Evil Warriors

Terror Claws Skeletor – Evil leader with the claw-swinging action! (1986)

I don’t seem to recall much about Terror Claws Skeletor from childhood, but he’s certainly one of the most flamboyant of the Skeletor variants released over the years. He’s often referred to by fans as “sports bra Skeletor”, but his armor, in fairness, is more like the 80s muscle shirt modeled by “Macho Man” Randy Savage, below:

Design & Development

Terror Claws Skeletor was, I believe, designed by Alan Tyler. In the Power and Honor Foundation catalog (below), we can see an early concept design showing how the figure’s action feature would work:

Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation

The design on the above armor is reminiscent of the bat design on Battle Armor Skeletor. The armor design would be altered on the final figure, however. We can see it represented (in unpainted form) in David Wolfram‘s Tyrantisaurus concept art, below:

Image courtesy of David Wolfram

It’s possible the armor was inspired by an early Man-E-Faces concept by Mark Taylor:

Image courtesy of Rebecca Salari Taylor

The cross sell artwork for the figure represents the finalized design:

This interesting test test shot (photos by Mike Holbrook) shows the figure with light flesh tone skin and an orange and white costume:

Terror Claws Skeletor was trademarked on June 14, 1985, and the copyright for the figure was registered May 19, 1986.

Production Toy

Terror Claws Skeletor was the first Skeletor variant to have almost entirely newly sculpted parts. He has newly designed legs with much larger toes (Laser-Light Skeletor would use the same basic foot shape in its design) and ball-jointed legs. His armor (painted a light metallic purple is a part of his chest sculpt. His arms are based on previous Skeletor arms, but the hands and forearms were modified him to allow him to wear his Terror Claws.

Images via eBay
1986 Mattel catalog. Source: Natalie NHT
Source: Natalie NHT
Source: Natalie NHT
Image source: He-Man.it
“Magic Boy” 1989 Italian magazine

Packaging

Terror Claws Skeletor was released on an oversized card with an illustration on the front by William George. It was advertised as the “5th Anniversary Collector’s Edition”, which is interesting because Masters of the Universe to my knowledge was launched in 1982, four years earlier. However, some fans have theorized that MOTU actually was launched in late 1981, base on their memories. That’s also backed up by an old audio interview of Mark Taylor. I haven’t found any documentary evidence to really support that MOTU came out in 1981, but this is nevertheless something interesting that at least points in that direction.

The back of the card featured an illustration by Errol McCarthy, and illustrated the figure’s arm-swinging action feature:

Image source: KMKA
Original line art by Errol McCarthy. Image via He-Man.org

The figure was also released in a gift set with Flying Fists He-Man, featuring artwork on the front against by William George:

Image source: Jon English

Comics

In the figure’s accompanying minicomic, The Terror Claws Strike!, Spikor is commissioned by Skeletor to create a new weapon. The claws themselves look more or less like the toy (albeit with longer, segmented fingers, similar to those in the concept art), but the “beastly pincher” looks plain and mechanical, not like the skull weapon that came with the toy. Skeletor’s costume is also based on his animated look, rather than the actual Terror Claws figure.

The Terror Claws also appear in Escape From The Slime Pit. In the story, a slime-covered and brainwashed He-Man shows up to destroy Skeletor:

Image source: Dark Horse

A rather comic depiction of the Terror Claws appears in the May 1, 1986 issue of Star Comics Masters of the Universe series. In the story, the “claws” look like floppy blue gloves:

Update: Øyvind Meisfjord mentions that a better illustration of the Terror Claws appears in a later issue of the Star Comics. He shares these images from his Norwegian copy:

Other Artwork

Terror Claws Skeletor struggles with Flying Fists He-Man for the Cosmic Key in this (as far as I know) unproduced illustration by William George

Image source: Roger Mahafy

They also appear front and center in William George’s Eternia poster:

Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen

They also appear on the box art for the Eternia playset, also illustrated by William George:

The figure also appears illustrated in this sticker from Spain:

Terror Claws Skeletor in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has kindly contributed the following images and video of Terror Claws Skeletor in action:

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Evil Warriors

Saurod – Evil ‘Spark-Shooting’ Reptile (1987)

I didn’t see the 1987 Masters of the Universe Movie (or really know anything about it, other than one was made) until probably the early 90s, when I saw it on TV. Even though I considered myself too old for toys at the time, I still felt a little affronted that the designs of the main characters had been changed so much. Despite myself, I stayed for it and watched the whole movie. It was actually a pretty fun little film. As an adult I can really appreciate the beauty of the new designs, even if I might question the wisdom of straying so far from the source material.

Of the newly introduced characters, Saurod was undoubtedly the coolest. What’s not to like about an armored lizard man that can shoot sparks from his mouth?

Design & Development

Saurod was designed for the movie by William Stout. Stout actually went through a number of lizard/dinosaur designs, and several were closer to beasts than to anything humanoid. All of his designs below are, in my opinion, gorgeous:

Image source: MOTU Art Facebook Page
Image source: MOTU Art Facebook Page

Stout’s lizard concept evolved into a more upright, human-like creature, initially with minimal armor and a muscular build:

Image source: The Power of Grayskull documentary, via Dušan M.
Image source: The Power of Grayskull documentary, via Dušan M.

The character continued to evolve to include a helmet and mask design, body armor, and slimmer build:

Image source: The Power of Grayskull documentary, via Dušan M.
Image source: The Power of Grayskull documentary, via Dušan M.

Claudio Mazzoli took Stout’s design (above) and turned it into a full-color painting:

Image Source: The Art of He-Man

The costume continued to evolve until the nearly final movie look, pictured below:

Image source: MOTU Art Facebook Page

The costume for the character (played by Pons Maar) was exquisitely detailed and quite convincing, even given the low budget for the film:

Image source: He-Man.org
Image source: He-Man.org
Saurod had retractable claws in the movie.

Sadly, in the Movie, Saurod didn’t get a lot screen time. Skeletor destroyed him as an example after his henchmen failed to recover the Cosmic Key:

Image source: He-Man.org

Mattel translated the movie design into an action feature, which was released in 1987. The prototype, shown below, is very similar to the final figure, except for the gun which is smaller and silver rather than black. They eyes are also round with white pupils:

Image via Grayskull Museum

The cross sell artwork was apparently based off of the prototype, as it features the same silver gun:

Toy & Packaging

The final toy was produced in a metallic bronze plastic, similar-looking to that used on various figures in the New Adventures of He-Man toyline (especially Hoove). The figure is sculpted with all new parts, just like the other two movie figures. Because he’s so radically different-looking from most other MOTU figures, he can look out of place on the shelf, but he does seem to fit well with late designs like Blast Attak and Laser Light Skeletor.

Saurod can have varying degrees of a dark overspray on the armor. Sometimes it’s barely present, and other times it’s applied very liberally:

The details on the sculpture seem quite soft, especially compared to the movie costume. It does have quite a fun action feature – pushing the lever on the figures back causes sparks to shoot out of the mouth. The movie character, however, didn’t have this ability (he did have retractable claws). On the back of the packaging, the sparks are called out as a “laser”, although in the commercial he is said to shoot lightning from his mouth.

I presume the artwork on the front of the card was done by Bruce Timm, who did several similar pieces. The art on the back was done by Errol McCarthy.

Errol McCarthy original line art. Image source: He-Man.org

Saurod, along with Megator, was the last figure of the original MOTU line that Mattel filed a trademark on – April 27, 1987.

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.

Saurod has a much heavier build in the comic than his actual toy had. That makes me think that perhaps at an earlier stage of design, Mattel had planned to with reuse one of the existing heavily muscled body types for the figure.

Update: Javier Peña in the comments noted that some of the panels in the above comic were retraced from “The Terror Claws Strike” (also “The Ultimate Battleground”), illustrated by Bruce Timm. Now Jukka Issakainen has shared this collage he created of the copied panels:

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:

Saurod makes a couple of appearances in the US Masters of the Universe Magazine. In the 1987 Summer issue, Saurod shoots actual lasers from his mouth, but is thwarted by Snout Spout:

In the 1988 Winter issue, Saurod and Blade team up with Hordak against He-Man and She-Ra:

In issue 10 of the 1977 Star Comics MOTU series, Saurod shoots out sparks, just like his action feature. They seem to have some kind of venomous quality, as they knock out Man-At-Arms and there appears to be no “antidote”

Saurod 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:

Saurod also appears in the He-Man newspaper comic strips. Thanks to Dušan M. for pointing that out. Dušan notes: “He’s bit more human-like and carries a flame thrower. Like with some other new characters, the colourist doesn’t seem to have had a proper colouring reference so his colours constantly change.”

Image source: Dark Horse’ He-Man Newspaper Comics collection.

Advertising

Saurod showed up in a few ads and catalogs, although of course coming at the end of the line he doesn’t appear in all that many:

Image source: Orange Slime

Artwork

Saurod makes an appearance in William George’s Preternia poster, as well as in a movie poster by Earl Norem:

Artwork by William George
Artwork by Earl Norem

Saurod Resurrected

One curiosity: The Saurod costume was actually reused for another film: Star Hunter (1996), a low budget take on the Predator franchise. I learned about this via the Spanish language Blog de Salguero.

Star Hunter, 1996. The external armor is the same, but the pieces underneath have been changed.

Saurod In Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has contributed the following image and videos of Saurod in action:

This is the Italian release of Saurod, which has copper colored armor on its limbs.

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Evil Warriors

Ninjor – Evil Ninja Warrior (1987)

Ninjor is perhaps the most G.I. Joe-like figure in the Masters of the Universe series. He certainly feels like He-Man’s answer to Snake Eyes or Storm Shadow. He doesn’t exactly fit with the general science/sword and sorcery motif of MOTU, but then of course by the last couple of years of the line it had become a something of a kitchen sink of ideas.

Design & Development

Ninjor was designed by David Wolfram. In my interview with him, David had this to say regarding Ninjor:

Early on in my Mattel career , I was given the task to do four figures using minimal new tooling. They were Scareglow Skeletor, King Randor, Ninjor, and Clamp Champ. The four characters had already been conceived of and the concepts sold in, so all I had to do was to make it happen.

Part of that was going through the tooling banks to find parts to add to the appearance of the figures. I did get new tooling for Clamp Champ’s weapon, and for four heads. Hal Faulkner, one of our good outside sculpting vendors, sculpted the heads.

Ninjor was a dead ringer for Lee Van Cleef, who had done some karate or kung fu based show around that time, so we had to change that.

Production Toy

Ninjor cross sell art. Image courtesy of Axel Giménez

Ninjor came with three weapons – a sword (borrowed from Jitsu), a bow and arrow (borrowed from the Eternia playset) and nunchucks. He also came with a cloth costume that obscured most of his face. He borrows the spring arm action feature from Fisto and Jitsu, which allows him to attack with his sword or nunchucks with his right hand. Jitsu was of course also a martial arts themed figure, although he looked more heavily armored rather than stealthy.

1984 Jitsu figure

The one piece of his design that separates Ninjor from a typical terrestrial ninja is his three-toed feet, borrowed from Dragon Blaster Skeletor.

Packaging Art

The illustration on the front of Ninjor’s card was done by Bruce Timm, while the scene on the back of the card was done by Errol McCarthy:

Original Errol McCarthy line art. Image source: www.he-man.org

At one point Mattel was planning to reuse the Ninjor concept to create a white-costumed ninja warrior, making the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow comparison all the more apt. However, these plans never came to fruition.

Minicomics

As in the card art and in the commercial at the beginning of this article, Ninjor was often portrayed as the nemesis of Clamp Champ. That is also evident in the comic that came packed with Ninjor, The Search For Keldor. In the story, Skeletor summons the “most evil beings from time and space” from another dimension to do his bidding:

In the comic, you can see Ninjor with the arms and legs of He-Man (all in black) rather than Skeletor. That may represent an earlier concept design for him.

Characterization and Other Stories

The 1987 Style Guide (above, illustrated by Errol McCarthy) characterized Ninjor this way:

Power: Mastery of many martial arts weapons.

Character profile: This awful assassin has come from another world to serve Skeletor. His mission is to eliminate Heroic Warriors one by one, until He-Man no longer has any help in defending Eternia. Ninjor always moves with great speed, skill and silence.

In Masters of the Universe Adventure Magazine issue 9, Skeletor summons Scare Glow and Ninjor. As described in the style guide, Ninjor excels at stealthy attacks. In this issue he is depicted with a purple, green and white costume:

In Star Comics Masters of the Universe issue 7, Skeletor again summons Ninjor, along with Blast Attak. The two don’t immediately hit it off:

In the 1987 winter issue of the US MOTU Magazine, Ninjor makes another prominent appearance, where he manages to elude both Clamp Champ and Rio Blast:

Artwork & Advertisements

Coming so late in the Masters of the Universe line, Ninjor didn’t show up in a lot of artwork, but he was a background character in posters illustrated by William George, Earl Norem and Esteban Maroto:

Artwork by William George
Artwork by William George
Artwork by Earl Norem
Artwork by Earl Norem
Artwork by Esteban Maroto

Errol McCarthy went on to illustrate the character again, this time battling He-Man with his live-action movie costume:

Image source: He-Man.org

Ninjor also showed up in a few catalogs and advertisements:

Ninjor isn’t the most distinctive-looking figure in the world, but he does look rather smart and has some fun features and accessories.

Ninjor in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has generously shared the following image and video of Ninjor in action:

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Evil Warriors

Spikor – Untouchable master of evil combat (1985)

Spikor is the one figure from 1985 that I have no memory of ever being aware of as a kid. I don’t know why that is, but I just draw a total blank.

Spikor was designed by Roger Sweet. In the image below, from The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog, we see that Spikor originally had much more of a porcupine look, down to the tail and animalistic face. Per the Catalog, the character’s name early on was “Spike”. The mace is somewhat reminiscent of Mekaneck’s weapon, also designed by Roger Sweet.

Further evolution on the design is evident in Spikor’s first minicomic appearance, Spikor Strikes. You can see that other than losing his tail and shortening the character’s snout, Spikor (in this comic) is a recolored version of Roger Sweet’s original concept art. You can see that especially in the specific shape of his central chest piece and collar and in his mace weapon.

Interestingly Spikor holds his trident weapon, which he also did in some versions of the Filmation cartoon. On the toy, the trident is a part of his hand, like a pirate’s hook. It’s not totally clear what the original intention was from Roger Sweet’s artwork. It looks like a part of his arm, but it could have been something he was holding, with some kind of hand guard design blocking the view of Spikor’s left hand. If that wasn’t the case, then perhaps the source material was misinterpreted.

Spikor was trademarked on September 10, 1984. The final toy design has a less prominent design on the front of the chest piece. Because of the way it’s designed, his torso spikes look like armor and not a part of his actual body. But his head is the same color and has the same kinds of spikes. so it’s difficult to suss out what’s going on there. Spikor was given a much spikier mace, and his trident was fused to his straightened left arm, to allow for its telescoping action feature.

Spikor cross sell art. Image courtesy of Axel Gimenez

Interestingly, the figure used in the commercial had red “glove” painted on its right hand:

It’s a mystery to me why Spikor’s trident’s tines end in balls. Surely they could have been shaped like spikes, but rounded off at the ends to satisfy safety requirements, like all the other spikes on his body and mace. Having balls at the end makes it look like Spikor is very concerned about accidentally poking someone’s eye out.

Spikor very easily could have reused the right arm from He-Man (he does have He-Man’s legs, and in some version the legs from Thunder Punch He-Man), but Mattel opted to give him a unique bracer with pyramid-shaped designs in the center.

The artwork on Spikor’s card was illustrated by Dave Stevens, who worked on other 1985 cardbacks such as Stinkor and Moss Man.

Image source: StarCrusader
Original packaging layout artwork

In addition to the single-carded figure, Spikor was also sold in a JCPenny giftset with Stinkor: http://www.grayskullmuseum.com/GiftSets/SS.htm

Errol McCarthy gave Spikor a puffer fish physique in this illustration intended for a T-shirt:

In the previously-mentioned minicomic, Spikor Strikes, Spikor is given a nemesis in Sy-Klone (for those keeping track, in the 1985 wave, Stinkor’s minicomic nemesis is Moss Man and Two Bad’s nemesis is Roboto). In The Terror Claws Strike, released the following year, Spikor plays the part of sinister blacksmith, creating Skeletor’s new Terror Claws weapons in the heart of Snake Mountain:

In the fall, 1985 issue of Masters of the Universe Magazine, Spikor takes part in a humorous story about a ball game for control of the Fright Zone:

Spikor shows up in several episodes of the Filmation He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon series. He is characterized as a typical bumbling henchman throughout. In some appearances he had his trident attached to his arm, like the toy, and in others he has a normal left hand.

In the December 1987 UK MOTU magazine issue, Spikor (colored in two tone blue) rudely interrupts a game of kickball and bullies some kids, before Mekaneck steps in a puts a stop to it.

Spikor doesn’t make any appearances on box art, but he does show up in several posters by William George and Esteban Maroto

For more information about Spikor, check out this great video series from ToonJukka!

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