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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Milestones

Five Years of Battle Ram: A He-Man Blog

It’s just over five years now since I started Battle Ram – A He-Man Blog. It’s something that I had rattling around my brain for many months before it crystallized into a blog. My first post in August of 2015 covered my favorite figure – Mer-Man!

What I wanted to do from the outset was tell the story of each toy, from its early concepts to finished toy to its depictions in stories and artwork. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to expand on some of this information in my interviews with Mark Taylor, Rebecca Taylor, Ted Mayer, Rudy Obrero, Martin Arriola and David Wolfram. I also contributed to the Netflix Toys That Made Us episode on Masters of the Universe, and my blog was referenced in How He-Man Mastered the Universe.

Recently I was honored to be able to contribute to an upcoming book from Dark Horse: The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. I worked closely with Dan Eardley (aka Pixel Dan) and Val Staples. My contributions include:

  • Interviews with over a dozen former and current Mattel people who worked on He-Man and She-Ra in its various iterations. Some were taken from the blog, and others are exclusive to the book.
  • An expanded MOTU timeline covering key events and dates for vintage MOTU, She-Ra, New Adventures, 200x, etc.
  • Fun factoids about the vintage line.
  • Figure writeups for about half of the Masters of the Universe Classics section.
  • Copy editing the vintage section.

This was Dan and Val’s baby from conception to completion, and it was an honor to be able to assist.

Many thanks to all the wonderful MOTU fans who have helped contribute to the blog – including Jukka Issakainen (who is taking a more active role in publishing articles now!) Øyvind Meisfjord, John Oswald, Dejan Dimitrovski, Dušan Mitrović, and many others! And thanks as always to everyone for reading.

Good journey!

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Videos

Eternia Fact Files (1-7)

Jukka Issakainen has created a fantastic series of short, informative videos covering various areas of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra Princess of Power history, origins and lore.

The video series Eternia Fact Files Is done thanks to the help from he-man.org and battleramblog.com. It also features the occasional guest narrator. Recent guests so far include:

  • Rob Base
  • James Eatock
  • Daniel Benedict
  • Danielle Gelehrter aka Penny Dreadful
  • Robert Lamb

To see all the latest videos, subscribe to the YouTube channel and bookmark this page for updates! ⭐️

All the videos So far have been collected below for easy viewing:

How Does He-Man Enter Castle Grayskull?

Eternia Fact Files 001 – June 3rd, 2020.

Why Does Castle Grayskull Look Evil?

Eternia Fact Files 002 – June 10th, 2020.

How Long Has Queen Marlena Been on Eternia?

Eternia Fact Files 003 – June 17th, 2020.

Where Did Catra Get Her Mask?

Eternia Fact Files 004 – June 24th, 2020.

Skeletor’s Odd Axe In the Cartoon?

Eternia Fact Files 005 – July 1st, 2020.

What Happened To the Previous Sorceress?

Eternia Fact Files 006 – July 8th, 2020.

Was She-Ra’s the RED KNIGHT Actually KING MICAH?

Eternia Fact Files 007 – July 15th, 2020.

More videos coming in August!

If you have suggestions on topics/questions you’d like to see featured in a future installment of Eternia Fact Files, let us know in the comments below!

Hopefully these can be informative as well as entertaining to all He-Man and She-Ra fans!

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Evil Warriors

MOTU Origins Skeletor (2020)

The MOTU Origins line was originally slated to appear on Wal-Mart toy shelves in the fall of 2020. However some figures have already started appearing on Wal-Mart’s website, although finding them in stock seems almost impossible as collectors and resellers are picking them off as soon as they appear in stock.

Skeletor is the first figure in the MOTU Origins line that isn’t either He-Man or a He-Man repaint (minicomic variants of He-Man and Prince Adam were released at last year’s San Diego Comic Con), and he doesn’t disappoint.

Mattel released preview images of the figure several months back. That version had a few differences from the production figure. Those differences included: purple trunks (like the early 1982 release of Skeletor), airbrushed green face paint, and odd purple “socks” that extended up beyond his boots.

MOTU Origins Skeletor pre-final design

The mass produced figure fixed the odd “socks” and gave him black trunks (like the vintage Skeletor figures released later in 1982 and beyond). They also gave him paint masked green highlights on his face, rather than the soft airbrush look. Another new addition to the production figure is a series of black lines around his mouth representing the gaps between his teeth, which were also a feature of the vintage figure:

MOTU origins Skeletor

As you can see, this Origins representation of Skeletor is a pretty faithful recreation of the vintage Skeletor figure, albeit with an open mouth and of course a great deal of new articulation. He also has a great deal more red in his eyes:

Skeletor reuses quite a few parts from Origins He-Man, including the thighs, trunks, chest, and upper arms. He also features a new half-sword, which is the one departure from the vintage Skeletor – it’s based on the minicomic version of the sword, rather than the vintage toy. It fits together neatly with the half sword that comes with the retail release of MOTU Origins He-Man (look for a future review of this figure), although I had to dip the swords in hot water first to straighten them out:

He-Man’s half of the sword

The packaging is based on the classic red and blue “bursting rocks” card from the original 1980s line. The artwork on the back is by Axel Giménez and Francisco Etchart.

The figure is packed with a six-page minicomic entitled Beast Barage. The story is about a plot to kidnap Prince Adam, which is foiled by the heroic warriors. Apparently one new comic will be packed in with each wave of figures.

Interestingly, my Skeletor figure came with the above minicomic, but my 2020 He-Man figure (to appear in a future review) came with a revised version with different cover art and a corrected typo in the story:

As a vintage collector, the new MOTU Origins line is right up my alley. Skeletor especially is a joy to look at and to pose with his vibrant colors and vintage look. Given the interchangeability of the parts in these figures, I hope that future releases will include all kinds of variant heads and boots and other parts for us obsessive collectors to use to create our favorite incarnations of these characters.

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