I was a little conflicted about Sy-Klone as a kid. For whatever reason I was bothered by his blue and yellow dominated color scheme, but fascinated by the Saturn-like rings around his helmet, gloves and boots (a Jetsons-like design choice, to be sure), his lenticular chest radar sticker, and of course his spinning action feature. I would tornado him around the house using the wheel on his belt until my thumb got sore. Update: interestingly, Mattel made at least three commercials for Sy-Klone. They each have some subtle differences from each other.
Sy-Klone was created by Mattel Designer Roger Sweet, under the working name “Tornado”. The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog shows two early concept designs for the character.
This version [below] doesn’t have lot in common with the specific design details of the final figure, other than the circular shape on his chest and the general design on the crotch piece.
This version of “Tornado” (below) is closer to the final design. Note the presence of the arm “fins” and the various retro-futuristic rings on the costume. Significant differences from the final toy include the shape of his chest radar and his color scheme, which is has a great deal of green in it.
As is often the case, elements from a concept version of Sy-Klone ended up in the minicomics – specifically Spikor Strikes (which came packed with both Spikor and Sy-Klone). The design is almost identical to the second concept version of the character, except the “fins” on his arms are mounted on oval plate-like structures, which resemble the design of the shield that would come with him. He also has a Caucasian face, rather than a blue or metallic one, and carries a Mekaneck-like club (as does Spikor). This likely represents a third version of the concept art, or even an early prototype. Note that in the third image below, he is referred to as “Tornado”, although he’s called Sy-Klone throughout the rest of the comic:
The patent for Sy-Klone’s spinning mechanism was filed December 14, 1984. The following drawings were included, showing the inner workings of the mechanism. Note that the figure drawing still follows the look of the early concept artwork:
Sy-Klone wasn’t trademarked until June 17, 1985. I suspect he was released somewhat later than other 1985 figures, given that his trademark filed later than any other 1985 figure.
The final toy is a somewhat streamlined looking version of the second version of the concept art. His color scheme is simplified to blue and yellow, with red highlights. He lost the rings around high thighs and biceps, and the top of his helmet was modified. He was given a space-themed belt, and of course his chest radar was made circular. The lenticular sticker used was designed by Martin Arriola. The cross sell artwork is closely based on the final toy, and reflects all these changes.
Sy-Klone reuses no previously existing parts. He is one of the few vintage Masters of the Universe figures with ball-jointed shoulder articulation. The ball joint was very loose, allowing the arms to raise on their own with centrifugal force as the figure began to spin. Sy-Klone’s face, like Mekaneck’s face, bears a strong resemblance to He-Man.
Like many figures released in 1985, his only weapon is a shield. In examining the 1985 wave of heroic and evil warriors (leaving aside the evil horde), some clear patterns emerge.
Looking at the non-variant heroes and villains, there is one of each that is an entirely (or nearly) new sculpt, with almost no reused parts (Two Bad and Sy-Klone). There is one of each that has significant new tooling, but also reuses some parts (Spikor and Roboto). There is also one of each that is entirely made up of preexisting parts (Stinkor and Moss Man). Clearly this was planned out ahead of time and likely based on budgetary concerns.
Of the six 1985 unique heroic and evil warriors, half of them (Sy-Klone, Stinkor and Two Bad) have a shield as their only accessory.
Spikor was released on the standard blister card, with artwork on the back by Errol McCarthy (images via Jukka Issakainen and Starcrusader).
Errol McCarthy also illustrated the character for use in licensed products, as well as the 1987 Style Guide.
The guide had this to say about Sy-Klone:
Power: Ability to fly and plow through enemy lines with turbulent fist-whirling action.
Character profile: His built-in radar screen enables him to sense oncoming attacks. He often senses the physical presence of evil long before others of the Heroic Warriors. Sy-Klone is extremely fast on his feet and quick with his fists.
Sy-Klone was sold in a couple of giftsets – in a three pack with Hordak and Roboto, and in a JCPenny two pack with Moss Man (images via Grayskull Museum):
Sy-Klone makes appearances in box art for the Eternia playset as well as Monstroid and Tower Tools:
Sy-Klone makes some brief appearances in the Filmation He-Man cartoon, showing up in “Beauty and the Beast” and “Here, There, Skeletors Everywhere”. In the series Sy-Klone has the ability to spin his entire body in tornado fashion, or just his arms. His Filmation look is quite close to the toy counterpart, with the exception of his radar screen, which is greatly simplified (color images courtesy of Jukka Issakainen; color model sheet originally from He-Man and She-Ra: A Complete Guide to the Classic Animated Adventures):
As mentioned previously, Sy-Klone came packed with the Spikor Strikes comic. In the story, his unique powers and courage allow him to rescue Teela from Skeletor. He also plays bit parts in the following minicomics:
- Leech – The Master of Power Suction Unleashed!
- The Flying Fists of Power
- The Terror Claws Strike
- The Menace of the Multi-Bot!
- The Hordes of Hordak
He is illustrated with variations on his concept art look until his appearance in The Hordes of Hordak, which probably comes down to artists using Spikor Strikes as a reference.
Sy-Klone appears on the cover art (illustrated by Earl Norem) in the Golden Book story, Power From the Sky. He does not, however, show up in the story itself.
Sy-Klone is given an origin story in the hardback Golden Book story, I Have The Power. In it, Skeletor inadvertently gives an acrobat called Human Tornado his powers using a “mechano-ray” device.
Sy-Klone makes several appearances in the German Ehapa Verlag comic series. This image comes from the end page of issue nine from the 1988 run (image via He-Man.org):
Sy-Klone also appears in posters by William George and Earl Norem:
The Earl Norem poster featuring Sy-Klone, Moss Man, and He-Man battling the beast from the Fright Zone is one of my particular favorites. For this reason I often think of Moss Man and Sy-Klone working as a team.
Sy-Klone was given another origin story in issue 71 of the UK MOTU Magazine. In the story his real name is Dash-El, a runner who rebels when the Evil Horde invade his planet. Injured in an explosion, Dash-El’s father nurses him back to health by repairing his damaged body with cybernetic parts. Healed with cybernetics and cloning technologies, Dash-El’s father comes to call him Sy-Klone.
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12 thoughts on “Sy-Klone: Heroic fist-flinging tornado (1985)”
Awesome. Never got enough of this guy. Forgot he was on that Earl Norem poster. Fantastic post!!
Another amazing write-up, man! I love Sy-Klone. I always thought he probably was a hit with the women.
I am amused that the flying hero needed to ride the Jet Sled.
I played with Sy-Klone a lot, turned him heel (due to the Skeletor skin tone) at the end of my original toy playing days.
Sy-Klone was a favorite of mine as a kid. I noticed the resemblance to He-Man immediately, and came up with my own backstory for him, like I did for most of the MOTU figures: He was an earlier Faker who turned good, and was given his tornado powers by Man-at-Arms. Skeletor then put more of himself into the second Faker to ensure his loyalty, explaining why he wore a version of Skeletor’s armor.
How I came to get my Sy-Klone as a boy come from a disappointment. I’d had to go to some family function or other, and one of my aunt’s had bought me a MOTU figure as a present. She knew I liked MOTU but didn’t know what figures I had; She’d bought me Tri-Klops, who I already had. Back home a few days later, I went into town with my grandmother to see if we could exchange the figure without the till receipt (and not knowing which chain it been bought from). We went it one shop, and I selected Battle Armor Skeletor the the one I wanted to swap Tri-Klops for. We went to the till, explained we didn’t have the receipt and could we swap it… but were eventually told they couldn’t do it. We went to another toyshop, checked first this time, were told they would allow us the exchange the figure… and then found they didn’t have any Battle Armor Skeletor. However, they did have some newly released figures which I’d never seen before – including Sy-Klone, whom my grandma helped me choose “because she liked the shiny thing on his chest”. None of my friends had seen or even heard of Sy-Klone so, for a while, I seemed to be ‘special’ that I was the only one who had him!
Only a couple of months later did one of my friends get a Sy-Klone, excitedly describing their new figure, that they couldn’t remember the name of, to me: “He looks a bit like He-Man but his face is blue”… Guess which figure I mistakenly thought he meant!! 🙂
Anyway, I thought Sy-Klone was a good figure. I never ranked him as a ‘classic’, the whole line had become too removed from it’s barbarian roots by this stage for any newbies to be ranked as a classic by me, but as a figure on it’s own merits, Sy-Klone was very good. I loved his colour scheme (sorry, @Battleram!) and action feature, and his lenticular disk fascinated me. Also, whilst his vague origin story was different in various sources, he at least was one of the later figures who had some kind of ‘story’ as to what he did, as opposed to some of the “gimmick first, character an afterthought” entries.
One thing I’ve always personally noticed and theorised about, yet nobody else seems to have noticed, is the possible connection between Sy-Klone and the infamously unreleased “design-a-character” winner, Fearless Photog. Now, the earliest prototype of SK (which I only first saw about a year ago) may suggest otherwise, but to me there are two striking similarities:
* First of all, the colour scheme. Both blue torso and bright yellow limbs. (See more on this below)
* The chest feature. Whereas SK has a radar (or whatever), FP had a screen to display enemies (filmed on his camera-like head). Both both figures featured a “moving chest monitor” feature – and Photo’s one, of “filming” a running enemy, could potentially have used a lenticular insert to simuate moving graphics, too.
* Oh, and they both carry yellow shields, too. …So I always wondered if, where Mattel decided to back out of making a mass-produced Fearless Photog figure, they instead developed the general look and design of the character into what would become Tornado / Sy-Klone. Now of course since I’ve seen the earliest Sy-Klone concept, this has thrown my longstanding theory into doubt; the earliest (known) SK prototype has a different colour scheme and may even pre-date FP. Additionally, whilst I always interpreted Photog to have yellow limbs with shadowing, the Classics realisation of the figure instead suggest he actually had a yellow/back colour scheme on his limbs. So it appears my theory may be rubbish after all… but it still intrigues me. Anyone got any thoughts on it?
(By the way, that original early concept of Sy-Klone looks like it might have planned to reuse Man-E-Faces crotch piece as it as exactly the same design).
Update… checking up more on the concept of FP it looks like he was thought up about a year or so later… so I guess that’s one rubbish theory at least that I can put to bed. 🙂
Good call on the MEF crotch piece – I hadn’t picked up on that 🙂