Resource

Parts Reuse in MOTU, Part Five: 1986

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 1986 that had (at the time) all new parts:

Eternia


Image via He-Man.org

King Hiss

Horde Trooper

Mantisaur


Image via Lu Lu Berlu

Multi-Bot

Monstroid

Slime Pit

Stonedar

Snout Spout

Extendar

Rio Blast

Blasterhawk


Image via He-Man.org

Laser Bolt

Fright Fighter

Jet Slet


Image via He-Man.org

Megalaser

These toys from 1986 reused some existing parts – some of those parts were first created in the same year, however:

Flying Fists He-Man

Terror Claws Skeletor

tc1

Hurricane Hordak

Rokkon

Rattlor

Tung Lashor

Dragstor

Stilt Stalkers

As you can see, there is a great deal more new tooling and much less reuse of existing parts in 1986 than in previous years. Ironically, for all the money pumped into the brand, as I understand it 1986 was the first year that sales for the line started to slip. It is true that stylistically the 1986 lineup was much different than anything that had come before, especially in the heroic warriors lineup. I have to wonder if that had anything to do with faltering sales. It may have had nothing to do with it, but I know that the 1986 toyline did little to catch my eye as a kid, outside of the Snake Men.

There are a lot of limbs in the 1986 lineup that look awfully close to the original He-Man’s arms and legs. However, if you look very closely you’ll see that the musculature is subtly different. The sculptors may have used He-Man as a model, but I don’t see that existing parts have been modified in the same way that was frequently done from 1983-1985.

Update: Øyvind has informed me that only the front half of the armor was reused for the Stilt Stalkers. Thanks Øyvind!

Lastly, there were the Meteorbs- a frequently overlooked bunch of transforming egg toys produced by Bandai under the name Tamagoras in 1984, and rebranded for the MOTU toyline as Meteorbs. Not having held these in my own hands since the 80s, I’ve done my best to catch parts reuse, but I trust that if I’ve misrepresented anything here someone will correct me (images below are from www.he-man.org):

Cometroid

Gore-illa

Dinosorb

Crocobite

Astro Lion

Orbear

Rhinorb

Tuskor

Ty-Grrr

Comet Cat

Parts Reuse series:

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Artwork

Box Art From A-Z, Part Five: 1986

box-art-a-z-graphic-1986

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.

blaster-hawk-best

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.

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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.

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Image Source: MOTU Art Facebook Page
packaging-gm
Image Source: Grayskull Museum

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.

fright-fighter-no-logo-best

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.

manti2
mantisaur1
hord-mant-giftset

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.

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jet-sled-he-man-giftset-crazy-collectors
Image source: Crazy Collectors

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.

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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.

manti2
mantisaur1


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.

monstroidart

Name: Multi-Bot
Year: 1986
Artist: Unknown
Description: Multi-Bot is shown in 10 body configurations and poses.

multibot-axel
Image source: Axel Giménez
multibotart

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.

slime-pit-best

More in this series:

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