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:

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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.

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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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2 thoughts on “Blade: Evil Master of Swords (1987)

  1. Great article! Blade seems like he would fit in with most iterations of MOTU. That Norem movie poster is fantastic.

    I do find it strange that he is colored with yellow skin in the movie adaptaion comic! I think this is the only media which depicts him in this manner.

    Hope to get him in Origins!

  2. Great article! Thank you! Always love seeing what obscure stuff you dig up that I’ve never clapped eyes on, before. This was a cool figure, and I had a lot of fun with him as a kid, but it always bugged me how the Movie figures looked so different from how the characters did in the film. Thank goodness for MOTU Classics, in the end!

    I got the mini-comics with the “Powers of Grayskull” backs with all of my Movie figures. At the time, I thought it was just trying to replicate the weird “Cyber-Grayskull” from the movie, but now I see that it was probably meant as a teaser for what was planned to come next (but never did).

    Looking at the bigger version of the “character sheet lineup” image, the “Frontline Soldier” looks suspiciously like Boba Fett, and the “Robot Commando” bears a considerable resemblance to the Castle Grayskull suit of space armour, I think.

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