Heroic Warriors

Ram Man: Heroic human battering ram! (1983)

Ram Man, released in the second wave of Masters of the Universe Action figures, was a big favorite of mine as a kid. Sure, his legs were fused together and his articulation was rather limited, but his unique appearance and action feature made him a prominent protagonist in the battle against the forces of darkness (a battle that happened every day after school on the floor of my bedroom).

Ram Man’s action is demonstrated in this commercial:

Designed by Mark Taylor, Ram Man had several unique looks in the early stages of his conception:

Image via The Art of He-Man

In the left-most drawing he seems to have some technological elements in his helmet design. In the drawing on the right his face is entirely obscured by his helmet, and he looks more Lord of the Rings than Buck Rogers. The second image is ultimately closer to the final Ram Man design than the first.

Update: another stage of the design is shown in the concept below, which is much closer to the final look of the character. The costume is quite similar to the design shown above and to the right, but the face is exposed.

Image courtesy of Doug Feague

Update: This design was developed into a similar character called Jumping Jack Flash (below). Aside from the helmet and facial hair, he looks very close to the final Ram Man figure. He also features metal gauntlets rather than leather straps. He carried a “mace grenade” that would fly loose when the character popped up from internal springs.

Image courtesy of Rebecca Salari Taylor

Another Mark Taylor design for a dwarf figure named Hercule featured a similar action feature. Instead of simply ramming, the idea was that this figure’s spring-loaded legs would cause him to tumble forward in the air at his opponents. I’m not sure exactly how this would have worked in practice, but several elements from Hercule made it into Ram Man’s final design.

Source: The Power and the Honor Foundation

The prototype Ram Man figure (below) carries over the color scheme from Jumping Jack Flash. The face and helmet design have been greatly modified, however. The prototype looks very close to the final figure, color scheme aside. Some differences include the fact that his eyes are closed and that his silver upper arm/shoulder armor is incorporated into his arm pieces.

Update: Four Horsemen contributing sculptor Djordje Djokovic mentions in this post that he had the opportunity to ask Mark Taylor about the vintage toy sculpt. Djordje says:

“In my first conversation with the late great Mark Taylor (father of He-Man), he confirmed what I’ve suspected for decades – Tony Guerrero (master sculptor behind almost all MOTU figures, of the line’s first 2-3 years), handed the sculpting duties to his co-worker, as ironically – he didn’t like the design.”

From the ’84 UK Annual, via Jukka Issakainen
Image source: He-Man.org

The cross sell art was based on the prototype, and includes all the same elements, down to the color scheme:

Ram Man cross sell artwork. Image courtesy of Axel Giménez.

Ram Man appears in the 1983 dealer catalog along with all the other new figures released that year, with a new red and green color scheme:

Hand-painted final prototype Ram Man.

Ram Man was the first figure in the MOTU line whose parts were not reused for any other figure. He came packaged with his axe weapon and a comic book. His arm bracers were sculpted and covered with a silver sticker rather than a layer of paint. The sculpt of his arms is quite soft compared to most MOTU figures, but he has a lot of detail elsewhere. The color scheme of the toy is red and green; however, the packaging artwork portrays Ram Man in the prototype colors:

Aside from the single carded figure, Ram Man was available in the following gift sets:

  • Ram Man/Zoar
  • He-Man/Teela/Ram Man

Ram Man had his own mini comic dedicated to him called He-Man Meets Ram-Man (incorrectly hyphenating the character’s name). Rammy is portrayed from the start as a bit thick, which is appropriate for a character whose primary attack involves self-inflicted brain injury. There is an early misunderstanding where Ram Man gets in a fight with He-Man and loses. Skeletor is able to use that to trick Ram Man into bashing his head repeatedly against Castle Grayskull’s doors.

Ram Man is essentially good-hearted, and in the end he turns on Skeletor and comes to He-Man’s aid:

Artwork similar to the Ram Man mini comic was used in this French coloring book:

Image source: Super Shogun

Ram Man as portrayed in the Filmation cartoon was even slower than he was in the mini comics. In certain frames it’s also evident that the artists envisioned Ram Man’s legs as actual springs that propelled him toward enemies (or more often, walls).

Ram Man and Orko
Image source: Bustatoons

In the Filmation Series guide, Ram Man resembles the cross sell art more than the toy:

Source: He-Man.org

Ram Man made fairly frequent appearances in mini comics, story books, and marketing materials:

From The Secret Liquid of Life
From the 1985 Demons of the Deep. Ram Man appears in his prototype colors. Illustrated by Fred Carillo.
From the 1984 UK Annual (image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen)
From the 1982 Licensing Kit. Source: He-Man.org. Art by Errol McCarthy
From the 1982 Licensing Kit. Source: He-Man.org. Art by Errol McCarthy.

For some reason Ram Man made no appearances in box art, and few appearances in posters, despite being one of a select number of figures that had a commercial dedicated just to him. Still, Ram Man frequently appeared on the Filmation cartoon and remains a popular character to this day.

Illustration by William George, 1984

20 thoughts on “Ram Man: Heroic human battering ram! (1983)

  1. now, that concept art has another interesting point.. while I always felt the legs together along with very limited arms (that prototype figure would have had much better arms in my opinion, was a major down point on the figure. but I understood why the legs were together.. to make it strong enough to NOT brake then kids push the legs back in (oh sure, they were meant to have him on a flat surface and push the top down but, yeah.. like that is ALWAYS going to happen and no kid is going to just push the legs in), and to stop snapping then it springs back out, BUT the concept note ‘This space must remain open for engineering reasons’.. that is interesting.. and, it seams by the time he second concept was done, it was changed to the two legs together.. I wonder what that engineering reason for two legs apart would have been..

    1. Hi Manic Man,

      Good question, I’m not sure what the engineering reasons might have been. I’m not quite sure how that Dwarf concept would have worked either, with the flip action feature.

  2. I remember that back in the 80s I and my cousin went to buy our very first MOTU figures: I chose Man-E-Faces, while he chose Ram Man. Later he regretted, because Man-E-Faces looked way cooler than Ram Man, and asked me to swap our figures. Of course, I refused. Anyway, I also got Ram Man eventually… he may not look very cool, but he’s a beloved character.

  3. While I prefer the official red and green colors of Ram Man, I have always wondered why they didn’t go with the original prototype/cross-sell color scheme. I am guessing because the oranges, reds, and browns are not as visually striking as other colors in the toyline, but it’s strange they never corrected it on many of the other artwork.

  4. Rammy was always a favorite of mine, too. There was always a sort of “inner circle” that always accompanied He-Man on his journeys, and sometimes had their own, in my MOTU adventures, and Ram Man was one of them. Something about a big burly bastard who smashes through walls head-first really appealed to me. He was just as strong as He-Man in my MOTU world, a distinction he shared with Fisto when he came along a bit later. I did sometimes look at the cross-sell art on the backs of some of the minicomics and wish the figure looked that cool, though. The 4H absolutely nailed it with the MOTUC version!

  5. I remember that in the early 80s, in my country the toys came before the cartoon and in kindergarten school (without any meanings to know who he was and still unable to read) we little kids called Ram-Man “The Muscled Robot”: I don’t know why we regarded him as a robot (maybe because the heavy armor), but that fact is so absurd that the memory make me laught to this day.

  6. Ahh… good ol’ Ram Man. It’s odd, cos the figure itself looks rather clunky, and that action feature never really worked as intended; and yet Ram Man has always been a fan favourite with many, myself included.

    He certainly was a departure (or at least, development) in terms of the line. No recycled parts, and a very different build to all other figures in those classic first two waves.

    I have happy memories of the day I bought Ram Man. I got him very early on; I had He-Man and Skeletor, and Man-E-Faces until that point. One Bank Holiday there was a local market that I went to with my mother, and a stall owner had a load of MOTU new figures for sale, and cheaper than they were in the shops. It was a rare occasion that I was allowed to choose TWO figures!! – I chose Ram Man, and Faker. (As a side note I had a weird but logical buying pattern as a child of going for an equal number of Heroic and Evil characters – and my third figure, Man-E-Faces, was dictated by this “as he could be Heroic AND Evil”, but I digress…)

    Despite being clunky and not “jumping” much at all, I loved Ram Man. A lot of those early figures were about imagination, and the character given to each one, and that certainly was the case with Rammy. I always longed for the figure to be in the box art colours though instead of the “Christmas tree” colours of the final figure.

    Ram Man was also the first breakage casualty of my childhood set, at least his weapon was – only a few weeks after I first had him, the handle snapped off of his axe. My father nimbly replaced the handle with a small metal rod, which is still there in my Ram Man’s axe to this day.

    I also loved his tie-in mini-comic, “He-Man Meets Ram-Man!”, to the extent I’d say it’s one of my favourites of all the mini-comics. I love how even thought it was to basically to showcase a new character, they put such character into it – unlike some of the “rushed quick release” quite gimmicky-feeling later minis. (Also regarding that mini-comic and several other of the wave, Beast Man’s depiction used to interest me, as he was well past prototype stage and even closer resembled the figure in the first wave minis, and yet the artist seemed to have quite a different take on him in this wave).
    In terms of the toy and mini-comic version of Ram Man, as a boy I used to envision him as some hot-headed warrior who loved to leap head first into combat, literally.

    Ram Man of course also appeared quite regularly throughout both waves of the Filmation series, whereas some other each characters, such as Stratos, become more sporadic in their appearances. I believe this is both due to him being a very popular character, but also a useful “tool” for the writers in that he could effectively act as a young viewer’s eyes and feelings – due to his ‘slowness’, he would often not understand things or feel inferior, which could be used to reflect how young viewers might often feel about life as they grew up, and his “naive kind heartedness” being used as a moral guide to do with what you feel to be right no matter what. These storytelling “tools” were more often used for Orko but I think that Rammy also had much of this. In fact, looking back on it now, I wonder if this element of his character, certainly in terms of his Filmation incarnation, is one reason he was also so very popular.

  7. I’ve seen a photo from Australia of an orange Ram Man with a black ax. Would this be a considered a knock-off?

    1. I would imagine that it is a knockoff – I’ve never seen an official version like that (just customs). Do you have a link to the image you saw?

  8. I’ve got a feeling Ram Man was discontinued midway through the line. There’s a catalogue/poster from year 4 that shows almost every figure released up until that point with three notable exceptions – Ram Man, Zodac and Faker. Later in the Star Comics the penultimate issue #12 has a big panel where Adam reflects on the large number of Heroic Warriors and every single one is shown with the conspicuous exception of Ram Man and Zodac, if the latter counts. Notably also in year 6 Faker’s card could proclaim “He’s back!” which needed him to have been gone for a bit.

    Was Ram Man a poor seller or did the tool break and it was deemed uneconomic to fix as it wasn’t used for anything else?

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