Heroic Vehicles

Point Dread & Talon Fighter (1983)

Talon Fighter Graphic

Point Dread and the Talon Fighter somehow completely slipped off my radar as a kid. I probably saw it represented in cross sell art form at some point in my childhood, but I don’t think it ever made an impression. And that’s a shame because it’s one of the coolest items ever produced for the Masters of the Universe toyline. It’s certainly one of my favorites now.

Design & Development

Point Dread and the Talon fighter was a rather unique item, in that it combined a small playset with a vehicle as well as a story book with record.

The commercial (above) shows a prototype that seems to have less overspray on both the vehicle and the playset than the mass produced toys did. The cross sell art seems based on that prototype:

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Point Dread & Talon Fighter cross sell art

From my interview with Mattel designer Ted Mayer, I learned that the idea for the Talon Fighter originated with a sketch for the Eternia playset. There are a couple of those in existence, and both seem to feature a flying vehicle that bears some resemblance to the final Talon Fighter design, although the aircraft in the second image also resembles the Blasterhawk. The second image is dated February 5, 1985, so it would not have been a source used for the Talon Fighter. I would guess that the first image (called Mount Eternia) dates from some time in 1982.

Eternia 1
Mount Eternia, image courtesy of Ted Mayer
Eternia 2
Another version of Eternia by Ted Mayer
Early Talon Fighter 1
Mount Eternia’s flying vehicle – closer view

There is also some rough similarity to the 1983 Big Jim Space Spy Vehicle (hat tip to Jukka for pointing this out), which also featured the radar dish on the top, a handle in the back, stubby wings, and a similar (but not identical) overall profile:

Point Dread seems to have been conceived at one point as the home of Skeletor and his Evil Warriors. From the Filmation Series Guide:

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Source: He-Man.org

“Point Dread is a craggy peak emerging from the Eternian Ocean. It is an extinct volcano with a tunnel leading down to a fantastic ruined, Atlantis-like city hidden beneath the ocean floor. Inside Point Dread, Skeletor keeps all the treasure he has plundered from a thousand worlds. There are also mines and construction sites waiting for the slaves Skeletor plans to take once he has seized control of Eternia.

“But the heart of Point Dread is the great council chamber where Skeletor summons the sinister Masters of the Universe. Here Skeletor sits on a raised platform above the round table where are gathered the likes of…”

Notice that at the evil warriors are referred to as the “sinister Masters of the Universe”.

The same guide describes Talon Fighter as an agile air vehicle that only He-Man can control, and says that it is frequently perched atop Castle Grayskull. The top of what we would refer to as the Point Dread playset is also shown – perhaps at the time the rocky base for the Talon fighter was not yet named. It may have taken on the name of Point Dread after Skeletor’s home base was identified as Snake Mountain.

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Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen

The 1985 UK Annual again describes Point Dread as the lair of Skeletor (images courtesy of Jukka Issakainen):

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Production Toy

Let’s take a look at the actual toy and its packaging and accessories:

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Roomy cockpit holds two figures
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Gizmo not normally included!
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Perched majestically atop Castle Grayskull

The Talon Fighter seems to be based on something like a hawk or an eagle. It has a rather wide body, stubby, downturned wings, and curved talon feet. There is room for two figures inside the roomy cockpit, and it features a handle on the back for easy zooming around the house.

Point Dread (tag line: frontier outpost) is a simple two-piece shell with a window and rather small stairs leading upward on the top piece. The top piece can clip to the tallest turret on Castle Grayskull. Inside the lower half is a cardboard control panel.

The box art is rather magnificent, in my opinion. The artist is unknown, but they seem to have been trying to imitate the style of Rudy Obrero. The artwork features Skeletor, Tri-Klops and Mer-Man launching an assault on Point Dread. He-Man and Teela are inside the Talon Fighter, and Man-At-Arms seems ready to take on the villains from the ground while his friends attack them from the air.

Box Front
Box Back

Comic Books

The comic book included with the playset is one of my very favorites. It’s two stories in one book – The Power of Point Dread and Danger at Castle Grayskull. The artwork is by the incomparable Alfredo Alcala, and features some fun and colorful stories that introduce us to not only PDTF, but new characters like Man-E-Faces, Trap Jaw and Tri-Klops. Zodac has a rather prominent role to play in the first story, which is a nice touch.

A record was included with the book, to help young readers read along with the story:

You can ready both stories in their entirety here and here.

Confusingly, there was a mini comic produced with essentially the same title – The Power of… Point Dread. The plot of the story is entirely different, however. It was penciled by Mark Texeira and includes some pretty exciting combat scenes:

While it’s true Point Dread was at one point intended to be the home of Skeletor and his minions, the Masters of the Universe Bible,  written at the end of 1982, portrayed Point Dread as it was in the mini comics released the next year:

TALON FIGHTER – this winged flying vehicle carries two passengers and is able to execute death-defying aerial acrobatics. Equipped with a special bombpack under its belly, He Man can call the fighter when it’s needed. Its resting place is atop a far peak called PT. DREAD which materializes whenever the Talon Fighter comes to rest. Only He Man has the physical fortitude and strength of will to control it. The flying machine goes out of control unless He-Man’s in command.

Animation

Point Dread never made an appearance in the Filmation cartoon, and the Talon Fighter was used quite rarely.

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Image source: Wiki Grayskull

Model Kit

There was also a kit version of the Talon Fighter produced by Monogram (which was owned by Mattel at the time). It had a much more bird-like design than the toy, and a simpler yellow and red color scheme. It also has a canon mounted on top of the cockpit, rather than the radar design of the toy version. Monogram also produced versions of the Attak Trak and Roton. The Monogram Attak Trak is based off of a concept version of the Attak Trak, so I wonder if the same isn’t true of the Monogram Talon Fighter.

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Artwork by Larry Elmore
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The above design, but with toy-accurate colors, shows up in Dangerous Games, published by Golden Books:

Dangerous Games

There was also an illustration of the Monogram Talon Fighter kit that was apparently created for advertising purposes (images via Plaid Stallions). In this version the vehicle has a gold-colored body and green cockpit windows:

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Artwork

R. L. Allen featured the Talon Fighter in a couple of his illustrations, which are some of my favorites:

Point Dread
Illustration by R.L.Allen
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Illustration by R.L. Allen

Talon Fighter in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has kindly shared some images and a video of the Talon Fighter in action:

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34 thoughts on “Point Dread & Talon Fighter (1983)

  1. For the Kit version, I would say Eagle without a doubt.

    as for the text signature on the image?
    Drawn by Ted Mayer
    (c) Mattel 2-4-82
    #70 76

    i’m not 100% sure on the 76, that might be 78.. the 70 looks to be 70 but might not be.. as for the date? i’m very sure with the 82 bit. I’ve got no doubt on that. the 2 Is also very clear.. the 4? it might be a 5. but i’m sure it’s either 4 or 5. His handwriting is a bit confusing there.. but i’m pretty sure it is a 4

      1. No problem ^_^ i’m not perfect but I’ve had to read small print and handwriting a number of times.. including trying to reconstruct text from the background of a photo ¬_¬;

        Always through it was interesting that it seam to put more emphasis on Point Dread, then the Talon Fighter, though I would have through the Talon Fighter was the main seller

  2. Hang on..in that advert.. the LP has Victor Caroli as the Narrator? sure sounds like him when they play the LP, but doesn’t quite sound like him doing the advert or the Final LP…. in fact it’s clear that the LP on the Advert wasn’t the final release. the dialogue is similar but not the same at all. I wasn’t aware Caroli was working for Mattel at the time.. and if he was, why replace him.. maybe it’s just distorted to sound like him for me.. anyone know?

  3. I wonder if the Talon Fighter and the Blaster Hawk share the same design DNA. The reddish example from the second Ted Meyer sketch reads closer to the Blaster Hawk to me; it also has a pistol grip and it shares a similar color scheme. It would also be compatible with the cannon mount on top of the Eternia play set; another similarity to TF attaching to PD.

    1. Hi Christoph, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the genesis of the Blasterhawk starts there. Also the Fright Fighter from the same drawing!

  4. There’s a great novelization of the ‘Power Of Point Dread’ minicomic and the story record, written by T. F. Stephens, and it’s the best use I’ve seen of Point Dread in anything fan-created. For whatever reason, Pt. Dread never seemed to catch fire with fans, and I’ve never understood that, because Mini-ternian master, Gary Cohn, made Dread a great, enigmatic addition to the Masters mythos. Even if you don’t read the entire novella, just check out Part 4, “Death Sky, Come Ahead”, and be swept back into how you felt, when you first set eyes upon Point Dread.

      1. without one to hand for reference, I can 99% comfirm they are figure scaled.. the “Masters of the Universe figures fit in cockpit (Figures not included) is a bit of a give away..

  5. Another awesome vehicle (that I never had XD). As a kid I never noticed that it can carry two figures inside the cockpit and that is a rare feature for the time. The only little disappointig thing is that only the upper half of Point Dread can actually combine with the Castle.
    The Monogram model kit is cool but is my least favorite, because for my tastes it looks too much animal and too less vehicle: the real toy has a more balanced look in my opinion.

  6. this blog is amazing. thanks so much for putting all this info together in one place! it really takes me back. PDTF was one of my first playlets (I was born in 81) and remains my single favorite childhood toy now 30+ years later.

  7. I’ve got a great story about this toy.

    This was always the holy grail of MOTU for me as a kid in the early 80’s here in New Zealand, because it was rare – I saw it on the shelf at our local toy store all of twice. Most kids I knew had a few of the core figures, and the odd lucky one I knew owed the Wind Raider or Battle Cat, but only my older neighbour had PD+TF, which I highly coveted. I was only about 5 or so and at 7 he seemed much older and cooler which his extensive MOTU collection. He also had Castle Grayskull and I was mindblown when he demonstrated how the PD perch could be mounted on CG when I first went over to his his to check out his toys when we moved into the street in ’84.

    It was always the vehicle I defaulted to using no matter who I was playing with when we hung out, even after he acquired more complex and cool looking vehicles. At the start of 1985, he announced he was moving away and asked if I wanted to swap a toy so we would have a memento of each other on the suggestion of his mother. He suggested I take PD+TF in exchange for a Kenner X-Wing I owned, which was actually a double up as I the original and the battle damaged version thanks to a memory slip from my grandparents at Xmas ’84, so I wasn’t losing a unique toy.

    My friend moved away and I got PD+TF which became my absolute fave transport for He-Man. My little brother and I didn’t have many MOTU vehicles, but once we acquired our own CG, he would use the castle as his base and I’d have the TF with He-Man at the controls. It was a beat u version with loads of playwear but I absolutely adored it.

    Around the same time I had a teenage uncle who was a model builder and I convinced him to to get the Monogram version of this and Attack Track so at once point, I had both to play with. I don’t remember the Monogram version so much but it was definitely more pointy. My uncle later painted both those kits in camo colours much to my dismay….

    Anyway, the years passed and my brother and I’s toys were boxed up and stored for most of the 90’s in our family shed. When I bought my own home in 2006 I inherited all our old stuff including the TF! It had some mold damage due to the cooler climate of nearly two decades in a shed but the stickers where still intact. PD faired better as it was put in a sealed plastic bag along with a lot of MOTU weapons.

    I had it on display in my study as at 2014 when thanks to Facebook I was able to locate my old neighbour for the first time in over 20 years. We caught up and he was astonished to see I still had PD+TF!! More so was the fact that he still has a photo of us on his 8th birthday and I’m holding the Talon Fighter! Might have to upload and link it here now!

    Thanks for the great blog, and the associated memories coming back (and thanks Alastair for giving to me all those years ago!)

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