Artwork

Masters of the Universe Cross Sell Art – 1984

The artwork for this set comes from Axel Giménez and my own photos and scans. The worst quality images in this set are for Battle Armor He-Man and Battle Armor Skeletor – more’s the pity.

Update: Battle Armor He-Man has been updated with nicer artwork (minus the sword) courtesy of Axel!

Masters of the Universe Cross Sell Art:

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Evil Warriors

Battle Armor Skeletor – Evil Lord of Destruction (1984)

BA Skeletor Graphic

My mother got me Battle Armor He-Man as a replacement for my original He-Man after it was destroyed. However, I still had my original Skeletor, and in that case mom logic dictated that I didn’t need Battle Armor Skeletor, since I still had the original. Kids and collectors understand that owning a standard action figure and owning a variant are two different experience, but I couldn’t make that case as a seven-year-old.

So, I had to make do with my Kellogg’s puffy sticker, and of course I played with my friends’ figures whenever I could. I was endlessly fascinated by both the designs and the action feature of the Battle Armor variants.

Kellogg’s puffy sticker, artist unknown

Battle Armor Skeletor reuses the arms, legs, head, crotch and weapons of the original Skeletor, but includes a spring-loaded, rotating drum in the chest that could be activated with slight pressure, exposing three versions of a bat insignia showing varying levels of damage. The action feature was invented by Ronald H. MacBain and Tony Rhodes, and the patent was filed December 29, 1983. Martin Arriola also worked on the figure, which was trademarked on January 27, 1984. The original version of Skeletor was designed by Mark Taylor.

The cross sell artwork was based on the actual toy, so it had more accurate and updated arm “fins” and boots than the original Skeletor’s cross sell artwork:

battle armor skeletor cross sell
Battle Armor Skeletor cross sell artwork.


A similar action feature was also used in Mattel’s Hot Wheels Crack-Ups cars, which debuted in 1985:

The front of  Battle Armor Skeletor’s card has a burst describing the function of the action feature. Unlike most figures released in the toy line, there is no tag line underneath his  name, although he is tagged with “Evil lord of destruction” when he appears in cross sell artwork.

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Incidentally, when Skeletor was first released in 1982, his tag line was “Lord of destruction.” “Evil” was added to the front of it starting in 1983.


Errol McCarthy illustrated the fight scene on the back of the card along with the instructions, and also illustrated the figure in artwork for use in the 1987 Style Guide as well as on T-shirts and other licensed products:


In the 1987 Style Guide, Skeletor (depicted with his battle armor) is given the following bio, which draws upon the various updates and retcons done to MOTU canon over the years:

skeletor_m305_full
Image via He-Man.org

Once the student of Hordak on his home planet of Etheria, Skeletor trapped his mentor on Etheria and escaped through a dimension gate to Eternia. Now Skeletor embodies all that is evil in Eternia. His goal is to one day rule all of Eternia, bringing upon its citizens an unending reign of terror. For dozens of years, Skeletor waited, polishing his magical skills in anticipation of the day when he would break through the Mystical Wall that separated the good and evil areas of Eternia. On the 18th birthday of Prince Adam, Skeletor finally prevailed. It was on this fateful day that Prince Adam first transformed himself into He-man, thus saving Eternia from the evil advance of Skeletor. Skeletor is now committed to destroying He-Man and his allies.

The style guide also mentions Skeletor’s Dragon Blaster and Battle Armor variants:

Weapons: Skeletor stalks the land with his evil pet, freezing foes with the dragon’s vicious paralyzing venom. His Battle Armor gives him the power to withstand the mightiest blows of battle.

Battle Armor Skeletor was sold in a number of gift sets, which include the following:

  • Battle Armor Skeletor/Webstor
  • Battle Armor Skeletor/Webstor/Mer-Man
  • Battle Armor Skeletor/Panthor
  • Battle Armor Skeletor/Screeech
  • Battle Armor Skeletor/Panthor/Man-E-Faces
  • Battle Armor Skeletor/Land Shark
  • Battle Armor Skeletor/Battle Armor He-Man

The figure was also released in a number of unique Canadian gift sets:


India-based Leo Toys released an unusual version of the figure, which featured the torso from Battle Armor He-Man in purple:


Battle Armor Skeletor, strangely, never appeared in the minicomics or in the Filmation cartoon. It does appear in the Golden Book story, The Magic Mirror (albeit with the skirt from the original Skeletor design), and on the cover of Dangerous Games:

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Dangerous games cover

Battle Armor Skeletor appears quite frequently on Masters of the Universe Box art, showing up in numerous paintings, most by William George:

  • Battle Armor Skeletor and Panthor
  • Battle Armor Skeletor and Screeech
  • Snake Mountain
  • Bashasaurus
  • Battle Bones
  • Dragon Walker (Euro Edition)
  • Fright Zone
  • Land Shark
  • Land Shark & Battle Armor Skeletor
  • Night Stalker
  • Spydor
  • Fright Fighter

He also appears in a 1984 poster by William George:

Grayskull poster

The same artist also illustrated both Battle Armor Skeletor and Battle Armor He-Man for the 1985 board game, Battle For Eternia (thanks to Øyvind for the reminder). The illustration on the front depicts Skeletor and He-Man taking part in the board game with a couple of children, which is strikes me as a stroke of genius. I think a lot of us imagined what it might be like to interact with these characters in real life.

game01_full
Image via He-Man.org
game02_full
Image via He-Man.org

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Artwork

Box Art From A-Z, Part Four: 1985

box-art-a-z-graphic-image-1985

One of the best things about getting new He-Man toys as a kid was the box art. The toys were of course amazing and fun, but personally I spent almost as much time staring at the boxes as playing with the toys. I remember being pretty heartbroken when my mother made me throw away my Castle Grayskull and Battle Ram boxes. She saw them as clutter, but for me they were almost stories in and of themselves. You could see whole adventures unfolding in a single painted scene.

Unfortunately, good photographs or scans of the original art are not available for every piece. If you happen to have a nicer images than I do (higher resolution, better composition, etc), please do feel free to share, and I’ll make an update! For pictures of the packaging itself, a neutral (white or black) background is preferred. High resolution scans of the artwork, where it appears without logos, would be ideal. Bottom line – if you have better images than I do, please share them!

One final note: I’m defining box art as the front-facing painted artwork that appeared on boxed Masters of the Universe toys. The illustrations on blister card packaging, then, are outside the scope of this series.

Part Four: 1985

Name: Bashasaurus
Year: 1985
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor He-Man attacks Battle Armor Skeletor using the Bashasaurus’ “basher ball” as a small dragon-like creature looks on. In the distance,  Clawful and Trap Jaw run down the winding path from Snake Mountain.

bashasuarus

Name: Battle Bones
Year: 1985
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor He-Man, Teela, Fisto, Man-At-Arms, Man-E-Faces, Buzz-Off, Battle Armor Skeletor, Beast Man, Kobra Khan, Jitsu, Whiplash and Evil-Lyn pose next to Battle Bones. In a separate scene, Battle Armor He-Man, Fisto, Man-At-Arms, Man-E-Faces, and Mekaneck use Battle Bones to attack Battle Armor Skeletor, Tri-Klops, and Beast Man.

battle-bones-main
battle-bones-secondary


Name: Dragon Walker (Euro Edition)
Year: 1985
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor He-Man pilots the Dragon Walker over rocky, volcanic terrain. Beast Man and Tri-Klops are ready to attack but seem unsure how to proceed. In the foreground, a small pterodactyl-like creature seems ready to take flight. In a separate scene, Battle Armor Skeletor (riding in Land Shark) and Beast Man lurk in the background.

dragon-walker-largest
dragon-walker-top-best


Name: Fright Zone
Year: 1985
Artist: William George
Description: In the fearsome Fright Zone, Battle Armor He-Man fights the dreadful dragon, while Hordak snares Battle Armor Skeletor with his tree trap. Buzz-Off is held captive in Hordak’s prison. Dead trees and craggy mountains surround the lair of the Evil Horde, and twin moons hang in the sky.

frightzone_box-edit
Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen

Name: Hordak Grizzlor
Year: 1985
Artist: William George
Description: He-Man approaches Grizzlor and Hordak, his sword and shield at the ready. The sinister Fright Zone stands in the background.

02-hm-org
Image via He-Man.org

Name: Jitsu & Night Stalker
Year: 1985
Artist: William George
Description: in the middle of a desolate and rocky landscape, Jitsu and Night Stalker attack Fisto, who seems to have been caught without backup.

Image courtesy of Tokyonever

Name: Land Shark
Year: 1985
Artist: William George
Description: Skeletor drives Land Shark over a cracked and rocky desert. A vicious looking dragon-like creature looks on.

land-shark-best

Name: Land Shark & Battle Armor Skeletor
Year: 1985
Artist: William George
Description:  Battle Armor Skeletor, driving Land Shark, races across the cratered desert floor. From his vantage point on a rock, Man-At-Arms seems ready to leap into battle. A vicious-looking winged dragon creature watches from a gnarled tree branch.

land-shark-and-battle-armor-skeletor

Name: Modulok
Year: 1985
Artist: Unknown
Description: Modulok is shown in fifteen body configurations and poses.

modulok-axel
Image courtesy of Axel Giménez

Name: Night Stalker
Year: 1985
Artist: William Garland*
Description: Charging down the narrow path from Snake Mountain, Battle Armor Skeletor and Night Stalker attack Battle Armor He-Man and Mekaneck. A reddened sky and strange rocky formations are the prominent features of Skeletor’s domain. (*Artist name not confirmed for this particular piece, but the art seems to match the style of the Panthor illustrations.)

night-stalker-artwork-best

Name: Spydor
Year: 1985
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor Skeletor looms large over Battle Armor He-Man as he uses Spydor to attack the most powerful man in the universe. In the background, tooth-like volcanoes belch smoke. Three moons hang in the alien sky.

spydor-best

More in this series:

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Artwork

Box Art From A-Z, Part Three: 1984

box-art-a-z-graphic-1984

One of the best things about getting new He-Man toys as a kid was the box art. The toys were of course amazing and fun, but personally I spent almost as much time staring at the boxes as playing with the toys. I remember being pretty heartbroken when my mother made me throw away my Castle Grayskull and Battle Ram boxes. She saw them as clutter, but for me they were almost stories in and of themselves. You could see whole adventures unfolding in a single painted scene.

Unfortunately, good photographs or scans of the original art are not available for every piece. If you happen to have a nicer images than I do (higher resolution, better composition, etc), please do feel free to share, and I’ll make an update! For pictures of the packaging itself, a neutral (white or black) background is preferred. High resolution scans of the artwork, where it appears without logos, would be ideal. Bottom line – if you have better images than I do, please share them!

One final note: I’m defining box art as the front-facing painted artwork that appeared on boxed Masters of the Universe toys. The illustrations on blister card packaging, then, are outside the scope of this series.

Part Three: 1984

Name: Battle Armor He-Man and Battle Cat
Year: 1984
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Cat and Battle Armor He-Man leap through the air into battle.

battle-cat-william-george-gift-set

Name: Battle Armor He-Man and Road Ripper
Year: 1984
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor He-Man races over the rocky desert floor in the Road Ripper, as small dragon-like creatures look on. A volcano erupts in the background.

he-man-road-ripper-best


Name: Battle Armor Skeletor and Panthor
Year: 1984
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor Skeletor and Panthor race up the rocky path toward Castle Grayskull, which is guarded by Battle Armor He-Man and Man-At-Arms.

ba-skeletor-panthor-best

Name: Battle Armor Skeletor and Screeech
Year: 1984
Artist: Unknown
Description: Screeech takes flight from the perch of Battle Armor Skeletor’s arm. Molten lava erupts from a nearby volcano and the skies are choked with black smoke.

battle-armor-skeletor-screeech-best


Name: Battle For Eternia (2)
Year: 1984
Artist: William Garland
Description: Panthor swipes his claws at Man-E-Faces, as Man-E-Faces takes aim with his blaster at Skeletor, who is riding atop the savage cat. Twin moons hang in the smokey sky. (Note: this set has the same artwork as the version released in 1983, but includes Battle Armor Skeletor in place of Skeletor.)

BFE
Image courtesy of Tokyonever

Name: Dragon Walker
Year: 1984
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor He-Man pilots the Dragon Walker over rocky, volcanic terrain. Beast Man and Tri-Klops are ready to attack but seem unsure how to proceed. In the foreground, a small pterodactyl-like creature seems ready to take flight.

dragon-walker-largest


Name: Fisto & Stridor
Year: 1984
Artist: William Garland*
Description: Fisto spots Skeletor and Whiplash as he rides Stridor through a perilous landscape, lit by twin alien moons. A menacing wolf-like creature lurks in the foreground. (*Artist name not confirmed for this particular piece, but the art seems to match the style of the Panthor illustrations.)

fisto-stridor-best

Name: Road Ripper
Year: 1984
Artist: William George
Description: He-Man races over the rocky desert floor in the Road Ripper.

road-ripper-largest

Name: Roton
Year: 1984
Artist: William George
Description: Skeletor tears through a grassy field in the Roton. A horned lizard and demon-like creature look on near a muddy pool of water. A huge, Jupiter-like planet and its orbiting moon dominate the night sky. A group of shadowy figures stand around a campfire in the distance.

roton-brb-scan

Name: Snake Mountain
Year: 1984
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor He-Man takes aim with his axe at Battle Armor Skeletor, who stands at the high gate of Snake Mountain. Man-At-Arms is chained to the side of the evil fortress.

snake-mountain

Name: Stridor
Year: 1984
Artist: William Garland*
Description: He-Man rides Stridor across the desert at night, his sword ready for battle. (*Artist name not confirmed for this particular piece, but the art seems to match the style of the Panthor illustrations.)

stridor-largest-saturation

More articles in this series:

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