1983 Masters of the Universe Annual

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!

Inside cover, featuring prototype early (and highly detailed) Teela prototype and late prototype Skeletor
First page, featuring an early release He-Man figure and a late prototype Castle Grayskull (interior)
Early prototype Teela and late prototype Man-At-Arms
Prototype Zoar and Stratos depicted. Note that Zoar has fairly realistic coloring. Stratos has a non-hairy chest and lacks the details on his harness that would appear on the final toy.
Early Ram Man, Man-E-Faces and Zodac prototypes. Ram Man and Man-E-Faces would undergo significant revision before production.
Late Skeletor and Beast Man prototypes
Late Mer-Man and Evil-Lyn prototypes
Trap Jaw, Faker and Tri-Klops prototypes. Note Faker’s red-colored eyes. Trap Jaw features a repaint of He-Man’s left arm, although the final version would have a unique left arm.
Wind Raider Prototype with narrower engines and simpler wings compared to the final version.
Finalized Battle Ram and Attak Trak prototypes
Back cover, featuring mostly final figures. Note the progression in design for Zoar, Teela, Ram Man and Man-E-Faces. Tri-Klops is still somewhat unfinalized. A rare Teela with green-eyed snake armor is shown.

Further Reading:


1984 Mattel Germany Dealer Catalog

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 (correction, flesh-colored) 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!