In the comments of my recent fifth anniversary post, P.J. Gathergood suggested that I make a personal 10 favorite figures post to commemorate. Usually my posts tend to be more informational than personal, but I thought this might be a nice change of pace.
It’s actually really hard to whittle down a list of favorites to just 10. To make it a little more interesting I’ve decided to rule out He-Man and Skeletor and their variants, otherwise they would take up a lot of this list. Typically a figure is going to make my top 10 list for two reasons – I have strong, positive memories of it from my childhood and it has a really strong visual design. I’m not even going to try to order these, I don’t think I could do it!
Ram Man was an early favorite of mine. I want to say I had the figure in hand before I saw him on the Filmation cartoon, because I remember reading his minicomic and trying to suss out what Ram Man was all about. Lots of people don’t like the figure because he feels a little cheap (he’s hollow and has very little articulation owing to his spring-activated ramming feature). But I loved his shiny metal armor and his ramming feature. Visually he just clicked with me right away. I remember thinking the literal spring legs he was given in the Filmation cartoon were a little over the top, but I always perked up when Ram Man was on the screen.
Beast Man was one of the first four MOTU figures that entered our house, along with He-Man, Skeletor and Man-At-Arms. Beast Man belonged to my brother, but right away I was drawn to his vivid color scheme and beastly appearance, particularly his face with the big fangs and blue and white coloring (whether it’s meant to be face paint or his natural coloring, I’m not sure). I recall having a lot of fun taking his armor on and off, and he was a great villain for He-Man to clobber.
I clearly remember playing with Teela as a child. I don’t know if that means I owned her, or if she belonged to a sibling, but her gold and white costume and mysterious rust-red snake armor were etched into my brain from an early age. To me her iconic look will always be her with the red snake armor, which had that mysterious and magical quality that permeated the first wave of MOTU figures.
Clawful was an instant hit with me as a kid. I distinctly remember the existential agony of having to choose between him and Whiplash at the store. Ultimately I went with Clawful. That giant bright red snapping claw was just impossible for me to resist. I’ve always liked the “beast” themed figures. In the first wave we got a fish man, an ape man, and a (sort-of) bird man. That wasn’t repeated in the second wave, but it came back with a vengeance in the third wave.
After we got the first four figures in our house in 1982, I was eagerly looking for what other figures were available in the line. The one that caught my eye the most was Mer-Man. And while the figure itself was significantly different compared to its cross sell artwork, I loved the figure from the moment I got it, and it remains probably my all-time favorite to this day. Why is that? It’s hard to quantify, but it has a lot to do with his coloring and his headsculpt. I want to say I got him around the same time as Zoar, but of course childhood memories are always a bit fuzzy.
Why do I like Stinkor so much? He is after all just a cheap Mer-Man repaint with Mekaneck’s armor. But then again, I love Mer-Man, so maybe this is just a way for me to count him twice! My memories of playing with Stinkor as a kid are permanently etched in my brain, and that probably has a lot to do with his smell. What Stinkor lacked in originality, he made up for in his strong, faux-skunk odor. I don’t think I noticed he was a repaint at first, but it became clear once I removed his armor!
Stinkor quickly dominated my toy area. As soon as I opened the box where I stored my collection of He-Man and G.I. Joe figures, I was immediately hit in the face with the evil odor of Stinkor, a sharp and pungent reminder of his existence, even when he wasn’t immediately in sight. Aside from all that, he has a striking color scheme and works as a great character in his own right.
Man-At-Arms was one of those first core figures that I had in the house. Like Beast Man, there was a lot of fun to be had in just messing around with his various bits of armor. I usually used him as a victim for Skeletor, just as Beast Man was a punching bag for He-Man. I had a version very much like the one above, with a lighter green costume, red dots on the helmet, and a light blue belt. It doesn’t get more “core” MOTU than this guy.
Leech represented a gruesome new direction for the MOTU line embodied by the Evil Horde. They were a bizarre collection of freaks and monsters, and the one that caught my imagination the most was Leech. A monster with a suction cups for hands, feet and even his face was terribly creepy to me, in the best way possible. I spent as much time playing with his suction cup feature as I did just admiring his bizarre design.
As I mentioned previously, I had a tough time choosing between Clawful and Whiplash as a kid. Ultimately I went with Clawful, but it could have gone either way. I remember getting the comic that came with Clawful, and it prominently featured Whiplash in the story. FOMO wasn’t really a term that was used in 1984, but I had it bad. I had to have that lizard guy with the tail! I remember spending a lot of time playing with Whiplash despite that, so I think I was either able to borrow one from a friend or get my own later.
My memory of getting Rattlor is quite vivid. It was our last summer in our Eastern Washington house, before our big move across the mountains to a rainier, more temperate part of the Pacific Northwest, and we were taking a road trip vacation to California before the move. I remember gravely weighing my options at a store along the way. I could get two toys, and I was determined that they be Snake Men.
I was looking at getting Kobra Khan, or perhaps the newly released King Hiss or Rattlor. I don’t remember seeing Tung Lashor at the time. After studying all three toys and their packaging intently, I concluded that King Hiss was a cool idea, but his hidden snake body wasn’t all that great looking, so I went with the other two figures instead.
Rattlor had a pretty fun action feature with his pop-out head, and the “rattle” was a nice touch too. I also appreciate the detailed scales all over his snake-like body.
And those are my top 10! I could have easily turned this into a top 20. There is no shortage of amazing figures in the Masters of the Universe lineup!
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14 thoughts on “My top 10 favorite He-Man figures”
Very few good guys in the list, but after all, monsters are always more interesting XD
As kid while playing in the bathtub I discovered that Leech has an additional, totally unintended feature: he can squirt water from his mouth, even if in a very limited fashion.
Subjective? Certainly, not my opinion. Following your rules, here are the 10 best with ranking.
5) Two Bad
2) Trap Jaw
Fun entry! Thank you!
I’m very much with you in that it would be hard for me to narrow down to just 10 figures. I’d certainly have to include Trap Jaw, Buzz-Saw Hordak, Modulok/Multi-Bot, and Mantenna in my list, as well as Clawful, Rattlor, Ram Man, and Mer-Man, and . . . aw, man, this is tough!
Very interesting list, Battleram, really enjoyed reading it, glad it’s a suggestion you thought worthwhile. I like that the blog isn’t too personal but maybe every big anniversary you could do say, Top 10 vehicles or Top 10 mini-comics!? 🙂
Mine (yep, I’ve had to do mine), also excluding He-Man and Skeletor themselves, are, in reverse order:
(Note, whilst I have owned the entire line at one time, most of my ‘favourites’ are admit the ones I had as a boy; a couple of early classics, I never actually owned, for whatever reason, so maybe my list reflects that!)
10) MODULOK – A very non-typical choice, this one (as I’ve posted a bazillion times, but main MOTU love has always been those classic first two waves, and I never liked the more ‘gimmicky’ figures as much), but I had hours of fun building my own monsters with Modulok.
9) MAN-AT-ARMS – I always surprise myself slightly when I find myself putting MAA on my Top 10 list, as in many representations he can come across slightly as a boring old fuddy duddy!! 😀 But figure-wise I’ve always gone with the early take on MAA – tough, rather cold and war-hardened, but He-Man’s closest ally and mentor. And although I never originally had the Wind Raider, I always loved how the colour schemes matched, suggesting that MAA had built it.
8) ROBOTO – Although he doesn’t sum up much of what I like about the line (again, those mythical, barbarian first two waves) Roboto is a great character, I remember saving my pocket money for him for ages, and being fascinated by the turning cogs within his chest. With his changeable arms and moving mouth, I’ve always personally seen him as a later Heroic equivalent of sorts to Trap Jaw. (Sy-Klone, BTW, was another similar choice that just missed my Top 10).
7) JITSU – An odd choice, but I remember when allowed to go to the toyshop one day to choose a figure, he was the first then-new third wave figure I saw/owned, and really liked him. I often tended to go for the more humaniod characters when choosing a new figure, loved his shiny gold, and thought he fitted well with the then-established mythical world of the first two waves. I nearly listed (the more popular) Fisto as my number 8, but no, sod it, you know what, I’m gonna go with the underdog, Jitsu, for once! (Also I never originally had Fisto, which maybe influences by choice!!)
6) TEELA – Wonderful looking figure, great face sculpt, a fairly early figure to my collection, and one that I remember my mother being keen for me to buy (I s’pose because it was one of the few female characters).
5) MAN-E-FACES – An awesome figure, and one that childhood imagination enhanced even more. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, he was the third figure I ever purchased – I had He-Man and Skeletor, and couldn’t decide if I wanted a Heroic or Evil character next. MEF was both, and a great concept, great looking figure.
4) RAM MAN – So many of us love Ram Man. And we often ask ourselves why – the figure is clunky, hollow, looks almost like it’s from a different toyline, and the action feature seldom worked properly. And yet, it was just the ideat of him, and maybe the imagination that goes along with it, that seems to have made him such a favourite. One of the earliest figures I got after He-Man, Skeletor and Man-E-Faces, he remained a favourite throughout the line. (I always wanted him in his box art colours though, not his “Christmas tree” colours!) 🙂
3) TRI-KLOPS – There’s something about TK I’ve always really loved; he’s basic in one sense yet awesome. I love the mythologic influences of the early line, which TK encapsulates. Curiously underused to much degree for most of the vintage run, I’ve always liked the idea of him, as seen in the mini-comic, of him being a bounty hunter, strong, devious, and a real challenge to He-Man. (BTW, there are of course quite a few head-sculpts of TK; my original has the most blocky, lip-jutting face that looks horrible. And yet I still love the figure.)
2) TRAP JAW – In all truth, probably joint first. An AWESOME figure, deservedly a favourite with so many fans. Design wise, probably the best villain of the entire franchise, bar Skeletor himself. Although, this is the one character I love to draw the most!
1) FAKER – I’ve always loved Faker. He was one of the earliest figures I had (I got him the same day I bought Ram Man, having never seen either of them previously), and even though he’s a simple repaint, I love his colours and, where he was seldom used, the mystique surrounding him. I still often display my original, and either get comments either of “Hey, that’s Faker!” or “Why is your He-Man blue?!” (even though he’s turning a little green on the torso now!)
(Honorary mention: BUZZ-OFF – A figure that I didn’t have until I collected the entire line later, but honorary status as it’s one of the few figures my father can remember, even down to name, and even now sometimes makes reference to him!)
Feels a bit curious that my list skips a few first-and-second wavers in favour of a couple of later releases. My list would likely be different if I had childhood memories of say Beast Man, Mer Man, etc., (I recall them being harder to get as new waves were released) so I guess this is more a Childhood Top 10. 🙂
1.) Faker—Although just a repaint, he was so eye popping and the first “new” figure I saw, so he always stuck with me.
2.) Stinkor—The nostalgia of the smell persists and the color scheme is great. He was actually banned at my school thanks to some PTA moms, and I had to con my dad to buy him since other moms told my mom the stink would basically destroy her home. For that reason, he had a forbidden quality that always appealed to me. I hid him in my closet for months, only chancing to bring him out for five or ten minutes at a time. When I finally admitted to my mom I had tricked dad into buying him, she was like, “oh.” She had forgotten! To think I could have openly played with him instead.
3.) Sy-Klone—One of the first gimmicky characters, the spinning feature and hologram sticker were so alien to me and the color scheme so brilliant.
4.) Moss Man—Though not as fun as Stinkor, the smell was great and I loved the tactile quality of his flocking.
5.) Trap Jaw—So many gadgets!
6.) Tri-Klops—To me, he was archetypal. Coming so early in the line he captured the barbarian aesthetic and combined it with Greek mythology.
7.) Modulok—Endless hours of play, felt like owning two or three figures for the price of one and quite spooky.
8.) Man-E-Faces—Actually my first figure. The comic book really appealed to me, the story of a haunted actor. I think I learned to read by MOTU comics.
9.) Buzz Off—Again the color scheme, the wings were awesome, just a great design.
10.) Fisto—The strong man idea really fit with the barbarian aesthetic to me and I loved hitting myself with that arm of his
I love your blog, and I hope you don’t read this as an attack, but I must offer up a minor correction about Ram Man. His action figure came out before the cartoon. I know that the cartoon started up in September of 1983. (I was starting first grade, so it’s burned into my memory pretty well.) I got my first two figures in July and August before that. Man-at-Arms came with “The Power of Point Dread” and Faker came with “He-Man Meets Ram Man”, both from the second series of mini-comics that came out with the second wave of figures. I fully believe that you were already a devoted fan of the cartoon and the character before you became aware of the toy, but the toy definitely came first. Feel free not to post my comment publicly – I don’t want to be the “well actually . . .” guy who everybody hates.
Thanks Dan, you’re right! Not sure what I was thinking there. The cartoon came out in the fall of 1983, Ram Man would have come out earlier. I removed the incorrect statement.
I will add that although these are my “top ten” if I could only keep 10 figures, it would probably be the original 8 back, plus Ram Man and Trap Jaw. But that’s more a matter of “what would make for the best small collection of MOTU toys” than it is a matter of, what are my person favorites. 🙂
Other favorites that didn’t make this list:
But once you start expanding the list, it will pretty much include the entire 80s collection. 🙂
Skeletor is my favorite fictional character of all time. He and his Battle Armor version (my favorite gimmick) are my favorite MOTU figures, with a close third being Trap Jaw…how can you not love this guy and all his doo-dads? Next is probably Jitsu and his golden slappa hand, Teela with her totally awesome design, and Webstor who I had climbing all over the house. I loved Sy-Clone’s spinnarooni gimmick as well as Mekanek’s, well, mecha-neck. Lastly there’s Man-At-Arms who looked like he could whoop everyone with one vambraced arm tied behind his back, and Tri-Clops who I just always liked the concept of…not to mention that sweet Warrior’s Ring he came with!
Could never rank them. I love them all. I will list the top 10 in which I played with at a higher frequency:
Besides He-Man and Skeletor, Two-Bad, Sy-Klone, Beast-Man, Faker, Man-E-Faces, Roboto, Man-At-Arms, Prince Adam, Kobra Khan, and Leach.
As much as I loved them, I didn’t like how Ram Man and Orko were different. Same with the ladies and animals.
This was a great write-up. Actually, you’re whole site is amazing filled with detailed info. Very nice job!
Similar to you, I had a pretty vast collection of MOTU figs. Many if them did not survive the test of time. Just thought I’d throw my top 10 into the ring:
1. Buzz-Off: not sure how he made the list — I just remember playing with him a lot. I lost his weapon very early on and mainly used him with his silly bee helmet.
2. Fisto (sans Horse): I think that Fisto was a gift from my godfather, who I adored greatly. My godfather could’ve gifted me a back of rocks, I still would’ve cherished it. Fisto had that cool power swing feature used for uppercuts and… slamming his fist on things? Maybe he just liked to make a point at the head of the conference table>
3. Roboto: I had a lot of fun with Robot. I managed not to lose his interchangeable hand parts throughout the years, so that was fun. He was kind of like Trapjaw’s ‘good guy’ counterpart. I remember being enthralled by his ‘moveable gears’ inside his translucent torso.
4. Horde Trooper: This fig had the coolest feature: 1 well-placed punch to chest and his torso fell apart. I had a lot of fun with this guy.
5. Two-Bad: He was very top-heavy and needed to always be leaning on something when I posed him with the rest of my figs, but Two-Bad was very visually-interesting to look at. It was a great paint-job with different textures and etc.
6. Rokkon: I didn’t own this, but a kid in my neighborhood did, and when we’d play with our MOTU figs he’d generously let me use it. Transformers were still a HUGE thing at the time, so a He-Man that transformed into a rock was quite a novelty.
7. Hordak: Hordak was part of a Christmas gift that included the Fright Zone and Slime Pit playsets, My dad spoiled me. Fond memories of that gift. I remember we had spaghetti with basil leaves that night for dinner and I was so excited to play with my new toys that I swallowed a giant basil leaf whole that got accidentally left in the sauce. I didn’t care — He-Man!
8. Moss Man: was a present from a relative I’d only met once (a great uncle or something). He kept complaining about the action figure’s smell (he thought it was rotten or something) and I kept shoving it his face because I thought his reaction was hilarious. Yeah, I was *that* kind of brat.
9. Extendar: also owned by a kid in my neighborhood who generously let me play with him (thanks George!). I like that he can go from a regular-sized MOTU fig to a much bigger giant-like fig.
10. Mosquitor: I didn’t own this fig, but I do remember playing with it a lot. I was a big older and MOTU was pretty much considered as ‘baby toys’ (now it was all about GI JOEs and NINTENDO), but I thought Mosquitor was pretty cool due to his ‘bleeding effect’.
And that’s a wrap. Lots of great memories, there.
DC in the 80s
Hi Justin, thanks for stopping by and for sharing your memories! Also thanks for the kind words!
Hard to narrow it down, but here’s the top 10 for me.
10. Rio Blast. I was fascinated by the way they’d designed him with the pop out weapons and the backpack blaster. He seemed like extreme overkill in regards to firearms, but he was a perfect fit for the 80’s.
9. Faker. Few kids I knew had him, and he seemed something of a rarity in my area. He’s memorable as i got him for a 5th birthday present from a kid in my class who promptly tried to steal him at my birthday party, only to be sprung by my dad.
8.Ram Man. A novelty because of his unique design. Visually different from the rest of the line.
7.Man at Arms . His armour was a big drawcard, though I always thought he should have lived up to his name and had more than one weapon.
6. Prince Adam. Most kids I knew thought it he was a weak figure, but i like the idea of having him and reenacting the transformation scene. My version was always armed with the grey power sword for continuity.
5. Teela . I was never bothered having a female character to include during play. She was a welcome addition to my collection because of her prominence in the show. I usually left he armour off her to keep her appearance closer to the cartoon.
4. Tri-Klops. I thought he looked menacing, and that sword of his looked far more deadly than many of the ones that came in the line.
3. Skeletor. The figure initially frightened me as a kid, but once I saw his depiction in the Filmation show as a bit more comedic and generally, a frustrated boss, I channeled that vibe into my Lord of Destruction during playtime.
2. Trap Jaw. I got this guy in about 1984 and I thought he seemed far more sinister than most of the other villains. The multiple arm attachments were a huge appeal.
1. He-Man. The OG. I never warmed to any of the variants because this guy was just where it began and ended with me when I was about 4-5 in ’83-84. I always remember thinking it was great that you could slot the power sword ion the back of his harness and carry it like the cartoon. Still have my original one from back then in my study, worn by play, but all accessories accounted for.
Great article. I’ve never thought about my top 10. But I guess my list would look like,
1. Skeletor, battle armor. I just loved that as a kid.
2. Panthor, I loved the feel of the toy, and the colors.
3. Beastman, always a favorite of mine.
4. Trapjaw, all those gadgets.
5. Two-Bad, don’t know why, just always liked him/them.
6. Grizzlor, the fur feature was cool.
7. Webstor, the zip line was fun.
8. Whiplash, he just looked like a formidable foe.
9. Fisto, that huge gauntlet coming down on you, seemed terrifying.
10. Stinkor, I actually liked the smell.
I liked the villains so much more than the Masters.