Heroic Warriors, Powers of Grayskull

Eldor – Heroic Guardian of the Book of Living Spells (1987/2019)

Elder was a heroic mentor character from the partially-realized Powers of Grayskull spinoff line. I say partially realized because three dinosaurs (Tyrantisaurus, Bionatops, Turbodactyl) were released under the Powers of Grayskull label, although no standard-sized figures were.

The giants Tytus and Megator would have had that label as well had they been released in the US as planned, however their limited European release in 1988 omitted the POG logo. Eldor appeared in Mattel’s 1987 dealer catalog, but was not released until 2019, under the Super7 label.

Design & Development

Eldor originates with a series of concept drawing in October of 1985, at around the same time He-Ro was being developed. The 2019 release actually includes a booklet outlining the character’s history, and includes a number of concept art pieces. It’s quite a nicely put together history of the figure, co-written by Emiliano Santalucia and James Eatock, and compiled by The Power and the Honor Foundation:

I would encourage everyone to pick up the 2019 Super7 Eldor figure if you’re able to – the figure itself is very well done, and it’s worth it even just for the booklet. In the meantime, I’ll report on some points of the history they outline in their research.

Eldor began as a series of drawings by Alan Tyler, under the working names Mentor and Doran. Tyler experimented with two different ideas – either a bearded human-like figure or an alien figure with a crystal-like face. Some of his bearded human face designs were shared between both He-Ro and Eldor, but ultimately Eldor ended up with the beard. Tyler’s earliest Eldor design actually shares the same body as his first He-Ro design, so there was a lot of mixing and matching of different ideas in his design process. The images below come from the booklet:

Tyler’s designs also featured a number of stylized Castle Grayskull graphics that were to be included either on the figure’s chest or belt:

In the illustration below (from the booklet), we see a breakdown of all the different parts for the figure. In this iteration, we see that the figure would have been able to move his head up and down – a feature not preserved in the final prototype. He also would have had a rotating scroll accessory:

Compared the design above, the prototype below (from Mattel’s 1987 dealer catalog) omits the extra head articulation, closes up his hoodie a bit, and tones down the boot top size. His Book of Living Spells accessory has been changed to a simpler tri-fold design.

We also know based on surviving test shots that Eldor was to have a cap on his head, worn under the hood:

Original Eldor test shot. Photo: John English

Backstory

If we’re sticking to published vintage material, we don’t have much to go on as far as Eldor’s backstory goes. Most of what we know is based on surviving packaging material:

Most of Eldor’s characterization focuses on the Book of Living Spells, which was to be his accessory. According to the packaging:

Profile: Heroic Guardian of the Book of Living Spells – responsible for transforming Gray into He-Ro, the Most Powerful Wizard in the Universe!

Weapon: The knowledge of the Ancients

Origin: Unknown

The Book of Living Spells: The Book of Living Spells contains the ultimate secrets of Preternia – the Secrets of Transformation. Thus, whenever Eldor opens it, he can uncover all the secrets of past, present and future Eternia – AND CHANGE IT! For nothing on Preternia stays the same… as you will soon see!

There are a couple of Mattel documents that seem to point toward some preliminary ideas that lead to the creation of the Powers of Grayskull concept. The concept included a range/paladin character with a bond with nature as well as a sage character – these seem to be early incarnations of He-Ro and Eldor. A giant is even included, which seems to point to Tytus.

Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen
Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen

Artwork

Eldor appears in very little surviving artwork, outside of his packaging. We have this piece below, by artist Errol McCarthy, and the line art for the cardback scene on the packaging by the same artist.

Images via He-Man.org

Artwork was also produced internally at Mattel illustrating the world of Preternia. Within the scene there is a bearded old wizard with a cloak working some magic against a giant snake. This might be a representation of Eldor, although I’m not certain on that point:

Image source: Dark Horse/The Power and the Honor Foundation

A poster by Emiliano Santalucia called “Age Of Preternia” will shortly be released by Mad Duck Posters, which depicts He-Ro, Eldor, Sharella (the tribal chieftess mentioned in He-Ro’s backstory) and Keldor (Skeletor before he was transformed into his current form):

Super7 Figure

Super7 announced in 2017 that they would be releasing 5.5″ scale figures based on the original 1987 He-Ro and Eldor prototypes. The figures were recreations of the originals, sculpted by the Four Horsemen. At least one complete and one partial original test shot of Eldor still exist, but unfortunately Super7 was unable to gain access to it, so the figure had to be sculpted from scratch.

Super7 prototypes
Vintage Eldor test shot

The figure was released in a reproduction package and card that closely followed the look of what would have been released in 1987:

The packaging is closely based on the original surviving packaging proofs, albeit with some changes to the text to denote manufacturer and the fact that the modern version comes with stickers, not holograms (holograms proved too expensive for this release).

Speaking of stickers, here are the ones that come with Eldor. I’m not sure if these are vintage or newly created based on the original cardback instructions (update: Alberto in the comments and Jukka Issakainen note that the stickers have Emiliano Santalucia’s signature on them, meaning they were newly illustrated for this project).

The Super7 Eldor figure features wrist articulation and a soft plastic (non-removable) hoodie. The head doesn’t seem to be able to turn. He has the familiar spring waist action feature. The gray areas of his costume have an opalescent quality, similar to the original prototype:

The Book of Living spells opens from opposite ends, allowing you to store and display each of the four stickers included with the figure:

On the Lords of Power Facebook page, a photo comparison was posted of a painted casting of the original Eldor test shot verses the Super7 release. The original version was apparently quite short. The modern release has a much taller torso and larger head. The modern figure isn’t actually any shorter than a typical vintage He-Man figure (taking the hood into account), so the vintage one was going to be fairly diminutive.

Of the two newly-released Super7 Powers of Grayskull figures, Eldor is probably my favorite. He’s a bit understated and mysterious, which is of course fitting given his role in the story.

Eldor in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has shared the following images and video of Eldor in action:

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Resource

Parts Reuse in MOTU, Part Six: 1987

Masters of the Universe, for all its diversity and creativity, was quite an economical toyline, creatively (and sometimes uncreatively) using and reusing the same molds over and over again throughout its run. Sometimes this was done fairly invisibly, and other times it was as plain as the nose on Faker‘s face.

In this series I’ll be cataloging the reuse of existing molds, in context of what is known and what is likely about which figures were created in what order. For example, He-Man’s prototype was almost certainly finished before Man-At-Arms, so Man-At-Arms reused He-Man’s legs, rather than vice versa. I’ll also include parts that were reused from other toylines.

Sometimes existing parts were modified for use in new toys. For example, Beast Man’s chest seems to have been based on He-Man’s chest sculpt, albeit with a great deal of hair added to it. This didn’t save money on tooling, but it did save some time and effort for the sculptor. I’ll point this out whenever I see it. Whenever a modified part is used again, however, I’ll refer to it as belonging to the toy that used it first (for example, Stratos and Zodac reuse Beast Man’s chest).

I won’t comment on “invisible” parts, such as neck pegs or waist springs that are normally not seen.

First, the toys from 1987 that had (at the time) all new parts. For fun, I’m including toys that were advertised as part of the 1987 line, but never released:

He-Ro (unreleased)

Eldor (unreleased)

Gyrattacker (unreleased)

Rotar

Sorceress

Mosquitor

Sssqueeze

Beam-Blaster & Artilleray

Blade

Gwildor

Saurod

Tyrantisaurus Rex

Bionatops

Turbodactyl

Gigantisaur (unreleased)

These toys from 1987 reused some existing parts – some of those parts were first created in the same year, however:

King Randor

Clamp Champ

Blast-Attak

Ninjor

Scare Glow

Buzz-Saw Hordak

Snake Face

Twistoid

Cliff Climber/Scubattack/Tower Tools

As with 1986, there was quite a bit of new tooling used in the 1987 line, sprinkled with some liberal reuse of parts in selected figures like Scare Glow and Ninjor. The Powers of Grayskull line saw a partial release with several of the dinosaur figures, but unfortunately its main protagonists (He-Ro and Eldor) were never sold in stores.

Update: Øyvind and an anonymous person in the comments pointed out that Buzz Saw Hordak doesn’t have the original Hordak legs. It looks like he has different leg musculature and enlarged feet. I believe some versions of Hurricane Hordak also have these legs. Thanks for the correction!

Parts Reuse series:

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Artwork

Lost Golden Book story – featuring He-Ro and Eldor!

Recently an eBay seller was auctioning a number of pieces of original art, many of which came from Golden Book. Among them was this page spread for a story that at least I have not yet heard of, called Passage of Time. Apparently it was going to feature He-Ro and Eldor!

For those who aren’t familiar, He-Ro and Eldor were planned vintage figures by Mattel at the tail-end of the toy-line in a spinoff line called “Powers of Grayskull”. We saw the first part of the story in the final minicomic of the series, but sadly the concept didn’t go any further.

Here we have proof that He-Ro and Eldor were going to be featured in a Golden Book story!

goldenbook-passageoftime-pg03_04

It looks like this was going to be published by the Golden Books division of Western Publishing Company. The writer is not credited or mentioned by the seller, although it could be Jack C. Harris, an active writer at the time for Masters of the Universe books, with titles like Secret of the Dragon’s Egg and Meteor Monsters.

The seller informed me that he thinks the art was done by Fred Carrillo, who worked on numerous Golden Books like The Sunbird Legacy, The Sword of Skeletor, Power From the Sky and more. To his credit, he was also a layout artist at Filmation Studios.

Hopefully more of this story can one day be found. We know Super7 will be making a vintage He-Ro and Eldor figures, so maybe there is hope!

Happy April Fools Day!

Story and image by Jukka Issakainen.

Trademarks

Masters of the Universe Trademarks Timeline

Poster 1

I’ve often wondered about the exact dates that Masters of the Universe figures, vehicles and playsets were released. It’s quite difficult to suss out, and would probably require access to internal Mattel distribution documents that may no longer exist.

However, there is one way of fixing a date to specific MOTU-related items – the date that a trademark claim was filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office. While trademarks would have usually been filed in advance of the actual release date of the item, they do give us a general sense of the order that these toys had reached a certain stage in their development.  There are probably exceptions to that, of course, but I think it should hold true in general.

There has long been a notion of “waves” in the world of MOTU collectors. Each wave corresponds to a year:

  • Wave 1: Items released in 1982
  • Wave 2: Items released in 1983
  • Wave 3: Items released in 1984
  • Wave 4: Items released in 1985
  • Wave 5: Items released in 1986
  • Wave 6: Items released in 1987
  • Wave 7: Items released in 1988

I’m accounting for the seven waves here, but I’m posting these strictly by order of trademark date. Sometimes that order contradicts fan notions about waves. When that happens, I’ll try to account for that too.

Wave 1

Most of the first wave items were trademarked on the same day – December 14, 1981. That also includes the name of the line, “Masters of the Universe”. Battle Cat was slightly behind, having been trademarked on December 21. Skeletor and Castle Grayskull didn’t get a trademark filed until January 15, 1982.

December 14, 1981:

HE-MAN, TEELA, MAN-AT-ARMS, STRATOS, WIND RAIDER, BATTLE RAM, BEAST MAN, MER-MAN, ZODAC, “MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE”

December 21, 1981:

BATTLE CAT

January 15, 1982:

CASTLE GRAYSKULL, SKELETOR

Wave 2

Wave 2 gets a little messier. The first seven of the items were trademarked in September of 1982. Evil-Lyn, Panthor and Screeech were trademarked in early 1983. Interestingly, Faker wasn’t trademarked until May of 1983, slightly after Prince Adam. It’s possible that Prince Adam was intended to be released as a late second wave figure. In fact, there is even a fan theory that the figure known as “Wonder Bread He-Man” was in reality an early version of Prince Adam that was scrapped after the look was changed by Filmation.

Point Dread & The Talon Fighter were trademarked early on, in September 1982, but the separate names, Point Dread and Talon Fighter were trademarked individually in May of 1983.

September 27, 1982:

ATTAK TRAK, MAN-E-FACES, POINT DREAD & THE TALON FIGHTER, RAM MAN, TRAP JAW, ZOAR

December 10, 1982:

TRI-KLOPS

Tri-Klops

January 21, 1983:

EVIL-LYN, “HEROIC WARRIORS”, “EVIL WARRIORS”

February 16, 1983:

PANTHOR, SCREEECH

May 23, 1983:

PRINCE ADAM (release probably delayed until 1984)

Prince Adam

May 25, 1983:

FAKER, POINT DREAD, TALON FIGHTER

faker

August 22, 1983:

“BATTLE FOR ETERNIA”

battle for eternia

Wave 3

As mentioned earlier, Prince Adam was the first figure released in the third wave to get trademarked (May 1983). Most of the rest of that wave was trademarked in August of 1983, including Buzz-Off, Clawful, Mekaneck, Fisto, Jitsu, and others. Webstor, “Battle Armor” (presumably covering both He-Man and Skeletor variants) and Kobra Khan bring up the rear. I couldn’t locate a 1980s trademark date for either Orko or Dragon Walker.

Mekaneck is considered by many to be a second wave figure, but don’t think that’s right. He was of course trademarked the same day as many other third wave figures. Beyond that, Mekaneck also appears in the 1984 Dealer Catalog, but is absent from the 1983 Dealer Catalog. The figure itself is stamped with the same date as other third wave figures (1983 – figures were released the year after the date stamp). He has the clam shell armor that is distinctive to third wave and later figures, and he does not appear in mini comics until 1984. Because so many things about Mekaneck point to him being a third wave figure, in my books that’s what he is.

August 15, 1983:

SNAKE MOUNTAIN

Snake Mountain

August 22, 1983:

BUZZ-OFF, CLAWFUL, FISTO, JITSU, MEKANECK, ROAD RIPPER, ROTON, STRIDOR, WHIPLASH

December 5, 1983:

WEBSTOR

Webstor

January 27, 1984:

BATTLE ARMOR, KOBRA KHAN

Date Not Found:

ORKO, DRAGON WALKER, WEAPONS PAK

 Wave 4

“Fright Zone” was trademarked significantly sooner than the other fourth wave items, in January of 1984. Most of the others were trademarked later in the year, in September, November and December. Sy-Klone was the last to be trademarked, in the summer of 1985. He was actually trademarked on the same day as many figures released in 1986, although the figure is stamped 1984, indicating that he was released in 1985.He also appears with other fourth wave characters in the 1985 mini comics, so I believe this is a case of a delayed trademark filing but not a delayed release for the figure, if that makes sense.

I couldn’t locate a 1980s trademark date for Roboto.

January 27, 1984:

THE FRIGHT ZONE

Fright Zone

September 10, 1984:

GRIZZLOR, HORDAK, “THE HORDE”, LAND SHARK, LEECH, MANTENNA, SPIKOR, SPYDOR, STINKOR, THUNDER PUNCH, TWO BAD

November 23, 1984:

BASHASAURUS, NIGHT STALKER, “THE EVIL HORDE”

December 19, 1984:

DRAGON BLASTER, MODULOK, MOSS MAN

December 28, 1984:

BATTLE BONES

Battle Bones

Date Not Found:

ROBOTO, EVIL ROBOT (unproduced)

Wave 5

Most of the 1986 figures and other items were trademarked in the summer and winter of 1985. Many were trademarked in early 1986 though. Eternia was among the last of that wave to be trademarked, in June of 1986. I couldn’t locate a 1980s trademark date for either Hurricane Hordak or King Hiss.

June 14, 1985:

LASER BOLT, TERROR CLAWS

June 17, 1985:

FLYING FISTS, RATTLOR, ROKKON, STONEDAR, SY-KLONE, TUNG LASHOR

June 24, 1985:

SLIME PIT

slimepitillustration1

November 12, 1985:

HORDE TROOPER, MANTISAUR, MULTI-BOT, SNAKE MEN, SNOUT SPOUT

December 2, 1985:

BLASTERHAWK

blasterhawk - Copy

January 9, 1986:

EXTENDAR, RIO BLAST

March 17, 1986:

“COMET WARRIORS”

comet warrior

March 21, 1986:

BATTLE FOR ETERNIA (board game), FRIGHT FIGHTER

March 24, 1986

STILT STALKERS

stilt stalkers

June 23, 1986:

ETERNIA, GRAYSKULL (AKA He-Ro), JET SLED, MONSTROID

Date Not Found:

HURRICANE HORDAK, KING HISS, DRAGSTOR, MEGALASER

Wave 6/7

All of the 1987 items, save Saurod, were trademarked in 1986 – that is, those for which I could find a filed trademark.  I couldn’t locate one for almost half of the items released in 1987. That may be because the MOTU line was crashing and burning by then. Interestingly, I did find trademarks for Gigantisaur and Eldor, even though these items were never released.

Of the four figures released in 1988 (Tytus, Megator, Laser Power He-Man, Laser Power Skeletor), only the first two had 1980s trademarks on file. Tytus was trademarked in late 1986, while Megator was trademarked in the spring of 1987. Both Tytus and Megator were slated to come out in 1987, but they were delayed a year and released only in Europe.

June 23, 1986:

BUZZ-SAW, MOSQUITOR, SORCERESS, METEORBS, COMETROID, TY-GRRR, ASTRO LION, COMET CAT, TUSKOR, DINOSORB, CROCOBITE, RHINORB, ORBEAR, GORE-ILLA

meteorbs

September 22, 1986:

BIONATOPS, GIGANTISAUR (unproduced), POWERS OF GRAYSKULL, TYRANTISAURUS REX

October 6, 1986:

ELDOR (unproduced), ROTAR, TURBODACTYL, TWISTOID, TYTUS (release delayed until 1987)

October 7, 1986:

BLAST-ATTAK, GWILDOR

October 14, 1986:

CLIFF CLIMBER, SCUBATTACK

April 27, 1987:

SAUROD, MEGATOR

No Date Found:

ARTILLERAY, BEAM BLASTER, BLADE, CLAMP CHAMP, GYRATTACKER (unproduced), HE-RO (unproduced), KING RANDOR, NINJOR, SCARE GLOW, SNAKE FACE, SSSQUEEZE, TOWER TOOLS, LASER LIGHT SKELETOR, LASER POWER HE-MAN

The issue of trademarks doesn’t tell us everything about release dates, of course. I can’t say for sure how long after a trademark was filed that the figure was released (I would guess several months in most cases). But I think it does say something about the order of development of these figures, vehicles and playsets, at least in a broad way.

This was a fairly complicated project. If you think I’ve missed something important, please do let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Special thanks to Larry Hubbard for reminding me about the Weapons Pak and Aaron Johnson for reminding me about the Meteorbs! Also thanks to Mike Beezer for letting me know I’d forgotten about Webstor!

Thanks also to Axel Giménez for sharing several high quality pieces of art with me that were used in this post. Many (but not all) of the other images came from the excellent MOTU Portugal site. Others were cobbled together from my snap shots of the back of vintage packaging. 

talon-fighter-book-back
Image via Battle Grip

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