Commercials, Videos

1983 US He-Man commercials

Continuing from last week when I covered all of the US toy commercials released in 1982, let’s take a look at what came out the following year. In 1983, Mattel released commercials that technically featured every new product, although there were no ads that I know of solely dedicated to Evil-Lyn, Tri-Klops, Panthor, Zoar or Screeech.

Probably my favorite of the commercials released in 1983 is this ad featuring all of the MOTU product available to date. Note that Zodac is grouped with the Evil Warriors:

The little kid at the end I think perfectly captures my reaction to these toys when I was that age.

The Man-E-Faces commercial has one of my favorite lines of dialogue:

Dad: “He-Man, he’s your friend?”

Boy (speaking as He-Man): “Friend and ally. He’s just kind of weird sometimes.”

The Ram Man commercial shows off Ram Man’s action feature quite well, but also highlights the original play pattern behind the Castle Grayskull playset – that it could be controlled by either the heroes or the villains at any time.

The Trap Jaw commercial uses a stand-off with He-Man to showcase all of Trap Jaw’s unique gimmicks and action features, with the curious exception of the figure’s articulated jaw:

I included the following commercial in my post for 1982 US He-Man commercials, as there seems to be a chance that it was released in 1982. However, as Faker is generally grouped with the 1983 wave, I’ll include it here as well:

I don’t remember seeing this Attak Track commercial as a kid, but if I had I would have been begging my mom for one. This thing looks unstoppable (or at least, it can’t be stopped by cardboard props):

There were actually two slightly different versions of the Point Dread and Talon Fighter commercial. One was narrated by Peter Cullen (best known as the voice of Optimus Prime), and the other by an unknown voice actor (hat tip to Grimbot2).

The facial expressions of the kid holding Skeletor are pretty priceless.

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Interviews

Mark & Rebecca Taylor on the origins of He-Man

Mark Taylor is the designer behind so many beloved icons in the He-Man universe: He-Man, Skeletor, Man-At-Arms, Teela, Stratos, Beast Man, Mer-Man, Zodac, Castle Grayskull, Battle Cat, Man-E-Faces, Ram Man, and even an early version of Prince Adam. Mark and his wife Rebecca were gracious enough to answer some of my questions about the origins of these characters, and the process of bringing them to life.

Battle Ram: Thank you both so much for agreeing to answer my questions. I recently interviewed Ted Mayer and Rudy Obrero. It’s a thrill and an honor to also be able to interview you now!

Mark: Adam, thank you for your interest, both Ted and Rudy are my friends as well as excellent designers.  It was a pleasure to work with them on He-Man.  I do not call the brand MOTU because that was just a Mattel marketing and management concept. “Masters of the Universe” also helped them separate it from a potential lawsuit with the Conan property owners.  It also was part of their effort to remove the concept from the original creator and inventor, me.

BR: You were originally hired by Mattel to work on packaging. How did you come to be the designer for He-Man?

Mark: At the age of eleven I was a compulsive reader and drawer, I love story telling and adventure, influenced by Hal Foster’s beautiful strip and Burroughs and Howard’s books. I started telling my own heroic story.

I went to Art Center, Cal State and worked for the US Navy (Combat Illustrator). Then through a friend I found out there was an opening at Mattel in Visual Development group.  They were a very talented “bullpen” who were responsible for the appearance of the product which included packaging but also the products’ labels, color, details and early engineering drawings.  This was a perfect fit for me, and I was promptly assigned to work on Barbie product, which was a honor because Barbie has always been Mattel’s cash cow.

Mark Taylor in his early Mattel days. Image courtesy of Ted Mayer
“Death of Mark Taylor From Night Visitation.” Artwork by Colin Bailey, January 23, 1981. Given to Mark when he was working on his “dark project” (He-Man). Image courtesy of Rebecca Salari Taylor.

BR: He-Man and Skeletor seem very primordial and archetypal to me.  He-Man is the embodiment of life and vitality; Skeletor is the embodiment of death and decay. When you were designing these characters, was any of that running through your head?

Mark: He-Man’s original name was Torak, Hero of Prehistory. He was the defender of the weak and righteous and foe of bullies and villains.  This powerful hero needed a worthy adversary who embodied evil and sorcery on every level.

Torak, by Mark Taylor. Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation, via the Toy Masters documentary sneak preview.

Skeletor was influenced by many literary sources but visually by a carnival scare ride with a skeleton like figure that dropped down and rattled (turned out to be a real mummified outlaw); also a lot of Mexican Day of the Dead art and sculpting. Skeletor had to be powerful in his own right and believe completely in his cause as much as Torak (He-Man).

The battle was set, a righteous hero mounted on a giant Battle Cat verses a nefarious villain imbued with mystical evil powers.  The clash of arms could be heard to the ends of the earth.

The Sunbird Legacy cover art by Earl Norem

BR:  So He-Man originated with your Torak character, which I believe you had been working on since the 1950s. Did Skeletor originate from that same time?

Mark: Absolutely. Skeletor evolved simultaneously with Torak, it had to be this way.  They were the yin and yang,  the reason for being, opposites to battle forever.

BR: As far as I can tell, Stratos was originally supposed to be an evil warrior (correct me if I’m wrong!), but then he was released as a heroic warrior. Were there any other characters who ended up switching sides?

Mark: Yes many, the early figures that switched sides were, Beast Man, Teela, Stratos, Man-E-Faces and Ram Man. It was a money thing, we had to release the figures, vehicles, playsets and accessories in waves to pay for the tooling and advertising.  Mattel did not really believe in the line until after Castle Grayskull was a big hit. Then it was just a matter of corporate greed as to how much we could jam down the public’s throat. I left to work on TMNT.

BR: Can you talk about your working relationship with Ted Mayer on the Masters of the Universe toy line?

Mark: Ted is an industrial designer, I am a designer/illustrator. I sketched out the line but needed help with the vehicles.  I requested Ted and he did a great job. It was important that the figure controlling the vehicle be very visual, we didn’t have a movie to explain and promote our product like Star Wars did.

Battle Ram concept by Ted Mayer

BR: How did you come to hire Rudy Obrero to do paintings for the packaging artwork? Can you speak a little bit about your experience working with him?

Mark: He was the only guy who could paint like Frank Frazetta, he was great to work with.  Always came back with more and better than I expected.  He would do great stuff from very little reference material. We were turning out stuff like crazy fast.  It was like we were joined at the imagination.

Battle Cat box art, by Rudy Obrero

BR: Mattel took quite a risk in producing your designs that were not based on any previous intellectual property. It was a risk that obviously paid off. Do you think toy companies today are more hesitant to take those kinds of risks?

Mark: Mattel took no chances at first. Ray Wagner, President of Mattel at that time, laid his reputation on the line and went against everyone else to give Masters a lift off.  We were forced to do illegal child testing early on (another lame boys toy was supposed to be tested, but the Preliminary guys weren’t ready). We snuck in thanks to Angie DiMicco.  I was there with He-Man, Teela,  Beast Man, Battle Cat and Skeletor. The kids tried to steal the prototypes after the testing. We had a hit.

BR:  A lot of characters went through color changes as they went through development (either to themselves or their costumes or both). Examples include Beast Man, Mer-Man, Teela and Ram Man. What was driving those changes?

Mark: Sorry to admit it, but cost.  Later when the brand was making billions no one cared but in the beginning engineering pinched every penny, especially in paint masks.  Also there was a conscious effort to avoid anything that resembled Star Wars or Conan in any way.

BR: Mer-Man went through quite a few changes from B-sheet to final toy. What was behind the changes to his design, particularly the changes to his face?

Mark: Mer-Man tested the lowest. Tony Guerrero the great sculptor and I chased the negative child test comments until we finally realized the marketeers were just messing with us and then we went with what we had.  Mer-Man was the weakest but people who like him really like him (I based him on Bernie Wrightson’s Swamp Thing).

Swamp Thing, by Bernie Wrightson

BR: There is a character you designed who fans refer to now as Demo-Man. Do you see him as an early incarnation of Skeletor or Beast Man?

Mark: No, he was a separate concept that I was too busy to exploit, I was working until the sun came up and the Mattel building was empty. I was pretty much running on fumes.  I would have loved to take him further but like so many concepts corporate profit came first.

Demo-Man, by Mark Taylor

BR:  You designed the armor and helmet for Battle Cat as a way to reuse the Big Jim tiger. Can you talk a little bit about that design? The helmet design is quite striking, like some mythical beast.

Mark: I had used the Cat on the Tarzan line, I liked the sculpt but the 5.30″ He Man figures wouldn’t ride on him and I wanted him to ride on a huge cat.  Nobody messes with a guy riding a huge armored cat!  I had seen a guy ride a regular tiger in the circus and wow!

The head armor came from my childhood sketches and had to be engineered for costs and molding ease or the marketeers would lose it (thanks Ted).

Battle Cat, by Mark Taylor

BR:  The colors green and orange seem to be pretty prominent on those early toys (Battle Cat, Man-At-Arms, Wind Raider). Is there a story behind that color scheme?

Mark: Not just a story but a lot of work and fighting, those colors were not very common in action toys. They pop but looked somewhat alien. I definitely did not want Battle Cat to look like a real tiger, he was much more that but they sold out on him in the animation and later toys after I left.  He or He-Man were NEVER supposed to be silly in my imagination.

He-Man and Battle Cat box art by Rudy Obrero


BR:  Did you have an origin story in mind when you designed Man-E-Faces? How about Ram Man?

Mark: Yes, but no one was interested, they wanted to ship it out immediately to animators and movie producers, you know “professionals”.  I designed him to have a different and interesting feature besides a twist waist. All the answers to my original story are in clues in Castle Grayskull, where they should be like a puzzle.

BR: Teela and the Sorceress/Goddess (the one with the snake armor) were originally separate characters. Whose decision was it to combine them into a single action figure? How did you feel about that? Did you intend the sorceress character to be a hero or a villain?

Mark: She was actually supposed to be a changeling but the comic book guys had a hard time with that. Also, the head of girls toys wanted to rip her off for Princess of Power (because now the line was very hot!). She was intended to be like a spy and play both sides with some magic but the “professionals” felt that was too complex (I guess they don’t get Game of Thrones either).

BR: In the first couple of years of the toyline, all of the vehicles seem to be geared toward the good guys. Why was that?

Mark: Don’t forget Skeletor used MAGIC but He-Man never did. Skeletor could animate anything and go anywhere.  In my mind that was one of the main differences between the main characters and their followers.

BR: The late Tony Guerrero sculpted a lot of the early He-Man figures. Can you talk a little bit about what it was like to work with him?

Mark: Tony was a great artist and a really nice man and it was my honor to work with him. I also worked on another project, TMNT with a nice and super talented guy named Scott Hensey. Working with both of these sculptors allowed me to break custom by adding a step to the development process. On the He-Man line we did a looks like beauty sculpt, non articulated from my “B” sheet (design sketch) for testing and sales and until we got the first shots from China.  This was Tony’s idea and without this extra step,  the confidence in this “weird” concept wouldn’t have happened.  I repeated this process with the Turtles.

Early He-Man sculpture by Tony Guerrero. Image source: The Power and the Honor Foundation

BR: These toys were a surprise, runaway success. What is it about He-Man that made it so successful, do you think?

Mark: Everybody pushes us little guys around, we secretly want to strike back at all the bullies.  We need to feel like we can make things better and are willing to fight to do it.  With He-Man we have the power!  We have a chance.  I feel that the  basic concept of courage cannot be taught, it can only be shown.

BR: What did you envision for Zodac when you designed him? What were his abilities and where did he fit in to the MOTU universe?

Mark: Zodac was all about flying. He was the air wing. I was influenced by Flash Gordon and the flying Vikings.

BR: Castle Grayskull is probably the greatest playset ever made, and I understand that you sculpted most of it yourself? What was that process like? What does Castle Grayskull mean to you?

Mark: Yes I did because Tony was busy with the figures and the other sculptors kept making it too architectural.  I wanted it to the castle to be organic, coming to life to tell its story.  I made a wood armature and sculpted it in green clay. Ted helped with the plaster mold and vacuum forming, Rebecca did the labels. Marketing (now everyone wants in on the game) wanted it to retail for twenty nine dollars.  The imaginative user applied labels themselves to offset the lack of interior walls.  Toys R Us sold all they could get fifty dollars which was quite a mark up.


BR: Rebecca, I understand you worked on the stickers and cardboard inserts used in Castle Grayskull. The style ranges from regal to almost psychedelic. What did you have in mind when you were working on that project?

Rebecca: The only chance Mark had to tell the story was with the castle. He always said, “all the answers are in Castle Grayskull”, which is quite a different direction that it eventually went. Once the president of Mattel Ray Wagner chose to go with it, everything moved at such a high velocity because he wanted it and no one else understood it.

Mark asked me to combine classic icons along with futuristic ones because he was going against Star Wars and after all it was a ” warrior-type” premise that had to somehow be more than Conan, Tarzan etc.

Mark had sketches in ancient sketchbooks which I took and redesigned stickers from. I did the designing, drawing, inking and coloring, that includes labels for vehicles as well as directed by and revised by Mark. Just like every label job, I was given areas that I had to fit. Because everything was going so fast, sometimes those areas would change shape and would have to be redrawn on the fly in those cases Mark was redrawing my stuff because he was hands on with the castle. Because we’ve worked together for decades, we speak in brain waves.

I think the reason they are perceived as “psychedelic” is because Mark said, “We’re already going somewhere no one else has so don’t render the labels in the normal hard edged graphic way. I used Dr. Martin’s Dyes and let the colors run and wash into the line art. I think it went through because it was so fast and still no one really “got it”.

It wasn’t until after it looked like it might be “big” did people start making decisions to get connected to the project or shall I say get their “scent” on it if you know what I mean. The innovation on those labels happened because Mark was approving and controlling this project and I knew what he wanted. I’ve done many labels for other toy companies and no one has ever asked me for “something really different” and yet these were a big hit.

I was always disappointed that the Mylar printed moat that surrounded the castle was costed out.

Printed Mark Taylor moat reproduction from the Power & Honor Foundation

BR: Was Errol McCarthy responsible for creating the cross sell artwork on the back of the packaging (below)?

Mark: In the beginning it was someone else and then Errol came in.

BR: MOTU differs a bit from traditional sword and sorcery in that it includes laser guns and flying vehicles. What was behind the inclusion of science fiction with barbarian elements?

Mark: I never wanted it to be a traditional. If I was still working on it I probably would have added zombies, aliens and time travel.  Why not?

BR:  Often in the process from b-sheet to prototype to finished toy, there are a lot design changes. Which finished toy were you most pleased with? Which one do you feel didn’t live up to its potential?

Mark: Castle Grayskull was the best and most innovative, Mer-Man left me a little unsatisfied.

BR: In a nutshell, what is your vision for Eternia? What kind of place is it?

Mark: Eternia is a stupid name to me (not my name). I imagined that world be like a nightmare that you can modify as you go.  ALWAYS about hope.

BR:  In public appearances you often talk about Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey. What has been your personal hero’s journey?

Mark: My wife Rebecca epitomizes attaining a fulfilling goal, she is my Nirvana.  My life is filled with beauty and love, I wish everyone could be as lucky as I.

BR: Are you both still actively involved in creating artwork? What kinds of projects are you passionate about now?

Mark: I am writing a the original prequel to He-Man based on the original Torak.  Also an autobiography about my life in the toy biz. I am fascinated by computer 3D design but it is very non-intuitive for me.  I still love to read and watch movies, I wish I had the resources to make one.

Rebecca: I work on digital art because it is so easy to create my style of graphic art which is strongly based on shapes and color. It is so exciting to me to be able to have such a magnificent palette and to be able to experiment with unlimited color combinations with a couple of keystrokes.

Many thanks to Mark and Rebecca for patiently answering all of my questions. Hopefully we can look forward to a book or two from Mark in the future!

Additional interviews and appearances by Mark and Rebecca:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYYnq_NfQGM

10 Things We Learned From Mark Taylor, the Designer of He-Man – The Robot’s Voice

Q&A with Mark Taylor – Zetaboards

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Evil Warriors

Tri-Klops: Evil and sees everything (1983)

Tri-Klops, released in the second year of the Masters of the Universe toyline (1983), was the only evil warrior released that year that I owned as a kid. Sure, I coveted my friend’s Trap Jaw figure, but I soon grew to love Tri-Klops, and he got plenty of use in the sandbox.

Tri-Klops never got a commercial dedicated to him, but he did play a major role in this 1985 commercial for Moss Man:

Unlike many of the figures I’ve covered so far, the designer behind Tri-Klops is not known. Update: It looks like Roger Sweet came up with the concept for Tri-Klops, according to Ted Mayer (see comments at the end of this post). Ted, by the way, was a visual designer on the MOTU line for many years. You can read about Ted’s contributions to Masters of the Universe here. Thanks for the insight, Ted!

Tri-Klops uses the basic He-Man body (taking the detail up a notch by painting the wrist bracers orange) with a new head, armor, weapon, and Warrior’s Ring accessory (a glow-in-the-dark ring with an image of Castle Grayskull on it that could open up to reveal a secret compartment).

Roger Sweet, in his Mastering the Universe book, described Tri-Klops as a heroic warrior:

It’s not clear from the language if Roger was misremembering or if that was the original intent of the character. If it’s the latter, that seems plausible enough, given Tri-Klops’ basically human appearance. Interestingly, Tri-Klops was released with three different face sculpts, each with an increasingly severe scowl.

One thing that seems to hold true about MOTU character design is that when the appearance of a character in early comics differs from the final toy, it’s usually because the reference the artist used was an early prototype or B-sheet drawing. So I think it’s a fair bet that the design of Tri-Klops as he appeared in the mini comic, “The Terror of Tri-Klops!” represents a very early concept design for the figure.

A few things stand out about this early design. He has unique dark red leather boots with white trim. His belt is green as is his armor, with a red undershirt, red and white stripes down the front, and a white sash with green and orange ovals running down it. He sports green bracers, and his head gear is entirely green.

The first prototype that we know of is a substantial departure from that version:

Source: He-Man.org

The design has been streamlined, and the colors simplified to green, orange and black. The boots are plain black and furry. His belt is orange. The stripes and sash are gone, leaving a clean green look with a single orange line running down the front of his chest. There are some circular details running along the lower edges of his armor that look like a mirror image of the details on his belt. The eye that is shown facing forward is green. His sword is basic gray with a black handle

This prototype probably looks very familiar to many who grew up with Masters of the Universe. That is because Tri-Klops’ cross sell artwork was based on that prototype:

Cross sell artwork (image courtesy of Axel Giménez)

This very close to final prototype appears in the 1983 Mattel Dealer Catalog:

The sculpt is identical to the finished toy, but hand painted. Note the unpainted bracers and the inverted coloring on his third “angry” eye.

The finished toy is similar to the early prototype, with a few changes:

The dots around the bottom of his armor were removed. The dots running down the front of his armor were removed and replaced with straight vertical lines. The green eye shown facing forward on the prototype was painted red. The crossguard of the sword was given a half moon shape, and the entire sword was cast in green, with a black handle. The top of the head was machined a bit differently to allow for easy of movement on the rotating eye feature.

Notice the sculpted hair in the back. It’s easy to miss, as it is colored the same as the rest of his headgear.

Let’s look a bit closer at Tri-Klops’ action feature. He has three eyes on his helmet that can be rotated around to show a different single eye at any given moment. There is a placid looking blue eye, an angry looking red eye, and a really angry looking red eye with red sclera (ie the “whites” of the eye).

Tri-Klops’ cardback described his action feature like this:

So there is a “daytime” eye, a “nighttime” eye, and an eye that can see around corners. The artwork on the back of the card shows Tri-Klops looking through a rock to see He-Man riding on Battle Cat up a mountain path. He’s using the blue eye, although that may not mean anything.

Artwork by Errol McCarthy

The Masters of the Universe Bible, written by Michael Halperin in December of 1982, describes Tri-Klops’ abilities like this:

… brute with three eyes called TRI-KLOPS, a man with three eyes who could see, not only during the day, but in the dark and around corners with his Gammavision.

Further, in the Filmation cartoon, Tri-Klops had what was called “Distavision”, which is basically a telescopic eye.

I doubt anyone at Mattel cared that much about which eye was which. The idea was to give kids a springboard for playing with the figure and making good use of the rotating eye action feature. Personally I would say that the blue eye is the daytime/distavision eye, the intermediate red eye is the nighttime/night vision eye, and the final red eye is the Gammavision eye.

But honestly, as a kid, to me they were the friendly eye, the angry eye, and the really angry eye. He was a like Man-E-Faces in that way. The rotating feature made him have different personality traits.

One thing I discovered as a kid that made me like the figure even more, is that if you peak underneath Tri-Klops’ visor, you’ll see that he has no eyes at all. It was creepy in the coolest possible way.

In his mini comic, Tri-Klops was a mercenary who was press-ganged into Skeletor’s service. He is a very skilled swordsman who single-handedly defeats Battle Cat, Ram Man, Teela, and nearly He-Man himself. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that his panoramic vision makes it nearly impossible to take him by surprise.

Tri-Klops appears in the background for this “Power of He-Man” video game ad. He is colored very strangely, however – in yellow and purple:

In the Filmation series, Tri-Klops is more of a generic henchman. He was, in one episode, given the ability to fire lasers from one of his eyes, which makes him less of an interesting character, in my opinion. At that point he just becomes a walking gun. In the mini comic he can project blinding light through one of his eyes, but that ability does not replace the need for swordsmanship.

In the Filmation series, he has the same color boots and loin cloth as He-Man (perhaps as a way to reuse animation). His overall look was simplified, but his eyes were changed into three distinct geometric shapes: a square, a circle and a triangle. This gave his visor a more mechanical look than the original toy.

Just a note on one of the Filmation model sheets for Tri-Klops. The version shown above features a more toy-accurate eye, compared to the final animated version:

Colors on the right-hand comparison version by Jukka Issakainen

If the animated Tri-Klops had been colored like his toy counterpart, he would have looked like this:

Colors by Jukka Issakainen

In the Filmation Series Guide illustration, however, Tri-Klops looks very close to the prototype toy, with the exception of his blue shorts:

Tri-Klops was never heavily promoted, but he did make plenty of appearances in advertising, posters, coloring books, and other media:

Special thanks to Jukka Issakainen for providing many of the images used in this post, including the opening graphic, and for cluing me into the “mean face” version of Tri-Klops.

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Heroic Warriors

Man-E-Faces: Heroic human…robot…monster! (1983)

I distinctly remember when I got Man-E-Faces (along with Ram Man) as a present, probably for my birthday in 1983. There was something endlessly fascinating about his ability to change faces at will. In my mind it was his way of disguising himself. Sure, no one would be fooled given his very distinctive silhouette, but that’s how I thought of it.

Man-E-Faces was something of a sea change for the line as it had existed in 1982. He was given all new parts (legs shared with Trap Jaw, who came out the same year) and a new gimmick – a rotating head drum that allowed you to display three distinct faces: human, robot, and monster. His design had more technology integrated into it than any MOTU figure that had come out before, although it was more steam punk than Star Trek.

Incidentally, his blaster was later reused as a tail gun for a couple of the Voltron lions:

You might notice that his legs are a little too short for his body. That’s probably because his rotating faces action feature gives him a rather tall torso, which may have necessitated smaller legs in order to fit into the standard MOTU packaging.

The single-carded Man-E-Faces was released in a couple of different flavors – standard, featuring his red blaster, and a deluxe version with pink chest tubes (often referred to now as Man-E-Weapons) that came with five bonus weapons from the Castle Grayskull set, but cast in maroon.

Man-E-Faces was also released in a three-pack with Battle Armor He-Man and Man-At-Arms, a J.C. Penny two-pack with Faker, a J.C. Penny two-pack with Battle Armor He-Man, and in a giftset with Skeletor and Panthor:

Image courtesy of Tokyonever

Errol McCarthy did the cardback illustration and style guide art for Man-E-Faces, as he did for most of the figures in the line:

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

The figure was designed by Mark Taylor, shortly before he left Mattel:

Notice that while the design details are close to the final toy, the color choices around the helmet are different. On the final toy, parts of the helmet are colored in flesh tone or orange. This image and the image below come from The Art of He-Man. Artwork by Mark Taylor.

All the classic Man-E-Faces elements are present in the B-sheet and design documents above, but the look is slightly different from the final toy, with purple detail on the shoulders and a helmet without any tan/orange accents. The figure was sculpted into a prototype, and some some ridges and sloping were added to the top of the helmet. He seems to have green accents on his shoulders and thighs:

Alfredo Alcala’s take on the character in Danger at Castle Grayskull seems to be based on the above prototype:

Man-E-Problems

The cross sell artwork is mainly based on the prototype sculpt:

Image courtesy of Axel Giménez.

An earlier incarnation of Man-E-Faces (called Multi-face) was also designed by Mark Taylor. While the original artwork hasn’t been published, Emiliano Santalucia has created a mock-up for a potential Masters of the Universe Classics figure based on that artwork, which appears to have been quite different from the finished MEF design:

Source: Emiliano Santalucia

Update: the original version of this artwork by Mark Taylor was recently shared in the documentary, The Power of Grayskull: The Definitive History of He-Man:

There was another related Mark Taylor concept called Maska-Ra that was explored but never developed. Rather than a spinning face mechanism, Maska-Ra would have come with a variety of masks to imitate other characters, luring the unwary to their doom:

From the “Bring Your Man-E-Faces To Work” Facebook page, via The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog

Update: another Man-E-Faces concept was recently shared by Mark Taylor’s wife, Rebecca (below). This has the removable mask idea from Maska-Ra, although it has a more conventional body. The the arms and legs contain design elements that would be used in the final figure. The chest armor recalls the design later used in Terror Claws Skeletor (1986), and the overall look may have influenced the design of the 1989 figure Flipshot:

Update: yet another quasi-Man-E-Faces concept was shared by Rebecca, with Joe Amato for the podcast Fans of Power. This version has a chitinous, insectoid look and a reversible head. The legs on this character are very similar to the final toy’s design, but otherwise this is a totally different take on the concept:

Image courtesy of Doug Feague

Man-E-Faces was packaged with his own mini comic (drawn by Mark Texeira), called The Ordeal of Man-E-Faces. He was depicted as an Eternian actor who was given a potion by Skeletor that would change him into a monster and bring him under Skeletor’s control. The Sorceress tries to free him from the enchantment, and in a struggle between the two powers, a third face arises – that of a neutral robot.

He is also depicted as a helpless pawn of Skeletor in the Danger at Castle Grayskull comic, drawn by Alfredo Alcala:

Man-E-Faces was given other origin stories in British publications. In issue 3 of the UK Masters of the Universe Magazine, Man-E-Faces is transformed by Skeletor as punishment for mocking him in a play:

Image source: Bustatoons. Brought to my attention by Joe Amato.

In the 1985 UK Masters of the Universe Annual, Man-E-Faces is again transformed by Skeletor, in a somewhat unsettling story about abductions and lab experiments. In his monster form he is evil, and in his robot form he may be controlled by anyone.

Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen

Man-E-Faces made an appearance in the box art for Battle Bones (by William George) and the previously mentioned Battle For Eternia (by William Garland) three-pack. Man-E-Faces was slated to appear as the prisoner in the Snake Mountain box art (by William George), but at the last minute Man-At-Arms was substituted (for more on that, read this interview with package designer Bob Nall):

Image source: Jukka Issakainen
Image source: Tokyonever

In the Filmation cartoon, MEF was an outcast who had to be gently coaxed away from evil by He-Man:

Early Filmation designs for the character, as shown in the Series Guide below, show a design that seems primarily based on the early prototype version of he character, albeit with a rather unique-looking robot face:

He also appeared in a number of adverts, promotions, catalogs and miscellaneous entertainment:

Later in life, Man-E-Faces struggled with his weight:

Artwork by Alfredo Alcala

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