Books

Unofficial Guide to the 2002 He-Man cartoon by Jukka Issakainen

Jukka Issakainen, writer, MYP historian and a longtime fan in the He-Man and She-Ra online community has written an unofficial guide to the 2002 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon.

If you already have in your collection the unofficial Filmation guide that James Eatock wrote, then here is the 200x companion for you!

The cover art is done by the acclaimed artist Ken Coleman, and the cartoon guide features in its 280+ pages all about the Mike Young Productions’ He-Man info! Detailed synopsis of the 39 episodes (plus one special), 310+ pieces of trivia, 480+ altered/deleted scenes, memorable quotes, reviews and more! If you were ever curious how many times Man-At-Arms ordered Battle positions, or how much did the characters twirl weapons, then this book is for you!

The pre-order window is currently open at least until July 31st, 2021!

The first 50 fans who pre-order the book, will also receive a LIMITED EDITION ART PRINT with their order. Featuring art by Donn Greer, who is responsible for a lot of the promotional and style guide artwork on 2002 He-Man.

Click this link to go to the pre-order page!

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Books

The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

So I wanted to briefly write about The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Way back in 2018 Val Staples and Dan Eardley invited me to contribute to the project, and I was honored and thrilled to be a part of it.

Initially my contribution was to be somewhat limited, basically just taking several of the interviews already published on BattleRamBlog.com, and adding a few new ones based on some contacts that Val gave me. A big thank you to all the great, creative folks who took the time to answer my questions! The full list of people interviewed includes:

Another thing from the blog I thought might be a good inclusion was my Timeline article. Val agreed, and the arcane wizards working behind the scenes were able to create a fantastic layout for it!

Val also suggested that I throw in whatever factoids I could think of for the toy writeups that might help to spice them up. You can see a couple of examples below:

I also ended up writing roughly half of the entries for the Masters of the Universe Classics Section. I don’t often write about that line for the Battle Ram Blog, but despite that I think it’s an elegant and masterful toyline, and it was fun to revisit it for this book. Dan wrote about half of it, but found himself in a time crunch, which is why I came in to finish it.

Finally, I (along with many others!) helped out with some of the copy editing for the book. Having the book in hand, my contributions actually seem less significant. Not because I didn’t put a lot of time into it, but because it’s obvious Dan, Val, Darah, Peter and the rest contributed SO much by comparison! I can’t imagine how much time Dan and Val spent on this project, but I imagine it was many thousands of hours. I’m glad I got to come along for the ride. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, what are you waiting for?

Buying the exclusive combo pack (which includes a supplemental Character Guide) supports all the contributors to these books: http://toyguide.thepower-con.com. Alternatively, the combo is also available through Big Bad Toy Store.

You can also purchase the individual toy guide at Amazon or through Big Bad Toy Store.

I want to thank the readers of the Battle Ram Blog for all the time you’ve spent with me exploring He-Man lore. Without your support, I never would have had the chance to contribute to the toy guide. Many of you have been giving helpful comments on the blog and on social media since I started this in 2015, which I always read and always appreciate. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Evil Warriors, Snake Men

Blast-Attak: Evil Blast-Apart Robotic Warrior (1987)

Like most of the 1987 line, Blast-Attak completely escaped my notice as a kid. He’s definitely one of the more unusual Masters of the Universe characters. He has a strong steampunk vibe and a color palette not often seen in the MOTU line.

Design & Development

The earliest known concept of for a MOTU blast-apart figure appears below, in a piece by Mark Jones, illustrated February 26, 1985, shown in The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog. This version of the character has a human face, and wears a costume festooned with spikes. You can see his trigger cord coming off of his back in the drawing below:

Later in the year a more familiar iteration appeared, this time illustrated by Richard Lepik on November 26, 1985. This is quite close to the actual toy, although it is more detailed (especially around the shoulders). This image again comes from The Power and the Honor Foundation, and was included in The Art of He-Man, published by Dark Horse. The character’s working name at this point was “Crack-Pot.”

You can see the finalized iteration of the design in the cross sell artwork below:

Blast-Attak in the 1987 Mattel Catalog.

Blast-Attak could be “detonated” via a remote cable. The cable would connect to his back. A trigger/wire running through the cord would released release the spring-loaded latches holding the figure’s torso together. The patent was filed September 16, 1986, and you can see the illustrations for it below:

Toy & Packaging

Blast-Attak came with a large red poleax that continues with the steam punk theme on the figure itself. His trigger cable was actually reused from the Bravestarr Fort Kerium playset, which used the cable to “blow up” a safe.

His packaging, typical of 1986 and 1987 figures, included an illustration of the character on the front as well as the back:

Image via He-Man.org/Jukka Issakainen

Style Guide

According to the 1987 Style Guide, Blast-Attak was affiliated with the Evil Warriors. He is described like this:

Power: Ability to blast apart to attack and knock down enemies who approach him from both sides at once.

Character Profile: Blast-Attak is a robotic muscleman with an extremely short fuse. He loves to surprise enemies with his sudden split-apart power.

Comics & Stories

Blast-Attak came packed with Revenge of the Snake Men. Contrary to what the style guide says, here Blast-Attak is a creation of King Hiss and is aligned with the Snake Men (images below are from Dark Horse and from He-Man.org).

In the Fall 1987 issues of the US MOTU Magazine, Blast-Attak appears in the story Rescue King Randor. In the story Blast-Attak is working with both the Snake Men and the Evil Warriors, and all of the are directed by Skeletor:

The same alliances seem to be in place in The Dark Power of Skeletor, which appears in the Fall 1988 issues of MOTU Magazine:

In the seventh issue of the 1987 Star Comics MOTU series, Blast-Attak is aligned with the Evil Warriors. His power is used primarily to avoid downward sword strikes.

Blast-Attak puts himself back together incorrectly

He appears again with Ninjor and Scare Glow in the MOTU Newspaper story, Ninjor Stalks by Night:

Artwork

Blast Attak appears in posters by both Earl Norem and William George, shown respectively:

Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen

Because he was at the tail end of the line, he’s not depicted in all that many stories or art pieces, but I’ve included a representative sample, including the advertising line art below:

For more history behind the character, see Jukka Issakainen’s excellent video:

Blast-Attak in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has graciously contributed the following image and video showing Blast-Attak in action:

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Reviews

Custom MOTU Origins Heads by Lee’s Customs

MOTU Origins is a fun line that I’ve enjoyed collecting, but there are a few aspects of the the line that are less well liked by fans. Probably the two biggest gripes (in terms of the figures themselves) are the default He-Man head and pretty much every retail Skeletor head to date). Lots of fans are looking for more vintage-accurate heads for the two main characters in the line. Mattel has released a good (although not 100% spot-on) vintage style He-Man head that comes with Battle Armor He-Man (as well as the convention exclusives), but they really haven’t captured the original Skeletor head in any version so far. Nature abhors a vacuum, so various customizers from the fan community have stepped up to fill that need.

I recently purchased a few custom heads from Lee’s Customs (you can reach him on Twitter, Facebook or eBay). I actually am less interested in nailing the vintage figures (I already have those) than I am in variants based on vintage artwork. Thankfully we have gotten several comic book variants in the line (such as the SDCC and Power-Con sets), and it looks like we’re going to get even more this year (Green Goddess and some kind of repaint or reissue of Lords of Power Mer-Man and Beast Man).

But I would also love to see some variants based on the vintage cross sell artwork. That was the source material for quite a few Masters of the Universe Classics figures, and I think that style would be great to see for at least the “8-back” characters in Origins.

To that end, I bought Lee’s custom Skeletor, He-Man and Lords of Power Mer-Man heads to try my hand at approximating at least some of those looks. (Lee also sells casts of the other Lords of Power characters, a custom Eternian Guard head, and various He-Man heads to help you create Faker, Slime Pit He-Man, Anti-Eternia He-Man or Savage He-Man.) The He-Man and Skeletor heads are cast from the 1982 figures, but altered to be able to fit on a MOTU Origins figure. They’re sturdy and good quality casts that closely match the Origins colors. Some Blu-Tack may be required to help the heads fit snugly on the pegs.

You can buy the heads fully-painted or cast in a base color. I opted for the latter. Here’s what I was able to come up with so far (I haven’t started painting He-Man’s head yet):

Poor He-Man!

For Skeletor, rather than using the bold color lines of the vintage figure, I opted for a more subtle, cross-sell art inspired face coloring. I also painted his feet blue to replicate the bare feet of the artwork. Of course the sculpt of his shins and forearms don’t follow the cross sell art designs. I tried my hand at resculpting those parts on a spare Skeletor, but my skills aren’t quite up to the task, I fear.

Vintage cross sell art
Rear view

For comparison, below is the stock MOTU Origins Skeletor. For the record, I think the stock head sculpt is pretty good, but the paint work doesn’t do it any favors. It’s a nice “alternative” head but not the one I’d have chosen for the standard Skeletor head.

Getting a cross sell-inspired Mer-Man of course required the custom head from Lee. But I also was able to get some hands, armor and a sword from the MOTU Classics Mer-Man (I found these for sale individually as parts on eBay). This allowed me to get the correct four fingers and ornate armor. Again, the shins and forearms aren’t accurate to the source material in terms of sculpt, but everything else is pretty close. (Mer-Man appears blueish in pictures, but in person he’s more green than blue.)

Vintage cross sell art
Rear view

For reference, here is the stock MOTU Origins Mer-Man, which is based on the vintage figure, albeit with some changes to the specific color shades used and to the straps on the armor. In hand it’s a pretty good-looking figure, but I prefer the cross sell art look.

Image source: Smyth’s Toys

I’m glad there are fans in the community like Lee offering custom heads like this. It really shows the potential of what can be done with the MOTU Origins line beyond just highly articulated versions of vintage 1980s figures.

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Post script: I contributed to the upcoming Dark Horse book, The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. It’s available to pre-order now!

Buying the exclusive combo pack (which includes a supplemental Character Guide) supports me and all the other contributors to these books: http://toyguide.thepower-con.com. Alternatively, the combo is now also available through Big Bad Toy Store.

You can also purchase the individual toy guide at Amazon or through Big Bad Toy Store. Thank you!