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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.