The Slime Pit was the second and final small playset released in the original Masters of the Universe toyline (the first was Point Dread, in 1983). Of all the playsets MOTU had to offer, the Slime Pit perhaps packed the most punch for its size. It was all centered around one play feature, but it what a feature!
Design & Development
The Slime Pit was designed by Ted Mayer, from an idea that came out of the boy’s design group’s many brain storming sessions.
In the above illustration, you can see many of the hallmarks of the final playset are in place, including the grabbing hand in the front, the hand around the side and the scroll design near the top. The slime-spewing head is wolf-like in this concept (a frequent theme in Ted’s designs, it seems), whereas the final version seems to have more of a dinosaur skull look.
Mattel more or less invented slime as a commercial product, and it has been a popular seller since the late 1970s. The Slime Pit was a clever way for Mattel to integrate its popular slime products into the world of Masters of the Universe.
Pixel Dan has done some extensive research on the history of slime. Take a moment to check it out in this video:
There is also some great information about slime in this article at Plaid Stallions and again in this piece by Dinosaur Dracula.
The final play set has a deeper pit area than the concept version. The paint applications are fairly simple, but it does have some well executed red and gray overspray on the gray stone areas and some brown overspray on the skull. These seem more well thought-out than the often haphazard looking paint applications given to the exterior of Castle Grayskull (particular later releases of the playset). Like the Fright Zone, the Slime Pit is adorned with Hordak’s visage (Hordak seems really into branding his image on all things Horde). There is also a sculpted skull near the back wall.
The playset came with a can of Mattel’s Horde Slime. This particular slime mix was much runnier than the kind of slime typically found on toy store shelves today. It was also available for free, separate from the playset, with the purchase of two action figures.
That runniness made it work great for the purposes of sliming action figures, but it also made it hazardous to rugs and upholstery, not to mention any furry MOTU figures like Moss Man, Panthor and Grizzlor. For that reason, there were a few warnings given about what not to do with the slime, which were of course promptly ignored by many enterprising young mad scientists.
The box art was painted by the late, great William George. Taking cues from the design of the playset itself, the scene is set in ancient Greco-Eternian ruins.
The Slime Pit came packed with Escape From the Slime Pit, which showcased the mini playset’s power to turn its victims into mindless slaves of the Horde. In the story, He-Man is slimed and is only restored to his right mind by exposure to brilliant light:
The Slime Pit appears in the She-Ra episode, “Loo-Kee’s Sweetie.” It doesn’t really look like the playset, but it does feature slime and a number of dinosaur-like bones. In the story, the Slime Pit saps its victims’ strength rather than turning them into zombie slaves. It’s easy to see why this less disturbing concept might be preferred for the purposes of an animated kids’ show.
The Slime Pit was featured in the June 1986 edition of Masters of the Universe Magazine, as both the cover subject and as a poster by Earl Norem. The artwork features Buzz-Off as the victim and Flying Fists He-Man riding to the rescue on Battle Cat.
It also is the centerpiece in a Kid Stuff audio book called Prisoner In the Slime Pit:
Like the Slime itself, the Slime Pit was a concept that Mattel would revisit over and over again:
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10 thoughts on “Slime Pit: Evil pit of gruesome ooze (1986)”
Slime was ubiquitous in the ’80s, and I had many varieties to play with, but the MOTU slime was always the best. The color, the odor, the consistency of it was exactly how slime oughta be, in my mind. My Slime Pit came from a garage sale, where I found a single piece of the skull in a box of random toys. I instantly knew what it was, of course. I methodically searched all the boxes for the other pieces, finding them one by one, and assembled it on the spot when I was done. I have no idea why it was unassembled, but it made for a fun little scavenger hunt while my mom looked at boring adult crap like pants and shoes. It had a 50 cent price written on the back of the wall section in black marker, and I was floored to get it for so little. I managed to convince my mom to stop by a store on the way home so I could get a can of slime, after swearing many oaths that I wouldn’t use it on or near the carpet, of course.
As it turned out, there had actually been a piece missing that I didn’t know about: the little skull piece that covers the hole where the slime is poured into it. I had no idea a piece went there, so when I got a complete Slime Pit as an adult, I was surprised to see that piece. None of my friends had it, and if it had been visible in any of the ads for the playset, I hadn’t noticed, so I’d spent all those years unaware that my Pit had been missing a piece!
I have the 2002 MOTU Slime Pit (which I reworked into Skeletor’s throne) and the HP snake-themed version, which was used as a hangout for various snake-themed figures I had, but I’ve never seen that Imaginext version before! It makes an odd sort of sense as a playset for Ra’s al Ghul, now that I think of it, with his habit of submerging himself in pools of green ooze.
I don’t think I ever saw the Slime Pit in person until I was an adult. But it’s easy to see how that top cap piece could easily get lost.
Ha, how on earth did the ad with Moss Man about to go into the pit get a pass? Priceless. The William George box art is superb. Interesting how Mattel carried the concept through other toy lines. Great post.
I know! They might as well have shown the kid mushing the slime on Mom’s shag carpet!
Thanks very much!
interesting that the original William George art you show for the box was not the one used for the final box.. normal after the fact colouring changes of course, but you can see a fair bit. At first, I would have just said Beastman has been retouched but.. no.. pretty much EVERYTHING in the final image is different.. of course, drafts etc aren’t uncommon but interesting..
Good eye as usual, Manic Man. I was focused on all the ruins and didn’t even notice the differences.
I’ve seen it before, but I really think the one with Grizzlor and Leach loading the slime pit is a fav of mine cause of how true to life it is. You can just picture them picking up a large tub of ‘Masters of the Universe Slime’, climbing up to the top of the pit and pouring it in ^_^
I’ve always felt a bit different from the norm on this on in that, whereas most people seem to have glowing, adoring memories of the Slime Pit, I never particularly liked it, never had it, and actually, never really wanted it, it just didn’t appeal to me. Why? Well, a two-pronged reason really. 1) I wasn’t really allowed ‘messy’ toys as a child. Messy, or noisy motors, was generally a no-no in our household. 2) I just wasn’t in to the concept. Why would I want to slime my lovely, shiny, pristine figures? Sure it wiped off, but… nah, just wasn’t into it. Everyone seems to love the idea, but not me.
Also, I always found it a little ironic that they chose Beast Man of all characters to showcase as a victim on the boxart and so much publicity. Considering the warnings to keep the Slime away from Moss Man, Panthor and Grizzlor; okay Beast Man’s figure is not actually furry, but the character in concept shaggy, and you’d have thought they’d have want to have got that ‘furry’/”slime’ notion well away for kid’s minds in many form!
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What a great review of the Slime Pit. Slime was a very great 80s thing… I messed up my whole room with it… *LOL*