Evil Horde

Grizzlor: Hairy henchman of The Evil Horde (1985)

I didn’t own Grizzlor as a kid, but my brother did, and (I got Leech and Mantenna at about the same time). Grizzlor is simultaneously hilarious and creepy, with his wild furry body and his vicious-looking face, like a cross between a Troll doll and mutant bear. With a predominantly brown color scheme, he’s actually one of the least colorful characters in the MOTU universe, but he certainly “pops” in other ways.

Grizzlor seems to have originated at Filmation. Several years back The Power and the Honor Foundation shared an early development image, reportedly created by Curtis Cim. The concept (below) is already quite well developed. Grizzlor wears an early version of the Horde insignia, some extra spikes, and sports five fingers, but otherwise he looks very close to his finished form.

Image source: The Power and Honor Foundation. Shared by Dusan M.

Another piece of Filmation development art for the character shows a look that is much closer to the appearance of the final action feature:

In another image from The Power and the Honor Foundation, we see Grizzlor in full color as depicted by Ted Mayer. He looks very close to his final toy form, except that he is holding a rather strange-looking ornate weapon. His face is quite a dark black/brown, which is how some versions of the toy were colored, although most were produced in a lighter brown color. In this version he has two visible, prominent fangs, a hallmark of the look of the action figure.

Ted Mayer came up with a couple of somewhat related hairy henchmen concepts, including a mammoth/boar-like character (who has an identical pose to Grizzlor’s concept art) and a quite primitive-looking bear-like creature who, like Grizzlor, had two prominent fangs:

The first of the above two characters is often referred to as the Horde Mammoth by fans. However, Dušan M. pointed out a couple of interesting things about him. One, he isn’t straight Horde – his “Horde” insignia feature’s Skeletor’s face rather than Hordak’s. Another concept drawing by Ted Mayer, a Skeletor/Horde variant, features this same insignia:

The other thing about the Horde Mammoth character is he has no trunk. Other than the tusks, he looks quite like a wild boar. Grizzlor is described as a “wild boar” in the 1987 Style Guide, prompting both of us to wonder if these characters aren’t quite closely connected. The Style Guide is discussed in more detail later in this post.

A late stage Grizzlor prototype appears in Mattel’s 1985 dealer catalog. The prototype matches the look of the final toy, except that it is apparently hand-painted, and the Horde emblem on his chest is yellow:

As mentioned earlier, the most common version of the toy was produced with light brown molded plastic, and there was a rarer, darker version that took after Ted Mayer’s depiction. Both versions came with a green Horde crossbow with its spring-action  gimmick. Due to his action feature (if you can call mounds of fur an action feature), he lacked waist articulation.

Grizzlor’s cross sell art depicts the more common version of the figure. Note that Grizzlor’s unique crossbow appears in white here, rather than the final green.

Image courtesy of Axel Giménez

Underneath all that fur Grizzlor had a very plain and flat body:

In the illustration on the back of Grizzlor’s card, he’s shown mid-leap in a surprise attack against Kobra Khan.

Grizzlor was sold in two gift sets with Hordak – one of them a plain JCPenny box, and a more deluxe-looking set that came with a comic book illustrated by Bruce Timm. William George illustrated the scene on the front of the box, and the back was done by Bruce Timm:

Grizzlor’s name was trademarked on September 10, 1984. The name itself implies that he’s based on a grizzly bear, although looking I wouldn’t immediately associate him with that based on his face. He’s big and furry, which is I suppose close enough. However, as mentioned earlier, according to the 1987 Style Guide (illustrated by Errol McCarthy) Grizzlor is actually a kind of wild boar-like creature. Again, this brings to mind Ted Mayer’s “Horde Mammoth” character.

Power: Ability to ravage his foes with his wicked claws.

Character Profile: This humanoid boar has two sabretooth-like tusks and a large, shaggy body. He also has sharp, dangerous claws. Grizzlor has the same strength and ferocity of a wild boar, but he is no the greatest in the smarts department. Grizzlor is the prison keeper of The Evil Horde.

Grizzlor’s final look in the She-Ra cartoon series is somewhat more human-like than his action figure counterpart, and his harness is black rather than yellow, but it’s still a close resemblance. Grizzlor could be a bumbling underling or menacing henchman, depending upon the exigencies of the story, and also oversaw Beast Island. In some ways Grizzlor was the Beast Man to Hordak’s Skeletor.

In the minicomics Grizzlor was generally quite a menacing figure, most especially in the issue that he came packed with: Grizzlor – The Legend Comes Alive! (Illustrated by Bruce Timm.)

Grizzlor also makes appearances in:

  • Mantenna and the Menace of the Evil Horde
  • Hordak – The Ruthless Leader’s Revenge
  • The Treachery of Modulok
  • The Power of the Evil Horde
  • Escape from the Slime Pit
  • The Warrior Machine

Grizzlor also appears in the 1985 Golden story, The Horde, where it’s said that he is the Horde prison guard. Here Grizzlor actually looks very close to Ted Mayer’s depiction of him:

Grizzlor appeared in a number of posters by William George, Earl Norem, Esteban Maroto, and others:

Grizzlor of course makes other appearances in a variety of comics and magazines, which is a topic I may explore in a future post.

11 thoughts on “Grizzlor: Hairy henchman of The Evil Horde (1985)

  1. Love your detailed write-ups – it’s great to have all this info and photos in the same place.

    For me, Grizzlor wasn’t a highlight. He seems a little too much like a poor man’s Beast-Man, and his action figure was far more easily ruined. I seem to recall I lost one to water damage, and the one I’ve currently got has suffered from a severe haircut my sister gave him…

    1. Thanks Owen. The desire to have this kind of information together in one place for each figure (and not finding it elsewhere) is what inspired me to start the blog.

      I found Grizzlor hilarious as a kid, and a just a bit creepy. He wasn’t mine though so I didn’t have concerns about ruining him. I don’t think my brother played with his much, though

  2. I still like mine ^_^ no damage of any note really though I don’t think I have (or lost somewhere along the way) this harness.. though I do wonder.. what was up with the crossbows? never really fully understood how the basic spring system was meant to work.. acted like a firing system but without anything to fire, nor any real trigger..

    1. The crossbows are pretty weak. You “fire” them by pressing down on the rectangular bit behind where the pieces hook together. But as you said, nothing much happens. The figures are weird and fun enough that they didn’t really need weapons.

      1. About the crossbow… the top toys crossbows were made from a harder plastic, I had Hordak from TT and remember hitting with it in my thumbnail leaving a purple stain for a while.
        Great article, been reading your blog a lot lately.

  3. I never could understand as a kid why Grizzlor would have “smaller” arms than He-Man & Co. I never would see that brute beast in him as the box’s back art would depict him. That arm sculpts would ruin the figure for me.:-)

  4. It says in bold in the Slime pit instructions not put Moss man or Grizzlor in to the Slime Pit. pfft! what self respecting Seven year old follows instructions! Since Moss man was vacationing in the Green house with the other weeds, it fell to Grizz to get snotted on! Poor Grizz, he was never the same after. I worked it into his story line that because of his crusty fur he had a nasty dose of Eternian flu. ?

  5. For me Grizzlor was like a cooler variation of Beast Man (which was my first figure; I didn’t have Grizzlor, only my friend did), although both didn’t have much of a gimmick to offer. But Grizzlor had this cool fur, which increased his “strong monster”-image. I never realized thinner arms though …

  6. Yes, he does look like a lost critter. Most of the first wave Horde guys can’t really hold anything that’s not clipped to their wrists. A strange choice!

  7. On the subject of bear vs wild boar, adult male bears are known as “boars”, while females are “sows”, and the young are “cubs”.

    Seems to me he is a bear, with the name Grizzlor, and he is described as a boar, being a large male.

    In any case, I always saw him as a bear as a kid, always liked him, but never had him.

    Enjoy your write ups immensely! Cheers!

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