Evil Warriors

Faker: Evil robot of Skeletor (1983)

When I was a kid, I was first introduced to Faker when visiting with a friend. I don’t remember him being a highly demanded figure among my peers. I liked him but I don’t remember begging my mom for a Faker figure. But among the adult collector community, Faker (along with Zodac) seems to have garnered something of a cult following. I can’t quite put my finger on why that might be, but at the gut level I’m right there with the rest of the fans.

By the time Faker was released in 1983, Mattel would have known they had a hit on their hands with Masters of the Universe. The brand had already made many millions of dollars in 1982, the year of its introduction. So was Faker released because he was cheap to make and the profit margins would be higher than other figures? Or was it because he required no new tooling and would allow Mattel to have another figure out in the market without much lead time? I tend to think it was the latter. New tooling would take time to put together, and Mattel showed they were willing to invest in new sculpts in the 1983 lineup. Meanwhile I would think they would wish to capitalize on the unexpected success of the MOTU line as quickly as possible.

In terms of design, Faker is, very simply, a He-Man figure with Skeletor’s sword and armor, recast in eye-catching candy colors.

In terms of parts reuse, no other figure was as direct a reuse of previous parts as Faker. Even Stinkor and Moss Man (reused from Mer-Man and Beast Man, respectively) got some scent added to their plastic or a coating of green fuzz, in the case of Moss Man. Faker is just Faker. There is something appealing about that design though. Maybe it’s the color scheme. Orange and blue are complimentary colors, after all.

The Faker prototype below is just a repainted He-Man figure. You can see a bit of the original color coming through on one of the legs. The prototype has the same orange color on the hair as on the armor and sword, compared to the final toy that had dark red hair. You can see this is made from an earlier He-Man figure, because it has the irregular looking belly button common on early He-Man figures. Some production Faker figures lack the belly button, just as He-Man did starting in 1983, but others retain it. The prototype below has red eyes, while the production figure had black eyes.

Prototype Faker. Image via Lulu-Berlu.com by way of Grayskull Museum

It’s possible that the idea of Faker being a robot was not the original concept for the character. In this 1982 color-changing advertisement, illustrated by Alfredo Alcala, Faker is described as having powerful muscles, and there no mention of robotic parts.

Image source: http://www.battlegrip.com/

Faker came with the sticker on the chest, mostly hidden under the armor. It looks like it’s meant to represent his robotic control panel. To me it actually looks more like a reel-to-reel tape system. I like to think that Faker would be rocking out to The Fixx as he launched his assault on Castle Grayskull.

When Faker was released in 1983, he came on the same 8-back card as the original 8 figures. He must have been released in relatively low quantities, as a carded example is tough to come by now.

A rare variant of Faker (made in Taiwan) came with Skeletor’s arms. This particular version is from 1983, but includes the updated cardback with artwork by Errol McCarthy. Unless the figure is carded, it’s really impossible to tell if the figure’s arms were swapped with Skeletors, making it a variant that really only has value if it is carded.

Faker was depicted with Skeletor’s arms in a couple of posters illustrated by William George, and in the reissue card artwork illustrated by Bruce Timm (hat tip to Antoine D.):

There is a lot that can be said about production variants of Faker. The version produced in France had bright purple trunks:

Interestingly, a few early versions of Faker (made in Taiwan) seem to have come with an orange copy of Skeletor’s belt and possibly his havoc staff too:

Image source: “Slayer” via Facelessone

For more discussion on that topic, see this thread.

Probably the most sought after production variant of Faker is the Leo Toys India version. It came with all of Skeletor’s armor and accessories in either orange or red, and a rather striking bit of paint around the eyes that resembled the Lone Ranger’s mask:

The version with pink armor seems to have been patterned after the cross sell art colors:

Faker was also unusual in that he got a re-release in 1987 after having been discontinued for years. The line was struggling at the time, and most new figures were heavily reusing old parts. It must have seemed a good time to bring Faker out of retirement.

Notably, this late version of Faker came with a hard rubber head rather than the soft polyvinyl of the original release. In my opinion the hard heads don’t look as nice. The sculpt seems a bit off and doesn’t have the nice matte finish quality of the hollow polyvinyl heads. As Rahul notes in the comments, these ones had heads cast in orange with painted on faces, instead of the blue cast heads of the original release. Some versions have the larger Thunder Punch He-Man feet as well:

Faker reissue with large feet
Faker reissue with regular feet

Faker didn’t appear in a lot of media. He didn’t show up in a mini comic until his 1987 release with the Search for Keldor mini comic, where he was swiftly dispatched with a spear to the heart from King Randor:

Faker starred in his own commercial. Apparently this was produced in 1982. Could the figure have been released in 1982? Possibly, but if so, very late in the year.

Faker doesn’t appear anywhere in the 1982 dealer Catalog. He shows up for the first time in the 1983 edition:

Image source

Faker made a brief appearance in the 1984 Masters of the Universe Annual:

He also appeared a few times in illustrations by R.L. Allen and Fred Carillo:

From the Golden Giant Picture Book coloring book (Evil Warriors version), illustrated by Fred Carillo. Image via Bustatoons Blog.
Illustrated by R.L.Allen
Illustrated by R.L. Allen

Faker made a single appearance in the Filmation cartoon. While his design was a bit boring (it’s just He-Man with glowing eyes), it made a lot more sense, plot-wise. If Faker is supposed to be an evil He-Man impersonator, he would only be effective in that role with the same coloring and clothing as the real McCoy. But then, if you wanted something like that as a kid, you would just buy two He-Man figures. I don’t know of many moms who would have gone for that.

At the end of the episode, He-Man defeats Faker and sends him falling down the bottomless pit near Castle Grayskull. Skeletor makes it known that he plans to restore Faker somehow. I like to think that either the trip down the hole or the restoration would somehow have left him permanently blue.

He’s given possibly his best origin story in the 1984 UK Masters of the Universe Annual:

Image source: Vaults of Grayskull

Finally, making up the whole of Skeletor’s evil gang is Faker, a being created by Skeletor himself with the aim of looking exactly like He-Man, to create maximum trouble and confusion. Unfortunately for Skeletor something went wrong in the spell, and Faker is a miscoloured and negative version of He-Man, easily detectable as the evil being he is. Through magic, Skeletor can make him into an exact likeness, but the spell lasts only a very short time, and the evil creature is soon revealed.

24 thoughts on “Faker: Evil robot of Skeletor (1983)

  1. I always thought that one of the cool things about Faker is that, whether intentional or not, if you take a picture of Faker and put it through a “negative” filter, he ends up in He-Man’s colors (flesh tone skin and gray armor). The effect also works on a He-Man figure.

  2. I always loved Faker, and played with him a lot. He was pretty much an original MOTU for me, as I was collecting during Wave 1 and Wave 2. It is a shame that he never got his due. He was left out of being in Skeletor’s crew in the cartoons. I have the obscure magazine and comic book appearances, and always wanted more.

    There appears to be a consensus among all the creators throughout all the various MOTU media, that he is not worth the time to develop or feature, I guess. He was supposed to become the purple skinned Bizarro version in the Filmation cartoon, but they never did a sequel after he fell into The Abyss.

    For what it’s worth, I gave him the same powers as He-Man when I played as a kid, but he could be prone to mechanical mishaps.Sometimes I would have him turn on Skeletor. Since Faker had a Power Sword and super strength, I had to push him to be a major player in my world. He really fits in well with Skeletor’s anti-heroic purple minions, like Panthor, Screeech, and Evil Lynn.

    In my mind, he is the first variant of He-Man. I got Battle Armor He-Man and Prince Adam but was not into any other He-Man variants after that, even until now.

    1. I think Faker has gotten a second lease on life in the last 15 years. He seems pretty popular with the fan community. I remember encountering him once at a friend’s house as a kid, and of course I remember seeing him on the back of the Castle Grayskull box. I think you’re right, no one thought he was worth the time to fully develop as a character. For a cheap repaint, though, he’s a really cool looking figure.

  3. It funny to me to read how under emphasized Faker was on Mattel’s part. I recall when he was first released. The rumors first hit in the school yard that so and so had, or had a friend who had, a blue He-Man and that he was bad. At first is sounded like another story that the kid who had every toy but no friends was telling to impress people, but then he brought it in. EVERYONE had to have Faker at that point, and from I recall everyone did. I don’t ever real him being difficult to find, both my brother and I had him. Faker was a huge hit among the 8 year olds that I knew. He never came across like a cheap reliant, just a bizarrely cool idea.

      1. They were going to but the long term plan never played out before the show was cancelled. In one episode Man at Arms develops a holographic robot of He-Man. Just before it’s deactivated it flashes with Faker’s blue skin. Had the show continued it would have been reactivated as the character.

  4. Faker 8-back was indeed rare in the UK too. He appeared in the shops with all the other 8-back figures around June 1983, and he was the first figure to catch my eye – over He-man and Skeletor! It was the singular concept of a blue evil-He-man that won me over to the entire world of MOTU.

    8-back Faker soon disappeared, and after a few months I was beginning to believe I had imagined seeing him. Then the 12-back version appeared with the picture of him battling He-man, and the 1984 annual soon followed. I was disappointed that Faker didn’t get much else story-wise, and not even his own mini-comic. This was planned for around 1983/84 but dropped, according to the MOTU mini-comic book, which shows the script for the Faker mini-comic.

    1. As a kid I did not like Faker. I thought it was cheap trick from Mattel to just release a blue He-man. It was also a figure that I never saw in any store here in Europe.
      But now as an adult collector I quite like him, although I don’t always see him as a robot. In my story he is more of an attempt of Skeletor to clone himself and He-man into one character. Hence the blue skin.

      1. I think they colered the wrong Heman blue on the Faker Card back by mistake. The guy hiding behind the rocks should be Faker and the guy running should be Heman. Look how evil Heman looks and why would he hide and attack some guy who is just running around.

  5. I do recall Faker being released in my area (Richmond Virginia) right around Christmas 1982. Yes, I thought “wow, what a cheap figure to slap together!” when he came out.

  6. I think to have never seen a Faker figure in my entire childhood; maybe I saw him as cross sell art, but that memory is so vague that is likely a fake one. I could say that I never knew about his existence until recent years.
    Despite being a very old and abused concept, the “evil duplicate” idea remain very popular and works almost every time regardless: Spider-Man and Venom; Kitt and Karr (Knight Rider); Spock and Mirror Spock; He-Man and Faker.
    On top of that Faker is also a machine. I remember one episode of Six Million Dollar Man and later some of the Bionic Woman where the enemies were androids and was very cool to saw them destroyed in a mess of short circuits and sparks everywhere by the hero/heroine.
    So Faker is an evil duplicate and can be destroyed (in kids’ imagination) in such way: no surprise that is a cult character now. Too bad that back in the 80′ Mattel never promoted him properly.

    The mini-comic made me laught: I imagined a kid ecxited to read about the figure that he just bought…. just to discover that the only thing the character does is being destroyed by a spear and to never appear again XD

    1. Yeah, poor Faker. He had to wait 4 years for his first minicomic appearance, and he’s immediately destroyed.

      I always thought Faker would have been really great with a color change feature, like Zartan. He could start out looking identical to He-Man, but his skin changes to blue in the sunlight, revealing that he’s an imposter.

      1. Rereading the mini comic I did wonder if there had been a miscommunication and Steven Grant thought he was writing out a long discontinued toy as canon fodder to enhance Randor’s standing rather than spotlighting a reissued toy.

        The problem with Faker seems to be that writers can’t decide if he’s a failed attempt to duplicate He-Man or a disguise that can actually convince in certain lights and so he becomes an even more indistinct character who’s easy to ignore.

  7. Hi there. I am an avid MOTU fan from India.

    I also am a keen follower of battleramblog, and I think you have done a wonderful job of collating all this information.

    I would like to contribute to your page on Faker with the following inputs:

    1) The soft head of Faker v1 (1983) was molded in blue with the hair painted on. The hard head of Faker v2 (1987) seems to have been molded in orange with the face painted later. I have come across several v2 figures with the blue paint coming off the faces (play wear/neglect).

    2) Faker v2 also had much larger feet (similar to Thunder Punch He-Man) compared to Faker v1 (regular feet).

    P.S.: I recently (around a year ago) started collecting vintage MOTU figures/vehicles/play sets with aim of acquiring the entire collection.

    I am documenting my MOTU toy restoration project on Instagram (@skele_cure).

    Please follow me 🙂

    Also, if possible, please endorse my Instagram page on your website and/or other social media 🙂

    Thanks and best wishes,

  8. Thanks Rahul. I wrote this several years ago, before I started paying more attention to these kinds of details. If I recall correctly, the V2 Faker came with both the larger Thunder Punch He-Man feet, as well as the original He-Man feet. I’ll share your Instagram page on my Twitter feed. I don’t do much on Instagram, but I followed you 🙂

  9. just a stupid thought.. i’m not a fan of Super7 and the like but if they were.. more fan based companies.. just think.. Faker but painted with a hydrochromic paint.. Looks like He-man, but when you pour water, it reveals he is Faker!.. not hard.. very possible.. Wonder if I want to buy an old junk he-man and some paint…

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