Evil Horde

Multi-Bot – Evil robot of a thousand bodies (1986)

Multi-Bot was a figure I don’t recall ever seeing as a kid. The concept is familiar enough – take the transforming body idea from Modulok and turn it into a robot. It certainly makes more logical sense for a robot to be able to swap around its body parts, as opposed to an organic creature like Modulok. Then again part of the fun of Modulok was the gruesome fun of imagining a monster that could do such a thing.

Design & Development

Modulok and Multi-Bot apparently originated with the same concept idea by Roger Sweet, called Modular Man (source: The Power and the Honor Foundation Catalog). Ted Mayer did the visual design work for both figures in June and July, 1984. We can see two of Ted’s designs for Multi-Bot below. They’re similar, although the right head and left yellow arm designs differ.

Modular Man, by Ted Mayer. This one has an organic green face on the right head. Image source: Power and Honor Foundation/Dark Horse
Modular Man, by Ted Mayer. This version has a robotic right head and a hammer shaped left yellow arm. Image source: Power and Honor Foundation/Dark Horse

Both of these designs, although different from the final look of the figure, were ported into the minicomic and the She-Ra cartoon, respectively. As was often the case, animators and comic book artists needed more lead time in order to meet deadlines, resulting in a mismatch between what was on the shelves and what was on TV screens.

Concept character vs animated look. Image source: Dušan M.

Production Toy

The cross sell art for the character reflects the finalized design of the toy, albeit with some slight differences in the exact color shades used:

The toy design is closer to the Ted Mayer concept design that was used for the minicomics, particularly in regard to the green and black head. The color choices are generally retained, although switched around a bit. The torso design has been reworked quite a bit, and the figure was given a second torso, giving him greater flexibility to work as two fully independent figures.

Generally speaking, Multi-Bot about the same height as Modulok, but he’s significantly bulkier. And of course depending on how they are configured either figure can be made to be either short or tall. The 1985 wave of Evil Horde figures was generally filled with monsters, while the 1986 wave was mostly comprised for robotic characters, including Horde Trooper and Dragstor.

Left to right: Multi-Bot, Modulok, Hordak
1987 German MOTU Magazine. Source: www.he-man.org
1986 Mattel catalog. Source: Battle Armor Dad

Multi-Bot and Modulok are compatible with each other, and can be mixed and matched to create “Mega-Monster” (also known as “Megabeast”).

Image courtesy of Øyvind Meisfjord

Packaging

Multi-Bot came in a box very similar to the one used for Modulok, down to the size, shape, and art style. The back features a number of ways to “build” the character, as well as an action scene depicting Multi-Bot transforming while battling Evil Warriors and Snake Men.

There are two versions of the packaging – the blue background, as shown earlier, and a silver background version, shown below (thanks to Thorsten G. for pointing this out):

Minicomics

In The Menace of Multi-Bot, we find out that Modulok invented Multi-Bot. He gives Multi-Bot enormous strength, and the ability to reassemble himself when damaged. Multi-Bot is sent to Eternia to challenge He-Man (with a secret plan to attack Hordak after He-Man was defeated, allowing Modulok to take charge).

Mult-Bot is at first a formidable foe, but he is defeated (and turned on Hordak) in the end with the use of some magnets:

Star Comics

In issue 5 of the Star Comics Masters of the Universe series, a (more or less) toy-accurate Multi-Bot is used as a kind of antenna to summon Monstroid:

Later in the story, Multi-Bot tussles with Extendar, but in the end Orko forces him to save Extendar from drowning. Notice that Multi-Bot is given a goatee, which seems to stem from a misinterpretation of the source material.

Animation

In the She-Ra animated series, Multi-Bot was again the invention of Modulok. Multi-Bot is not frequently used, but he seems to have the ability to transform his body into anything at all:

Other Artwork

Multi-Bot makes a minor appearance in this Eternia poster by William George, as “Megabeast” (combined with Modulok):

Multi-Bot in Action

Øyvind Meisfjord has graciously shared the following images and video of Multi-Bot in action!

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Artwork

Box Art From A-Z, Part Five: 1986

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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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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

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Image source: Axel Giménez
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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.

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More in this series:

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