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!
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.
Leech is one of those figures that that is permanently etched in my memory. I got Leech and Mantenna for Christmas of 1985 (my brother got Grizzlor). At the time I was just starting to get distracted away from Masters of the Universe by G.I. Joe. I remember my cousin making the argument that G.I. Joe was cooler than He-Man because you could “put them in better poses.” I wasn’t terribly interested in army toys, but I looked up to my cousin and was easily swayed by his opinions. By 1986, Hasbro was putting out G.I. Joe figures that were much more colorful and weird, maybe in an effort to attract the attention of He-Man fans (it certainly worked on me). In any case, getting Leech and Mantenna sucked me right back in to the world of He-Man.
Masters of the Universe had long been a toyline filled with colorful, freakish monsters, but the Evil Horde took the bizarro factor to a whole new level, and Leech was an instant favorite. An evil green monster with suction cups for hands and a suction cup mouth? Sold! Leech reminded me of the salt vampire from the original Star Trek series – the creature also had a sucker face and suckers on its hands. That episode gave me a serious case of the creeps as a kid, so to have something a little like it in figure form was thrilling.
Leech was not the first suction cup monster to be sold by Mattel. In 1980, Mattel released a character called Suckerman (invented by Roger Sweet), covered head to foot in suction cups and made from a flexible vinyl material:
There are a couple early concepts for Leech, one from Filmation and the other from Mattel. My understanding is that the Evil Horde concepts originated from Filmation, and the Mattel would often take them in a different direction.
Several years back, James Eatock shared an early Leech concept created by Charles Zembillas. This incarnation of Leech was not quite the freak show character he ended up being. In fact, stylistically he fits right in with the type of character designs Mattel had put out in 1984 for the Evil Warrior faction:
Back at Mattel, designer Ted Mayer took the concept in a much different direction. Ted’s concept (below) presents a character that is much more alien looking, with more prominent suction cup hands and a face also dominated by a giant suction cup. Leech’s limbs here are much slimmer than the actual figure, but this design is otherwise much closer to the toy design than the Zembillas drawing.
As noted in The Power and the Honor Foundation catalog (image above), the Horde insignia on Leech and the rest of the Evil Horde was originally envisioned as an alien creature that controlled these monsters. It was an interesting idea, but it was ultimately dropped.
This close to final prototype (sculpted by Eddy Mosqueda, who also worked on Grizzlor, Sssqueeze and Eldor) appeared in the 1985 Mattel Dealer Catalog. The sculpt is final, and the figure appears to be hand-painted. As you can see, the prototype lacks the painted teeth and tongue inside his suction cup face. The suction cup itself is shallower than the final version, and lacks the wide rim on the toy (thanks to Manic Man for pointing that out). Unlike the final toy, the armor covering his left shoulder is painted orange, and the Horde bat insignia on his left arm is painted red. He also has black nostrils.
Compared to most other MOTU figures, leech was much more solid and bulky. His action feature required a fairly large torso. The suction cups on his hands (which never seemed to work all that well) were typical suction cups other than the sculpted finger details, but the suction cup on his mouth actually had a hole in the middle of it, with a tube leading down to a rubber bladder in the center of Leech’s torso. A button on the figure’s back would force the air out of the bladder through the hole in Leech’s mouth. This would create a vacuum in the bladder, resulting in a stronger suction force to better keep the figure attached to smooth surfaces.
In this scene Man-At-Arms is holding Mekaneck’s club. Leech is based on his prototype, with black belt buckle and painted orange shoulder armor.
There are a several different production variants for Leech, the most notable being the version with a black belt buckle and light green abs. This is likely the first release version of Leech, as it is closest to the cross sell artwork (and the prototype figure that the artwork was based on):
Aside from his single carded release, Leech was also sold in a J.C. Penny two-pack with Mantenna. There was also a planned three-pack with Hordak and Mantenna, but as far as I know no one has seen one in the wild.
The mini comic that came with Leech is no doubt the strangest piece of the entire series. In the story, Mer-Man (who is inexplicably bearded) is running from terror from Leech, who in this story is the size of the mountain, but has undersized two-fingered hands. Sy-Klone manages to temporarily defeat Leech (delivered with one of the best quips of all time – “Try a taste of knuckle sandwich, blubber gut!”), and the heroes take the frightened Mer-Man back to the palace to discuss the new threat with King Randor (who for some reason has a pink beard here).
As I said before, Leech is a giant behemoth in this comic. When he returns to Hordak empty-handed, it’s clear that Hordak is human-sized. However, when He-Man takes on Hordak in the Talon Fighter, Hordak is also giant-sized. Reading this comic as a kid, I assumed that both Leech and Hordak had the power to grow or shrink at will. I’m not sure if that was actually a power they were intended to have, or if this comic book can best be explained by the effects of a bad acid trip. Either way, I was left scratching my head. Still, for some time afterward I believed that Leech had this ability, and when I had him facing off against the Heroic Warriors, I would often pretend that he was a giant.
I wasn’t aware until some time later that Leech was actually a frequent character on the Filmation-produced She-Ra cartoon. Certainly there was nothing on Leech’s packaging that connected him to She-Ra in any way.
His appearances were enough to get me interested enough to watch a couple of episodes. It was fun to see Leech in action, but it was also tough as a little boy in the ’80s to admit to being into something that was branded for girls.
The Filmation version of Leech was a bit different from the toy version (and radically different from the Charles Zembillas concept). Compared to the toy he had a more realistic mouth, a yellow belt, and symmetrical yellow shoulder armor.
Errol McCarthy’s depiction of Leech was based on the cartoon incarnation:
Leech didn’t make any appearances on box art, but he was a background character in several posters by William George, Earl Norem, and others (images courtesy of Jukka Issakainen):
I won’t say that Leech is my all-time favorite Masters of the Universe figure, but he’s definitely in the top 10. He left a big enough impression on me that he was the first vintage MOTU figure that I repurchased as an adult.
Mini comic images and Errol McCarthy artwork are from He-Man.org.
Mosquitor is one of the few late Masters of the Universe figures that I was aware of as a kid. The last figure I got was probably Rattlor (1986). At that point I was more interested in G.I. Joe (although I loved the Snake Men, and in my mind associated them with Cobra-La). Occasionally though I would wander the isles of the toy store and see what was new in the world of He-Man. The three I remember best from 1987 were the Sorceress, King Randor, and Mosquitor.
When the Evil Horde was introduced in 1985, it represented something of a revival for me in my interest in He-Man. The Horde was composed of some very creepy-looking villains, and they captured my imagination. I owned Grizzlor, Leech, Mantenna, and Modulok, and spent quite a bit of time playing with them, even long after I had stopped collecting Masters of the Universe toys. In my opinion, Mosquitor fits right in with the original Horde lineup.
Mosquitor had quite a striking design and a bold black and red color scheme befitting his membership in the Evil Horde. In fact, his head and especially his eyes bear a striking resemblance to Mantisaur, released the year before.
Mosquitor had a blood-pumping action feature that circulated blood inside his chest, causing the blood to drip down the clear screen on the front of his chest, only to be collected at the bottom and pushed around again to the top. An early incarnation of this action feature appeared in Mattel’s 1980 Gre-Gory vampire bat.
Another early concept that would have implemented a similar action feature was Ted Mayer’s Braniac, which would have pumped fluid around the giant brain had it been produced:
The Mosquitor concept drawing below was done by David Wolfram, although he says that the character was designed by Pat Dunn. In terms of shape, this concept is quite close to the final toy design, with the exception of the feet, which have individual “toes”. However, the color scheme is quite different from the toy, with a blue body and black and purple accents, rather than his final black body with brown and purple accents. At this point in his design, his eyes are completely black:
Mosquitor was also sculpted by Pat Dunn (special thanks to Pixel Dan for the tip!). As noted earlier, his sculpted design is quite close to the original concept drawing, and is one of the nicer sculpts to come out of the tail end of the Masters of the Universe line:
Some Top Toys-produced versions of Mosquitor have black “blood”. This was due to the factory making use of different pigments when they had run out of the standard red.
Other versions, like this Spanish Mosquitor, came with a blue gun rather than a purple one:
The front of Mosquitor’s card features a great illustration of the character. Given that Bruce Tim did several pieces like this for other characters released that year, I would guess he did this one as well.
The back of the card features a great scene (artwork by Errol McCarthy) of Mosquitor assaulting Rattlor (somehow without directly contacting him), as well as some artwork demonstrating how his action feature works. Given Mosquitor’s design, it’s obvious that he’s a blood sucker (like Leech before him), but I would guess that Mattel’s marketing department wanted to soften the gore factor and he is depicted as sucking “energy” instead. Notice that his “Roto-Laser Blaster” on the illustration below is silver rather than purple.
Mosquitor’s cross sell artwork is very faithful to the final toy:
Errol McCarthy also created a couple of other pieces depicting Mosquitor in a battle-ready pose (images via He-Man.org):
Mosquitor also appears in William George’s Eternia and Preternia Posters (thanks to Jukka Issakainen for pointing that out and for the Eternia poster image):
He also shows up, in the clutches of Turbodactyl, in this 1988 poster by Earl Norem:
Mosquitor was composed of 100% new parts, and it shows. None of his parts were ever reused in another toy, but there were plans to do so. His legs would have been used in this unproduced mashup character that featured parts from Trap Jaw, Rattlor and Whiplash:
Mosquitor made his mini comic debut in Enter … Buzz-Saw Hordak! In the comic, Mosquitor proves to be a quite a menace for friend and foe alike. He nearly defeats He-Man by sucking out his life force:
He also makes an appearance in Star Comics issue number 8. In this issue we see him with a much more organic-looking, brown head:
Mosquitor came out too late to make an appearance in Filmation’s She-Ra cartoon, but if he had, he might have looked something like this:
For more about Mosquitor, check out this video from Pixel Dan, who is possibly the world’s biggest Mosquitor fan: