Heroic Warriors

Flying Fists He-Man: Heroic Leader with the Arm-Swinging Action! (1986)

I think I only encountered Flying Fists He-Man once as a kid. I don’t remember being all that impressed – I thought the transition between his neck and his head looked very strange, and the head itself looked off to me. Certainly the action feature was far less interesting to me than his immediate predecessor’s, Thunder Punch He-Man.

Image source: Nathalie NHT. From the 1986 Mattel dealer catalog. This appears to be a hand-painted hard copy/prototype

Design & Development

In terms of visual design, we get our basic look for Flying Fists He-Man from Ted Mayer. The illustration dates to December 8, 1983, and may be the genesis for both the Battle Armor and Flying Fists He-Man variants, in terms of their appearance.

The action feature itself seems to originate with Roger Sweet, who illustrates it in a concept using the standard He-Man look, and a swinging ball weapon (the page below comes from the Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog):

Update: You can see an early mockup for the figure on the side of the Eternia playset packaging, made using a regular He-Man figure – note the unpainted bracers from the original He-Man. In fact the armor almost looks like it was cropped into the photo somehow. Thanks to Nate for pointing this image out.

In the cross sell art below, we can see the finalized look for the figure, including gold and silver metallic armor, mace and shield. The mace and shield elements would spin as the figure was made to swing its arms back and forth, something that happened automatically was the waist was twisted.

One interesting note on his design – the lower edge of his chest armor features a mirror image of the standard male belt design. This was also something that showed up in an early incarnation of Tri-Klops, as captured in the cross sell artwork:

Figure & Packaging

The first First Flying Fists He-Man newspaper ad appears on February 12, 1986, and he was probably available in stores shortly before then. The packaging of the figure announces him as the “5th Anniversary” He-Man figure, which isn’t quite true. He-Man was originally released in 1982. Maybe their reasoning was that it was the “fifth year” of the line.

Flying Fists He-Man was released on an extra-large, deluxe card. As with the previous year’s Thunder Punch He-Man, the instructional panels are right below the artwork, and then the 12 characters in cross sell art are squeezed in at the bottom. The artwork at the front of the card is by William George, and the scene on the back is by Errol McCarthy:

Subsequent releases of the figure featured a color change to the font on “Flying Fists” on the front:

The figure featured modified arms that were similar to the original He-Man, but subtly different. He also featured greatly enlarged feet for greater stability. He had a lot of vac metal on his costume and accessories, which in toy language is the universal signifier of a “deluxe” figure. He also featured a removable clip on his back that functioned both as a way to store his weapon, and as a handle to help kids get a better grip when using his twisting waist/arm swinging feature. He also had a hard, solid head, which in my opinion reduces the quality of his face compared to the original hollow polyvinyl head. The images below come from eBay, as I don’t have one of these on hand to photograph.

One notable international variant is the Leo India version, as shown by spiritofsnakemountain on Instagram:

Flying Fists He-Man was also released in a gift set with Terror Claws Skeletor (images via LCG Auctions):


Below are a selection of Flying Fist He-Man ad appearances:

French catalog featuring Flying Fists He-Man

Flying Fists He-Man was featured the trade ad below, which was originally unearthed at the excellent MOTUC Figures site.

He also appears in the Mattel rebate ad below, which was originally posted on the Battle Grip site:


Flying Fists He-Man is featured in a few posters by the following artists:

Earl Norem, Motu Magazine
Earl Norem, Motu Magazine
William George Eternia Poster

There was also an unreleased piece by William George that features Flying Fists He-Man and Terror Claws Skeletor fighting over the cosmic key, which was shared some years ago by Roger Mahafy:


The primary minicomic for this variant is The Flying Fists of Power. Interestingly it features Roger Sweet’s rather minimalist concept for the figure, which just looked like a standard He-Man with a spinning mace weapon (updated to three ball ends) and an updated shield. In the story the Sorceress awards He-Man with an additional gift of “energy and spirit.” When He-Man summons the Flying Fists, he will get have additional punching abilities and his spinning mace and shield will appear in his hands. (All minicomic images come from the Dark Horse minicomic book.) (Update: Matthew Martin and Øyvind Meisford note that Flying Fists He-Man also appears in King of the Snake Men and Enter: Buzz-Saw Hordak.)

In The Terror Claws Strike he get a rather amusing visual depiction of He-Man’s flying fists power. In this comic the ability isn’t necessarily tied to the weapons. It’s really unclear how this is a new ability for He-Man, because he did similar things in the Filmation cartoon all the time. It doesn’t make a lot of sense narratively, although it does get the action feature across.

Flying Fists He-Man, still in his concept look, also appears in the unpublished Return From Terror Island Comic:

Flying Fists He-Man in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has shared the following image, and video of Flying Fists He-Man in action. Enjoy!

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11 thoughts on “Flying Fists He-Man: Heroic Leader with the Arm-Swinging Action! (1986)

  1. He-Man also invokes the power of the Flying Fists in the mini-comic “King of the Snake Men”, and uses the spinning mace weapon in “Enter: Buzz-Saw Hordak.”

  2. As a boy, I had many MOTU figures but never quite a full set – my parents were bigger on educational/puzzle toys than on action figures. As such, I never really went for the He-Man/Skeletor variants as I would prefer to use the occasions when I was allowed to choose a new figure, to get a “new character” instead of a different version of one I already had. ‘Flying Fists He-Man’ was the only variant figure I have in that original childhood collection. Not really by any planning – I was out shopping with my grandmother one school holiday, happened to see FF He-Man and Terror Claws Skeletor on sale, along with a few figures which I already had, and was allowed to choose one of them.

    So he wasn’t a figure that I’d ever really planned to go for, but I did like him. Primarily, his vac metal detailing which – although I prefer figures with removable armor – I thought looked great. His neck and head has indeed always looked a little off – neck too long, the hard head lacks some detail of the hollow versions, and looks upwards too much. But I didn’t mind too much, he was a cool looking figure.

    I do recall my surprise/disappointment at his look in the ‘The Flying Fists of Power’, which indeed shows him in standard He-Man armor, and IMO rather weedy, ‘stick’ looking weapons. With that and the “standard Filmation” portrayal of his Flying Fists powers in ‘The Terror Claws Strike’, whilst I adore all the mini-comics on a nostalgic level, it is this frequent rather limp and un- thought out “Just illustrate the new releases doing something and move on” stance that I’ve long felt makes many of the line’s later characters sometimes feel a little bit gimmick-y over the more character driven earlier figures and mini-comics.

    Flying Fists He-Man isn’t quite a classic MOTU figure nor one of my all-time favourites, but I do obviously have that nostalgia for having him in my childhood collection (all of which I still have aside from those I’ve collected since), and at very least, he did take the place of my original and by then rather worn out original He-Man, until I gave that a full careful renovation a few years later (completely with making my own new rubber bands for the legs, long before the internet and such dedicated items).

    BTW, William George’s unreleased image of FF He-Man and TC Skeletor duelling over the Cosmic Key is great. Wonder why it was never used on anything; a shame it wasn’t.

    1. The unreleased artwork looks like the prototype Cosmic Key toy that was never released. I’d bet it was to be used on it’s packaging.

    2. I got it MOTU near the end of the line, so Flying Fists He-Man was my one and only He-Man. Still has his shiny vac metal today.

  3. Great article! Thank you! I really love all the images you manage to unearth that I’ve never clapped eyes on, before.

    I had this figure as a kid, and I thought it looked cool and was extremely fun to play with, but instead of the neck looking off to me, what I noticed was that his torso looked slightly flattened compared to previous versions of the character.

  4. Never like the weird neck and the enlarged feets. I think the MOTU Origins version improves every aspect of the figure (at a more affordable price too)

  5. As a wee lad I had issues with my teeth that required regular trips to a Denist in another town. I would not complain as it ment a day off school and more importantly (if I behaved) a treat.
    Fists He-man was once of those treats and my last toe dip in the world of Masters of the Universe.
    Can’t say I recall being overly impressed by the figure ,Claws Skeletor was better even if he did wear a sports bra.

    AKA, Sir Shenanigans

  6. One of the last MOTU figs I got sometime around ’87 or so – birthday present from a relative, complete with a clearance sticker and price still on the back ($3.97 from memory, which was pretty good for a MOTU fig here in New Zealand), and I remember being super disappointed as I was well into GI Joe at this point and only had a passing interest in MOTU since seeing the film around that time.

    I liked the ‘deluxe’ look of the figure and his spinning shield, but hated the fact he didn’t come with the power sword – I was always that kid that picked a sword as a weapon vs an axe and as such, I quickly outfitted him with the gold version of the PS that came with Thunder Punch He-Man…. still looks good aesthetically I reckon.

    Pretty sure he was also the last He-Man I used in my final time playing with MOTU figures with my best mate around that time – he got Eternia for his 8th birthday and I recall using my FF version during the first setup-play with that set. In restrospect, a pretty good figure that was probably too outlandish for my traditionalist tastes at the time. And yes, that weird neck joint did my head in !!

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