Heroic Vehicles

Point Dread & Talon Fighter (1983)

Point Dread and the Talon Fighter somehow completely slipped off my radar as a kid. I probably saw it represented in cross sell art form at some point in my childhood, but I don’t think it ever made an impression. And that’s a shame because it’s one of the coolest items ever produced for the Masters of the Universe toyline. It’s certainly one of my favorites now.

Design & Development

Point Dread and the Talon fighter was a rather unique item, in that it combined a small playset with a vehicle as well as a story book with record.

The commercial (above) shows a prototype that seems to have less overspray on both the vehicle and the playset than the mass produced toys did. The cross sell art seems based on that prototype:

Point Dread & Talon Fighter cross sell art

From my interview with Mattel designer Ted Mayer, I learned that the idea for the Talon Fighter originated with a sketch for the Eternia playset. There are a couple of those in existence, and both seem to feature a flying vehicle that bears some resemblance to the final Talon Fighter design, although the aircraft in the second image also resembles the Blasterhawk. The second image is dated February 5, 1985, so it would not have been a source used for the Talon Fighter. I would guess that the first image (called Mount Eternia) dates from some time in 1982.

Mount Eternia, image courtesy of Ted Mayer
Eternia sketch, by Ted Mayer
Mount Eternia’s flying vehicle – closer view

There is also some rough similarity to the 1983 Big Jim Space Spy Vehicle (hat tip to Jukka for pointing this out), which also featured the radar dish on the top, a handle in the back, stubby wings, and a similar (but not identical) overall profile:

Point Dread seems to have been conceived at one point as the home of Skeletor and his Evil Warriors. From the Filmation Series Guide:

Source: He-Man.org

“Point Dread is a craggy peak emerging from the Eternian Ocean. It is an extinct volcano with a tunnel leading down to a fantastic ruined, Atlantis-like city hidden beneath the ocean floor. Inside Point Dread, Skeletor keeps all the treasure he has plundered from a thousand worlds. There are also mines and construction sites waiting for the slaves Skeletor plans to take once he has seized control of Eternia.

“But the heart of Point Dread is the great council chamber where Skeletor summons the sinister Masters of the Universe. Here Skeletor sits on a raised platform above the round table where are gathered the likes of…”

Notice that at the evil warriors are referred to as the “sinister Masters of the Universe”.

The same guide describes Talon Fighter as an agile air vehicle that only He-Man can control, and says that it is frequently perched atop Castle Grayskull. The top of what we would refer to as the Point Dread playset is also shown – perhaps at the time the rocky base for the Talon fighter was not yet named. It may have taken on the name of Point Dread after Skeletor’s home base was identified as Snake Mountain.

Image courtesy of Jukka Issakainen

The 1985 UK Annual again describes Point Dread as the lair of Skeletor (images courtesy of Jukka Issakainen):

Production Toy

Let’s take a look at the actual toy and its packaging and accessories:

Roomy cockpit holds two figures
Gizmo not normally included!
Perched majestically atop Castle Grayskull

The Talon Fighter seems to be based on something like a hawk or an eagle. It has a rather wide body, stubby, downturned wings, and curved talon feet. There is room for two figures inside the roomy cockpit, and it features a handle on the back for easy zooming around the house.

Point Dread (tag line: frontier outpost) is a simple two-piece shell with a window and rather small stairs leading upward on the top piece. The top piece can clip to the tallest turret on Castle Grayskull. Inside the lower half is a cardboard control panel.

The box art is rather magnificent, in my opinion. The artist is unknown, but they seem to have been trying to imitate the style of Rudy Obrero. The artwork features Skeletor, Tri-Klops and Mer-Man launching an assault on Point Dread. He-Man and Teela are inside the Talon Fighter, and Man-At-Arms seems ready to take on the villains from the ground while his friends attack them from the air.

Comic Books

The comic book included with the playset is one of my very favorites. It’s two stories in one book – The Power of Point Dread and Danger at Castle Grayskull. The artwork is by the incomparable Alfredo Alcala, and features some fun and colorful stories that introduce us to not only PDTF, but new characters like Man-E-Faces, Trap Jaw and Tri-Klops. Zodac has a rather prominent role to play in the first story, which is a nice touch.

A record was included with the book, to help young readers read along with the story:

You can ready both stories in their entirety here and here.

Confusingly, there was a mini comic produced with essentially the same title – The Power of… Point Dread. The plot of the story is entirely different, however. It was penciled by Mark Texeira and includes some pretty exciting combat scenes:

While it’s true Point Dread was at one point intended to be the home of Skeletor and his minions, the Masters of the Universe Bible,  written at the end of 1982, portrayed Point Dread as it was in the mini comics released the next year:

TALON FIGHTER – this winged flying vehicle carries two passengers and is able to execute death-defying aerial acrobatics. Equipped with a special bombpack under its belly, He Man can call the fighter when it’s needed. Its resting place is atop a far peak called PT. DREAD which materializes whenever the Talon Fighter comes to rest. Only He Man has the physical fortitude and strength of will to control it. The flying machine goes out of control unless He-Man’s in command.

Animation

Point Dread never made an appearance in the Filmation cartoon, and the Talon Fighter was used quite rarely.

Image source: Wiki Grayskull

Model Kit

There was also a kit version of the Talon Fighter produced by Monogram (which was owned by Mattel at the time). It had a much more bird-like design than the toy, and a simpler yellow and red color scheme. It also has a canon mounted on top of the cockpit, rather than the radar design of the toy version. Monogram also produced versions of the Attak Trak and Roton. The Monogram Attak Trak is based off of a concept version of the Attak Trak, so I wonder if the same isn’t true of the Monogram Talon Fighter.

Artwork by Larry Elmore

The above design, but with toy-accurate colors, shows up in Dangerous Games, published by Golden Books:

There was also an illustration of the Monogram Talon Fighter kit that was apparently created for advertising purposes (images via Plaid Stallions). In this version the vehicle has a gold-colored body and green cockpit windows:

Artwork

R. L. Allen featured the Talon Fighter in a couple of his illustrations, which are some of my favorites:

Illustration by R.L.Allen
Illustration by R.L. Allen

Talon Fighter in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has kindly shared some images and a video of the Talon Fighter in action:

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