Newspapers

Early MOTU Newspaper Ads (Part 2)

If you look through newspaper archives for Masters of the Universe advertising, you see a steady evolution of the size and sophistication of posted ads. In the first year of the line, most of the ads took up little space on the page and relied mainly on cross sell, license kit, and line art. Later ads would include more photos and take up much more space.

In Part 1, I posted every unique ad I could find from May (the earliest month for which I could find ads) until the end of September 1982. In Part 2 I am showing ads from October and part of November. The volume of ads picked up some steam the last two months of the year, so I will have to do this series in three parts, rather than two, as I had planned.

Citizen’s Voice, October 2, 1982:

The Charlotte Observer, October 3, 1982:

Fort Worth Star Telegram, October 10, 1982:

Public Opinion, October 14, 1982:

Chicago Tribune, Oct 15, 1982:

Lansing State Journal, October 17, 1982:

The Sacramento Bee, October 20, 1982:

The Daily Oklahoman, October 21, 1982:

Albuquerque Journal, October 24, 1982:

The Miami Herald, October 24, 1982:

The Times, October 24, 1982:

The Sheboygan Press, October 29, 1982:

Times Advocate, October 31, 1982:

El Paso Times, November 1, 1982:

The Morning Call, November 2, 1982:

Austin American Statesman, November 3, 1982:

The Ottawa Citizen. November 3, 1982:

Alabama Journal, November 4, 1982:

Daily News, November 4, 1982:

The Journal Herald, November 4, 1982:

The Montgomery Advertiser, November 5, 1982:

Fort Lauderdale News, November 7, 1982:

The Akron Beacon Journal, November 7, 1982:

The Miami Herald, November 7, 1982:

The Orlando Sentinel, November 7, 1982:

The Spokesman Review, November 8, 1982:

The Ottawa Citizen, November 9, 1982:

Iowa City Press Citizen, November 10, 1982:

The Morning Call, October 10, 1982:

Longview News Journal, November 11, 1982:

The Cincinnati Enquirer, November 13, 1982:

Abbeville Meridional, November 14, 1982:

St. Louis Post Dispatch, November 14, 1982:

Sunday News, November 14 1982:

The Marion Star, November 14, 1982:

Victoria Advocate, November 14, 1982:

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Newspapers

Early MOTU Newspaper Ads (Part 1)

If you look through newspaper archives for Masters of the Universe advertising, you see a steady evolution of the size and sophistication of posted ads. In the first year of the line, most of the ads took up little space on the page and relied mainly on cross sell, license kit, and line art. Later ads would include more photos and take up much more space.

In this post I’d like to show a sample of the 1982 ads I could find. In Part 1, I’ll show every unique ad I could find from May (the earliest month for which I could find ads) until the end of September 1982. In Part 2 I’ll finish off the year with October through December ads. I hope you enjoy!

Daily News, May 13, 1982:

Daily News, June 9, 1982:

Daily News, June 13, 1982 (note the prototype Teela figure):

The Central New Jersey Home News, June 18, 1982:

The Chico Enterprise Record, June 23, 1982:

The San Francisco Examiner, July 7, 1982:

The Daily Breeze, July 11 1982:

Reno Gazette Journal, July 21, 1982:

Herald and Review, July 21, 1982:

Courier Post, July 22, 1982:

Standard Speaker, July 26, 1982:

The News Journal, July 29, 1982:

Citizens Voice, August 3, 1982:

Standard Speaker, August 5, 1982:

Star Tribune, August 12, 1982:

St. Cloud Times, August 16, 1982:

The Herald Palladium, August 16, 1982:

Lansing State Journal, August 16, 1982:

The Daily Register, August 17, 1982:

Fort Worth Star Telegram: August 26, 1982:

Chicago Tribune, August 26, 1982

The Morning Call, August 27, 1982:

The Spokesman Review, August 30, 1982:

Chicago Tribune, September 5, 1982:

The Orlando Sentinel, September 8, 1982:

The Charlotte Observer, September 12, 1982:

Asbury Park Press, September 19, 1982:

The Daily Journal, September 23, 1982:

The Daily Item, September 30, 1982:

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Evil Horde

Horde Trooper: Evil Horde “collapsing” robot (1986)

Co-written with Jukka Issakainen

Horde Troopers are what every kid-friendly adventure francize needs – an army of mindless evil minions that the hero can crush without any moral quandaries. For the He-Man cartoon series, it was was Skeletor’s Hover Robots, and in She-Ra it was the Horde Troopers.

Size comparison image between Hordak’s Horde Trooper VS Skeletor’s Hover Robot.
Images thanks to Dušan M. Assembled by Jukka I.

In the She-Ra series, the Hover Robot by Skeletor would make an appearance as Hordak’s “Capture Robot”. Though it never was made clear if Skeletor took the designs and made his own Robot Knights.

While the design and mean look appear similar between a Hover Robot and Horde Trooper, its not quite the same. When looking at images of Horde Trooper turning its head.

Horde Trooper visor is not same as the Hover Robots Skeletor has.

Design & Development

As Mattel and Filmation worked very closely on the She-Ra series and its characters and concepts, the Horde Trooper concept is a no-brainer. An army for the main villain in the series, as well as a collect-your-own-army idea from toy marketing POV.

In the script and concept, as well as the storyboard for Into Etheria, we get a look at an early design, which gives the characters a heavily-armored and barbaric look. It’s clear that these troopers (or Hordesmen) are organic beings. One is human with a scar on his face, another is reptilian, and the third is a hawk hordesman.

Concept art from the He-Man and She-Ra Animated Guide.
Images from He-Man.org

This idea of different looking races in armor is also evident in the He-Man episode Origin of the Sorceress, where in a flashback told by the Sorceress we meet an early Horde scouting party.

Some Princess of Power -books would also utilize the notion of Horde Troopers as humans in armor. More on Comics and Story books -section below.

At Filmation Studios, one key person who helped design for example the Horde symbol and Evil Horde characters was Charles Zembillas.
And in one of his early sketches, the Horde Troopers looked more like creatures in armor.

Image courtesy of The Power of Grayskull – The Definitive He-Man Documentary.

After that, the Troopers would get a sleeker, more futuristic design:

Image courtesy of Emiliano Santalucia

Eventually the look was changed to the familiar design below, designed by Curtis Cim:

On Mattel’s side, there are a few images of Horde Trooper prototype toys. One features repainted arms from Sy-Klone and legs from Mantenna. Presumably this is because these parts were not completed yet, and the existing parts from other figures fit the bill well enough to show the concept (the Sy-Klone arms have the same shoulder articulation):

On the Toy Archive website, we can also see the “hardcopy” version of the figure, which was larger than the actual final toy:

Horde Trooper’s patent was filed September 25, 1985. Where one of the design images seems to be straight out of Filmation model-kit. A visual layout of how the action feature worked is included in the filing:

Figure & Packaging

Horde Troopers were released on a single card, with yellow blast graphic telling kids to “collect an army of Horde Trooper robots!” The figure’s action feature, true to the “collapsing robot” description, was a button on the figure’s chest that, when pushed, would cause various pieces of the torso to fall apart, as if He-Man had smashed the evil android to bits with one mighty punch.

Image source: KMKA

Mattel trademarked “Horde Trooper” on November 12, 1985.

Animation

Horde Troopers were fairly ubiquitous on the She-Ra cartoon. As mentioned previously, early in production the Horde Troopers were going to be living creatures, with various species inside the armor. Although that concept was eventually dropped, even in “Into Etheria” one of the Troopers is named Marg.

In “She-Ra Unchained” there is a plot-point where He-Man captures one Trooper in order to disguise himself in the uniform and infiltrate the Fright Zone (the storyboard image shows a human tied up while He-Man puts on the armor).

Horde Troopers have been shown to sneeze, be terrified, and shoot beams from their eyes (in “The Laughing Dragon”). By Season 2 the characters kept reminding viewers that the Troopers were robots, particularly in fight scenes with Rebels.

In the episode She-Ra Unchained we learn about the history of Hordak and his Troopers attacking Eternia. Hordak is seen in similar gear as the soldiers, whom have a different appearance to them. To indicate the passage of time possibly, these might be proto-Troopers with helmets that have large openings for eyes and depict hollow insides.

Filmation came up with a number of specialty Horde Troopers for use in different situations, although these variants were never released in the vintage toyline, including Naval Troopers and Flame Troopers.

Though the Horde Troopers themselves got treated more and more as robots for the good guys to trash. In the Horde Empire, they also had humans in different rankings, wearing armor similar to the Horde Trooper design.

Comics, Story Books & Artwork

Horde Trooper figures came packed with The Hordes of Hordak. In the story, Hordak manufactures his troopers with a machine that pulls raw materials right out of the ground and converts them into robot warriors. Hordak knows, however, that his troopers are vulnerable to a punch in the chest. For that reason he kidnaps Sy-Klone, who is uniquely capable of delivering rapid-fire punches (images below are from Dark Horse’s MOTU minicomic collection and from He-Man.org). Unlike the more common yellow-colored eyes, here Horde Troopers have red eyes.

The Golden Book She-Ra Princess of Power showed humans in Horde Trooper armor, and the helmet even has some spikes on top of it, reminiscent of Hordak’s head.

Early book depicts Horde Troopers as humans in armor.

The STAR/Marvel comics showed Horde Troopers as slightly bigger robots, with abilities like shooting a blast from their hand.

Marvel STAR comic issue 3 had Horde Troopers illustrated as large robots.

Edit: Øyvind Meisfjord points out that in the Star Comics, the Horde Troopers were merely empty shells animated by Hordak’s magic:

In the 1986 Kid Stuff story, Prisoner in the Slime Pit, the troopers have a very off-model appearance, and look like organic beings. Some of the text descriptions do not match the visuals. The Kids Stuff books included many other obscure elements from MOTU mythos, like He-Man sleeping inside Grayskull. In the case of this unique Trooper – When asked from artist about the designs, he sadly could not remember if they were his own designs.

In the Golden story The Sword of She-Ra, the Troopers (and the rest of the characters) are closely based on the Filmation cartoon, although they are a bit more colorful here:

The Horde Trooper in the Spring 1988 issue of the US Masters of the Universe Magazine likewise is based on the Filmation cartoon. This is a pretty typical ending for the villains across He-Man and She-Ra stories: they are angry, disoriented and covered in mud!

In the Fall 1988 issue, She-Ra encounters a pint-sized human Horde Trooper who had gotten lost in the woods, was found by Horde Troopers, and taken by Hordak. In the story, She-Ra sets him right and returns him to his family:

Some other appearances of Horde Troopers:

Horde Trooper described with emotions such as being angry and impatient.
London Edition issue 52 showcases earlier Trooper models for Hordak, with editor Brian Clarke noting it in the panel for readers.

Horde Troopers show up in William George’s 1986 Eternia poster:

Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen

Horde Troopers in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has kindly shared the following images and video of Horde Troopers in action!

Adam: Thanks for reading. Until next time!

Jukka: This took a lot of time to research and wanted to express my gratitude for all the help I’ve gotten from other fans, and for Adam on having me contribute here!

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Lists

My top 10 favorite He-Man figures

In the comments of my recent fifth anniversary post, P.J. Gathergood suggested that I make a personal 10 favorite figures post to commemorate. Usually my posts tend to be more informational than personal, but I thought this might be a nice change of pace.

It’s actually really hard to whittle down a list of favorites to just 10. To make it a little more interesting I’ve decided to rule out He-Man and Skeletor and their variants, otherwise they would take up a lot of this list. Typically a figure is going to make my top 10 list for two reasons – I have strong, positive memories of it from my childhood and it has a really strong visual design. I’m not even going to try to order these, I don’t think I could do it!

Ram Man

Ram Man was an early favorite of mine. I want to say I had the figure in hand before I saw him on the Filmation cartoon, because I remember reading his minicomic and trying to suss out what Ram Man was all about. Lots of people don’t like the figure because he feels a little cheap (he’s hollow and has very little articulation owing to his spring-activated ramming feature). But I loved his shiny metal armor and his ramming feature. Visually he just clicked with me right away. I remember thinking the literal spring legs he was given in the Filmation cartoon were a little over the top, but I always perked up when Ram Man was on the screen.

Beast Man

Beast Man was one of the first four MOTU figures that entered our house, along with He-Man, Skeletor and Man-At-Arms. Beast Man belonged to my brother, but right away I was drawn to his vivid color scheme and beastly appearance, particularly his face with the big fangs and blue and white coloring (whether it’s meant to be face paint or his natural coloring, I’m not sure). I recall having a lot of fun taking his armor on and off, and he was a great villain for He-Man to clobber.

Teela

I clearly remember playing with Teela as a child. I don’t know if that means I owned her, or if she belonged to a sibling, but her gold and white costume and mysterious rust-red snake armor were etched into my brain from an early age. To me her iconic look will always be her with the red snake armor, which had that mysterious and magical quality that permeated the first wave of MOTU figures.

Clawful

Clawful was an instant hit with me as a kid. I distinctly remember the existential agony of having to choose between him and Whiplash at the store. Ultimately I went with Clawful. That giant bright red snapping claw was just impossible for me to resist. I’ve always liked the “beast” themed figures. In the first wave we got a fish man, an ape man, and a (sort-of) bird man. That wasn’t repeated in the second wave, but it came back with a vengeance in the third wave.

Mer-Man

After we got the first four figures in our house in 1982, I was eagerly looking for what other figures were available in the line. The one that caught my eye the most was Mer-Man. And while the figure itself was significantly different compared to its cross sell artwork, I loved the figure from the moment I got it, and it remains probably my all-time favorite to this day. Why is that? It’s hard to quantify, but it has a lot to do with his coloring and his headsculpt. I want to say I got him around the same time as Zoar, but of course childhood memories are always a bit fuzzy.

Stinkor

Why do I like Stinkor so much? He is after all just a cheap Mer-Man repaint with Mekaneck’s armor. But then again, I love Mer-Man, so maybe this is just a way for me to count him twice! My memories of playing with Stinkor as a kid are permanently etched in my brain, and that probably has a lot to do with his smell. What Stinkor lacked in originality, he made up for in his strong, faux-skunk odor. I don’t think I noticed he was a repaint at first, but it became clear once I removed his armor!

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. Aside from all that, he has a striking color scheme and works as a great character in his own right.

Man-At-Arms

Man-At-Arms was one of those first core figures that I had in the house. Like Beast Man, there was a lot of fun to be had in just messing around with his various bits of armor. I usually used him as a victim for Skeletor, just as Beast Man was a punching bag for He-Man. I had a version very much like the one above, with a lighter green costume, red dots on the helmet, and a light blue belt. It doesn’t get more “core” MOTU than this guy.

Leech

Leech represented a gruesome new direction for the MOTU line embodied by the Evil Horde. They were a bizarre collection of freaks and monsters, and the one that caught my imagination the most was Leech. A monster with a suction cups for hands, feet and even his face was terribly creepy to me, in the best way possible. I spent as much time playing with his suction cup feature as I did just admiring his bizarre design.

Whiplash

As I mentioned previously, I had a tough time choosing between Clawful and Whiplash as a kid. Ultimately I went with Clawful, but it could have gone either way. I remember getting the comic that came with Clawful, and it prominently featured Whiplash in the story. FOMO wasn’t really a term that was used in 1984, but I had it bad. I had to have that lizard guy with the tail! I remember spending a lot of time playing with Whiplash despite that, so I think I was either able to borrow one from a friend or get my own later.

Rattlor

My memory of getting Rattlor is quite vivid. It was our last summer in our Eastern Washington house, before our big move across the mountains to a rainier, more temperate part of the Pacific Northwest, and we were taking a road trip vacation to California before the move. I remember gravely weighing my options at a store along the way. I could get two toys, and I was determined that they be Snake Men.

I  was looking at getting Kobra Khan, or perhaps the newly released King Hiss or Rattlor. I don’t remember seeing Tung Lashor at the time. After studying all three toys and their packaging intently, I concluded that King Hiss was a cool idea, but his hidden snake body wasn’t all that great looking, so I went with the other two figures instead.

Rattlor had a pretty fun action feature with his pop-out head, and the “rattle” was a nice touch too. I also appreciate the detailed scales all over his snake-like body.

And those are my top 10! I could have easily turned this into a top 20. There is no shortage of amazing figures in the Masters of the Universe lineup!

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