Powers of Grayskull, Snake Men

Snake Men & Preternia Development Documents

Preternia concept illustration, from The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog

A few years ago former Masters of the Universe Classics brand manager Scott Neitlich shared a number of early MOTU documents his his retrospective video below on the rollout of the MOTU Classics toyline. The documents flash by on the screen very quickly, and I thought it would be worth providing a transcription of each of the documents related to the development of the Snake Men faction. It looks like some of the documents are incomplete, but I’ll include what was shown in the video, along with a bit of commentary in bold and some related imagery.

TO: Dave Capper, Matt Bousquette
FROM: Tim Kilpin, ex. 5076
DATE: 10/17/85

High upon a windy hill, at the entrance to the Towers of Eternia, stood He-Man. Hovering before him in her spirit form was the Sorceress. She had drawn him here, he knew that, but he didn’t know why.

“You are troubled, He-Man. There is much that has changed recently in Eternia, and I feel you must now know the whole story.”

He-Man followed the Sorceress into the grand Central Tower. “What frightens me most is King Hiss and his Snake Men. They were supposed to be only a myth, a fable! But they’re here–now– threatening Eternia!”

The Sorceress took He-Man’s hand. “Do you see the light ahead of us? He-Man squinted as he turned to face a brilliant orb of light glowing in the hall. As he walked slowly toward it, he saw that gleaming shafts of steel had formed a doorway into the radiant sphere.

“I-I can sense that it won’t harm me, but…”

The Sorceress stepped into the light ahead of He-Man. “Trust your senses, He-Man. We’re going… back.”

“Back? To what? To where?”

The Sorceress smiled. “To Eternia… eons before you were born. We’re in a time machine.” Gracefully the Sorceress raised her hands, and in a flash…

He-Man was standing on a plain of tall grass. In the distance, he could see great creatures-dinosaurs!–lumbering across the land. On a nearby ridge, a band of giants peacefully prepared a meal. He-Man was in awe. “It is Eternia! It’s filled with all the things the legends had told me! Dinosaurs–and giant men–and… He-Man suddenly leaped back. “SNAKES!”

A giant rattler lunged at He-Man, but missed. It slithered quickly away. The Sorceress pointed to a trio of towers not far away. “There. The Towers of Eternia stand, just as they do now–in your time. Here. Let’s move closer.”

He-Man and the Sorceress came to a ridge that overlooked a small village. He-Man’s powerful eyes took in the view. “They seem to be a peaceful people–are they magicians?”

“Yes, magicians and wizards. But they use their powers only for good purposes.”

He-Man scanned the horizon, suddenly alarmed. “The snakes again. Why, there must be thousands of them, slithering into the village! And there–at the head of them all–King Hiss! He’s going to attack the village! I’ve got to stop them!” He-Man rose to draw his sword, but the Sorceress stopped him. “No. You cannot interfere–not now. Watch.”

As King Hiss led his slithering swarm into the village, terrorizing its people and destroying all in its path, a single figure walked slowly toward the king of snakes. He was dressed in a simple, dark robe, and he carried a plain wooden staff. “Who is that?” He-Man asked.

“His name is Eric, a wizard’s apprentice. For many years, the Snake Men have dominated this land with a reign of terror. But Eric is leading his good people in a rebellion. He will save Eternia from the Snake Men.”

“But how can an apprentice–” He-Man was suddenly silenced by the sight of King Hiss’s skin peeling away to reveal a mass of seething serpents.

With a grand flourish, Eric drew his staff up before him. “Staff of Magic Light, Give to Me the Might!” A bolt of lightning shot forth from the staff, and now, standing there instead of Eric was a gallant man in brilliant, flowing robes. His staff gleamed with a blinding light. “I am GRAYSKULL, the mightiest wizard in Eternia!”

A fierce battle erupted. Grayskull led his people against the invading snakes. He-Man couldn’t believe his eyes. “That is Grayskull?”

Sorceress turned to He-Man. “Do you recognize the similarity? Flesh and bone do not last throughout the ages, He-Man, but spirit does–and the spirit of Grayskull-is the same spirit that is within you! Grayskull is guided by a Council of Elders. His mentor, Dorran, teaches the wizard the powers of magic that are hidden in the staff. It is the only magic staff left in Eternia. King Hiss destroyed all the others when he invaded. Now each time Grayskull faces the Snake Men, he has a new magical power to help him.”

He-Man watched the battle closely. “Just like Man-at-Arms teaches me. Grayskull is a skilled warrior.”
Sorceress smiled at He-Man. “It runs in the family, I’d say.” As the battle continued, giants raced down from their lairs in the mountains to join the fray–on both sides. Sorceress pointed to the strongest of them. “He is the leader of the giants who defend Grayskull. His people perform mighty feats that cannot be accomplished by magic. And over there– Sorceress pointed to gigantic robotic beasts that were stalking into the village. “There is King Hiss’s legion of evil giants.”

He-Man pointed to another spot in the valley where a herd of creatures was massing. “And the dinosaurs? They too are part of this horrible war?”

“Yes. Many dinosaurs were driven from their lairs by the Snake Men. They have come to the aid of the Wizards of Might. But King Hiss has forced several of Eternia’s most vicious dinosaurs Into serving him.”
He-Man rose again. “I can’t just stand by watching. I must help! But just then, Grayskull struck down King Hiss with an awesome blast from his staff, and the battle was ended. The Snake Men were retreating!

Again the Sorceress took He-Man’s hand. “There will be times when you can help. The time machine will always be open to you, and you can aid Grayskull in his struggle. But remember, this is his battle, not yours.”

He-Man looked distressed. “Can I not even tell him that he finally will defeat the Snake Men? I know that he succeeds! It’s part of our legend!”

“You must never tell him. To him, you must be only a stranger from another world. Let him teach you something about battling the Snake Men in your own world. That way you will help each other, and you will ensure the survival of Eternia.”

He-Man looked down on the valley as Grayskull, once again as Eric, tended to his people. “He is so brave–so powerful!” “Now you know the secret of Grayskull, He-Man, and you must guard it–and cherish it–forever.”

As He-Man and the Sorceress prepared to go forward in time, there was another who had discovered the glowing light in the Central Tower. He reached for it haltingly, then withdrew his bony hand. Slowly, a weak smile spread across the face of Skeletor. “As I suspected–a time machine! Now where do
you suppose this leads?”

Many of the plot points in the above story by Tim Kilpin are somewhat preserved in the Powers of Grayskull minicomic, part one of a three-part story that was dropped due to the cancellation of Masters of the Universe. At this point in his development, the wizard protagonist’s name is Eric, and he transforms into Grayskull by chanting “Staff of Magic Light, Give to Me the Might! I am GRAYSKULL, the mightiest wizard in Eternia!” Later on he would be renamed Gray, and he would transform into He-Ro.

Secrets of Grayskull
New Notes 9/16/85

The leader, perhaps, is a Ranger. One who holds a special bond with nature. His order protected Grayskull Tower and acted as a sort of POLICE throughout Eternia, based at the central tower.

Let’s call the leader Justin for now. He had gone out on a far-reaching patrol one year–and that’s when the Snake Men took control of Eternia.

He was about to rush back to Eternia when someone/something intervened, told him to wait, told him he would need more than his normal powers to defeat the Snake Men.

He was given the secret of Grayskull. It was this power, given to him by whoever, that would enable him to marshal an army, fly, etc. WHAT ARE HIS POWERS? WHAT CAN HE DO

Magic? Technology Speed? Strength? Creation? What’s the hook of the toy? He does something electronic?

He is an outcast at first he is not welcomed when he first returns to his homeland. He is a stranger. But soon he begins to draw together his team.

  • The giant – the master of brute strength
  • The sage – the wise, sagically powerful man who could see into the future.
  • The nimble elf – Agile and quiet, able to sneak up and surprise enemies
  • The hardy dwarf – master of fire power
  • And Justin had his laserbow, a crossbow that shot laserfire

Together, these Rangers would lead the rebellion that would finally overthrow the Snake Men.
Rangers of Grayskull
The Bad Guys:
King Hiss


Tung Lashor
Medusa Man

Along with He-Man and Skeletor. Some things would remain the same when He-Man and Justin brought their weapons together, amazing things would happen. Whole armies would fall before it.

The above are some rather rough notes, predating the Secrets of Grayskull story by about a month. The new hero’s name is Justin in this iteration, which seems rather an ordinary name for a MOTU character. He’s a ranger rather than a wizard. The Snake Men are listed out as the main villains, including “Medusa Man” (later changed to Snake Face) and “Tanglor” (later changed to Sssqueeeze). The heroes sound like extras from Lord of the Rings – a surprisingly straight-up fantasy take (laserbow notwithstanding) on things for a MOTU concept.

Mattel Toys Memo
DATE May 20, 1985
FROM The Masters Brand Group

Attached is a storyline for the Brand Bible written by Tim Kilpin, which will be used to introduce the Snakemen in 1986. The Snakemen will include Hiss, Rattlor, Tung Lashor, and Kobra Khan. Additional details as well as the final name for the group will be forwarded as soon as possible.


Mattel Toys Memo
Matt Bousquette
Dave Capper
May 14, 1985

As we further evaluate and refine the 1986 line strategies, an important opportunity has surfaced which will allow us to make a more significant line launch while capitalizing on the work and development already incurred to date.

Now that Skeletor is threatened by the Heroic Warriors of Eternia and the Evil Horde, he has had to call on the very depths of Snake Mountain’s magic dungeons to summon a new and more awesome evil group “The Snakemen.” This new group, which will strengthen his forces, will feature:

Hiss, the disguised slimey and slithery leader of the Snakemen.
Rattlor, the Rattle Snake master of strike attack.
Tung Lashor, the action tongue reptile with the power to lick his enemies.
Kobra Khan, a prior defector from the Snakemen has now rejoined this group to strengthen Skeletor’s armada.


Skeletor has become far too predictable and easily defeated, therefore, an awesome new group will reinforce his strength and his potential ability to finally overthrow He-Man and the Horde.
Snake Mountain is the focus of Skeletor’s evil planning and the source of his powers, therefore, a team of summoned Snakemen represents a natural extension for a new group.

Kids are inherently fascinated by snakes.

Snakes represent a genre that lends itself to an evil association (even Indiana Jones hates snakes).
Tying four separate SKU’s into one group will allow us focused advertising efficiencies.
This cohesive strategy will capitalize on the terrific figures (i.e.. theming, sculpting, and features) we have already developed to date.

cc: Martin Arriola
Ken Baratelle
Paul Cleveland
Ron Cook
Aldo Favilli
Ferenc Fekete
Jeaninne Gordon
Tim Kilpin
Ron McBain
Joe Morrison
Andy Murrer
Ellie Perry
Shell Platt
Cassandra Schafhausen
Harris Shepard
Ron Torres
John Weems
Mike Welsch
Jim Wolfe

The above memo predates the “Justin” and “Eric” stories, and really focuses more on the Snake Men, as a new faction to add to Skeletor’s forces. This one omits Snake Face and Sssqueeze, focusing on three new Snake Men (King Hiss, Tung Lashor and Rattlor) while retconning the existing Kobra Khan into the Snake Men ranks. Skeletor is said to be too predictable and easily defeated – thus a new evil faction was needed to bolster the Evil Warriors.

TO: Dave Capper
FROM: Tim Kilpin, ex. 5076
DATE: 5/17/85
RE: Masters Snake Group Background

Deep within the heart of Snake Mountain is a darkness–an impenetrable gloom that hangs over its dungeons & catacombs. There are chambers beneath Snake Mountain that have never been explored; no Evil Warrior has ever found the courage to pierce their horrible blackness.

But this dreadful night, there was one who could no longer ignore the challenge. The torchlight cast eerie shadows all about the dungeons of Snake Mountain as Skeletor made his way through its cold, damp corridors.

“Something strange,” he whispered, “something very strong within these walls. Skeletor ran his bony fingers across the rough stones. Kobra Khan cowered behind his master, trying in vain to seem brave. “I-I don’t feel a thing. Skeletor.”

But Skeletor wasn’t even listening. “It’s as if there were a LIVING force trapped here. As if something were struggling to be set free. Skeletor’s fingers caught in the deep grooves of a stone carving. He stepped back to examine the work. “Snakes? A great mass of coiled snakes.”

Kobra Khan came forward. “Let me see. Perhaps Khan went white. He stumbled backward, as if struck by a mighty blow.

“What?” Skeletor demanded. “What do they mean?”

“V-v-v-” Khan could barely speak.

“What? Have you lost your senses? What?”

Khan’s eyes darted back and forth. “Viper! The Viper King! King, and his fiendish order!”

Skeletor’s eyes lit up. “The Viper King? I’d heard only tales…”

Page 2

“No, great one, Khan said, shivering. “Hiss did live, as did his many minions. Many eons ago, he built a serpent empire throughout the worlds of this universe. His was a cold-blooded reign of terror.” Skeletor studied the runes. “But Hordak had told me of the Viper King. He said it was but a myth, a fairy tale!”

Khan breathed deeply. “As well he should, master. Hordak was the Viper King’s greatest enemy. Hiss and the Evil Horde fought constantly over who would dominate Eternia and Etheria.”

Now Skeletor was totally absorbed. “Then Hordak defeated the Viper King?

“No one has ever known. Hiss and his legion simply vanished! But now,” Khan hissed softly, “now he is returning. I can FEEL it. It is HE who haunts these walls!”

A thin smile fell across Skeletor’s face. “Well, then, perhaps it’s time we MEET our houseguest! With a grand flourish, Skeletor drew his arms up and prepared to blast the dungeon walls to smithereens!

“NO!” Khan screamed.

Skeletor concentrated all his evil energy on one wall, and within seconds, it crumbled into a pile of rubble and ashes. A horrible moaning filled the chambers..

Khan retreated quickly. “You’ve released him! The Viper King is free!”

An icy blast tore through the catacombs. Far across the room, human form took shape. Slowly, it materialized into a green warrior.

Khan gasped, then fell to his knees. “It is the Viper King! Hail to the master of serpents!”

Skeletor whirled around and stared at the warrior. “THIS is the great Hiss? Surely there must be some mistake! Why, he looks like some crony of HE-MAN’S, and not too strong at that!”

The above Tim Kiplin story recalls a later minicomic origin story, King of the Snake Men.

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Evil Warriors, Snake Men

Blast-Attak: Evil Blast-Apart Robotic Warrior (1987)

Like most of the 1987 line, Blast-Attak completely escaped my notice as a kid. He’s definitely one of the more unusual Masters of the Universe characters. He has a strong steampunk vibe and a color palette not often seen in the MOTU line.

Design & Development

The earliest known concept of for a MOTU blast-apart figure appears below, in a piece by Mark Jones, illustrated February 26, 1985, shown in The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog. This version of the character has a human face, and wears a costume festooned with spikes. You can see his trigger cord coming off of his back in the drawing below:

Later in the year a more familiar iteration appeared, this time illustrated by Richard Lepik on November 26, 1985. This is quite close to the actual toy, although it is more detailed (especially around the shoulders). This image again comes from The Power and the Honor Foundation, and was included in The Art of He-Man, published by Dark Horse. The character’s working name at this point was “Crack-Pot.”

You can see the finalized iteration of the design in the cross sell artwork below:

Blast-Attak in the 1987 Mattel Catalog.

Blast-Attak could be “detonated” via a remote cable. The cable would connect to his back. A trigger/wire running through the cord would released release the spring-loaded latches holding the figure’s torso together. The patent was filed September 16, 1986, and you can see the illustrations for it below:

Toy & Packaging

Blast-Attak came with a large red poleax that continues with the steam punk theme on the figure itself. His trigger cable was actually reused from the Bravestarr Fort Kerium playset, which used the cable to “blow up” a safe.

His packaging, typical of 1986 and 1987 figures, included an illustration of the character on the front as well as the back:

Image via He-Man.org/Jukka Issakainen

Style Guide

According to the 1987 Style Guide, Blast-Attak was affiliated with the Evil Warriors. He is described like this:

Power: Ability to blast apart to attack and knock down enemies who approach him from both sides at once.

Character Profile: Blast-Attak is a robotic muscleman with an extremely short fuse. He loves to surprise enemies with his sudden split-apart power.

Comics & Stories

Blast-Attak came packed with Revenge of the Snake Men. Contrary to what the style guide says, here Blast-Attak is a creation of King Hiss and is aligned with the Snake Men (images below are from Dark Horse and from He-Man.org).

In the Fall 1987 issues of the US MOTU Magazine, Blast-Attak appears in the story Rescue King Randor. In the story Blast-Attak is working with both the Snake Men and the Evil Warriors, and all of the are directed by Skeletor:

The same alliances seem to be in place in The Dark Power of Skeletor, which appears in the Fall 1988 issues of MOTU Magazine:

In the seventh issue of the 1987 Star Comics MOTU series, Blast-Attak is aligned with the Evil Warriors. His power is used primarily to avoid downward sword strikes.

Blast-Attak puts himself back together incorrectly

He appears again with Ninjor and Scare Glow in the MOTU Newspaper story, Ninjor Stalks by Night:


Blast Attak appears in posters by both Earl Norem and William George, shown respectively:

Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen

Because he was at the tail end of the line, he’s not depicted in all that many stories or art pieces, but I’ve included a representative sample, including the advertising line art below:

For more history behind the character, see Jukka Issakainen’s excellent video:

Blast-Attak in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has graciously contributed the following image and video showing Blast-Attak in action:

Snake Men

Snake Face: Most Gruesome of the Snake Men Warriors (1987)

Snake Face, true to his tagline, is indeed the most gruesome-looking of the Snake Men faction, and one of the creepiest figures in the vintage Masters of the Universe lineup.

Design & Development

An early concept for Snake Face appears in the Power and Honor Foundation Catalog (below). The artist isn’t mentioned (from the style I think it could perhaps be by Alan Tyler), but it seems to be a first crack at a concept involving a character with snakes popping out of his face and chest. This concept would have reused the arms and legs from Skeletor. Other than the action feature, it bears little resemblance to the final Snake Face concept.

The character was revisited (with the working name Medusa Man), and David Wolfram took the reigns at designing a character around the action feature. His design, shown below, is very close to the final look of the figure, other than some of the colors used on his costume.

Image courtesy of David Wolfram

In David’s design, the figure was to have no shared parts, other than the staff (borrowed from King Hiss) and his pelvis piece. Even the latter was given a unique sculpt on the final figure.

The cross sell art for Snake Face appears to be based on the final toy design:

We can see a hand-painted final prototype for the figure in Mattel’s 1987 dealer catalog:

Image source: Orange Slime

Production Toy

The final toy is a gruesome-looking creature with a purple, black and green costume. He features a fair amount of green overspray on his arms and head, which is something not normally seen on figures in the MOTU line. His action feature is similar to Mantennna‘s eyes – a lever on the back can be raised, causing the snakes to pop out of his face, shoulders and chest.

Snake Face is covered in warty and scaly gray skin, and his arms are wrapped in snakes. His legs are rather short, probably to compensate for his tall torso and to keep his overall height similar to other figures in the line.


Snake Face’s card features the Snake Men special logo on the front as well as character artwork by Bruce Timm (thanks to Jukka Issakainen for the tip). Errol McCarthy provides the illustrations for the action scene and instructions on the back.

Image source: Final Frontier Toys

Style Guide

Snake Face was given the following characterization in the 1987 Style Guide:

Group Affiliation: Snake Men, Evil Warriors
Role: Evil beast with a head full of shocking snakes
Power: When his snakes strike out, enemies are turned to stone.
Character Profile: Another of the Snake Men trapped under Snake Mountain an eon ago, Snake Face was called forth by King Hiss to do battle with He-Man. Snake Face was a right-hand man to King Hiss in the days of Grayskull. Snake Face can turn any enemy to stone by lashing his snakes out at him. He-Ro and He-Man are the only warriors powerful enough to reverse the horrible spell, and then only when aided by the Magic Staff or Power Sword.
Weapons: Serpent Staff and Medusa Shield.

Image via He-Man.org

As Snake Face came quite late in the line, his bio includes a mention of He-Ro and the cancelled Powers of Grayskull storyline.


Snake Face was packed with Revenge of the Snake Men, written by Phil White and illustrated by Chris Carlson. In the story, Snake Face and Sssqueeze (called by his concept name “Tanglor”) are brought form the nameless dimension by King Hiss to kidnap Queen Marlena. Snake Face uses his powers to turn anyone who gets in his way to stone:

Snake Face also appears in Energy Zoids, where he turns his power against Rotar:

Other Comic Appearances

Snake Face makes a number of appearances in other comics, including the following:

Issue 35, 1987, UK MOTU Magazine:

Image via He-Man.org

Issue 41, 1987, UK MOTU Magazine:

Image via He-Man.org

Issue 8, 1987, Star Comics Masters of the Universe:

Fall 1987, US MOTU Magazine:

Image via He-Man.org

Poster Art

Snake Face appears in a couple of posters by Earl Norem, done for the US MOTU Magazine:

He also appears in William George’s Preternia poster:

Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen

Snake Face is featured in posters by Esteban Maroto and others as well:

Masters of the Universe had its fare share of nightmarish and gruesome action figures, but Snake Face has to be one of the creepiest.

Swedish ad featuring Snake Face, courtesy of Petteri Höglund

Snake Face in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has kindly contributed the following images and video of Snake Face in action:

Snake Men

King Hiss: Dreadful disguised leader of the SNAKE MEN (1986)

Co-written with Jukka Issakainen

On a family trip in 1986 I was faced with something of a dilemma. On the way to California in the car, we had stopped off at store that had a nice selection of He-Man toys, and I was told that I could pick two. I was determined that both figures be Snake Men, but which ones to get?

I  was looking at getting Kobra Khan, or perhaps the newly released King Hiss or Rattlor. I don’t remember seeing Tung Lashor at the time. After studying all three toys and their packaging intently, I concluded that King Hiss was a cool idea, but his hidden snake body wasn’t all that great looking, so I went with the other two figures instead.

The Snake Men, with Kobra Khan retconned into the faction

Design & Development

When Mattel and Filmation were working on the She-Ra Princess of Power animated series, they designed lot of characters in concert. The Evil Horde cartoon designs were meant for She-Ra’s show because the He-Man series had ended on its second season. Characters like Rattlor and Tung Lashor were created very early on. Mattel would later come up with a third evil faction, thanks to Tim Kilpin; the Snake Men, into which King Hiss was created. Rattlor and Tung Lashor served him, with Kobra Khan was retconned into the group as well.

Some additional background from James Eatock:

As for the Snake Men, Rattlor and Tung Lashor were designed ahead of King Hiss (and included as Horde Villains based on their earliest designs). By the time King Hiss was completed and the Snake Men as a faction had been created, She-Ra was already in full swing.

James Eatock

Various minicomics acknowledged Rattlor and Tung Lashor working for the Evil Horde and used them from there on out as King Hiss’ servants. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that King Hiss was being planned for Filmation’s He-Man or She-Ra cartoons. During the She-Ra series, Rattlor and Tung Lashor sometimes were aligned with Skeletor, and sometimes with Hordak.

The idea for a figure wearing a disguise that could be taken off originated with Roger Sweet, according to Ted Mayer (Roast Gooble Dinner episode 17). The visual design was done by Ted Mayer, who played with a number of different looks that utilized the basic play feature concept. One of the most well-known of the unproduced concepts is a character with a removable plant-like outer shell, as shown in the image below:

Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation

One of Ted’s concept designs included a green-costumed monster with tangle of coiled snakes hidden beneath his costume:

Image source: http://ted-mayer.com
Another take on the hidden snake creature concept. This one has a more alien-looking disguise. Image source: Tomart’s Action Figure Digest

Ted’s concept art was quite creepy, both on the inside and on the outside. The toy design, on the other hand, was greatly toned down in comparison. The outside of the figure was given a heroic appearance. The idea was that King Hiss could trick the heroes into believing he was on their side, only to betray them and reveal the mass of snakes underneath. The mass of snakes was unfortunately limited by the constraints of having to fit inside a plastic shell depicting the human costume, so the snake part of the figure was a bit underwhelming.

King Hiss cross sell art. Image courtesy of Axel Giménez

Update: the original wax sculpt and first shot prototype of King Hiss was shared by Geeks_Antiques on Instagram:

Action Figure

The shell of the costume consisted of four parts. The front and back of the chest and head, and the two arms. The torso piece completely concealed what was underneath, but the arms were open at the back. Consequently, the backs of King Hiss’ snake arms were painted green to match the external disguise.

King Hiss was given a serpent shield and snake staff. The staff would be reused for Rattlor, Tung Lashor and Snake Face, and consequently is one of the most reused weapon designs in the MOTU line. Everything else on King Hiss was a unique piece.

On September 27, 1985, Mattel filed a patent claim on King Hiss. The inventors listed are Roger Sweet and Ted Mayer.


King Hiss’ artwork on the back was done by an unknown artist. Uniquely, it functions like a three-panel comic, telling the story of King Hiss’ gimmick.

Image source: KMKA

In Belgium, there was a special release of King Hiss that included a fold-out reversible mask in the packaging:


The 1987 Style Guide describes King Hiss in terms of his gimmick:

Power: Disguises himself as a Heroic warrior, then peels back skin to reveal a snake creature – designed to take victims by surprise.

Style Guide
From the style guide. Artwork by Errol McCarthy

There is also a fact file on all the Snake Men in the 1989 UK MOTU Annual:

Image source: He-Man.org

Comics and Stories

In King of the Snake Men, Skeletor unleashes King Hiss from an energy pool he finds in the depths of Snake Mountain. King Hiss had apparently been trapped for thousands of years. In the story (illustrated by Bruce Timm), he teams up with Skeletor to lure He-Man into a trap:

Later in the story, King Hiss tells He-Man how thousands of years ago, he was rule of an empire of Snake Men that held dominance over several other planets. He came to Eternia and took up residence in Snake Mountain. Ultimately he was banished to another dimension by the Council of Elders, until Skeletor freed him.

In the Kid Stuff story, Battle Under Snake Mountain, King Hiss rules Snake Mountain, as if Skeletor never existed:

The Summer 1986 issue of Masters of the Universe Magazine features the story, The Armies of King Hiss. Skeletor teams up with Hiss and his Snake Men against He-Man:

King Hiss shows up in quite a few issues of the UK Masters of the Universe Magazine as well:

King Hiss appears in the November 1986 Star Comics story, Snakes Alive! In the story, we learn that Rio Blast is terrified of Snakes, which King Hiss uses to his advantage:

“He-Ro, Land of Legend” and He-Man Newspaper Strips

The Filmation “He-Ro Land of Legend” development from 1986 has a snake man character which possibly is the one Gérald Forton designed, and later used in the newspaper comic strip story arc, “Vengeance of the Viper King”:

From the Dark Horse He-Man Newspaper Comic Strips Collection

In “Vengeance of the Viper King,” King Hiss has the unique look only when in his true form. In his disguised form, he looks on model with the action figure:

Powers of Grayskull

King Hiss was to be (apparently) a principal villain in the abandoned Powers of Grayskull line. Tyrantisaurus Rex was envisioned as his primary mount:

Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation/The Art of He-Man
From The Powers of Grayskull minicomic


King Hiss appears in poster art by both William George and Earl Norem:

Artwork by William George. Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen.
Artwork by Earl Norem

Errol McCarthy also created several illustrations of the character:

King Hiss also makes an appearance in the box art for Tyrantisaurs Rex and Turbodactyl, both illustrated on the front by Warren Hile:

King Hiss had his limitations as an action figure, but he was actually an interesting concept and pretty fun to play with.

King Hiss in Action

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