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:
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.
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
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: 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.
Over the years Mattel filed for patents on a number of Masters of the Universe-related ideas. The language employed is rather difficult to get through, but the illustrations are a lot of fun. I’ve collected some of them here. Special thanks to Manic Man for locating several of these patents, including Blast Attak, Rotar/Twistoid and Gyrattacker!