Cardbacks

MOTU Cardbacks: 1982

Recently one of my connections on social media (WhipSmartBanky) was asking if there was a resource of all of the vintage cardbacks collected somewhere. While most of them are scattered throughout my site, I thought it might be helpful to collect them in one place.

There are lots and lots of cardback variants, both by country and by release order. My objective isn’t to provide every single last variant (and I certainly do not have scans or photos of them all). My objective is to do all the US cardbacks, and any major variants. Major variants would include things like 8-back vs reissue versions of the earliest cardbacks, or any major updates to the artwork on the scene at the top or the illustrated instructions on the back of the card. I won’t provide variants based on different cross sell art featured on the cardback, for the most part. For example, a 1983 He-Man 12-back would have different cross sell art compared to a 1984 He-Man 12 back. The character selection changed to reflect whatever was new for the year.

Let’s define cardbacks: for my purposes this won’t include the backs of boxes on large items like Castle Grayskull or Battle Ram. You can find those in my previous “Box Art From A-Z” series. This is the back of the individual figures on blister cards, for the most part. I’ll also include the cardbacks of smaller accessories like Jet Sled, since the back of the packaging was in a very similar format to the standard figures. I’ll also include the backs of the Modulok and Multi-Bot packages, for the same reason.

I’ll sort the cardbacks in chronological release order to the best of my knowledge. Please note, however, that some figures, like He-Man and Skeletor, were released at the same time. Also note that for this first article, I’m including figures originally released in 1982, but their updated reissue “12-back” cardbacks date from 1983 or later.

For this article, I’ll generally provide only one example of an 8-back card for each figure, plus an example of the 12-back version for each figure. However, I think it’s important to show how these cards evolved through 1982 and into 1983. They begin with the earliest “G0” or “Test Market” cards, to the G1s with added SKU and character subtitle, to the G2 with the added warranty, and eventually to the 1983 “12-back” (so-called because they feature twelve characters represented in the cross sell artwork) reissue with Errol McCarthy character scene on top and an action feature image on the left. The “G” designation refers to a code at the bottom of the card that acts as a kind of batch number. “G0” or test market cards lack the G code altogether, even in subsequent years. I don’t know, however, if every card started with the “G0” version. Some may have started with “G1.”

Photos and scans in this article come from: Hake’s Auctions, Heritage Auctions and KMKA.

Evolution of the cardbacks, left to right in chronological order. Note that I’ve used a Teela cardback to represent G1, as I didn’t have a good image of the He-Man version.

Another thing to note in the change above from G0/G1 and the G2 warranty card, is that the positioning of the eight character changes on the card. Part of that is because there is of course less room for them with the added warranty information. Possibly, however, they are changed due to adjustments to evil and heroic factions. In the early versions, it looks like Skeletor is grouped with Stratos, Beast Man and Mer-Man, while He-Man is grouped with Teela, Man-At-Arms and Zodac. The warranty edition regrouping could be interpreted as grouping He-Man with Teela, Stratos and Man-At-Arms, while Skeletor is now grouped with Beast Man, Mer-Man and Zodac. But, that’s just one interpretation!

He-Man

8-Back cross sell art: Artist unknown
12-back action scene art: Errol McCarthy
SKU Number: 5040

Skeletor

8-Back cross sell art: Artist unknown
12-back action scene art: Errol McCarthy
SKU Number: 5042

Man-At-Arms

8-Back cross sell art: Artist unknown
12-back action scene art: Errol McCarthy
SKU Number: 5041

Beast Man

8-Back cross sell art: Artist unknown
12-back action scene art: Errol McCarthy
SKU Number: 5043

Stratos

8-Back cross sell art: Artist unknown
12-back action scene art: Errol McCarthy
SKU Number: 5047

Zodac

8-Back cross sell art: Artist unknown
12-back action scene art: Errol McCarthy
SKU Number: 5044

Teela:

8-Back cross sell art: Artist unknown
12-back action scene art: Errol McCarthy
SKU Number: 5045

Mer-Man

8-Back cross sell art: Artist unknown
12-back action scene art: Errol McCarthy
SKU Number: 5046

That’s it for 1982. Look for additional articles covering each of the subsequent years. See you soon!

Thank you to the following individuals who are current Patreon supporters!

  • Philip O.
  • MOTU Origins Cork
  • Bryce W.
  • Ben M.
  • Matthias K.

4 thoughts on “MOTU Cardbacks: 1982

  1. Just to confirm, yes, all first releases started with a “G0” card, from the start of the line to the very end. Only a couple of figures from the latest series came without a “G0”, they simply came with nothing.

  2. To clarify my last comment; all first releases came with a “G0” or in another words, no “GX” on the cardback.
    Then subsequent re-releases always came on “G1”, “G2”, etc.
    Only some figures on the latest series didn’t come with any “GX” whatsoever (not even if they were re-releases).
    So, no, never a first release came with a “G1”.

  3. Thank you for this! Brings back a lot of memories. These cardback were what attracted to me as a kid to MOTU, before the TV shows or comics. I remember staring in awe at these figures and their cardback, the first time I saw them in the supermarket. I eventually got my first 2 figures from “Santa” that year 🙂

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