hornetroid parts
Turret
Extended tower
Rocks
Deeper rock base
Side - no handle
No handle over the battlements
Extended turret roof
Extended tower roof
Deeper recess - hidden door
Deeper recess with hidden door
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Play mat (image via The Power and the Honor Foundation)
“Evil” side flag with skull face. Image via Andy Youssi.
“Good” side flag with He-Man axe. Image via Andy Youssi.

Many of these design elements found their way into the Castle as depicted in Golden Books, mini comics, DC Comics, and other sources, as well both versions of the cross sell artwork.

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Cross Sell artwork by Alfredo Alcala, based very closely on the original prototype; appeared on the backs of the first four mini comics
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Cross Sell artwork by Alfredo Alcala, in black and white
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Cross Sell artwork that appeared on the back of MOTU packaging. It is based closely on the prototype castle, but omits the “pawn” and adds a handle on the side

Below: He-Man and the Power Sword, illustrated by Alfredo Alcala. In all of Alcala’s early artwork, Castle exteriors are almost 100% faithful to the prototype design. In a couple of panels, however, the ledge is omitted:

Below: King of Castle Grayskull, illustrated by Alfredo Alcala. Notice that Skeletor opens the jaw bridge through a lock located to the right of the entrance. I’m not sure if this was a feature Mattel intended to add – I don’t see any indication of it in the prototype. In the final toy, the lock was located on the jaw bridge itself.

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Below: The Sword of Skeletor, illustrated by Fred Carillo:

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Featuring the “pawn” design on top of Grayskull helmet
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Teeth are similar to the prototype, but cleaner looking. Like the Alcala depictions, the “lock” is located to the right of the jaw bridge

To Tempt The Gods, pencils by George Tuska, inks by Alfredo Alcala:

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Castle features “pawn”, ghoulish teeth and extended turret.
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Castle features “pawn”, ledge, and ghoulish teeth

The Trap, illustrated by Dan Spiegle:

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Somewhat ghoulish teeth, although cleaner looking than the prototype. Like the Alcala depictions, the lock is located to the right of the jaw bridge

Masters of the Universe Pop-Up game:

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Ghoulish teeth, “pawn” design on helmet, extended turret; colors match the prototype as well
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Ledge is visible from this angle

From the 1984 UK Annual:

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Features the Alfredo Alcala cross sell artwork
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From the 1983 Golden: Paint ‘N’ Marker Book. Image source: He-Man.org
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Artwork by R.L. Allen, showing the ledge and “pawn” from the prototype castle. Unlike all other depictions I’ve seen, the ledge here looks very squared-off an architectural.
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Prototype castle, from the 1986 UK MOTU Annual. Image via He-Man.org

The interior of the prototype Castle was also different in many ways from the final toy:

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Prototype interior
Toy interior
Toy interior

There are various details on the prototype interior missing or altered in the final toy:

Throne
A kingly throne rather than the futuristic dentist’s chair on the final toy
Trap Door
Trap door – more rectangular with a different sticker design
Ladder
Single rail ladder that hooked into the floor of the highest turret
Dungeon
Manacles with chains and a different dungeon grate design
Combat Trainer bop bag secret door
A more three-dimensional combat trainer; a punching bag; the secret side door entrance, partially open (behind the combat trainer)
Combat trainer concept drawing by Mark Taylor; image via the Power & Honor Foundation Catalog
Computer
Computer decals
Elevator weapons sticker
Circular elevator with skull-themed back; additional weapons rack sticker
Elevator top
Red skull design at the top of the elevator
Jet Pack
Bat-winged backpack
Torture rack
Torture rack
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Laser turret – rear view

Elements from the interior of the prototype also found their way into mini comics and story books:

Below: He-Man and the Power Sword, illustrated by Alfredo Alcala

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Teela on the torture rack

Below: King of Castle Grayskull, illustrated by Alfredo Alcala. There are many interior shots featuring the prototype throne, trap door, ladder, computer systems and laser turret:

Below: The Sword of Skeletor, illustrated by Fred Carillo, features several scenes depicting the prototype throne:

Below: The Trap, illustrated by Dan Spiegle, also features the prototype throne:

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This is of course not exhaustive. I’m sure aspects of the prototype castle made it into other vintage Masters of the Universe media or collectibles.

While Mattel made several changes to the castle before its release in 1982, at least one bootleg manufacturer seemed to take inspiration directly from depictions of the prototype Castle Grayskull:

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Image via ebay.com
Galaxy Warriors bootleg 1
Image via ebay.com

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