The last Masters of the Universe figures I would ever get as a kid were Rokkon, Stonedar and Modulok, for my birthday in 1986. All three were a surprise, and they were all a bit out in left field compared to the figures I had until that point, which mostly reused the same few basic muscular body types that originated with He-Man, Skeletor and Beast Man.
Of the two rock/comet warriors, Stonedar was my favorite, mostly because I liked the cratered surface of his outer shell, as opposed to the quartz-like surface of Rokkon’s shell.
It seems that 1986 was the year of the transforming rock toys. That same year, Hasbro released their Inhumanoids toyline, with the heroic character Granok, who could transform from a pile of rocks into a tall rock creature. Tonka also released their Rock Lords toyline, a spinoff from the GoBots series:
These transforming rock toys seem to get regularly panned in articles about 80s toys today (particularly the Rock Lords), but I’ve always liked them. Granok was the only character I owned from the Inhumanoids line, and he was one of my favorite toys growing up. He didn’t make a very convincing pile of rocks, but he was a pretty great-looking rock warrior. Stonedar was kind of the opposite – he made for a very convincing comet or rock, but as a warrior he looked a bit awkward.
Design & Development
Rokkon emerged from a series of designs for transforming rock characters by Ted Mayer. None of the extant concepts below is identical to either Stonedar or Rokkon, but the basic idea is evident:
Both Ted Mayer and Roger Sweet are listed as inventors on the patent application, which was filed January 14, 1986.
Rokkon was sculpted by Eddy Mosqueda, a designer at Mattel. At the Lords of Power Facebook page, Eddy chimed in with the following information and picture:
I sculpted the “Rock-On” figure when I was working at Mattel. I still own a Tooling Copy of it.
Here is a photo of a Rokkon “Test-Shot” in beige that I still own. I’m still going to have to get the Tooling Copy and photograph it when I get it from a box, in a larger box, in a closet, in my basement!Eddy Mosqueda
The figure itself has an eye-catching blue, orange, silver and purple color scheme. The cross sell art and early catalog photos of the toy (below) show with without pupils and with a light purple gun:
The figure has a crystalline outer surface, suggestive of some exotic mineral or outer space rock. Rokkon’s transformation into a rock was achieved simply by posing him in the fetal position. For me the play pattern with Rokkon was to leave him as a boulder until an unsuspecting evil warrior walked by. Then Rokkon would leap into action, getting the best of the bad guy using the element of surprise.
Rokkon was initially packaged on a card that proclaimed him a “Young heroic battling boulder.” The front of the card said, “Invincible boulder transforms into master of defense!” However, on subsequent versions, Rokkon was called a “Young heroic comet warrior” and “Invincible meteor transforms into mighty warrior.”
The change may have been made to capitalize on Halley’s Comet, which passed close to the earth in 1986 (thanks to Matthew Martin for pointing out that connection to me). The first version (below, left) features artwork by Errol McCarthy (I believe) on the front, while the second version features artwork by William George on the front.
Comics & Characterization:
In the minicomic that accompanied the figure, Rock People to the Rescue, Stonedar and Rokkon would hurl themselves downhill in rock form at their enemies. In this issue they put the hurt on Kobra Khan and Webstor, which is in contrast to later stories that would paint the rock warriors as pacifists.
In Escape From The Slime Pit, the rock people are pacifists who hesitate even to defend themselves from the Evil Horde. In the end they defeat the Horde by dazzling them with their shiny armor – a feature that is also mentioned on the back of the packaging. It’s not the most compelling idea for an attack strategy. It perhaps doesn’t help that the armor on the toy isn’t particularly shiny, making the “feature” feel like something of a stretch.
The 1987 Style Guide described Rokkon this way:
Power: Transforms from mighty meteorite into warrior. As a meteor, he can roll into battle to surprise attackers. His rocky body can deflect laser blasts.
Character Profile: Member of the Comet Warriors, a race from another planet.
EDIT: Thanks to Jukka Issakainen for providing a higher-quality image of Rokkon and Stonedar’s Style Guide page.
There was also a fact file published on both comet warriors in the 1989 UK MOTU Annual:
Rokkon did not appear in the original Filmation He-Man series, but he did make a couple of appearances in She-Ra. As in the Slime Pit comic and style guide, the rock people are characterized as pacifists. They come to Etheria because the star of their home solar system is on the verge of exploding. The comet warriors immediately get into trouble with the Evil Horde.
In the model sheet below, we see that Rokkon’s early working name in the series was Flint. The name may have been changed because of the G.I. Joe character with the same name:
Earl Norem illustrated both Stonedar and Rokkon for a poster for the winter 1986 Masters of the Universe Magazine, and, as Matthew Martin pointed out in my previous article about Stonedar, the scene is reminiscent of the illustration that Errol McCarthy did for the style guide (or perhaps, considering the dates, it’s actually vice versa).
Rokkon also appears in William George’s Eternia poster:
Rokkon in Action
Øyvind Meisfjord has kindly contributed the following image and video of Rokkon in action:
Special thanks to Larry Hubbard for providing the Rokkon figure photographed for this article.
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4 thoughts on “Rokkon: Young heroic battling boulder (1986)”
of course, if you look at William George’s Eternia poster, you will see the Rokkon and Stondarr have there names reversed.
I own Rokkon, never got Stondarr.. it was an okay toy but the transformation was weak in my eyes, Rocklords were better for that as Rocks, and of course, early transformers ^_^ but they closest they got to Rock ones were… plans for “glam rock” figures.. with rooted hair.. never got past easy ideas..
While you didn’t feature it here, the Preternia poster by William George (again) yet again labelled Stondarr as Rokkon.. He had a bit of a blind spot there eh?
Another great article, Adam – though there’s so little difference between Rokkon and Stonedar other than individual appearance they could almost merit one joint article; in fact, it’s odd these two were never sold as a two-pack.I guess Mattel wanted to maximize profiles to try and get kids to fork out individually for these two.
Rokkon and Stonedar stand out in my memory in that I got them both on the same day during a shopping trip to town. Ordinarily, I’d only ever (rarely) score two figures at once if it was my birthday or with some Christmas money, etc. I remember walking into the toyshop with my other and seeing the due on the shelves for the first time, not knowing about them before. Not sure if my mother liked their designs or their more ‘genteel'(?) characters, as she normally pushed me towards more educational toys, but for whatever reason she treated me to both of them.
I have to confess, I could never remember which name belonged to which figure, and even all these years later, I do have to pause and think about i! (And even all these years later, I usually have to resort to looking up on-line which laser-radar-gun-thing accessory goes with which figure!)
Although feeling much more ‘gimmicky’ and anything-goes, a vibe which dominated (and arguably even tarnished) the original line’s run, and constructed quite differently from the typical MOTU figure, I really like Rokkon and Stonedar, though more in terms of stand alone toys, not so much in terms of the MOTU franchise In terms of play, I’d typically have Rokkon and Stonedar “disguised” as boulders on guard either side of the entrance of Castle Grayskull, waiting for an intruder to approach, at which point they’d hurl themselves at them.
Looking at the design sketches, it does look like a whole line or Rock People was at one point considered, maybe like a sub-set of Heroic Warriors (just as The Evil Horde and the Snake Men would be additional villainous factions). It’s interesting that we ended up getting two of the Rock People – as Mattel clearly liked the concept and seemed poised at one point to expand the Rock People further, whereas sometimes we’d get a heroic and evil counterpart (thing Fisto and Jitsu, Moss Man and Stinkor, several corresponding He-Man and Skeletor variants). It’s maybe interesting that Mattel didn’t appear to consider adapting the concept for an evil version.
This may just be fan hearsay, but I recall reading online some years ago (possibly on he-man.org?) talk that a female rock figure was proposed and in line for production but for whatever reason was dropped. How true or speculative this actually is, I’m not sure.
They do feel like two figures that are from another toyline, as is the case with so many later-run MOTU figures, and they do feel a bit “gimmick first, character second” (ditto), but as two stand alone figures, whilst not classics, Rokkon and Stonedar aren’t bad at all.
Thank you P.J.! Actually a lot of this article was recycled from my earlier post about Stonedar. As you mention, there isn’t a lot of difference between them. Same concept, same stories, just a few different details, and of course different costuming and shells.
I know there was a female rock warrior called Granita. She showed up in the She-Ra cartoon, not sure if there were serious plans to put out a figure for her.
These were the only two heroic warriors I had from the 1986 line, so I have the most nostalgic feeling for them. But all of them are pretty gimmicky and none seem to fit too well into previously established MOTU style, apart from perhaps Snout Spout.