Milestones

Two years of Battle Ram: A He-Man Blog

It’s been two years now since I started Battle Ram – A He-Man Blog. It’s something that I had rattling around my brain for many months before it crystallized into a blog.

Most of the information in this blog isn’t new – intrepid MOTU historians have been digging up facts about their beloved toyline for years now. But what I wanted to do from the outset was tell the story of each toy, from its early concepts to finished toy to its depictions in stories and artwork. I didn’t see that complete story being told from any single source.

The bits and pieces of information lived in all kinds of disparate locations: hard-to-find books, forum posts, old podcast interviews, blogs, Facebook pages, fan sites and YouTube videos. As I started putting these sources together, I was also lucky enough to be able to expand on some of this information in my interviews with Mark Taylor, Rebecca Taylor, Ted Mayer, Rudy Obrero and Martin Arriola.

Of course I’ve also branched out from my toy-based features to more focused posts about things like box art, catalogs, commercials and obscure factoids.

I don’t want to get too precious about it. At the end of the day it’s a just a blog, after all. Everyone and their uncle’s barber has a blog. But it’s also kind of an online book, one that keeps getting longer each week, with helpful contributions and corrections by He-Man fans from all walks of life and all parts of the planet.

Here are a few statistics about the blog on its two-year anniversary.

  • Total views: 326,708
  • Total unique visitors: 79,871
  • Number of posts: 116
  • Average posts per month: 4.8
  • Estimated number of hours spent on this thing: 696

As always, thanks for reading. I hope the blog continues to be of interest to people who remember this toyline with fondness.

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Artwork

Battle Cat Box Art Scan

Rudy Obrero’s Battle Cat packaging illustration was the first piece of box art done for Masters of the Universe, which I think affords it a special place among the myriad of other pieces of ingenious artwork created for this toyline. I would put it in my top three personal favorites (the other two being Castle Grayskull and Battle Ram, with the He-Man and Battle Cat giftset artwork coming in a close fourth). When it comes to MOTU box art, there is a great deal of amazing work to choose from. Rudy’s work is my favorite, but of course I also love the art of the late, great William George.

Rudy Obrero was hired by Mark Taylor to paint Frank Frazetta-like artwork for the fledgling Masters of the Universe toyline, and that feeling is perhaps most evident in the original Battle Cat illustration.

I shared the original scan several months back in another post, but I’ve since done some digital manipulation to remove the most obvious wear marks and the horizontal packaging fold that goes across Battle Cat’s legs. Enjoy!

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Artwork

Battle Ram Box Art Scan

It’s no surprise to anyone who follows this blog that I have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with the Battle Ram – the 1982 Masters of the Universe vehicle designed by Ted Mayer.

I’m just as obsessed with the early MOTU box art by Rudy Obrero, and for a long time I’ve been wanting to get a nice scan of his original artwork for the Battle Ram. There hasn’t been a really good, single composite scan of the full Battle Ram packaging that I know of, at least that anyone has shared publicly. In scanning the example from my collection, I understand why – it’s challenging to get all of the surfaces to lie completely flat, resulting in some areas that are less crisp than others. Adding to the difficulty is that every example has breaks in the artwork where the box bends upward about two-thirds of the way up. I did my best to digitally fix those breaks, but it was challenging to do in the areas that intersect with painted physical objects.

The result isn’t perfect, but it’s still nice to have the complete, high-resolution picture as painted by Rudy Obrero. If you open the image in a new window you’ll find that you can zoom in quite close on the artwork. Allow some time for the image to load:

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Artwork

Box Art From A-Z, Part Two: 1983

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 Two: 1983

Name: Attak Trak
Year: 1983
Artist: Rudy Obrero
Description: He-Man pilots the Attak Trak over rough terrain. Skeletor and Mer-Man are ready to attack, while Man-At-Arms and Teela stand in defense of Castle Grayskull. The artwork below was scanned by me, with box damage repaired by Retroist.

Name: Battle for Eternia
Year: 1983
Artist: William Garland
Description: Panthor swipes his claws at Man-E-Faces, as Man-E-Faces takes aim with his blaster at Skeletor, who is riding atop the savage cat. Twin moons hang in the smokey sky.

Artwork courtesy of Tokyonever

battle-for-eternia-original

Name: Panthor
Year: 1983
Artist: William Garland
Description: Skeletor and Panthor navigate alien terrain. A pterodactyl-like creature swoops in the air and two alien moons set on the smokey horizon. Castle Grayskull stands in the background, shrouded by mists and blowing sand.

panthor-best-quality

Name: Point Dread & Talon Fighter
Year: 1983
Artist: William Garland*
Description: He-Man and Teela sit inside the Talon Fighter’s cockpit, as its jet engines flair. Skeletor, Tri-Klops and Mer-Man race toward Point Dread, which is defended by Man-At-Arms. Twin alien moons hang in the night sky. Castle Grayskull looms in the foggy distance. (*Artist name not confirmed for this particular piece, but the art seems to match the style of the Panthor illustrations.)

point-dread-talon-fighter-logos-removed

Name: Screeech
Year: 1983
Artist: Rudy Obrero
Description: Screeech is depicted both soaring through the smokey skies of Eternia and standing on his perch, which sits on top of a castle turret.

screeech

Name: Skeletor and Panthor
Year: 1983
Artist: William Garland
Description: He-Man clashes swords with Skeletor, who sits astride the savage Panthor. A tiny gargoyle-like creature leaps from harm’s way. Man-At-Arms swings his club at Beast Man in front of the ominous Castle Grayskull.

skeletor-panthor-hi-res

Name: Skeletor and Screeech
Year: 1983
Artist: Rudy Obrero
Description: Skeletor stands at the edge of a lava-filled crevasse with Screeech perched on his arm. Two rodents run away in terror.

skeletor-screeech-largest

Name: Teela and Zoar
Year: 1983
Artist: Unknown
Description: Teela stands atop a rocky mountain peak as Zoar swoops through the skies at sunset. A snowy mountain range is visible in the distance.

teela-zoar-largest

Name: Zoar
Year: 1983
Artist: Rudy Obrero
Description: Zoar swoops through the skies as He-Man and Skeletor do battle on a rocky, volcanic landscape. Castle Grayskull looms in the distance.

zoar-no-logo3

More articles in this series:

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