Resource

1987 Swiss Consumer Association Toy Reviews

Special thanks to Olmo for providing the images and background information for this article. According to him, these appeared in the 1987 Swiss Consumer Association booklet, which was meant to be a toy buying guide for parents. The association purchased popular toys and loaned them to a group of parents to review based on a number of criteria, including: “solidity, safety, esthetic, quality-to-price ratio, interest of the kids, simplicity of handling, conformity packaging/content, noise, instructions, age recommended, fair advertising and values conveyed.” Unfortunately the parents involved didn’t rate the toys very highly, although Roboto and Fright Fighter seemed to get at least some positive comments. I’ll provide a translation from the French (via Google Translate) after each image. Marshal BraveStarr is also included at the end, just for fun.

Skeletor: The warrior of evil. Skeletor, plastic figurine with accessories (approximately 15 cm high). Purple character with unattractive green skull. Accessories break easily. Warrior values. Aggressive background. Very limited interest.

Blasterhawk: Both a vehicle and a handgun that launches small plastic discs. Sold without characters. Heavy, unsightly and expensive, this bulky monster is very quickly unusable: the trigger, the only thin part of the machine, breaks after a few shots.

Roboto: Plastic figurine about 14 cm high with gear visible in the pole and 3 interchangeable weapons that attach in place of the right arm. Bright colors. More interesting than the other characters of the same series because of the gear. Violent and aggressive context. Incentivizing packaging to complete the collection. Popular characters among children because of the television series.

Bashasaurus: Plastic combat vehicle approximately 30 cm long in the shape of a dragon and equipped with a ram arm to flatten obstacles and stun the enemy (sold without figurine). Sturdy, colorful plastic. Questionable aesthetics. The arm-ram can hurt if it is received on the fingers. Warrior values. Expensive. No interest without the figurines.

Hurricane Hordak: Plastic figurine of approximately 15 cm with 3 interchangeable weapons to be screwed into the arm which is operated by means of a wheel located in the back. Solid. Very questionable aesthetic. The TV ad that advertises this toy is very misleading. Warrior values; despite everything, some children appreciate this collection to the great despair of their parents.

Mantisaur: Plastic insect armed with claws serving as a carrier vehicle. Monstrous insect that is the envy of all children, but whose interest is exhausted from the first day. The packaging deceives its possibilities, the clamps cannot grab figures, only support some; the TV deceives on its dimensions.

Fright Fighter: Large dragonfly flapping its wings, whose head opens to house a character from the collection. Fitted with an ingenious and spectacular manual mechanism, aesthetically pleasing even to adults, this large insect is of very limited use. After the enthusiasm of the first two days, he is abandoned. Expensive.

Marshal BraveStarr: Articulated plastic figurine representing a Marshal approximately 20 cm high. A plastic horse serving as his mount. Sold separately. If you do not know the cartoons of this series, these toys do not arouse any interest. Relatively strong; the rider is however very difficult to fit on the mount. Warrior values.

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Vehicles

Beam-Blaster & Artilleray (1987)

I wasn’t familiar with Beam Blaster & Artilleray until perhaps 10 years ago, when I reconnected with Masters of the Universe as an adult. It was released near the end of the original line and doesn’t quite have the same cache and familiarity as some of the early vehicles. I certainly don’t recall encountering it anywhere in the wild as a child.

Design & Development

Beam Blaster is a toy for which I am unaware of any previous prototypes or concept art having ever surfaced. Often Mattel’s Catalog images will show some kind of middle or late-stage prototype, but the only difference I see between the catalog version and the actual toy is the catalog Beam Blaster has a yellow button rather than the typical orange button.

1987 Mattel Catalog. Image source: Nathalie NHT

I will say, conceptually, the Beam Blaster reminds me a bit of the visual styles and themes that were developed around the abandoned live-action He-Man TV series and some of the early concepts around Laser Power He-Man. There were plans around “power crystal” themed toys. An early version of Laser-Power He-Man also looks like they may have been planning to put some kind of light sensor on the front of his belt. If I had to guess at a designer for Beam Blaster, my hunch would be James McElroy, who did a lot of design work for the live-action He-Man concept. But, like I said, I really don’t have any solid information here.

Toy & Packaging

While Beam Blaster shows up in the 1987 Mattel catalog, it was actually released just a bit ahead of schedule, as early as November 27, 1986.

The concept of the vehicle was pretty interesting. One figure would wear the blue Beam Blaster pack, which would “fire” a beam of light at the push of the button. The Artilleray portion had a sensor at the front. If you fired the beam directly at the sensor, the “ejection platform” would pop up and knock the vehicle’s rider off of it. The Beam Blaster and Artilleray set looks more Star Wars than Masters of the Universe. There are no animal figureheads to be found, which were typical of all the early classic vehicles.

The box art on the front was done by William George.

Image scan credit: Arto Paappanen
Beam Blaster box layout – image via Grayskull Museum

Comics

The only comic appearance for Beam-Blaster and the Artilleray occurs in the STAR / Marvel Comics issue number 7, “Long Live the King”.

In the story, Skeletor summons Blast-Attack and Ninjor from other worlds to boost his rankings, and Scare Glow and Faker appear. Skeletor plans to use his evil minions to infiltrate and attack the Royal Palace, and we see Faker and Blast-Attack use the Artilleray to ram through the palace walls.

And few pages later in the issue Clamp Champ is using the Beam-Blaster, while flying on the Jet Sled to aid King Randor. He is then grabbed by Blast-Attack.

Artwork

Beam Blaster and Artilleray appear in William George’s Preternia poster. They are manned by Prince Adam and Beast Man respectively:

Similarly, they appear in the previous year’s Eternia poster, this time manned by Fisto and Faker, respectively:

Earl Norem illustrated them in two separate posters, only the first of which was published in Masters of the Universe Magazine:

Errol McCarthy illustrated the set for use in licensed apparel, below:

Advertisement

Aside from the television ads and Mattel Catalog at the beginning of the article, Beam Blaster and Artilleray were featured in a few print ads as well:

Spanish ad featuring Laser Power He-Man and Laser-Light Skeletor. Image via La Cueva del Terror
Image via Grayskull Museum
Image source: Yo Tengo El Poder
Official line art for use in newspaper ads. Image source: Grayskull Museum

Beam Blaster in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has shared the following image and video of Beam Blaster & Artilleray in action:

Special thanks to Jukka Issakainen for the material from the Star Comics series.

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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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