I remember getting Night Stalker as a birthday surprise in the fall of 1985. I believe I got him along with Battle Bones. I hadn’t heard anything about either toy, but I was pretty impressed with both of them. Of course as long as I got He-Man toys, I was happy. I was an easy kid to shop for.
Night Stalker, along with Faker, Screeech, Stinkor, Moss Man and Panthor, come from the “cheap repaint” school of Masters of the Universe toy design. Night Stalker was a recast version of Stridor (who had been released the year before), in gold, purple and black. The US release did not include a recolored version of Stridor’s head armor piece, but Brazilian, Venezuelan, and French versions did. His sticker designs were quite different from Stridor’s.
Like Stridor, Night Stalker had a surprising lack of articulation. The design of his legs would lead you to believe that they were movable, but in fact they were not. The only moving parts on both horses were the tail, the rear gun, and the front guns. I was a little surprised by this fact when I first opened him up, but given the lack of articulation on Battle Cat, I made my peace with it pretty quickly.
Unlike an organic horse, Night Stalker was outfitted with a cockpit. The rider would sit in a seat with his legs inside the mechanical steed’s body. He could control the horse via a control panel rather than reins:
Night Stalker was sold individually and in a gift set with Jitsu. I’ve always liked the fact that Night Stalker had a rider associated with him besides Skeletor. I feel like it adds a bit of depth to both Jitsu and Night Stalker. You can imagine the two of them having independent adventures far away from Skeletor’s watchful eye.
The artwork on the individually packaged Night Stalker was done by an unknown artist, who I believe also did the artwork for Panthor, Stridor, Point Dread and others. The artwork for the two-pack was done by the great William George:
To date I haven’t identified any colored cross sell art for Night Stalker. Some red line art appears on the back of the Fright Zone box, and I also located some black and white line art created for advertising copy, featuring Jitsu as the rider:
Night Stalker didn’t show up in the mini comics, but he did make a few appearances in the UK Masters of the Universe comic book series (images via He-Man.org):
In Issue 3 of the series, Tri-Klops rides a living horse that seems to resemble Night Stalker, although it may be a coincidence (hat tip to James Eatock, who made that observation 10 years ago on his blog).
Night Stalker also makes a couple of appearances in the German audio plays (hat tip to Tetsuo S.):
Night Stalker also appears quite frequently in the German Ehapa Verlag comic series:
According to James Eatock’s excellent He-Man and She-Ra guide, Night Stalker was intended to appear the Filmation He-Man series under the name “Knight Mare”, but for some reason never found his way into an episode. I would guess that that that name Knight Mare was Night Stalker’s initial working name at Mattel. The robotic horse was also called Knight Mare in the old German toy magazines and audio plays (hat tip to Klemens F. and Kevin D.).
Night Stalker seems to be less popular than his heroic brother Stridor, but personally I prefer the evil horse. I’m sure part of that is driven by nostalgia (I never owned Stridor as a kid), but I also think his color scheme is just more striking.
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16 thoughts on “Night Stalker: Evil Armored Battle Steed! (1985)”
erm… didn’t you miss Stridor out?
anyway.. For some reason, this always seamed like a pretty weak toy (along with Stridor).. while Battle Cat not being able to move was kinda okay, this mold was bigger and could have easily have movement but didn’t. Mattel probably had access to one of the older battery powered horses which probably could have been ported over better really.. but oh well.
Given that Mattel is putting out a NIght Stalker this month for the Classics line, I thought now would be a good time to write about him.
Yes, Mattel dropped the ball on articulation or even making this a mechanical toy, as you suggest. I still like both of the robot horses, though.
I had Strider bought for me as a birthday present and for the same reasons in your comments, i found him cheap and boring and i never got his evil equivalent. I wonder, was She -Ra’s Swift Wind a part reuse of the same horse mould?
Or more likely a Barbie horse 🙂
Could have been a Barbie horse. I know next to nothing about the She-Ra toy line though 🙂
not a single piece of Swift Wind is anything like the Stridor mold. in fact, there is NOTHING at all in common.. I wonder for a moment if the face mask might have been a remold but.. if they did remold it, it would have cost more and been more work then making it from scratch..
Clawdeen is a closer match to a MOTU figure with Battle cat, but even then it looks like it might in fact be a whole new mold (very close though, but I t appears reversed (left back leg and right back leg swapped places, a edited tail, a whole new head, changed forearms, rasied belly.. at which point it’s not the same mold.. might have used it as a base and kit-bashed it to death but that’s it.
Great insights! I was hyped by the design, then pretty much let down by the lack of articulation and quality (poor plastic). I give Night Stalker a bonus because he is a robot horse — like those mechanical MotU characters. 😉
Yes, good point, the plastic was never great. Very brittle stuff, easy to break those legs off. They’re very good looking designs though!
“Knight Mare” was used once in the German Audioplas as well (Skeletors Sieg) – I always thought it was an error.
Thanks Klemens Franz, that’s good to know.
I like the color scheme a lot, but Night Stalker is just an “evil opposite” and a very shameless one. What perplexed me a lot as a kid was that NS is exactly like Stridor minus the helmet but at the same price… Yes, Panthor was the same thing but at least there was the flocking to compensate; NS had nothing at all to compensate. My ultimate conclusion was that they were trying to hustle me, a little kid: that realization shocked me a little ahahahah
What’s the foreign Night Stalker helmet look like that you allude to?
Here’s an example: https://www.he-man.org/forums/boards/showthread.php?163246-night-stalker-question!
damn….that helmet looks dope!
What I just noticed on the art for Night Stalker is that Fisto is wearing a silver hoop earring!
Did the figures, or any other renditions of his character, have the earring too?
I think it looks really cool still.