The artwork for this set comes from Axel Giménez, StarCrusader and my own photos and scans.
There are, unfortunately several subpar images in this set, including Roboto, Thunder Punch He-Man, Land Shark, and especially Night Stalker. If anyone out there has a Laser Bolt box, it should have Thunder Punch He-Man on the back. If you happen to have a scan or a high resolution picture of it in a nice natural lighting that you’d like to share, that would be appreciated.
The cross sell artwork for Land Shark appears on the back of the Jitsu/Night Stalker gift set. Land Shark cross sell art also appears on the back of the heroic warriors gift set (the one that included Buzz-Off, Moss Man and Mekaneck figures). If anyone happens to have nicer image of the cross sell art for Land Shark that they could share, I’d be really grateful.
Night Stalker is trickier. I have been unable to locate any cross
sell art for Night Stalker, other than the red line art on the back of
the Fright Zone box. If anyone knows of a full-color version that exists
somewhere out there, I’d appreciate that information!
Update: somehow I overlooked Spydor. Spydor doesn’t seem to have had cross sell art per se, but the explanatory illustration on the back of his packaging is probably the closest analog, as far as I know. The same is true for toys like Battle Bones and Blasterhawk. Thanks to Matthew M. for letting me know!
Land Shark is one of those Masters of the Universe vehicles that had to exist. There was no way they weren’t going to get around to making a chomping shark car vehicle, given enough time.
According to The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog, the idea for making this kind of vehicle came from Roger Sweet, and Ed Watts (who also worked on the Dragon Walker) created the design details in the concept drawing below:
The concept design, compared to the final toy, has much sharper lines (ideal for mowing down foes, but probably too sharp for a kid’s toy) and larger eyes, but the broad ideas that went into the final vehicle are all there. Notice that Trap Jaw is depicted driving the vehicle. In a way, the Land Shark is kind of a vehicular version of Trap Jaw, sharing not only his chomping mechanical jaw but also his color scheme. In Watts’ artwork, they even have similar weapons (although non of Trap Jaw’s attachments actually looked like that). The concept version is maroon and green, while final toy was maroon and blue (all three are predominant colors on Trap Jaw).
The cross sell artwork for the Land Shark (which incidentally seems to have been rarely used) is based closely on the final design used on the toy:
The trademark for Land Shark was filed September 10, 1984, and the patent was filed on November 13, 1984 .
Land Shark was sold individually and in a set with Battle Armor Skeletor. The box art on both sets was illustrated by William George:
Land Shark appears with some frequency in the series of minicomics released in 1985. The depiction in comics more or less matches the look of the final toy, although the guns are simpler and seem to connect to the vehicle with a different kind of hinged joint (this is true in all of the minicomic appearances, with the exception of Leech). This may represent an earlier prototype design. Excerpted images below are from the Dark Horse He-man Minicomic collection.
Curiously, Hordak drives the Land Shark in Hordak – The Ruthless Leader’s Revenge:
Errol McCarthy produced a couple of illustrations for the Land Shark. One of them was used in the 1987 Style Guide, which described the vehicle this way:
Role: Evil man-eating assault vehicle
Power: Power to seek, seize and consume the enemies of Skeletor
“Evil man-eating assault vehicle” seems like a good tag line for the toy. I’m surprised it wasn’t used on the actual packaging.
Land Shark makes a couple of appearances in the Golden books stories: A Hero In Need and The River Of Ruin (images via He-Man.org):
William George included the Land Shark in his 1985 and 1986 posters:
Earl Norem pitted the Land Shark vs the Laser Bolt in a poster included in the Spring 1986 issues of Masters of the Universe Magazine:
Norem also included the vehicle in his “Lake of Mystery” poster, although interestingly he turns it into a water vehicle in the surreal scene below:
The same issue of MOTU Magazine features a story called “The Comet Warriors Have Landed!” The vehicle also makes an appearance there:
The vehicle only made two appearances in the Filmation He-Man cartoon, in the episodes “The Gambler” and “The Cold Zone”. Predictably the vehicle is simplified for animation purposes. The guns were also dropped from the sides. Update: Dušan M pointed out that the animators also added a retractable roof so they wouldn’t always have to animate a driver. Aidan Cross points out that the Land Shark appears to be sentient, since in “The Cold Zone” it snaps aggressively when the Attak Trak says it would rather not be left alone with the Land Shark.
The Land Shark is a gimicky vehicle to be sure, equal parts menacing and comical. But, it’s undeniably one of the coolest vehicles released for the evil warriors, who never quite seemed to have enough of them. The lion’s share of always seemed to go to the good guys.
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 1985 that had (at the time) all new parts. For fun, I’m including one unproduced toy that made it into a 1985 catalog:
Evil Robot (unproduced)
These toys from 1985 reused some existing parts:
Thunder Punch He-Man
Dragon Blaster Skeletor
A few additional notes:
All of the Horde crossbow share some sculpted areas in common – basically everything except the head and the butt of the weapons. I don’t know which of them was done first – I’m defaulting to Hordak’s weapon as the basis for the others, in the absence of other information.
The modified Thunder Punch He-Man legs (with their enlarged feet for greater stability) were used in some versions of the following figures: Faker II, Spikor, Man-At-Arms, He-Man, Fisto, Tri-Klops, Battle Armor He-Man, and Jitsu, especially in the French “rubber boot” variants.
The modified Dragon Blaster Skeletor legs (with their enlarged feet for greater stability) were used in some versions of the following figures: Skeletor (Hong Kong), Ninjor, and Scare Glow (more on the last two figures in the feature on parts reuse in 1987).
The information about the reuse of these legs was provided to me by Mantisaur82, who is extremely knowledgeable about production variants.
Update: Thanks to Emmanuel V. for reminding me about the made-in-France version of Stinkor, with its blue He-Man shield.
One of the defining characteristics of the packaging artwork of William George is the inclusion of small dinosaur or dragon-like creatures in the background and foreground of the illustration. They add a dimension to the illustration that goes beyond simply demonstrating the product – there is also some world-building going on. The Eternia of William George is a hostile, dangerous and often desolate place, where threats come in all sizes.
I’ll only be focusing on creatures that William George invented for his paintings, not creatures that were part of the products for sale.
Battle Armor He-Man and Road Ripper (1984)
Dragon Walker (1984)
Road Ripper (1984)
Land Shark (1985)
Land Shark & Battle Armor Skeletor
Laser Bolt (1986)
Scubattack Power Gear (1987)
Update: Axel Giménez pointed out to me that there is another William George creature, outside of the box art. In his Bashasaurus poster, he includes one of his familiar little creatures on the rocks near Dragon Blaster Skeletor. It looks a bit like the creature in the Land Shark box art: