Evil Warriors

Blade: Evil Master of Swords (1987)

Blade was the only human character of the three movie-inspired toys released in the final US wave of the Masters of the Universe toyline. I don’t recall ever seeing the toy on shelves, but I do remember the character as portrayed by Anthony De Longis when the film came on TV a year or two later.

Design & Development

Blade was designed for the 1987 Masters of the Universe Movie by William Stout’s design team. An early version by Edward Eyth, a member of Stout’s team, appears below, as shown in the Power of Grayskull documentary:

Illustration by Edward Eyth. Jukka Issakainen hunted this information down for me from MOTU Movie experts Mark Knobloch and Martin Reffur. Thanks to all of them!

William Stout’s interpretation appears in the illustration below:

Blade also appears in this character sheet lineup as shown in the Power of Grayskull documentary:

Image courtesy of Dušan Mitrović

A prototype of Stout’s interpretation appears in early catalogs, easily identifiable by the metal piece covering the character’s mouth, the sword design, and the revised symbol on the chest:

Image source: Nathalie NHT
Prototype Blade figure archived from the now defunct Grayskull Museum site

However, the actual production toy, as well as the costume worn by Anthony De Longis in the Masters of the Universe Movie, draws more from the Edward Eyth design. Note the changes in chest symbol, mouth, bracer/hand coloring, and eyepatch. The figure doesn’t use Anthony De Longis’ face, but instead has a much rougher, older looking visage. That seems to come from the Stout illustration.

Left: final toy. Right: prototype. Image archived from Grayskull Museum
Image source: www.eightieskids.com

The cross sell art followed the design of the toy. The William Stout-style swords were retained, however.

Toy & Packaging

Blade came packaged with two swords and a removable loincloth piece that could sheath one sword in the back. His legs attach to the pelvis piece by way of ball joints rather than the rubber connectors used on most figures. He featured spring action at the waist and at both arm joints, allowing him to have some pretty decent sword-fighting moves.

The three 1987 movie figures together.

Blade was packed on a card featuring an action illustration on the front that I presume was done by Bruce Timm. The art on the back was done by Errol McCarthy.

Original line art by Errol McCarthy

Comics and Stories

Saurod, Gwildor and Blade were all packaged with the same minicomic: The Cosmic Key. The story doesn’t have anything to do with the movie, however. A cosmic force called the Evil Cloud gives Skeletor evil powers, including the ability to summon Saurod and Blade, and He-Man must call on Gwildor to stop the power of the entity.

Blade’s depiction in the comic is based on the William Stout design, with the covering over his mouth. However, the artist puts the eyepatch/lens over his right eye rather than his left.

Some versions of the minicomic actually had the Powers of Grayskull artwork on the back, which would have been the artwork on the front of the cards for He-Ro and Eldor, had they been produced:

Blade makes a couple of appearances in the US Masters of the Universe Magazine. In the 1987 Summer issue, he shows off his skills at precision knife-throwing:

In the 1988 Winter issue, Saurod and Blade team up with Hordak against He-Man and She-Ra:

In issue 10 of the 1987 Star Comics MOTU series, Blade and Saurod ambush Prince Adam, Man-At-Arms, Teela and Orko in the opening pages of the story:

Blade also appears in the November 1987 Star Comics story, The Motion Picture, based on the plot from the film. The artwork replicates the movie designs (or prototype designs) only for the newly introduced characters. Established characters like He-Man, Skeletor and Evil-Lyn are drawn with their classic toy looks:

Blade also appears in the He-Man newspaper comic strips, although his color scheme is off model: 

Image via the Dark Horse Newspaper Comic Strips book. Thanks to Dušan Mitrović for sharing.

Advertising

Blade showed up in a few ads and catalogs from around the world, although of course coming at the end of the line he doesn’t appear in all that many:

1987 Mattel Catalog
Italian ad
Swedish ad
The Gazette, August 8, 1987

Artwork

Blade appears with Saurod in this 1987 William George Preternia poster:

Image source: Jukka Issakainen

He also appears in this movie poster by Earl Norem:

Image source: Sallah/Eamon O’Donoghue

Blade in Action:

Øyvind Meisfjord has contributed the following image and video of Blade in action:

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Interviews

Patrick McDonald: Child Actor & Star of Two Bad Commercial

Patrick McDonald with Two Bad

Adam: So you appeared in the original commercial for Two Bad – how cool is that? How did you end up in that commercial?

Patrick: First I want to take a moment to thank you for the questions. It’s a humbling experience to see the reaction from the communities for revealing my connection to this commercial, particularly this figure. I started acting when I was 8 years old and it was 1981.

I remember going on the audition for this particular commercial 4 years later and was excited! I had to return several times for follow up interviews before I was chosen among the other children to participate. At that time toy commercials were very common. To see a toy commercial like this was a daily occurrence for a child like me. They were especially common in the afternoons during cartoons. Being 12 years old at the time I was extremely excited and couldn’t wait to be a part of this specific commercial.

Adam: It looks like there are four kids in the commercial – which one were you?

Patrick: You can see in the four shot I am the moppy haired blonde boy on the far right holding He-Man. You can furthermore see close-ups of my face as I deliver my line as He-Man, “Well, well, an evil warrior!”

Young Patrick McDonald, holding He-Man
Far right: Patrick McDonald

Adam: What can you tell me about the process of shooting the commercial? How long did it take? Did you have a formal script you were following?

Patrick: When you’re an actor, even a child actor you get used to the process of showing up on set, getting into wardrobe, being placed in the makeup chair, the lights, the cameras, and all the action that follows. This was just another day in the park for this young boy. I remember it took two days to shoot. I remember there being several of the figures on set of both He-Man and Two-Bad. They looked fantastic, brand new, and unplayed with. They had several on set just in case one got a scratch or was damaged during shooting. After the shoot was over I remember them telling me I could take one with me. You can imagine how exciting it was for that 12-year-old boy to be holding a Masters of the Universe figure that no one else had seen.

Adam: I assume you were probably one of the first kids to play with Two Bad, before he was actually available – were you allowed to talk about that with your friends, or did you have to kind of keep it confidential until it was released?

Patrick: I don’t remember ever being told that I could not discuss Two-Bad with anyone. However, within a very short period of turnaround time I started seeing myself in the afternoon between commercial breaks of the cartoons I was still watching.

Adam: Do you know exactly when you filmed the commercial?

Patrick: I’m certain it was 1985, as far as the month I’m not exactly sure. What I can tell you is 38 years later having revealed to the community that I participated in this commercial the response I received was much more positive, loving, and humbling than any 12-year-old boy would have ever expected. It is an honor to have played a very small role in a particular character figure for such a wonderful, giving, and entertaining phenomenon as Two-Bad was for the Masters of the universe. With the re-release of this figure I have come full circle. That 12-year-old boy never would have imagined how big and popular Two Bad would be for generations to come.

Adam: You mentioned starting acting at 8 years old. Can you tell me more about that and what roles you pursued?

Patrick: Most of the things I acted in were commercials. There are still several of my McDonald’s commercials on YouTube. And I officially stopped acting when I was 18 years old. By that time I had appeared in over 23 commercials nationally. I got to play in a few episodes of a soap opera called Santa Barbara and a few episodes in a television show called The Hogan Family with Jason Bateman and Sandy Duncan.

Patrick is the boy who drops his ice cream in the sand
Patrick is seen on the steps, sliding closer to the girl.

Adam: Growing up, what was your introduction to Masters of the Universe? What were some of your favorite MOTU toys?

Patrick: Like most boys my age I was introduced to He-Man through the cartoon series that started in 1983. I remember having a He-Man birthday cake at one of my parties. I also remember using Christmas wrapping paper tubes as swords running around the house shouting, “By the power of Gray Skull, I HAVE THE POWER.” By the time I had done the commercial, Two Bad was part of wave 4. So up until that point I had figures like He-Man and Skeletor like most of you, Whiplash and Fisto as well.

I was a mud kid when I was little. I think a lot of us created scenes and scenarios in the backyard using whatever we had at our disposal. The great thing about He-Man was he was magical. He could be placed into almost any scenario and still come out the hero.

Adam: Are you involved in collecting MOTU figures today, or is this more something you remember fondly from childhood?

Patrick: I wish I could say I became a huge Masters of the Universe collector. However, the same year I did the commercial for Two Bad a movie called Back to the Future was released. That became my new obsession. I have since become a huge Back to the Future collector.

Adam: Aside from your role in the Two Bad commercial, what is one of your fondest childhood memories related to Masters of the Universe?

Patrick: Although I was a He-Man fan it was truly Skeletor that I was more of a fan of. In retrospect now that I’m older I realize that this character reminded me of my father. Skeletor was tough but also extremely funny and very likable. Creating my own Skeletor castle out of mud, grass, and weeds in the backyard was one of my biggest accomplishments as a 10-year-old.

Thank you for taking the time to ask me these questions It’s been an honor. If there’s ever anything I can additionally do to contribute to what you do for our community it would be an honor.

Many thanks to Patrick for taking the time to answer my questions!

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History

Masters of the Universe Advertising Timeline

In an ongoing quest to understand the chronology of events related to Masters of the Universe, I’ve constructed a timeline of first appearance newspaper ads for all He-Man toys. I think probably newspaper ads get us closest to real commercial release dates for MOTU figures than any other data point.

First, some notes on the process and limitations of this timeline. I used the Newspapers.com database as my source of information. So it is limited to a) what newspapers they have archived, b) the extent to which the text has been made accurately searchable and c) my ability to suss out variant spellings, such as “Castle Grey Skull” and “2 Bad.” Sometimes figures are advertised by photo but not called out by name, which is an additional challenge. So this timeline may change as newspapers are added to their corpus or as I’m able to find additional, earlier ads. Another limitation is that Newspapers.com only archives English-language newspapers. Eventually I’d love to get some European newspaper ad dates for the 1988 wave.

I will mention that Newspapers.com does cost money, so if you are able to kick over a donation, that will help me to be able to do research like this.

A couple of other things – I don’t think the data for 1987 is particularly good. The frequency of MOTU newspaper ads is quite sparse. Advertisers were already winding down their ad spend as the line was dying. So, the 1987 dates may be less accurate in representing something that is close to a probable release date. The advertising early in 1982 is also a bit sparse, as it was a brand new line and I think it took a few months for retailers to realize they had a major hit on their hands. So again, some of the very first figures might have come out weeks before the earliest advertisements I was able to find. I also excluded mention of figure names in a 1982 cash rebate offer – the mention of figures eligible for the offer does not necessarily indicate that all of those figures were available at the time the offer was advertized.

Another challenge of the early ads was that there was a tendency to use stock art without naming characters. Did that represent the availability of all those figures, or were advertisers just using the art they had on hand? For that reason I’ve included a couple of different dates for late first wave figures – first time the artwork was advertised and the first time the name of the toy was advertised. Also, in 1986 there is a case where figures (the first three Snake Men) were advertised ahead of release date, which was noted by the advertiser. I made note of both the “pre-release” and actual sale dates.

For illustrative purposes I will include some sample advertisements, but there are simply too many to include them all. I’ll also eventually add these dates to my earlier Timeline article for more comprehensive view of dates and events related to MOTU.

1982

05/13/1982: First Skeletor newspaper ad
05/13/1982: First Man-At-Arms newspaper ad
05/13/1982: First He-Man newspaper ad
05/13/1982: First Beast Man newspaper ad
06/03/1982: First Battle Ram newspaper ad
06/03/1982: First Battle Cat newspaper ad
06/03/1982: First Castle Grayskull newspaper ad (“Castle Grey Skull”)
06/03/1982: First Stratos newspaper ad (pictured, not named)
06/03/1982: First Zodac newspaper ad (pictured, not named)
06/09/1982: First Teela newspaper ad
06/18/1982: First Stratos newspaper ad (mentioned by name)
07/22/1982: First Wind Raider newspaper ad
08/08/1982: First Mer-Man newspaper ad (mentioned by name)
08/08/1982: First Zodac newspaper ad (mentioned by name)

Newsday, June 3, 1982

1983

Commentary: Mekaneck shows up at the end of the year in 1983, although Mattel designates him among the 1984 figures in their official catalog.

02/20/1983: First Man-E-Faces newspaper ad
04/14/1983: First “Buy 3 Get 1 Free” offer ad (Wun-Dar aka Savage He-Man aka Wonder Bread He-Man)
04/17/1983: First Faker newspaper ad
05/11/1983: First Ram Man newspaper ad
06/30/1983: First Evil-Lyn newspaper ad
06/30/1983: First Tri-Klops newspaper ad
07/15/1983: First Attak Trak newspaper ad
08/04/1983: First Talon Fighter newspaper ad
08/28/1983: First Trap Jaw newspaper ad
09/21/1983: First Screeech newspaper ad (spelled “Screech”)
09/22/1983: First Panthor newspaper ad
09/23/1983: First Zoar newspaper ad
12/14/1983: First Mekaneck newspaper ad

The Commercial Appeal, Aug 12, 1983

1984

01/25/1984: First Road Ripper newspaper ad
03/11/1984: First Battle Armor He-Man newspaper ad
03/11/1984: First Battle Armor Skeletor newspaper ad
03/11/1984: First Roton newspaper ad
03/22/1984: First Prince Adam newspaper ad
03/22/1984: First Orko appearance in stores (costumed actor- unclear if that means toy was available)
04/28/1984: First Buzz-Off newspaper ad
04/28/1984: First Whiplash newspaper ad
05/11/1984: First Dragon Walker newspaper ad
06/03/1984: First Snake Mountain newspaper ad
06/03/1984: First Stridor newspaper ad
08/03/1984: First Fisto newspaper ad
09/09/1984: First Webstor newspaper ad
10/12/1984: Clawful and Buzz-Off mentioned as popular toys in newspaper story
10/24/1984: First Kobra Khan newspaper ad
10/25/1984: First Clawful newspaper ad
10/25/1984: First Orko newspaper ad (actual toy)
11/18/1984: First Jitsu newspaper ad

The Spokesman Review March 22, 1984

1985

01/13/1985: First Land Shark newspaper ad
01/24/1985: First Moss Man newspaper ad
01/24/1985: First Stinkor newspaper ad
02/28/1985: First Roboto newspaper ad
02/28/1985: First Two Bad newspaper ad
03/31/1985: First Bashasaurus newspaper ad
03/31/1985: First Battle Bones newspaper ad
05/30/1985: First Spikor newspaper ad
06/01/1985: First Spydor newspaper ad
06/14/1985: First Night Stalker newspaper ad
08/08/1985: First Dragon Blaster Skeletor newspaper ad (implied)
08/08/1985: First Hordak Newspaper ad (costumed actor appearance)
08/08/1985: First Thunder Punch He-Man newspaper ad
08/20/1985: First Grizzlor newspaper ad
08/20/1985: First Hordak newspaper ad (actual toy)
08/20/1985: First Leech newspaper ad
08/20/1985: First Mantenna newspaper ad
08/25/1985: First Dragon Blaster Skeletor newspaper ad (explicitly shown)
08/30/1985: First Sy-Klone newspaper ad
09/14/1985: First Fright Zone newspaper ad
09/28/1985: First Modulok newspaper ad

Calgary Herald, Sept 28, 1985

1986

A bit of commentary here – there are some surprises in this section. A number of figures Mattel designated as 1987 wave figures in Mattel’s dealer catalog appear at the end of the year in 1986, including King Randor, Clamp Champ, Snake Face, Scare Glow, Ninjor, Mosquitor and Beam Blaster & Artilleray.

01/11/1986: First Laser Bolt Newspaper ad
01/11/1986: First Slime Pit Newspaper ad
02/02/1986: First Rokkon newspaper ad
02/02/1986: First Stonedar newspaper ad
02/12/1986: First Flying Fists He-Man newspaper ad
02/12/1986: First Terror Claws Skeletor newspaper ad
02/21/1986: First King Hiss newspaper ad (figure coming in April)
02/21/1986: First Rattlor newspaper ad (figure coming in April)
02/21/1986: First Tung Lashor newspaper ad (figure coming in April)
04/23/1986: First Dragstor newspaper ad
05/01/1986: First King Hiss newspaper ad (figure listed as available)
05/10/1986: First Rattlor newspaper ad (figure listed as available)
05/10/1986: First Tung Lashor newspaper ad (figure listed as available)
05/11/1986: First Mantisaur newspaper ad
06/03/1986: First Blasterhawk newspaper ad
07/18/1986: First Jet Sled newspaper ad
07/18/1986: First Megalaser newspaper ad
07/18/1986: First Stilt Stalkers newspaper ad
08/24/1986: First Snout Spout newspaper ad
09/10/1986: First Hurricane Hordak newspaper ad
09/28/1986: First Fright Fighter newspaper ad
10/11/1986: First Meteorbs newspaper ad
10/11/1986: First Multi-Bot newspaper ad
10/23/1986: First Monstroid newspaper ad
11/05/1986: First Extendar newspaper ad
11/05/1986: First Rio Blast newspaper ad
11/08/1986: First Horde Trooper newspaper ad
11/23/1986: First Eternia Playset newspaper ad
11/27/1986: First Beam Blaster & Artilleray newspaper ad
11/27/1986: First Mosquitor newspaper ad
11/27/1986: First Ninjor newspaper ad
11/27/1986: First Scare Glow newspaper ad
11/27/1986: First Snake Face newspaper ad
12/09/1986: First Clamp Champ newspaper ad
12/09/1986: First King Randor newspaper ad

Clarion Ledger, July 18, 1986

1987

03/14/1987: First Tyrantisaurus Rex newspaper ad
03/21/1987: First Blast Attak newspaper ad
03/21/1987: First Sorceress newspaper ad
03/21/1987: First Sssqueeze newspaper ad
04/04/1987: First Bionatops newspaper ad
04/04/1987: First Turbodactyl newspaper ad
08/08/1987: First Blade newspaper ad
08/08/1987: First Gwildor newspaper ad
08/08/1987: First Saurod newspaper ad
11/11/1987: First Buzz-Saw Hordak newspaper ad
11/11/1987: First Rotar newspaper ad
11/11/1987: First Twistoid newspaper ad
Not found: Tower Tools, Cliff Climber, Scubattack

The Gazette, August 8, 1987

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing this advertising timeline. Again, I don’t think the dates are 100% the same as when the toys actually showed up in shelves, but most dates should be fairly close. I think this timeline also should functional as a reasonably accurate order of release list. If you happen to find a dated advertisement for a figure that is earlier than what I have found, please let me know in the comments!

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