Customs, Evil Warriors

Barbarossa Laser-Light Skeletor Kit

Image source: Barbarossa Customs

More than a year ago I purchased the Barbarossa Custom Creations Laser-Light Skeletor Kit. Life got in the way and I didn’t actually start working on it until a few months back. Now that I’ve finished it, I thought I’d post my thoughts.

First thing’s first, Toy Polloi has created a fantastic step-by-step video detailing how to paint, glue and wire this figure together. I found his video invaluable for each step of the process:

Barbarossa has made some tweaks to the kit since I purchased mine, changing the leg joints to the rubber band type and making the staff two-piece. Still, the basic principles haven’t really changed. Here is my set all laid out. Following the advice of Toy Polloi, I also bought a button cell battery holder to make life easier, which I think is included in the current kit. Your kit will probably have some mold “flash” that will need to be trimmed with an exacto knife.

The first step is to get it painted up, starting with painting the trunks black. The belt is left unpainted. I use the inexpensive acrylic paints found at craft and hobby stores, which seem to work just fine. In this case, because the black paint I used was flat, I went over it with a glossy acrylic clear coat later to simulate black molded plastic. Note: avoid enamel paints, they tend to be tacky and don’t dry well.

Next up I worked on the metallic costume parts integrated into the character’s flesh. I found that starting with a flat black base coat on these elements made life easier. Not only did it help metallic copper acrylic paint adhere better to the figure, it also made it look nicer. This requires time and patience – the lines are fairly delicate here, and you want to try to be precise. It required many passes to get it all filled out nicely, with time in between each coat for drying.

For the face, I started with a greenish base, then added yellow elements, and finally black for the eye sockets, nose, mouth and teeth. I also added a glossy clear coat over top after everything was dry. If you like you can also paint the inside of the head pieces, which will prevent light from the LED from glowing through the otherwise unpainted plastic. I didn’t do that on mine, but it’s an option.

The first section to glue together is the crotch piece and legs. It’s fairly simple – the legs go into the back of the crotch piece (the “butt”), and then the front piece is glued in place to keep everything together. I used Gorilla super glue for this task. The head can also be glued together at this time. Be sure to include the transparent red “eyes” piece, which will transmit the light from the LED out to the eye sockets. The last thing that can be glued before wiring the light feature is the the left hand to the left arm. You may need to file/trim the flat edges of the left arm pieces to ensure a nice even fit before gluing. Ensure even coverage for a strong connection.

Before any more gluing, you will need to first wire up the light-up feature. I recommend following the Toy Polloi video, but I’ll note that you’ll need a soldering iron, some solder, and some small craft wire cutters at minimum. I’ve done soldering before, but if you haven’t, you might practice adhering two pieces of scrap wire together with solder until you feel confident. Based on Toy Polloi’s video, I put together the following wiring diagram:

Red lines = positive wire. Blue lines = ground wire.

After wiring it up, I did a quick test to make sure everything was lighting up correctly:

My particular kit had some fairly long wire. Initially, I had left the wire too long, and it couldn’t be crammed in to the body. I had to go back and unsolder some of the wires running to the switch and battery holder, clip them shorter, and resolder them. You’ll want to protect bare soldered ends with heat shrink tubing or electrical tape to keep the circuit from shorting out.

Once the wiring is in good shape, it’s time to assemble the figure. The two halves of the chest come together like a clamshell, as do the two halves of the right arm. You have to make sure that the pelvis, right arm and head are in place before gluing together. The left arm can be put on after everything is set and dried. Again I recommend following Toi Polloi’s video closely. If you do what he does, you’ll probably get it right! The black battery pack is really just there to hold the switch in this version of the figure, and it fits into the back with no gluing necessary (and you’ll need to be able to take it out from time to time to change batteries). The button cell battery holder will end up in the figure’s belly, sitting there loosely.

Here it is, assembled, without cape:

Here it is with a cape I made using Toy Polloi’s cape pattern, and the light-up feature activated:

And here it is in the dark! The lights are very red in person, but they look almost white on video for some reason.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look at the Barbarossa Custom Creations Laser-Light Skeletor kit. It does require some time and patience to assemble, but it’s also the most economical way to get yourself a very nice looking Laser-Light Skeletor repro!

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Evil Warriors

No, “Demo-Man” was not an early Skeletor concept

Back in 2009, in the early days of MOTU Classics, a controversial bio was included on the back of Skeletor’s packaging. The bio leaned more or less on the origin story for Skeletor made popular in the Mike Young Productions He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series, where Keldor is mortally wounded in a failed acid attack against Randor. His face is badly burned, and his life is saved by Hordak. In the process he becomes Skeletor. But in the Classics bio, a new detail was added. Keldor was merged with an initially-unnamed extra-dimensional being as part of his process of healing and becoming Skeletor. The name of the being was initially withheld until Mattel had the rights to the name Demo-Man. Fans reacted negatively, reasoning that Skeletor shouldn’t need to be combined with some other being to become the evil Skeletor.

Image source: Poe Ghostal

Once the rights to Demo-Man were secured, this updated bio was used, adding “the extra-dimensional being Demo-Man from Despondos.”

Two years later, when the Demo-Man figure was released, his bio gave some additional details to the merger with Keldor, although no real information about Demo-Man himself was provided. Part of the purpose of this exercise was to explain away early minicomic canon that contradicted later canon. Skeletor’s attempt to bring “his people” to Eternia is retconned as temporary insanity brought on by his having merged with Demo-Man. In the bio story, Hordak would have used this delusion as an opportunity to have Skeletor bring him to Eternia. Of course as any historian will tell you, when you try to harmonize two contradictory stories, you just end up creating a third contradictory story. MOTU has many, many contradictory canons, which keep multiplying over the years as the property is continually rebooted. I think that’s why many fans seem to have their own personal preferred canons, often incorporating novel ideas of their own. The story has never been tightly controlled.

Image source: The Fwoosh
From He-Man and the Power Sword, written by Don Glut and Illustrated by Alfredo Alcala

So why was Demo-Man put into Skeletor’s bio in the first place? Well, the ethos in the days of MOTU Classics was to try to retcon certain concepts and variant characters as new characters. A good example of this is “Oo-Larr,” a representation of the first appearance of He-Man in the original He-Man and the Power Sword minicomic. In Classics canon, he was retconned as a different character from He-Man, because this version of He-Man was a Tarzan-like warrior with no Prince Adam alter ego, and his backstory is unique and contradicted later stories.

First appearance of He-Man. Illustration by Alfredo Alcala. Later retconned as “Oo-Larr.”

Other examples include Vikor and Vykron, who were early concepts that were retconned into their own separate characters. I’ve never really understood the reasoning for this. At the time the explanation was that it would “justify” making figures of these designs if they were separate characters. However, the Classics line was chock-full of He-Man variants, so it’s hard to see why this justification was ever needed. In the end it was probably just the preference of the brand manager at the time, who was trying to create his own overarching story for the brand, encompassing all eras of MOTU. Retconning early contradictory ideas made the bios easier to write.

Anyway, in the early days of the Classics line, some Mark Taylor concept art was circulating among fans, depicting a green, bearded orc-like character with a rotting skull face. It was undated and unlabeled. There is no obvious connection to Skeletor, other than the decaying face. At the same time the brand manager had found a list of potential names for characters in Mattel’s archives. One early name for Skeletor, per his recollection, was Demo-Man (although the name De-Man or D Man is what appears on Skeletor B-sheets). But again, this name did not appear anywhere on the green character’s artwork.

Concept villain by Mark Taylor
Skeletor concept art, at the time called “D Man,” by Mark Taylor

This was the explanation given at the time by the brand manager (user name: Toyguru) on the forums:

So, the assumption was made that the green bearded character was an early Skeletor concept called Demo-Man, and that’s what was written into the bios, as a way of paying homage to it. It’s been a prevailing assumption ever since.

However, since 2016, we’ve known definitively that this character was not an early Skeletor concept. How do we know this? I went to the source himself:

Battle Ram Blog: There is a character you designed who fans refer to now as Demo-Man. Do you see him as an early incarnation of Skeletor or Beast Man?

Mark Taylor: No, he was a separate concept that I was too busy to exploit, I was working until the sun came up and the Mattel building was empty. I was pretty much running on fumes.  I would have loved to take him further but like so many concepts corporate profit came first.

I’ve included this information of course in the original interview, and in my old article about Skeletor. The interview with Mark also appeared in the Dark Horse Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. So why point this out again in another article? For one, because the misconception about this character still exists in the fan community. But the other reason is, I love the design of Demo-Man, and this is a chance to talk about him a little.

Now, I should point out that although the character wasn’t initially named by Mark, he was given a name when he was released several years ago in a portfolio of sketches. The name Mark chose for him was “The Merciless.” He also recolored it with a darker color palette.

Image courtesy of Doug Feague

Because Demo-Man is the name fans know the character as, that’s the name I’ll continue to use in this article, but I just wanted to point out Mark’s name for him.

Demo-Man has only been released in MOTU once so far, in 2011 in the MOTU Classics line. The prototype figure was shown off at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con. The figure was a painstaking recreation of Mark Taylor’s drawing, up to and including the helmeted skull at the character’s feet and the tuft of hair sticking out from the character’s back. Below are images of the prototype that was displayed at San Diego Comic-Con (images are from ToyArk and Toy News International):

Because of Demo-Man’s association with Skeletor in the Classics bios, he also came with an extra Skeletor head, based on the character’s depiction by Alfredo Alcala. This head became the default head for many fans. I’ll just note that when modern designers want to make Skeletor look more scary, they’ll often give him “angry” eyes, an expression that really isn’t possible on a skull (skulls don’t have eyebrow muscles). The Alcala Skeletor head is noted as probably the creepiest and most impressive head for the figure ever made, and he has large, round eye sockets and oversized, crooked teeth. You don’t need to go the Spirit Halloween route to make a truly wicked-looking Skeletor.

Production Demo-Man, and Skeletor with “Alcala” head. Demo-Man does have “angry” eyes, but note that his face is only partially rotted away.
Original head (left) vs “Alcala” head (right)

The production Demo-Man figure (below) was a bit different from the prototype in a few different ways.

The copper accents were removed from both the flail weapon and the rivets on the skull’s helmet. Copper was also used as a rust analogue on all silver areas of the prototype, but it’s cut down a bit on the production figure, and doesn’t appear at all on the skull’s helmet. The spikes on the figure’s gauntlets and flail have been dulled down for safety. The overall skin color of Demo-Man is brighter as well – he is cast in a very bright yellowish color with plenty of green overspray. The bonus Alcala Skeletor head’s face also features these colors. The paint work on Demo-Man’s face isn’t quite as sharp as the prototype version, but of course that’s to be expected. No factory could match a finely hand-painted prototype.

Earlier I mentioned that lots of MOTU fans have their own head canon. I actually have one of my own regarding Skeletor and Demo-Man. I don’t follow the Classics idea of Demo-Man being an entity existing inside Skeletor. However, that story did inspire another take I thought of while looking at the two figures together.

In my little head canon, Eternia is a place full of incorporeal demons. Everyone knows that you have to quickly cremate your dead or protect them with a spell, otherwise a roaming demon will find it, take possession of the body, and walk around in it, causing mayhem. Skeletor arose this way, when a young warrior fell in battle, and his comrades could not recover the body because of the weight of his armor and the group of enemies pursuing them. The young fallen warrior laid there dead on the battlefield for a time, his face eaten by scavengers. Eventually a powerful, ancient demon found him and took possession of him, and he became known as Skeletor. Demo-Man was a solitary wandering orc who met with a similar fate on the side of a mountain. Part of the point of this story is to explain the skull faces on these characters and also make them contemporaries of each other who could actually work together. This would put Demo-Man as one of Skeletor’s evil warriors, albeit at a higher level than his usual non-demonic flunkies.

Now, just because Demo-Man isn’t a Skeletor concept, doesn’t mean you can’t accept the Classics canon about his role in Skeletor’s origins. The fictional MOTU storylines are an altogether different subject from the history of the development of these toys. At the end of the day, you can think of him however you like, or discount him altogether. It’s up to you. But hopefully this article has been an informative and entertaining look at Demo-Man.

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Demo-Man Quick Facts

Evil Warriors

Megator: Evil Giant Destroyer (1988)

Megator was originally intended for the 1987 line of figures, within the “Powers of Grayskull” subline. However, due to the collapse in US sales for Masters of the Universe that year, it was scrapped for US release and only sold in limited quantities in Europe the following year.

Design & Development

Interestingly, despite his appearance at the very end of the original line, Megator’s origins begin with Mark Taylor, the designer behind the line’s most iconic toys, including He-Man, Skeletor, Teela, Beast Man and Castle Grayskull. Mark was only involved in the line from its inception as a pitch in 1980 to sometime in 1982, the first year it came out. But his influence was really apparent all the way to the end of the original series and beyond.

The earliest seed for the character appears in the Mark Taylor concept art below, sourced from the Power and Honor Foundation Catalog. It wasn’t connected to He-Man, but there was an idea for a toyline centered around giants. You can see some classic Mark Taylorisms in the artwork, including the ragged loincloth, spikes, cloth wrap, and manacles with chains. There is some resemblance to the Megator character that came later, although I don’t know that they were directly related.

Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation

Sometime prior to the launch of He-Man, Mark Taylor created an undead barbarian character (below) with green skin and a skull face. It didn’t appear in the initial MOTU launch, but it was later dubbed “Demo Man” when it was resurrected for the Masters of the Universe Classics line in 2011.

Former Masters of the Universe Classics brand manager Scott Neitlich found the artwork for this character in Mattel’s archives. Based on the skull face, Scott inferred that it must have been an early Skeletor concept piece, and it was marketed that way when it was made into an action figure for that line in 2011. However, when I interviewed Mark five years after Demo Man was released as a figure, he confirmed that “Demo Man” was not an early Skeletor concept.

MOTU Classics Skeletor with MOTU Classics Demo Man prototype. Image source: The Art of He-Man

Scott wasn’t the first person who looked through the archives and discovered this character – it apparently happened later in the 1980s, after Mark had left Mattel. Designer Mark Jones traced and then modified Mark’s original concept to create new ogre-like giant character. To his credit, Jones gives Taylor credit for the original artwork in the bottom right corner of the drawing.

Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation

A piece of concept art by Alan Tyler (below) gives the character a more unique costume (although he’s wearing very little clothing here). The spiked ball weapon is now attached to a chain rather than a rope, and it is connected to his wrist. The scimitar was cut from the character. I should note that the Jones illustration above was done after the Tyler drawing below. But Tyler’s drawing does seem to share some DNA with “Demo Man.”

Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation

In a concept illustration for the Powers of Grayskull line, a couple of stampeding giants appear, who look like the Alan Tyler art above, only with bluish skin:

Image: Dark Horse/The Power and the Honor Foundation

Another rendering of the Megator concept appears below (artist not specified). His costume is very close to final. Some notable differences include his snake headband and the snake emblem on his chest, which perhaps suggest he was going to be aligned with the Snake Men. His skin is of course not the final green color. He still has the chain attached to his wrist, as was present in the earlier Alan Tyler concept:

Image: Dark Horse/The Power and the Honor Foundation

I should note a couple of other concepts that are somewhat related to Megator, either in terms of appearance or action feature. The first is a kind of ogre character designed by Ted Mayer on June 12, 1984. I won’t suggest this is definitely an early Megator, only that they at least share some attributes in common, especially the version with bare feet that dates to June 19, 1984.

The other concept is Ted Mayer’s Big Foot concept, which, like Megator, would have had a spring-loaded leg. Often in Masters of the Universe, the idea for an action feature would give birth to many different character concepts.

Image source: Dark Horse/The Power and the Honor Foundation

Figure & Packaging

The final Megator figure was molded in a dark green with brown armor, and came with his ball and chain weapon, which was hand-held rather than tied to his wrist. He (along with Tytus) featured rooted hair, a first for the MOTU line. He featured a skull design on his chest armor, rather than the snake motif on the concept art. He had a fairly detailed sculpt, except for his shins and ankles, which look father unfinished. Due to his kicking action feature, he features a kind of a Speedo-style loincloth. He was about 17 inches tall, towering over the 5-inch figures in the toyline.

Image via
Image via

Back in 2016 there was an eBay auction for a Megator test shot figure. Those don’t come up very often, so I archived the images:

He appears in the 1987 Mattel US catalog, although he wouldn’t be released in the US and saw his European release the following year, in 1988. Gigantisaur, pictured below, wouldn’t appear at all, and the prototype was sadly discarded. More about Gigantisaur in my interview with David Wolfram.

The packaging for Megator featured artwork on the front of the box by William George:

The back of the box features an illustration by an unknown artist, and a brief description of the character and his abilities. He’s called “the biggest bully in the universe” and his kick feature and ball and chain weapon are emphasized. In the illustrations on both front and back, he’s fighting against He-Ro, who was supposed to be the lead hero in the Powers of Grayskull line, but who wasn’t released until decades later.

In fact, He-Ro’s cardback was going to feature an illustration by Errol McCarthy of He-Ro fighting against Megator. That figure card was reproduced when a replica of the original He-Ro was released by Super7 in 2019.

Other Appearances

Because Megator was the coda of the original vintage line, he didn’t make many appearances outside of the toy itself, to my knowledge. He was illustrated in another piece by Errol McCarthy, possibly intended for the style guide, but never used:

He appeared in some Italian advertisements along with Tytus:

Image source:

Megator appears in only one known story, called La Creatura Infernale (written and illustrated by Giuliano Piccininno), which appeared in Italian in Magic Boy Magazine in 1988. In the story, Skeletor and Evil-Lyn create Megator using a combination of magic and science and unleash him upon He-Man and his friends (images via Edit: Thanks to Carlo S. for the information about the author of this story and for providing a page that was missing!

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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:

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:

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.

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.


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


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: