Artwork, Cardbacks

Top Toys cardbacks & cross sell art

Special thanks to Martin Alejandro Salinas for sending me all of the Top Toys cardback scans used in this article and providing some background information as well.

Typically the cross sell art used on the backs of Top Toys cards was the same as what appeared on US cards. One exception to that is Jitsu, where a photograph (mirror reversed) of the toy was used rather than artwork:

Another interesting difference is Two Bad. Although the artwork is the same as was used on US cards, Two Bad was grouped with the Evil Horde:

Below we have Zodac’s card, which is similar to the US reissue card, but the layout of cross sell art characters is changed, and it also includes larger toys like Castle Grayskull and Battle Cat:

By comparison, here is the US version of Zodac’s 1983 cardback.

Here is a selection of additional cardbacks from various Top Toys figures. One note is that the Trap Jaw cross sell art is the “jawless” version that appeared in later US cardbacks as well as on the backs of many of the US minicomics.

Another interesting note: Hordak’s cardback includes a blurred-out section for the Evil Horde faction on the back, with a message saying the the Evil Horde would arrive soon. Martin notes that Grizzlor, whose silhouette is visible in the blurred image, was never produced in Argentina.

Finally, Martin says that at the tail end of the line in Argentina, Toy Toys began using generic cards for figures. On the backs of those cards they used artwork from the cover of first issue of the Star Comics Masters of the Universe series. The name of the figure would be announced on the front with a sticker, since it wasn’t printed on the actual card.

Image via He-Man.org

Because there were no instructions for the toy printed on the back of the card, they would include a black and white printout of the instructions inserted in the bubble with the figure:

Thanks again to Martin for the wonderful scans and background information. This website would not be half as comprehensive as it is without contributions from fans like Martin!

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Artwork, Reviews

T. Mark Taylor – Sketches 2

Many thanks to my buddy Doug Feague for kindly sharing pictures of his copy for this article.

At the 2019 Power-Con, Mark and Rebecca Taylor made available to fans a collection of art prints called T. Mark Taylor – Sketches 2. It’s a sequel to the first set of sketches released at Power-Con last year. A few pieces from this set appear in the 2016 Mark Taylor – The Original B-Sheets Collection, which I reviewed in depth. I’ll take a look at each piece of artwork and provide a little commentary, although several of these pieces are new to me and I don’t know the backstory behind them.

Dungeon Sticker

To start out with, the cover (shown above) is the famous Castle Grayskull dungeon sticker, which was illustrated by Rebecca Salari Taylor.

The dungeon has all sorts of meaning for Mark Taylor, who envisioned it as having held Skeletor at one point, turning him into the monster who he eventually became. More on that in a future article.

Sorceress

The Sorceress was included in the 2016 Mark Taylor Portfolio, and is one of my all time favorite pieces of art. This character’s design was eventually merged with Teela’s. The Sorceress would later show up in the 1983 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon with a completely redesigned costume. But she does make an appearance in this form (albeit with a green face) in the minicomic, He-Man and the Power Sword. You can read more about this character here.

Face Shifter

Face Shifter is one of many face-changing character concepts that Mark Taylor came up with, eventually leading to Man-E-Faces. This particular version may have inspired the armor used on Terror Claws Skeletor, and possibly even the costume for the New Adventures character Flipshot.

Viking Raid

Viking Raid depicts and early Castle Grayskull concept. This one also appeared in Mark’s 2016 portfolio collection and in Dark Horse’s The Art of He-Man.

Kang Gi

As I understand it, this character was apparently pulled from Mark Taylor’s sketch book from years before his work at Mattel, and the intent was to use him as one of Skeletor’s henchmen, but may have also been considered for the Conan line that never came to be.

Kang Gi’s face bears a strong resemblance to Webstor, and may have been used as a springboard in the creation of that character.

Ram Man

This is a rather exciting bit of concept art for Ram Man that I personally had never seen before. His look is fairly well developed, although he features the red/brown/orange color scheme that seemed to stick with the character right up until the toy was released in stores, where the colors were changed to red and green. The overall look is quite similar to Ram Man as he appears in the minicomic, He-Man Meets Ram Man.

The Merciless

Known to many fans as “Demo Man”, The Merciless is a differently colored version of a piece of Mark Taylor concept art that has been floating around for the fan community for some time. This version features a darker color palette and a blue beard. This may have been a concept for the unproduced Conan line.

The Enforcer

The Enforcer is a character that I’ve not seen previously. To me he fits in very well in the world of MOTU, and I would leave to see a figure made from this wonderfully weird and quirky design.

Mokus

Another character that is completely new to me, Mokus looks like some kind of giant, frightening but also whimsical plant monster. I’d love to learn the backstory behind this character.

Stalker

Stalker is a great plant monster concept. The face reminds me just a little of Swamp Thing, and the plant-based costume and weapon are right on target.

Blaster

Blaster is a classic-looking science fiction concept character. His helmet almost looks like the prow of a space ship. He seems to be shooting beams of some kind out of his writstband as well. This is another concept I hadn’t seen previously.

Back Page

Finally, the back page features a lovely message from Mark, adorned with another piece of art from the Castle Grayskull playset, again illustrated by Rebecca.

Artwork

Masters of the Universe Cross Sell Art: Alcala Variants

The artwork for this set comes primarily from my own scans and photos, as well as from Axel Giménez. This is a comparison between the cross sell artwork by Alfredo Alcala that was featured on the backs of the first four minicomics, and the standardized cross sell artwork by William George on the backs of the packaging. The Alcala artwork is based on some of the earliest prototype designs, but also is informed by Alcala’s own indelible artistic style.

Masters of the Universe Cross Sell Art:

Artwork

Masters of the Universe Cross Sell Art: Brazilian Variants

The Brazilian Estrela toy company was one of several foreign manufacturers to purchased a license to produce Masters of the Universe Figures. However, the artwork they used on their packaging was slightly different from the artwork that appeared on US packaging (front and back).

My theory is that Estrela purchased the rights to make the toys, but not the rights for the artwork. Maybe it was cheaper to contract the art out locally. Most of the Estrela cross sell art is closely based on the US version, with some slight variations, almost always on the face. They also seem to modify artwork to make it look closer to the actual toy, whenever possible. This is especially evident for their cross sell art for Castle Grayskull, Wind Raider, Teela, Stratos and Ram Man. Note they also remove the orange stripes on Battle Cat’s tail – a feature included on the prototype but not on the vast majority of factory versions.

Estrela cross sell artwork comes courtesy of Jukka Issakainen, originally scanned by Polygonus. US artwork comes from Axel Giménez, Tokyonever, Jukka, StarCrusader, and my own photos and scans.

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Masters of the Universe Cross Sell Art: