Evil Warriors

Battle Armor Skeletor – Evil Lord of Destruction (1984)

BA Skeletor Graphic

My mother got me Battle Armor He-Man as a replacement for my original He-Man after it was destroyed. However, I still had my original Skeletor, and in that case mom logic dictated that I didn’t need Battle Armor Skeletor, since I still had the original. Kids and collectors understand that owning a standard action figure and owning a variant are two different experience, but I couldn’t make that case as a seven-year-old.

So, I had to make do with my Kellogg’s puffy sticker, and of course I played with my friends’ figures whenever I could. I was endlessly fascinated by both the designs and the action feature of the Battle Armor variants.

Kellogg’s puffy sticker, artist unknown

Battle Armor Skeletor reuses the arms, legs, head, crotch and weapons of the original Skeletor, but includes a spring-loaded, rotating drum in the chest that could be activated with slight pressure, exposing three versions of a bat insignia showing varying levels of damage. The action feature was invented by Ronald H. MacBain and Tony Rhodes, and the patent was filed December 29, 1983. Martin Arriola also worked on the figure, which was trademarked on January 27, 1984. The original version of Skeletor was designed by Mark Taylor.

The cross sell artwork was based on the actual toy, so it had more accurate and updated arm “fins” and boots than the original Skeletor’s cross sell artwork:

battle armor skeletor cross sell
Battle Armor Skeletor cross sell artwork.


A similar action feature was also used in Mattel’s Hot Wheels Crack-Ups cars, which debuted in 1985:

The front of  Battle Armor Skeletor’s card has a burst describing the function of the action feature. Unlike most figures released in the toy line, there is no tag line underneath his  name, although he is tagged with “Evil lord of destruction” when he appears in cross sell artwork.

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Incidentally, when Skeletor was first released in 1982, his tag line was “Lord of destruction.” “Evil” was added to the front of it starting in 1983.


Errol McCarthy illustrated the fight scene on the back of the card along with the instructions, and also illustrated the figure in artwork for use in the 1987 Style Guide as well as on T-shirts and other licensed products:


In the 1987 Style Guide, Skeletor (depicted with his battle armor) is given the following bio, which draws upon the various updates and retcons done to MOTU canon over the years:

skeletor_m305_full
Image via He-Man.org

Once the student of Hordak on his home planet of Etheria, Skeletor trapped his mentor on Etheria and escaped through a dimension gate to Eternia. Now Skeletor embodies all that is evil in Eternia. His goal is to one day rule all of Eternia, bringing upon its citizens an unending reign of terror. For dozens of years, Skeletor waited, polishing his magical skills in anticipation of the day when he would break through the Mystical Wall that separated the good and evil areas of Eternia. On the 18th birthday of Prince Adam, Skeletor finally prevailed. It was on this fateful day that Prince Adam first transformed himself into He-man, thus saving Eternia from the evil advance of Skeletor. Skeletor is now committed to destroying He-Man and his allies.

The style guide also mentions Skeletor’s Dragon Blaster and Battle Armor variants:

Weapons: Skeletor stalks the land with his evil pet, freezing foes with the dragon’s vicious paralyzing venom. His Battle Armor gives him the power to withstand the mightiest blows of battle.

Battle Armor Skeletor was sold in a number of gift sets, which include the following:

  • Battle Armor Skeletor/Webstor
  • Battle Armor Skeletor/Webstor/Mer-Man
  • Battle Armor Skeletor/Panthor
  • Battle Armor Skeletor/Screeech
  • Battle Armor Skeletor/Panthor/Man-E-Faces
  • Battle Armor Skeletor/Land Shark
  • Battle Armor Skeletor/Battle Armor He-Man

The figure was also released in a number of unique Canadian gift sets:


India-based Leo Toys released an unusual version of the figure, which featured the torso from Battle Armor He-Man in purple:


Battle Armor Skeletor, strangely, never appeared in the minicomics or in the Filmation cartoon. It does appear in the Golden Book story, The Magic Mirror (albeit with the skirt from the original Skeletor design), and on the cover of Dangerous Games:

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Dangerous games cover

Battle Armor Skeletor appears quite frequently on Masters of the Universe Box art, showing up in numerous paintings, most by William George:

  • Battle Armor Skeletor and Panthor
  • Battle Armor Skeletor and Screeech
  • Snake Mountain
  • Bashasaurus
  • Battle Bones
  • Dragon Walker (Euro Edition)
  • Fright Zone
  • Land Shark
  • Land Shark & Battle Armor Skeletor
  • Night Stalker
  • Spydor
  • Fright Fighter

He also appears in a 1984 poster by William George:

Grayskull poster

The same artist also illustrated both Battle Armor Skeletor and Battle Armor He-Man for the 1985 board game, Battle For Eternia (thanks to Øyvind for the reminder). The illustration on the front depicts Skeletor and He-Man taking part in the board game with a couple of children, which is strikes me as a stroke of genius. I think a lot of us imagined what it might be like to interact with these characters in real life.

game01_full
Image via He-Man.org
game02_full
Image via He-Man.org

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24 thoughts on “Battle Armor Skeletor – Evil Lord of Destruction (1984)

  1. I must say the backart is a bit odd.. not bad but skeletor’s eyes… nothing like Errol McCarthy’s normal style for them.. I can’t remember.. did McCarthy Ink his own work?

    1. Yeah, the bug-eyes are odd. I think he did all aspects of the art given that he has all the line art and colored art, but I don’t know for sure

  2. Great post as always!
    Thank you ince again for digfing in the memories !!!!
    Greetings from Italy

  3. These were my first He-Man and Skeletor, as I recall. Fortunately, my parents were cool with variants at the time… sadly, they were less so with Transformers (even Hot Rod and Rodimus Prime were too close for them to budge on the former!).

    The gimmick was neat, but I found it too easy to knock loose, so they usually sat in “double damage” mode.

    1. You are right: neat but quirky. At least in my copy of BA Skeletor more often than not the chest switches direclty in “double damage, skipping the “one damage”.

  4. Not a whole lot more to say on BA Skeletor than I did on my comments for BA He-Man (thank heck for that, as I wrote a mini-essay on that one!)

    Although I never had any of the variants (other than Flying Fists He-Man, who I got very late on, mostly as a replacement for my by-then battered original He-Man), I actually did come tantalisingly close to owning BA Skeletor. Whilst visiting relations once, my aunt gave me a figure as a present. She knew I liked MOTU but beyond that didn’t know which was which and what I had, so had “picked one she hadn’t seen before”. It was Tri-Klops, which I did indeed already have (one of my favourites). We didn’t have the receipt, so a few days later in our local town my grandmother took me into a toyshop to pick out another figure and ask in hope they’d let us swap it. I picked out… Battle Armor Skeletor. He was in my hands, holding him in my hands as we went to the checkout to explain and ask if we could swap. After much “I’ll check with the manager”-ing… we were told no. I had to put him back!
    We went along to another nearby toyshop, where I hoped to pick out BA Skeletor again, but they didn’t have him. I settled on Sy-Klone (newly released and the first time I’d ever seen him)… and never did get ol’ Battle Armor Skeletor for my collection! (Not till many years later where I collected the line second-hand).

    When putting together that complete set of the line many years later, I acquired numerous BA Skeletor’s, though I found nowhere near as many variants as with BA He-Man, save for the “some with original hollow head, others with the mid-line “solid rubber but not hard plastic” head.

  5. This was probably the most used toy from my childhood.
    Skeletor is cool in a way to me that he could be bigger or smaller than the other characters, to a degree, depending on situation.
    With all the magic and the muscles, I could see him somewhat towering over my TMNT toys, a little smaller than my Transformers, etc.

    This toy just made my imagination go wild, Skeletor was already an amazing design but you add that Battle Damage, and it was just ten times better.
    I think I played it basically that he’d go until two swipes of damage before he’d cowardly retreat.
    Or even “cheat” and heal some of the damage as the heroes kept retaining theirs.

    I had thousands of toys but this guy always stayed in rotation..well..I think in 2002 when the new one came out with no special feature but sounds and a VHS, he was finally retired.

  6. I would like to know which figures are at the bottom/background of the castle watching BA He-Man and BA Skeletor fighting? I am pretty sure one of them is Man-At-Arms. Thanks.

  7. Did you find out what characters are at the bottom of the Battle Armor Skeletor box art package? I am pretty sure that one of them is Man- At-Arms. Help is appreciated. Thanks.

    Lewis

    1. Unfortunately I don’t have a better image than the one provided. One does look like MAA. Another could be Fisto. The one by MAA almost looks like BA Skeletor again, but it is hard to say for sure!

  8. Adam,

    Thanks for trying. Maybe we need to ask Errol to clear up the background who is at the bottom. Just a thought. Thanks again.

    Lewis

    1. i doubt the line art would help much as they are pretty rough, from the best quality I can find, the three figures are:
      Teela running from the back, ID on her is fairly easy as while the angle makes a lot of the legs thin they are more feminine legs and are bare, which pretty much limits the character to having to be Teela
      Man-at-arms standing below her, has a weapon in one hand which is long-ish with a ball at the end, has orange armour, a piece on one arm and one leg but not the other and appears to have some blue on the head, though with the heavy blacks, tricky to see the head clearly, but it’s pretty clearly Man-at-Arms.
      Fisto standing next to him. This is the really tricky one.. chest is stripped with dark and light bands, which for the figures at the time, Fisto is pretty much the only option. a mis-coloured Buzz-off is also an option. Holding a weapon in one hand which doesn’t help ID, there appears to be one hand colour light, BUT for Fisto, this is the wrong hand so I think that can be discounted. the thicker body doesn’t do much as it’s not much thicker then Man-at-arms, but appears to lack wings which would say Buzz-off.

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