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.
Moss Man is another figure that I have very clear memories of. I remember getting him for Christmas, probably in 1985. Unlike Stinkor, I didn’t remember him based on his smell. His pine scent wasn’t immediately obvious because I ripped him off of his card right next to the Christmas tree, which had an even stronger pine scent. I remember my parents had allowed us to open one present on the night before Christmas. All the lights were out in the room except for the blinking colored lights on the tree. I remember the way that Moss Man’s green and brown flock glistened in the colored lights, and the prickly texture of the figure. It wasn’t until I had got him back to my room that I realized he also had a pine scent.
Like Mekaneck and Buzz-Off, Moss Man was characterized as a spy, with the ability to blend into his surroundings. I remember being a little frustrated that I could still pick him out deep in my mother’s potted plants. His bright yellow belt gave him away every time.
It’s possible that Moss Man was based on the legendary Florida Moss Man – a creature said to roam Florida’s Withlacoochee State Forest.
Moss Man is very simple action figure. He’s a green Beast Man covered with green and yellow flock (small nylon particles), with a brown version of the mace weapon that came with Castle Grayskull. In fact, the only known prototype for Moss Man is just what you’d expect – he’s literally a Beast Man figure that someone at Mattel painted in green, brown and yellow, with some flock added over top top.
There are a few differences from the prototype to the production Moss Man. The prototype has forward-looking eyes and painted fangs. On the production Moss Man, the eyes are looking off to the side, and the fangs are painted over to give the impression of more human-like teeth. It seems to have been an effort to make the Beast Man face seem a little less angry. It was somewhat successful, although Moss Man still seems pretty intense:
The cross sell art seems to be derived from the vintage toy given his fangless teeth, however his eyes do look forward:
The illustrated scene on the back of his packaging was done by Dave Stevens, who also illustrated Stinkor and Spikor:
An injured Moss Man also appeared on the illustration on the back of Terror Claws Skeletor’s card:
Moss Man was also sold in the following gift sets (second image via Grayskull Museum):
I think it’s likely that both Moss Man and Stinkor were among the first new figures to be released in 1985. Their cross sell artwork shows up first on the back of vehicle packaging, along with the figures released from 1982-1984:
Moss Man is the second and final flocked toy in the vintage MOTU toyline. The first was Panthor. Panthor’s “fur” was much shorter and smoother, however.
The Argentinian Top Toys release of of Moss Man had painted fangs, like the prototype, and his mossy “fur” was quite long and luxurious.
Although Errol McCarthy didn’t illustrate Moss Man’s cardback, he did produce this artwork intended for licensees. It features a very friendly-looking Moss Man with a more human-like face:
Moss Man and Stinkor were sold with the same mini comic – The Stench of Evil! In the story, Stinkor threatens Eternia’s wildlife with his rancid smell. Only Moss Man is able to overpower Stinkor with his pine fresh scent:
In the Filmation cartoon, Moss Man had the ability to talk to plants and transform his body:
Moss Man appears in a couple of great Earl Norem illustrations that were printed as posters for the US Masters of the Universe magazine:
In the UK Masters of the Universe Magazine, Moss Man was colored brown and gave lessons on manners to kids:
I’m not sure why, but it seems to me that the “cheap repaints” of the Masters of the Universe toyline are among the most memorable action figures. Faker, Stinkor and Moss Man were all entirely made from recycled molds, and yet they seem to be among the most memorable figures in the toyline. Maybe it’s because Mattel tried to make up for that fact by giving them audacious colors (Faker), a powerful and funky smell (Stinkor) or prickly “fur” (Moss Man).
My memories of playing with Stinkor as a kid are permanently etched in my brain, and for good reason. Smell, more than any other of the five senses, is associated with memory. For me a familiar smell is like a very brief trip in a time machine back to the past.
Stinkor quickly dominated my toy area. As soon as I opened the box where I stored my collection of He-Man and G.I. Joe figures, I was immediately hit in the face with the evil odor of Stinkor, a sharp and pungent reminder of his existence, even when he wasn’t immediately in sight.
Stinkor, an evil humanoid skunk warrior, was released in 1985, alongside such figures as Moss Man, Two-Bad, Roboto, and Sy-Klone. Stinkor, like Faker and Moss Man, was a new character made up entirely of preexisting parts. In Stinkor’s case, he was a repaint of Mer-Man with armor from Mekaneck and the shield from Castle Grayskull. However, it’s apparent from the cross sell art that Stinkor was originally intended to reuse Beast Man’s body:
A hand-painted prototype is visible in this 1985 Mattel Spring Program catalog. In the description it says “Stinkor is the master of stink and destroy! Heroic Warriors can smell his unique scent from 50 feet… it’s like invisible armor! Stinkor has a twist action waist with snap-on accessories and his own self-protecting gas mask.”
If I had to guess why Mattel opted to use the Mer-Man/Skeletor body instead of Beast Man’s body, it would be because they were already using it for Moss Man, and didn’t want both cheap repaints released that year to share the same body. Also, the Mer-Man body makes for more obvious and distinct gloves and boots. Fun fact: only Stinkor and Ninjor had painted gloves on this particular mold, which seems odd given the fact that the arms were reused many times and seem to imply the presence of gloves.
It was suggested in Tomart’s Action Figure Digest issue 202 that Stinkor started out conceptually as some kind of stink bug character:
Stinkor’s distinctive smell is said to have come from mixing patchouli oil in with the plastic. I have a vintage example of Stinkor that still smells, and I have a bottle of patchouli oil, and to me they’re somewhat similar but definitely distinct from each other. To me Stinkor’s smell is sharper and less organic smelling than the patchouli oil. Perhaps the smell changed when the patchouli mixed in with the plastic, or perhaps Mattel used another fragrance entirely.
While this is one of the unusual cases where Errol McCarthy did not do the cardback illustration (this one was done by Dave Stevens), Errol did create illustrate the character for the 1987 Style Guide, which had this to say about Stinkor:
Role: Evil Master of odorous warfare
Power: Ability to stink and destroy with his “odor of evil.”
Character Profile: This warrior literally reeks of evil. His powerful stench overcomes all who smell it. Most of the Evil Warriors have built up a tolerance for their foul-smelling friend. However, Stinkor can’t stand the fresh smell of his arch-enemy, Moss Man. The Stechn of Stinkor is so powerful that even he can’t stand it sometimes., so he is outfitted with a special gas mask armor.
In some versions of the French release of Stinkor, he came with a blue and orange version of He-Man’s shield rather than a blue Castle Grayskull shield.
Stinkor was also released in several gift sets; a three-pack with Whiplash and Webstor, a three-pack with Battle Armor Skeletor and Webstor, and a J.C. Penny two-pack with Spikor (images via Grayskullmuseum.com).
Stinkor was also released in the form of a stamp and a zipper clip, for the fashionable third grader:
Stinkor (as well as Moss Man) came packaged with the mini comic The Stench of Evil! In the story, Stinkor (illustrated with the cross sell artwork design), threatens Eternia’s wildlife with his rancid smell. Only Moss Man is able to overpower Stinkor with his pine fresh scent:
Stinkor also makes an appearance in Hordak – The Ruthless Leader’s Revenge! Stinkor is kidnapped by Grizzlor, and Leech and Mantenna react less than positively to the sudden appearance of the smelly fiend:
Stinkor was also the focus of a Golden Books story called He-Man Smells Trouble. In the story, Stinkor is exiled from Snake Mountain because no one can tolerate his foul smell. He teams up with Roboto, who left the palace over a misunderstanding, but things go awry when Stinkor tries to betray Roboto to get back into Skeletor’s good graces.
Stinkor was never a central character in the Masters of the Universe mythos, but he seems to be well-remembered. Stinkor has been featured in several articles in recent years, and from the comments even casual fans seem to remember the skunk-themed toy well.
A terrorized-looking Stinkor made an appearance in the packaging illustration for the 1986 Eternia playset:
Stinkor is the only character released between 1982 and 1985 that never made an appearance in Filmation’s He-Man or She-Ra cartoons. In an article on the subject, James Eatock explains:
As Robert Lamb now explains Filmation were not all that happy with the character. “I remember Stinkor. I was part of the writing staff when Arthur Nadel and crew took a field trip to Hawthorne, California to Mattel headquarters. The She-Ra toy line was introduced to us by women designers who displayed how capes could be used as skirts on the dolls. It was kind of a “Barbie Goes Barbarian” thing. Then it was the guys’ turn and we got our first look at the Horde. The male designers introduced each character with great excitement, relishing every nasty attribute they could name. The only hitch came when Stinkor was introduced. Arthur immediately vetoed a character that was basically a walking fart joke. Only two skunk characters have worked in cartoons to my knowledge; Pepe Le Pew and Flower from Bambi.
If Stinkor had appeared in the cartoon, he probably would have looked something like this:
If Stinkor had been released as planned using the Beast Man body, he would have looked something like this:
Stinkor also makes an appearance in this poster illustrated by Esteban Maroto: