Masters of the Universe commercials had settled into a comfortable rhythm by 1984. All of them had more or less the same pacing and background music. They often ended with the tag line, “may the mightiest power prevail”, or sometimes just”yaaargh!”
I’ve been able to locate commercials for almost every item released in 1984, including Battle Armor He-Man, Battle Armor Skeletor, Orko, Prince Adam, Fisto, Clawful, Buzz-Off, Whiplash, Kobra Khan, Webstor, Roton, Dragon Walker and Snake Mountain.
I could not locate 1984 US commercials for Road Ripper, Stridor, Jitsu, Mekaneck (he appears in a 1985 commercial with Land Shark), or the Weapons Pack. I’m not sure if they exist, although if I had to guess I would think Mattel would have at least produced a commercial for Road Ripper.
One interesting note – Battle Armor He-Man appears to be an early production sample. The one featured in several of these commercial looks identical to the early version from the 1984 Mattel Dealer Catalog. This sample is a bit different from the final toy in that the “H” symbol has a darker outline and is filled in red rather than orange.He also has relatively dark-colored boots and loincloth.
Clawful is also an early production sample, with brown Skeletor boots. You can read more about the evolution of his design in the feature I wrote on Clawful several weeks back.
One nice thing about some of these commercials is that characters that didn’t feature prominently in commercials from previous years get a little more spotlight here, including Mer-Man, Zoar and Stratos.
Continuing from last week when I covered all of the US toy commercials released in 1982, let’s take a look at what came out the following year. In 1983, Mattel released commercials that technically featured every new product, although there were no ads that I know of solely dedicated to Evil-Lyn, Tri-Klops, Panthor, Zoar or Screeech.
Probably my favorite of the commercials released in 1983 is this ad featuring all of the MOTU product available to date. Note that Zodac is grouped with the Evil Warriors:
The little kid at the end I think perfectly captures my reaction to these toys when I was that age.
The Man-E-Faces commercial has one of my favorite lines of dialogue:
Dad: “He-Man, he’s your friend?”
Boy (speaking as He-Man): “Friend and ally. He’s just kind of weird sometimes.”
The Ram Man commercial shows off Ram Man’s action feature quite well, but also highlights the original play pattern behind the Castle Grayskull playset – that it could be controlled by either the heroes or the villains at any time.
The Trap Jaw commercial uses a stand-off with He-Man to showcase all of Trap Jaw’s unique gimmicks and action features, with the curious exception of the figure’s articulated jaw:
I included the following commercial in my post for 1982 US He-Man commercials, as there seems to be a chance that it was released in 1982. However, as Faker is generally grouped with the 1983 wave, I’ll include it here as well:
I don’t remember seeing this Attak Track commercial as a kid, but if I had I would have been begging my mom for one. This thing looks unstoppable (or at least, it can’t be stopped by cardboard props):
There were actually two slightly different versions of the Point Dread and Talon Fighter commercial. One was narrated by Peter Cullen (best known as the voice of Optimus Prime), and the other by an unknown voice actor (hat tip to Grimbot2).
The facial expressions of the kid holding Skeletor are pretty priceless.
For kids who grew up on Saturday morning cartoons, toy commercials were a reason to stay glued to the old Curtis-Mathes.
The first four years of Masters of the Universe commercials were thematically unified by the underlying cave man chant in the background of almost all of them – “He-Man, He-Man!”
The commercials don’t typically come to us date stamped, so the year of release has to be inferred from the products featured. There are also, no doubt, commercials that were produced which have not yet surfaced.
One of the most fascinating commercials is this “lost” Masters of the Universe Commercial produced by Filmation, before they produced the weekly cartoon. It contains a mixture of animation and live actors, and features He-Man, Teela, Man-At-Arms, Skeletor, Beast Man, Mer-Man, Castle Grayskull, and Battle Ram. Unlike the Filmation cartoon, the animation here is quite detailed and true to the design of the toys. In the case of Teela, her animated design looks pretty close to the prototype Teela, especially in regards to her spear and shield.
Interestingly, the above sequence where Teela throws her spear to keep He-Man from falling through the trap door is repeated in the 1983 DC Comics story, “Within These Walls… Armageddon!”
The first conventional, live action He-Man commercial introduces us to He-Man and Skeletor, who are fighting over the power of Castle Grayskull. Castle Grayskull here (and in the other commercials released in 1982) is not exactly a prototype, but it is hand-painted with a much nicer than typical application of greens and blacks. This version also appeared in early catalogs and print ads:
The next live action commercial released in 1982 features He-Man fighting against Beast Man. This time the focus is more on the Castle and its interior than the characters:
I’m not entirely sure that the fourth commercial (below) was released in 1982. I’ve seen it included with in a series of commercial labeled 1982. Based on that I will include it here, with an asterisk. Faker is generally included in the 1983 wave of figures, but there is some indication he may have come out late in 1982.
The He-Man vs Faker commercial is a little unique in that it includes a bit of a backstory for Faker. “Skeletor” tells the audience that he created an evil doppelganger of He-Man to destroy the real He-Man. The actors reference the “He-Man” chant, although it doesn’t actually appear in this commercial:
If I had to guess an order to these commercials, I would say that He-Man vs Skeletor (live action) came first. He-Man vs Beast Man was probably second. The animated commercial was likely third (based on its inclusion of additional characters that were developed after He-Man, Skeletor and Beast Man) and the Faker commercial was almost certainly done last.