Tag Archives: Laser Power He-Man

Laser Power He-Man: Heroic Master of Light Energy (1988)

Laser Power He-Man was released Italy and Spain a year after the end of the Masters of the Universe toyline in the US. He was a figure most North American fans were not aware of until they discovered it online years later. That was certainly true for me. Because the figure was produced in limited numbers overseas, it’s one of the most expensive vintage He-Man toys to acquire today. (Update: I’m also informed that there was some distribution of Laser Power He-Man in Switzerland. Thanks to Olmo for the information.)

Design & Development

In my interview with David Wolfram, he gave some great information behind the development of the Laser Power He-Man, and his evil counterpart, Laser-Light Skeletor:

Laser light Skeletor and the corresponding He-Man were both done for the international markets. The domestic MOTU line was essentially dead after the 1986 (or maybe 1987, it is hard to remember precisely). Pre-Toy Fair, which was a Mattel-only event held in August in Scottsdale for many years. I remember the marketing person saying that no domestic buyers even wanted to go in the gallery.

However, the international markets were a couple of years behind in their product cycle, so they wanted a few pieces of new news. It just so happens that one of the new MOTU segments we had been looking at was a “Power Crystal” segment with crystals “powering” vehicles, interacting with playsets, etc. The He-man and Skeletor were borrowed from that segment.

While MOTU was tanking domestically, it was still going strong internationally, which was a year behind in the product cycle. This was done to have something new for that market. LISA (the light transmitting plastic) was a fairly new “shiny toy” for the designers at the time, so that was the hook for that segment. I think Martin did the final He-Man design. I frankly don’t remember for what purpose I did that awful He-Man illustration for, but I’m sure that it was after the fact (and most likely rushed), and I’m sorry that it has survived.

David Wolfram

A few things to unpack there. David mentions some artwork that he did for Laser Power He-Man. Martin Arriola was the actual designer of the figure, but David did a study of the character, seen below. The concept has white boots and a kind of white collar at this stage of his design. He has the familiar combined “HM” emblem on his belt, used on figures like Battle Armor and Thunder Punch He-Man:

Artwork by David Wolfram. Image source: The Art of He-Man/The Power and the Honor Foundation

David also mentions a power crystal segment, where crystals would be used to power playsets and interact with toys. We certainly see evidence of that in concept art by James McElroy for various crystal powered vehicles and playsets, and in an early Laser Power He-Man prototype:

Crystal powered capture accessory, by James McElroy. Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation/Dark Horse
Crystal powered Battle Base, by James McElroy. Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation. Laser Power He-Man is shown with the playset.

There was some discussion of making the He-Man “crystal segment” into an interactive TV series, as noted in the concept art below. Mattel abandoned that idea for He-Man and instead implemented it with Captain Power:

Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation. Note that we see roughed out Laser Power He-Man and Laser Light Skeletor figures with the “Harm Arm”
Captain Power ad. Image source: He-Man.org

The earliest known prototype for Laser Power He-Man keeps the general shape of the concept “collar” piece, but it’s turned into a backpack. His color scheme has a lot more blue in it, which will persist to the production toy.

Behind his head you can see the green crystal that his segment would have been based on. This prototype is a kind of kit bash, with arms from the original He-Man figure, hands borrowed from Rio Blast, and what looks like the original He-Man’s legs, hacked up and straightened out. The face looks pretty close to the original He-Man, but with updated hair.

Crystal-powered Laser Power He-Man prototype. Image source: Grayskull Museum
Crystal-powered Laser Power He-Man prototype. Image source: Grayskull Museum
Image source: Antieternia Facebook page
Image source: Grayskull Museum
Image source: La Cueva del Terror

In the next stage in Laser Power He-Man’s development,we see him with his final, newly sculpted body, which included silver gloves and a smaller belt. The green crystal was removed from his backpack, and some subtle changes were made to his harness. His face has also been modified. Instead of bearing his teeth, he’s been given a more placid expression.

Image source: Grayskull Museum
Image source: MOTU Vintage Toys Facebook page
Image source: Grayskull Museum

Action Figure

The final Laser Power He-Man figure design has a somewhat simplified harness/backpack design, and a much modified light up power sword design, but otherwise is fairly similar to the previous prototype:

Laser Power He-Man cross sell art, with unpainted gloves.

As with Laser Light Skeletor, the figure’s light up feature is activated by raising his right arm. A wire is snaked from the sword, under the armor on the right arm (which seems to exist only to hide the wire) and into the backpack. The light in the sword is powered by an AA battery that fits in the backpack.

The Italy release (shown below) has the newly sculpted head, which some have speculated is supposed to resemble Dolph Lundgren, who played He-Man in the 1987 Masters of the Universe Movie. Alternatively, it could resemble some actor who might have starred in the (never produced) interactive He-Man TV show. That’s purely speculative – they might not have had any actors in mind for the series.

Looking at this and the early prototype closely, however, I think the most likely interpretation is that it’s just supposed to look like the original He-Man’s face sculpt, but with a more neutral expression and updated hair.

Like Laser-Light Skeletor, all of Laser Power He-Man’s tooled parts are unique to the figure:

Image source: He-Man.org
Replica figure

Laser Power He-Man was also produced in Spain. The Spanish versions are marked Italy, but they can be easily distinguished by the fact that they use the original 1982 He-Man head sculpt (images and videos courtesy of “NoPatricioNo”):

The figure has ball-jointed legs, as opposed to the rubber connectors used in most MOTU figures.
With Top Toys He-Man for comparison.

Packaging

Laser Power He-Man was sold on an oversized card. There’s some nice artwork on both front and back, although I’m not sure who illustrated it:

Image source: He-Man.org
Image source: He-Man.org

The card art on the front and back differs just a bit from the actual figure. It shows He-Man with bare hands, a black hilt on his laser sword, and a kind of brass knuckles like strap around his right hand. No doubt this represents a late stage concept or prototype design.

Update: I got a bit more information about dates and card types for the Laser figures from Dani Ramón Abril, of Yo Tengo el Poder :

I wanted to comment The Lasers were sold in 1988 in Europe with Eurocard (England, Germany, Italy and France) and in 1989 in Iberocard (Spain and Portugal).

Spanish Advertising

The catalog that came packed with the Spanish figures cross sell art of both figures:

Image source: He-Man.org

The cross sell art also appears on these Spanish stickers:

The Yo Tengo el Poder site has unearthed a couple of other interesting Spanish ads featuring both laser figures:

Image source: Dani Ramón Abril
Image source: Yo Tengo el Poder

There is also a great 1989 mini magazine published in Spain that features the Laser figures, which comes by way of La Cueva del Terror.

Masters of the Universe Club comic

The French Club Maitres de l’Univers magazine published a comic featuring early concept versions of Laser Power He-Man and Laser-Light Skeletor, alongside characters whose figures were released in 1987 (images are from Nathalie NHT):

Into the Future

Because Laser Power He-Man was only released in Europe and at the very tail end of the line, he doesn’t appear in many stories or comics. I think he has a pleasing futuristic design. Not as exciting as Laser-Light Skeletor perhaps, but overall a nice take on a space age He-Man.

In many ways, Laser Power He-Man represents an intermediate step in the evolution of the the New Adventures He-Man figure from the rebooted 1989 line. The “New Adventures” He-Man figure was also designed by Martin Arriola. His colors and costume are quite different from Laser Power He-Man, but he does feature a translucent “laser” sword, which persisted in Martin’s futuristic He-Man designs:

Right to left: New Adventures Thunder Punch He-Man, Battle Punch He-Man (designed by Mark Taylor), 1989 He-Man, and Laser Power He-Man (replica)

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Masters of the Universe Cross Sell Art: 1988

The artwork for this set comes from He-Man.org. As far as I know there was no cross sell art produced for either Tytus or Megator. So, instead I’ve included the front artwork from the packaging, by William George. All four of these figures were released at the tail end of the line, in Europe only.

Masters of the Universe Cross Sell Art:

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Parts Reuse in MOTU, Part Seven: 1988

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 1988 that had (at the time) all new parts. For fun, I’m including unproduced toys as well.

Tytus


Image Source: He-Man.org

Megator


Image Source: He-Man.org

Laser Power He-man

“Ambush” Playset (unproduced)


Image Source: Grayskull Museum

These 1988 designs reused some existing parts:

Laser Power He-Man (Spanish version)

Laser Light Skeletor

There were at least six additional figures planned as part of the 1988 line, but they were never released. These were to be entirely constructed from existing parts, no doubt as a way to inject some quick cash into the dying line at minimal cost. We only know the original name of one of them (Strobo), so I’ll make up names for the others:

Strobo

Snake Trooper

Cyborg Strike

Bow Blaster

Snappor

Samuran

Note: The above artwork is by Errol McCarthy, sourced from He-Man.org. I’m assuming “Sumuran’s” arms and legs would reuse He-Man’s, although the artist draws them without gauntlets or boots, so it’s possible they might have been new parts.

Parts Reuse series:

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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

January 21, 1983:

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

February 16, 1983:

PANTHOR, SCREEECH

May 23, 1983:

PRINCE ADAM (release probably delayed until 1984)

May 25, 1983:

FAKER, POINT DREAD, TALON FIGHTER

August 22, 1983:

“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

August 22, 1983:

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

December 5, 1983:

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

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

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

November 12, 1985:

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

December 2, 1985:

BLASTERHAWK

January 9, 1986:

EXTENDAR, RIO BLAST

March 17, 1986:

“COMET WARRIORS”

March 21, 1986:

BATTLE FOR ETERNIA (board game), FRIGHT FIGHTER

March 24, 1986

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

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. 

Image via Battle Grip

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