Artwork

Masters of the Universe Cross Sell Art: US Variants

The artwork for this set comes from Axel Giménez, Tokyonever, Plaid Stallions (for the Monogram Talon Fighter), and my own scans and photos. This is not meant to be exhaustive – it merely represents the variants in US cross-sell art that I am aware of.

Teela

Teela shows up with brown boots and armor in the early 8-back cardbacks, but she can also be found with red armor/boots on some of the early vehicle packaging. It’s possible that this is just a variation in the way the print was set up, but the change may have been deliberate, in order to more accurately reflect the colors of her action figure.

Mer-Man

Mer-Man shows up with blue skin in early 8-back cardbacks, but he can be found with green skin on much of the vehicle packaging as well as later figure cardbacks. I believe the change was deliberate, in order to reflect the skin tone of his action figure. Of course the cross sell art still looks quite a bit different from the toy, regardless.

Trap Jaw

Trap Jaw’s cross sell art is something of a curiosity. It’s very common to find a version of it where he is missing not only his jaw but also his chest armor. On the other hand, only the jawless version features the skull and crossbones design on his belt. There was actually a catalog that featured a jawless version of the figure itself, making me wonder if the art wasn’t based on an incomplete sample, and the artist wasn’t aware of that fact.

Evil-Lyn

I found the flesh tone version of Evil-Lyn on the back of Dragon Walker packaging, and the yellow version on Fisto’s cardback. I don’t know for sure whether or not the change was deliberate or a printer artifact, but the flesh tone version recalls the character’s animated appearance.

Zoar

Zoar typically shows up with a two-tone orange color scheme and green armor on the backs of minicomics. Conversely, he appears in the toy-accurate orange and blue color scheme with red armor on the back of vehicle packaging. I believe the version with green armor represents and early, abandoned color scheme for the figure.

Attak Trak

The Attak Trak variants are the most subtle of this group. The cross sell artwork appears in both orange and red. There are also some orange versions of the toy, although most are red. I believe the earliest releases are orange.

Talon Fighter

The Monogram model kit Talon Fighter looks much different than its Mattel counterpart, and so of course does its cross sell art. The Monogram version represents, I believe, an earlier Mattel design for the toy.

Masters of the Universe Cross Sell Art:

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Artwork

Masters of the Universe Cross Sell Art: 1982

I thought it might be useful to put all the cross sell artwork together for easy reference. I’m busy working on some long-term projects at the moment, so my free time is at a premium. But, this is something I can put out that is relatively quick and painless.

Images come from Axel Giménez, Tokyonever, Jukka Issakainen, He-Man.org, and my own scans and pictures. I’ve got nice images for all of the 1982 cross sell art, but unfortunately the quality of what I have will vary for other pieces. I should note that as far as is known, all of the standard cross sell artwork that appears on MOTU packaging was illustrated by William George. Update: per Joshua Van Pelt apparently William George’s work can only be confirmed from 1985 onward.

Masters of the Universe Cross Sell Art:

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Comics

Mer-Man’s Betrayal

There’s a fun side story in the January 1983 The Key to Castle Grayskull comic that I’d like to take a closer look at this week. The story (written by Paul Kupperberg, art by George Tuska, Alfredo Alcala, and Adrienne Roy) is part two of a three-part mini series published by DC comics, wherein Skeletor kidnaps the Goddess and forces He-Man and his friends to go on a long quest to retrieve three magical talismans that would give Skeletor access to both halves of the power sword.

In an effort to retrieve the Talisman of the Sea, Man-At-Arms, Teela and Stratos take the Wind Raider to the Sea of Blackness, located in a sunless area of Eternia (probably the dark hemisphere).

Ingesting a magic potion that gives them the ability to breathe under water for one hour, they dive beneath the waves in search of the Talisman.

As they dive deeper into the water, they discover a luminous city on the ocean floor:

Mer-Man, leading a force of mer-people, seeks to block the heroes from accessing the Talisman. He reveals that he intends to thwart Skeletor’s plan and get the talismans for himself, so that he can get the power sword and rule over Eternia. Mer-Man’s depiction here is based on his appearance in the cross sell artwork that appeared on action figure cardbacks.

Incidentally, the red mer-person above was reused by Ted Mayer in his illustration for the unproduced concept “Zap’n’Go” vehicle:

The battle starts to go badly for the heroic warriors. Then Skeletor shows up, and things start to go very badly for Mer-Man.

The moral of today’s story is that it doesn’t pay to double-cross Skeletor!

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History

Copyrights in MOTU (Part One: 1981)


Image source: MOTUC Figures

In previous posts I’ve covered trademarks and patents in Masters of the universe, and organized the material into a cohesive Masters of the Universe Timeline. In this post I’m going to be covering Mattel’s He-Man-related copyrights, sourced from the US Copyright Office, for 1981. Eventually I’ll fold these dates into the MOTU Timeline article as well.

Some of the copyright entries have some interesting details and comments, so I’ll include most of the original text (errors and all), eliminating some redundancies and the registration numbers.  Each entry has multiple dates, but I’ll sort according to “Date of Publication”. I’ll do a separate post for each publication year.

A few notes – the “Date of Publication” for the early toys listed universally as February 15, 1981. The figures were not actually sold that early, or even really close to their final designs. The He-Man project was well underway, however. They may have sometimes just chosen a safe, early date for some of these. I believe that entries that have more unique publication dates are more likely to reflect an actual production or release date. The minicomics in this post all have a publication date of November 28, 1981, which at least sounds plausible as a “printed on” date.

Note also that while the male figures are generally called “figurines”, Teela is referred to as a “doll”, apparently based only the fact that she’s a female figure. In reality, Teela is every bit as much an action figure as He-Man.

1981

February

Type of Work: Visual Material
Registration Date: 1982-11-04
Title: Battle ram : no. 81-3990.
Notes: Cataloged from appl. only.
Date of Creation: 1981
Date of Publication: 1981-02-15

Type of Work: Visual Material
Registration Date: 1982-11-04
Title: Beast Man : [no.] 81-5043.
Description: Figurine.
Date of Creation: 1981
Date of Publication: 1981-02-15

Type of Work: Visual Material
Registration Date: 1982-11-04
Title: He-Man : [no.] 81-5040.
Description: Figurine.
Date of Creation: 1981
Date of Publication: 1981-02-15

Type of Work: Visual Material
Registration Date: 1982-11-04
Title: Man-at-arms : no. 81-5041.
Notes: Cataloged from appl. only.
Date of Creation: 1981
Date of Publication: 1981-02-15

Type of Work: Visual Material
Registration Date: 1982-11-04
Title: Merman : [no.] 81-5046.
Description: Figurine.
Date of Creation: 1981
Date of Publication: 1981-02-15

Type of Work: Visual Material
Registration Date: 1982-11-04
Title: Skeletor : [no.] 81-5042.
Description: Figurine.
Date of Creation: 1981
Date of Publication: 1981-02-15

Type of Work: Visual Material
Registration Date: 1982-11-04
Title: Stratos : [no.] 81-5047.
Description: Figurine.
Date of Creation: 1981
Date of Publication: 1981-02-15

Type of Work: Visual Material
Registration Date: 1982-10-26
Title: Teela : [no.] 5045-81.
Description: Doll.
Date of Creation: 1981
Date of Publication: 1981-02-15

Type of Work: Visual Material
Registration Date: 1982-11-04
Title: Wind raider : [no.] 81-5117.
Description: Sculpture.
Date of Creation: 1981
Date of Publication: 1981-02-15

Type of Work: Visual Material
Registration Date: 1982-11-04
Title: Zodac : no. 81-5044.
Notes: Cataloged from appl. only.
Date of Creation: 1981
Date of Publication: 1981-02-15

Type of Work: Visual Material
Registration Date: 1982-10-25
Title: Castle Grayskull : [no.] 81-3991.
Description: Sculpture.
Date of Creation: 1981
Date of Publication: 1981-02-15

November

Type of Work: Text
Registration Date: 1982-12-28
Title: Masters of the universe
Name: The Vengeance of Skeletor
Description: 22 p.
Date of Creation: 1981
Date of Publication: 1981-11-28

Type of Work: Text
Registration Date: 1982-12-08
Title: Masters of the Universe : He-Man and the power sword.
Description: 26 p.
Date of Creation: 1981
Date of Publication: 1981-11-28
Other Title: He-Man and the power sword

Type of Work: Visual Material
Registration Date: 1982-12-07
Title: King of Castle Grayskull.
Description: 22 p.
Series: Masters of the Universe
Date of Creation: 1981
Date of Publication: 1981-11-28

Type of Work: Visual Material
Registration Date: 1983-01-17
Title: Comics maitres de l’univers : no. 81.
Notes: Cataloged from appl. Only. Appl. states titles on copy: Les Maitres de l’univers; Masters of the universe.
Date of Creation: 1981
Date of Publication: 1981-11-28
Other Title: Les Maitres de l’univers Masters of the universe

Thanks to Miguel A. for inspiring this series!

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