History

Masters of the Universe Timeline (1971-1987)

In my continuing quest to understand the history of the vintage Masters of the Universe toyline, I’ve put together the following timeline. It’s generally focused on toy design, drawing dates from concept artwork, internal Mattel documents, patent filings, trademark filings, and even the Masters of the Universe Bible. My goal here is to give readers a sense of how the He-Man toyline developed and evolved. I’ve also included a few dates gleaned from the CPI (Conan Properties International) vs Mattel court cases. I believe this will help put to bed the idea that He-Man started out as a Conan figure. While He-Man was certainly influenced by Conan as depicted by Frank Frazetta, the He-Man project predates Mattel’s work on the Conan property by some time.

I drew on a number of different sources in compiling this information. Those sources include:

This is by no means an exhaustive timeline. I included only those pieces of information that were dated in some way. That includes information from court cases that was assigned an approximate date, like an early 1981 date for Tony Guerrero’s He-Man prototype. That also means that undated material like Mark Taylor’s Demo Man concept or Roger Sweet’s Mekaneck concept are not included in the timeline. I could of course infer dates for this kind of material, but I wanted to avoid guessing and stick to known facts.

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I also have stayed away from dates tied to media not directly related to toy production. There are many specific dates available for individual episodes of the Filmation He-Man cartoon, for instance, but that is really outside of the parameters of this particular project.

I have only included a few images of concept designs here – some of them appear in earlier posts in this blog, and almost all of them appear in the sources I drew from. Unfortunately it would not be practical to try to include all of them in this post.

Finally, I’ve included some names that were listed in the Masters of the Universe Bible. The Bible itself is dated December 1, 1982, which gives us an early (if not exact) date for at least the conceptual existence of characters like Orko (or Gorpo, as he was first named) and Jitsu (or Chopper).

Update: on December 28, 2022, I updated this post with additional dates from previous research. That includes “first use in commerce” dates from the US Trademark office, which they say means:

“A date of first use in commerce is the date when (1) the goods were first sold or transported, or the services were first rendered, under the mark in a type of commerce that may be lawfully regulated by the U.S. Congress (such as interstate commerce or commerce between the United States and a foreign country), and (2) such use was bona fide and in the ordinary course of trade.”

Update 2: On January 1, 2023 I added first newspaper ad appearance dates from this article.

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1971

“King of Styx” – illustration for a short story by Mark Taylor. Some elements later reused for Skeletor. Image courtesy of Rebecca Salari Taylor

1971: “The King of Styx” concept, by Mark Taylor

1979

Torak, by Mark Taylor – 1979. Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation

1979: First Castle Grayskull sketch, by Mark Taylor
1979: Torak (very early He-Man) sketch, by Mark Taylor
08/15/1979: Category Management Teams memo

1980

December 1980: Roger Sweet’s “He-Man” trio; the barbarian figure was based on designs by Mark Taylor

05/22/1980: Fantasy Make Believe idea disclosure form
06/11/1980: Male Action Figure attributes list
09/08/1980: Figure Attributes list
09/21/1980: Space/Monster/Fantasy Figures budgeted hours form
11/03/1980: Megaton Man project request form
11/??/1980: Work started on “He-Man trio”, Roger Sweet with Mark Taylor designing barbarian costume (late November)
12/??/1980: He-Man trio presented at Mattel Product Conference (mid-December)
12/30/1980: He-Man Characters & Accessories idea disclosure form

1981

Tony Guerrero’s early 1982 He-Man prototype. Image source: Tomart’s Action Figure Digest.

1981: Bird Man (Stratos) concept, by Mark Taylor
1981: Mer-Man concept, by Mark Taylor
1981: Castle Grayskull concept, by Mark Taylor
1981: Battle Cat concept, by Mark Taylor
1981: Sensor (Zodac) concept, by Mark Taylor
1981: Battle Tester/Combat Trainer concept, by Mark Taylor
1981: Heroic Figure (He-Man) concept, by Mark Taylor
1981: Heroic Figure (He-Man) battles plant monster concept, by Mark Taylor
01/06/1981: He-Man Vehicles and Accessories idea disclosure form (modular vehicles)
01/23/1981: Drawing by Colin Bailey depicting Mark Taylor working on He-Man project
03/30/1981: De-Man (Skeletor) concept, by Mark Taylor
04/01/1981: Man-At-Arms concept, by Mark Taylor
04/02/1981: Tree Man (Beast Man) concept, by Mark Taylor
04/06/1981: He-Man (tan boots) concept, by Mark Taylor
04/07/1981: Battle Ram (tank treads version) concept, by Ted Mayer
04/24/1981: Memorandum urging negotiation for Conan license
04/27/1981: Revised Battle Ram concept art drawings, by Ted Mayer
05/03/1981: He-Man (red/yellow boots) concept, by Mark Taylor
05/05/1981: CPI draft licensing agreement sent
05/28/1981: Female Warrior (Teela) concept, by Mark Taylor
05/28/1981: Battle Ram control drawing, by Ted Mayer
06/03/1981: Sorceress concept, by Mark Taylor
06/05/1981: Battle Chariot concept, by Ted Mayer
07/??/1981: He-Man designed by this month, per CPI vs Mattel lawsuit
07/09/1981: Draft Skeletor toy head design document
07/14/1981: Memorandum discussing Mattel’s presentation of He-Man to Toys ‘R’ Us
07/23/1981: Tony Guerrero worked on Conan toys from this date until Sept 11, 1981
07/31/1981: CPI and Mattel entered license agreement to manufacture toys based on Conan movie
08/10/1981: Attak Trak mechanism patent filed (non-Mattel)
09/16/1981: Mer-Man sword design concept, by Mark Taylor
09/30/1981: “Proprietary Line Concepts” document (Megaton Man, Kid Gallant, Robin & The Space Hoods, Monster Fantasy/He-Man)
11/28/1981: King of Castle Grayskull published per copyright records
11/28/1981: He-Man and the Power Sword published per copyright records
11/28/1981: The Vengeance of Skeletor published per copyright records
12/08/1981: He-Man first use in commerce
12/08/1981: Battle Cat first use in commerce
12/08/1981: Battle Ram first use in commerce
12/08/1981: Beast Man first use in commerce
12/08/1981: Man-At-Arms first use in commerce
12/08/1981: Teela first use in commerce
12/08/1981: Mer-Man first use in commerce
12/08/1981: Stratos first use in commerce
12/08/1981: Wind Raider first use in commerce
12/08/1981: Zodac first use in commerce
12/08/1981: Masters of the Universe first use in commerce
12/08/1981: Filmation animated commercial retakes shot
12/14/1981: He-Man trademarked
12/14/1981: Teela trademarked
12/14/1981: Man-At-Arms trademarked
12/14/1981: Stratos trademarked
12/14/1981: Wind Raider trademarked
12/14/1981: Battle Ram trademarked
12/14/1981: Beast Man trademarked
12/14/1981: Mer-Man trademarked
12/14/1981: Zodac trademarked
12/14/1981: Masters of the Universe trademarked
12/21/1981: Battle Cat trademarked
12/21/1981: Castle Grayskull Trap Door patent filed
12/28/1981: Skeletor first use in commerce
12/28/1981: Castle Grayskull first use in commerce

1982

Attak Trak concept drawing, by Ted Mayer – Mark 23, 1982. Image courtesy of Ted Mayer

1982: Gargo/Gargoyle dragon concept, by Mark Taylor
1982: Ram Man concept, by Mark Taylor
1982: Man-E-Faces concept, by Mark Taylor
01/??/1982: Mattel requests termination of Conan license agreement
01/15/1982: Castle Grayskull trademarked
01/15/1982: Skeletor trademarked
02/17/1982: Mattel introduces new “Masters of the Universe” toy line at Toy Fair
03/01/1982: Possible debut of the He-Man toyline, based on rebate offer date in first mini comic
03/04/1982: Attak Trak control drawing, by Ted Mayer
03/23/1982: Attak Trak concept, by Ted Mayer
04/08/1982: DC Comics: From Eternia With Death!
05/13/1982: Earliest known newspaper ad for MOTU
05/13/1982: First Skeletor newspaper ad
05/13/1982: First Man-At-Arms newspaper ad
05/13/1982: First He-Man newspaper ad
05/13/1982: First Beast Man newspaper ad
05/21/1982: Trap Jaw concept, by Colin Bailey
06/03/1982: First Battle Ram newspaper ad
06/03/1982: First Battle Cat newspaper ad
06/03/1982: First Castle Grayskull newspaper ad (“Castle Grey Skull”)
06/03/1982: First Stratos newspaper ad (pictured, not named)
06/03/1982: First Zodac newspaper ad (pictured, not named)
06/09/1982: First Teela newspaper ad
06/18/1982: First Stratos newspaper ad (mentioned by name)
07/05/2022: CPI and Mattel entered into a termination agreement
07/??/1982: Wasp Man (Buzz-Off) concept, by Colin Bailey
07/??/1982: Lizard Man (Whiplash) concept, by Colin Bailey
07/22/1982: First Wind Raider newspaper ad
08/08/1982: First Mer-Man newspaper ad (mentioned by name)
08/08/1982: First Zodac newspaper ad (mentioned by name)
08/26/1982: DC Comics Fate Is The Killer
09/21/1982: Zoar first use in commerce
09/21/1982: Ram Man first use in commerce
09/21/1982: Man-E-Faces first use in commerce
09/21/1982: Trap Jaw first use in commerce
09/21/1982: Attak Trak first use in commerce
09/21/1982: Point Dread & Talon Fighter first use in commerce
09/27/1982: Attak Trak trademarked
09/27/1982: Man-E-Faces trademarked
09/27/1982: Point Dread & The Talon Fighter trademarked
09/27/1982: Ram Man trademarked
09/27/1982: Trap Jaw trademarked
09/27/1982: Zoar trademarked
10/05/1982: Sultra (Evil-Lyn) concept, by Colin Bailey
10/14/1982: DC Comics The Key To Castle Grayskull
10/25/1982: Castle Grayskull copyright registered
10/26/1982: Teela copyright registered
11/04/1982: Battle Ram copyright registered
11/04/1982: Beast Man copyright registered
11/04/1982: He-Man copyright registered
11/04/1982: Man-At-Arms copyright registered
11/04/1982: Mer-Man copyright registered
11/04/1982: Skeletor copyright registered
11/04/1982: Stratos copyright registered
11/04/1982: Wind Raider copyright registered
11/04/1982: Zodac copyright registered
11/11/1982: DC Comics Within These Walls… Armageddon!
11/22/1982: Tri-Klops first use in commerce
12/01/1982: Masters of the Universe Bible created. First ever character/place mentions include: Marlena, Tri-Klops, Snake Mountain, Panthor, Gorpo, Delora, Ram Man, Spy Man, Bugoff (Buzz-Off), Tri-Trak, Roton, Faker, Black Widow (Webstor) Fang Man, Chopper (Jitsu) Tornado Traveler, War Sled (evil Battle Ram), Grinder vehicle
12/07/1982: King of Castle Grayskull copyright registered
12/08/1982: He-Man and the Power Sword copyright registered
12/10/1982: Tri-Klops trademarked
12/28/1982: The Vengeance of Skeletor copyright registered

1983

Dragon Walker concept by Ed Watts, 1983. Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation.

01/11/1983: Evil-Lyn first use in commerce
01/21/1983: Evil-Lyn trademarked
01/21/1983: Heroic Warriors trademarked
01/21/1983: Evil Warriors trademarked
02/09/1983: Panthor first use in commerce
02/09/1983: Screeech first use in commerce
02/16/1983: Panthor trademarked
02/16/1983: Screeech trademarked
02/20/1983: First Man-E-Faces newspaper ad
02/22/1983: Battle Cat copyright registered
02/25/1983: Ram Man copyright registered
02/25/1983: Man-E-Faces copyright registered
03/15/1983: Faker first use in commerce
04/04/1983: Attak Trak copyright registered
04/04/1983: Faker copyright registered
04/14/1983: First “Buy 3 Get 1 Free” offer ad (Wun-Dar aka Savage He-Man aka Wonder Bread He-Man)
04/17/1983: First Faker newspaper ad
05/11/1983: First Ram Man newspaper ad
05/13/1983: Prince Adam first use in commerce
05/23/1983: Prince Adam trademarked
05/25/1983: Faker trademarked
05/25/1983: Point Dread trademarked
05/25/1983: Talon Fighter trademarked
06/21/1983: Evil-Lyn copyright registered
06/30/1983: First Evil-Lyn newspaper ad
06/30/1983: First Tri-Klops newspaper ad
07/15/1983: First Attak Trak newspaper ad
08/04/1983: First Talon Fighter newspaper ad
08/05/1983: Mekaneck first use in commerce
08/05/1983: Fisto first use in commerce
08/05/1983: Jitsu first use in commerce
08/05/1983: Whiplash first use in commerce
08/05/1983: Clawful first use in commerce
08/05/1983: Buzz-Off first use in commerce
08/05/1983: Roton first use in commerce
08/05/1983: Road Ripper first use in commerce
08/05/1983: Stridor first use in commerce
08/05/1983: Snake Mountain first use in commerce
08/05/1983: Battle For Eternia first use in commerce
08/15/1983: Snake Mountain trademarked
08/18/1983: Webstor first use in commerce
08/22/1983: Battle For Eternia trademarked
08/22/1983: Buzz-Off trademarked
08/22/1983: Clawful trademarked
08/22/1983: Fisto trademarked
08/22/1983: Jitsu trademarked
08/22/1983: Mekaneck trademarked
08/22/1983: Road Ripper trademarked
08/22/1983: Roton trademarked
08/22/1983: Stridor trademarked
08/22/1983: Whiplash trademarked
08/28/1983: First Trap Jaw newspaper ad
09/05/1983: Filmation He-Man cartoon debuts (UK)
09/17/1983: Gyro (early Roton) concept, by Ed Watts
09/19/1983: Spider Attack Vehicle (early Spydor) concept, by Ed Watts
09/19/1983: Ball Buster (early Bashasaurus) concept, by Ed Watts
09/21/1983: First Screeech newspaper ad (spelled “Screech”)
09/22/1983: Zap ‘N’ Go vehicle concept, by Ted Mayer
09/22/1983: First Panthor newspaper ad
09/23/1983: First Zoar newspaper ad
09/26/1983: Dungeon concept, by Ted Mayer
09/26/1983: Filmation He-Man cartoon debuts (USA)
09/29/1983: Vehicle Launcher (very early Road Ripper) concept, by Ted Mayer
11/18/1983: Masters Playset (two towers) concept, by Ted Mayer
12/05/1983: Early Fright Zone concept, by Ed Watts
12/05/1983: Webstor trademarked
12/08/1983: Dragon concept, by Ed Watts
12/08/1983: Dragon concept (without helmet), by Ed Watts
12/08/1983: Flying Fists He-Man/Battle Armor He-Man concept, by Ted Mayer
12/14/1983: First Mekaneck newspaper ad
12/28/1983: Trap Jaw copyright registered
12/29/1983: Mekaneck patent filed
12/29/1983: Battle Armor He-Man patent filed
1983: Dragon Walker concept, by Ed Watts
1983: Snake Mountain packaging sketch, by William George
1983: Dragon Walker with Land Shark packaging sketch, by William George

1984

Torton, by Ed Watts – February 9, 1984. Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation

01/06/1984: Kobra Khan first use in commerce
01/06/1984: Battle Armor first use in commerce
01/10/1984: Dragon Walker patent filed
01/13/1984: Tri-Klops copyright registered
01/25/1984: First Road Ripper newspaper ad
01/27/1984: Battle Armor trademarked
01/27/1984: Kobra Khan trademarked
01/27/1984: The Fright Zone trademarked
02/09/1984: Torton concept, by Ed Watts
02/16/1984: Road Ripper copyright registered
03/11/1984: First Battle Armor He-Man newspaper ad
03/11/1984: First Battle Armor Skeletor newspaper ad
03/11/1984: First Roton newspaper ad
03/22/1984: First Prince Adam newspaper ad
03/22/1984: First Orko appearance in stores (costumed actor- unclear if that means toy was available)
03/29/1984: Hordak concept, by Ted Mayer
04/20/1984: Point Dread & Talon Fighter copyright registered
04/20/1984: Roton copyright registered
04/28/1984: First Buzz-Off newspaper ad
04/28/1984: First Whiplash newspaper ad
04/30/1984: Mekaneck copyright registered
04/30/1984: Stridor copyright registered
05/07/1984: Buzz-Off copyright registered
05/07/1984: Whiplash copyright registered
05/11/1984: First Dragon Walker newspaper ad
05/15/1984: Battle Armor He-Man copyright registered
06/01/1984: Horned helmet warrior woman concept, by Ted Mayer
06/03/1984: TM action figure concept, by Ted Mayer
06/03/1984: First Snake Mountain newspaper ad
06/03/1984: First Stridor newspaper ad
06/06/1984: Modular Man (Multi-Bot) concept, by Ted Mayer
06/07/1984: Horde Octopus Woman (Octavia) concept, by Ted Mayer
06/15/1984: Snout Spout concept, by Ted Mayer
06/15/1984: Dragon Walker copyright registered
06/18/1984: Walking skull vehicle concept, by Jim Keifer
06/19/1984: Early Megator concept, by Ted Mayer
07/06/1984: Chest cannon He-Man concept, by Ted Mayer
07/06/1984: Multi-Bot concept, by Ted Mayer
07/07/1984: Chest monster Skeletor concept, by Ted Mayer
07/07/1984: Transparent Man (Roboto) concept, by Ted Mayer
07/07/1984: Jester figure (Acrobad) concept, by Ted Mayer
07/08/1984: Vulture figure concept, by Ted Mayer
07/08/1984: Rotary Man (early Hurricane Hordak) concept, by Ted Mayer
07/08/1984: Horde Mummy concept, by Ted Mayer
07/08/1984: Stilt Stalkers concept, by Ted Mayer
07/08/1984: Helicopter accessory and Claw Climbing accessory concepts,, by Ted Mayer
07/08/1984: Jet Sled (close to final) concept, by Ted Mayer
07/09/1984: Handsome and Basher concepts, by Ted Mayer
07/10/1984: Megalaser concept, by Ted Mayer
07/10/1984: Octavia (colored) concept, by Ted Mayer
07/12/1984: Tung Lashor concept, by Ted Mayer
07/13/1984: Snout Spout concept, by Ted Mayer
07/13/1984: Masters Gigor concept, by Ed Watts
07/13/1984: Fright Fighter Concept, by Ed Watts
07/13/1984: Mantor (Mantisaur) concept, by Ed Watts
07/13/1984: Battle For Eternia game concept, by Ed Watts
07/13/1984: Attack Pose Panthor concept, by Ed Watts
07/13/1984: Dart (Laser Bolt) concept, by Ed Watts
07/13/1984: Ted Mayer unproduced concepts: Big Foot, Snowman, Green Witch, Archer Woman
07/13/1984: Ed Watts unproduced concepts: Cyclo Marauder, War Wing, Monster Walker, Dungeon, Tyroar, Disc Blaster
07/15/1984: Turbosaurus (early Gigantosaur) concept, by Ed Watts
07/16/1984: Weapons Factory concept, by Jim Keifer
07/22/1984: Land Shark & Battle Armor Skeletor packaging sketch, by William George
08/03/1984: First Fisto newspaper ad
08/30/1984: Land Shark first use in commerce
08/30/1984: Stinkor first use in commerce
08/30/1984: Hordak first use in commerce
08/30/1984: Leech first use in commerce
08/30/1984: Mantenna first use in commerce
08/30/1984: Grizzlor first use in commerce
08/30/1984: Spikor first use in commerce
08/30/1984: Two Bad first use in commerce
08/30/1984: Spydor first use in commerce
08/30/1984: Fright Zone first use in commerce
08/30/1984: Thunder Punch He-Man first use in commerce
09/09/1984: First Webstor newspaper ad
09/10/1984: Grizzlor trademarked
09/10/1984: Hordak trademarked
09/10/1984: The Horde trademarked
09/10/1984: Land Shark trademarked
09/10/1984: Leech trademarked
09/10/1984: Mantenna trademarked
09/10/1984: Spikor trademarked
09/10/1984: Spydor trademarked
09/10/1984: Stinkor trademarked
09/10/1984: Thunder Punch trademarked
09/10/1984: Two Bad trademarked
09/15/1984: Canyon Hopper concept, by Ed Watts
09/18/1984: Motorized walking monster armor concept, by Ed Watts
09/24/1984: Dragon Fly (Fright Fighter) concept, by Ed Watts
09/29/1984: Transforming figure concept, by Ed Watts
10/03/1984: Firepower Man (Rio Blast) concept, by Ed Watts
10/12/1984: Clawful and Buzz-Off mentioned as popular toys in newspaper story
10/24/1984: First Kobra Khan newspaper ad
10/25/1984: First Clawful newspaper ad
10/25/1984: First Orko newspaper ad (actual toy)
11/08/1984: Dragon Blaster Skeletor first use in commerce
11/08/1984: Modulok first use in commerce
11/08/1984: Battle Bones first use in commerce
11/08/1984: Night Stalker first use in commerce
11/08/1984: The Evil Horde first use in commerce
11/08/1984: Bashasaurus first use in commerce
11/13/1984: Land Shark patent filed
11/18/1984: First Jitsu newspaper ad
11/23/1984: Bashasaurus trademarked
11/23/1984: Night Stalker trademarked
11/23/1984: The Evil Horde trademarked
11/29/1984: Battle Armor Skeletor copyright registered
12/01/1984: Engine Man (Dragstor) concept, by Ed Watts
12/07/1984: Moss Man first use in commerce
12/11/1984: Conan Properties, Inc. v. Mattel Inc. lawsuit
12/14/1984: Battle Bones patent filed
12/14/1984: Sy-Klone patent filed
12/17/1984: Mantenna patent filed
12/19/1984: Dragon Blaster trademarked
12/19/1984: Modulok trademarked
12/19/1984: Moss Man trademarked
12/24/1984: Two Bad patent filed
12/24/1984: Jitsu copyright registered
12/24/1984: Kobra Khan copyright registered
12/24/1984: Clawful copyright registered
12/24/1984: Webstor copyright registered
12/28/1984: Battle Bones trademarked
1984: Mantisaur concept variations/for “New Ventures”
1984: Battle Armor Skeletor & Panthor packaging sketch, by William George
1984: Dragon Blaster Skeletor packaging sketch, by William George
1984: Jaws I, Jaws III, various unproduced concept vehicles for “New Ventures”

1985

Eternia sketch, by Ted Mayer

01/03/1985: Roboto patent filed
01/03/1985: Thunder Punch He-Man patent filed
01/04/1985: Bashasaurus patent filed
01/13/1985: First Land Shark newspaper ad
01/24/1985: First Moss Man newspaper ad
01/24/1985: First Stinkor newspaper ad
01/31/1985: Snake Mountain copyright registered
02/05/1985: Wolf head Eternia concept, by Ted Mayer
02/25/1985: Battle Bones copyright registered
02/26/1985: Early Blast Attak concept, by Mark Jones
02/28/1985: First Roboto newspaper ad
02/28/1985: First Two Bad newspaper ad
03/29/1985: Seaman (Scubattack) concept, by Alan Tyler
03/31/1985: First Bashasaurus newspaper ad
03/31/1985: First Battle Bones newspaper ad
04/05/1985: Fright Zone puppet tooling method patent filed
04/18/1985: Heroic Giant (Tytus) concept, by Alan Tyler
04/22/1985: Fisto copyright registered
05/22/1985: Land Shark copyright registered
05/22/1985: Bashasaurus copyright registered
05/22/1985: Roboto copyright registered
05/22/1985: Two Bad copyright registered
05/30/1985: First Spikor newspaper ad
05/30/1985: Sy-Klone first use in commerce
05/30/1985: Flying Fists He-Man first use in commerce
05/30/1985: Terror Claws Skeletor first use in commerce
05/30/1985: Rokkon first use in commerce
05/30/1985: Stonedar first use in commerce
05/30/1985: Rattlor first use in commerce
05/30/1985: Tung Lashor first use in commerce
05/30/1985: Laser Bolt first use in commerce
06/01/1985: First Spydor newspaper ad
06/14/1985: First Night Stalker newspaper ad
06/14/1985: Laser Bolt trademarked
06/14/1985: Terror Claws trademarked
06/15/1985: Gyrattacker concept, by Ted Mayer
06/17/1985: Flying Fists trademarked
06/17/1985: Rattlor trademarked
06/17/1985: Rokkon trademarked
06/17/1985: Stonedar trademarked
06/17/1985: Sy-Klone trademarked
06/17/1985: Tung Lashor trademarked
06/24/1985: Slime Pit trademarked
07/08/1985: Spydor patent filed
07/25/1985: Slasher/Punjab concept, by Roger Sweet
08/08/1985: First Dragon Blaster Skeletor newspaper ad (implied)
08/08/1985: First Hordak Newspaper ad (costumed actor appearance)
08/08/1985: First Thunder Punch He-Man newspaper ad
08/20/1985: First Grizzlor newspaper ad
08/20/1985: First Hordak newspaper ad (actual toy)
08/20/1985: First Leech newspaper ad
08/20/1985: First Mantenna newspaper ad
08/25/1985: First Dragon Blaster Skeletor newspaper ad (explicitly shown)
08/30/1985: First Sy-Klone newspaper ad
09/04/1985: Triceratops (very early Bionatops) concept, by Mark Jones
09/04/1985: Turbodactyl concept, by Mark Jones
09/09/1985: Horde Slurb concept, by Mark Jones
09/13/1985: Unproduced Alan Tyler concepts: Dragon Lord, Sorcerer, Steel Kill
09/13/1985: Laser Bolt patent filed
09/14/1985: First Fright Zone newspaper ad
09/16/1985: Secrets of Grayskull “New Notes” document (Grayskull Tower/King Hiss/etc.)
09/22/1985: Early Jet Sled concept, by Ted Mayer
09/25/1985: Horde Trooper patent filed
09/27/1985: King Hiss patent filed
09/27/1985: Megalaser patent filed
09/28/1985: First Modulok newspaper ad
10/04/1985: Fright Zone patent filed
10/10/1985: Grizzlor copyright registered
10/10/1985: Mantenna copyright registered
10/10/1985: Moss Man copyright registered
10/10/1985: Spikor copyright registered
10/10/1985: Spydor copyright registered
10/10/1985: Sy-Klone copyright registered
10/10/1985: Thunder Punch He-Man copyright registered
10/11/1985: Hurricane Hordak patent filed
10/16/1985: Modulok copyright registered
10/17/1985: Secrets of Grayskull Preliminary Story Background (Eternia/King Hiss/etc.)
11/04/1985: Medusa-Man (Snake Face) concept, by David Wolfram
11/06/1985: Snake Men first use in commerce
11/06/1985: Snout Spout first use in commerce
11/06/1985: Multi-Bot first use in commerce
11/06/1985: Horde Trooper first use in commerce
11/06/1985: Mantisaur first use in commerce
11/12/1985: Horde Trooper trademarked
11/12/1985: Mantisaur trademarked
11/12/1985: Multi-Bot trademarked
11/12/1985: Snake Men trademarked
11/12/1985: Snout Spout trademarked
11/12/1985: Leech copyright registered
11/21/1985: Tyrantisaurus concept, by David Wolfram
11/22/1985: Blasterhawk first use in commerce
11/25/1985: Laser Bolt copyright registered
11/25/1985: Hordak copyright registered
11/25/1985: Fright Zone copyright registered
11/26/1985: Crack-Pot (Blast Attak) concept, by Richard Lepik
12/06/1985: Streak concept, by Alan Tyler
12/09/1985: Rio Blast first use in commerce
12/09/1985: Extendar first use in commerce
12/12/1985: Blasterhawk trademarked
12/16/1985: Evil Giant (Megator) concept, by Alan Tyler
1985: “The Slime Pit” finished painting, by William George
1985: Hurricane Hordak pencils, by William George
1985: Flying Fists He-Man pencils, by William George

1986

Rokkon/Stonedar patent illustration – filed January 14, 1986

01/09/1986: Extendar trademarked
01/09/1986: Rio Blast trademarked
01/11/1986: First Laser Bolt Newspaper ad
01/11/1986: First Slime Pit Newspaper ad
01/14/1986: Rokkon/Stonedar patent filed
01/15/1985: Triceratops (Bionotops) concept, by David Wolfram
02/02/1986: First Rokkon newspaper ad
02/02/1986: First Stonedar newspaper ad
02/11/1986: Rokkon copyright registered
02/11/1986: Stonedar copyright registered
02/12/1986: First Flying Fists He-Man newspaper ad
02/12/1986: First Terror Claws Skeletor newspaper ad
02/21/1986: First King Hiss newspaper ad (figure coming in April)
02/21/1986: First Rattlor newspaper ad (figure coming in April)
02/21/1986: First Tung Lashor newspaper ad (figure coming in April)
03/07/1986: Fright Fighter first use in commerce
03/07/1986: Stilt Stalkers first use in commerce
03/15/1986: Comet Warriors trademarked
03/21/1986: Battle For Eternia (game) trademarked
03/21/1986: Fright Fighter trademarked
03/24/1986: Stilt Stalker trademarked
04/07/1986: Eternia first use in commerce
04/07/1986: Jet Sled first use in commerce
04/23/1986: First Dragstor newspaper ad
05/01/1986: First King Hiss newspaper ad (figure listed as available)
05/10/1986: First Rattlor newspaper ad (figure listed as available)
05/10/1986: First Tung Lashor newspaper ad (figure listed as available)
05/11/1986: First Mantisaur newspaper ad
05/12/1986: Flying Fists He-Man copyright registered
05/12/1986: Rattlor copyright registered
05/12/1986: Tung Lashor copyright registered
05/12/1986: Mantisaur copyright registered
05/14/1986: The Multiples (heroic) concept, by James McElroy
05/16/1986: Monstroid first use in commerce
05/19/1986: Terror Claws Skeletor copyright registered
05/28/1986: Snout Spout copyright registered
05/28/1986: Dragstor copyright registered
06/03/1986: First Blasterhawk newspaper ad
06/05/1986: Sorceress first use in commerce
06/05/1986: Mosquitor first use in commerce
06/05/1986: Buzz-Saw Hordak first use in commerce
06/09/1986: Tower Tools/Cliff Climber/Scubattack mechanism patent filed
06/14/1986: Sticky Minions concept, by James McElroy
06/14/1986: Spider People Centiped concept, by James McElroy
06/15/1986: The Multiples (evil) concept, by James McElroy
06/16/1986: Recording Sound Playset concept, by James McElroy
06/18/1986: Spider People Tarantula concept, by James McElroy
06/20/1986: The Lockers concept, by James McElroy
06/20/1986: Skeletor Dragon Disguise concept, by James McElroy
06/20/1986: The Slime Monster concept, by James McElroy
06/20/1986: Gwildor concept, by Alan Tyler (based on movie designs)
06/23/1986: Rotar/Twistoid patent filed
06/23/1986: Eternia trademarked
06/23/1986: Grayskull (He-Ro early name) trademarked (canceled)
06/23/1986: Jet Sled trademarked
06/23/1986: Monstroid trademarked
06/23/1986: Buzz-Saw trademarked
06/23/1986: Mosquitor trademarked
06/23/1986: Sorceress trademarked
06/23/1986: Meteorbs trademarked
06/23/1986: Cometroid trademarked
06/23/1986: Ty-Grrr trademarked
06/23/1986: Astro Lion trademarked
06/23/1986: Comet Cat trademarked
06/23/1986: Tuskor trademarked
06/23/1986: Dinosorb trademarked
06/23/1986: Crocobite trademarked
06/23/1986: Rhinorb trademarked
06/23/1986: Orbear trademarked
06/23/1986: Gore-Illa trademarked
06/29/1986: The Optimagic concept, by James McElroy
06/30/1986: The Voice concept, by James McElroy
07/09/1986: Giant Foot Print Trap concept, by James McElroy
07/09/1986: Net Trap concept, by James McElroy
07/13/1986: Gyrattacker patent filed
07/18/1986: First Jet Sled newspaper ad
07/18/1986: First Megalaser newspaper ad
07/18/1986: First Stilt Stalkers newspaper ad
08/01/1986: King Hiss copyright registered
08/07/1986: Horde Trooper copyright registered
08/18/1986: Slime Pit copyright registered
08/18/1986: Extendar copyright registered
08/22/1986: Rio Blast copyright registered
08/24/1986: First Snout Spout newspaper ad
09/10/1986: First Hurricane Hordak newspaper ad
09/16/1986: Blast Attak patent filed
09/17/1986: Tyrantisaurus Rex first use in commerce
09/17/1986: Bionatops first use in commerce
09/17/1986: Gigantisaur first use in commerce
09/22/1986: Bionotops trademarked
09/22/1986: Gigantisaur trademarked
09/22/1986: Powers of Grayskull trademarked
09/22/1986: Tyrantisaurus Rex trademarked
09/28/1986: First Fright Fighter newspaper ad
09/30/1986: Turbodactyl first use in commerce
09/30/1986: Blast-Attak first use in commerce
09/30/1986: Gwildor first use in commerce
09/30/1986: Rotar first use in commerce
09/30/1986: Twistoid first use in commerce
09/30/1986: Cliff Climber first use in commerce
09/30/1986: Scubattack first use in commerce
09/30/1986: Tytus first use in commerce
09/30/1986: Eldor first use in commerce
10/xx/1986: He-Man military pitch, by Stephen Lee
10/06/1986: Eldor trademarked
10/06/1986: Rotar trademarked
10/06/1986: Turbodactyl trademarked
10/06/1986: Twistoid trademarked
10/06/1986: Tytus trademarked
10/07/1986: Blast-Attak trademarked
10/07/1986: Gwildor trademarked
10/11/1986: First Meteorbs newspaper ad
10/11/1986: First Multi-Bot newspaper ad
10/14/1986: Cliff Climber trademarked
10/14/1986: Scubattack trademarked
10/23/1986: First Monstroid newspaper ad
10/28/1986: Mosquitor copyright registered
10/28/1986: Ninjor copyright registered
10/28/1986: Scare Glow copyright registered
10/28/1986: Sorceress copyright registered
10/28/1986: Sssqueeze copyright registered
11/05/1986: First Extendar newspaper ad
11/05/1986: First Rio Blast newspaper ad
11/08/1986: First Horde Trooper newspaper ad
11/10/1986: Blast-Attak copyright registered
11/17/1986: H.E./M.A.N. concept, by James McElroy
11/23/1986: First Eternia Playset newspaper ad
11/27/1986: First Beam Blaster & Artilleray newspaper ad
11/27/1986: First Mosquitor newspaper ad
11/27/1986: First Ninjor newspaper ad
11/27/1986: First Scare Glow newspaper ad
11/27/1986: First Snake Face newspaper ad
12/09/1986: First Clamp Champ newspaper ad
12/09/1986: First King Randor newspaper ad

1987

Megator concept, by Mark Jones, based on Mark Taylor’s Demo-Man concept – 1987. Image source: The Art of He-Man/The Power and the Honor Foundation

01/21/1987: The Evil Horde Slime copyright registered
01/28/1987: Snake Face copyright registered
02/02/1987: Artilleray copyright registered
02/02/1987: Beam Blaster copyright registered
02/02/1987: Blasterhawk copyright registered
03/14/1987: First Tyrantisaurus Rex newspaper ad
03/21/1987: First Blast Attak newspaper ad
03/21/1987: First Sorceress newspaper ad
03/21/1987: First Sssqueeze newspaper ad
04/04/1987: First Bionatops newspaper ad
04/04/1987: First Turbodactyl newspaper ad
04/15/1987: Saurod first use in commerce
04/15/1987: Megator first use in commerce
04/27/1987: Saurod trademarked
04/27/1987: Megator trademarked
04/28/1987: Bionatops copyright registered
04/28/1987: Turbodactyl copyright registered
05/18/1987: Laser Power He-Man concept art, by David Wolfram, based on design by Martin Arriola
06/22/1987: Regular Bio-Mechazoid Skeletor (early Laser Light) concept, by David Wolfram
08/08/1987: First Blade newspaper ad
08/08/1987: First Gwildor newspaper ad
08/08/1987: First Saurod newspaper ad
08/18/1987: Bio-Mechazoid Skeletor (revised Laser Light) concept, by David Wolfram
11/11/1987: First Buzz-Saw Hordak newspaper ad
11/11/1987: First Rotar newspaper ad
11/11/1987: First Twistoid newspaper ad
1987: Megator concept/based on Mark Taylor’s Demo-Man, colored by Mark Jones

Thanks to Shawn for pointing me towards the CPI vs Mattel material.

“Death of Mark Taylor From Night Visitation.” Artwork by Colin Bailey, January 23, 1981. Given to Mark when he was working on his “dark project” (He-Man). Image courtesy of Rebecca Salari Taylor.

Return to Table of Contents.

21 thoughts on “Masters of the Universe Timeline (1971-1987)

  1. Good Work.
    Hopefully it’ll also help educate some people in the ways some things work. Some things take time. Sometimes a designer will design a bunch of toy concepts but only some will be picked up. Later, some of the others may be tweaked and released. Sometimes they have a name they love, they trademark it but the toy doesn’t come for some time.

    In this, you can see things like the concept for Megator was 84, tweaked/redeisned the concept again a year later in 85 then wasn’t gone back to for 2 more years. In Transformers, a famous case would be Fortress Maximus. The name was first planned to be used for the 85 released toy that became ‘Omega Supreme’, then for then for Autobot city/Metroplex (86), finally used in 1987. We can see in MOTU, Roton’s name was trademarked long before they even designed the toy.

    Oh and by the way, you have Faked Trademarked twice for the same day (once just after Prince Adam, and once after Talon Fighter)

    1. Thanks Manic Man! Also thanks for heads up, I fixed the duplicate Faker reference.

      Yeah, this stuff just isn’t instant. Often the earliest concepts have little resemblance to the final versions, and can take years to go to market. Good examples from Transformers

  2. this is incredibly, incredibly useful, thank you
    There’s a few names I don’t recognise – Tyroar, Cyclo Marauder, Slime Monster, Slasher – but mostly I knew everything, so it made me feel knowledgeable too, bonus!

    1. Thanks very much! This was quite a project. Much of the data comes from the Power and Honor Foundation Catalog, in addition to the other sources I named.

      I believe those few concepts you weren’t familiar with also came from the Catalog

  3. Very informative. I have a problem understanding one part. I have a Stinkor with Mattel and 1981 on it. On the timeline it shows he doesn’t appear until much later.

    1. Hi Greg. Great question. Stinkor reuses existing body parts from Skeletor/Mer-Man, so the older date is stamped on him. However, he first shows up in Mattel’s 1985 dealer catalog.

  4. For some reason, despite being a long-time fan of the blog, this article had passed me by until now; but very interesting.

    A couple of things caught my eye as I was going through it –
    1981 – Sensor (Zodac) concept, by Mark Taylor / May 28 1981 – Female Warrior (Teela) concept, by Mark Taylor – Have you ordered them this way ’round as Sensor/Zodac’s concept has no definite date? It’s understood that Zodac was very much a “late addition” to the initial wave (after The Sorceress and Teela were merged into one character), hence the character not appearing in any mini-comics etc.; so I’d presume his concept came much later in ’81.

    October 5, 1982 – Sultra (Evil-Lyn) concept, by Colin Bailey – an interesting date when considering the likes of Wasp Man (Buzz-Off) and Lizard Man (Whiplash) had their concepts back in July ’82. Just as Zodac is known to be a late addition to the initial wave, Evil Lyn has always seemed to be a very late addition to the second wave (again hence no appearances in second wave mini-comics, etc).

    I know it’s an age old ‘mistake’ that has generally been corrected and forgotten, but Mekaneck’s trademark date of August 22, 1983 seems to solidly confirm him as a third wave figure – for many years, many internet sources listed his as a second wave figure (despite no mini-comic appearances, box art appearances, “available soon” tags on mini-comics, etc., prior to the third wave).

    June 6, 1984 – Modular Man (Multi-Bot) concept, by Ted Mayer – can we take it that Multi-Bot definitely pre-dated the concept of Modulok? I know there were some cross-overs of the design ideas, but I’ve always understood Modulok to originate earlier than Multi-Bot (who was conceived as “more of the same” to capitalise on the former toy’s success).

    I was also interested to see Tri-Klops trademarked some three months after Trap Jaw, as I always understood Tri-Klops’ origins to be earlier; However I know these are obviously just trademark dates which don’t necessarily reflect concept (and other such related) dates.

  5. So the way I’ve organized things, artwork without a day/month is just gathered at the beginning of each section. Zodac definitely came after the other first wave characters, but I don’t have concrete date for him.

    Regarding some of the other things, it’s often an artifact of what actual material survives to be catalogued. Concept art is always going to predate legal filings, but we don’t always have concept art for everything. Re: Evil-Lyn, I agree she probably came out at the tail end of 1983. Maybe they delayed because they were still resistant to putting out too many female figures.

    Re: Mekaneck, I never understood why some people placed him in the 1983 wave. Everything points to him coming out in 1984. The easiest evidence for this is the Mattel dealer catalogs, but Mekaneck’s markings, armor style and trademarks all point to a 1984 figure. He was probably one of the earliest 84 figures, based on his early appearance in the Mattel licensing material.

    Re: Multi-Bot/Modulok, the issue is we have a date for MB’s concept art, but not a date for Modulok’s concept art. So the data set needs to be interpreted given that there are holes in the data. Modulok probably came first as far as concept design went, although I can’t say for sure.

    Re: Trap Jaw and Tri-Klops, this is another one where we don’t have a full data set. We have TJ’s concept art but not TK’s art. Given that fact I can’t say which came first in terms of visual design.

  6. Hi! Thanks for this amazing and highly informative work. It’s a total pleasure to read content so very well documented.

    I have a couple of questions regarding this timeline:

    In other pages on the site you always date the Taylor’s He-Man concept with yellow/red boots as Agust 3, 1981, but here on the timeline is dated May 3. Is this a typo?

    Then, the date of July 1981 for “the desing of He-Man”, is that refered to the scultpure of some prototype, either the viking helet one, or the first sculpt without the powe-sword?

    Finally, is there any actual stimated date for the creation of the final He-Man prototype, with the power-sword?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi there, thanks for the comments! Regarding the dates, the ones listed here are correct, I just double checked. If I put a different date in another post, that would be in error I think.

      The “July 1981” date for the designing of He-Man is just what was alleged in the Conan vs Mattel Lawsuit. From actual surviving documents, He-Man was designed well before that.

      Regarding the power sword, it doesn’t appear in any of the Mark Taylor B-sheets and only appears in the final prototype of the figure. It was apparently an idea added by Marketing and designed by Mark late in the process. I would guess it probably came into being by fall of 1981.

  7. Thank you for your answer!

    Yes, your stimation for the power sword makes sense to me too, looking at the date of the minicomics, published on november 1981. I assume Alcalá draw them one month or two before the publishing, so that would fit with the creation of the sword.

    And the sculpture prototypes of the first wave, do you have any ideas of an stimated date?

    1. So the original “He-Man Trio” was December 1980. I would guess the barefoot/horned He-Man would have been early 1981, perhaps late winter/early spring. The first unhelmeted He-Man (seen in Lord of Power slides) I would guess late summer 1981, and then the final hand-painted model with sword perhaps early fall. These are educated guesses, aside from the He-Man trio coming in late 1980. 🙂

      For the other “Lords of Power” prototypes, I would again guess late summer 1981. Zodac probably fall or winter 1981. Same for Teela.

        1. No problem! I will also say probably the early version of Teela (the more “naked” version that survived without its head) is also probably done around the time of the Lords of Power prototypes, but was too “sexy” and not used, and was reworked later in the year.

          1. LOL you almost answered one of my later questions about Teela, before I send the last message.

        2. Oh just a last question, mate. I read on the “Lords of Power” article that apparently the Teela prototype was made about same time as those, but for some reason doesn’t appear on the photos. So your guess date for the Teela prototype would be for the final with the snake staff?

          Also, is so weird the Beastman prototype for the “Lords of Power” time was so archaic. Do you think the final prototype wasn’t already sculpted at that point? Could the final Beastman proto been made around same time as the final Heman?

          1. Re: Teela. Yeah, there are a few different prototypes for her: The likely order is:

            1) “naked headless teela”
            2) spear holding prototype, with gold shield
            3) Teela with “barbie style” leg articulation
            4) Final sculpt with green snake eyes and/or white fur boots

            Which one was contemporary with Lord of Power? I would say 1 or 2. Maybe 1 because Mattel execs specifically rejected her for being too sexy and wouldn’t have wanted to include her? Could be 2 as well, hard to say.

            Re: Beast Man, yes, that is weird. In the Lords of Power slides, He-Man is mostly final, minus his left hand, harness and his color scheme. Man-At-Arms reuses the He-Man body, but has non-finalized armor. Skeletor isn’t that close to final, and neither is Beast Man. Skeletor actually seems to reuse parts from the naked helmeted He-Man sculpt, with some modifications. Beast Man is furthest from the final look, so maybe that implies he was completed last of the first four figures.

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