The 1983 Masters of the Universe Annual, published by UK-based World International Publishing Ltd., is a treasure trove in many ways. Besides containing a number of fascinating illustrated stories, it also includes quite a few photographs of early to late-stage MOTU prototypes. We’re also treated to quite satisfactory bios (somewhat based on the 1982 Masters of the Universe Bible by Michael Halperin, but with some changes to reflect the evolution of these characters) of many of the primary characters in the MOTU mythos, as well as a description of some of the capabilities of the early vehicles.
I’ve scanned the pages that contain prototype and toy photographs, as it’s really toys that tend to be the emphasis of Battle Ram: A He-Man Blog. I hope you enjoy!
Courtesy of Olmo (catone82), I’d like to share some images he scanned from a hard-to-find copy of the German version of Mattel’s 1984 dealer catalog. All of the images he shared feature hand-painted finalized prototypes with beautiful matte paint jobs.
In this image we can clearly see that Whiplash has been put together using some donor arms from Skeletor, as seen in the paint wear on his hand. The early Whiplash prototype is shown elsewhere with a purple spear (it was orange in the final toy). This one instead features the “Man-E-Weapons” brown sword.
On the Buzz-Off prototype below, we can see that Mattel cast his legs using a pink material, and his wings are cast in clear plastic with an uneven yellow paint job. His eyes are painted metallic blue rather than the metallic green used on the production figure. This photo appears to have been image flipped – Buzz-Off’s open claw should be on his left. Buzz-Off features the “Man-E-Weapons” axe, rather than the modified axe he would eventually come with.
On the Mekaneck prototype below, we can see that he has been hand painted with a combination of matte and metallic paints.
This is another beautiful hand-painted prototype. The fact that it’s hand-painted is most evident in the area around the leg joints. For some reason Webstor is holding one of Trap Jaw‘s attachments in his left hand.
You can see the paint coming off on Mer-Man‘s hands and sword, which were cast in a white material. His paint job appears more blue than green in the photo, although that could easily be the lighting distorting the color. Interestingly he lacks the green belt, which was present on first release Mer-Man figures, but not in later figures.
This early prototype Stratos features a chest from He-Man rather than Beast Man, and lacks the feathery detailing on his harness. He appears to have been cast in a gray material.
This early Teela prototype appears to be unarticulated, with a greater level of detail on her costume and shield than the production toy. She features white tops on her boots, and a golden spear and shield.
Thanks again to Olmo for sharing these images with me!