Tag Archives: Battle Cat

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. Image repair courtesy of Retroist.


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.

Image scanned by me, repaired by Retroist

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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Box Art From A-Z, Part One: 1982

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 One: 1982

Name: Battle Cat
Year: 1982
Artist: Rudy Obrero
Description: He-Man sits astride an unhelmeted Battle Cat, with his axe and shield at the ready. Castle Grayskull looms in the background, partially shrouded in mist.

Name: Battle Ram
Year: 1982
Artist: Rudy Obrero
Description: Due to the folded shape of the box, this piece of artwork is in two sections. In the top two thirds of the artwork, He-Man flies the front half of the Battle Ram (Sky Sled) against enemies on similar flying vehicles, while a battle rages below. Several back halves of Battle Rams are launching missiles. Skeletor, Beast Man, Stratos, Man-at-Arms and Teela are seen, along side a warrior with a horned helmet, and Castle Grayskull in the background. The bottom section of the artwork features He-Man navigating rocky terrain in the complete Battle Ram, as several evil Sky Sleds attack him from the air.

battle-ram-high-resolution
Image source: MOTU Art

Name: Castle Grayskull
Year: 1982
Artist: Rudy Obrero
Description: Skeletor stands ready just inside Castle Grayskull, while He-Man, Teela, Man-At-Arms, Beast Man, Stratos and Zodac prepare to attack. Several Jet Sled-like vehicles fly overhead.

castle-grayskull-from-img


Name: He-Man and Battle Cat
Year: 1982
Artist: Rudy Obrero
Description: In a misty, rocky wasteland, He-Man rides Battle Cat into battle, accompanied by Man-At-Arms. Skeletor and Beast Man ride their own Battle Cats into Battle, accompanied by Mer-Man.

hemanbattlecat2highres-color-mix


Name: He-Man and Wind Raider
Year: 1982
Artist: Rudy Obrero
Description: In a misty, rocky wasteland, He-Man pilots the Wind Raider against Skeletor, Beast Man, a mysterious warrior in red, and shrouded hordes of barbarian warriors. In the background, laser fire erupts from Castle Grayskull.


Name: Wind Raider
Year: 1982
Artist: Rudy Obrero
Description: Due to the folded shape of the box, this piece of artwork is in two sections. In the top half or so, He-Man uses the Wind Raider’s anchor to destroy a section of Castle Grayskull, while unknown enemies piloting their own Wind Raiders attack him. In the lower section of the artwork, the Wind Raider has landed, and He-Man and Teela battle against Skeletor, Beast Man, Stratos and hordes of unknown enemies.

windraider-high-resolution
Image source: Grayskull Museum

Articles in this series:

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The top 20 posts of 2016 (and part of 2015)

The end of the year seems to be a traditional time for top 10 and top 25 lists. It seems like an American ritual to tabulate lists of the most popular things we did, said, ate or watched over the course of one trip around the sun.

I didn’t do this for 2015 (it would have seemed somewhat meaningless, as I didn’t start this blog until August of that year), so I thought I’d formulate the top 20 articles I’ve written to date (by number of views).

I’ll post them in ascending order of popularity. Try, if you can, to imagine this list read by David Letterman:

#20: 1982 Mattel Wish List

#19: Castle Grayskull prototype – a closer look

#18: Masters of the Universe Trademarks Timeline

#17: Masters of the Universe store display (1982)

#16: Panthor – Savage cat (1983)

#15: Battle Ram – Mobile Launcher (1982)

#14: Stratos – Winged warrior! (1982)

#13: Rudy Obrero: Heroic master of illustration

#12: Ted Mayer: Virtuoso of vehicle design

#11: Beast Man – Savage henchman! (1982)

#10: Mark & Rebecca Taylor on the origins of He-Man

#9: Man-E-Faces – Heroic human…robot…monster! (1983)

#8: 1982 Mattel Toys Dealer Catalog

#7: Mer-Man – Ocean warlord! (1982)

#6: Teela – Warrior goddess (1982)

#5: Faker – Evil robot of Skeletor (1983)

#4: Battle Cat – Fighting Tiger (1982)

#3: Castle Grayskull – Fortress of mystery and power (1982)

#2: Skeletor – Lord of Destruction! (1982)

#1: He-Man – Most powerful man in the universe! (1982)

And that’s the list! Thanks everyone for reading and commenting. I appreciate all the kind support and encouragement from all the readers, and for all those who have contributed to my blog with information, images, and corrections. Special thanks to Mark, Rebecca, Ted, Rudy and Martin for taking the time to let me interview them. Here’s hoping for a great 2017.

Good journey!

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Battle Armor He-Man: Most powerful man in the universe (1984)

After a sibling destroyed my original He-Man figure (don’t ask), my mother replaced him (the figure, not my sibling) with a new version: Battle Armor He-Man. With this new variant, He-Man’s power harness was replaced by plate mail that you could “damage” with a touch and then “repair” with a flick of your finger. It was an ingenious action feature that provided me with hours and hours of entertainment, although I never quite got over the loss of my original He-Man until I was able to purchase one 30 years later.

Battle Armor He-Man’s look, as near as I can tell, was created by Ted Mayer (as a variation on the original Mark Taylor design), while his action feature was designed by Ronald H. MacBain and Tony Rhodes. Martin Arriola worked on the figure as well. In this December 8, 1983 concept drawing by Ted Mayer (below), we see a design that has elements of both Battle Armor He-Man and Flying Fists He-Man. The action feature here is actually what ended up being used in the Flying Fists variant, but the armor design looks more like Battle Armor He-Man:

Image source: Tomart’s Action Figure Digest (scan via Jukka Issakainen)

In this undated drawing, which I believe was also done by Ted Mayer, He-Man’s armor has the overlapping plated look of the final armor, albeit without the H.

Note that Battle Armor He-Man was originally supposed to come with a shield. Image source: Tomart’s Action Figure Digest

Speaking of the H, this and every other He-Man variant that followed it uses an H in place of He-Man’s original cross design. The one exception is not technically a He-Man variant, but the blue armor piece that came with the 1986 Jet Sled vehicle (also designed by Ted Mayer) had a red cross design on the front:

The stylized H used on Battle-Armor He-Man’s chest also appears on Thunder Punch He-Man, Flying Fists He-Man, and on the side of the Dragon Walker. Laser Power He-Man uses a plainer H design.

An early prototype for Battle Armor He-Man shows up in Mattel’s 1984 Dealer Catalog, as well as in the commercial featured near the beginning of this article. This version of Battle Armor He-Man has a bright red H on his chest with a dark red outline. He also has quite dark red boots and loin cloth. His weapons look like they’ve been painted with a very shiny coat of metallic silver.

The production version (at least the initial Taiwan release] is a bit different from the prototype- the H is salmon-orange rather than the orange/red of the prototype. His weapons are more metallic-looking than the original release He-Man’s weapons, but not nearly as shiny as the prototype. Unlike the original He-Man, he lacks a shield.

The cross sell artwork is based on the finished toy rather than any early prototype:

The front of He-Man’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 He-Man’s name, although he is tagged with “Most powerful man in the universe” when he appears in cross sell artwork.

Image courtesy of Deimos

The cardback features a scene illustrated by Errol McCarthy, with Mer-Man giving He-Man’s armor a good slice with his sword. There is also an illustration demonstrating how He-Man’s action feature works.

Artwork by Errol McCarthy; Image via He-Man.org

Errol McCarthy illustrated quite a few versions of Battle Armor He-Man for use in Mattel and licensee products and promotional materials:

Battle Armor He-Man was sold with the following vehicles or beasts:

  • Battle Armor He-Man and Battle Cat
  • Battle Armor He-Man and Road Ripper
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William George painted the fantastic scenes for both sets:

battlecat-painting

The figure was also sold in several gift sets (images via Grayskull Museum):

  • Battle Armor He-Man and Battle Armor Skeletor
  • Man-At-Arms, Battle Armor He-Man, and Man-E-Faces
  • Battle Armor Skeletor, Orko, and Battle Armor He-Man

As I mentioned earlier, Battle Armor He-Man’s action feature was invented by Ronald H. MacBain and Tony Rhodes. The patent was filed December 29, 1983, and the trademark followed on January 27, 1984. It’s a rather ingenious concept, as described in the abstract:

An animated figure toy of the type which includes an upper torso having a chest drum rotatably mounted in a chest opening for sequential rotation to expose an undamaged section, a single damaged section and a double damaged section is provided with an improved multiple-force spring.

So essentially, a small amount of pressure will cause the chest drum to rotate forward one click, exposing an H that appears to have a slash on it, and then another H with two slashes. You can then manually turn the drum back to the start and begin all over again.

The action feature was of course reused in Battle Armor Skeletor, but a similar feature was also used in Mattel’s Hot Wheels Crack-Ups cars, which debuted in 1985:

Strangely, none of the mini comics released at any point in the vintage toy line depict He-Man with his battle armor. This variant also never appeared in the Filmation He-Man cartoon. However, Battle Armor He-Man does show up frequently in box art and posters by William George. In fact, of the 35 or so depictions of He-Man in box art, 15 of them depict He-Man in his Battle Armor. He also shows up frequently in posters illustrated by William George:

Battle Armor He-Man also appears in various Stickers, story books, collectibles, and other media.

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