History

Masters of the Universe Timeline (1971-1987)

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In my continuing quest to understand the history of the vintage Masters of the Universe toyline, I’ve put together the following timeline. It’s generally focused on toy design, drawing dates from concept artwork, internal Mattel documents, patent filings, trademark filings, and even the Masters of the Universe Bible. My goal here is to give readers a sense of how the He-Man toyline developed and evolved. I’ve also included a few dates gleaned from the CPI (Conan Properties International) vs Mattel court cases. I believe this will help put to bed the idea that He-Man started out as a Conan figure. While He-Man was certainly influenced by Conan as depicted by Frank Frazetta, the He-Man project predates Mattel’s work on the Conan property by some time.

I drew on a number of different sources in compiling this information. Those sources include:

This is by no means an exhaustive timeline. I included only those pieces of information that were dated in some way. That includes information from court cases that was assigned an approximate date, like an early 1981 date for Tony Guerrero’s He-Man prototype. That also means that undated material like Mark Taylor’s Demo Man concept or Roger Sweet’s Mekaneck concept are not included in the timeline. I could of course infer dates for this kind of material, but I wanted to avoid guessing and stick to known facts.

I also have stayed away from dates tied to media not directly related to toy production. There are many specific dates available for individual episodes of the Filmation He-Man cartoon, for instance, but that is really outside of the parameters of this particular project.

I have only included a few images of concept designs here – some of them appear in earlier posts in this blog, and almost all of them appear in the sources I drew from. Unfortunately it would not be practical to try to include all of them in this post.

Finally, I’ve included some names that were listed in the Masters of the Universe Bible. The Bible itself is dated December 1, 1982, which gives us an early (if not exact) date for at least the conceptual existence of characters like Orko (or Gorpo, as he was first named) and Jitsu (or Chopper).

1971

“King of Styx” – illustration for a short story by Mark Taylor. Some elements later reused for Skeletor. Image courtesy of Rebecca Salari Taylor

1979 – “The King of Styx” concept, by Mark Taylor

1979

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Torak, by Mark Taylor – 1979. Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation, by way of the Toy Masters documentary preview

1979 – Torak (He-Man) & early Skeletor concept, by Mark Taylor
1979 – First Castle Grayskull sketch, by Mark Taylor
Aug 15, 1979 – Category Management Teams memo

1980

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December 1980: Roger Sweet’s “He-Man” trio; the barbarian figure was based on designs by Mark Taylor

May 22, 1980 – Fantasy Make Believe idea disclosure form, Roger Sweet
June 11, 1980 – Male Action Figure attributes list
September 8, 1980 – Figure Attributes list
September 21, 1980 – Space/Monster/Fantasy Figures budgeted hours form, Roger Sweet
November 3, 1980 – Megaton Man project request form, Roger Sweet
Late November, 1980 – Work started on “He-Man trio”, Roger Sweet with Mark Taylor
Mid-December 1980 – He-Man trio presented at Mattel Product Conference
December 30, 1980 – He-Man Characters & Accessories idea disclosure form, Roger Sweet

1981

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Tony Guerrero’s early 1982 He-Man prototype. Image source: Tomart’s Action Figure Digest.

Early 1981 – He-Man prototype, by Tony Guerrero
1981 – Bird Man (Stratos) concept, by Mark Taylor
1981 – Mer-Man concept, by Mark Taylor
1981 – Castle Grayskull concept, by Mark Taylor
1981 – Battle Cat concept, by Mark Taylor
1981 – Sensor (Zodac) concept, by Mark Taylor
1981 – Heroic Figure Battle Tester (Castle Grayskull combat trainer) concept, by Mark Taylor
1981 – Heroic Figure (He-Man) concept, by Mark Taylor
1981 – Heroic Figure (He-Man) battles plant monster concept, by Mark Taylor
January 6, 1981 – He-Man Vehicles and Accessories idea disclosure form (modular vehicles), Roger Sweet
January 23, 1981 – Drawing by Colin Bailey depicting Mark Taylor working on He-Man project, titled “Death of Mark Taylor From Night Visitation”
March 30, 1981 – De-Man (Skeletor) concept, by Mark Taylor
April 1, 1981 – Man-At-Arms concept, by Mark Taylor
April 2 1981 – Tree Man (Beast Man) concept, by Mark Taylor
April 6 1981 – He-Man (tan boots) concept, by Mark Taylor
April 7 1981 – Battle Ram (tank treads version) concept, by Ted Mayer
April 24, 1981 – Memorandum urging negotiation for Conan license
May 3, 1981 – He-Man (red/yellow boots) concept, by Mark Taylor
May 5, 1981 – CPI draft licensing agreement sent
May 28 1981 – Female Warrior (Teela) concept, by Mark Taylor
May 28, 1981 – Battle Ram control drawing, by Ted Mayer
June 3 1981 – Sorceress concept, by Mark Taylor
June 5 1981 – Battle Chariot concept, by Ted Mayer
July 1981 – He-Man designed by this month, per CPI vs Mattel lawsuit
July 14, 1981 – Memorandum discussing Mattel’s presentation of He-Man to Toys ‘R’ Us
July 23, 1981 – September 21, 1981 – Tony Guerrero worked on Conan toys
July 31, 1981– CPI and Mattel entered license agreement to manufacture toys based on Conan movie
August 10, 1981 – Attak Trak mechanism patent filed (non-Mattel)
September 16, 1981 – Mer-Man sword design concept, by Mark Taylor
September 30, 1981 – “Proprietary Line Concepts” document (Megaton Man, Kid Gallant, Robin & The Space Hoods, Monster Fantasy/He-Man)
November 28, 1981 – King of Castle Grayskull published per copyright records
November 28, 1981 – He-Man and the Power Sword published per copyright records
November 28, 1981 – The Vengeance of Skeletor published per copyright records
December 21, 1981 – Castle Grayskull trap door mechanism patent filed
December 14, 1981 – He-Man trademarked
December 14, 1981 – Teela trademarked
December 14, 1981 – Man-At-Arms trademarked
December 14, 1981 – Stratos trademarked
December 14, 1981 – Wind Raider trademarked
December 14, 1981 – Battle Ram trademarked
December 14, 1981 – Beast Man trademarked
December 14, 1981 – Mer-Man trademarked
December 14, 1981 – Zodac trademarked
December 14, 1981 – Masters of the Universe trademarked
December 21, 1981 – Battle Cat trademarked
December 21, 1981 – Castle Grayskull Trap Door patent filed

1982

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Attak Trak concept drawing, by Ted Mayer – Mark 23, 1982. Image courtesy of Ted Mayer

1982 – Ram Man concept, by Mark Taylor
1982 – Gargo/Gargoyle dragon concept, by Mark Taylor
1982 – Man-E-Faces concept, by Mark Taylor
January 1982 – Mattel requested termination of Conan license agreement
January 15, 1982 – Castle Grayskull trademarked
January 15, 1982 – Skeletor trademarked
February 17, 1982 – Mattel introduces new “Masters of the Universe” toy line at Toy Fair
March 1, 1982 – Possible debut of the He-Man toyline, based on rebate offer date in first mini comic
March 4, 1982 – Attak Trak control drawing, by Ted Mayer
March 23, 1982 – Attak Trak concept, by Ted Mayer
April 14, 1982 – CPI and Mattel entered into a termination agreement
May 21, 1982 – Trap Jaw concept, by Colin Bailey
July 1982 – Wasp Man (Buzz-Off) concept, by Colin Bailey
July 1982 – Lizard Man (Whiplash) concept, by Colin Bailey
September 27, 1982 – Attak Trak trademarked
September 27, 1982 – Man-E-Faces trademarked
September 27, 1982 – Point Dread & The Talon Fighter trademarked
September 27, 1982 – Ram Man trademarked
September 27, 1982 – Trap Jaw trademarked
September 27, 1982 – Zoar trademarked
October 5, 1982 – Sultra (Evil-Lyn) concept, by Colin Bailey
December 1, 1982 – Marlena Glenn (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – King Randor (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Tri-Klops (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Snake Mountain (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Panthor (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Prince Adam (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Sorceress (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Cringer (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Gorpo (Orko) (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Delora (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Ram Man (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Spy Man (Mekaneck) (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Bugoff (Buzz-Off) (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Tri Trak vehicle (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Roton (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Faker (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Black Widow (Webstor) (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Fang Man (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Chopper (Jitsu) (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Tornado Traveler vehicle (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – War Sled (evil Battle Ram) (MOTU Bible)
December 1, 1982 – Grinder vehicle (MOTU Bible)
December 07, 1982 – King of Castle Grayskull copyright registered
December 08, 1982 – He-Man and the Power Sword copyright registered
December 28, 1982 – The Vengeance of Skeletor copyright registered
December 10, 1982 – Tri-Klops trademarked

1983

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Dragon Walker concept by Ed Watts, 1983. Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation.

1983 – Dragon Walker concept, by Ed Watts
1983 – Snake Mountain packaging sketch, by William George
1983 – Dragon Walker with Land Shark packaging sketch, by William George
January 21, 1983 – Evil-Lyn trademarked
January 21, 1983 – Heroic Warriors trademarked
January 21, 1983 – Evil Warriors trademarked
February 16, 1983 – Panthor trademarked
February 16, 1983 – Screeech trademarked
May 23, 1983 – Prince Adam trademarked
May 25, 1983 – Faker trademarked
May 25, 1983 – Point Dread trademarked
May 25, 1983 – Talon Fighter trademarked
August 15, 1983 – Snake Mountain trademarked
August 22, 1983 – Battle For Eternia trademarked
August 22, 1983 – Buzz-Off trademarked
August 22, 1983 – Clawful trademarked
August 22, 1983 – Fisto trademarked
August 22, 1983 – Jitsu trademarked
August 22, 1983 – Mekaneck trademarked
August 22, 1983 – Road Ripper trademarked
August 22, 1983 – Roton trademarked
August 22, 1983 – Stridor trademarked
August 22, 1983 – Whiplash trademarked
September 5, 1983 – Filmation He-Man cartoon debuts
September 17, 1983 – Gyro (early Roton) concept, by Ed Watts
September 19, 1983 – Spider Attack Vehicle (early Spydor) concept, by Ed Watts
September 19, 1983 – Ball Buster (early Bashasaurus) concept, by Ed Watts
September 22, 1983 – Zap ‘N’ Go Vehicle concept, by Ted Mayer
September 26, 1983 – Dungeon concept, by Ted Mayer
September 29, 1983 – Vehicle Launcher (very early Road Ripper) concept, by Ted Mayer
November 18, 1983 – Masters Playset (two towers) concept, by Ted Mayer
December 5, 1983 – Villain Playset (early Fright Zone) concept, by Ed Watts
December 5, 1983 – Webstor trademarked
December 8, 1983 – Flying Fists He-Man/Battle Armor He-Man concept, by Ted Mayer
December 8, 1983 – Dragon concept, by Ed Watts
December 8, 1983 – Dragon concept, without helmet, by Ed Watts
December 29, 1983 – Mekaneck patent filed
December 29, 1983 – Battle Armor He-Man patent filed

1984

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Torton, by Ed Watts – February 9, 1984. Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation

1984 – Mantisaur concept variations, for “New Ventures”
1984 – Jaws I, Jaws III, various unproduced vehicles concept, for “New Ventures”
1984 – Battle Armor Skeletor & Panthor packaging sketch, by William George
1984 – Dragon Blaster Skeletor packaging sketch, by William George
January 10, 1984 – Dragon Walker patent filed
January 27, 1984 – Battle Armor trademarked
January 27, 1984 – Kobra Khan trademarked
January 27, 1984 – The Fright Zone trademarked
February 9, 1984 – Torton concept, by Ed Watts
March 29, 1984 – Hordak concept, by Ted Mayer
June 1, 1984 – Horned helmet warrior woman concept, by Ted Mayer
June 6, 1984 – Modular Man (Multi-Bot) concept, by Ted Mayer
June 7, 1984 – Horde Octopus Woman (Octavia) concept, by Ted Mayer
June 13, 1984 – TM action figure concept, by Ted Mayer
June 15, 1984 – Snout Spout (black and white) concept, by Ted Mayer
June 18, 1984 – Walking skull vehicle concept, by Jim Keifer
June 19, 1984 – Early Megator concept, RS
July 6, 1984 – Chest cannon He-Man concept, by Ted Mayer
July 6, 1984 – Multi-Bot concept, by Ted Mayer
July 7, 1984 – Chest monster Skeletor concept, by Ted Mayer
July 7, 1984 – Transparent Man (Roboto) concept, by Ted Mayer
July 7, 1984 – Jester figure (Acrobad) concept, by Ted Mayer
July 8, 1984 – Rotary Man (early Hurricane Hordak) concept, by Ted Mayer
July 8, 1984 – Horde Mummy concept, by Ted Mayer
July 8, 1984 – Vulture figure concept, by Ted Mayer
July 8, 1984 – Stilt Stalkers concept, by Ted Mayer
July 8, 1984 – Jet Sled (close to final) concept, by Ted Mayer
July 8, 1984 – Helicopter accessory concept, by Ted Mayer
July 8, 1984 – Claw climbing accessory concept, by Ted Mayer
July 9, 1984 – Handsome concept, by Ted Mayer
July 9, 1984 – Basher concept, by Ted Mayer
July 10, 1984 – Megalaser concept, by Ted Mayer
July 10, 1984 – Octavia (colored) concept, by Ted Mayer
July 12, 1984 – Big Foot concept, by Ted Mayer
July 12, 1984 – Snowman concept, by Ted Mayer
July 12, 1984 – Tung Lashor concept, by Ted Mayer
July 13, 1984 – Green witch concept, by Ted Mayer
July 13, 1984 – Archer woman concept, by Ted Mayer
July 13, 1984 – Snout Spout concept, by Ted Mayer
July 13, 1984 – Masters Gigor concept, by Ed Watts
July 13, 1984 – Mantor (Mantisaur) concept, by Ed Watts
July 13, 1984 – Attak Pose Panthor concept, by Ed Watts
July 13, 1984 – Cyclo Marauder concept, by Ed Watts
July 13, 1984 – War Wing parachute concept, by Ed Watts
July 13, 1984 – Monster Walker (snake mountain face), by Ed Watts
July 13, 1984 – Fright Fighter concept, by Ed Watts
July 13, 1984 – Dart (Laser Bolt) concept, by Ed Watts
July 13, 1984 – Dungeon concept, by Ed Watts
July 13, 1984 – Battle For Eternia game concept, by Ed Watts
July 15, 1984 – Tyroar concept, by Ed Watts
July 15, 1984 – Turbosaurus (early Gigantosaur) concept, by Ed Watts
July 16, 1984 – Disc Blaster concept, by Ed Watts
July 16, 1984 – Weapons Factory concept, by Jim Keifer
July 22, 1984 – Land Shark & Battle Armor Skeletor packaging sketch, by William George
September 10, 1984 – Grizzlor trademarked
September 10, 1984 – Hordak trademarked
September 10, 1984 – The Horde trademarked
September 10, 1984 – Land Shark trademarked
September 10, 1984 – Leech trademarked
September 10, 1984 – Mantenna trademarked
September 10, 1984 – Spikor trademarked
September 10, 1984 – Spydor trademarked
September 10, 1984 – Stinkor trademarked
September 10, 1984 – Thunder Punch trademarked
September 10, 1984 – Two Bad trademarked
September 15, 1984 – Canyon Hopper concept, by Ed Watts
September 18, 1984 – Motorized waking monster armor concept, by Ed Watts
September 24, 1984 – Dragon Fly (Fright Fighter) concept, by Ed Watts
September 29, 1984 – Transforming figure concept, by Ed Watts
October 3, 1984 – Firepower Man (Rio Blast) concept, by Ed Watts
November 13, 1984 – Land Shark patent filed
November 23, 1984 – Bashasaurus trademarked
November 23, 1984 – Night Stalker trademarked
November 23, 1984 – The Evil Horde trademarked
December 1, 1984 – Engine Man (Dragstor) concept, by Ed Watts
December 11, 1984 – Conan Properties, Inc. v. Mattel, Inc. lawsuit
December 14, 1984 – Battle Bones patent filed
December 14, 1984 – Sy-Klone patent filed
December 17, 1984 – Mantenna patent filed
December 19, 1984 – Dragon Blaster trademarked
December 19, 1984 – Modulok trademarked
December 19, 1984 – Moss Man trademarked
December 24, 1984 – Two Bad patent filed
December 28, 1984 – Battle Bones trademarked

1985

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Eternia concept #2, by Ted Mayer – February 5, 1985. Image courtesy of Ted Mayer.

1985 – “The Slime Pit” finished painting, by William George
1985 – Hurricane Hordak pencils, by William George
1985 – Flying Fists He-Man pencils, by William George
January 3, 1985 – Roboto patent filed
January 3, 1985 – Thunder Punch He-Man patent filed
January 4, 1985 – Bashasaurus patent filed
February 5, 1985 – Wolf head Eternia concept, by Ted Mayer
February 26, 1985 – Early Blast Attak concept, by Mark Jones
March 29, 1985 – Seaman (Scubattack) concept, by Alan Tyler
April 5, 1985 – Fright Zone puppet tooling method patent filed
April 18, 1985 – Heroic Giant (Tytus) concept, by Alan Tyler
June 14, 1985 – Laser Bolt trademarked
June 14, 1985 – Terror Claws trademarked
June 15, 1985 – Gyrattacker concept, by Ted Mayer
June 17, 1985 – Flying Fists trademarked
June 17, 1985 – Rattlor trademarked
June 17, 1985 – Rokkon trademarked
June 17, 1985 – Stonedar trademarked
June 17, 1985 – Sy-Klone trademarked
June 17, 1985 – Tung Lashor trademarked
June 24, 1985 – Slime Pit trademarked
July 8, 1985 – Spydor patent filed
July 25, 1985 – Slasher/Punjab concept, by Roger Sweet
September 4, 1985 – Triceratops (Bionotops) concept, by Mark Jones
September 4, 1985 – Turbodactyl concept, by Mark Jones
September 9, 1984 – Horde Slurb concept, by Mark Jones
September 13, 1985 – Dragon Lord concept, by Alan Tyler
September 13, 1985 – Sorcerer concept, by Alan Tyler
September 13, 1985 – Steel Kill concept, by Alan Tyler
September 13, 1985 – Laser Bolt patent filed
September 16, 1985 – Secrets of Grayskull “New Notes” document (Grayskull Tower, King Hiss, etc.)
September 22, 1985 – Early Jet Sled concept, by Ted Mayer
September 25, 1985 – Horde Trooper patent filed
September 27, 1985 – King Hiss patent filed
September 27, 1985 – Megalaser patent filed
October 4, 1985 – Fright Zone patent filed
October 11, 1985 – Hurricane Hordak patent filed
October 17, 1985 – Secrets of Grayskull Preliminary Story Background Eternia, King Hiss, etc.)
November 4, 1985 – Medusa-Man (Snake Face) concept, by David Wolfram
November 12, 1985 – Horde Trooper trademarked
November 12, 1985 – Mantisaur trademarked
November 12, 1985 – Multi-Bot trademarked
November 12, 1985 – Snake Men trademarked
November 12, 1985 – Snout Spout trademarked
November 21, 1985 – Tyrantisaurus concept, by David Wolfram
November 26, 1985 – Crack-Pot (Blast Attak) concept, by Richard Lepik
December 6, 1985 – Streak concept, by Alan Tyler
December 12, 1985 – Blasterhawk trademarked
December 16, 1985 – Evil Giant (Megator) concept, by Alan Tyler

1986

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Rokkon/Stonedar patent illustration – filed January 14, 1986

January 9, 1986 – Extendar trademarked
January 9, 1986 – Rio Blast trademarked
January 14, 1986 – Rokkon/Stonedar patent filed
March 15, 1986 – Comet Warriors trademarked
March 21, 1986 – Battle For Eternia (game) trademarked
March 21, 1986 – Fright Fighter trademarked
March 24, 1986 – Stilt Stalker trademarked
May 14, 1986 – The “Multiples” (heroic) concept, by James McElroy
June 9, 1986 – Tower Tools/Cliff Climber/Scubattack mechanism patent filed
June 14, 1986 – Sticky Minions concept, by James McElroy
June 14, 1986 – Spider People Centipede concept, by James McElroy
June 15, 1986 – The Multiples (evil) concept, by James McElroy
June 16, 1986 – Recording Sound Playset concept, by James McElroy
June 18, 1986 – Spider People Tarantula concept, by James McElroy
June 20, 1986 – The Lockers concept, by James McElroy
June 20, 1986 – Skeletor Dragon Disguise concept, By James McElroy
June 20, 1986 – The Slime Monster concept, by James McElroy
June 20, 1986 – Gwildor concept, by Alan Tyler (based on movie designs)
June 29, 1986 – The Optimagic concept, by James McElroy
June 30, 1986 – The Voice concept, by James McElroy
June 23, 1986 – Rotar/Twistoid patent filed
June 23, 1986 – Eternia trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Grayskull (figure) trademarked (cancelled)
June 23, 1986 – Jet Sled trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Monstroid trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Buzz-Saw trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Mosquitor trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Sorceress trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Meteorbs trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Cometroid trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Ty-Grrr trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Astro Lion trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Comet Cat trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Tuskor trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Dinosorb trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Crocobite trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Rhinorb trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Orbear trademarked
June 23, 1986 – Gore-Illa trademarked
July 9, 1986 – Giant Foot Print Trap concept, by James McElroy
July 9, 1986 – Net Trap concept, by James McElroy
July 13, 1986 – Gyrattacker patent filed
September 16, 1986 – Blast Attak patent filed
September 22, 1986 – Bionotops trademarked
September 22, 1986 – Gigantisaur trademarked
September 22, 1986 – Powers of Grayskull trademarked
September 22, 1986 – Tyrantisaurus Rex trademarked
October 1986 – He-Man military pitch, by Stephen Lee
October 6, 1986 – Eldor trademarked
October 6, 1986 – Rotar trademarked
October 6, 1986 – Turbodactyl trademarked
October 6, 1986 – Twistoid trademarked
October 6, 1986 – Tytus trademarked
October 7, 1986 – Blast-Attak trademarked
October 7, 1986 – Gwildor trademarked
October 14, 1986 – Cliff Climber trademarked
October 14, 1986 – Scubattack trademarked
November 17, 1986 – H.E./M.A.N. concept, by James McElroy

1987

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Megator concept, by Mark Jones, based on Mark Taylor’s Demo-Man concept – 1987. Image source: The Art of He-Man/The Power and the Honor Foundation

1987 – Megator concept, based on Mark Taylor’s Demo-Man, colored by Mark Jones
April 27, 1987 – Saurod trademarked
April 27, 1987 – Megator trademarked
May 18, 1987 – Laser Power He-Man drawing, by David Wolfram
May 18, 1987 – Bio-Mechazoid Skeletor (early Laser-Light Skeletor) concept, by David Wolfram
June 22, 1987 – Regular Bio-Mechazoid Skeletor (early Laser-Light Skeletor) concept, by David Wolfram

Thanks to Shawn for pointing me towards the CPI vs Mattel material.

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“Death of Mark Taylor From Night Visitation.” Artwork by Colin Bailey, January 23, 1981. Given to Mark when he was working on his “dark project” (He-Man). Image courtesy of Rebecca Salari Taylor.

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Heroic Vehicles

Dragon Walker -Sidewinding Beast/Vehicle (1984)

Dragon Walker Grapic

The Dragon Walker is one of my all time favorite Masters of the Universe vehicles. I don’t recall if I had seen the Dragon Walker at the store and begged my parents for one, or if they surprised me with it for my birthday. I just remember getting it and frantically searching the house for a pair of C batteries. As I recall we didn’t have any and I had to wait for my parents to buy some. What an agonizing wait that was.

I realize some fans find the sidewinding locomotion concept to be so impractical that it has soured them on the toy. Not me. I thought of the Dragon Walker as the Eternian equivalent of the G.I. Joe Bridge Layer – a vehicle built for getting the good guys across rivers and crevasses.

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Image via Yo Joe

Design & Development

The main elements of what would eventually be the Dragon Walker are present in this concept illustration by Ed Watts. The coat of arms design is different from the final toy, featuring a cross and dragons rather than the stylized H from Battle Armor He-Man’s costume. In this concept the driver stands rather than sits, and holds on to a red laser canon mounted on the dragon’s head. The concept was also quite a bit larger than the actual toy.

Ed Watts Dragon Walker Large
Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation

The final Dragon Walker toy was a bit smaller than Ed Watts’ concept, no doubt to keep costs low:

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From the 1984 Mattel Dealer Catalog. Image source: Orange Slime

Packaging Art

William George painted the packaging illustration, which features Battle Armor He-Man riding the Dragon Walker through a prehistoric-looking landscape. One hallmark of many of George’s MOTU illustrations is the presence of little dinosaur-like creatures off to the side of the main action.

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William George Art
William George line art dragon walker
Original William George line art. Image via He-Man.org.

The cross sell art for the Dragon Walker was very true to the design and look of the toy:

The Spanish version was released without the cellophane window, and included an additional William George illustration and some product photos. Judging by the inclusion of the Land Shark vehicle in the background, I would guess that this box was released in 1985 at the earliest:

(Images via Masters Unbound and 20th Century Toy Collector)

And here is line art:

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A US version of this packaging was planned, but never released. Here is a picture of the proof sheet from Grayskull Museum (thanks to Tokyonever for the pointer):

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William George’s Hidden Signature

William George also painted a poster featuring the Dragon Walker for Kellogg’s as part of a promotion they were running with Mattel. Mattel designer Ted Mayer tells this story:

There was stuff I did not know about, because Mattel kept us designers isolated, regarding other departments, or outside stuff. I remember that one day the He-Man posters appeared out of nowhere that were done for Kellogg. Apparently Marketing just went out and did them without consulting us. We were pissed off, because we considered ourselves the main reference point.

As it happened, they hired Bill George to do them, and we were good buddies. Funny story. Bill came to me and said “I have to do these paintings for Kellogg’s, but they said I can’t sign them.” Because they were for such a big company he wanted the exposure. I had the same problem with the aircraft illustrations I used to do. I told him to hide his signature inside the illustrations, but do them upside down so they where not obvious. That’s what he did, and they never found it.

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Kellogs Poster upside down signature - Copy
William George’s hidden signature

Mechanics

The mechanism of the Dragon Walker is rather ingenious. Rather than a vehicle moving along a track, the track and the vehicle move one after the other. A patent was filed for it on January 10, 1984, crediting Michael Gurner and Herbert May as the inventors. From the abstract:

A moveable toy consisting of a base and a motorized vehicle. The base includes a track having a central groove ending in openings at either end. The track includes teeth which cooperate with a drive gear held in the vehicle to drive the vehicle along the track. Rotors having notches on the top surface are rotatably held in openings at each end of the central groove in the track. Upon actuation, the vehicle travels along the track until it arrives at either end of the track, where the vehicle rotates the base to allow the vehicle to continue along the track end for further movement of the toy in the same direction.

As an aside, Roger Sweet takes credit for the Dragon Walker in this interview, although it’s unclear what his contribution was, other than perhaps managing the project. He’s not listed as one of the inventors in the patent application, and the concept art was done by Ed Watts, as mentioned earlier.

The concept is demonstrated in this video on the Grand Illusions YouTube channel:

From the video description:

The other one is made by Mattel, and Tim remembers the crowds of people watching this with fascination, the first time it was shown at a toy fair.

The character drives his dragon vehicle along the track; once he reaches the end of the track, the track swivels around, so that the section of track that was behind him is not in front of him, and he can set off again, along the track. This keeps repeating, and so he can cover quite large distances quite quickly, on his amazing ‘never ending’ track!

Other Artwork

The inaugural issue of the US release Masters of the Universe Magazine included a blueprint-style poster of the Dragon Walker. I hung this on my wall as soon as I got it and studied every detail:

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Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen

Curiously, the poster doesn’t identify the Dragon Walker by name, but instead calls it the Heroic Warrior Carrior. Man-At-Arms is said to be the inventor. Notice that the color version at the top is off-model. It resembles the Filmation version, but it’s not clear if there is actually any place for the driver to sit!

Poster DW - Copy

Errol McCarthy created a few illustrations of the Dragon Walker for licensing purposes (images via He-Man.org):

Comics and Storybooks

The Dragon Walker made an appearance in the background of the mini comic, Mantenna and the Menace of the Evil Horde!

It also plays a role in several Golden Books stories, such as The Rock Warriors and Maze of Doom:

Animation

The Dragon Walker shows up a few times in the Filmation Cartoon, in episodes like “Attack From Below”, “The Time Wheel”, and “Fraidy Cat”:

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Animated GIF from He-Man Reviewed
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Image source: He-Man and She-Ra – A Complete Guide to the Classic Animated Adventures

As shown in the above GIF and model sheet, Filmation increased the size of the seat so that it could fit multiple characters.

Dragon Walker in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has kindly contributed the following image and videos of the Dragon Walker in action:

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