Evil Vehicles

Fright Fighter: Evil Dragonfly Attack Vehicle (1986)

Fright Fighter is one of the coolest vehicles created for the Evil Warriors in the vintage Masters of the Universe line. I don’t specifically recall seeing it as a kid, and it’s hard to find intact today due to the various detachable parts that came with it.

Design & Development

Fright Fighter started out as a concept drawing by Ed Watts, called Dragon Fly, dating to September 24, 1984. Compared to the final vehicle, the design on this initial concept is more elaborate, with a number of small radar dishes and exposed engine parts. It features two jet engines in the back and four wings that are somewhat squared off at the edges, with ridges throughout. One wonders if this might have been inspired by the ornithopters in Frank Herbert’s Dune.

Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation
A photo of Ed Watts’ original artwork, noticeably darker than the original art. This was in the collection of John Hollis.

Incidentally, Ed Watts did another concept vehicle called Fright Fighter, although visually it has nothing to do with the Fright Fighter vehicle released in 1986. Apparently the boys’ marketing department thought that the Fright Fighter name would be more appropriate for an evil vehicle. This one dates to September 13, 1984.

Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation

Update: You can see the Fright Fighter perched on the central tower in Ted Mayer’s February 5, 1985 concept art for the Eternia playset (thanks to Øyvind for the reminder!). Interestingly it’s sitting on tank treads – those treads actually ended up going to Blasterhawk, which is shown on the tower to the left:

It also appears as a foam cutout in an early Eternia prototype, below:

You can see an intermediate stage in the vehicle’s design in this draft version of what appears to be packaging art, below. You can see it has fewer radar dishes and not as much exposed motor parts than the Ed Watts concept. Scale-wise it’s smaller, too. The wings have been changed in design, but they are still more squared off compared to the final toy. The jet engines have been moved to the “feet” of the vehicle, and the back of the fuselage has a more insect-like appearance:

From the John Hollis collection.

The final design of the toy is evident in the artwork from the back of the packaging, shown below. The biggest change is to the wings, which look much more dragonfly-like in shape, with mechanical embellishments. The overall color scheme is purple and blue, as opposed to the green and yellow of the original design.

Toy & Packaging

The Fright Fighter is an impressive looking toy. It featured two separate triggers on the handle. The larger hand trigger made the dragonfly wings move up and down (alternating from front to back), while the smaller finger trigger made the pincers in front close, allowing the vehicle to grab and carry a figure in front. The cockpit was large enough for one figure. The earliest newspaper ad I’ve found for it dates to September 28, 1986, meaning that it was probably available in stores around or slightly before that date.

All of the images below of the toy and its packaging come from old eBay auctions, as I don’t own this vehicle.

The vehicle shipped with most of the parts not assembled, and some of them were still attached to sprues, as shown below:

The packaging includes artwork by William George. In the artwork we see Fright Fighter piloted by Skeletor in his Battle Armor, while Battle Armor He-Man, Roboto and Man-At-Arms are depicted in the cratered desert surface below. The box includes something that looks similar to “cross sell” art on the back, although it’s really being used to advertise the actual toy in the packaging. There are also images of the vehicle in action on the sides of the box.

Comic Appearances

Fright Fighter appears in Energy Zoids, where Skeletor and his minions use the vehicle to capture Rotar:

Image via the Dark Horse minicomics collection

Fright Fighter is interestingly a vehicle of the Evil Horde in Roboto’s Sacrifice, a story that appears in issue 34 of the UK Comics. In the story, Hordak is the creator of the vehicle, and Dragstor uses it on its maiden flight to pursue Roboto and Man-At-Arms. Images below come from He-Man.org.

Fright Fighter appears in From Here to Eternia, in issue 6 of the Star Comics, where it is correctly noted as Skeletor’s vehicle. In the story, Skeletor flies to Eternia (the playset version), lands, transforms himself into Orko to trick the heroic warriors, and turns his Fright Fighter invisible. Images below come from http://www.motucfigures.com/.

Fright Fighter appears in several stories from the German Ehapa Verlag series, including issues 3, 9 and 12 from the 1988 series (images via He-Man.org):

The vehicle also appears in the issue 2 of the Italian Magic Boy series from 1988:

In the the Fall 1986 issues of the US Masters of the Universe Magazine, we get a brief appearance of Fright Fighter in The Struggle For Eternia.

In the same issue it appears in artwork by Earl Norem featured on the cover and in a bonus poster:

Other Artwork

Errol McCarthy depicted Fright Fighter in a couple of illustrations, as shown in the artwork below (scanned by the Power and the Honor Foundation):

The above illustration was used in Mattel’s style guide, which included some background information for Fright Fighter as well as Blasterhawk:

NAME: Fright Fighter
ROLE: Evil winged vehicle of Skeletor.
POWER: Stalks enemies of Skeletor from the air; can swoop down and grab warriors in its might pincers: radar scanner tracks down foes from miles away.
CHARACTER PROFILE: Like a dragonfly, this vehicle has the power to hover silently and cut through the air with incredible speed. Its hovering ability and quiet sound make it perfect for spying or sneak attack missions.

It also makes an appearance in William George’s Eternia poster, as well as his box art for the Eternia playset:


Fright Fighter appeared in a number of US and foreign advertisements:

Image Source: Battle Armor Dad

Fright Fighter In Action

Check out Fright Fighter in action with the image and videos below shared by Øyvind Meisfjord:

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1987 Swiss Consumer Association Toy Reviews

Special thanks to Olmo for providing the images and background information for this article. According to him, these appeared in the 1987 Swiss Consumer Association booklet, which was meant to be a toy buying guide for parents. The association purchased popular toys and loaned them to a group of parents to review based on a number of criteria, including: “solidity, safety, esthetic, quality-to-price ratio, interest of the kids, simplicity of handling, conformity packaging/content, noise, instructions, age recommended, fair advertising and values conveyed.” Unfortunately the parents involved didn’t rate the toys very highly, although Roboto and Fright Fighter seemed to get at least some positive comments. I’ll provide a translation from the French (via Google Translate) after each image. Marshal BraveStarr is also included at the end, just for fun.

Skeletor: The warrior of evil. Skeletor, plastic figurine with accessories (approximately 15 cm high). Purple character with unattractive green skull. Accessories break easily. Warrior values. Aggressive background. Very limited interest.

Blasterhawk: Both a vehicle and a handgun that launches small plastic discs. Sold without characters. Heavy, unsightly and expensive, this bulky monster is very quickly unusable: the trigger, the only thin part of the machine, breaks after a few shots.

Roboto: Plastic figurine about 14 cm high with gear visible in the pole and 3 interchangeable weapons that attach in place of the right arm. Bright colors. More interesting than the other characters of the same series because of the gear. Violent and aggressive context. Incentivizing packaging to complete the collection. Popular characters among children because of the television series.

Bashasaurus: Plastic combat vehicle approximately 30 cm long in the shape of a dragon and equipped with a ram arm to flatten obstacles and stun the enemy (sold without figurine). Sturdy, colorful plastic. Questionable aesthetics. The arm-ram can hurt if it is received on the fingers. Warrior values. Expensive. No interest without the figurines.

Hurricane Hordak: Plastic figurine of approximately 15 cm with 3 interchangeable weapons to be screwed into the arm which is operated by means of a wheel located in the back. Solid. Very questionable aesthetic. The TV ad that advertises this toy is very misleading. Warrior values; despite everything, some children appreciate this collection to the great despair of their parents.

Mantisaur: Plastic insect armed with claws serving as a carrier vehicle. Monstrous insect that is the envy of all children, but whose interest is exhausted from the first day. The packaging deceives its possibilities, the clamps cannot grab figures, only support some; the TV deceives on its dimensions.

Fright Fighter: Large dragonfly flapping its wings, whose head opens to house a character from the collection. Fitted with an ingenious and spectacular manual mechanism, aesthetically pleasing even to adults, this large insect is of very limited use. After the enthusiasm of the first two days, he is abandoned. Expensive.

Marshal BraveStarr: Articulated plastic figurine representing a Marshal approximately 20 cm high. A plastic horse serving as his mount. Sold separately. If you do not know the cartoons of this series, these toys do not arouse any interest. Relatively strong; the rider is however very difficult to fit on the mount. Warrior values.


Box Art From A-Z, Part Five: 1986

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 Five: 1986

Name: Blasterhawk
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor He-Man launches a flying disk from the cockpit of the Blasterhawk.

Name: Eternia
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: The three towers of Eternia stand between Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain. Beast Man scales the central tower and Rattlor and Tung Lashor head toward the lion’s head entrance. Man-At-Arms fires the cannon at the top of the tower. Flying Fists He-Man and Terror Claws Skeletor do battle off to the side. A volcano erupts in the distance.

Battle Cat corners Stinkor at the Grayskull Tower, while several horde troopers rush up the outer stairs toward Snout Spout, who is dodging laser blasts from the Battle Tram. Rio Blast and Extendar stand at the top of Grayskull Tower, as the Fright Fighter flies by. Meanwhile, Moss Man drives Bashasaurus down the road from Castle Grayskull to Grayskull Tower.

Sy-Klone flies Blasterhawk near the summit of Viper Tower, and Megabeast rounds the corner at the base.


Name: Flying Fists He-Man & Terror Claws Skeletor
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: Flying Fists He-Man raises his shield as Terror Claws Skeletor approaches. Castle Grayskull looms ominously in the distance.

Image Source: MOTU Art Facebook Page

Name: Fright Fighter
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor Skeletor pilots Fright Fighter, firing canons at unseen enemies. Down below on the crater-covered ground, Man-At-Arms, Battle Armor He-Man, and Roboto look skyward, weapons raised.

Name: Hordak and Mantisaur
Year: 1986
Artist: Joe Chiodo
Description: By Hordak’s hand, Mantisaur captures Thunder Punch He-Man in thick jungle area. In a separate scene, Hordak, mounted on Mantisaur, surveys a giant crater in the middle of a vast desert.

Name: Jet Sled & He-Man
Year: 1986
Artist: Unknown
Description: He-Man pilots the Jet Sled over a volcanic desert. A small dragon flees from the approaching aircraft.

Image courtesy of Deimos

Image source: Crazy Collectors

Name: Laser Bolt
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: Battle Armor He-Man guides the Laser Bolt over difficult desert terrain as he fires on unseen enemies. A small dinosaur scurries out of the way.

Name: Mantisaur
Year: 1986
Artist: Joe Chiodo
Description: By Hordak’s hand, Mantisaur captures Thunder Punch He-Man in thick jungle area. In a separate scene, Hordak, mounted on Mantisaur, surveys a giant crater in the middle of a vast desert.

Name: Monstroid
Year: 1986
Artist: Unknown
Description: Monstroid spins in circles with Sy-Klone and Man-At-Arms captured in its claws. Thunder Punch He-Man and Roboto try to find a way to rescue their friends.

Name: Multi-Bot
Year: 1986
Artist: Unknown
Description: Multi-Bot is shown in 10 body configurations and poses.

Image source: Axel Giménez
Image source: Grayskull Museum

Name: Slime Pit
Year: 1986
Artist: William George
Description: Beast Man is trapped in the Slime Pit. Hordak pours ooze all over the hapless minion of Skeletor. In the background are the ruins of an ancient civilization.

More in this series:


1986 Mattel Toys Dealer Catalog

Here is the 1986 Mattel Toys Dealer Catalog. Intended for retailers, Mattel’s dealer catalogs showcased all the latest and greatest releases, along with existing products within its various current (at the time) toy lines. New releases included:

  • Flying Fists He-Man
  • Terror Claws Skeletor
  • Hurricane Hordak
  • Rokkon
  • Stonedar
  • Rio Blast
  • Snout Spout
  • Extendar
  • King Hiss
  • Rattlor
  • Tung Lashor
  • Dragstor
  • Horde Trooper
  • Multi-Bot
  • Slime Pit
  • Horde Slime
  • Monstroid
  • Mantisaur
  • Laser Bolt
  • Blasterhawk
  • Fright Fighter
  • Stilt Stalkers
  • Megalaser
  • Jet Sled
  • Eternia
  • Masters of the Universe VCR Game (apparently never produced)
  • Snake Mountain Rescue Game
  • Battle For Eternia Game

1986 saw quite an ambitious line-up of vehicles, figures, playsets and games. Not every item was an instant classic (I think the heroic warriors lineup for 1986 was particularly weak), but the scope of the line by this year was impressive.

(Source: Orange Slime and Nathalie NHT)