The last Masters of the Universe figures I would ever get as a kid were Rokkon, Stonedar and Modulok, for my birthday in 1986. All three were a surprise, and they were all a bit out in left field compared to the figures I had until that point, which mostly reused the same few basic muscular body types that originated with He-Man, Skeletor and Beast Man.
Of the two rock/comet warriors, Stonedar was my favorite, mostly because I liked the cratered surface of his outer shell, as opposed to the quartz-like surface of Rokkon’s shell.
It seems that 1986 was the year of the transforming rock toys. That same year, Hasbro released their Inhumanoids toyline, with the heroic character Granok, who could transform from a pile of rocks into a tall rock creature. Tonka also released their Rock Lords toyline, a spinoff from the GoBots series:
These transforming rock toys seem to get regularly panned in articles about 80s toys today (particularly the Rock Lords), but I’ve always liked them. Granok was the only character I owned from the Inhumanoids line, and he was one of my favorite toys growing up. He didn’t make a very convincing pile of rocks, but he was a pretty great-looking rock warrior. Stonedar was kind of the opposite – he made for a very convincing comet or rock, but as a warrior he looked a bit awkward.
Design & Development
Rokkon emerged from a series of designs for transforming rock characters by Ted Mayer. None of the extant concepts below is identical to either Stonedar or Rokkon, but the basic idea is evident:
Both Ted Mayer and Roger Sweet are listed as inventors on the patent application, which was filed January 14, 1986.
Rokkon was sculpted by Eddy Mosqueda, a designer at Mattel. At the Lords of Power Facebook page, Eddy chimed in with the following information and picture:
I sculpted the “Rock-On” figure when I was working at Mattel. I still own a Tooling Copy of it.
Here is a photo of a Rokkon “Test-Shot” in beige that I still own. I’m still going to have to get the Tooling Copy and photograph it when I get it from a box, in a larger box, in a closet, in my basement!Eddy Mosqueda
The figure itself has an eye-catching blue, orange, silver and purple color scheme. The cross sell art and early catalog photos of the toy (below) show with without pupils and with a light purple gun:
The figure has a crystalline outer surface, suggestive of some exotic mineral or outer space rock. Rokkon’s transformation into a rock was achieved simply by posing him in the fetal position. For me the play pattern with Rokkon was to leave him as a boulder until an unsuspecting evil warrior walked by. Then Rokkon would leap into action, getting the best of the bad guy using the element of surprise.
Rokkon was initially packaged on a card that proclaimed him a “Young heroic battling boulder.” The front of the card said, “Invincible boulder transforms into master of defense!” However, on subsequent versions, Rokkon was called a “Young heroic comet warrior” and “Invincible meteor transforms into mighty warrior.”
The change may have been made to capitalize on Halley’s Comet, which passed close to the earth in 1986 (thanks to Matthew Martin for pointing out that connection to me). The first version (below, left) features artwork by Errol McCarthy (I believe) on the front, while the second version features artwork by William George on the front.
Comics & Characterization:
In the minicomic that accompanied the figure, Rock People to the Rescue, Stonedar and Rokkon would hurl themselves downhill in rock form at their enemies. In this issue they put the hurt on Kobra Khan and Webstor, which is in contrast to later stories that would paint the rock warriors as pacifists.
In Escape From The Slime Pit, the rock people are pacifists who hesitate even to defend themselves from the Evil Horde. In the end they defeat the Horde by dazzling them with their shiny armor – a feature that is also mentioned on the back of the packaging. It’s not the most compelling idea for an attack strategy. It perhaps doesn’t help that the armor on the toy isn’t particularly shiny, making the “feature” feel like something of a stretch.
The 1987 Style Guide described Rokkon this way:
Power: Transforms from mighty meteorite into warrior. As a meteor, he can roll into battle to surprise attackers. His rocky body can deflect laser blasts.
Character Profile: Member of the Comet Warriors, a race from another planet.
EDIT: Thanks to Jukka Issakainen for providing a higher-quality image of Rokkon and Stonedar’s Style Guide page.
There was also a fact file published on both comet warriors in the 1989 UK MOTU Annual:
Rokkon did not appear in the original Filmation He-Man series, but he did make a couple of appearances in She-Ra. As in the Slime Pit comic and style guide, the rock people are characterized as pacifists. They come to Etheria because the star of their home solar system is on the verge of exploding. The comet warriors immediately get into trouble with the Evil Horde.
In the model sheet below, we see that Rokkon’s early working name in the series was Flint. The name may have been changed because of the G.I. Joe character with the same name:
Earl Norem illustrated both Stonedar and Rokkon for a poster for the winter 1986 Masters of the Universe Magazine, and, as Matthew Martin pointed out in my previous article about Stonedar, the scene is reminiscent of the illustration that Errol McCarthy did for the style guide (or perhaps, considering the dates, it’s actually vice versa).
Rokkon also appears in William George’s Eternia poster:
Rokkon in Action
Øyvind Meisfjord has kindly contributed the following image and video of Rokkon in action:
Special thanks to Larry Hubbard for providing the Rokkon figure photographed for this article.