Licensing Kits

1982 Licensing Kit: “Fast Male Action For Licensees”

Fun fact: the blond boy in the flannel shirt is MC Bat Commander from the Aquabats! He is playing with a prototype Battle Ram (which would have been sculpted from wood) and a prototype Man-At-Arms.

The 1982 licensing kit was, to my understand put together prior to the release of the line in stores and first given out at New York Toy Fair on February 17, 1982. The kit includes artwork by Errol McCarthy, and product photographs featuring prototype toys in various stages of development. Its purpose was to serve as a guide to manufacturers of licensed MOTU-themed merchandise on the world of He-Man and on the correct use of Mattel’s trademarks. This document was scanned by Michael Jay, and a copy of Michael’s scan was sent over to me by Ben Massa (check out his fascinating Facebook page, Orko’s Keep) Thanks to both Michael and Ben for their willingness to share!

Front cover. I’ve always thought it was interesting that Skeletor is shown here with light purple skin, rather than blue skin.
The inside cover features a collage of different MOTU prototypes, with child actors playing with them. The scene at the top left recreates a panel from the first minicomic, “He-Man and the Power Sword.” The Castle Grayskull is a very finely painted version that shows up in many commercials and catalogs. The vehicles are wooden prototypes, and the Teela prototype is an early unarticulated model that would see many revisions prior to release.
This page emphasizes a few themes, like how He-Man toys were market tested and were very popular with boys. They mentioned the aggressive marketing campaign Mattel was going to use to promote the line, which included TV and comic book promotions. All of this is to say that MOTU was a valuable brand and that licensees should jump on board the He-Man train.
The bulk of content in the licensing kit is there to provide reusable images and product names in the correct font that could go on licensed products and packaging, and to provide a very basic outline of the world of Eternia. The focus early on was very much on the idea that both halves of the Power Sword were needed to access Castle Grayskull, and that would form the basis for many early stories. Whoever gained access to Grayskull would be “King.”
We get very basic, generic depictions of our main hero and villain on this page. There is no indication that He-Man has super-human strength. He’s really just a very strong man at this point.
This is one of the more interesting pages of the kit for several reasons. Here we get a depiction of Stratos as evil, which is hinted at in the first minicomic. Zodac is portrayed as bounty hunter character, which is unique to this document. In actual media aimed at consumers, he is never called a bounty hunter. Teela is treated as a prize for either He-Man or Skeletor, a common cliche in older adventure tales. There actually was a 1982 coloring book with a plot based in exactly that idea. Mer-Man is called a battle-hardened warrior, but is not specified as good or evil, which is pretty common in some of the earlier Mattel material about him.
Here we have Man-At-Arms and Beast Man pitted against each other as opposites and potentially rivals, which exactly fits how Mark Taylor has described the two characters in the past.
This page emphasizes physical combat – the heroes and villains seem equally matched, and it’s anyone’s guess who will ultimately prevail.
The emphasis of this line is not so much on telling explicit stories, but in setting up a world and characters that lend themselves to the child creating his or her own stories.
This pages emphasizes the logo and brings in the full Battle Ram. The Wind Raider is the only 1982 product not illustrated in these pages.
This page sets up guidelines for correct usage of Mattel’s trademarks and logos.
Back page, of the licensing kit, which is a continuation of the scene on the front cover, with drama filling every inch of the page.

I do have scans of some of the later licensing kits and style guides, which I will post later. They aren’t as nice as this scan, so thanks again to Michael and Ben for sharing!

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